Edgar Lustgarten was once a familiar face on British TV screens. A barrister from Manchester, he became a successful broadcaster, specialising in programmes about crime. The Scotland Yard TV series that he fronted (and which was very good) has recently been resurrected on the Talking Pictures channel, and this has reignited my interest in a writer who wrote occasional novels as well as numerous true crime books. His first novel, A Case to Answer, was especially well-regarded, not least by Julian Symons.
Game for Three Losers was first published in 1952; later, it was adapted for TV as part of the Edgar Wallace Mysteries series which has again resurfaced thanks to Talking Pictures. The novel is written in Lustgarten's rather distinctive style, with rather more "tell" than "show"; today, this isn't a fashionable method, but he handles it pretty well.
Robert Hilary is a rising star in the political world, a Conservative MP in his late forties. When his trusty secretary leaves work to have a baby, her replacement is a stunningly beautiful young woman and Hilary finds her irresistible. He soon finds himself in a compromising position, and open to blackmail by the woman's rascally lover, who poses as her outraged brother.
I rather expected Hilary to decide that the only solution to his dilemma was murder, but Lustgarten's main focus is on charting the consequences of crime. This is a book roughly in the Francis Iles tradition that focuses on the way the legal system operates - not very justly, in some cases. The story is downbeat in mood, but Lustgarten's crisp writing kept me interested from start to finish.