Reputation For A Song (1952) by Edward Grierson

“Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my Credit in Men’s eye much wrong!
Have drown’d my Honour in a shallow Cup,
and sold my Reputation for a Song.”

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Rupert Laurence Anderson is in the dock, charged with the murder of his father, Robert Anderson. Anderson had received five savage blows to the head, more than enough to be fatal, yet Rupert’s claim in self-defence.

The Anderson family was a simmering pot of tensions, generated from within and without. But as those tensions came to a boil, was it Robert or Rupert who snapped first?

Book Club time and you know what that means… unfortunately. Yup, it’s time to read a duffer of a book. That’s not really fair – Swan Song was an excellent choice – but you can’t strike gold all the time and this one? Well, it’s probably the most tedious book that I’ve read in a long time.

The primary issue is that nothing particularly interesting happens. I’m not a fan of inverted mysteries in general, but those that I’ve enjoyed have been complex crimes, with the villain trying to outwit the police on their trail. Here, there’s nothing cunning going on – just an extremely dull episode of a soap opera banging on for over half the book and then a half-arsed attempt to try and get Rupert off.

The ending too is particularly flat, with some sort of cod philosophy as to whether the verdict is correct or if it even matters. So needless to say, this bored me rigid.

Grierson does have his fans, notably the person who wrote the Wikipedia page for him who refers to this book as outstanding. I’m presuming that’s not in the sense that if you have a bunch of friends around and one of them has rabies, you’d at least send them to be out standing in the back yard. His next novel, The Second Man, actually won the Gold Dagger a few years later. After reading this one though, forgive me if I’m not rushing out to find a copy…

If you want an alternative viewpoint, then fellow book-clubber Aidan reviewed this a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. For me, though, a mystery novel can have all the character and psychology in the world, but if it forgets to include any sort of mystery, then it’s not for me.

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