Friday, November 18, 2016
FFB: This is Murder by Erle Stanley Gardner
And then came This is Murder – a big disappointment.
That surprised me. Just writing this surprises me. I never thought I would be bashing the work of this writer I admire.
But Gardner can take it. Yes, I know he has been dead since 1970. Even if he were not, any writer with a body of work like his – at least 100 books, some say more – can handle it if one blogger does not like one of his stories.
In this 1935 stand-alone novel, which he wrote under the pen name Charles J. Kenney, Gardner introduces us to Sam Moraine, an adman and friend of the district attorney of a cold, windy, unnamed city. For kicks, Sam involves himself in a kidnapping case and is soon tangled up in a complicated murder investigation.
Political corruption is part of the plot along with many twists and turns, convenient coincidences and improbable – if not impossible – situations. All of which caused me to lose interest in Sam, the suspects, and the whole thing.
Mostly, This is Murder suffers from over plotting. It is said that Gardner created a plot wheel, a paper device he could turn and come up with a variety of situations, to help him create all those stories. This time he gave the wheel too many spins.
Gardner also seems out of his element writing about an ad executive who runs a one-man advertising business with his secretary. It all came across like a law office not an ad agency.
So, I will stick with Gardner’s stories featuring his famous criminal-defense attorney.
(For more posts about forgotten books, check out Patti Abbott’s blog.)