Friday 26 May 2023

Forgotten Book - A Crime of One's Own

Edward Grierson's A Crime of One's Own has been sitting quietly in my TBR pile (mountain range would be nearer the mark) for quite a few years. I greatly admire his first crime novel, Reputation for a Song, and his award-winning second mystery, The Second Man, was also very good, but this one, published in 1967, is much less well-known. I'm not sure it even made it into paperback in this country.

Grierson was a barrister and a magistrate who wrote a varied mix of books. I get the impression of someone who, admirably, wrote to please himself rather than publishers, but despite his considerable talent this may have led to his work being neglected since his death in the mid-70s. This novel was his fourth foray into the mystery genre and he never returned to it.

Possibly he was disappointed by the book's lack of commercial success, but it's a story that I found very enjoyable. And it is a bibliomystery. The hero is Donald Maitland, the young and rather naive owner of a provincial bookshop and lending library. He begins to suspect that customers are using his books as a means of passing secret messages. Is there a link to a local high-security establishment? He soon has spies on the brain.

There are plenty of witty references to the world of authorship and publishing. I loved the satiric account of a publisher's letter breaking bad news to the hapless author Bernie Stredder, a splendid comic character with a darker side. The plot is rather wacky, but there's a good trial scene and plenty of swift but engaging characterisation. John Cooper, no mean judge, rates this book highly. And now I've finally read it, so do I. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. I am a huge fan of Christopher Morley's THE HAUNTED BOOKSHOP, a great bibliomystery. Grierson's book seems to have something in common with it. My next book to read.