You can tell it’s been a tough couple of weeks, because I’ve reverted to my reading Happy Place — Carter Dickson, Max Afford, and now Norman Berrow (there was a traumatic Ngaio Marsh experience in there, too, but the less said about that the better). My entirely non-chronological sampling of this delightful Kiwi — probably the most purely joyous GAD author I read — continues apace, since this is the preceding title to Murder in the Melody (1940), the last Berrow I read…no, I have no idea why I’m doing it like this. I’ll make sure his debut The Smokers of Hashish (1934) is the next Berrow I pick up. Just bear with me, eh? It’s been a tough couple of weeks.
There is a lot to be said for not letting your heroes grow up. From Jonathan Creek’s middle-aged ennui to the doddery old bastard many authors have tried to tell us Sherlock Holmes became, the majority of attempts to drag these fictional wonders into ‘reality’ typically turn in a strong argument in favour of youthful literary immortality. I already know scores of middle-aged men who regret their life choices; I do not know any impossible crime-solving magician’s assistants who live in windmills — that’s why I seek escape in fiction. If want to watch a man slowly disintegrate under his own self-loathing, there are plenty of mirrors in my house.