#566: The Terror in the Fog (1938) by Norman Berrow

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Bill Hamilton, having previously chased hashish smugglers and a werewolf (separately) around Spain, now finds himself in his homestead of Gibraltar contending with a “London particular” fog, three murdered men hanging from the rafters of an abandoned storehouse, and a mysteriously faceless nun intent on causing all manner of havoc.  Yes, The Terror in the Fog (1938) is quite unmistakably a Norman Berrow novel — this mixture of superstition and cold, hard murder is Berrow’s bailiwick, and here are glimpses of the very fine novels he would go on to produce — and from early on it feels by far the most confident of his career to this point.

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#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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