Sunday, August 20, 2017

Antidote to Venom with a Gimlet

I wrote about Freeman Wills Crofts 'Antidote to Venom' Here as part of a 1938 book club (what I particularly like about Simon and Kaggsy's book clubs are the way they make me consider what's happening in the years the books are being written in and looking at them with that particular focus).

It's an interesting one both because it tells the story from the point of view of the murderer and because of the strong moral, and christian, message it concludes with. The protagonist is an outwardly successful man with a slightly weak character. He's unhappily married to a woman who came from a more affluent background and can't, or won't, understand that she needs to alter her expectations. A series of bad decisions culminate in murder, and whilst in this case the details of the crime are exaggeratedly elaborate George's downward spiral rings true.

Slowly but surely he digs himself into a hole that he doesn't have the strength of character to get out of, his moral compass increasingly compromised with every step. one of the things I found really interesting about this one was the light it threw on social expectations. If George divorced he would lose his job, and the hose that goes with it, as a married woman his wife would be barred from a number of jobs even if she wanted to work, as it is the assumption that her husband will provide piles the pressure onto George, and when he fails, gives her a genuine sense of grievance. Obviously non of this excuses murder in the least, but the way Crofts tells it is provocative and masterly.

I associate Gimlets with navel officers (rum for the men, gin for the officers, and lime with both to keep scurvy away) they're also referred to in Angela Thirkell's 'Marling Hall' (there's a lack of lime for the gin, when it does become available the difficult landlady swipes it, using a whole bottle in an evening so I'm assuming Gimlets are the drink being made) which suggests this was a common way to drink gin. The colour and kick of the Gimlet certainly recalls venom.

The Gimlet is half and half lime cordial and gin stirred, it can be iced if desired.  (Rose's lime for preference, Plymouth gin if you want the Navy connection) The Savoy Coctail book also has a Gimblet which is 1/4 lime juice to 3/4 gin well shaken in a medium sized glass and topped up with soda water - which I like rather more, but are altogether less venomous, and less likely to encourage you to make bad decisions.

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