I recently acquired a few Carter Dickson’s, but after reading a few reviews was questioning whether my purchases were worth the read. But I loved the first one, the Curse of the Bronze Lamp, and as a novice Carr/Dickson reader I have no real expectations, so decided to slog it out and read on…And So to Murder…
Monica Stanton, “aged twenty-two, only child of Rev. Canon Stanton, country clergyman…had seldom in her life been allowed to venture beyond the confines of East Roystead, Herts.”, has written a salacious best-seller. Albion Films has bought the rights and hired Monica as a script writer, and she is to work under the tutelage of William Cartwright, a writer of detective stories, whom “Monica felt she would like to poison…and dance on his grave.” But when a series of attempts are made on Monica’s, it becomes apparent that it’s her grave someone wants to dance on.
Let’s start out with my only real quibble about this book. Sir Henry doesn’t appear until 2/3’s of the way through. But when you think about it, actuality this allows the focus of the story to be on the victim, the various attempts on her life, and the suspects. Carr takes great advantage of 1940’s film-making industry clichés using it to create an imaginative plot (but then remember, I am a Carr newbie so I reserve the right to change my mind with further reads) which moves at a rapid pace. And, I believe this is another one where you may be totally fooled by who the real culprit and the motive.
We get quirky characters such as the condescending, fast talking, studio head Tom Hackett; chain-smoking, raspy voiced script writer Tilly Parsons, and the alluring femme-fatale with nothing between the ears, actress Frances Fleur. The interactions between the characters are often rapid fire and incredibly witty, much like an actual film of the era. The sequences between the two studio executives discussing altering the events at the Battle of Waterloo to accommodate viewers’ tastes and the actors who had been cast in the lead roles are so fun, and plays more of a role in the plot than you may think!
This may be one of Carr’s more lightweight stories, but I’m so glad that I didn’t give up and cast it in the charity bin. While it’s not brilliant, it was a fun, enjoyable read.
And thank you JJ @ The Invisible Event for giving “me hope for the future…of my Carr reading list”.
My Judgement– 4/5