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Ask a Policeman (The Detection Club) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B07R6VMJCQ
- Publisher : MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (July 9, 2019)
- Publication date : July 9, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 4045 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 337 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0008283176
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #141,869 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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What was the worst, however, was the atrocious editing and proofreading. I never have read an e-book as sloppily delivered as this one. Extra words, stray numerals, punctuation one had to guess at: It was painful to try to get through. And for what? Was there a solution at the end? Couldn’t prove it by me.
I expected so much more.
I'm sure I missed most of the subtleties of parody undertaken by the authors in rendering the detectives of another author. Perhaps these undertones would have increased my enjoyment of the romp. In addition to the above mentioned complexities, the e-book itself was very poorly produced. There was a recurring "I" which appeared willy-nilly near any quotation marks that was particularly infuriating. Despite all this, I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed the other two Detection Club offerings, so now I am going to try to get my hands on the elusive first book in the series. Give it a try if you are a diehard BritMystery lover.
The plot is only a semi-serious one, although the parody elements never outweigh the detection elements. A rich, despised-by-all newspaper tycoon is shot dead at his house, with a plethora of suspects playing a complex game of ring-around-the-rosy around the scene of the crime. But, as luck would have it, these suspects happen to include an Archbishop, the Chief Whip of a political party, and an Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard. But for good measure, you can throw in the dead man's secretary and a Mysterious Lady, as well as a suspicious butler and other members of the domestic staff.
The problem is outlined by John Rhode, and thus begins a delightful romp. Four detective novelists - Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Anthony Berkeley, and Dorothy L. Sayers - exchange sleuths. And so we get a look at Mrs. Bradley as portrayed by Helen Simpson. Lord Peter Wimsey is brought to the crime scene with a flourish by Anthony Berkeley. And so on. This gimmick permits the authors to poke fun at detective story conventions and the eccentricities of each other's' sleuths.
The best chapter of the lot is Anthony Berkeley's, in which he brings Lord Peter Wimsey onto the scene. This is a wickedly funny and merciless parody of Lord Peter, who at one point consults with his butler on what clothes one should wear when calling on a potentially homicidal archbishop. Then there's that terrific moment with his mother, where she muses on how bad it would be to hang an archbishop... And Lord Peter himself in a footnote declares surprise that he referred to the clergyman by the diminutive "Archbish"! The best part of the chapter, however, is that Berkeley manages to provide a clever solution to the problem all while maintaining this very funny layer of satire.
The solution is provided by Milward Kennedy... and although he does point out a major flaw in Lord Peter Wimsey's clever theory, the alternative he proposes is nowhere near as clever. Indeed, he acknowledges as much and admits to readers that he's about to pull off a colossal cheat. But just because you say it with a tongue-in-cheek tone, it doesn't make the cheat any more palatable. It's a regrettably lackluster conclusion to what was an excellent story, although Kennedy does a good job of resolving discrepancies between the four detectives' stories (such as the secretary's habit of popping in and out of jail as the plot requires). The four sleuths managed to play fair and come up with an excellent solution, so you can always just ignore Milward Kennedy's solution as a harmless bit of rambling.
Ask a Policeman is well-worth reading for fans of the genre, and thankfully, HarperCollins has reissued it in both print form and on the Kindle. I bought a Kindle edition for this review, and although I enjoyed the book itself tremendously, I have *major* issues with it. The Kindle version has major editing mistakes; when your department can't even catch the fact that the calibre of the bullet, .22, is consistently being printed as ?22, someone is not doing his or her job!!! That isn't the only recurring typo, and it often feels like someone used mediocre OCR software and didn't bother to proofread every page. Mistakes tend to show up in bunches and they can get rather distracting.
But I have an even bigger issue with this new edition. The authors of this book were Simpson, Rhode, Kennedy, Sayers, Berkeley, and Mitchell. So why does Agatha Christie get top billing??? I'm not even joking, although I wish I was: the publisher has simply dug up an old essay and claim that this is the first time it's ever been published (although it was previously published in an issue of CADS). This essay takes up about 4% of the Kindle book--I'm being generous with my rounding, though. Christie didn't contribute a single word to this novel--her name just sells, and in a cynical attempt to get more money out of fans, HarperCollins has emblazoned her name onto this book despite the fact that she contributes 4% of the total content!
And this is the other problem I have: the name Agatha Christie has in itself become a cash cow, and her estate doesn't seem to mind at all. Her name has become a guaranteed way to get subpar TV scripts produced by hastily changing a few names and writing in Miss Marple. How else to explain The Secret of Chimneys? Or Murder is Easy? Or Why Didn't They Ask Evans? And the infuriating thing is that the producers know that fans of Christie will shell out their money because of their love for her work!
But to do this trick with Christie's name to Ask a Policeman, in the same way as it is done to the average episode of Marple? That's not just a slap in the face of fans, it's an insult to the authors themselves. And although Christie's essay is genuinely interesting, I can't help but feel that someone who pays $12.67 for a Kindle edition of the book, solely to read this never-before-published-except-that-one-time essay is going to feel cheated. Not only is it such a small part of the book, the rest of the book is so hastily and sloppily put together that you are always aware of the fact that this book was only published because Christie's name was attached.
Maybe the print edition has better editing than the Kindle edition, but I only own the Kindle edition. Ask a Policeman is well-worth reading and I highly recommend it, but you decide for yourself whether to buy this new edition or to find a used copy somewhere on the Internet.
Top reviews from other countries
John Rhode describes the initial crime and Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Dorothy L Sayers and Anthony Berkeley each propose a solution using each other's detective characters. Milward Kennedy wraps it all up with yet another solution. In each version new facts are revealed as well as new red herrings.
In other hands this could have been an unfortunate mish-mash but these writers were masters of their craft and the result is entertaining and intriguing and has stood the test of time extremely well in my opinion. It is good to see these entertaining books in print again and they are perfect reading for anyone who loves the Golden Age of Crime as well as being a good introduction for anyone who hasn't read any books by these authors before.
Mrs Bradley's caper is written by Helen Simpson, whilst Anthony Berkeley writes for Lord Peter Wimsey. Mitchell and Sayers write for detectives lesser known these days, Sir John Saumarez and Roger Sheringham respectively. It is most interesting to read these, as the spirit and feel of the detectives is captured by these other authors, yet they imbue their own personality and writing style. The Mrs Bradley chapter could be written by the great Gladys, whilst the Mitchell-penned chapter is clearly her work. It's lots of fun to read these mis-matched author-detective associations, as they are interestingly different but never seem jarring or inappropriate.
Agatha Christie has top billing on the dustjacket, which is rather misleading. She did not contribute to the original book, her appearance here is a previously unpublished essay on crime fiction writers. It was written some years after this book and for a different purpose, but is interesting and candid, and something AC completists will want besides the great enjoyment from the rest of this book.
A classic golden age tale, with lots of detail to pour over to piece the mystery together.