HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Scream in Soho by John G. Brandon
Loading...

A Scream in Soho (1940)

by John G. Brandon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
705171,029 (3)8

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 8 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
This book was sent to me by Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. Thank you.

The British Library Crime Classics is a wonderful series which reprints novels from the Golden Age of detective fiction. Most of the authors are long out of print now, even though in their heyday many of them were considered in the same class as Christie, Allingham, or Sayers. So the reader has a very good chance of finding a forgotten treasure. On the other hand, some novels can only be considered curiosities and reflections of the readership taste of the period. A Scream in Soho falls into the latter category.

The setting is 1940 Soho during the blackout. Our detective Inspector McCarthy hears a scream as he is preparing for bed and immediately throws a coat over his pajamas and runs out to Soho Square He and the constable on duty cannot find a body but McCarthy, who keeps slipping in and out of an Irish brogue, smells a distinctive perfume by a doorway splattered with blood. No body, but the scent lingers in the air. In fact, the perfume is so powerful that it clings to the clothes of a man who has contact with the body, can be sniffed on a mutilated corpse on Golders Green, and is still around the body hours later when it is brought into the morgue. Oh, and the aroma lingers in a office and enables the detective to identify the victim as the person who rented the space. And herein lies the problem with the book. Too many incidents are just too preposterous.

If McCarthy sounds like Danny-Boy, every Italian sounds like Chico Marx. The villain cannot hide his Teutonic accent, although his grammar is perfect. The racial stereotypes are cringe-worthy to a 21st century reader. Although I cannot remember if a Jewish character actually appears in the story, I was brought out of the narrative by a description of unflattering Fagen-like features and the shady business dealings of the tribe. Add to that the silly plot and I was glad to finally finish this short novel which seemed much longer that it was.

The book isn’t really worthy of reprinting, except as an example of the type of escapist stories people were reading to help them get through the real blackouts. (It helps to cast this as a Marx Brothers movie. Grocho as the detective, Chico as every Italian character, and Harpo as the cross-dressing corpse.) ( )
  Liz1564 | Jun 7, 2016 |
Some of the prejudices in this book are laughable - the idea that only degenerate Germans would dress up as women, the stereotypical Italians and Jews. I suspect it was written as war propaganda, given the stolen secrets plot. Writing style is very difficult to read, not one of the best in this series. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Jul 3, 2015 |
A couple of chapters into this book, I myself was screaming -- in disbelief at how horrible some of the writing was. Brandon never met an adverb he didn't like, even going so far as to make up some of his own, and he never misses an opportunity to insert a dialogue tag (she explained eyerollingly). That worthy author also likes to employ elegant variation in describing his characters -- so, for example, Police Constable Jones will enter the scene and then "that stalwart officer" will ask the DI a question excitedly. Sometimes this elegant variation is not at ALL elegant, especially when the third-person narration starts describing members of various ethnic groups. The portrayal of Italians in particular is cringe-worthy in this book, all gangsters and people with "Eet's-a me, Mario" accents.

The plot itself is both straightforward and convoluted: a person is mysteriously murdered in Soho Square and then disappears, and the murder is connected to matters of national security. DI McCarthy doggedly solves the case, however, equipped with his ingrained knowledge of Soho and some wildly improbable martial arts skills. This book is bonkers, but not really in a good way. It's easily my least favourite of the British Library Crime Classics I've read so far, and I can't say I would recommend it. The only reason it's a 2-star and not a 1-star is that I was able to finish it. ( )
2 vote rabbitprincess | Apr 10, 2015 |
Scotland Yard Inspector Patrick Aloysius McCarthy has a murder on his hands. Then he has two. Then he has three – all in one night. McCarthy has a few hunches, but no evidence. And nothing, it seems, is what it appears to be. With an already full plate, McCarthy’s boss piles on one more case: stolen defense secrets – a packet of material that is surely going to Germany.

A Scream in Soho is peopled with a seedy cast of characters – some on McCarthy’s side – and a few aristocratic Europeans of dubious citizenship. McCarthy is supremely confident that he can solve all the crimes – and he’s the first British mystery in my recollection to NOT have an incompetent boss getting in the way. That’s not to say that things go smoothly.

My main complaint about A Scream in Soho is that it’s TOO British. Too many unfamiliar idioms, words and dialects often made it difficult to slog through. Once I begin skipping over whole paragraphs, soon I’m speed reading, and then it becomes a chore, not a pleasure and I lose interest. I stuck it out until the end, but there was little satisfaction in it. I’m not certain re-publishing “golden age” mysteries is a great idea, especially for American readers. ( )
  NewsieQ | Apr 7, 2015 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brandon, John G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edwards, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
‘For a scream in the early hours of the morning in Soho, even from a female throat, to stop dead in his tracks a hard-boiled constable, it had to be something entirely out of the ordinary.’

Soho during the blackouts of the Second World War. When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife is found, Detective Inspector MacCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld – peopled by Italian gangsters, cross-dressing German spies and glamorous Austrian aristocrats – as he attempts to unravel the connection between the mysterious Madame Rohner and the theft of secret anti-aircraft defence plans.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

'For a scream in the early hours of the morning in Soho, even from a female throat, to stop dead in his tracks a hard-boiled constable, it had to be something entirely out of the ordinary.' Soho during the blackouts of the Second World War. When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife is found, Detective Inspector MacCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld - peopled by Italian gangsters, cross-dressing German spies and glamorous Austrian aristocrats - as he attempts to unravel the connection between the mysterious Madame Rohner and the theft of secret anti-aircraft defence plans.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3)
0.5
1
1.5
2 2
2.5 2
3 1
3.5
4 3
4.5
5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 126,386,802 books! | Top bar: Always visible