JONATHAN ROSS – Murder Be Hanged. George Rogers #18. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1993. Prior UK edition: Constable, hardcover, 1992.

   I am a Jonathan Ross fan, and it irritates me no end that so few of his books have been reprinted in paperback in this country. He deserves a wider audience here. Obviously his hardcovers have met with some degree of success both here and Great Britain, as this is the eighteenth tale featuring Detective Superintendent George Rogers.

JONATHAN ROSS Murder Be Hanged

   Ross himself is former Detective Chief Superintendent, and though the Rogers books are not as rigorously procedural as some, the qualify for the cognomen. He obviously knows whereof he writes, and even better, writes quite well of what he knows.

   George is feeling his years. Of late he has been more interested in golf then women, a state of affairs so at odds with the norm that he fears the change of life is upon him. His attention is distracted from his woes by a call from a young man who wants to meet with him in private, to alert him of a crime that may happen.

   Rogers meets him after dark, and learns that the teenager fears that his stepfather is planning to murder his mother. There is nothing to be done, of course, lacking evidence, but Rogers promises to keep an eye on things.

   Then the mother is the subject of an attempted shooting, the step-father is missing, and Rogers and his trusty second, David Linegard, have a mystery on their hands. Appearances are deceiving, though (aren’t they always?), and the situation is deeper and darker than it first appeared. Before it’s solved there is murder done, though to and by whom may surprise you.

   As always, Rogers a thorny, horny, and engaging lead, and the book is peopled with sharply drawn characters. Ross’s tales are not as deep and philosophical as some, perhaps, but they are far from trivial, and always interesting. The detection is realistic, solutions are never dragged in from left field, the prose is direct and forceful, and the narrative never lags.

   Ross is a thoroughgoing professional. If he does not quite belong in the first rank with Hill and Harvey, he is comfortably high up in the second, and I invariably enjoy his books.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #7, May 1993.

Bibliographic Notes:   There have been 21 novels in the Inspector George Rogers series, all written between 1968 and 1997. Jonathan Ross was the pen name of John Rossiter (1916- ), who published another dozen or so spy and/or adventure novels under his own name.