Friday, 27 September 2013

NICOLAS FREELING - THE KING OF THE RAINY COUNTRY


Synopsis/blurb......

This was the end of the story that had started 'Once upon a time, in a rainy country, there was a king...' The end had not happened in a rainy country, but on a bone-dry Spanish hillside, three hundred metres from where Van der Valk had left a lot of blood, some splintered bone, a few fragments of gut, and a ten-seventy-five Mauser rifle bullet.

No one had broken any laws. But a handsome, middle-aged millionaire had disappeared with a naked girl. And Van der Valk was given the job of finding out why.

Foster in Frenzy
This was my first (and probably last) taste of this author. The King of the Rainy Season is Freeling’s 6th mystery in his Inspector Van der Valk series, which ran to 13 overall. I can dimly recall the TV series from the 70’s starring Barry Foster as the lead character. Foster (as a boring aside) seemed vaguely familiar to me when recently watching a Hitchcock film Frenzy. After googling him, the penny dropped in respect of his Van der Valk role. 
Freeling was the recipient of the Edgar Award in 1967 for this book. One of my mini-reading challenges for myself is a monthly read of an Award winning book, so on that basis I hooked up with King of the Rainy Country.

My overall verdict..........shortish at 157 pages long but not a quick read; interesting and intelligent if a bit too pedestrian for my liking. Van der Valk is conscientious, probing and curious, diligent in his approach to his challenge and not easily diverted from his task despite temptation. The puzzle or raison d’ĂȘtre for Jean-Claude Marschal’s disappearing act and the limitations placed on his enquiry, added to the sense of mystery and the suspense does build as our trusty inspector comes closer to solving the puzzle.

I enjoyed the support cast of police characters and the respect and cooperation Van der Valk received from his German and French counterparts added to my enjoyment. At times we seemed to be on a road trip through Europe in pursuit of Marschal, but it was more at a pace akin to Driving Miss Daisy than Fast and Furious. Van der Valk has plenty of time for his philosophical musings along the way.

A bit of a change from my usual read and satisfying if not quite setting off the buzzer labelled “super, fantastic, great!” 

3 from 5  
   
I obtained my copy by swapping with another member on the Readitswapit website.


           

6 comments:

  1. Col - I'm glad you gave this series a try. I like Van der Valk more than you do I think, but I agree that Freeling does a good job of developing other characters. It's good to hear you thought this one an enjoyable read.

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    1. Margot, thanks, I don't regret trying it and it wasn't disagreeable, just not too much of my kind of book.

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  2. I hope I like Freeling's books more than you did, since I bought several at the book sale. It is possible I will since this is a police procedural. We will see.

    Was this a Penguin edition that you had a hard time with the typeface, etc.?

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    1. Tracy, I hope so too.

      Yes, it was one of those pesky Penguins - but I don't think that clouded my thinking.

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  3. I read a lot of Nicholas Freeling back in the day, including this one - they seemed very grown-up when I was a teenager. I don't know what I'd think now, I should try one. I remember him as doing quite unusual things with his plots...

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    1. I suppose on balance I could perhaps try a 2nd of his, because this wasn't a typical police novel, insofar as for a lot of the book there was no evidence of any crime committed.
      Maybe the unusual premise of the novel was usual for Freeling?

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