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The Dead are Blind

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 6 months ago

Afford, Max - The Dead Are Blind (1937)


As far as I can ascertain Max Afford wrote 6 detective mystery novels. Two are set in Australia (where he lived and worked for most of his life) and four are set in England (which suggests he spent some time in England). This book, the third in the series, was first published by John Long in 1937 and appears to have last been printed in paperback format in Australia by William Collins in 1949.


The book is typical of many mystery novels of the 1930s. There is a mysterious death suspected to be and later found to be murder, investigation by a Scotland Yard officer (Chief Inspector Read) assisted by a brilliant amateur (Jeffrey Blackburn), a gang of drug smugglers and a scene at the end when all is brilliantly explained.


The first part of the book (pages 5 – 108) is very conventional. Read and Blackburn are present by invitation at the recording of a new radio mystery drama at the opening of a new BBC subsidiary radio studio `somewhere in Wigmore Street' in London. One of the leading female players dies mysteriously in a darkened and locked studio during the recording of the program. After detailed examination of all who were present in the studio the death is found to be murder but the method used causes the detectives to focus on everyone who was present in the studios at the time of the murder. All this is satisfactory, indeed engrossing reading.


The second part of the book was less satisfying. Documents delivered anonymously to Scotland Yard reveal much that was not suspected about the victim. The investigations that follow reveal connections with a drug smuggler, the use of the radio program to pass on covert messages, a mysterious film about poisons and an unsuspected romance between persons involved in the radio production. There are two more murders before Blackburn is captured and faces death at the hands of the very unlikely murderer.


In the final scene Blackburn outlines the logical deductions that enabled him to identify the murderer. These appear sound but on analysis are not really compelling. An excellent product of its time and, although not in the same league as Queen, Christie or Carr, well worth reading if you are able to locate a copy. It appears that Ramble House has just reprinted the first, second and third Jeffrey Blackburn thrillers so it may be a reprint of this book can be anticipated.


AG McLean

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