Sunday, March 25, 2012

Green for Danger: Christianna Brand

Description from Goodreads:  "Set in a military hospital during the blitz, this novel is one of Brand's most intricately plotted detection puzzles, executed with her characteristic cleverness and gusto."
I recently finished reading and reviewing Heads You Lose, the first novel in the Inspector Cockrill series by Christianna Brand. I was disappointed in that book, but I expected to like this one much more and I did.
Per the bibliography at Fantastic Fiction, this was the 3rd book she published and it was published three years after Head You Lose. In that time, it appears that Brand developed her writing abilities a great deal, and the book has much more character development.  

As in Heads You Lose, Inspector Cockrill has a limited set of suspects who could have committed the murder. And again all of the suspects seem to be fine, upstanding members of society (in this case, working at a military hospital during the war, many of them volunteering for the assignment). Granted, some have their flaws or secrets, but not any that point towards the inclination towards murder.  In this book, however, I found the suspects more fleshed out and more interesting. The plot moves more slowly, but there is more depth.

One thing of interest... The character of Inspector Cockrill is not developed in detail. You get a description, you get hints of what he is like, but very little back story. In both of the books I have read, he knows some of the suspects (which would seem to be a problem), but that is about all we know. The emphasis is on the suspects and what they are going through. This is not necessarily a negative. In other reviews I have read, there are indications that you can read the books in any order, so I can concentrate on the ones I can find and not worry about getting them in order. (This is an obsession with me in most cases.) On the other hand, most mystery writers of this time that I like a lot do have detectives (amateur or otherwise) that are more developed, more interesting. Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers.
Another plus for me is the time period and setting.  This novel was set in World War II in England, during the Blitz, near London. I enjoy mysteries set in the period leading up, including and following World War II. Since this one was written during the period, it is from the point of someone actually living the experience.

My copy of this book (cover shown above), a paperback published by Carroll & Graf in 1989, has four illustrations, which was a pleasant surprise and did help in picturing the characters. I tried to find out some background on the illustrations, to no avail.

There is a very good movie based on this book, also titled Green for Danger. I did see it a while back, but want to watch it again now that I have read the book. We like old movies and this one was very enjoyable.

I like to include other reviews that I have enjoyed:
I have recently enjoyed many reviews at In So Many Words. Also includes a link to her post about the movie.
At a blog new to me: A Work in Progress.  She also had a post on cozy mysteries that I enjoyed.

This counts as one of my books for the following challenges:
Mt. TBR Challenge
Read Your Own Books Challenge
A-Z Challenge
Vintage Mystery Challenge
Cruisin' Thru the Cozies Challenge
Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge


Peggy Ann said...

Nice review! I did see the movie just recently but have never read any of her books. I found you over at Reading Thru the Night's Mystery Madness. I really like your blog and have added you to my blog roll so I can come by frequently. I, like you, am mad for mysteries! You should add a subscribe by email button to your blog! Then we won't miss a post!

TracyK said...

Peggy Ann, thanks for the comment. I am so new to blogging and can't seem to find the time to do all the improvements to the blog that I want to do. I will definitely look into how to add the subscribe by mail button.