Friday, 15 December 2017

Forgotten Book - The Adventuress (and a word about Bill Crider)


Image result for adventuress detective story club
The Adventuress is an odd title for a crime story, perhaps, but I was tempted to read Arthur B. Reeve's novel as a result of its appearance in the Detective Story Club series. One of the key features of this series, like the British Library Crime Classics, is the sheer variety of the material. Other than one or two short stories, I've hardly bothered with Reeve in the past, but found that this novel had some features of merit, even if its interest is mainly historical.

This edition also benefits from an excellent introduction by David Brawn, which sets the book in context. Reeve had a meteoric rise to fame as a crime writer, thanks to his creation of the "Scientific Detective" Craig Kennedy. The stories were packed with incident, and narrated by an excitable journalist who is constantly baffled by Kennedy's brilliant work and occasional enigmatic pronouncements.

This story gets off to a cracking start, quite literally, as someone attempts to shoot a lawyer who is about to consult Kennedy. And this highlights the nature of the Kennedy stories. Danger and excitement abound, even if some of the action is thinly motivated - I'm still not convinced that the assassination attempt made much sense.

The mystery concerns the murder of a munitions magnate while on board his fancy yacht. Various family members, and even perhaps a rascally lawyer or two, are suspects. And what about the exotic lady adventuress herself? Or the Japanese servant? Or the mysterious foreigner who keeps lurking in the background? Well, the narrator is always asking questions at the end of chapters, so is it any wonder I've found his habit infectious?

There's a lot of scientific jargon intended to impress the bemused reader, and the style is so dated that it's no great surprise that Reeve's reputation faded almost as quickly as it grew. But he was a lively storyteller, and there aren't many dull moments, that's for sure.

Last, but definitely not least, can I mention that many of the Friday bloggers, splendidly marshalled by Patti Abbott, who write about Forgotten Books are today paying tribute to Bill Crider, one of the finest bloggers of them all. Bill is a novelist with a long and distinguished track record, and has also contributed a regular column to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. I've been glad to have a word with him, albeit all too briefly, at the last couple of Bouchercons, in New Orleans and a few weeks ago in Toronto. Sadly, Bill has been in poor health for some time, but I'm glad to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of him and his work. Do take a look at other Friday bloggers for more about Bill and his books,

1 comment:

bloodymurder said...

I do like these new editions - this sounds quite jolly too. Thanks Martin.