Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling

When it comes to detective fiction, the Oirish have given the Brits a run for their money. Case in point: Nigel Fitzgerald, described this way on the GAD Wiki:
Nigel Fitzgerald was an Irish actor who starred in detective films as well as writing detective stories. He was born in County Cork and married Clodagh Garrett. His series characters were Alan Russell and Inspector Duffy. His series characters were Inspector (later Superintendent) Duffy and Alan Russell, an actor-manager. 
Fitzgerald's novels belong among the best of classic detective fiction. They are intricately plotted, suspenseful, and full of wit. — Jeanne Carter Emmons
In 14 years Fitzgerald produced an even dozen detective novels:

By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
1953. 256 pages. $2.95
[Full review] Twin stranglings shock County Kerry community and company of strolling players; 'tis little enough sleep nice Supt. Duffy gets until killer is felled. Good color, background, nice characterization carry this one along. — Sergeant Cuff, "Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (February 27, 1960)
[Full review] I could not place the time in which this story was set. It is post-war but which war?.....The characters speak like people from the 1920s, so I am guessing it is WWI. Not that it matters much but it sometimes is helpful in order to make sense of situations and character reactions. Regardless, there is a little too much going on here involving some overly eccentric people and the story is very fragmented as we keep switching gears as to why the murder of a well liked young woman is committed and "who dunnit". The detective, Inspector Duffy, is almost incidental to the story. It is a pleasant read but certainly no classic. — Jill Hutchinson, GOODREADS (January 21, 2013)
[Full review] When a woman's body is discovered in the quiet Irish countryside, it seems obvious that a maniac is on the loose. But Superintendent Duffy wonders if there may not be a motive other than mania. No-one seems to have a motive for murdering Mary, except her sometimes beau, who has a firm alibi. There are two other women in the area, though, who are heiresses. Maybe someone wants to murder one of them? The story moves from a police procedural to something rather more eccentric, as a traveling theater troupe, a famously drunk society hostess, and Ireland's greatest painter all become involved in the crime. — Susan, GOODREADS (March 18, 2009)
[Full review] The setting, Ireland and its houses of quality, is a part of the brutal murder that also involves a touring Shakespearean company and the combination brews up into a nasty business for Superintendent Duffy. The killing and its small sinister accompaniments links into rural community affairs while an escaped incendiarist adds to the local confusion. Subtlety here sometimes overwhelms sense. — KIRKUS REVIEW
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).

By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
[Review excerpt] . . . The vanishing is a genuine Carrian/Queenian miracle problem, well-presented, and there is impressive ratiocination concerning the identity of the murderer by Fitzgerald's series police detective, Superintendent Duffy. Local color is excellent and there are some fine eccentric Irish characters and even a love story.  . . . — Curt Evans, THE PASSING TRAMP (October 31, 2014)
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
1959. $2.95
[Full review] Wrong injection throws London dental office into wild confusion; nice Supt. Laud of C.I.D. restores order and nabs killer. Extra-choice number, with A-1 comedy. — Sergeant Cuff, "Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (April 9, 1960)
[Full review] Scotland Yard is alert to any problems concerning the Armenian International Oil company, so misogynistic DS Laud and his sergeant Benson turn out for a minor burglary in the dentist's office that is located in the same building. That's how they become eyewitnesses to a murder, but still can't identify the criminal. Fitzgerald's first novel was set in rural Ireland, so central London is a big switch for him. — Susan, GOODREADS (March 9, 2014)
[Full review] This quotation from dental records turns out to be quite all wrong when, while Land [?] and Benson of Scotland Yard are investigating a theft in a combined dentists' offices, one partner is lethally administered a phenol injection by another instead of the regular anesthetic. From a kitful of oral practices to international oil dealings, to the probable identity of the intended victim, to fairly farcical happenings at a night club—this imposes detectives' dubiety upon professional paraphernalia in sometimes fragmented fashion. Nice touches give it a send-off. — KIRKUS REVIEW
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
1960. $3.50
[Full review] Storm-bound actors on tour in Ireland confront unscheduled drama when lady house guest's body turns up in river; leading man plays sleuth. Conventional house-party job, with nice background. — Sergeant Cuff, "Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (February 25, 1961)
[Full review] An island, in Ireland, cut off by storm, is the refuge of a judge, an actor manager and two of his company, and two wanderers who are the guests of the owner and his niece. The escape of a prisoner, his connection with someone in the party and papers to prove his innocence add to the confusion when the owner's house guest is found dead and the actor manager, unhampered by police, hares to a melodramatic solution. Holds to the lightness of This Won't Hurt You. — KIRKUS REVIEW
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
1961. 192 pages. $3.50
[Full review] Yank visiting Western Ireland home of his forebears runs into double slaughter; fine Supt. Duffy asks plenty of questions. Firm job, with good scenery, well-drawn characters. — Sergeant Cuff, "Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 26, 1962)
[Full review] Hector O'Brien Moore has not visited Ireland since he was a child, but when he returns to his ancestral estate in western Ireland, he finds the place curiously deserted, save for a drunken servant and a dead body. The dead woman, English journalist Joan Allison, had been friendly with Hector's married cousin Dominic, whose two children disapproved of the rift between their parents. Cousins and curious farm folk confuse the issue, but fortunately Superintendent Duffy is on hand to tease out links between seemingly unrelated events. — Susan, GOODREADS (March 18, 2009)
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
1963. 256 pages. $3.95
[Full review] Supt. Duffy of Cork area toils overtime to solve killings on ancestral acres; few Irish eyes smile here. Excellent background, dialogue, characterization. — Sergeant Cuff, "Criminal Record," THE SATURDAY REVIEW (March 27, 1965)
[Full review] John Cane O'Corram returns to Torcleeve after his mother's death, and finds his old flame Nell waiting. John's new wife follows him from London, however, and is on hand when Nell's body is found. The O'Corrams become the main suspects, especially when they are less than frank with Superintendent Duffy, but there are others who may have had stronger motives for killing Nell. — Susan, GOODREADS (June 30, 2014)
[Full review] An Irish welcome in a most unusual guise awaits Hector O'Brien Moore, American representative of an Irish family. Nobody at the Shannon Airport; nobody at the house except a red haired girl, assigned to interview Hector—and a drunken family retainer. Everyone had no one of them airtight [?]. There were reasons for suspecting several people and then another death brought the matter right into the family. Superintendent Duffy finds abilities and intricacies and the necessity of handling sensitive, touch me not people a difficult challenge, but he narrows his case down to a reasonable conclusion. Good details of background and a way of life marred by some unbelievable people, to particular a smart girl child. — KIRKUS REVIEW
By Nigel Fitzgerald (1906-81).
[Full description] At Dublin Airport Standish Wyse meets his pretty young cousin Juliet Carr; together they go bumping by bus across the Irish Midlands to the village of Rossderg. Wyse, an actor, is to holiday with friends including Stella Hazard – an old flame of whom he is still very fond.
An accident on a bicycle results in Wyse attending a curious party before he reaches his destination. At the party a harmless game gets out of hand, an attempt is made to cast a spell in an amateurish imitation of a black magic ritual. Soon after it looks as though the spell may actually have operated: two bloody and savage murders occur. — GOODREADS description

Category: Detective fiction

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