Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The Reader Will Hurry Breathlessly Through the Twenty-six Chapters"

When shallow critics characterize all Golden Age mysteries as involving "the body in the library," they're wrong of course; you have to wonder, however, if they might not have this particular book in mind as the template upon which they've been basing their stereotype:

By Valentine Williams (1883-1946).
Houghton Mifflin Co.
1922. 341 pages, $1.75
Online HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Other editions listed HERE.
[Review excerpt] IMAGINE a billiard-room of an English country house where Mary Trevert has just refused Robin Greve, the man she loves, announcing at the same time her engagement to their host, Hartley Parrish, a man of unknown antecedents but enormous wealth.
This is a great blow to Robin who abruptly leaves the billiard-room and, passing through the hall where many of the guests are seated, goes past the library into the garden.
Fifteen minutes later a shot is heard from the library where Parrish was busy and, on an entrance being forced, he is found lying on the floor, a pistol in his hand, a bullet in his heart.
The police are summoned, the guests and servants are questioned, the usual procedure followed. Was it murder or suicide? Opinion is divided.
Thus the scene is set for those who enjoy a good detective story, and their name is legion, and to them "The Yellow Streak" by Valentine Williams, can be recommended.  . . . — "A Lover Not a Murderer," THE LITERARY DIGEST (June 10, 1922)
[Full review] When a critic confesses to having neglected many other pressing duties in order to unravel the mystery of a detective story a considerable efficiency in its construction may be argued. The supposed suicide of a millionaire, Hartley Parrish, occurs in the very first pages of the book, and the reader will hurry breathlessly through the twenty-six chapters which lie between him and the unravelling of the mystery. — THE SPECTATOR ARCHIVE (30 June 1922)
[Full review] Good old fashioned country house novel which I quite enjoyed. Sort of locked room, suicide or murder mystery. There is a wealthy industrialist with a mysterious past, poor gentlefolk, etc. A love interest, a will and most of the other necessary components of the genre. Not outstanding but fans of these between the wars crime novels like myself will probably quite like it. — John, GOODREADS (January 26, 2013)
- A previous ONTOS article about Valentine Williams's writing philosophy is HERE.

Category: Thriller fiction

No comments:

Post a Comment