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The Rasp

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 11 months ago

MacDonald, Philip - The Rasp (1924)


Review by Nick Fuller


MacDonald’s first novel (except for the two books written with his father), and the first appearance of Colonel Gethryn, special correspondent for The Owl — a Trentish figure, who falls in love with an enigmatic beauty and suspects the unconvincing secretary. Although he is, like the book itself, rather arch, he has a brain, which he sets to work to discover the murderer of the cabinet minister at his country house. The book is a better (i.e., more orthodox) detective story than later books, and is more pleasing, for it is longer and more controlled without deist apostrophes and recapitulations. The murderer is guessable, but a worse flaw, one of the few blemishes in an otherwise sound piece of work, is that the revelation of the murderer and his resulting descent into madness are unconvincingly melodramatic; Allingham was more successful in Death of a Ghost. The explanation is quite logical, although rather long-winded; thirty pages is too long for the explanation of a simple crime.

Comments (1)

Jon said

at 3:02 pm on Sep 15, 2010

One should also comment on Gethryn's annoying habit of keeping clues to himself, including whole interviews with suspects, And the murderer's motive must be one of the weakest in fiction. It would be interesting to compare this in detail with Milne's Red House Mystery (1922), which it actually sends up at the end, and Trent's Last Case (1913) which was obviously the inspiration for both.

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