8 April 2021

Review: THE PORT OF LONDON MURDERS, Josephine Bell

  • this edition published by Black Dagger Crime 2005
  • first published 1938
  • ISBN 9-781405-685092
  • 219 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A suicide, a derelict barge, and floating pink chiffon nightdresses...

When the San Angelo drifts into port in the Pool of London, telephones begin to ring across the capital and an intricate series of events is set in motion. Beset by dreadful storms in the Bay of Biscay, the ship, along with the "mixed cargo" it carries, is late.

Unaware of the machinations of avaricious importers, wayward captains, and unscrupulous traders, docklands residents Harry Reed and June Harvey are thrust together by a riverside accident, before being swept into the current of a dark plot developing on the harborside.

First published in 1938, this early novel from one of the great Golden Age mystery writers skillfully delivers a compelling tale of murder set against a gritty portrayal of life alongside the Thames.

My Take

I'm willing to believe that, as one of her first novels, this is not Josephine Bell's best.  I found the plot heavy going, and felt as if I struggled to finish it. There were however some clever plot strands and interesting characters, perhaps a few too many of them. The setting seems to be contemporary with its original publication, and the picture it paints of life in the slums on the London wharves is arresting.

Perhaps someone has a recommendation for my next read?

My rating: 4.0

About the author

Josephine Bell (Doris Bell Ball) (1897 - 1987)

Josephine Bell was born Doris Bell Collier in Manchester. She studied at Godolphin School, then trained at Newnham College, Cambridge until 1919. At the University College Hospital in London she was granted M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. in 1922, and a M.B. B.S. in 1924. 

She was a prolific author with over 60 titles to her credit.

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