Answer in the Negative by Henrietta Hamilton

Another addition to my list in #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge

I picked this book because of the publishers and the fact that it was a reprint. I am still in the process of updating my woefully inadequate relationship with older books by non-Christie authors. I have made a significant dent in the past couple of years if I do say so myself. This particular book was very enlightening for a very specific purpose. That is the concept of physical photographic archives. I kept imagining the minions(here, the characters of the story) running around behind the scenes in the google image code, finding out our required information.

The entire story is based in a National Press Archives, primarily focused on the image archives. One of the archive assistant’s life has been disturbed by increasingly troublesome pranks. Toby Lorn comes to his friends the well-known detective duo, the Heldars’ home posing the problem to them. They begin their investigation methodically, and the story continues in the same format. There is a suggestion made and then the evidence to either back the theory or to remove it from contention is gathered and discussed. There is the unfortunate casualty that changes the tone of the investigation some way into the story. Unfortunately for me, I guessed the culprit halfway into the story and kept finding the hints and felt like giving Sally and Jhonny a great shaking to make them see the glaringly obvious fact they were not even considering!! Surprisingly, however, despite that setback, I liked the simplicity of the narrative and the way the resolution of the story was dealt with. The other thing of note here(to me) is the quaint way certain ‘inappropriate’ behaviour was handled here, the merest hint of it and the narration veers away from details, one such example-the actual contents of the poison pen letters that the victim was being hounded with.

I recommend this to others like me who are reading older reprints of lesser-known authors. I would definitely pick up more by the author, preferably older stories, to get more of a background of Sally and Jhonny Heldar.

I saw this review by Kate @crossexaminingcrime while I was trying to come up with my own.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is solely based on my reading experience and my sudden fascination with the idea of manual archiving.

6 thoughts on “Answer in the Negative by Henrietta Hamilton”

      1. I have the same feeling, despite having read hundreds of them!
        I’m not sure how much access you have to the second hand book market but here are some suggestions:

        Richard Hull (Agora and the British Library have released titles by him. Murder Isn’t Easy, Keep It Quiet and Murder of my Aunt are my favourites)
        Nicholas Blake (The Beast Must Die, Thou Shell of Death, There’s Trouble Brewing)
        John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson (Polygon have reprinted a few titles. Some of my favourite novels by this writer are: The Case of the Constant Suicides, The Judas Window, She Died a Lady, Till Death Do Us Part, The Emperor’s Snuffbox)
        Christianna Brand (Suddenly at his Residence and Tour De Force)
        Christopher Bush (The Dean Street Press have reprinted many of his titles including Dancing Death, which I really enjoyed).
        Patricia Carlon (The Whispering Wall)
        Brian Flynn (Another DSP author. The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye is my favourite by him so far)
        Anthony Gilbert (The Clock in the Hat Box, The Spinster’s Secret and Death Knocks Three Times)
        Michael Gilbert (The British Library have reprinted a few of his including Death in Captivity which is my favourite by him)
        Cyril Hare (Suicide Excepted, An English Murder, With a Bare Bodkin)
        Donald Henderson (Collins Crime Club reprinted both Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper and A Voice Like Velvet a few years back. Both are very enjoyable inverted mystery novels)
        Alan Melville (The British Library have also reprinted him, with Death of Anton being my favourite)
        Patricia Moyes (Felony and Mayhem are reprinting her books and her first novel Dead Men Don’t Ski, is a good place to start)
        E. and M. A. Radford (Another DSP author – my favourite to date is Who Killed Dick Whittington?)
        Christopher StJohn Sprigg has been reprinted by the British Library and The Moonstone press and is someone I am trying to read more of. Enjoyed what I have sampled so far.

        I’m not sure how much you enjoy comic crime novels, but Delano Ames, Conyth Little (a.k.a. Constance and Gwenyth Little), Edmund Crispin and Pamela Branch are two very good exponents of that style.
        If you want to try suspense fiction then Celia Fremlin and Ethel Lina White are very good writers in that field.

        I hoped by giving quite a few suggestions at least some of them might be of interest!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Too cheesy to say I love lists like these? I am going to write them down on paper and cross them off one by one 😀 Thank you!
    I loved Richard Hull’s writing so I cannot wait to try the other recommendations. I do have access to a good library, enough to get quite a few of the above on request once they reopen(HK is under semi quarantine). Once I exhaust that I will have to look into that second hand market
    Of the ones you mentioned I have been lucky enough to stumble upon and review the following before:


    1. I’m glad you have a good library near you. The nearest one to me is fairly small and doesn’t stock the books I enjoy reading, so I have to do a lot of online shopping along with occasional good finds in charity shops. Ebay and Abe Books tend to be better for buying classic crime books than Amazon, when it comes to variety and price.
      I also do a classic crime book box subscription, (which ships internationally), so if you’re struggling to find a particular title, (on the list or off ), I might be able to help you out.

      Liked by 1 person

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