Monday 13 October 2008

The Packet of Death

I’d never heard of Herbert Metcalfe until I came across a signed book of his in Jamie Sturgeon’s catalogue called The Packet of Death. A rather lurid cover proclaims that this is a novel ‘by the author of The Amazing Doctor Khan’, but that too is a novel I have never encountered.

Herbert Metcalfe, it turns out, was a Mancunian salesman. The publisher of his novel, Church and Foster Ltd, was also based in Manchester, and I have to say that they never seem to have made any impression on the world of fictional crime.

I haven’t read the story yet, but it evidently concerns the murder of the British Prime Minister. The blurb highlights as a strong selling point the lack of sexual content: ‘It is clean enough for all the family to read: exciting enough to thrill young and old alike’.

Well, I guess you don’t have to be Poirot to guess why Herbert Metcalfe never became a household name.

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