One of the good things about GAD being re-published is that sometimes it gets given to those who don’t appreciate it and donate it to charity shops where it can be picked up by the likes of me. So although I’ve seen it reviewed in a none too favourable light at £1 for an as new copy of the recent paperback reprint it was time to become acquainted with the work of Cecil Street under his John Rhode pen-name ( I have read both Miles Burton titles in the BLCC range).
Harold Merefield (pronounced “Merryfield” – so why not just spell it that way?) returns home in the early hours of the morning in a tired and emotional state to find a wet corpse in his bed. He immediately alerts the police and is their one and only suspect until the inquest finds that the man died of natural causes.
Although not under threat of the gallows, after a period of fast living Harold wishes to return to his former society and must remove any trace of a stain upon his escutcheon and prove beyond any doubt that he had no part in what the press have dubbed “The Paddingto Mystery”.
Fortunately he knows contrarian mathematician Lancelot Priestley (a professor according to the text, a doctor according to gadection and Wikipedia, and both according to the back cover!)
“He claimed to be the precursor of Einstein, the first to breach the citadel of Newton. And as none of his acquaintances knew anything about these matters, he was not subject to the annoyance of contradiction in his own house.”
I very much enjoyed the premise, the writing style and the mechanics of the solution, but the exposition takes up a quarter of the book which is far too much. But overall a solid first novel and interesting that Rhode, like Dorothy L. Sayers two years earlier, began his career with the question “Whose Body?”.
So, in conculsion, buy all your friends and relations GAD for Christmas, especially if they live in the Bristol area: they may not like it but if they don’t it will still increase the volume of volumes in circulation which can’t be a bad thing!