It's been almost unbearably hot and stuffy in town for the last week, and noisy as well (there's been a festival on my street all weekend which hasn't helped) so I went home to mum for a night. The sheer pleasure of a garden to sit in (not a park full of bongo players and children high on candy floss) a dog to play with, absolute quiet at night, and my mother's excellent company, Champagne, and cooking is impossible to overstate. Even the dog bouncing on top of me at 5.30 am to check I was still there was a pleasure (or she might have been checking that I was alone, when D and I stay at Mum's the dog really doesn't look like she approves).
I didn't read quite as much as I meant to, but I did finish 'Excellent Intentions'. I should probably have started with 'The Murder of my Aunt' which the British Library Crime Classics series has also republished and which seems to have been Hull's best known book, as well as his first. 'Excellent Intentions matched the bottle of gin that I also bought last week though, and the two together made a particularly tempting combination.
If 'Excellent Intentions' is a good example of Hull's work 'The Murder of my Aunt' is something I can really look forward to reading. I truly enjoy the BL crime classics, they always have something appealing in terms of atmosphere and detail, and they're giving an increasingly thorough overview of their genre and period. I love the way that there's room for books/writers that don't take themselves particularly seriously in the collection (I'm particularly thinking of Alan Melville's 'Quick Curtain'), but what I part appreciate are books like this one.
'Excellent Intentions' is clever, and funny, and sly in equal measures. The murder victim is satisfyingly horrible, and a lengthy discussion on the finer points of stamp collecting and the detecting of forged stamps the sort of thing I consider the cherry on the cake of an author having a bit of fun with his readers.
'Excellent Intentions' is sort of a court room drama. We know who the victim is, and as the plot unfolds we find out through a series of testimonies, summings up, flash backs, and so on, what happened. We meet 4 potential suspects, but only find out at the end which one has been on trial, and even then there is a final twist.
It's clever enough to keep you guessing, but has sufficient clues along the way for the culprit to seem obvious enough when the reveal comes around. Hull's red herrings and sly humour are what makes the book for me though. I felt he was daring me to skip the stamp collecting details, knowing that I couldn't in case I missed a vital clue.
If production companies ever get tired of trying to reinvent Agatha Christie this would make a splendid adaptation as well - but that's almost certainly to much to hope for.