Review – Big Ben Strikes Eleven

Posted March 21, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Big Ben Strikes Eleven

Big Ben Strikes Eleven

by David Magarshack

Genres: Crime, Mystery
Pages: 333
Series: British Library Crime Classics
Rating: two-stars

The discovery of Sir Robert Boniface’s body on the floor of his blue limousine was made quite accidentally on a sultry Friday evening towards the end of June.

The industrial and financial tycoon, and former stalwart of the British Cabinet, had been shot in the head and left in the quiet Vale of Health alongside London’s Hampstead Heath. Nearby, a rejected portrait of Sir Robert is found riddled with bullets in the studio of the now- missing romantic artist Matt Caldwell. As it hurtles towards its feverish denouement under the bells of the capital’s most famous clock, this closely observed and stylish study of both character and motive transports the reader from the Stock Exchange to Scotland Yard. It asks the question of what it means to be crooked and how immense power corrupts.

I found David Magarshack’s Big Ben Strikes Eleven a bit disappointing vs the way it was described (as being for grownups, and apparently earning Dorothy L. Sayers’ praise). It sounded like it was maybe going to be a bit more literary, but it felt fairly by-the-numbers police procedural ish, with each clue and hint dragged out of the supporting cast.

It felt like the basic facts got recapitulated — along with needless baroque levels of speculation — every chapter or so, without getting much further forward, while there was a strangely laissez-faire attitude to getting the various witnesses to explain themselves. He won’t explain where he was? Oh well. She won’t give information because she says it’s a privacy thing? Fine, that’s fine. What?!

There are some interesting bits, like unpicking a certain alibi, though there’s a certain reliance on coincidence and a whole bizarre interlude with a love story that feels self-destructive and not at all appealing. Sure, one of the suspects is involved, but it added relatively little (just a slight potential explanation of a clue we already had), and just felt weird.

So… not what I hoped for, alas.

Rating: 2/5

Tags: , , , , ,


Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.