Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

There’s only one word for it…

🙂 🙂 😐

When Jim Henderson receives an invitation to spend the weekend at Thrackley, the country house of a man called Edwin Carson, he’s puzzled. Although the older man claims to have been a friend of Jim’s long dead father, Jim doesn’t remember ever meeting him or even hearing his name. However, Jim’s found it difficult to get employment since he came back from the war, so the idea of some free food and free accommodation are very welcome, especially when he discovers his old school friend Freddie Usher has also been invited. Carson is a collector of jewels, and it’s not long before the reader discovers his methods of collection aren’t always honest. Over the course of the weekend, Jim will find himself surrounded by thefts, missing persons, murder and attractive women.

When I say that I preferred this to the only other book of Melville’s that I’ve read, Quick Curtain, I have to qualify that by pointing out that I thought Quick Curtain was pretty awful. This one isn’t awful, but it’s not good either. The plot is a mess, full of inconsistencies, holes, continuity errors and coincidences. There’s no mystery aspect since we know early on that Carson is a villain, so it all comes down to whether he’ll escape or be caught. It’s redeemed somewhat by the enjoyable banter between Jim and his old school friend, and by the light-hearted romance that Jim has with Carson’s daughter, Mary. This keeps it readable, so that despite my harrumphing every time the plot took another leap away from credibility, I managed to stick with it quite easily to the end.

And what an end! Sometimes the word silly doesn’t cut it, while farcical implies a level of skill that is distinctly missing here. Throw in a lot of big reveals, have some terrible things happen and no one seeming to much care, have the police totally laid back about the various criminal acts that have been carried out by the guests, and really, what is the right word to describe this shambles? The one that seems best to fit is preposterous. And what’s even more preposterous is that it seems to have been quite a hit when it came out, even being made into a movie. (Note to self: don’t watch it…)

So not awful, but close…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, the British Library.

Book 2 of 20

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42 thoughts on “Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

    • Haha, well, I had generously given his other book two stars for some odd reason, so this one had to get an extra half! But I agree it’s too much. I shall make sure to deduct a star or two from some other book to even things up…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ah, I read this early in lockdown and was up for some silliness, so didn’t mind the plot holes too much. Yes, it is preposterous, but I interpreted it as a bit of a commentary on the upper and moneyed classes (not always the same thing). Which is probably not what the writer intended, but good fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was enjoying it just about till the end, but really, it didn’t just cross the credibility line, it jumped over it and fell down a cliff! I just don’t think his style of humour works for me… oh, well!

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    • Haha, yes, I think I should probably give up on him now. I think his humour just doesn’t really work for me, so I’m less willing than other readers to overlook the dreadful plotting.

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  2. *Thinking* Nope, not my sort of read, FictionFan. I don’t care much for plot holes, unless the rest of the story is truly excellent. And although I like banter as much as the next reader, it’s not enough to salvage a story for me, if that makes sense. I get your point about ‘not awful, but close,’ to be honest. Well, at least my TBR is safe for the moment… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I’d enjoyed the humour more, I might have been more forgiving about the plot issues, but his humour just doesn’t seem to work for me. And really, the ending is so ridiculous that I felt as if I’d been cheated! I don’t think this one is likely to make my Book of the Year lists… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I can understand feeling disappointed by this one – I think your review is fair. The British Library CC Melville you haven’t reviewed (Death of Anton) is a much better read but given your disappointment in both these titles I can imagine not being excited to seek it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugh. Sounds like a stint in purgatory. You must have enjoyed it a little for the three stars though — personally, I haven’t waded through this one and have no plans to. Lockdown or no!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It started off OK and would have been enjoyable enough if it had been for the terrible ending, But I’m afraid his humour didn’t work well enough for me to be able to overlook all the other problems!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I found the earlier ones particularly variable, but I feel as if they’ve got into their stride now and I find I like most of the new ones. They do seem to take account of reception, because I see they’re publishing more and more of the authors readers have praised.

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  5. Ha! Your review made me laugh, especially because i know the exact kind of Harumping you’re doing, I do it myself when unbelievable things happen in books. I tried googling the movie trailer because I love seeing what you’re talking about in the trailer format, alas, I could not find it, so perhaps that’s for the best? LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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