And Then There Was No One (Evadne Mount Mystery 3) by Gilbert Adair
|And Then There Was No One (Evadne Mount Mystery 3) by Gilbert Adair|
|Reviewer: Paul McNulty|
|Summary: A delicious postmodern confection of a thiller, unconventional to the last paragraph, gleefully genre-busting, yet highly entertaining for all that.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: December 2008|
|Publisher: Faber & Faber|
Gilbert Adair - both the author and narrator of this novel - finally meets the peculiar lady detective Evadne Mount, star of his two previous books, The Act of Roger Murgatroyd and A Mysterious Affair of Style. She is an ebullient yet charming woman, who resembles Miss Marple in her Margaret Rutherford incarnation, with her tricorn hat, foghorn voice and bustling sleuthery.
Adair is speaking at a rather dry academic conference at Meiringen, fretting over the accuracy of the details in his 'new' Sherlock Holmes story (which is presented here in full, and is rather good) when he is accosted by the female detective, who castigates him for indulging in pastiches. Adair is rather embarrassed, and this is not helped when Mount starts to pick holes in his representation of her investigations. Adair seeks to escape into the beautiful landscape surrounding Reichenbach Falls (an ominous location, of course, to Sherlockians). But wherever he goes, his detective - and outrageous murder - follow.
This is the third and final book in Adair's masterful Evadne Mount trilogy. In the first two, Mount (and the bumbling Scotland Yard detective, Eustace Trubshawe) solved several grisly murders, in 1935 and 1945 respectively. These were more or less straight pastiches of the kind of contrived plots found in classic Agatha Christie mysteries. The current book is actually set in 2011, however, with a controversial academic apparently murdered at the behest of a secret society of American patriots for his views on the World Trade Centre attack - but is the solution as simple as that?
Adair blithely (gleefully, even) glosses the fact that Mount would have to be well over a hundred years of age by the time the book is set, and it is this kind of thing that makes the book so much fun. He plays with his readers' expectations of the 'Golden Age' detective novel, aping its hyperreal trappings and elliptical style, yet twisting its conventions in a way that is sure to delight and outrage purists in equal measure. In a parallel narrative, intertwined with the murder tale, he weaves a deliciously bitchy account of the vagaries of publishing and academia, peppered with puns, bon mots and caricatures.
I don't want to make the book sound like an academic exercise, though, because it reads well as a 'straight' mystery novel, although the casual reader might be bemused as to why the detective only appears half way through and the actual murder some time after that. In addition, the solution to it all might be said to be less than conventional - but these are minor quibbles.
I would say that this book would appeal to readers of mysteries and literary fiction, as long as they are amused rather than outraged by the gently iconoclastic approach of the author.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestions: Agatha Christie: An English Mystery by Laura Thompson; The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martínez
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.