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December 07, 1958 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1958-12-07

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

'ro blems

of

Crime,

Drafm a

Studied

in.

Books-

If certain friends and relatives
ive been taking your fingerprints ances from a miasma of resess-
ter you've shut the refrigerator ness and suspense.
or, or shiftily watching you out LEGACY OF A SPY by Hen-
the corners of their eyes, ry S. Maxfield. Harper.
ances are-if your life is rea-
nably pure-that they are deep- The author of this tight, uncom-j
infected with "detectivitis," a monly well-written novel has
ecies of "suspensomania." made an impressive entry into the
Cures for this remarkable and field of the "cloak-and-dagger"
creasingly common disease have tale of intrigue laid in post-war
At yet been discovered, but you Europe. This story deals with the
n give your friends a bit of re- counterespionage activities of an

_. f 1 k

ef during the holiday season by
atisfying their cravings for de-
ctive novels, a primary symptom,
f the malady.
Donald Yates, formerly a mem-
er of the University's Depart-
tent of Romance Languages and
resently an instructor at Michi-
an State University, is a chron-
sufferer of "detectivitis" him-
ef and the following reviews are
partial result of a brief survey
f , the year's crop of fictional
rime.
They may perhaps serve as a
eans by which would-be do-
ooders may rescue their acquaint-

American named Slater who is
sent to Germany and Switzerland'
to diagnose a leak in U.S. security.
Slater immediately becomes a real
person for the reader, and author
Maxfield's skill in characteriza-
tion reaches as well to the hero's
adversaries. The description of the
Alpine landscape is brilliant and
restrained, in no way impairing
the movement of the narrative,
but rather adding much effective-
ness to a story of suspense that
seems to have everything right
about it.
FOUR,, FIVE AND SIX BY

TEY, by Josephine Tey. Mac-
millan.
There will never be another'
writer quite like the late Josephine
Tey. With her eight incomparable
novels she reached a modern-day
high point in the "civilized"
crime story. She had great hu-
manity, a deep love for the genre
she cultivated, and an unerring
talent for plotting. The present
volume, which follows Macmillan's
earlier "Three by Tey," contains
her finest novel. The three includ-
ed here are "The Singing Sands,"
"The Daughter of Time" and "A
Shilling for Candles." For the
reader-is reserved the delight of
discovering Josephine Tey, and
discovering her at her best.
THE LONG SKELETON by
Frances and Richard Lockridge.
Lippincott.
Pam and Jerry North are at
their urbane best in this new story
about the murder of a rather out-
spoken TV "personality-interview-
er" named Amanda Towne. Miss
Towne's Arkansas background is
explored at some length by the
Norths, for out of her past emerge
two names which figure impor-
tantly in the murder investiga-
tion: those of Byron Kingsley and
Carl Cunningham. Jerry North,
who's the publisher of a big best-
seller by Kingsley, juggles the
identity of the two figures out of
Amanda's past up until the last
moment when at a cabin in the
Arkansas hills the surprising and
thoroughly satisfying solution
emerges. The best North book I've
read in five years.
* * *
THE IMPETUOUS MIS-
TRESS by George Harmon Coxe.
Knopf.
George Harmon Coxe-year in,

year out, is one of the most satis- are not hard to come by in the
fying writers in the mystery field. English village, but Crook finds it
Coxe's latest bears out his reputa- a tricky business pinning the guilt
tion. It's the story of Rick Sheri- on his man. The reader will prob-
dan who is suspected of murder- ably find his guesses still valid
ing his wife. from whom he had until the last page. This is the best
been separated for two years. Gilbert title in several years.
She'd had other men during that * * *
time, and Sheridan hired private THE REACH OF FEAR by
j detective Sam Crombie to find out D. L. Mathews. Rinehart.
which one killed Frieda. Murder A 13-year-old boy is murdered,
visits again and Sheridan, his girl- a boy from an average American
friend, and Crombie find them- housing subdivision. People in the
selves tangled up in an exciting neighborhood begin to talk of a
case. Good to the finish (a Coxe sex crime, and ugliness is seen at

t
Y

he best detective stories of any Frankly, the novel seems slightly
ear. incredible. coming as it does from
* * * the pen of Gardner. Perry Mason
THE COUNT OF NINE by would poke a dozen holes into the
A. A. Fair. Morrow, account of the exotic death of the
client who had hired the Cool-
Under the pseudonym of A. A. Lam outfit to guard his objets

.i

i

HEADL UARTERS FOR
ALL WOOL

trademark).
DOUBLE DOOM by Josephine
Bell. Macmillan.
In the newspaper obituary col-
umn, the simultaneous deaths of
the Strongitharm twin brothers
was described. Both, the papeir
stated, had died suddenly. What
was interesting was that the noti-
ces were erroneous. What was
more remarkable was that both
deaths did in fact occur within a
matter of hours. The English
countryside is the scene for this
absorbing, if leisurely, British
puzzle, and the characters are ap-
pealing conventional types. Jose-
phine Bell writes as good a "tra-
ditional" detective story as anyone
in England today.
* * *
DEATH AGAINST THE
CLOCK by Anthony Gilbert.
Random House.
The mystery surrounding the
murder of small town spinster
Emily Foss ambles on for nearly
a hundred pages before the prob-
lem is laid bef9re Anthony Gil-
bert's sleuthing lawyer, Arthur
Crook. By that time Lennie Hunt-
er's neck is in the noose for the
crime, and his fiancee implores
Crook to work quickly. Motives

every turn. Into this picture steps
the strong figure of Lieutenant
Morrison. He is a man with a solid
background in police work, yet not
a man without compassion for he,
too, has a young son. His handling,
of the investigation leads the
reader through a maze of accusa-
tions and fears ultimately to the
truth. The story is good in its
realism and its observations. In
its class, one of the year's best.
* * *
THE BEST DETECTIVE
STORIES OF THE YEAR, 13th
series. Edited by David Cooke.
Dutton.
The newest Cooke collection,
the editor's choice of the best
detective shorts of 1957, turns out
to be a group of predominantly
"gimmick" stories with a mini-
mum of stress on literary style.
In this time of the well-written
western and the highly literate
tale of science-fiction, David
Cooke's selection gives a sort of
roughing up to an essentially in-
tellectual genre. A single tale by
the late Craig Rice suggests the
stature that the detective story is
reaching today. A downright an-
noying feature of Cooke's 13th
series is a story by Charles Mer-
gendahl entitled "Secret Recipe."

Aside from the fact that it re-
volves around a decidedly over-
worked theme. there appears toj
be no justifiable reason for its
being included in a collection of

to be leaning back into the glor- Curtain intrigue story that I've
ious Hammett-Cain-Chandler era read in three years. Sarah Gain-
for the pseudo-cynical tone and ham, published here in Arxerican
even for some of the plotting style for the first time. creates a like-
of this new Cool-Lam adventure. able young fellow named Quest

Fair, Erle Stanley Gardner is
turning into a wing-ding of a
hard-boiled detective story writer.
In the past, the Fair titles, involv-
ing the improbable and delightful
detecting couple of Bertha Cool
and Donald Lam, have been
spicier and more lively paced than
khe immensely satisfying, con-
servative Perry Mason novels. But
in this new title Gardner appears

d'art. But the somewhat improb-
able tone of the novel is invigor-
ating. There's sex, and pace, and
color, and there's Gardner's com-
pact style. What more can you
ask?
APPOINTMENT IN VIENNA
by Sarah Gainham. Dutton.
This is as good as any Iron

--== s - ------- - --

and sends him into present-day
Vienna on a perilous mission. The
way that Miss Gainham paints
Vienna-a briallian portrait-any
mission to the wide-open city is
dangerous. Young Quest goes back
to the capital purportedly to find
out how much of his mother's
family has been left alive follow-
ing the holocaust. In another di-
mension, he is in search of a po-
tentially harmful ex-Nazi. The
intrigue, the romance. the local
color, the action are all handled
remarkably well by the author
who, of course, has lived for some
time in this part of Europe.
-Donald A. Yates

Vf

-- .1

PAPERBACKS ON THEATRE:
Reviewers Discuss Criticism

BLANKETS

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Paperback books are tradition-
ally substantial stocking stuffers.
Spreading in infinite variety
across newspaper stands and
bookstore counters throughout
the country, asrpresents they
abound in both ideas and econ-
omy. The hockey fan, the cook,
and the nuclear physicist are like-
ly to find meat enough here to
last far longer than the last bit
of turkey.
If the stocking recipient is for-
tunate enough to have a theater
trip somewhere on his holiday
agenda, he will undoubtedly find
pleasure in perusing the Hill and
Wang Dramabook series. Publish-

Ulrich's
ANN ARBOR'S BUSY BOOKSTORE

"

a

To. look your Best .. .

ers of both criticism and dramat-
ic anthologies, they have includ-
ed among their fall releases a
Giradoux anthology, a Shakes-
peare survey, and more relevant
perhaps, two excellent works on
criticism.
In both "Immortal Shadows"
by Stark Young and "The Eng-
lish Dramatic Critics" (discussed
below), the emphasis is not on
works of scholarly analysis. Rath-
er, both books approach the the-
ater by way of journalistic review-
ing.
Stark Young, for instance, is a
former dramatic critic for the New
York Times, and editor of the
New Republic. In direct contact
with many of the leading figures
in the modern theater, he presents
in his reviews a picture of the
American stage that is at once
sensible and perceptive.
Doing daily or even bi-weekly
reviews is a difficult job when
deadlines must be met and pages
must be filled, but Mr. Young en-
tirely avoids the pits of cliche and,
superficiality that must have al-
ways gaped beneath him. He has
a wide knowledge of the stage,
and a rare ability to determine
"the" important factor in any
production. His opinions are rich,
but definite - an advantage to
the reviewer. -
Mr. Young's book is enlighten-
ing to any theater-goer, insofar
as it establishes for him a clear
sense of tradition and proportion
in contemporary drama and its
interpretation. It has the added
bonus of sensitive and imaginative
writing. One can only regret that
Mr. Young is not still exercising
his talents in the daily press.
-Jean Willoughby
The English Dramatic Critics: An
Anthology Edited by James
Agate. A Dramabook Published
by Hill & Wang-New York.
James Agate, himself a lead-
ing British dramatic critic, has
gathered together in one volume
a collection of early and late dra-
matic criticism.
The resulting compilation is

what publishers like to describe
as "highly readable," ranging
from the early criticism of Rich-
ard Flecknoe, a contemporary of
Shakespeare, and Ben Johnson ;
through Boswell, Leigh Hunt, G.
H. Lewes, Shaw, Beerbohm, final-
ly concluding with two of Agate's
own reviews from "The Sunday
Times."
This anthology is a most valu-
able introduction to the field, but
more than this, it offers to the
casual reader a rare opportunity
to discover the writings of early
critics which are not otherwise
easily found.
Choice of illustrative examples
from a book such as this is un-
usually difficult, for is not each
piece already the choice of a
skilled critic and anthologist from
a still larger collection?
Nevertheless, special attention
must be called to the unusually
perceptive work of the,keen and
incisive critic George Henry Lewes
(1817-1878), who could drop ev-
erything into the proper frame-
work, tidy as you please.
Henry Morley (1822-1894), crit-
ically analyzes an inept perform-
ance of "Othello" in terms to glad-
de4 the outraged senses of any
disgruntled spectator.
GBS, better represented else-
where, mulls over the golden days
of criticism of a century ago;
Agate's own criticism of John
Barrymore's "Hamlet" shows the
capabilities of the anthologist
himself.
-David Kessel

I9
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