cover image The Progress of a Crime: A Fireworks Night Mystery

The Progress of a Crime: A Fireworks Night Mystery

Julian Symons. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-7282-1991-2

A confrontation during a dance between a gang of young hooligans and landowner James Corby in the English village of Far Wether drives this taut mystery from MWA Grand Master Symons (1912–1994), first published in 1960. After vowing to return, the gang members show up on Guy Fawkes Night when the residents of Far Wether burn an effigy of a legendary wicked local, Squire Oldmeadow, and set off fireworks. The night ends tragically with Corby’s fatal stabbing. Overheard cries of “Get him, King” before the murder lead the police to Jack Garney (aka King), the head of a group of coworkers in a canning factory. After Scotland Yard gets involved, Garney and a follower, Les Gardner, are charged with killing Corby and a related murder. Much of the action focuses on their trial, which is viewed from the perspective of journalist Hugh Bennett, who identified Gardner as being present on the fatal night. Symons excels at conveying the wide impact Corby’s murder has on multiple people. Fans of realistic, downbeat crime fiction will welcome this British Library Crime Classic reissue. (Mar.)