The Three Tiers of Fantasy (Berrow)

  • By Norman Berrow
  • First published: UK, 1947

Norman Berrow has been on my list of detective writers to investigate. His Three Tiers of Fantasy (1947) may not have been the best place to start. The situations are splendid. A spinster elopes with a young man only she can see – and who died seven years before. A poltergeist haunts an inn with a room on a floor that doesn’t exist. A woman steps 350 years into the past to witness a double murder in a street that disappears. But the resolution is disappointing. There aren’t any murders, so the book lacks that ‘Whodunit?’ tug. The solution to the first mystery is obvious and underwhelming; to the second, highly technical (diagram, please!); the third is workmanlike. It takes fully a quarter of the book to explain the mysteries – but the actual solution isn’t particularly complex. Chesterton did it better – and faster.