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Crime novels that are worth reading twice

Posted on Oct 14, 2014 in Robert Player | 4 Comments

imagesTo be worth rereading a crime novel has to have a little extra something other than the plot. If the puzzle element is uppermost, then once is enough, unless of course you have managed to forget whodunit.

The plot twist was about all I remembered of The  Ingenious Mr Stone by Robert Player, which I first read a very long time ago, but it turned out to be well worth revisiting. Moira over at ClothesinBooks.com brought it to my attention and commented on how few people have read what she felt was a crime classic. I agree.

It is dark, funny, and highly original. A large part of it is narrated by Miss Sophie Coppock, bursar of a dreadful second-rate girls’ school and a wonderfully Pooter-like figure, blissfully unaware of the effect she is having on other people. The novel was published in 1945, but there is something rather contemporary about the way the different viewpoints are handled, and perhaps above in all the character of the person who finally gets to the bottom of mystery, one of the most unlikely sleuths in crime fiction – and one of the least attractive.

4 Comments

  1. moira @ Clothes in Books
    October 14, 2014

    Lovely writup of a great book, and thanks for the shoutout. Would be nice if we could get more people to read it.

    Reply
  2. Christine Poulson
    October 14, 2014

    Thanks, Moira. Yes, it deserves to be more widely known. I wonder if Martin Edwards has read it. He seems to have read everything else!

    Reply
    • Martin Edwards
      October 18, 2014

      There are all too many gaps in my reading, but I’m glad to say this isn’t one of them. I borrowed it from a library a very, very long time ago, on the basis that Julian Symons mentioned it in Bloody Murder, and I did enjoy it. I’ve recently acquired a copy of my own, and I hope to re-read it before long. Julian was rather negative about Player’s follow-up, The Homicidal Colonel, but I’ve also found a couple of signed copies of his later books, in the hope they have something of the excellence of his debut.

      Reply
      • Christine Poulson
        October 20, 2014

        You have to admit though, Martin, that I have very rarely caught you out in this respect. I haven’t read The Homicidal Colonel, and though I have read some of the later ones, I don’t remember anything about them. I must have another look

        Reply

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