Friday, 7 February 2020

Forgotten Book - Sudden Fear

One of the wonderful consequences of global communication via the internet is that it's now possible to come across information in a matter of moments that in the not too distant past would either have been unobtainable or would have take extensive research to track down. For anyone with a special interest, that's terrific. Book lovers like me have really benefited from the dissemination of information worldwide via blogs and other means.

I look at a good many blogs sporadically; one of those I check out regularly is Kate Jackson's Cross Examining Crime, because she seems able to read more books than almost anyone and her taste is excellent. When she raved about Edna Sherry's Sudden Fear, I sat up and took notice - and it took me a while to realise that I'd already seen and enjoyed the film based on the book. The book came out in 1948 and the film in the early 50s. Thanks to Jamie Sturgeon I've now been able to read the book for myself, and it turns out that Kate was spot on. It's a gripping story.

I don't know much about Sherry, but it seems that although she'd done plenty of writing, this was her first crime novel to be published under her own name, when she was 67. She continue to publish, but this appears to be far and away her most successful novel, though John Norris (another of my favourite bloggers) has praised Girl Missing. Certainly, the portrayal of Myra, the ruthless playwright who discovers that her younger husband is plotting with his lover to kill her and inherit her fortune, is compelling. 

Kate is, I think, right to say that in some respects this story is in the Francis Iles vein, but she's also right to highlight its distinctive qualities. There are one or two oddities about the writing (e.g. some unnecessary mid-chapter shifts of viewpoint) but these are minor matters - Sherry knew how to tell a good story. Much as I liked the film, the book seems to me to be better.

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