Continuing my peregrination through the Large Print
section of my library where I find all sorts of Britmyst
writers of whom I have never heard, I read this week
one of the worst – no probably the worst – mystery
I have ever read. Normally I give up on bad books
but this was so spectacularly bad that I read it all
in a dazed fashion.

The book was Hangman’s Lane by John Wainwright.
Although the plotting was average what made this book
so spectacularly bad was the style, and in particular sections
written from the perspective of the protagonist – Chief Inspector
Lyle; these are written in a sort of hard-boiled, tough guy
first person manner. Not only is it appallingly badly written
but it is morally and politically repellent. At one point
Lyle and his sidekick beat someone up with great relish
and approval.

I assumed this was some disastrous one-off but looking on
Fantastic Fiction find that Wainwright has written an enormous
number of books (from 1965 onwards). I also note that
he wrote non-fiction books including ‘Guard Your Castle;
A Plain Man’s Guide to Protection of Your Home’ (probably
involving man traps, rottweillers and baseball bats) and a
memoir of his 20 years in the police! (which should remind
us that the civilised detectives of much Britmyst were – or are –
somewhat of a fantasy). I presume he enjoyed some sort
of popularity among BNP supporters.

Wainwright is what one might term the dark underbelly of
Britmystery.

(April 2007)

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