Wed 30 Jun 2010
William F. Deeck
GUY ENDORE – Detour at Night. Simon & Schuster, US, hardcover, 1959. Paperback reprint: Award, 1965. British edition: Victor Gollancz, UK, 1959, as Detour Through Devon.
A former professor of linguistics and now one of the hopeless and homeless, Frank Willis wants to go nowhere and is in no hurry to get there. Nonetheless, by mistake he ends up in Devon, Indiana, where he had been reared in an orphanage, attended and later taught at the college, married the richest woman in town, and been found not guilty of having murdered one of his students.
On this cold, wet night in Devon, Willis relives some of his experiences and makes the reader aware of his fascination with language, the ways and the whys of speech, a fascination that I would hope any reader would be caught up in.
When Willis is not examining and, indeed, savoring the language, he conveys considerable tension over the crime that he is suspected of having committed, a crime the details of which are not learned until halfway through the book.
Not a great mystery, by any means, in the sense of whodunit. Yet Willis is a gripping character, caught in a web he knows he can’t escape. Despite my being unable to give him much sympathy, as he seems to be looking for, I would deem this novel as most enjoyable.
Criminous Bibliography: [Taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin]
ENDORE, (Samuel) GUY. 1900-1970.
The Man from Limbo (n.) Farrar 1930
The Werewolf of Paris (n.) Farrar 1933 [Paris; 1871]
Methinks the Lady (n.) Duell 1945
Detour at Night (n.) Simon 1959
Editorial Comment: While for most of his career Guy Endore was also a well-known screenwriter, it’s the second of these novels that he’s most famous for. The Werewolf of Paris is without a doubt an absolute classic.
I wish I could thank Bill for his review of this book. It shows a side to Endore as a writer that I knew nothing about before.