#563: The Rose in Darkness (1979) by Christianna Brand

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I don’t think I’ve ever disliked the cast of a novel as much as I disliked the core group of The Rose in Darkness (1979) by Christianna Brand.  Goddamn, what a bunch of self-centred, self-congratulatory, self-satisfied, smug, pretentious, vacuous, condescending, poseur, low-rent hipster prigs.  You say ‘bohemian’, I say ‘unbearable’ — were people really like this in the Seventies?  And, because Brand does her usual thing of telling you up front that there’s one victim and one killer, you know that once the body turns up you’re stuck with the rest of them until the end.  Good heavens, there’s never a serial killer around when you need one.

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#560: Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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Cometh the hour, cometh the man.  After a debut that laid the cornerstone of a new genre and three succeeding works exploring the principles of that genre from varying perspectives, now begins Freeman Wills Crofts’ 30-novel (plus however-many short stories) relationship with Inspector Joseph French.  At this stage it’s difficult to judge how French differs from his antecedents Burnley, Lafarge, Tanner, Willis, Vandam, and Ross, but I guess we’ll never know whether French was ever initially conceived as more than a one-book man like those others.  The title certainly suggests so, but history shows otherwise.

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#557: The Gilded Man (1942) by Carter Dickson

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It had been my intention to review a book by a new-to-me author this week, but thankfully I was able to get to it a little ahead of time and watch disconsolately as, after a bright start, it fizzled out to nothing (man, some Silver Age stuff has a lot to answer for…).  Instead, here’s another from John Dickson Carr’s era of tight, house-set puzzles which range from masterpieces (The Reader is Warned (1939), The Seat of the Scornful (1941)) to very good (The Crooked Hinge (1938), The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942)) to, er, Seeing is Believing (1941).  And with The Gilded Man (1942) being somewhat overlooked, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get…

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