The Rasp

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.