Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Eight Faces at Three: A John J. Malone Mystery (John J. Malone #1)


Eight Faces at Three is a reformat and re-release of the first book featuring John J. Malone written by Craig Rice. Originally published in 1939, this edition was released 3rd August 2021 as part of the American Mystery Classics series. It's 288 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats in this edition. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a relentlessly lighthearted banter filled alcohol-soaked mystery and the first book to feature Rice's lawyer sleuth John Malone. It's definitely a product of its time period and hearkens back to the days of witty repartee drawing room comedies of the stage. I honestly found much of the dialogue forced and found myself (after a while) reading the lines as if they were read by actors in a play which lent a frenetic quality to the banter, but did nothing for the narrative as a whole.

The mysteries, resolution, and denouement are pretty well constructed and satisfying. It's the dialogue and relentlessly, almost frenetically, witty writing which are somewhat wearying. 

I would recommend the series as a whole to fans of period mysteries and republishing in new matching formats certainly saves readers (like me) from having to hope that they serendipitously find an old dogeared paperback copy circa 1940 which escaped being recycled in the WW2 paper drives, but this book in particular won't be for all readers. 

Three and a half stars. It's good to see these lesser known gems from the American mystery golden age being dusted off and reprinted for new generations of readers.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.


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