Death Under Snowdon (Glyn Carr)

  • By Glyn Carr
  • First published: UK: Bles, 1954

Which is louder: a grenade explosion or a trained Shakespearean actor? Glyn Carr’s detective is an enormous, booming ham who climbs mountains for fun. His name: BRIAN BLESSED Abercrombie Lewker.

Death Under Snowdon finds BLESSED Lewker in Wales, shortly before he and two other men are to be knighted. One of them, odious politician David Webhouse, is killed in an explosive booby-trap. Everyone, it seems, had motive to loathe Webhouse. His second wife was in love with another man; her cousin could profit by Lewker’s death; his former mother-in-law is a religious maniac who blames him for her daughter’s suicide; and a local landowner wants to stop his hydroelectric development. A surfeit of suspects for the stentorian sleuth.

Glyn Carr knows the proper ingredients of a detective story: a larger-than-life detective; a household of suspects, all with motive and opportunity; a chapter where the three sleuths build cases against ‘their’ murderers; and a hopefully surprising solution. (Carr boasts that Lewker could not recall a similar solution to a murder problem in all his experience of crimes factual or fictional. I can think of a couple.) Several passages are funny (Clare’s startling remark in Chapter VIII, for instance); and there’s a delightfully clever, outspoken little girl, who becomes Lewker’s pal.

Frankly, I expected to enjoy this more. I found it long-winded and difficult to get into. Barzun and Taylor spoiled the solution – which takes away most of the fun. The book desperately needs a map; Carr presumes his readers know Snowdon. This is the kind of mystery written for handymen, revolving around three-eighths drill bits, detonator holes, steel rules, and wooden cylinders. Death Under Snowdon is less beknighted than benighted.

Ch. XIV: Allingham’s Campion and Ngaio Marsh’s Alleyn in green-backed Penguins

6 thoughts on “Death Under Snowdon (Glyn Carr)

  1. Frankly, I expected to enjoy this more.

    I read another of Carr’s — possibly Murder on the Matterhorn, possibly Death Finds a Foothold — and had the same response. It, too, was long-winded, sparsely-plotted, and had a habit of being dull for long stretches of mountainous geeking out before a dead body or a sort of crime something would show up for Lewker to shout about.

    TomCat has said good things about The Youth Hostel Murders, I think — at least, I hope so, because it’s on my TBR purely on that basis — but every time I go to pick it up I remember the dullness of the one I’ve read and always find something else to take its place. I was hoping you were going to have loved this one so I could rush to TYHM tout suite…but maybe I’ll read a few other things first.

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    1. So it’s not just me then?

      I like the *idea* of a detective who solves murders on mountains – Ambush in the Andes! Horror in the Himalayas! Killing on Kilimanjaro! Revenge on Rum Doodle! – but your experience makes reading G. Carr sound as arduous as scaling Everest in the nude.

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    2. I don’t know how well The Youth Hostel Murders will stand up to rereading today, but remember enjoying it tremendously and certainly the most fun and readable book in the series. A fun mix of Scooby Doo and Gladys Mitchell with ancient stone circles, witchcraft, local legends and hidden treasure. So that one is your best bet.

      Sadly, Rue Morgue Press folded before they could reprint two of Carr’s most intriguing-sounding and promising titles: A Corpse in Camp Two (murder in the Himalayas and the cover shows Yeti footprints in the snow) and Lewker in Tirol (cover suggests an impossible crime).

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  2. I have read most of Carr’s Lewker books and enjoyed most of them. However that was a good number of years ago and my recollections are somewhat deficient. I recall enjoying “Murder on the Matterhorn”, “The Corpse in the Crevasse and “A Corpse at Camp Two” while I thought “Death Under Snowdo
    n” rather disappointing. I will have to again try one of the 3 I recall well to test the reliability of my suspect memory.
    agmatsyndal

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