Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Trouble Maker - Jean Potts

First published 1972; cover shown is the 1973 Victor Gollancz (UK) hardcover edition. 156p.

So many crime novels of the 1940s through to the early 1970s (from the UK and America) feature a similar plot to Jean Potts' The Trouble-Maker.

A young, beautiful woman - lusted after or loved by numerous men, and hated or pitied by numerous women - is found murdered early in the novel (why are so many found at the base of a cliff?). Suspects abound, the police are generally assisted by an amateur sleuth, and the killer is eventually revealed to be the one most suspected at the beginning but less so by the end.

Potts may have used a clich├ęd plot, but she makes up for it somewhat with first-class characters. A particularly unlikeable one - a young boy named Emerson - irritates the reader almost from the start, and on page 116 it's a relief when he finally gets what's coming to him.

Set in and around a seaside inn in Maine, the story develops at a brisk pace. The main character, Leonard Quentin, arrives at Seaview Inn in a battered Volkswagen. This and his academic background made me think Potts was basing the character on Ted Bundy, but some quick research revealed that it would have had to have been the other way round: Bundy officially first killed in 1974.

Admired by Edmund Crispin, Julian Symons and H.R.F. Keating, Jean Potts (1910 - 1999) wrote 14 mystery novels and dozens of short stories.


gladdog said...

From Gladdog,
Still reading your blog, I have tried to comment previously but couldn't get anywhere on the comment box. I have had a little success recently getting some books off e-bay, but considering I only try to buy 1st editions Pamela Branch has presented me with a few difficulties, so when an oppotunity to buy Murders little sister 2nd edition, I just had to. By your recomendation I now own not only a rare book but also a bloody good one. Many thanks.
I see you have put a Gladys cover on (my fav author) please review one of her books, also Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh as I have just started reading Died in the wool. Keep going, from the other side of the world. ps hope you and Bean are happy and well (how rude of me not to mention that earlier, sorry)

The Face at the Window said...

It's great to hear someone is reading & enjoying my blog! I took the Comments option away because it bothered me there were so few comments... now I've put it back as I've realised that I don't mind if the blog isn't widely read - I've read so many new authors and books since starting this, and that's good enough for me.

Your first edition collection sounds like it's steadily growing, and I'm so happy you enjoyed 'Murder's Little Sister'! I know how hard it must be to find early Pamela Branch editions. I even had trouble finding paperback copies. It also seems hard to find early (or any) copies of Jean Potts or Ruth Fenisong.

I should be making a Ngaio Marsh entry in the near future, as I bought my very first Marsh paperback recently - 'Surfeit of Lampreys'. I will also add Allingham and Mitchell to the 'To Do' list.

P.S. Bean is good! Always under my feet though.