Friday, 5 August 2011

Forgotten Book - I'll be Judge, I'll Be Jury

Continuing with my Milward Kennedy binge, I've chosen for today's Forgotten Book a novel from 1937, I'll Be Judge, I'll Be Jury. Despite the title, there is no real Lewis Carroll theme. But it's still an unusual piece of work.

The book’s opening is daring for its date, with none of the sluggish build-up often found with Kennedy. Mary Dallas sneaks out from the hotel where she is staying with her husband very early one morning for a tryst in a beach hut. Under her short beach-coat, she is topless. But before encountering her lover, George Needham, she stumbles over the corpse of her guardian, while the murderer hides behind a curtain.

In a panic, Mary and George contrive to make the death look like an accident, and their hurried interference with the crime scene succeeds in confusing the police. All very foolish, and almost inevitably their behaviour leads inexorably to disaster.

An interesting feature of this book is that it references the classic Francis Iles novel, Before the Fact, and gives a fresh slant to the situation Iles devised. But whereas the Iles book was filmed by Hitchcock, Kennedy's really is well and truly forgotten. Undeservedly, I suggest.

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