Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Middle Temple Murder: A Free Book Review

The Middle Temple Murder (audiobook here) by J.S. Fletcher is a classic mystery wherein journalist Frank Spargo attempts to solve the murder of an initially unknown elderly man in the Middle Temple Lane, where lawyers hung out back then.

This isn't the sort of mystery where you can match wits with the detective and generally have all the relevant details at your disposal. These are deep waters, Watson, and you get to follow Spargo as he delves ever deeper. You can can try to figure things out as quickly as Spargo, but that's about it. You'll be quite far in before you can even make a guess at who committed the murder, and actual certainty probably won't hit you any earlier than it does Spargo. It does all make sense--even the surprise bits are reasonable in retrospect. The last chapter seems a bit rushed, but I can understand not wanting to linger over the ending, and he does tie up the loose ends, for the most part, though I would have like to see what happened with a kind of secondary villain near the end. I doubt his position was quite as impregnable as he claimed: at least here in the US, some of his actions would have been felonies, and a few others might have been as well.

In any case you'll mostly be along for the ride. It is an engaging ride, however, and you can learn a bit about England nearly a century ago.

A note on the audiobook: the quality is average, better than some I've encountered lately, so it's a good way to get acquainted with J. S. Fletcher, a largely forgotten author whose work deserves better. I'll definitely check out some of his other books and report back; if you're curious, you can find e-books here and audiobooks here.

And again, that's

The Middle Temple Murder

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