Friday, 3 April 2015

Forgotten Book - Further Evidence

Alan Brock is a Golden Age author who has long been forgotten. I think he deserves fresh attention, and I'm delving into his life and work at the moment. My Forgotten Book today is Further Evidence, which was first published in 1934, and earned enough acclaim to be paperbacked, in the days when many good novels never made it into paper covers. Dorothy L. Sayers heaped praise on the book in a review for the Sunday Times, and that can have done it no harm at all.

Brock's specialism was real life crime. He wrote non-fiction about crime investigation, and several of his books were based on actual cases. In a prefatory note to Further Evidence, he says that the plot was influenced by more than one murder trial of the previous forty or fifty years. I'm not absolutely sure which cases he's referring to. The Crippen case is an outside possibility, but the events there were very different from those in the book.

The story, soberly told, concerns the relationship between Robert Savage and Ethel Drew. Savage is married to a  nice woman, but falls for attractive, flirty Ethel. Local gossip about them provokes an incident which sees him losing his job. He ends up working for his unpleasant, sanctimonious brother, but he can't get over Ethel. The narrative is rather doom-laden, and it's clear that Something Bad is going to happen. And so it does....

I enjoyed this story. I don't claim that Brock was a masterly prose stylist, but he builds the tension pretty well, and I am certainly looking forward to reading more of his work. My main criticism of the book is the ending, which is anti-climactic, and a weak point (Sayers too had reservations about it.) According to Al Hubin's indispensable bibliography,Brock was born in 1886 and published nine crime novels under his own name, plus one as Peter Dewdney. My understanding is that he is the Alan St Hill Brock who was an expert on pyrotechnics, and a member of the Brock family famous for fireworks over many generations; their company is still going strong today..

3 comments:

John said...

New writer to me. The only GAD era Brock I know is Lynn Brock. But that was a pseudonym. I guess this Brock is the only genuine "Golden Age" Brock.

Martin Edwards said...

I think so, John. As for Lynn Brock,I think that, for all his books' flaws, he was a rather interesting writer.

Ted said...

I can see why this one is forgotten ... it's just so rare. A worldcat search yields only five libraries that have a copy (four in the UK and one is the US).