Friday, 28 January 2011

Forgotten Book - Death Among the Sunbathers


The name E.R.Punshon doesn’t often feature in the blogosphere, but he was a prolific crime writer, turning out more than 50 books, roughly in the Golden Age tradition, and having overlooked him for years, I decided to give him a try. So my Forgotten Book for today is his 1934 title Death among the Sunbathers.

Punshon is most commonly associated with a series character, the policeman Bobby Owen, who features in this book in a rather untypical way. The starting point for the investigation is the murder of a young woman journalist. She has been shot, and her body left in a burning car.

The story-line takes the police to a sunbathing colony, which is described with some rather pleasing satire. Punshon, whose work was much admired by Dorothy L. Sayers, was a decent writer, and his characters were more clearly defined than those of some of his duller contemporaries.

The snag with this particular book is that the mystery plot and the cast of suspects did not really appeal to me. There is a shift of focus halfway through the book which paves the way for a neat twist, but unfortunately matters were prolonged in such a manner that I’d figured out that twist some time before it was finally revealed. Quite an interesting novel, simply because of its touch of unorthodoxy, but I suspect Punshon was capable of better.

10 comments:

John said...

E. R. Punshon! There's a writer who got lost in the sea of detective fiction writers back in the day. Another writer who was surprisingly prolific, yet most of books are incredibly hard to find.

I keep hearing good things about a book he wrote called Diabolic Candelabra (what a great title!) but it had no US edition and so I'm stuck trolling the internet trying to hunt it down. No hits yet.

I tried reading The Conqueror Inn, another Bobby Owen entry, several years ago but lost interest in it. I have about four more of his books in my huge collection. I may try one this year and stick with it no matter what.

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I always trust you to share crime writers I'm not familiar with. Punshon is one of them. I may not be in a rush to read this particular one, but I'm interested in seeing the kind of writer he was...

Dorte H said...

One would assume he was capable of better if Sayers admired him. But I will probably not try this one either.

Kerrie said...

Hello Martin. This week's Friday's Forgotten Books is now up on MYSTERIES in PARADISE. Thanks for participating.

Evan Lewis said...

Fine funky title.

aguja said...

I love your forgotten book reviews and I agree with Evan Lewis that this one has a 'funky title'.

Richmonde said...

Sayers named one of her characters "Hector Puncheon". A tribute? Maybe he was just on her mind.

Martin Edwards said...

John, that is an absolutely wonderful title!!
One book of his I'd like to find appears to have a crossword based plot.

Martin Edwards said...

Richmonde, I'd forgotten about HP - yes, maybe there was a subtle link.

vegetableduck said...

Nick Fuller and I were the Diabolic Candelabra praisers, I imagine.