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The Grouse Moor Mystery

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 11 months ago

Ferguson, John - The Grouse Moor Mystery (1934)


from http://www.classiccrimefiction.com



This is the first book that I have read by John Ferguson, author of ten criminous novels published between 1918 and 1942. The Grouse Moor Mystery was the third of his titles to be published by Collins Crime Club, after Death Comes to Perigord and Night in Glengyle, and features his series detective Francis McNab. The action takes place in the Scottish highlands and the local police take centre stage for the first half of the book, investigating the death of one of the guests of a local tenant.


The first attempt on his life, which takes place during a shooting party on a misty day, is unsuccesful, but later he is found dead in a library with the doors and windows fastened and the case seems to be one of suicide. Enter MacNab, summoned by the local Superintendant at the behest of the dead man’s mother. He installs himself in the house undercover as the family lawyer and begins to weed out the suspects. His method in this case is primarily based on investigating motives and attempting to construct theories to fit them to possible actions, rather than the inductive method preferred by Thorndyke or Priestley. However, some persistence over attempting to discover communications between the guilty parties and a nice trick with hidden messages enable him to sove the case.


There is some nice local colour and Ferguson mostly avoids populating his characters’ speech with local idioms that might be hard to follow. However, his writing style is a lttle clunky – for instance using the same noun three times in one sentence when alternate words could be used to make reading easier. He also appears to be unaware of correct English usage – ‘fine tooth-comb’ instead of ‘fine-toothed comb’ grates badly. A concientious editor or proof-reader would surely have improved things. All in all though, still interesting enough to make this reviewer willing to search out his other books. One big plus for this book is that, like its predessessor, it comes in one of the most striking wrappers of the golden age – from Youngman Carter - and looks wonderful on the shelf.


R E Faust

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