On a foggy night in London, Gordon Frew is murdered in his St. John’s Wood Studio. Early on there are several likely suspects including an Oriental man in a red fez, an artist’s model, her jealous ex-boyfriend, and a Doctor who was apparently the last to see him.
This was a good mystery with some very entertaining characters. But, what could have been very good was made less enjoyable by, in my opinion, verbose, overblown prose.
“The cool breath of the enduring workaday world seemed to blow lightly through the turgid atmosphere of horror and unreality.”
Now, I know I just wrote a review where I talked about Carr’s use of prose…but his evoked images and atmosphere. The prose in Studio did none of that and actually got in the way of the story. There were several passages that I had to re-read in order to make sense of what was being said, or what Jerrold was trying to convey…which is rather off-putting.
When the narrative was less affected the characters and the plot came together for an enjoyable story that is well plotted with a nicely complex mystery. Jerrold’s amateur detective John Christmas is a lighthearted character with a rather unique method of detection.
“I prefer to create a theory out of the broad characteristics of the case, and then test the facts to see if they support my theory. If they don’t, of course the theory falls to the ground; and if no other rises from the ruins to take it’s place, I have to give the affair up as hopeless.”
His friend Laurence Newtree, is shy and endearing, but also makes an exceptional Watson to Christmas’s Holmes.
“Don’t be exasperating, John. I won’t be Watson and follow you all over London unless I’m allowed to know what’s what and why. “
I enjoyed the banter between these two, as well as the mild rivalry between Christmas and Inspector Hembrow.
All in all I just think that stylistically this book just wasn’t for me.
My Judgement- 3/5