I have been having a very happy reading time. I am fortunate in having a nice library just down the hill. It is large and friendly, and we do get new books. And my library had The Benefit of Hindsight by Susan Hill.
Not all great novelists can write crime fiction,
but when one does like Susan Hill does, the result
– Ruth Rendell –
Ages ago I was an avid reader of the Susan Hill crime series featuring her detective, Simon Serrailer. I read my library find and it sent me back to my own shelves to read this series from the start again! These are serious tales and all too often the crimes are not neatly solved come the end of the book. But this is Susan Hill writing, and you can trust her. I am smiling because at the end of one of the books a really BAD thing happens and there was talk that the author would not be continuing the series. I wrote to simply ask if that was so and she responded by answering the unasked question: Don’t worry she said, he will be alright!
Another favourite mystery writer is E C R Lorac (Edith Caroline Rivett). She wrote during the so-called Golden Age of mystery and died way back in 1958. Her books are much lighter and features the delightful Inspector Robert MacDonald. Always a pleasure to come across him. I think that thus far my favourite is Fell Murder but at the moment I am well into Murder’s Mistake and that is promising to be a good’un. The books are sometimes set in London, often in Lancashire. I enjoy the sense of place and the really good dialogue. These books are very inexpensive so it is quite painless to give them a try and join Robert MacDonald as he strides up hill and down dale.
Years ago I was living in Luanda in Angola and trawling through Amazon trying to find books I could take a flyer on. Cost was, and still is always an issue. Anyhoo, I came across a writer called Steven F Havill. What a lucky find! These books featured Undersheriff Bill Gastner out in Posadas County near the Mexican border. Bill Gastner is very much overweight, comfortable with who he is and more than happy where he is. He can all too often be found in the Don Juan de Onate restaurant wolfing down a green chilli burrito! I like visiting the world this author creates, he sets up a decent plot and is very adept at dialogue. I have been doing some re reading of these very good crime novels and my word, they have stood the test of time.
And now to Margery Allingham and the bespectacled Albert Campion! I read these books as a young woman so many years ago! At times I have had to have vigorous culls of my books but these somehow survived. How glad I am and how I regret some that didn’t! They were high up in my bookcase and I had all but forgotten about them until I came across an audiobook of The China Governess read by Francis Matthews and was reminded of the pleasures of these complicated amusing and sometimes harrowing stories! The sharp way with which Allingham would use a few words to place a character clearly defined before us. And so back I went to become reacquainted. I had to clamber up on a chair to get hold of the books but now they are within easy reach. These stories are always quite a ride! Sad, funny and scary! Oh, she was a good, good writer! I have so much enjoyed More Work for the Undertaker. Mathers writing in the Observer: to Albert Campion has fallen the honour of being the first detective to feature in a story which is also by any standard a distinguished novel. He was speaking of The Fashion in Shrouds but to my mind that can apply to The China Governess and more.