Every Inch a lady by Joan Fleming: A Murder of the 50s


published 1977







It’s not really clear why Joan Fleming makes such a point of this book’s being set in the 1950s: it doesn’t seem to make much difference to anything, except that people can be ex-servicemen. And Fleming resists the temptation to shoehorn in all her research and describe the latest fashions and what everyone is reading, and reading bout, and discussing. At one point someone plays Elvis Presley records, and that stuck out to me as the only awkward and unnecessary moment.

An upmarket young husband has been murdered while his wife is out at the theatre: nobody can find a motive or a suspect. Then the young man’s father, a rich businessman, gets involved. Investigations continue. There is a glamorous woman to be tracked down, and a man of mystery turns up…

The book is full of murder and clues and plotting, and yet in some ways is more like a novel. There are some strange and memorable scenes and byways. As a review somewhere says, just as well really, because the solution is not full of surprises. All the way through I kept wondering would there be surprises and twists – and there were, a couple, but they did not involve the solution of the crime. I am trying not to spoiler, though some of the publicity for the book virtually gives it away. It was like reading a crime story for the second time: sometimes the story and the characters make that worthwhile. There is a key point and clue to the second murder which someone unlikely spots – I have to say that this had jumped to my notice straightaway. All the way through there were very obvious questions not being asked…

And yet I enjoyed the book very much, and feel I must explore Joan Fleming further – she was a prolific and successful writer back in the day. I wonder who reads her now?

The picture from Kristine’s photostream. Every Inch a lady indeed.

Comments

  1. That's a really interesting question, Moira. Why does an author set a story at one or another particular time? It could fascination with the era, or convenience of some sort, etc.. For instance, it can be easier to set a story in the years before modern technology changed things the way it did (and still does!). That's one for me to ponder. As for this particular novel, your comments are making me wonder whether a reader's reaction might be different if that reader weren't familiar with crime fiction? That would be an interesting study to do: how do readers with different experience levels react to the same story? As always, lots of food for thought, for which thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh what interesting thoughts, Margot, thank you for that. Very true about modern technology - and at least it avoids the trope, common for a brief period, where the author would try to explain why the protagonist had no phone or no phone signal for some unlikely reason.

      And am intrigued by the idea of the non-crime-fiction-reader having a different reaction. As you say, all food for thought.

      Delete
  2. You wonder who reads her now? I do. One of my favorites. So unusual in her subject matter. Sometimes she can be outrageously funny. She understands what makes a story dramatic and gripping and her characters can be thoroughly compelling. She would've made a great playwright or screenwriter, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good to know - I was about to ask you for recommendations, but as Tracy sensibly points out below, I can go to your blog instead. I will no doubt blog again...

      Delete
  3. I have no experience with Joan Fleming but I do have one paperback mystery by her that I have not read. The title is The Man from Nowhere. I checked out John's posts for this author's books, and some of them have nice covers so maybe I will look around for some. Or read the one I have first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy you are incorrigible! You should read the ones you have first 😉😉😉, but that is probably pointless advice...

      Delete
  4. Thanks to you, Moira, it is on my TBR pile, and this encourages me to get on with reading it. Will let you know how I get on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another one that has some appeal - what the hell is wrong with me!

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment