Josephine Poole Elizabeth Bewick - Essay

Elizabeth Bewick

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Catch as catch can is a] story in which fourteen-year-old cousins, en route for a holiday in Lancashire, witness a man's suicidal leap from a train and as a result find themselves unpleasantly involved with a gang of dope smugglers. The situation is trite, the characters overdrawn—adults acting at times with incredible naiveté—and the dialogue abounds in clichés, however crisply delivered. There is a certain compelling quality about the writing and the mounting tension of the plot holds one's interest with a kind of mesmerized horror….

Elizabeth Bewick, "Eleven to Fifteen: 'Catch as Catch Can'," in The School Librarian, Vol. 18, No. 1, March, 1970, p. 85.

From the clamorous second-class carriage, the sepulchral corridor in first, [Catch as Catch Can is] a slow sizzler that makes most juvenile mysteries look like comic strips…. There are … neatly falsified alarms, and a lurking lot of real ones…. All, it's a little disappointing to learn, apropos of a cryptic message about a smugglers' rendezvous that the doomed passenger had put in Piers' pocket. But the climax is a clammy chase up the ladder of a derelict lighthouse, "and, oh triumph in this checkered evening," Piers recognizes among the much-obliged police, "Swallow, his bane at the station" when he'd first suspected foul play. Convincingly peopled and detailed so that there's real life in danger.

"Younger Fiction: 'Catch as Catch Can'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1970 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXVIII, No. 19, October 1, 1970, p. 1097.