THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck


HARRIETTE R. CAMPBELL – Crime in Crystal. Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1946. No UK edition.

HARRIETTE CAMPBELL Simon Brede

   As Simon Brede sits in the study of the Rev. Christopher Tyrell Dawes preparing to ask him about his new client, Lady Vanessa Lorrister, a seemingly crazed man rushes in and confesses to having strangled Lady Vanessa.

   The vicar doesn’t believe him, but it turns out that Lady Vanessa was definitely strangled. That didn’t kill her, however. Someone had come along a bit later and beaten her to death with a poker.

   The vicar contends that Lady Vanessa was loved by all — in more ways than one, it turns out. But her husband, a possible future prime minister, didn’t care for her, nor did his secretary who had ambitions for him. It is also possible that Lady Vanessa was the head of a black market in clothing during the war and was prepared to tell all, thus jeopardizing others.

   If it weren’t for his income from detecting allowing him to purchase precious jade and porcelain, Brede wouldn’t detect at all. Furthermore, he is at a loss without his fellow sleuth, Inspector Ivy of Scotland Yard.

   Ivy determines the facts. Brede then “sees” connections, working with his “bricks.” As Ivy explains it:

    “They’re Chinese toys — little ivory cubes. Mr. Brede writes things on them. There’s one for Time and Opportunity, marked with initials on as many sides as there are suspects — see? One for Motive,” — he counted them off on his fingers — “one for Evidence, one for what he calls Blurs on the picture — that means ‘objections to the case’ against the suspect — one for the General Picture, and one for Conclusions. That’s six.

    “Well, he jiggles them about and studies them and goes to sleep over them, and somehow or other — the Lord only knows how, begging your pardon, sir — he gets the right answer.”

   Brede, at least in this novel, isn’t all that interesting. The other characters, however, particularly the Reverend Dawes, who accompanies Brede in his sleuthing, make up for his blandness.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 2, Spring 1988.



    Bio-Bibliography:     [Taken from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin.]

CAMPBELL, HARRIETTE R(ussell). 1883-1950.   Born in New York, the daughter of the state’s attorney-general; married a Scotsman and settled in London. SB = Simon Brede.

    The String Glove Mystery (n.) Knopf 1936 [SB]
    The Porcelain Fish Mystery (n.) Knopf 1937 [SB]

HARRIETTE CAMPBELL Simon Brede

    The Moor Fires Mystery (n.) Harper 1939 [SB]
    Three Names for Murder (n.) Harper 1940 [SB]
    Murder Set to Music (n.) Harper 1941 [SB]
    Magic Makes Murder (n.) Harper 1943 [SB]

HARRIETTE CAMPBELL Simon Brede

    Crime in Crystal (n.) Harper 1946 [SB]
    Three Lost Ladies (n.) Heinemann-UK 1949