Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ask A Policeman - by members of the detection club

I didn't read much when I was on holiday (despite hauling a huge pile of books around the country with me), there just didn't seem to be much time for it, and since getting back I've been buried in textile books. I've already written about a few of them here (all of them should be appearing elsewhere in due course) but thought all of them on the trot might get a bit repetitive...

What I did manage to read, after picking it up at the Bodies From The Library day (it was a very well organised event right down to the chance to buy so many of the books mentioned) was 'Ask A Policeman'.

I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to come across this book, but I'm glad I finally have. The founding members of The Detection Club wrote a few joint mysteries, but what I loved about the idea of this one is that not only does it boast a couple of characters I'm reasonably familiar with (Gladys Mitchell's Mrs Bradley, and Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey) but better yet the writers swapped characters (so Wimsey's chapter was written by Anthony Berkeley - and that's what sold the book to me).

You might think that would be enough, but no, it gets better. A newspaper tycoon (very much along the Rupert Murdoch lines which just goes to show that not much changes) is found dead, the suspects are an Archbishop, the Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard, and the Chief Whip. Add a liberal helping of red herrings and taking into account that nobody is taking themselves to seriously and there you have it - a book so perfect for me that I really, really, can't believe it's taken me so very long to find it.

I don't want to give anything away, but can safely say that it absolutely met my high expectations for entertainment, as well as making me want to read more Anthony Berkeley (especially Berkeley, but also Helen Simpson and Milward Kennedy - though they might be a challenge to find at an affordable price). Any fans of golden age detective fiction out there who've missed this - it's a treat.

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