Jim Hanvey, Detective is an engaging collection of early detective fiction by Octavus Roy Cohen which is also the first entry in the Library of Congress Crime Classics. Originally published 1922-1923, it contains 7 self contained stories, additional material, and commentary. This edition was released 10th Aug 2021 by Poison Pen Press. It's 256 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 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 lighter version of the typical solo investigator detective fiction of the period. In a lot of ways, Cohen's detective reminds me of Peter Falk's Columbo; he's a slow speaking, bumbling guy, with an apparently dull intellect which he uses to disarm and catch out wrongdoers. He loves sappy romance films (and cries in the theater at the sad bits), smokes horrible stinky cigars, and associates with known criminals for information gathering purposes.
The language is a bit dated and the dialogue can be a bit stilted in places; it's definitely a product of the time period. That being said however, these are well constructed and entertaining mysteries and are entertaining in their own right as well as being important in historical context.
The book includes a fair bit of additional background information including a short bio of the author and his place in contemporary American crime fiction. The editors/publishers have included book club discussion question prompts and a short bibliography for further reading.
Four stars. It's nice to see lesser known gems from 19th and 20th century crime fiction being relased to a new generation of readers. Despite having read the genre and period extensively, Cohen was an author previously unfamiliar to me.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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