Sirk TV Book Review: A SHOT IN THE DARK [Bloomsberry USA]

Detective novels, especially of a period and time in and off itself, almost can take on a self reflexive nature if paying homage and adhering to certain telltale signs of the genre. Understanding the structure of a time period and how the perceptions of different characters work in what they reveal can be enjoyed by multiple angles. With “A Shot In The Dark” [Lynne Truss/Bloomsberry/304pgs], the author takes into mind both the rag tag experiences of Holmes & Watson in a more brutish way but also different essences of Agatha Christie, most specifically “Murder On The Orient Express”. The main structure revolves around a theater critic and a new production starring an actor whom he has famously criticized. The theater critic ends up dead and the mystery surrounding his killer begins. Taking place in the mid 1950s in the English town of Brighton where a massive mafia battle occurred and was silenced within a day, there are a variety of investigations going on consecutively. The local head of the department is rather aloof and would rather have everything swept under the rug. The aspects of the two other investigators, including protagonist Constable Twitten, who is too smart for his own good, lead them both into the underworld of Brighton which is populated by fun yet very flawed characters from a foul mouthed puppetmaster to a strong lady with decidedly different tendencies. The tone, despite any sort of violent arc, plays light even as Twitten closes in on the party responsible for the inherent chaos, however controlled, that continues to plague the town. The inherent humor, especially when a crime reporter with a reputation makes his way into the fray becomes one of a farcical nature. However the theatrical conclusion, done almost in a theater within a theater structure, brings to mind the studio system movies showing behind the scenes of productions where the strings are being pulled by those unseen. “A Shot In The Dark” is an effective exercise in the building of a world at once familiar but fun to live in. Even in the final moment where family strife reveals itself in unusual ways, the reflexive nature of the metaphor the central antagonist relates rings true as much in modern society as that of yesteryear.


By Tim Wassberg

Posted on November 12, 2018, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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