Jim Hanvey, Detective by Octavus Roy Cohen

As with many such books, I am always game to try books that are reprints or first-time prints of authors who lived years ago. 

This book has the additional component of providing context to the more obscure usages and terminologies towards the end. This is not something I usually appreciate, but it added something to the narrative in this case.

It is a small collection of seven short stories. 

The first: ‘Fish Eyes‘, it was pretty entertaining. Jim Hanvey is but a spectre in the background and does not actually do much to the story. A bank robbery was meticulously planned, but once Jim Hanvey comes into the scene, he solves the issue without even trying. Given the turn the narrative takes, it should have been annoying, but it was surprisingly not.

Homespun Silk: This story was also along the same line, with the crime being laid out front and centre and then Jim Hanvey does some meddling. In this case, this unlikely and strange-looking detective does a pretty great job of wrapping things up. He proves his statement at the beginning, where he claims to be doing well workwise.

Common Stock: This was another case where Jim Hanvey (it makes sense to always refer to him with his full name), has a plan. He is annoying to the man he is supposed to protect, but he knows things. It was not as twisty as the others or even that unexpected. I still liked reading it to its inevitable conclusion.

Helen of Troy, N.Y. : On a sweltering hot day, a woman from his past comes to appeal to his finer sensibilities, and Jim Hanvey obliges. What happens next is also inevitable but was entertaining nonetheless.

Caveat Emptor: This starts off with a chance encounter and an unlikely governess. It leads the detective to help the people whom he otherwise would be pitting his wits against. This adds to his colour and overall variety.

The Knight’s Gambit: A villain has his claws into an innocent person, and Jim Hanvey might be the rescuer she never knew she needed. This was lighter in some ways than the rest but still fun to watch unfold.

Pink Bait: A man seems to be on an innocuous holiday, but he is scheming, and Jim Hanvey might just tip him into confessing. It is like a cat and mouse chase that does not take the usual route.

I read this book a while ago, and it took me a while to get through. It is only on this individual introspection that I realise that I actually enjoyed the change of pace and characters in this story. The ‘ugliness’ of our lead character was a little repetitive, but since the individual stories are not connected, some things bore repeating. Funnily enough, even after all this, I could not readily admit to knowing the mind of Jim Hanvey. He does not reveal much, even at the end. He shows one side of his personality and quietly moves on. I might read another collection if I get the chance.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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