Hugh Prentice is a junior partner of a law firm and finds himself in trouble when a mysterious individual going by the name of Abu of Ispahan arrives to discuss a private matter. Needless to say that while Abu is waiting for Hugh, he is stabbed. Unfortunately, nobody could have entered the office to commit the murder, so suspicion falls on Hugh.
And obviously the thing to do when you’re suspected of murder is to run around London with an insufferable arse of a lawyer, Patrick Butler, his deeply odd female companion, Lady Pamela de Saxe and at times, Hugh’s fiancée, Helen. One series of misadventures later, some of them even relating to the murder, and… oh, I can’t be bothered to finish the synopsis. This is not a good book.
Last time I tried to finish a review at that point, some readers were not impressed, so let’s take a look at this one. At this point, Carr had plenty of books still to come but not many that are thay highly regarded – none of them made the next round of my Carr poll, and I only rate Fire, Burn! (a bit) and The Witch Of The Low Tide. Carr makes the decision to promote Butler from support in Below Suspicion to lead, despite him being an unpleasant (and at times misogynistic) sleuth. It doesn’t help that Hugh isn’t that charming either – in fact, the only lead character with any interest about them is Pamela, and you have to get through a lot of irritating dialogue from her before we get to that bit.
As for the plot, it feels like a short story that has an adventure shoe-horned into the middle of it, an adventure that does little to advance the plot and is, to be honest, pretty tedious. It feels like an attempt to replicate the atmosphere of The Punch and Judy Murders – that one’s not a favourite of mine but it’s streets ahead of this one.
Ah, I have better things to do than to keep kicking this one. It’s terrible, so move along, nothing to see here…