Flawed, intriguing Golden-Era style mystery, written in 1945, which is a lot late for that Era.Author Mitchell has a mashup going here, with a boys-own adventure vying for the edge against a village-cozy mystery, occasionally veering into other territory. (Also a cracked-jewelbox Edmund Crispin style mystery, it should be said).
A lot of stage direction, basically a continuing dolly-shot, follows a pair of adolescent boys and takes us in; the location is a Thameside village sometime before the era of publication, far enough from London to be its own island of drama, near enough to be vulnerable to big city evil.Within the town, there is no end to the connections and pathways:“ ...I did not dream of crossing the lock-gates and the footbridge on my return, but hurried up the slope of the road bridge and came out where the old chapel used to be, and so to the bustle of the high street, glad (for the first time, I think) to see street lamps as well as the moon, and to hear the noisy buses and grating trams instead of the little sounds of the flowing water...”
For some reason, and without aid of a map, the reader is guided, maneuvered, reversed and re-routed throughout the entire length of the book.The pace of the story is tight and driven enough to keep us on the trail, but really: “... This time the bridge was that which carried the alternative path—for the path I had selected branched off from another at about a hundred yards from the village of boats—over the canal to a path which was not part of the towing path but had been made for the convenience, I suppose, of the men who used the small dock at the mouth of our river.The bridge was narrow and high.A stone ramp led steeply up to it, and on the other side of this ramp there was a handrail which was continued up to and over the bridge...”
Luchino Visconti directed a film called 'Le Notti Bianche' that visually presented this kind of milieu, and benefitted from the sleepwalking 'maze' quality in alleys, mews, canals, bridges, lock-gates, etc— almost entirely by moonlight.But the bookish version of same doesn't really pull it off.Any dedicated mystery reader, myself included, would probably have been game to give this a chance with a map on the flyleaf, but as it is ...
Mitchell is good at the scene change, hastening the next act and deftly placing the hinges where the reader doesn't notice.She's not so good at Orientation, and substitutes a game of Chutes & Ladders where she might have been better off with a simpler locale.(Or a map. Did I say map?)
Alongside the merry chase up and down the bridges, we have something here in the best tradition of the 'Cozy' — where eccentricity, and the harmlessness of Quirk — turn sharply to terror, on the turn of a page.As we get to the end of the convoluted wandering of the boys and the climax draws close, there is a kind of sickly-sweet quality of Ruin and Rot, just below the placid surface of things.The scene where a man's head is found under the cover of a kettle boiling on a deserted hearth— and is identified by the one, black tooth .. takes us right into a Grimm's tale in an enchanted wood.
As much of the story also takes place in an Antique Shop, we also get the ephemera and flotsam washed onto the shore of the Edwardian-era empire, although not developed into an active element.(For us, damascened sabers and Indian Goddesses, Japanese lacquers and daggers in velvet scabbards are the indicators of distant misadventures; not so in the author's day.) It's been sketched in conscientiously, though.
In the end, it's a worthwhile if confounding ride, for a short mystery. The author's idea to stack and cascade her scenery as she does her clues looks less like the Escher graphic it might have seemed in the original conception.But there are moments enough of original English Mystery strangeness— to make it a rewarding read.Take a compass.
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|Title||The Rising of the Moon (Mrs. Bradley, #18)|
|Publisher||Little, Brown Book Group|
|File size||3.4 Mb|
|eBook format||Paperback, (torrent)|
|Book rating||4.56 (113 votes)
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