Friday, 13 February 2009

Forgotten Book - The Plot against Roger Rider

My latest entry in Patti Abbott’s series is a crime novel by Julian Symons which first appeared in 1973, The Plot against Roger Rider.

Symons is a writer whom I admired enormously. His output was impressive in its diversity, as well as in its quality. He is renowned for his theory that the detective novel had evolved into the crime novel, though I tend to think the reality is not as neat as he suggested. Some lovers of classic mysteries are critical of Symons, but the fact is that he liked ingenuity of puzzle as much as most people – he just felt it was desirable for a novel to offer something in addition to a clever plot.

This novel showcases his talent. It starts teasingly: ‘You could say that the plot against Geoffrey Paradine started at the same time as the plot against Roger Rider’ and quickly and smoothly introduces a range of interesting people and incidents. Rider is a tycoon who gives a job to his old schoolfriend Paradine. Later, Paradine sleeps with Rider’s wife. So the question is – when Rider disappears in Spain, is Paradine responsible?

There is a marvellous and rather shocking twist at the end of this complex novel, one of Symons’ very best. It’s a first class advertisement for the way in which classic ingenuity can be integrated with swift, yet effective character portraits. A book that does not deserve to be forgotten.


pattinase (abbott) said...

He was one of my favorites too.

David Cranmer said...

I like the catchy title and this sounds like something I would be interested in. I've never read anything from Symons and this looks like the perfect place to begin. Thanks.

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