(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Harry Carmichael’s thirty-odd novels featuring John Piper and his friend Quinn have been consistently underrated, although several authorities have pointed to the excellence of the series. Most impressive is the atmosphere of the books, seedy and grim though not depressing or despairing. Piper mourns his late wife, Ann, but he remarries in the course of the series; his essential aloneness and that of his generally hungover friend Quinn, who never marries, function as the psychological reality in which sordid criminal greed occurs. The plots are all puzzle mysteries, although the crimes are not of the impossible variety and the clues are all given fairly. In these and other respects, the series maintains its quality from beginning to end.

Harry Carmichael Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Callendar, Newgate. Review of Remote Control, by Harry Carmichael. The New York Times Book Review 76 (April 11, 1971): 18. Callendar’s review emphasizes the work’s place within British and American detective fiction.

Chernaik, Warren. “Mean Streets and English Gardens.” In The Art of Detective Fiction, edited by Warren Chernaik, Martin Swales, and Robert Vilain. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Chernaik’s contrast of America’s mean streets and genteel English gardens helps contextualize the distinctive nature of Carmichael’s seedy English settings.

Moore, Lewis D. Cracking the Hard-Boiled Detective: A Critical History from the 1920’s to the Present. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006. Detailed study of both the American and the British versions of the hard-boiled detective. Bibliographic references and index. Provides context for understanding Carmichael’s work.

Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. New York: Routledge, 2005. Contains an essay on hard-boiled fiction that sheds light on Carmichael’s novels.