Friday, 14 February 2020

Forgotten Book - Murder is a Kill-Joy

My copy of Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's Murder is a Kill-Joy is a little Dell mapback paperback. Mapbacks have a depiction of a key crime scene on the back of the book and are highly collectible. This one features an attractive depiction of "the house in the marshes" which is a murder scene in the novel, which was originally called Kill Joy. I wish that someone would compile an illustrated book featuring all the mapbacks; I'm sure it would be fascinating.

I've talked before about my admiration for Holding, a very good writer. When this book first came out, Kirkus Reviews said, in effect, that it was ok but not up with her best work, and that's essentially my view too. But it's a pacy story with plenty of twists and turns, even if the central situation didn't interest me quite as much as it evidently appealed to Holding.

Maggie Macgowan, a 19 year-old woman, is working in domestic service, trying to find her way in the world, when out of the blue Dolly Camford, for whose family Maggie works, persuades her to join her in a new career. They leave home in a hurry -  Dolly says she is fleeing from a menacing man, but it soon becomes clear to Maggie that Dolly's word is not to be relied upon. And they end up at the house in the marshes.

The complications come thick and fast, but in many ways the most appealing aspect of the book is the way Maggie matures as she experiences a whirl of conflicting emotions. Holding portrays her with a good deal of skill. Not a masterpiece, but any crime novel by Holding is worth a read.


Colleen Dawson said...

My favorite nearly-forgotten book is "Death Walks in Eastrepps". Is there any chance of releasing it for Kindle in the "British Crime Library Classics" series?

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Colleen. I share your enthusiasm for this one and persuaded Arcturus to reissue it a few years back though I'm not sure if there was a kindle version.