Friday 2 June 2023

Forgotten Book - Bored to Death

Bored to Death strikes me as a risky title to give to any book. What if a reader can't help yawning? In the case of the first (US) edition of Michael Delving's 1975 novel featuring the book and antique dealer Dave Cannon, the title has a punning significance, given that a body is found caught up on the tidal bore of the river Severn. Nevertheless, I think that Collins Crime Club were wise to give the story another title - A Wave of Fatalities

One reason I was attracted to buy my copy of this book was that it boasted an interesting inscription, 'to the Baillies who appear on page 10 and page 89'. It turns out that they owned a restaurant in which the author enjoyed dining. A nice example of good-natured advertising.

I enjoyed the first Dave Cannon book that I read, the breezy Die Like a Man. I'd hoped that this novel, unlike that one, would be a kind of bibliomystery, but in fact the story revolves around an ancient casket, and I find antiques a less interesting subject - purely a matter of personal taste, but it was a disappointment, increased by the fact that the story isn't as good as Die Like a Man.

In this book, Dave is accompanied by his wife Lucy and her family play a significant part in the story. Dave meets a strange and irritating chap called Piscobar, who also becomes a key suspect after it emerges that the man in the river was a murder victim. Was he killed for the sake of the casket?

I must be honest and say that I didn't care too much about the characters and thus although I wasn't exactly bored, I wasn't unduly interested in solving the puzzle. Delving - whose real name was Jay Williams - writes agreeably, and there is a very interesting discussion about what it is to feel like an outsider in an enclosed community. Williams spent quite a lot of his time in Britain and I sense that he wrote these passages from the heart. Otherwise, though, this is a lightweight piece of work.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Just finished The Traitor. One sitting of course. Great writing, just the right length. And your name dropping...Deighton, McCarry, Ambler...such memories!