These three short reviews first appeared in the Hartford Courant and were published consecutively in The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1978. That the authors’ last name all begin with the letter “F” is purely coincidental, something I never noticed until now.

JOAN FLEMING – Every Inch a Lady. Putnam’s, hardcover, 1977. First published in the UK: Collins Crime Club, hardcover, 1977. No US paperback edition.

   Easter Cragg, although brought up an orphan, seems hardy the kind of lady to be the center of so much homicidal activity, but after the murders of both her husband and then her doting father-in-law, and in spite of a surprising lack of curiosity or thirst for revenge on her part, a new neighbor and admirer is compelled to continue working on her behalf. Many a false trail lies in waiting, catching the reader’s interest in peripheral matters, necessarily so, as the slayings themselves turn out to have disappointingly little mystery to them.

BRIAN FREEBORN – Ten Days, Mister Cain? St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1977. First published in the UK: Secker, hardcover, 1977. No US paperback edition.

   Harry Grant, a small-time London con-man who successfully impersonated a notorious hit man named Cain in his previous adventure, finds that selfsame gentleman hot on his trail in this one. That, plus some unlikely spy stuff involving the Foreign Office, gives Harry plenty to sweat about, but while the slangy cockney style reads true, it’s awfully tough on Americans, particularly those asking for something a lot more substantial to get involved with.

Bibliographic Note:   The first book in this series was Good Luck, Mr. Cain (1976). These are the only two books by this author in Hubin.

JAMES FOLLETT – Crown Court. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1978; First published in the UK by Barker, hardcover, 1977. No US paperback edition.

   An unemployed used-car dealer, called in for jury duty just as his wife is due to give birth to their first child, is a reluctant witness to several brief scenarios of British justice — a case involving a thriving pornography business, a scuba-diving murder affair, and the unexpected intrusion of international terrorism, all while complications set in at the hospital down the street. Two-dimensional television drama, gripping for the moment, and then instantly forgettable.

Bibliographic Note:   This was in fact a novelization of a daytime British TV series produced by Granada TV for ITV and on the air for 13 years, from 1972 to 1984. Says IMDb: “Courtroom drama — each case takes three episodes. At the end of the third episode a jury of ‘ordinary people’ comes to a verdict on the evidence presented.”