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Mystery Monday Review – The Rasp

The Rasp by Philip MacDonald

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

MacDonald is known among film buffs for his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s version of du Maurier’s Rebecca. His first novel The Rasp came out in 1924 and was the debut of his series detective, Colonel Anthony Gethryn (but don’t call him “Colonel,” the Great War gave him a limp and stressed him out and he doesn’t want to be reminded).

This novel will please fans who liked The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. It has a cerebral detective, a brutal murder in the study of a mansion, not too intense suspense, excellent scene setting, and a love interest with attitudes of bygone days. This, between Gethryn and the love interest, the widow Lucia in a drawing room:

For a moment his eyes closed. Behind the lids there arose a picture of her face – a picture strangely more clear than any given by actual sight.

“You,” said Lucia, “ought to be asleep. Yes, you ought! Not tiring yourself out to make conversation for a hysterical woman that can’t keep her emotions under control.”

“The closing of the eyes,” Anthony said, opening them, “merely indicates that the great detective is what we call thrashing out a knotty problem. He always closes his eyes you know. He couldn’t do anything with ’em open.”

She smiled. “I’m afraid I don’t believe you, you know. I think you’ve simply done so much to-day that you’re simply tired out.”

“Really, I assure you, no. We never sleep until a case is finished. Never.”

Not for everybody but readers like us can read anything. Anything. The “rules” of whodunnits were not in place yet so Gethryn sits on a lot of information until near the end. The culprit is revealed, then we get 58 pages of a letter that Gethryn sends to the police, which outlines his justification and logic. 58 pages, after you know who done it. Aye carumba. If nothing else, this novel has uniqueness value and would be of interest to reading gluttons – me, us – who are interested the development of the whodunnit.

 

 

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