Laura (1943) by Vera Casparay. Several narrators tell the story of the death and reappearance of the elusive Laura Hunt. Rightly considered a classic of American noir, Laura is an uneven novel but an absorbing one. The first narrator, Waldo Lydecker, is one of the most unlikely and intriguing narrators in the genre. Casparay’s great strength is in characterisation, and she shines showing the effects that one person, or the idea of one person, can have on the individual psyche.
Green for Danger (1946), directed by Sidney Gilliat. A nice old-school whodunit, set in a hospital during the Second World War and starring Alistair Sim. I haven’t read Christianna Brand’s novel (sorry, please don’t exile me) but have been told that this is a great if not entirely faithful adaptation. Adaptations shouldn’t be entirely faithful and, whatever its source, this works well as a classic mystery film.
Dear Murderer (1947), directed by Arthur Crabtree. An example of British noir, based on a play by St. John Legh Clowes. Eric Portman stars as an angry businessman who discovers that his wife (Greta Gynt) is a serial philanderer. He comes up with a plan to get rid of not one but two of her lovers… The film is great fun with a strong albeit reductive plot and no frills or distractions.
The Railway Detective (2004) by Edward Marston. A light read, full but of but not overloaded with information about trains and railways in the 1850s. Although it’s advertised as ‘the first Inspector Colbeck mystery’, it is more a police procedural set in the mid-nineteenth century. There is no question as to who committed the crime(s). It begins with a train robbery and follows through a kidnapping and a criminal conspiracy in the murkier parts of London. No cliché is too tepid for this author, but it works.
Herring in the Smoke (2017) by L.C. Tyler. Reliable fun, as always. Roger Vane, a well-known novelist, missing for twenty years, is officially declared dead. At the memorial service, struggling writer Ethelred Tressider meets a man who introduces himself as Roger Vane. The story ambles along nicely with all the fun and shameless clichés you expect, although I found the ending a bit disappointing. It’s hard to explain why without giving the whole thing away.