RogerBW's Blog

Publish and be Murdered, Ruth Dudley Edwards 21 October 2019

1999 mystery, eighth in the Robert Amiss series. Amiss is brought in to help an old, money-losing, right-wing weekly newspaper lose slightly less money. Which puts him in a prime position when one of the senior staff is murdered.

The thing that strikes me here about Dudley Edwards' political rants, which this book are aimed at New Labour's prissiness, is how complacent they are. It's fine to take whatever opposed positions you like when fighting the things you dislike, because you're never at risk of being taken seriously and asked to carry them out. Except that as it turns out you are at that risk, and your minor exercise in maintaining party cohesion can cost the country billions, as well as its entire international reputation, and destroy any hope of positive social change for at least the next generation.

So that side of the book didn't appeal as much as it might have when it was written; and on the murder mystery side, there's plenty of motive but a distinct lack of evidence. One can work some things out by elimination, but even in narrative terms the thing is solved by a spontaneous confession rather than by either police-work or the brilliance of the amateur.

There are well-drawn hateful people here, and even a few well-drawn non-hateful people (a rarity for Dudley Edwards), though some of them act pretty randomly. A development in the long-term story of Amiss and other recurring characters seems inconsistent with previously-established personalities, and didn't impress me (it seemed too convenient a way to keep Amiss on the loose and available for the next book).

It has its moments; perhaps because I haven't known any Fleet Street journalists, it held together better for me than Murder in a Cathedral. But I could not be enthused.

Series recommended by Gus.

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Previous in series: Murder in a Cathedral | Series: Robert Amiss

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