Friday, 9 November 2007

Green For Danger

I’ve filled a gap in my education at long last by catching up with the film of Christianna Brand’s finest whodunit, Green for Danger. Alastair Sim, who plays Inspector Cockrill, received much acclaim for his witty performance, and the praise accorded to the film seems to me to be entirely justified (though one reviewer’s comment that ‘the plot is superfluous’ had me well and truly baffled.)

I first read the book as a teenager and I doubt if there are many better detective stories set during the Second World War. The wartime setting is integral to the story-line, not mere background, and the mystery is ingeniously contrived. I’ve always liked the title of the novel, and borrowed it for a CWA anthology of crimes in the countryside a few years back.

Brand was a very clever writer, with a flair for plot. She is often praised for her characterisation too, although at times I find some of her more highly strung creations a bit irritating. Her short stories are well worth seeking out, because her gifts were especially well suited to the short form. A relatively recent collection is The Spotted Cat, edited by Tony Medawar and published by Crippen & Landru.

Brand was obviously quite a character in real life. CADS magazine recently reprinted her recollections of fellow members of the Detection Club. Indiscreet and very entertaining.

5 comments: said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Martin! And thanks, as well, for introducing me to your blog. :)

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

Robert Barnard was a friend of Brand's and tells wonderful stories about her delightfully barbed letters.

_Green for Danger_ is a superb novel, and Brand was nominated for Edgars for her short stories "Poison in the Cup" and "Twist for Twist" and her nonfiction work _Heaven Knows Who_.

Pauline Rowson said...

I've read Christianna Brand's "Green for Danger" many times and have this novel and her novel "Tour de Force" in my collection. I didn't enjoy "Tour de Force" quite as much but it's still a good read nonetheless. I've also got the Alistair Simm Film in my video collection and enjoy wathcing it from time to time, so we're on the same wavelength there, Martin. Have you ever read " The Moving Toyshop" by Edmund Crispin and "The Silk Stocking Murders" by Anthony Berkely, both are well worth reading, but then to me anything from the Golden Age of Crime is great.

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, Bob Barnard has shared with me some of his recollections about Brand, and you're absolutely right. He wrote a very good article about her some years ago in 'The Armchair Detective' and was also kind enough to let me have a copy of her late, and rather obscure, novel 'The Rose in Darkness'.

Pauline, I'm very fond of both books you mention. I'm a fan of Berkeley in particular. I've written an article about him which is due to appear in 'Mystery Scene' some time soon. Happy to let you have a copy if you would like.

Pauline Rowson said...

Martin, I would love a copy of the article on Anthony Berkely and so thrilled to find someone else who enjoys these novels. And I am SO jealous that you know Robert Barnard well enough to call him Bob!! I am a great fan of his and have many of his novels in my collection.