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Mystery Monday – No Tears For Hilda


No Tears For Hilda by Andrew Garve



Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


The year 1950 finds Max Easterbrook working in Germany for an organization that re-settles people displaced by the War. He takes a well-deserved vacation in his native London. To his shock, he finds his war buddy, George Lambert, a kind and likeable man, facing trial for the murder of his wife Hilda. Max knows his friend doesn’t have it in him to commit murder most foul. Max puts his skills as an ex-Intelligence officer to work in order to find the actual killer. His interviews with people from Hilda’s past and present reveal that Hilda was poison.

Garve had a genius for writing extremely tight mysteries, thrillers, and adventure stories. His prose, a model of plain English, falls on the right side of the line that marks matter-of-fact from perfunctory. The action moves along at a brisk pace, with little violence.  Usually not one to spend an extra word on characterization, Garve really outdoes himself with portrait of the impossible, exasperating Hilda. She definitely, as they say in Texas, “needed killing.” Near the end crops up a dilemma that brings to mind the scratchy question “Should the killer get away with it,” calling to mind Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes.

Writing fiction on his own time, Garve worked as a journalist for serious publications like The Economist.  Garve did not have a series hero but Inspector Haines pops up in this one as he does in A Press of Suspects. The usual Garvian protagonist, however, is a talented amateur or an off-duty pro such as a journalist or, in this one, an ex-intelligence officer. Readers looking for a classic mystery ought to read this one.

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