Friday, 6 December 2013

Forgotten Book - Accessory to Murder

Do you know the work of Pamela Barrington? I didn't until recently. But I have now read her 1968 novel Accessory to Murder, and really enjoyed it. What is more, I would not have come across either Barrington or her Forgotten Book had it not been for one of the knowledgeable readers of this blog. Kacper contacted me a while ago and suggested I might be interested in Barrington. He said he'd been impressed with some of her work and thought I might like it too. He was quite right, and I'm really grateful to him for pointing me in her direction.

This little anecdote is an example, of course, of one of the very happy consequences of blogging. As a result of my posts here, I've come into contact with a wide range of people - some of whom I've been able to meet in person, many of whom I haven't - who have certainly proved delightful to talk to, either face to face or via email. And I've learned a good deal from these contacts, as well as benefiting from many kindnesses. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully the internet - whatever people say about its shortcomings- has opened up new horizons for us all.

Anyway, back to Barrington - whose real name, Kacper tells me, was Muriel Vere Mant Barling. She wrote about two dozen novels, with this one coming at the end of her career. It's a fast moving story, which opens with a man called Henry Deek, who seizes the chance to blackmail a rich local woman when he discovers a missing will. A legal point cropped up concerning the will, which I thought would be relevant, but was never mentioned again - one of the few flaws in an otherwise neatly constructed story.

When Henry is found murdered, there are a number of potential suspects, and Barrington does a good job of switching suspicion around. The twist at the end was, I felt, a bit weak, but all in all this was a lively and entertaining book. It reminded me of some of Margaret Yorke's early stand-alone crime novels. Margaret, of course, went on to win the CWA Diamond Dagger, whereas Barrington is now neglected. But as Kacper rightly said, she does not deserve to be. Incidentally, just as I was about to post here, Kacper has emailed me again with fresh information about Barrington (including the fact that she was born in Cheshire,which gives me a certain fellow feeling for her), and I hope to feature her again in this blog before too long.


Clothes In Books said...

Very interesting - don't think I have ever come across her, but this does sound good. Look forward to your posting more about her and her books.

Kacper said...

Wonderful post! It's a great pleasure to be able to connect with you, Martin, and I'm so honored you took my recommendation to heart! Barrington is a very good writer indeed.

I haven't read Margaret Yorke, so I can't speak to that comparison, but some of the ways in which Barrington explores psychology and relationships reminds me a bit of early Ruth Rendell - Barrington's writing doesn't have the same sophistication or complexity as Rendell's (Rendell is one of my absolute favorite writers, crime or otherwise), but I think some of the ways in which her characters manipulate and deceive others as well as themselves are Rendellian.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Moira. Kacper - I look forward to your further thoughts on PB. Thanks again for the intro.