Saturday, 29 August 2015

CAROLYN WESTON - POOR, POOR OPHELIA (1972)


Synopsis/blurb......

THE BLOCKBUSTER THRILLER THAT BECAME THE HIT TV SERIES
"THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO"

It's the turbulent 1970s, a time of social upheaval. The generation gap has never seemed so wide and perilous, especially for veteran Santa Monica homicide detective Al Krug and his new partner, university-educated ex-surfer Casey Kellog, the youngest detective on the force. A woman's corpse is found floating in the bay with a law firm's business card, sealed in plastic, strung around her neck. Krug and Kellog have to solve the bizarre and gruesome murder... if they don't kill each other first.

"An expert thriller," St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Weston writes smoothly and uses a good deal of sharp dialogue," New York Times

"Hard-hitting and eminently readable," San Francisco Chronicle

Carolyn Weston wrote a three book series that became the basis for the hit 70’s The Streets of San Francisco TV show. I’ve come at the series ass-backwards. Susannah Screaming (1975) was read and reviewed earlier in the year – here. Poor, Poor Ophelia from 1972 was the opener. 1976’s Rouse the Demon was the last one she had published.

Poor, Poor Ophelia was an entertaining mystery and enjoyed – though slightly less than Susannah Screaming. I think if I had read them in the order they were originally published I would have a reverse reaction. Loving Ophelia and being slightly less satisfied with Susannah. The main reason is I think she’s guilty of repeating herself.

Same setting – which I do like anyway, so I didn’t have a problem with that. Early 70’s time frame in both which ticks a lot of boxes – no mobile phones, no super-fast computers and gadgets – meaning a lot of running around and leg-work and driving which enhances the feel of the location.

Our two detectives Krug and Kellog are a mismatched pair. Krug – think Karl Malden – aged, world-weary, hard-hearted and cynical. Kellog – a baby-faced Michael Douglas; young, idealistic, na├»ve, more trusting, more willing to accept a witness is telling the truth, than assuming he’s lying and with something to hide, or at least acknowledge than an untruth may be given for reasons other than guilt – eg….. embarrassment, fear of publicity and subsequent damage to a career.

Our case involves a dead girl (same as last time) and our person of interest in this case, is a young, smartly-dressed, trendy lawyer whose business card was found in our victim’s possession. David J. Farr - our lawyer, could be Kellog if Kellog had chosen the kind of career path his father had wanted for him instead of choosing the police force, and Krug dislikes him on sight.

Farr had a chance relationship with Holly Berry (our victim), which he endeavours to conceal from our detectives. Krug, with a hyper-sensitive nose for bull, immediately fancies him for the crime. Kellog isn’t as convinced and during the course of the book, takes a more pro-active involvement in the case. Chasing up other witnesses, pursuing other avenues, some of which become apparent the more Farr eventually reveals.

Farr himself, having accepted his involvement, and feeling guilt over having dismissed Holly and her fears for her personal safety and having unwittingly led the murderer to her door attempts to extricate himself from the matter, by giving the detectives her brother – someone who may hold the key to the case.

The dead girl’s doper brother has gone missing, a mysterious uncle who kept dropping by her digs, appears just as difficult to track down. Why did Holly have a big fat padlock fitted to her door recently? Was she really in fear of her life as Farr claims she admitted to him?     

I did enjoy this one, though did have the sense of deja-vous. Krug fancies “A” for the murder. Kellog isn’t sure and remains open-minded. “A” meanwhile, reluctantly involves himself in the case, in a bid to get out from under, putting his life at risk in a bid to ensure his freedom from a false conviction. Events unfold. Climax approaches. Guilty party “B” is exposed, Krug has the blinkers removed from his eyes. “A” and Kellog escape danger and our pair close the case. Kellog and Krug reconcile.

I just kind of think, I maybe read the same book twice with a few obvious differences.

Still a 4 from 5 and I will be reading Rouse the Demon at some point.

Brash Books have re-issued these three Weston novels and if you like 70s crime and enjoyed the TV back in the day they are well worth checking out. Brash Books website is here.


A Net Galley – Brash Books read this one. 

TracyK from Bitter, Tea and Mystery reviewed Susannah Screaming here.

12 comments:

  1. I must admit, Col, I do like the San Francisco setting. The premise is interesting too. I can see you liked it as well as you did. Interesting point about the 'sameyness' of this book to the previous one. I think that does take away from a story, even if just a hint.

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    1. Margot perhaps I wouldn't have noticed the same strands if there had been more of a gap between reading them both - it was only a few months for me. Still enjoyable - the third will be the clincher then!

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  2. I am looking forward to reading this one, Col. Even it is the same book over again or close to it. I am going to check the book sale for her books, but not expecting to find them. Next stop, get a copy from Brash Books.

    Did you see that Robin Burcell is updating the Krug & Kellogg series and it will be set in San Francisco? Not sure how that will be accomplished, but I plan to read it via NetGalley and find out.

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    1. I'll look forward to your reaction to Poor, Poor when you get to it. I'll be curious to see what you think - whether you think the same or not.

      I did get access to the Burcell book from Brash and think I had read on their website that the series was being extended via Robin Burcell. I haven't heard of this author previously, so don't know what they have previously written. I'm not 100% certain on gender either, but I'm leaning towards Robin being a woman!

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    2. I forgot to thank you for the link to my review of the 2nd book by Weston.

      Burcell is a female author and I have not heard of her books before either. She has one earlier series set in San Francisco, a police procedural series. She has worked as a police officer and as a forensic artist, and her other series features an FBI forensic artist.

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    3. No problem, Tracy. Thanks for the Robin Burcell detail. I may look her up for some more detail on her other stuff.

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  3. Col, I want to watch the TV show though the books for now. I wonder if it's available in a DVD pack.

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    1. Prashant, I'm sure it must have been re-released in this format. I think I read on Tracy's blog that her and Glen watched it on DVD.

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  4. Going to resist this one: didn't watch the TV series and do not need another series or author...

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  5. I keep meaning to read these, having heard about them primarily through the Streets of San Francisco connection. Interesting to hear that really I need read just the one!

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    1. John, I hope you read one or both. I'd be interested in your reaction.

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