BLOOD AND JUDGEMENT:
Fiction of Michael Gilbert
“For more than thirty years Michael Gilbert has been writing intelligent, well-crafted detective stories and thrillers… The problem a writer like Gilbert has is to produce within what he calls the ‘very useful framework of a who-dun-it’ books that acknowledge the drastic ethical changes of the past twenty years without outraging his own essentially conservative feelings. He is too conscious of the society he lives in to be able to ignore it, as Agatha Christie did in her later books. In the result his characteristic books offer an odd, attractive blend of the sophisticated and the old-fashioned.”
Julian Symons, Times Literary Supplement,
Michael Gilbert is perhaps the most successful of modern detective writers, for he believes that the purpose of fiction is not to examine psychological abnormalities in great detail but to entertain – to tell a story. This he does extremely well, whether it be the investigations of Inspector Hazelrigg in cathedral close or lawyer’s office (often helped by the lawyer Francis Bohun), the gripping and morally dubious short stories featuring the gentlemanly spies Messrs. Calder and Behrens or the police procedurals featuring the half-Spanish Inspector Petrella. Gilbert’s work is remarkably diverse – although characters recur, no two books are alike, for they have an entirely different approach (straightforward thriller, Le Carré-type espionage, big business satire, orthodox detective story) and often an entirely different tone (compare the comedy of Sky High! with the grimness of the semi-autobiographical Death in Captivity). Perhaps the highest tribute one can pay to Gilbert’s skill is that one never knows what one is getting, only that it will be well worth reading.<>
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These pages copyright Nicholas Lester Fuller, 2000--2010. Created 5th December 2004.