I’ve gone off-liste. I read JJ’s review of Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac a couple weeks ago or so and he HATED it. His blistering, yet entertaining scorn had me thinking I must read this now. I don’t know why. If someone said, this show is bad or this pudding is terrible I would not hurry to partake. But thanks to JJ I had to order this and make it my next read once Roman Hat was done. I’m in a somewhat different position. I have not read the other Loracs that JJ found so similar. I’ve only read Fire in the Thatch which takes place in the country and is not much like this one. This one takes place in November 1944 – wartime London. This is critical because the blackout is an element of how the murder is done and how Bruce Mallaig happens to be strolling through the park and becomes witness number 1 to the titular murder by matchlight. Witness #2 is a man who hides under the bridge the victim waits on for someone. He lights a match and in that light Bruce sees a face above and behind the man on the bridge. The light goes out, there is a thud and Bruce races to the bridge, tackling witness #2 and calling for the police.
The police have their work cut out for them. Who is the victim? Are these witnesses who they say they are or are they involved in the crime? It then emerges that the victim – an Irishman by his voice – has only been going by his current name for about 9 months, so who is he really? There are many interviews, of course, but I didn’t find them tedious. Each added something to the investigation unlike the searches in The Roman Hat Mystery. I believe I could answer JJ’s questions about the film studio and the motive (at least I can at the moment, who knows how long I’ll remember?), but that would be some serious spoilage here. The coincidental meet-ups are, as far as I can tell, coincidental meet-ups, but there didn’t seem to be a ridiculous number of them and they’re partly explained by these people living and working in proximity. They may have met before, but now they know who each other are. Perhaps someday when he’s had a nice rest and not read too many Loracs recently, he’ll give it another try and not find it the pile of hooey he does now. I enjoyed it. Gives a great picture of wartime London, I liked the characters. I did find some aspects a bit of a stretch, but overall enjoyed the story and would recommend it, unless you’re JJ. Then all bets are off.