J.F. Straker – Final Witness (1963)

More of a thriller than a mystery, the protagonist of this book is David the
tyro journalist from A Coil of Rope. There are three witnesses of the
fatal shooting of a policeman in a robbery which goes wrong; by chance David happens to meet one of them in a club and escorts her home. The next morning she has disappeared believed kidnapped. David spends the rest of the book trying to track down the remaining two witnesses and obtain a scoop; selfish and self-obsessed he blunders on but fortunately the police, in the shape of his god-father who happens to be a Superintendent at Scotland Yard, are there to pick up the pieces. The interest in this book lies mainly in the period detail. The whole book feels as if it is in black and white so heavy is this late 50’s/early 60’s atmosphere – seedy clubs,villains both high and low life. Something of an obsession with black people emerges in this book (there was a black character in [A Coil of Rope] too) and this makes for uncomfortable if historically interesting reading.

(May 2007)