I am a big fan of the British Library crime classics and so this one sort of fell into my shopping bag the other day, via the till to pay I should point out, despite the fact I’ve bought so many books already this month I really should stop.
Its thinner than most of them, although it is priced slightly lower, which is good to note. It’s actually the second Sergeant Cluff story they have published and I hadn’t read the first, but decided it probably didn’t matter.
After reading it I think it might have mattered. The first story is referred to several times, and there does seem to be an assumption that the reader will have read it. Possibly if I had done certain things might have been a bit less incomprehensible.
As a vivid description of a northern farming area turned mill town its excellent. North really brings the town and the inhabitants to life, and from that perspective its an excellent read, giving a glimpse into a different lifestyle.
As a detective/crime novel its slightly lacking though. Much of the dialogue is confusing, its hard to tell who is talking to who, and the scene may cut to two totally different characters suddenly so the last sentence is spoken by someone else entirely.
Cluff doesn’t really do any detecting. He seems to wander around, sleeping in random places, and waiting for people to come to him. There is a decent plot twist at the end, but it’s mostly a twist because Cluff doesn’t have a clue.
Will I go back and read the first one? Possibly. It reads almost in the second like Cluff is suffering from depression from the first book so it might be interesting to see why. And for the descriptions of the places and the people of the time its worth reading, plus who doesn’t love a good detectives dog, possibly the best character in the book.