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Latest Read Bernard Newman - MAGINOT LINE MURDER

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  • agmclean
    BERNARD NEWMAN Maginot Line Murder This book is more a thriller than a detective novel although a number of the elements of the latter are present. The
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007
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      BERNARD NEWMAN Maginot Line Murder

      This book is more a thriller than a detective novel although a
      number of the elements of the latter are present.
      The narrator (Newman) appears to be some sort of English counter
      espionage agent who happens to be in France on his honeymoon when a
      body is found in one of the forts of the Maginot Line (an intricate
      series of defence installations constructed by the French in the
      1930s along much of its eastern boundary with Germany).The major
      investigator, a French policeman (Papa Pontivy), enlists Newman as
      an assistant in his initial inquiries. The victim, who has been shot
      and then grossly disfigured, cannot be identified. Nevertheless
      Pontivy and Newman quickly identify a prime suspect as a consequence
      of a doubtful `deduction' based on a very slender clue. There is
      some superficial exploration of the Maginot fortifications and some
      fortuitous discovery of explosive charges that have been laid
      throughout the complex but when inquiries about the suspect are
      unsuccessful and create embarrassment with the army the
      investigation falters.
      Pontivy then, on the basis of a guess rather than a clue, continues
      his investigations by surreptitious observations and then by
      infiltration into a multi national scientific expedition exploring
      an archaeological site in Brittany. Some odd events take place,
      coded messages are intercepted, the corpse is eventually identified,
      a plan to sabotage the Maginot line is averted, and the murderer is
      confronted, confesses and then kills himself.
      Newman writes quite well so that the book was not difficult to read.
      However the story suffers a lack of urgency until the last 60-70
      pages when it appears the author realized he had to bring everything
      to a rapid conclusion. In this process there is some decoding of
      messages that appear to have been introduced into the plot to enable
      Newman (the character), who until then has displayed no talent for
      detection or espionage, to show some basic skills as a code breaker.
      The book is rather disappointing. It has the structure of a
      detective story but soon turns into a routine novel of espionage
      where the author shows some knowledge of simple codes. Then, when
      the military plot is foiled, the author rapidly and unconvincingly
      brings the detective part of the story to an end. If this is typical
      of the author then much of his writing cannot be classified as
      detective fiction. Perhaps his later works where the title is not so
      obviously linked to spies and espionage (e.g. The Centre Court
      Murder and Death at Lords where the titles suggest a different type
      of mystery) may be more rewarding reads.
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