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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gideon's Month: Review

As the title indicates Gideon's Month by J. J. Marric (aka John Creasey) covers a month's work of work for Commander George Gideon's and the policemen who with and for him.  The month's caseload includes everything from a housekeeper who knocks off elderly men faster than the sisters in Arsenic & Old Lace to a pickpocket "school" that trains children of 6-8 years of age to lift billfolds with all the dexterity of a horde of young Houdinis.  There are young women with new husbands plotting their demise, a missing child, and the murder of underworld criminal who had purportedly gone straight--but Gideon's not buying it.  Especially since the widow is too frightened to talk about what really happened.  Gideon and his men manage to solve each of these cases before the month is out.

As I mentioned in my previous Marric read, I read a couple of installments of this police procedural series early in my mystery-reading career and remember liking them.  However, these last two (Gideon's Power and now Gideon's Month) haven't gone down quite as well. I realize that a policeman's lot is a very busy one and that real life does not allow the police to focus on only one crime at a time--but trying to realistically represent the day--or week--or month of a policeman in a very short paperback novel (169 pages this time round) produces a very scattered and yet cluttered effect. Few of the crimes get the attention they deserve and very little of the actual detecting gets recounted.  For the most part Marric is telling us all about it rather than letting Gideon and his colleagues show us.  Gideon goes in to the office....various phones ring and in the conversations we learn the details.  There isn't much footwork and spadework going on before our eyes.  It's not quite...but almost...like reading the police reports.  Not very exciting stuff.  And then...the most attention is devoted to the story of one of the children who has been pressed into pickpocket service by his mother.  Reading the details of that abusive relationship certainly didn't increase the book's appeal for me.  Fortunately, since the book is over 50 years old, those details aren't quite as graphic as they might be in a more modern novel.  I can do without child-endangerment stories.  Two stars.


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