Friday, 2 September 2022

Forgotten Book - A Question of Time

A Question of Time, published in 1958, seems to have been the first of Harry Carmichael's stand-alone novels. He was best-known, like so many other Collins Crime Club authors, for his series - one written under his own name and featuring Piper and Quinn and another written as Hartley Howard featuring Glenn Bowman. Here he stretches beyond his comfort zone.

The result is a smoothly accomplished mystery. The viewpoint character is Martin Kennedy; however, the story is told in the third person rather than by Martin himself. I suspect this is because Martin is, in a number of ways, not an easy character for readers to sympathise with. He's having an affair with one woman and is being pursued by another, while his wife is out of town. He's also rather dense at times. No real surprise, then, when he winds up as a prime suspect in a murder case.

The victim is his lover, Felicity, whose body he discovers when visiting her home in the company of her husband, amiable Richard Campbell. The plot complications flow thick and fast. As the title suggests, much depends upon timings. It's a sort of update of Freeman Wills Crofts in that respect. There's even a diligent policeman.

Thjs is a quick read, quite well-written and not lacking in pace. Unfortunately, I figured out whodunit early on, even though the precise technicalities underpinning the culprit's scheme eluded me. The fact is, I'm always much more interested in motive than means when reading mystery stores and that's why I was able to anticipate the 'surprise solution'. So, for me, this one is only a partial success.  

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