‘The Incredible Crime’ by Lois Austen-Leigh starts well, with a nice little parody of the more overwrought detective novel:
“She kicked the corpse fretfully with her delicately shod foot and, staggering dizzily against the bloody lintel of the door…”
After this, for me, it goes downhill. It’s not terribly badly written, there are nice touches of humour and a few neat descriptions but the characters are uninteresting, the culprit becomes obvious fairly early on and the attempts at ghostly atmosphere never really work.
And then there is the paean to feudalism and the love story in which an annoying but independent woman ends up ordering herself “..lowly and reverently…” because the Unlikely Hero has a makeover.
The resolution of the smuggling plot was also just too silly for a book which didn’t feel like an out an out parody.
Spoiler warning: (highlight to reveal) – Contraband super-foxes??
It did make me think about how differently I make allowances for many of the same issues in other books. Dorothy L Sayers, for example, could be justly accused of an over-reverence towards the feudal system and there is a certain amount of ‘lowly and reverently’ in the later Harriet Vane books. Yet, she is my favourite detective author.
I think the main problem with this book is that I just didn’t get on with the style. Other people, therefore, may very well gain a lot more enjoyment from it.