Death in chambers

One of the things I do love about e-books is the number of out of copyright books that are freely available to download. Along with some awful pot-boilers, that probably should have been thrown away while in the pot, are some forgotten gems. One of these is Joseph Smith Fletcher's The Middle Temple Murder.

Joseph Smith Fletcher was a British author, who wrote over 200 novels in the late nineteenth / early twentieth century. In 1912 he turned to writing crime fiction which included The Middle Temple Murder written in 1919.

The story opens with a journalist meeting two policemen, on his way home from work, who have just stumbled upon a corpse. With a nose for a story Frank Spargo is determined to solve the case....

To begin with I wasn't too sure about this. It read rather like Edgar Wallace, this is not too surprising as the background to both men was quite similar, and I thought it was going to be a fairly straightforward tale; not that different from any other crime novel of the period. In fact it's a crackingly good story partly inspired by Great Expectations.

It has the immediacy of journalistic writing with a cleverly contrived plot, a whiff of red herring, and a hint of romance. If it sometimes pushes the reader's credulity to extremes, Fletcher just about gets away with it.

It was great fun to read, and a welcome addition to my library of British Golden Age Detective Fiction. There are lots more J.S. Fletcher novels now available online, how exciting.


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