The astute among you will be in no way surprised that the next title in my ongoing spoiler-heavy series will be Fog of Doubt, a.k.a. London Particular (1952) by the superbly talented borderline Crime Queen — held back, perhaps, by her relative sparsity of output in the genre — Christianna Brand.
This time, however, I’m going to be doing things differently.
In contravention of the usual format, wherein I have been very fortunate to engage in discussion with my exceptionally knowledgable and entertaining fellow GAD bloggers, I shall be doing this one tout seul. Before you seek to traduce my motives here as an escalation of my ego-driven ways, it’s actually far simpler than that: I’m trying to keep the word-count to a readable level on account of the format this Spoiler Warning will take. And I’m going to tell you what that format is now so that, if you have not read this and wish to play along at home, you have the chance of doing the same thing.
“Get on with it, then!”
What I shall be doing in this case is putting the book aside at the end of every chapter and writing my thoughts, suspicions, and general reflections on the plot and characters. Therefore, since Fog of Doubt has 18 chapters, the post will be composed of 18 mini essays of approximately 200 words each. Obviously I shall not attempt to salve my querulous, grossly-bloated ego by correcting any errors — that’s at least half the fun — as at least part of my intention here is also to capture the evolution of the reader’s experience over the course of this type of novel. Does that sound pretentious? Ah, well…
Brand has wrong-footed me three times out of four — though, in spite of what the majority says, I still question how fair-play Green for Danger actually is — so how will I do this time? Tune in this July to find out! But obviously come back in the meantime, too. I’m a fragile soul, and need the validation of views on my blog.
The following reviews will give you some idea of what to expect from this one if you’ve not read it:
Ben @ The Green Capsule: By the end of the story, you’ll feel such a bond with each character and the close knit community they make up, that any potential resolution is devastating. Oh, and this one pays off for sure. In a similar sense to Ellery Queen’s The French Powder Mystery, the payout occurs very very late in the story. This time, it’s not who committed the murder – that you’ll have figured out several pages earlier. The Fog of Doubt leaves you astounded by the ‘how’ – a clue waved so openly in your face for so long that I reject the idea of a reader who doesn’t walk away feeling like an idiot. Sure, I clued into it about two pages early, but that didn’t mask the sting at all.
Nick Fuller @ The Grandest Game in the World: The setting for the first half is a comfortable upper middle-class (professional) household in London suburbia on a night of dense fog (hence the Dickensian title). Murder is done, and Cockrill, a friend of the family, is called in, just as two arrests are carried out. The whole culminates in a glorious courtroom drama, a brilliant mixture of drama and fair-play clueing, and a nicely-managed contrast between the pleased excitement of the public, and the tension of the sympathetic suspects—whom we have come to view as our personal friends. Brand plays devilishly fair with the clues, and the least likely suspect is as surprising as he should be. As good as Carr or Christie.