Friday, 11 March 2022

Forgotten Book - Six Queer Things

Christopher St John Sprigg packed a great deal into his life before his tragically early death during the Spanish Civil War, when he was still not quite thirty. The detective novels he wrote are varied and interesting and one can only speculate about what he might have achieved in the genre had he lived (assuming, that is,he hadn't devoted himself to Marxism and writing poetry, two of his principal preoccupations at the time of his death). 

Six Queer Things was his last detective novel, published posthumously in 1937. I've read a range of reactions to the story on the internet. Some people are keen on it, others are less enthusiastic. I am in the former camp. I think it's one of his best mysteries, and although the narrative wanders about at times, the overall effect is pleasing.

At the start, we are introduced to Marjorie Easton, aged twenty, who lives with her mean old uncle, an accountant called Samuel Burton. She is planning to marry a decent young chap called Ted Wainwright, but her life turns in a dramatic new direction when she is offered a highly paid job by Michael Crispin and his sister. Crispin is a medium, of a very unorthodox kind as it proves.

It's clear that something sinister is going on - but what, exactly? The story careers along until finally murder occurs - and is quickly followed by a remarkable revelation about the victim. It seems an open and shut case of poisoning, but the stolid Inspector Morgan soon realises that there is more to the case than meets the eye. It's fair to say that this is a young man's book, brimming with energy as it bowls along, but with a few disconcerting digressions. But the energy is what counts, and I enjoyed the ride.  


Anonymous said...

I'd not heard of this one, Martin, but I've just downloaded a free sample to my Kindle. I never got into the author's most famous crime novel (Death of an Airman); from memory I found it a bit flippant. But I'll give this other one a go. Martyn

Scott said...

Thanks for the review This sounds my type of book from Sprigg and I ordered a copy today on the strength of your comments. I look forward to reading it.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Martyn and Scott. Hope the story gives you some decent entertainment. Sprigg had genuine talent, and if he'd lived - and continued in the genre - he could have made a real impression.