Today is the third time I have read this book, and the second time that I have reviewed it. I don’t think I have re-read a mystery novel that many times before, there being so many new-to-me books to try for the first time.
If you would like to know what the novel is about and what my previous thoughts on it have been, then you can click here.
But on read number three what further can I add?
Well it remains one of the best serial killer mysteries that I have read providing complexity and intricacy, both morally and in terms of the crimes being committed. Details and characters dovetail well together, whilst Beeding is still able to rack up the tension as the killings continue. In this I would say Beeding’s novel is superior to some of Philip Macdonald’s attempts.
In my last review I commented on the Francis-Iles-like ending and it is definitely one that lingers with you, once you’ve read it. It is the sort of denouement which could have gone in many different directions and I am intrigued as to why the writer decided upon this particular one. With its stark finale, this is a mystery which defies some of the stereotypes attached to detective stories written during the Golden Age.
It is hard not to look ahead to The ABC Murders, which was published 5 years later; another example of how to do a serial killer mystery well. Both books include a different type of motivation for their murderer’s killing spree, yet on reflection it is interesting how they make use of an obvious/scapegoat suspect, as their handling of such a character differs. Martin Edwards, in his own review of Beeding’s novel, reminds us that Macdonald and Christie’s efforts are predated by this title, so it is interesting to speculate on how much of blueprint Beeding’s mystery offered later writers.
So unsurprisingly I am still recommending this book and fortunately due it to being included in the Arcturus Crime Classic series, second-hand copies are usually easy to find. I would also advocate reading another book they reprinted by Beeding called The Norwich Victims (1931). It is interesting that both books came out in the same year and are of the same high quality. What caused Beeding to have such a bumper year?
I would also like to know of any other good books written by him, as I have seen reviews for other titles, yet they have not been ones warmly recommended.