JAMES ANDERSON – Assault and Matrimony.

JAMES ANDERSON Assault and Matrimony

Doubleday/Crime Club, hardcover, 1981. UK edition: Frederick Muller Ltd., hc, 1980. TV movie: NBC, 1987 (with Jill Eikenberry & Michael Tucker).

   On the surface, Sylvia and Edgar Chambers have a marriage that is too good to be true. In fact, it isn’t. Unknown to either, each hates the other with a passion, and it takes only a nudge to send them both completely over the edge.

   The comedy of errors that quickly follows is deeply tinged in black. Each of these two basically unlikeable people tries in fierce desperation to kill the other — and any innocent bystanders who happen to be wandering by — and yet neither of them quite manages to succeed.

   There is not an ounce of conscience between them. It would not be at all difficult for the easily disillusioned reader to become completely exasperated with both of them, giving up with disgust at the seemingly endless variety of their elaborately structured plots.

   Fortunately, the ending is even more clever and complex, surpassing anything either of them has come up with before then. It’s a challenge, but it’s also well worth the wait.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 6, No. 2, March/April 1982
            (This review also appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.)

[UPDATE] 11-03-09. I still have the book but not the patience to find out which of many, many boxes in the basement it could possibly be in. It’s a shame, too, as the ending (as I’ve described it) intrigues me. Do I remember it? In a word, no, I don’t. (That’s a heck of a thing, isn’t it?)

   James Anderson, a British author, made a specialty in his early career of writing books whose titles begin with the letter “A” (The Alpha List, Angel of Death, Appearance of Evil, Assassin and so on).


   Later on he wrote three well-regarded detective mysteries taking place in the 1930s and solved by Inspector Wilkins (e.g., The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg-Cosy) and three Murder, She Wrote novelizations (with Jessica Fletcher).


[UPDATE #2.] 11-11-09. Thanks to Jamie Sturgeon for sending me the cover image at the top of this review. It’s from the Muller edition, not the Crime Club edition I own but which remains unseen for anyone for almost 30 years, including me.