'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Methods of Sergeant Cluff by Gil North

Book two in series
originally published 1961
Publisher: Poison Pen
Genre: Mystery
My Source: Netgalley
Available September 6, 2016

It is a wet and windy night in the town of Gunnarshaw, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. The body of young Jane Trundle, assistant in the chemist’s shop, is discovered lying face down on the cobblestones. Sergeant Caleb Cluff is not a man of many words, and neither does he play by the rules. He may exasperate his superiors, but he has the loyal support of his constable and he is the only CID man in the division. The case is his. Life in Gunnarshaw is tough, with its people caught up in a rigid network of social conventions. But as Cluff’s investigation deepens, Gunnarshaw’s veneer of hard-working respectability starts to crumble. Sparse, tense, and moodily evoking the unforgiving landscape, this classic crime novel keeps the reader guessing to the end.

Sadly I did not enjoy this book and actually had to make myself finish it. The dialog was clipped and a little confusing to follow sometimes. I suppose it is just his writing style.

He asked, "Is it pleasant for you, working here?"
He asked again, "You all left together last night?"
She shook her head: "Jane went early."
"I see"
"She did sometimes."
"I've met her in the streets."
"She wasn't always in the shop. She worked with Mr. Greensleeve as well."
"In the dispensary?'
"He uses it for an office too."
"When the shop's open?"
"She was helping him yesterday afternoon."

There didn't seem to be much detecting going on in my opinion. Cluff just seemed to stand around town with his head down and his eyes half opened watching and listening. 

'Barker tried to trace, step by step, the manner in which Cluff had collected his information, how Cluff had got to the point he'd reached. There was nothing connected, when Barker thought of it, in Cluff's meanderings here and there in Gunnarshaw, no hint of a prearranged plan of campaign. The thing seemed to grow of itself, round Cluff, without Cluff really having anything to do with it.'

He didn't seem to put much effort into anything. 

'A man with a handcart, sweeping the gutter, jerked his head at Cluff and the Sergeant jerked his head in return, an exchange of greetings more economical than words but just as effective.'

I did like his constable, Barker and Cluff's dog, Clive. Best characters in the book. The descriptions of the town and the rooms they were in were very well written and gave you a good sense of atmosphere.

  'Clive wriggled past her, making along the passage for his bowl in the kitchen. She let them in and Cluff took Barker into the low-ceilinged living room, where a round, oak table was laid for breakfast. Barker's nostrils twitched at the smell of frying bacon and his mouth watered.
  The room was warm, dim in the grey morning, a huge fire blazing in the grate, adding its comfort to the comfort of big chintz-covered armchairs and a couch, to the softness of a thick-piled carpet and the cheerful glint of horse-brasses on the walls. Rough-hewn, black-oak beams reached for Barker. An immense cat, long-furred, coiled in a chair on the right of the hearth.'

It seemed to be more about Cluff and his relationship with Gunnarshaw and its residents than the mystery or any detecting. Had it not been for the clipped feeling of the writing I might have enjoyed it still. The ending was quite a surprise! I just would have liked a little more detecting and placing of clues.

This book counts for My Reader's Block's Scavenger Hunt - Silver (town scene)

Peggy Ann

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like the best thing about that book might have been the cover. I think 1961 is a bit modern for my idea of a vintage crime classic too.


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