Friday, 10 June 2011

Forgotten Book - In the Night


My choice for today's Forgotten Book is a novel which dates back to 1917. It appeared only four years after Trent's Last Case had, in effect, inaugurated the classic detective novel, and although it is no match for EC Bentley's classic mystery, I do not think it deserves the total critical neglect which has been its fate. The book in question is In the Night, and the author is Lord Gorell.

One of the interesting features of the novel is its insistence on playing fair with the reader. In is discovered and readers are, as far as possible, given the eyes of the investigators and the opportunities with them of arriving at the truth."

In the first part of the book, the detection is undertaken by a Scotland Yard man who happened to be holidaying in the neighbourhood. Later on, a young woman turns amateur detective, and her sleuthing reveals an unexpected culprit. But there is neat final twist, and although the book is no more than a mild and light read, the story is competently put together. Bearing in mind the date when it appeared, this novel surely ought to be better known.

This was Lord Gorell's debut crime novel, and he went on to combine a busy political and social life with sporadic crime writing. When Agatha Christie became President of the Detection Club, his Lordship acted as her co-president for a number of years, undertaking the public speaking duties that she loathed. To state the obvious, his reputation in the genre has not fared as well as hers. But although he was a minor writer, he was certainly competent, and this book, frankly, impressed me more than I expected when I sat down to read it.

7 comments:

vegetableduck said...

Belief in the importance of fair play in the detective novel preceded the "Golden Age" (1920 to 1939 or thereabouts). It's merely that all this became codified in the 1920s (only to be scorned not long after).

The police procedure in "In the Night" is rather naive, to say the least; but I'd be all up for its reprinting.

Catherine said...

Martin I have started reading your Lake District novels I loved The Coffin Trail looking forward to reading the next in the series.

John said...

You finally got me. A writer I have never heard of and, therefore, a book unknown to me. Went searching for copies and found exactly one. Yes, one. A reprint edition from 1927 and it's too pricey for a book I only want to read. (...sigh...) Nothing by him in the Chicago Public Library either. The hunt continues.

Dorte H said...

A female private detective? There can´t have been many of those around in 1917.

The book may not be easy to come by, though.

Martin Edwards said...

Curt, John, many thanks. I'm delighted to have got you at last, John! This book was better than I expected.

Martin Edwards said...

Catherine, great to hear from you. And I'm delighted you liked the book.

Martin Edwards said...

Dorte, I'm afraid that's right. Took me a while to find it, but worth the wait.