29 December 2021

Review: MR BOWLING BUYS A NEWSPAPER, Donald Henderson

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0797X4GSB
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Black Heath Editions (January 22, 2018)
  • Originally published 1943
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 161 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

Mr. Bowling never used to read the newspaper. But since his second murder, he has found it convenient to discover whether the law has finally cottoned on to his activities. Because Mr. Bowling is an unusual kind of murderer - the kind that desperately wants to be found out. As the list of victims slowly grows, however, Bowling starts to wonder whether you really can get away with murder after all...

Originally published in 1943, this classic thriller, laced with jet black humour, was one of Raymond Chandler's favourite books. 

My Take

As Mr Bowling's murders escape police detection, he begins to wonder why God seems to be rejecting his advances. As he commits more murders he buys swathes of daily newspapers to see if anybody has picked up on his activities. The problem is that his murders seem to be covered over by "natural" events, like the Blitz of London, a heart attack, a fall down the stairs, and a catastrophic fire. Nobody asks the questions that Mr Bowling thinks should be asked. He is sure he has left evidence that a discerning detective should "see", or even be alerted by the fact that his name keeps turning up in connection with dead people.

Mr Bowling has no real motives for most of his murders apart from the fact that his victims are essentially boring people, or that they don't particularly like him. Originally Mr Bowling was working for an insurance company and he benefited from a policy that he had taken out on his wife. He had thought about making himself the beneficiary of policies taken out by some of his clients but then that seemed a little greedy.

It is unusual to read a murder mystery from the point of view of the murderer, and I thought at times they pontificated a little too much. In the end Mr Bowling seems to have found the woman of his dreams, but has he? For he has told her everything about his murderous activities. Does she believe him, or is she blinded with love? 

My rating: 3.9

About the author

Donald Landels Henderson was born in 1905; he later said, `I cannot pretend to have enjoyed anything very much about my childhood or adolescence.' Henderson was an actor and combined writing with his acting career. He died at only 42, in 1947, just three years after the publication of Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper

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