Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Death and the Sky Above - Andrew Garve

First published 1953; cover shown is the 1973 Pan Books (UK) paperback edition. 190 pages.

Charles Hilary has a comfortable life, a career he enjoys and a woman he loves. He also has something else: a vindictive wife who has spent years denying him the freedom to marry again. Louise is an alcoholic, living her days sleeping with as many men as will have her and spending longer each day making up her tired, haggard face into some semblance of normality.

After Charles makes one last plea for Louise to grant him a divorce - and she laughs in his face - he leaves, taking in part of a cricket match before returning home to wait for Kathryn. Kathryn is a successful news reporter who is willing to give it all up and move to France just to be with him, away from gossip and any whispers of scandal.

The next morning Charles receives a visit from CID. Louise has been found murdered - strangled. With Charles' countless letters pleading for a divorce found in her maisonette, he is the prime suspect, and soon the unthinkable happens: he is charged with Louise's murder, tried and sentenced to hang.

With the weeks, days and then hours ticking away, Kathryn works around the clock to find something - anything - that will clear Charles' name. It looks futile, and he manages to escape, only to be recaptured. Then, on the eve of the execution, Kathryn remembers something so banal that it has been overlooked by everyone.

Andrew Garve (1908 - 2001) was the pseudonym of Paul Winterton, an English writer who started his career as a journalist.

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