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Mystery Monday – Minute for Murder


Minute for Murder by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis)

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

Day-Lewis, poet and translator of Latin classics, supplemented his income by writing detective novels under the pen-name of Nicholas Blake.  As we’d expect from a professor of classics, his writing is erudite, witty, and lucid enough to put up with the usual British whodunit machinery of red herrings, beautiful blondes, and wacky characters.

The upside of Minute for Murder (1947) is that it is probably based on Lewis’ wartime experience working in the Ministry of Information, which Orwell satirized in 1984. Series hero Nigel Strangeways is working at the “Ministry of Morale” in the Visual Propaganda Division. He captures the tensions among different grades of staff and the problems of supervising talented but temperamental people.

The material on the human factor and red herring combine to make this rather longer than the typical old-time whodunnit, but he’s such a charming writer that we don’t mind.






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