Monday, May 14, 2012
The Last Escape: Review
The Last Escape by E. C. R. Lorac was originally published under the title Dishonour Among Thieves. I actually own this one under both titles and chose to read it under its American moniker because it suited on of my challenges (The Antonym Challenge) better. Written in 1959, it is one of the last two novels written by Lorac (pseudonym for Edith Caroline Rivett who also wrote under the name Carol Carnac).
In this final detective novel to feature Superintendent Robert MacDonald, we find the police officer setting up his retirement plans on a hill farm to the south of Lunesdale. Not quite ready to retire, he buys the farm and installs a young couple to oversee his property while he's away detecting. Meanwhile, one foggy morning Rory Macshane who has just finished his first year of a 10-year prison sentence at Dartmoor sees his plans for escape come to fruition. He has hidden away bits and pieces of this and that over the past year and when the fog begins to thicken while he out on a work-gang he takes advantage of it and disappears into the mist with enough gear to help him truly escape.
About a month after the prison break, MacDonald accompanies the farmer who has been renting the adjoining land on an investigative tour of the abandoned farm house. There they find that someone had broken in and....that someone is lying dead in the house. Is it murder or an accident? And are the rumors of sightings of the ne'er-do-well son of the landowner true? Has he done away with the intruder? Everything points to a converging of forces in the area of MacDonald's retirement get-away....
This detective story is a bit different from the previous Lorac books I've read. There is far less emphasis on the tracking down of clues and discovering who-dunnit. Lorac spends a lot of time describing the farming community and giving the background on the black sheep son. There is also a careful character study of Rory Macshane. A very interesting read--but not for those who want to track the clues and try to identify the culprit before the detective does. The real interest here is in Macshane--will he be recaptured? And how does the black sheep farmer's son fit in. A good story--but not quite what I was expecting. Three stars.