Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull
Published by Agora Books on October 30, 2019 (first published 1946)
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 218
Format: eBook
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three-stars

His pen scratched the paper slowly, “I murd – I say, how do you spell ‘murdered’?”

Shergold Engineering Company has come into a bit of financial trouble. And it seems the Ministry-sent Barry Foster might just have something to do with it.

The company directors, Arthur Shergold and Guy Reeves, decide Foster must be stopped, and when Reeves confesses to the murder, it’s surely an open-and-shut case.

But as Detective Hardwick looks closer at the confession, he’s not so sure Reeves is their man.

Filled with comic wit and an ingenious plot, Left-Handed Death is a classic Richard Hull crime not to be missed.

Left-Handed Death is the first of Richard Hull’s mysteries I’ve read. It’s got an interesting perspective. We kind of start in the middle of the mystery. Arthur Shergold and Guy Reeves are sitting in their office, discussing recent events, in particular, Reeves’ lunch that day with a civil servant from the Ministry, Barry Foster. Foster has become a problem for their company, which deals with contracts for the Ministry of Defence. Neither of them particularly like the man either. The dinner seems to end with Reeves killing Foster in Foster’s home, strangling him to death. Later that day, Reeves goes to Scotland Yard and confesses to the crime. Inspector Hardwick isn’t quite ready to accept things at face value, he sets out to prove Reeves innocent.

It’s an interesting set-up. We know that there’s something fishy about Reeves’ confession, but not sure quite what? Why would he confess if he hadn’t done it? If he did do it, why did he confess before the crime was even discovered? Hardwick and his fellow detectives sort through the clues, look for alibis, talk to witnesses and gather medical evidence. The clues are well-done and it’s a fair book, we learn things as the detectives do.

I felt like the whodunnit was not much of a surprise, but I’m not sure if the author meant it to be or not. The problem was I just didn’t care. The dead man was uninteresting. Reeves and Shergold both seemed like jerks. Hardwick was a fine detective but didn’t stand out. Cynthia Trent, the company’s secretary and Reeves’ potential love interest, seemed a little dull and indecisive. So I liked the plot, but not really any of the characters.

About Richard Hull

Richard Henry Sampson FCA (6 September 1896 – 19th April 1973), known by the pseudonym Richard Hull, was a British writer who became successful as a crime novelist with his first book in 1934.

He entered the British Army at the age of eighteen with the outbreak of the First World War and served as an officer in an infantry battalion and in the Machine Gun Corps. At the end of the war after three years in France he worked for a firm of chartered accountants in the early 1920s and then later set up his own practice. He moved into full-time writing in 1934 after the success of The Murder of My Aunt. In the Second World War, he was recalled to the army and became an auditor with the Admiralty in London, a position he retained until his retirement in the 1950s. While he ceased to write detective fiction after 1953, he did continue to take a close interest in the affairs of the Detection Club, assisting Agatha Christie with her duties as President. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

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