Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"There Is No Mystery About It"

By Archibald Marshall (1866-1934) and Horace Annesley Vachell (1861-1955).
Dodd, Mead & Co.
1926. 306 pages. $2.00
[a.k.a. MR. ALLEN]
For sale HERE.
If you have a couple of hours to kill and don't care how, this might be the one for you:
[Full review] After reading . . . two preeminently "strong" books I demanded of the shelves something light, and was rewarded by those who are supposed to know with a new Archibald Marshall tale, "Mote House Mystery." Expecting to wander for several hours in rural England with this gentle and genial author, I was surprised and, yes, delighted to find myself engrossed in a mystery romance as original, as humorful, as thrilling as could be wished. Mr. Marshall has combined his understanding of countryside character with a real gift of suspense, and in a dual love story of a forty-eight year old bachelor and his charming nephew there is . . . bang!
Having read from galley proofs, I had credited it all to Mr. Marshall. Not so, I find in the catalogue. This is a collaborative volume. It is written by Archibald Marshall and Horace Annesley Vachell, and it has, to be sure, the best qualities of both. In the delightful periods and ramblings of Mr. Pollen, is the mind and pen of the gentle writer concerning English countrysides; in the character and ghoulishness of the mysterious "Mr. Allen" is the talent of the swifter story teller. This is a story for a good evening's entertainment, although, if it were not for the compelling humor and charm of Mr. Marshall, its excitement would occasionally be overwhelmingly macabre. ("The Editor Recommends," The Bookman, March 1926, page 89 - LINK)
[Full review] This novel is now wending its serial way through the pages of the London "Graphic" under the title of "Mr. Allen," a fair name for the book, which "Mote House Mystery" is not. There is no mystery about it. As soon as the story gets going (after the first hundred pages) we learn that the arch-villain is attempting to [SPOILER DELETED] in a most insidious manner, and the rest of the book explains how he is frustrated in this attempt and what eventually happens to him.
All this is well enough, but the eminent authors seem unable to decide whether they are writing one of those succulent truffles that keep England's lady novelists from the poorhouse, all about the dear sweet old bachelor who collects prints and loves to romp with the kiddies, and how he gives up the golden-haired lassie to the young fellow with the chest expansion; or whether they were writing a detective story. The compromise is like sarsaparilla: interesting, moderately pleasant, and not over-exciting. (Edmund Pearson, "Current Books," The Outlook, April 14, 1926, pages 571-572 - LINK)
- Wikipedia has articles about normally mainstream authors Marshall HERE and Vachell HERE.

Category: Crime (not mystery) fiction

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