by Carol Westron
title, The Crime Coast. This was well-received in Britain and America and was followed by What Dread Hand? (1931) and Crime De Luxe (1933.) All three books featured the amateur detective and cosmopolitan artist Benvenuto Brown, a multi-talented charismatic protagonist with the potential to have become one of the great fictional detectives of the Golden Age.
According to Adelaide Moon, a friend of Brown, he’d had a distinguished wartime career, ‘“He was in the secret service, you know; he did simply brilliantly and got covered in decorations.... he was offered a marvellous job in the Foreign Office after the war, but he refused, and took up painting and has wandered all over the world since then. He’s always had a passion for elucidating mysteries.... if he hadn’t been such an independent creature he’d have been a terrific success – in the F.O. or the Diplomatic Service or the Police, or anything he’d chosen to take up.... As things are, he’s making himself a reputation as a painter, and he sells awfully well in Paris and the States.”’
The third Gill novel, Crime de Luxe, is set on the transatlantic ocean liner, Atlanta. Benvenuto Brown is travelling to America for the first time to view an exhibition of his paintings.
Crime de Luxe is different from the other Benvenuto Brown books in that the first two were written in the Third-Person viewpoint of a narrating character who described Brown’s detective activities, which made it easier to conceal anything that Browndidn’t wish to share but made it harder to really get to know Brown. In Crime de Luxe the narration is still in the Third-Person but the narrating character is Benvenuto Brown and this gives the reader a chance to really get to know him. He is a thoroughly likeable very human person, who is not always reasonable and grumbles to himself about the loss of his five days of relaxation when he becomes involved in the murder investigation. ‘Why, indeed, he thought peevishly, couldn’t people murder each other on dry land instead of intruding upon this pleasant and highly artificial board-ship life their personal feuds? It seemed to him at the moment like a breach of manners.’
flute-like sound she began to whistle a tune, a curious, half-reckless, half-plaintive tune, that troubled his ear
because he knew it and could not place it. The notes fell and rose, and he felt that if he walked away from her she would not notice his absence or ever think of him again.’
The Deadly Dames.
Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.
The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013.
Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.