Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Private Wound

 The Private Wound (1968) by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis)

1939 Ireland. Harriet "Harry" Leeson was the first woman Dominic Eyre ever saw sit alone in a pub. But Harry was daring in many other ways. She had a habit of carrying on affairs right under her aging husband's nose and he appeared to be willing to pretend not to see the blatant flirting she did in his presence. Or he made jokes about it. It wasn't long before Dominic, who had taken a summer's lease on a cottage rented by Flurry Leeson's brother, fell under her spell. The local priest, Father Bresnihan, warns Dominic off and someone else in the village seems intent on warning him off as well--leaving warning notes in his cottage, searching his things, and knocking him on the head and leaving him trussed up out on the beach.  But it isn't Dominic that winds up dead in this murder mystery. Harriet's nude body is found stabbed to death by the river and Dominic and Flurry team up to hunt for the murderer.

Not a very comfortable read--a rather squalid little stand-alone mystery that spends over half the book on Dominic and his affair with Harry--his host's wife. The biggest surprise to me was that Dominic wasn't the one murdered after watching how Flurry dealt with the man who caused his wife to fall from her horse during a race. Of course, since Dominic was our narrator throughout the book, it was obvious he wasn't going to be the victim. I don't understand why he wasn't more worried about Flurry, though--if I had watched Flurry nearly beat another man to death because he had hurt his wife, I'd certainly think twice about fooling around with her. 

Blake as a poet can, of course, write descriptively and he captures Ireland in the late thirties very nicely. His use of language also points to him being a master of his writing craft, but I much prefer his early mysteries starring Nigel Strangeways. I don't have much more to say--not my favorite Blake novel. ★★

First line: It is time that I told this story.

Last line: A kind of jockey cap.

Deaths = two stabbed

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