Sunday, 9 March 2014
Book Review: The Floating Admiral ★★★★★
The Floating Admiral is a murder mystery novel written by the Detection Club, a group of golden age authors who in their time were leading crime fiction authors. The collaboration featured Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton among others. The novel is formed of twelve chapters, a prologue and a conclusion, each written by a different member of the club, each chapter had to make sense but the author did not know where the previous authors were leading the story. The authors had to submit a sealed solution of how they envisioned the murder happening, but it was left to Anthony Berkeley to bring all of the loose ends together into a neat bow, an amazing feat. In short I believe that this is a literary masterpiece.
When a body washes up in the sleepy town of Wynmouth stabbed in the chest Inspector Rudge knows that something fishy is going on. The body is in the vicars rowing boat, and he is clearly withholding information, the victims own identity is called into doubt and a key member of the family has disappeared. A real challenge for the inspector and the reader!
I was so surprised by this novel, I had huge reservations about it because I was convinced it wouldn't read smoothly, that I would note the changes between authors and that the story wouldn't gel together. I should have known not to doubt the Detection Club! All the writers involved are not only wonderful in their own right but also together. I am so glad they wrote this novel.
The story was complicated, that I will not deny, but it was marvellous, I rarely noticed the change in writing styles and actually found that it made the read more interesting and readable. The solution was clever, and masterfully composed, I did not suspect the murderer at all and was in fact convinced it was a different character, a true sign of a good mystery. The absolute gem in this book though is the range of closed solutions submitted by the authors which are included at the end. Each one produces an Ah-Hah! moment, especially that of Agatha Christie (and I'm not just saying that because she is my favourite).
If you are interested in murder mystery novels and haven't read this, I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy, it may have been forgotten for eighty years but it is an absolute gem of a read and you won't be disappointed.
The Floating Admiral is £6.69 from The Book Depository or £5.35 from Kobo for the digital edition