Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wolf! Wolf! - Josephine Bell

First published 1979; cover shown is the 1984 Walker & Co (USA) paperback edition. Cover art by Donna Pacinelli. 190p.

Elderly spinster Amy Tupper is recovering in hospital from varicose vein surgery when she sees a notorious serial murderer walk out of a storeroom. Convicted for the killings of a number of elderly women, The Black Cat has been out of jail for two years.

A couple of days later Amy absconds from the hospital and travels to the nearby home of her niece. A young Chinese nurse has been found strangled in the storeroom, and Amy is certain she knows who's responsible. But the police find it hard to believe that an elderly woman with an admittedly dramatic imagination actually did see The Black Cat.

When the nurse's Pakistani lover is accused of the killing, Amy finds an unlikely ally in a surgeon at the hospital. But even the surgeon doesn't completely believe Amy, and more death is the result.

This was my first experience with Josephine Bell's work, and I was disappointed. The writing seemed quite juvenile, and I doubt it would have been published if an unknown writer had penned it. Bell would have been 81 years old when she wrote it, which may explain her clumsy attempts to create characters and develop the plot in this literary shocker.

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