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gertrude

October 2018

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crime

Richardson’s First Case, Basil Thomson



Today, Dean Street Press are reissuing all eight Richardson books and they kindly sent me the first one to read. The author was himself Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard for a while, so well placed to write police procedural novels. He’s dead set against the ‘instinct and drugs’ (i.e. Holmes) method of deduction. In his books detectives rely more on perspiration than on inspiration and luck. His character Richardson is interesting because we first meet him as a humble bobby on the beat and he ends up an Inspector.

Richardson’s First Case is a double murder mystery in which everything hangs on not just who killed the victims but which died first. This makes for an absorbing mystery set in a seedy London in which ‘The Yard’ is all powerful. It’s good to see the ambitious Richardson going stoutly and steadily about his work but my chief criticism of the book is that his character is not developed at all. We know absolutely nothing about his background, where he lives, whether or not he has a private life. Modern crime writers tend to make their detectives divorced/ alcoholic/ pursued by private demons and generally full of angst. This can get tedious but I find I want my hero to have some character, which Richardson lacks.

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