RogerBW's Blog

With a Bare Bodkin, Cyril Hare 28 March 2021

1946 mystery, second in the series centred on Francis Pettigrew, a not-terribly-successful barrister. As the war begins in earnest, Pettigrew is made legal advisor to the Pin Control, the vitally important new government department controlling the production of, and preventing anyone from profiteering on, pins. But murder is never far away.

Though actually murder seems quite far away for much of the tale, as office politics spill over into the nasty boarding-house where most of the principals find themselves. When it turns out that one of them is a crime writer, some of them enlist his services in coming up with a murder-mystery plot set at the office… though it turns out to have quite the wrong victim.

Lots of office politics first, though; the author was briefly at the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and one assumes that the portrayal of a new department staffed largely with temporary civil servants (women and older men, and nobody needs to say why) is drawn from the life. They're all a bit bored and resentful, not helped by the obvious unimportance of the work they're doing; though everyone except Pettigrew himself notices the reason for his ongoing annoyance that his secretary appears to be planning to get married…

The defence had briefed Babbington, the most fashionable and expensive silk on the circuit, and although what he had to say in mitigation could have been put into a couple of sentences he contrived to spin out his address to twenty minutes. Babbington always prided himself on giving his clients their money's worth, and in this case his long-windedness reduced his rate of pay to the very reasonable figure of fifteen guineas a minute. The costs of the defence and the substantial fine which was imposed upon the defendants taken together had the effect of reducing their liability to Excess Profits Tax by quite an appreciable amount.

Most of the significant incidents turn out to be so in retrospect; the plot isn't quite as clever as in Tragedy at Law but it gets the job done and it's a good fit to the character of the perpetrator. In the tension between character and mystery, this definitely leans towards the character end, but while many of them are unsympathetic they manage to remain interesting. (Which is much the same sort of thing I said about Paul Temple and the Alex Affair, but these characters have personalities rather than just traits.)

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

See also:
Paul Temple and the Alex Affair

Previous in series: Tragedy At Law | Series: Francis Pettigrew

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1