DEATH HAS DEEP ROOTS by Michael Gilbert (British Library £8.99, 288 pp)
DEATH HAS DEEP ROOTS
by Michael Gilbert (British Library £8.99, 288 pp)
The late Michael Gilbert knew his stuff. A practising solicitor with a parallel career as a mystery writer, he was a master of courtroom drama.
Here, a murder trial takes on an added dimension when the defendant, a French heroine of the Resistance, gives grounds for believing she is the victim of a conspiracy.
Her young lawyer, trying to discover who wants her convicted for the death of a British agent, is sent on a hazardous mission into France, at a time when the struggle to recover from Nazi occupation has thrown up moral and political ambiguities.
Meanwhile, back in London, a defence counsel chips away at the easy assumptions of a police prosecution while waiting on news from France that can save his client.
This spellbinder is one of three recent Gilbert reissues. All are wholeheartedly recommended.
DANGEROUS DAYS by Leo Kanaris (Dedalus £9.99, 297 pp)
by Leo Kanaris (Dedalus £9.99, 297 pp)
This book has all the ingredients of hard-boiled classic crime: the mean streets, poverty and corruption and an upright private eye challenging the iniquities of a broken society.
Except that this is not the California of the Thirties, but modern-day Greece.
Reduced to pushing leaflets through letterboxes to drum up business for his detective agency, George Zakiris reluctantly takes on a family-connected job to recover a stolen necklace.
But other problems close to home soon crowd in to threaten his marriage.
Were this not enough to occupy him, a senior policeman hires him to track down the files of a murdered lawyer, while seeking those responsible for the death of an illegal immigrant.
It all adds up to a fast-moving thriller played out against a backdrop of political bedlam — an exciting, provocative read.
MURDER OF LYDIA by Joan A. Cowdroy (Dean Street Press £9.99, 243 pp)
MURDER OF LYDIA
by Joan A. Cowdroy (Dean Street Press £9.99, 243 pp)
Thankfully, we do not have to like a writer as a person to enjoy their work.
By all accounts, Cowdroy was mean-minded and bigoted. But she could certainly turn out an inventive story.
Here, a small seaside town has its veneer of respectability torn apart with the drowning of one of its most eligible young ladies.
When it becomes clear that this is no accident, the case is taken on by Scotland Yard.
Chief Inspector Gorham, a dogged and decent policeman, is supported by Mr Moh, the first Asian detective in British fiction, along with an eager young constable disconcertingly named James Bond.
After a bungled inquest points to the victim’s sister as the murderer, the trio embark on a painstaking reconstruction of the crime to identify the true culprit.
Allowing for the prejudices of the author, this is a well-constructed plot, with a sharp twist in the tail.