Death of an Aryan (1939)


My review:

The poison used to accomplish the murders of the Nazi farmer (by a poisoned nail stuck through his shoe) and the jealous cuckold (during a bush fire) is the unusual ouabain, derived from Acocanthera schimperii or longiflora, one of many exotic notes struck in this tale of colonial Africa (Chania = Kenya?), Nazi espionage and animal mutilation—the end, where the hero, Superintendent Vachell, is trapped in a leopard cage and shot at is sheer Peter Dickinson.  Huxley’s characterisation is superb, especially strong on psychological abnormality, but there is an unpleasant streak of sadism running through the book like the great, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees and fevered imaginations.  The mystery is genuinely mysterious and mystifying, with a good number of tangles and crossed plot-strands, but the solution is slightly anti-climactic, and the murderer’s madness and motive are not wholly convincing.


To the Bibliography.

To the Elspeth Huxley Page.

To the Grandest Game in the World.