Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Q


I have signed up for a second year of The Alphabet in Crime Fiction, a community meme sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise. Each week she'll be expecting participants to produce a post featuring a mystery/crime novel or novelist related to that week's letter.
Keeping up with the Crime Alphabet tour group, I'm all set to tell you about my choice for the Letter Q.  Q is for Question.  Or more specifically, A Question of Time by Helen McCloy--which is on the docket to be read for several challenges before the year is up.  I haven't read many of her novels yet, but I can tell you that I have enjoyed each one I have read.  McCloy is the pen name for Helen Clarkson, an American mystery writer whose recurring detective is Dr. Basil Willling.  He is a psychiatrist who believes that "every criminal leaves psychic fingerprints, and he can't wear gloves to hide them."  Willing was the central character for 13 of McCloy's 29 novels.

A Question of Time is one of McCloy's non-series books. The detective here is Dr. Alfred Neroni who is a medical doctor.   Since it is still hanging out on my teetering TBR pile and I can't give you my own synopsis, let me share what Art Bourgeau, author of the The Mystery Lover's Companion, has to say:  An ingenious murderer uses a surprising and original mechanism to dispose of a young heiress. Although it seems at first a gothic suspense novel and turns out to be a straightforward murder mystery, this book is well worth reading for its clever and scrupulously fair plot. 

And also, the blurb from the back of the book:  They told Lisa she was the daughter of an American aristocrat and an Italian princess, both of whom had died shortly after Lisa's birth. They told Lisa she was heiress to a vast Boston fortune, and that her American family cherished her all wanted her to stay with them. They told Lisa that the handsome, charming young man who was so attentive to her was an ideal choice for a lover and a husband. At first Lisa tried to believe it all. Then she the separate the truth from the lies. But finally she know only one thing for sure...

...someone or something was out to destroy her.... [cue spooky music]


8 comments:

Anne H said...

This is a great book. Helen McCloy's mysteries have been favourites of mine for a long time, and I've read this more than once. The internet has been a great source of more difficult to find ones and just recently I actually tracked down a copy of what I think is her best short story, Chinoiserie. You're so lucky to have the pleasure of reading her books ahead of you!

John said...

Poor unsung Helen McCloy! If I were a rich man (and her estate was willing) I'd have most of her detective novels reissued in handsome editions. She is undeservedly languishing in Out-of-Printdom and her books deserve to be known to modern readers, especially the Basil Willing novels which in way were landmarks in the genre. She is most definitely the number one cnadidate on my list of mystery authors worth reprinting. THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY was recently released by a UK outfit, but it'll be hard to purchase over here as they don't distribute in US bookstores. Right now, online puchases only. Try amazon.co.uk or bookdepository.com.

Bev Hankins said...

John: I've got three (I think) more McCloys waiting in the wings. I've had the best luck picking her books up in those three-in-one editions.

Anne H said...

ABEbooks is the best source of secondhand books in my experience. (I live in Australia.) Most of their sellers charge less for postage than those on other sites.

TracyK said...

Both the series books and the stand-alone books by McCloy sound interesting. Sounds like the kind of books I may have read when I was younger, but I should find some and read (or re-read) them now. Thanks for the overview.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Sounds great Bev - I've got one of the Basil Willing books on my TBR thought he one I really wan to get hold of is MR SPLITFOOT which I keep hearing good things about.

Anne H said...

If it's hard to find, other recommmended titles include Alias Basil Willing, Through a Glass Darkly (novel version), The Long Body, Two-Thirds of a Ghost.

Peggy Ann said...

Added her to my wish list! My, my, my I hope God lets me live a long time! I'll need to, to get all these books read!