A Criminal Comedy by Julian Symons
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Not much can be said about Julian Symons' "A Criminal Comedy", a rather run-of-the-mill British whodunit, far inferior in quality to the same author's "The Progress of a Crime" (which I review here ). Yet one needs books like that in order to appreciate finer works in the mystery genre.
The story begins with a quote from a local British paper: "... two British citizens died in Venice. One was shot through the heart, the other drowned in an offshoot of the Grand Canal, into which he either fell or was pushed." The build-up to the Venice events takes place in "the very English town of Headfield", with most of the novel's characters belonging to the upper crust of the Headfield society. Anonymous letters play an important role in the plot, whose eventual resolution occurs three years later - the denouement is rather interesting and even though I hate plot twists, the final twist is somewhat satisfying.
A very fast, uncomplicated, and pleasant read, but one to be quickly forgotten. Lovers of classic British mysteries (the book is from 1985 but Mr. Symons' work is deeply rooted in the 1950s and 1960s) will rate this novel higher, mainly for its plot. Alas, nothing much there for me other than fine writing.
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