ESTELLE THOMPSON Hunter in the Dark

ESTELLE THOMPSON – Hunter in the Dark. Walker, hardcover, first US edition, 1979; paperback, 1984. Robert Hale, UK, hardcover, 1978.

   Philip Blair is blind, and his ego is deeply wounded when a young girl picked up from the bus stop where they both had been waiting is later found murdered.

   With the assistance of his former fiancee, he takes it upon himself to investigate a link to the death of another small girl a short time earlier; he has a theory that he feels the police are too slow in following up on.

   There seems to be a special attraction that mystery readers have toward blind detectives, and Hunter in the Dark is no exception. The story is quiet, low-key, and gently sentimental, laced with a whopping dose of coincidence, but now that Blair’s life is back on the right track, might it not be that amateur private eye work is in his blood?

Rating:   B.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1979 (very slightly revised). This review also appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.

ESTELLE THOMPSON Hunter in the Dark

  [UPDATE] 06-14-11.   I wish I could say that I remember this one, but I don’t — only the title is familiar. I believe I was right, though, to say that mystery readers are fond of blind detectives, since (speaking personally) if I had this beside me right now, I’d pick it up to read again without a moment’s hesitation.

   There were, alas, no other tales in which Philip Blair appeared as the detective. Of Estelle Thompson’s output of 16 crime novels between 1961 and 2000 (two of them designated by Hubin as having only marginal crime content), there isn’t a recurring series character to be found. Most were never published in the US, making her work essentially unknown in this country.

[UPDATE #2] 06-15-11.   Thanks to Jamie Sturgeon for providing the cover of the British edition of Hunter in the Dark — the one you see immediately here above and to the right.

[UPDATE #3] 06-16-11.   More from Jamie:

   Here’s a photo of Estelle Thompson, on the back of the UK edition of The Substitute (Hale 1991). The biog on the DW states:

ESTELLE THOMPSON Hunter in the Dark

    “Estelle Thompson lives with her family on a dairy farm in Nambour, Nr Brisbane, Australia. Her special interests are badminton, listening to music, omnivorous reading and animals of all kinds. She calls her writing a spare-time occupation.

    “She has more than eight novels to her credit, translations of which have been published in Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden and the USA. Her first novel A Twig is Bent was serialised in Woman and on BBC radio and film rights were sold. Her fourth novel The Edge of Nowhere was serialised in Women’s Realm.”

   Of course she had written more than eight novels when The Substitute was published and The Edge of Nowhere was in fact her third novel. I found on the internet a more recent Hale book (Come Home to Danger) which states on the DW more briefly that:

    “Estelle Thompson has written fifteen novels. She currently lives with her brother on a farm in Queensland, Australia.”