Friday, 29 June 2012

Forgotten Book - The Missing Partners

I’ve mentioned several times my enthusiasm for Henry Wade, and my Forgotten Book for today is his second novel, The Missing Partners. A highly unusual feature of the book is its setting – in Merseyside, which Wade evidently knew quite well. And I was pleased to see a Liverpool solicitor forming part of a group of amateur sleuths who compete with the police to solve the problem!

Tom Fairbanks is a young clerk working for the Inland Revenue whose girlfriend is the daughter of an accountant working in a small shipping company. The two brothers who run the company go missing at the same time, and it seems that one of them has killed the other.

What follows is quite a complicated plot involving train times and smuggling, and the details are not especially entrancing to a modern reader. But there is a liveliness about the characterisation, as well as a pacy narrative, to keep one interested. And it is certainly worth persevering to the end, as Wade produces a clever and unexpected solution.

Henry Wade would go on to write better books than this one, but already he was showing himself to be a distinctive talent. And what is particularly admirable about him is the sheer variety of his work. You never know quite what to expect. This range probably made it difficult for him to achieve fame in his lifetime. But it keeps his work fresh and interesting to this day.

2 comments:

The Passing Tramp said...

"What follows is quite a complicated plot involving train times and smuggling, and the details are not especially entrancing to a modern reader."

I found the shipping business detail quite interesting (less so the railway timetables). It's odd of me, I suppose, but I find reading about businesses more interesting than reading about Oxford or Cambridge or theater. Perhaps it's because it's something different.

This is a lot like a Crofts, with much more distinguished characterization.

Martin Edwards said...

I share your interest in novels which depict business life credibly. I do think, though, that they are few and far between, in the crime genre and elsewhere. Maybe because few novelists have run a business.I guess more have been to Oxbridge or been involved in the theatre!