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Ashton-Kirk: Criminologist

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

McIntyre, John T - Ashton-Kirk: Criminologist (1918)

 

This is the fourth and final detective story, solved by genius consulting-detective Ashton-Kirk.

This is a middling mystery. It has virtues and faults intermixed.

 

Among its merits:

 

It is a genuine mystery story, without spy elements intermixed.

It has an appealing character in the detective's friend, Bat Scanlon, who shares his detective work. Bat is 45, is an ex-wrestling champion, and now owns Scanlon's Gym. Bat is an earthy, good natured guy. He also can plausibly hang out with underworld characters and in seedy joints. Bat is a somewhat unusual example of a working class detective, in traditional mystery fiction.

Bat is full of an appealing line of slang and patter. This gives McIntyre a chance to write some lively dialog, that has a rich period feel.

The story is readable, with the first half having especial "flow".

The story shows what a problem abusive husbands are to women. This is an early treatment of an important social problem.

And the killer turns out to be surprise.

 

Among its faults:

 

There is lots of trailing of suspects. But there is little detective cleverness. Bat keeps trailing suspects, who eventually tell what they've witnessed. Then another witness speaks up, and we learn more again...

No real detective puzzles are solved. Aside from the choice of killer, there is no ingenuity of mystery plot.

A treatment of a Chinese restaurant is borderline stereotyped - maybe it shows prejudice, and maybe it doesn't - but it will make contemporary readers uncomfortable.

 

Once again in a McIntyre mystery, we have a killing in a remote building at night - something that recalls Anna Katherine Green. And the novel's technique of creating a surprise killer, also recalls such Green mysteries as The House of the Whispering Pines.

 

Mike Grost

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