Confidentially Yours by Charles Williams

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Confidentially Yours by Charles Williams

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: First published in 1962 this novella from a writer of hardboiled crime is more mainstream than you might expect - and a very good read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Duckworth Overlook
ISBN: 978-0715649114

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Carthage was what you might call 'backwoods' and there wasn't really all that much to do there. For recreation, hunting probably came top of the list and John 'Duke' Warren went for an early morning duck shoot before going to work. Whilst in the shoot he heard two shots from an adjoining blind and on the way out saw the car of a fellow shoot member. It was only later that he found out that the shots had caused the death of Dan Roberts. At first it looked like suicide, but Warren and the police realised that it's not often that suicide victims shoot themselves twice.

Warren was intrigued about what had happened but not worried until that night when a woman - fairly obviously drunk - rang to tell him what his motive was for murdering Roberts, who'd (apparently) been his wife's lover and he'd not been the only one. It's not long before Warren finds himself the number one suspect - and not just for the murder of Dan Roberts.

To my shame, I hadn't heard of Charles Williams. I hadn't seen the 1983 adaptation of Confidentially Yours by Francois Truffaut and I've definitely been missing a treat. I was hooked by the story before I'd got to the bottom of the first page. The writing is of the calibre which makes you forget that you are reading - the words seems to be flowing directly into your brain without any effort. You can relate to all the characters, good, bad and straddling the line and you get a real feel for the town of Carthage and the attitudes you would have found there in the early sixties. I read it in one sitting - and would have done so even if it had been far longer than 157 pages.

The plotting is exceptional. I worked out the name of the murderer at about the time the name appeared on the page, but the story doesn't end there as proving the case takes quite a while and a lot of ingenuity. It's very satisfying.

I don't often comment on covers, but I'm pleased that Duckworth Overlook have opted for a mainstream look. Williams' writing is usually described as hardboiled crime and the original cover for Confidentially Yours (also known as The Long Saturday Night) was of that genre - and I would have given the book a wide berth. I'm so glad that I didn't.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy Bitterwash Road by Gary Disher, which is set in Australia, or for more hardboiled crime, try The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins.

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