DEATH OF A BOOKSELLER by Bernard J. Farmer (British Library £9.99, 256pp)
DEATH OF A BOOKSELLER
by Bernard J. Farmer (British Library £9.99, 256pp)
There are now 100 titles in the British Library Classic Crime Series, a brave publishing venture that has restored many unfairly neglected writers to the public domain. All praise to general editor, Martin Edwards, for his imaginative stewardship.
Death Of A Bookseller is a worthy addition to the list. It turns on the murder of a dealer in rare books whose misfortune it is to possess a priceless first edition that some collectors would kill for. Assisting in the police investigation is Sergeant Wigan, a friend of the victim who is himself a bibliophile.
When circumstantial evidence leads to a wrongful conviction, Wigan sets out to save an innocent man and to find the real killer.
What follows is a fascinating incursion into murky byways of the rare book market, where it seems there are no limits to avarice and skulduggery.
A SUNLIT WEAPON by Jacqueline Winspear (Allison & Busby £19.99, 320pp)
A SUNLIT WEAPON
by Jacqueline Winspear (Allison & Busby £19.99, 320pp)
As a private investigator, Maisie Dobbs is not easily deterred. When a wartime Spitfire is brought down, not by enemy action but by fire from home territory, there is no obvious explanation.
The pilot is a young woman responsible for delivering new aircraft to combat bases. Meanwhile, the arrest of a young U.S. serviceman for murder convinces Maisie that his colour will count against a fair trial.
To cap it all, her American husband is preoccupied with the security of Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president, who is on a morale-boosting visit. An assassination attempt is threatened.
With so many strands, including Maisie’s adopted daughter having troubles at school, it is hard to anticipate a satisfying conclusion. But Jacqueline Winspear pulls it off brilliantly.
JACK CARTER’S LAW by Ted Lewis (No Exit Press £12.99, 224pp)
JACK CARTER’S LAW
by Ted Lewis (No Exit Press £12.99, 224pp)
The 1971 gangster movie Get Carter attracted a cult following for it and the novel that started the ball rolling. So Ted Lewis came up with a prequel every bit as hard-boiled as the original.
Carter is the lynchpin holding together a crime syndicate that thrives on intimidation. Lewis makes no claims for Carter as a character deserving sympathy.
Rather, it is his ruthless enforcement of jungle law administered with deadpan one-liners that keeps us on side. The stylised shoot-outs, ballet with bullets, are disturbingly memorable.