Friday, June 12, 2009

Forgotten Book: DOUBLED IN DIAMONDS -- Victor Canning

Back in the early '60s when I was reading espionage fiction by the 'barrow-load, I read a lot of Victor Canning's novels in paperback editions. His work was always smooth and satisfactory, and I enjoyed the books a great deal. I thought about them not long ago while reading the short stories in a new Crippen & Landru collection titled The Minerva Club, and I'll get around to reviewing that one soon.

Anyway, reading the stories reminded me of how much I liked the novels, so I looked through the accumulation for one of them. I ran across Doubled in Diamonds, which features a private-eye named Rex Carver. It begins like a typical p.i. story, with Carver being asked to locate a missing heir, which should be a simple matter. It's not. Carver finds himself investigating the theft of a multi-million-dollar diamond theft, which in turn invoves him with a pair of beautiful Chinese spies, drugs, and a beautiful blonde. After that, things get a lot more complicated.

No matter how complicated the case, however, Carver's urbane narration carries the story forward with smooth assurance. There are no explosions or car chases, but there's plenty of suspense and good writing.

Canning was one of those writers who could do just about anything and do it well, but as of now, most of his work is out of print in the U. S. Probably in England, too, and that's a shame. All his forgotten novels are worth a look, and if you run across one, read it and see if you don't agree.


Todd Mason said...

One might think that having his novel adapted for the last completed Hitchcock film might be good for hype, but not even copy of THE RAINBIRD PATTERN was published with the film cited by Award, meaning no one with money was particularly interested.

Scott Parker said...

I, for one, enjoy stories that begin small and end up uncovering something much larger. The second Wallander (Kenneth Branaugh on PBS) episode was like that. Another author for The List.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I also enjoy stories that look like they're about something big and end up much smaller. Both ways work well.

RJR said...

I read a few of Carvers books featuring Rex Carver and enjoyed them. I was also being published (for the first time) by Charter Books back when they started reprinting Canning. Brings back memories. Thanks, Bill.


Fred Blosser said...

I thought at first the guy looked like Roger Moore, then, "No, Alain Delon" -- Both? Neither?

JJH said...

Glad to see Victor Canning getting talked about again. He wrote some much better books than Doubled in Diamonds. Try Firecrest or Birdcage or The Finger of Saturn. I have reviews of all his books on my web site,, and am trying to get as many as possible back in print in time for his centenary in 2011.