Sunday, May 20, 2012

Such Friends Are Dangerous: Review

Kitty Pinnock was a beautiful young redhead married to an older man.  She was quite the femme fatale among the men of the village, particularly the golf club members.  She enjoyed having a good time and winding the gentlemen around her very pretty little finger.  Until the evening when her feminine wiles became fatal....for her.

When Kitty wasn't running around on her husband, she enjoyed moonlit bathing in their garden pool.  Au naturel--much to the delight of her masculine neighbors.  It is on a morning after such a swim that Kitty is discovered nude and drowned among the weeds in the garden pool.  The local police and the attending doctor are ready to call it an accident--after all, her legs were tangled in the thick weed and must have pulled her under.  But Charlie Weaver, local reporter who is looking for a crackerjack story to get him back on Fleet Street, notices that the weeds are easily broken and that there are mysterious scratches on the young woman's head.  It isn't long before a coroner's jury brings in a verdict of "murder by person or persons unknown" and Inspector Frodsham of Scotland Yard is called in by the Chief Constable.

Weaver and Frodsham team up to get to the bottom of a case which boasts a plethora of supects--from the women who lost husbands and lovers to the insatiable redhead to the men who were dropped in favor of the newest fling.  Who had the biggest motive and the most urgent need to get rid of the village siren? Walter Tyrer serves up the answer in a surprising twist.

I have to give a shout out to John over at Pretty Sinister Books for this one.  Such Friends Are Dangerous by Tyrer grabbed my attention over a year ago when I read his review of the book over on gadetection.  He promised a "gasp of surprise in the final chapter" and he was certainly right.  Although I had the culprit pegged, I still didn't expect that final twist.  Kudos to Tyrer for providing a very entertaining story with well-drawn characters.  I don't know if he was the first to provide this particular twist, but he certainly did it right.  Four stars for a very satisfying read.

Charlie Weaver was enjoying an unusual feeling of importance. Usually he did not like people of importance and privilege and took every opportunity to assault them with mockery or depreciation. He found his present  distinction singularly gratifying. (p. 75)

"We'll assume that anyone who might have felt inclined to murder Mrs. Pinnick some six weeks ago is now feeling a little more detached." [Detective Inspector Frodsham]  Mr. Weaver looked at his companion with  admiration. He agreed that passion and despair are not enduring emotions. (p. 77)

"I never was a Don Juan myself, so I realized early on that I'd better organize my sex life through the legitimate channels. Marriage is a remedy against sin, and saves a lot of worry, although sometimes you can't help thinking..." [Frodsham] (p. 79)

Mr. Weaver, who believed that shorthand was an impediment to an ambitious and imaginative reporter and had resolutely refused to learn it, said nothing with some difficulty, while Mrs. Parkes said a great deal with ease. (pp. 82-3)

Only a wife would do that [rub a man's shoulders with ointment for rheumatism].  There's nothing romantical about it, same as there's nothing romantical about marriage. Once you've seen a man take his clothes off, especially after he's beginning to get a bit of a bay window on him, same as Mr. Pinnick... [Mrs. Parkes] (p. 86)

Weaver went back to the Talbot Arms to telephone his newspaper and afterwards accepted Inspector Frodsham's invitation to take tea with him. The detective-inspector devoured scones and jam and consumed several cups of strong tea with the appetite of a man whose life is normal and domestic. Weaver ate two large meat pies and drank bottled beer. When he worked in Fleet Street he had acquired the habit of taking refreshment in bars and now he reasoned that regular meals would probably be bad for his digestions. (p. 139)

CW: What do you think of Leuchar's story? Personally I found it very convincing. Considering his character and his peculiar views about what a man may gaze on without conviction of sin it explains his appearance of guilty knowledge.
IF: It wouldn't be much good telling an elaborate lie unless it explained away what was suspicious about his behaviour.
CW: You seem hard to convince that anyone is telling the truth.
IF: They don't teach us in the police force to accept unsupported stories.
[Charlie Weaver; Inspector Frodsham] (p. 139)

Mrs. Luton adopted the expression characteristic of a person without intelligence when they are trying to convey that they are making use of it... (p. 168)

Women don't have to be bright to notice when their husband is carrying on with another woman. [Weaver] (p. 178)

Divorces are very often a mistake, but people don't usually get a chance to admit it. [Weaver] (p. 213)


Eugenia O'Neal said...

Sounds interesting! But, per 178, not all wives notice!

J F Norris said...

This is a GREAT book! I'm so glad you found a copy, read it and enjoyed it. It belongs to a special class of detective novel in which the final twist is pulled off with the expertise of the best sleight of hand artist. And his insights and social criticisms are done slyly. The quotes you chose are perfect examples. I keep looking for his Sexton Blake books and one day I'll buy one. I wonder if they were as sophisticated and intricately plotted as this was.

J F Norris said...

P.S. Almost forgot to thank you for the plug! For those interested in more about Walter Tyrer I wrote a longer piece that both reviews SUCH FRIENDS ARE DANGEROUS and talks about Tyrer's other thriller writing in the Sexton Blake series. It can be found at Mystery*File here.

Bev Hankins said...

@John: My pleasure.

Anybody else reading this--check out John's review. He knows his stuff!