Friday 8 December 2017

Forgotten Book - The File on Lester

The name of Andrew Garve isn't as well-known today as it might be, despite the fact that Bello have made much of his work available again. I think that he, like his contemporary (and CWA and Detection Club colleague) Michael Gilbert suffered because of his refusal to be typecast, and his reluctance to write about series characters. He was a prolific and capable writer, who at his best was very, very good.

I've read a number of Garve's books, and I was tempted to try The File on Lester by an article that John Cooper contributed to the latest issue of CADS. John is an excellent judge, and he expressed great admiration for this book. Having read it, I can see why. It's extremely readable (smoothness of writing was something else Garve had in common with Gilbert) and the storyline is highly intriguing.

The eponymous Lester is a fast-rising star in the political firmament. He's just become leader of the Opposition, at a time when the government is unpopular, and facing a general election. Within a short time, Lester could be walking into 10 Downing Street. Then disaster strikes. An attractive young woman lets slip the information that, more than six months earlier, she and Lester had a brief affair. Lester is a widower, and there's nothing terribly scandalous about what happened. But Lester denies that he ever met the young woman, and his apparent deceit creates a furore.

The story is told in a series of documents, including reports from people working on a newspaper sympathetic to Lester. This method of story-telling can work very well, and Garve does a really good job of building the tension. There's an obvious explanation for what has happened to Lester, but it's not the right explanation. I enjoyed finding out the truth, and I now share John Cooper's enthusiasm for this highly entertaining novel.


Val said...

I haven't read that one! (adds to list) At the moment Andrew Garve ebooks don't seem to be available in the States..with the exception of "No Tears fro Hilda" So far I've found his work very enjoyable. So I'm hoping that soon they'll be available here soon.
Both "The Golden Deed" and "Narrow Search" were BBC Radio plays (and good listens)

Anonymous said...

Sounds great, and I really like books that work when made up of documents (like MacDonald's THE MAZE and Robert Bloch's THE TODD DOSSIER; I'll reserve judgement on the Wheatley dossiers. They all stand in the shadow of Wilkie Collins anyway :) )

Martin Edwards said...

Val, Sergio, thanks. Yes, I am a fan of dossier stories and I hope to cover one or two more before long

Clothes In Books said...

I went straight off and ordered it - sounds great!

Ted said...

Wow, what an addictive book! I've never read a book as quickly as this one. You're just hooked from the very beginning and can't stop until you find out the truth. I love books with short chapters and with 56 chapters in a 151 page book it gives you the feeling that you're just flying through it.