Monday, September 18, 2017

Mystery Monday: A One Hit Wonder?

Mystery Monday: A One Hit Wonder?

Over the years, there have been bands and soloists who record a song that shoots them to the top of the charts. Millions of copies are sold (or downloaded nowadays), but subsequent recordings of new material barely make a showing. The singers faded into obscurity. Here are just a few: “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Riders, “Take on Me” by A-ha, “Macarena” by Los Del Rio, and “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.

There are authors who suffer the same fate, sometimes by fate, other times by choice. Alan Clutton-Brock is was born in 1904 in Weybridge, Surrey, England. In 1955, he inherited Chastlelton House, which turned out to be a financial burden. An artist, art critic, and professor at Cambridge, Clutton-Brock didn’t have the income to maintain the building. In an article in the Independent granddaughter Sarah Jewel tells how he was” more concerned about his painting or reading to keep the house tidy.”

Very involved in the art community, Clutton-Blake wrote a biography of William Blake in 1933 and later became trustee of the National Gallery. Widowed in 1936 after his wife died in a car accident, he married Barbara Foy Mitchell the following year. Reports indicate he was friends with T. S. Eliot and George Orwell. Is that why he wrote and published his one and only novel, a mystery, Murder at Liberty Hall?

Set in a co-educational school (considered VERY progressive) shortly before the war began in the 1939, the book was hailed as a “gleefully cerebral thriller” by New York Times critic Kay Irvin. Popular with readers in the UK and the US, the book sold well. The sleuth, scientist James Hardwicke, is an amateur and is at the school to investigate a case of pyromania among the students. Within a short time of his arrival, a murder occurs and it is up to Hardwicke to find the culprit.

Full of dry humor and political commentary, Murder at Liberty Hall isn’t fast paced like today’s thrillers, but it will keep you turning pages.

Do you have a favorite one-hit-wonder author?

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