Michael Gilbert, plus bipartisan political vacuousness
But the books appeared in an unsubtle time (1966 and 1967) and besides, politics and ideology are small presences in these tightly plotted, delightfully told stories. And, since today's readers want positive news, I thought I'd share a jab as pertinent today it was 47 years ago . It's from "The Spoilers," which appears in the collection Games Without Rules:
“`We’re getting so security-minded,' said Miss Nicholson, `that we might as well be living in a totalitarian state, under the control of the Gestapo.'Now, good readers, tell me your favorite political jabs from crime stories. Be a good sport, and tell me especially about lines with whose point of view you may disagree.
“Miss Nicholson, who was an intellectual liberal, often said things like this in letters to the Press and at public meetings, possibly because she had never lived in a totalitarian state and had no experience of the Gestapo."
"Mr. Calder, considering the matter, was inclined to agree. He knew that in certain branches of the Security Services, sexual irregularity was considered a good deal worse than crime and nearly as bad as ideological deviation."or jabs at features of English life that Gilbert probably wished were in a higher state than they were. From "The Cat Crackers":
“`Splendid,” said the professor. `We will sit all afternoon and talk.'or this, from "The Headmaster," which sounds more than a bit like P.G. Wodehouse:
“`Not in an English pub, you won’t,' said Tabor."
"The Hambone Club in Carver Street is the offspring of that eccentric aristocrat, Sir Rawnsley Clayton. Having been turned out of the Athenaeum for giving dinner there to a troupe of clowns, he had founded it as a place where he could meet his more bohemian acquaintances. It was still much used by actors and writers, but had acquired a solid addition of politicians who found the Carlton too stuffy and of soldiers who found the Senior too exclusive."Gilbert, an Englishman who died in 2006, was both a Cartier Diamond Dagger winner and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. This link from the Rue Morgue Press will offer a compelling introduction to readers who, like me, wish to know more about Gilbert, including his time as POW during World War II. And here's Martin Edwards on Gilbert. The highest compliment of all, however, and the most pertinent to this post, may come from Joe Gores, who wrote:
"A critic once remarked that Maugham's Ashenden is the finest collection of espionage fiction ever written. That critic is wrong. The honor goes to Michael Gilbert's Game Without Rules, and to its twelve-story sequel, Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens."© Peter Rozovsky 2014