Mystery in Kensington Gore (Philip MacDonald)

By Philip MacDonald

First published: UK, Collins, 1932, under the pseudonym of Martin Porlock; US, Doubleday Doran, 1932, as Escape

Blurb (US)

MacDonald - Mystery in Kensington Gore US.JPG
Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC

Only one man in England believed her innocent – and he was a fugitive from the police!

When Peter Craven, cold, ill and jobless, broke into the apparently empty house in Royalty Gardens he had no idea that in an upstairs room a man lay murdered, while through the house a terrified girl was wandering, waiting for the law to reach out to her.  “I did not kill him,” she told Peter, after the first shock of seeing him had passed, “but no one will ever believe that…”  And so, at her request, Peter carried the body, by one way and another, half-way across snowy London and left it sprawled in a telephone booth.  He returned to the house, and there, in the same chair where it had been originally, was the dead body, unmistakably the same.  In terror at this inexplicable return, certain that somewhere near a killer was waiting, the girl and Peter fled from the house in the girl’s small, car,—started their mad dash across England, away from the menace of a deadlier enemy than the police…

Philip MacDonald is the author of The White Crow, The Link, Murder Gone Mad and other detective stories.  This new novel, with its fantastic beginning, its swift and thrilling chase, and its spectacular climax, is among his best.

My review

An extremely short book that yet succeeds in being utterly padded: fully four-fifths are taken up with pointless journeyings, conversational filler, and key scenes protracted well beyond their natural length. The story only moves because the characters all behave unaccountably: rather than staying to face the music, they run away, thereby adding one hundred pages of Buchanesque padding. This doesn’t matter, because the characters are all mad: the ‘hero’ is a psychopathic thug. He shakes his girl and is obsessed by her breasts, while his thinking is done for him by the oddest and most unconvincing policeman in detective fiction. Tripe.