Sunday, May 25, 2014

Red Herring: Review

Red Herring by Edward Acheson is an inverted mystery. After a rather robust lead-in, Acheson gives us our perpetrator and we follow him as he plans, commits, and then watches another man put on trial for his crime. We begin with our"hero"--Daniel F. Farnham, 30-a something journalist who is despairing of ever making his way in the newspaper world. He has become a crime reporter and good friends with Sergeant Ryan. Ryan encourages him to use his familiarity with crime (and a brilliant idea that Ryan just happens to have) to write a "hum-dinger" of a crime novel--and inadvertently sets Farnham on his life of crime.

It all begins with Farnham trying out methods in real life--just to see if his fictional criminal would be able to get away with all he's plotted. He devises a plan to rob a bank and methodically goes about making a duplicate key to the bank door, managing to hang about and obtain the combination to the safe. Farnham sends off his first novel (not the "hum-dinger" just yet) in hopes of an initial sale--but when his story is rejected, it suddenly occurs to him that he just might be able to rob the bank for real and then he'd have plenty of money to go off for some peace and quiet and some real writing time (instead of trying to write and work at the paper). He finds that unlike his story, he can't plan for every little possibility and his plan goes horribly wrong when the night watchman shows up (off-schedule!). He only intends to knock the fellow out, but at the end of the evening Farnham is more than a bank robber...he's also a murderer.

He manages to avoid suspicion and fix up a fall guy (according to his fictional plan)...but will he really be able to escape justice? That's the only mystery at all to Acheson's tale. And I won't'll just have to read it for yourself.

I have to admit up front that I'm not a huge fan of the inverted mystery. I like to pit my wits against the detective and see if I can pick up all the clues before the crime is solved and the culprit nabbed. Knowing whodunnit up front kind of takes the oomph out of the story for me. But Acheson does a competent job with his task and it really is a surprise to see how it all ends for Farnham--I changed my mind several times when trying to decide if he'd finally be found out or not. A decent story...and those who enjoy this type of mystery will probably rate it higher. ★★★

This fulfills the "Animal in the Title" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card and also gives me my second Bingo.  Just need two on the Silver card to fulfill my commitment.


Cath said...

I absolutely love the sound of this so went looking for it on Amazon. They have one copy and it's £61. LOL. Hmm, might have to give that one a miss.

Bev Hankins said...

Cath....this one is probably going to wind up in the prize vault. Inverted stories just aren't my thing. may wind up with a chance at it through one of the challenge prize give aways.

fredamans said...

I'm much like you and am not sure this type of inverted mystery would be to my tastes.... however as always a great review!