Left-Handed Death (1946) by Richard Hull

I like my murders to start at the beginning with the corpse and go on to the end with the conviction. But when you start in the middle with the confession – well, all I can say is, that it’s all wrong!

Arthur Shergold and Guy Reeves sit in their office, discussing recent events, in particular Reeves recent dinner with a civil servant from the Ministry, Barry Foster. Foster looks to be a thorn in the side of their company, a company dealing with military contracts, and neither of them particularly like the man either.

The dinner seems to end with Foster’s death, but luckily there’s nothing much to investigate – Reeves comes to the police station and confesses all. But Inspector Hardwick isn’t quite ready to accept things at face values – Reeves is playing some sort of game, and Hardwick is determined to find out what.

Richard Hull’s work has been something of a mixed bag to me. I loved Murder Isn’t Easy and Keep It Quiet and liked The Murder Of My Aunt, whereas some of his later titles haven’t really clicked with me. Others seem to like them though, and I’ve enjoyed enough of his work to keep trying with him. And thankfully, Agora Books are helping out with this by republishing his works one by one.

Left Handed Death starts really well – in fact, I enjoyed the majority of the book. It has real echoes of Murder Isn’t Easy, with a small number of characters, each with different motivations and all of them seeming to be up to something. There are a couple of great turns in the plot, in particular when Reeves reveals a little something about his confession – it’s a really clever idea that I’d not seen before.

As I said, I enjoyed the majority of the book – the problem is the ending. I suppose the question is, was Hull trying to make the final revelation a surprise. I got to the end and it just felt a bit flat – there was nothing there that surprised me, unlike, say, Murder Isn’t Easy. It’s a shame, as overall this is a really entertaining read and it’s definitely worth your time, but it just needed one extra surprise to make it a classic.

Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHAT – An Inverted Mystery

Left Handed Death is out now from Agora books.

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