It’s 1929 Week in Simon Stuck-in-a-Book and Karen Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings‘ popular series of readalongs-by-year and handily enough, back in the summer, Rupert from Dean Street Press was kind enough to send me a couple of review copies of books by a Golden Age of Crime author, Alice Campbell. Once the Week was announced, Rupert helpfully mentioned that one of them was published in the right year, so I fished it out and had a go with it. As usual with me and anything mystery/thriller-y (not a genre I read very much), I was unable to put it down!

Alice Campbell – “Water Weed”

(June 2022, from the publisher)

Not for nothing was she the daughter of an eminent lawyer. She had heard too much of premature admissions, and now, while the truth was suspecnded in mid-air, she was determined not to give away anything which might furnish a motive for the murder. (p. 119)

Our heroine, Virginia, is a likeable and capable young woman, living in London for a bit to study, and hoping to see more of her childhood friend, Glenn, although he seems to have got mixed up with some family and whisked away to a house in the country. When she does see him, he’s strangely haggard, and soon it’s clear he’s out of his depth, in love with someone unsuitable and getting in a mess. Although Virginia is only young, she has a capable head and a quick mind, and soon she’s trying to rescue him, especially when something really bad happens and he falls under suspicion.

As with all such novels, the plot is really the thing, but I liked the characters of Virginia and her dad, and the atmosphere of upper-middle-class, bored English people is well done. Plotwise, there are plenty of red herrings and misapprehensions – I did like how Campbell reiterated clues we’d already been given as Virginia mulled over them, so I never felt stupid for having forgotten some pertinent detail.

One point that struck me was the interest in people’s psychology, including neuroses and sexual proclivities – this seemed quite modern and open for its time, but of course Simon in his review of a Gladys Mitchell novel for the Week handily pointed out in time that this was the age of Freud and a fascination with psychoanalysis, so it was actually totally OF its time!

Kaggsy has already reviewed this book here, and Heaven-Ali has reviewed it here (the link to Simon’s blog at the top of this post will show you all the reviews for the Week).

Thank you to Rupert from Dean Street Press for sending me an e-book to review; I don’t usually read their mysteries but am very glad I read this one and would explore more by this author. You can see the book’s cover and find links to buy it here.