The Killer and the Slain by Hugh Walpole

Accountably neglected…


John Talbot always hated Jimmie Tunstall from the time they were boys at school and extrovert Jimmie would torment the introverted John. Now, years later, Talbot writes down the story of their relationship to prove, so he tells us, that he is not mad. Of course, whenever a narrator tells you he’s not mad, then you kinda know he is. After several years of absence, Tunstall returns to the town where Talbot still lives, now with a wife he adores but who doesn’t love him, and a young son who’s not fond of him either. They both quite like Tunstall though. Unable to put up with Tunstall’s overbearing personality any longer, Talbot murders him. But soon he begins to feel that Tunstall is still around – is, in fact, in some way controlling Talbot’s behaviour, making him do things he would never have dreamed of – bad things! Guilt? Madness? Or is something supernatural going on…?

I don’t know. I got bored with being bored halfway through and decided I didn’t care. I often wonder why already successful authors sometimes decide to rip off a great classic and then do it so badly. It must be the ultimate in hubris. “Aha!” I imagine Walpole thinking to himself one day, “I know what I’ll do! I’ll take the basic premise of Jekyll and Hyde, tell it sort of from the perspective of Hyde, fill it with lots of sex and endless, repetitive and exceptionally dull padding, and everyone will see what a great and original talent I am!” Poor Walpole, with your 27 ratings on Goodreads – looks like the reading public felt that the greatness and originality all belonged to Robert Louis Stevenson (373,463 ratings).

Challenge details:
Book: 101
Subject Heading: The Way Ahead
Publication Year: 1942

Martin Edwards must see something in this that I missed, since he included it in his 100 Classic Crime novels. As well as mentioning Jekyll and Hyde, he also says it’s reminiscent of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and yes, there is a similarity, but again, that was original and great, whereas this is a rip-off and dull. Edwards says it’s “unaccountably neglected” – I would argue that it’s accountably neglected, very accountably…

Book 12 of 20

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30 thoughts on “The Killer and the Slain by Hugh Walpole

  1. Oh dear! At least it’s off the list now and I don’t think you’ll be tempting your blog readers to pick it up either 🙂 (And I love this post’s title – quite ‘accountably’!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The fact it only had 27 ratings on Goodreads says it all really. Your MMM Challenge has certainly led you to a few questionable titles, hopefully the next one will be better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, some of the ones he’s picked are very odd – not well known, not well rated and certainly not classics! But there have been lots of good ones too, so I’m hanging in there, for now anyway…


  3. You know, FictionFan, the premise doesn’t sound bad. But it sounds as though there’s nothing intriguing about it, or anything that really keeps the attention as the book goes on. I’m sorry to hear that, as it might have been an interesting story. Yeah, no, I’ll give that one a miss, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, slog is the perfect word for this one, sadly – but I’m getting so brutal about abandoning them if they’re not working these days. I blame the plague… 😉


  4. Well, at least it satisfied one spot on your Books of Summer challenge, right?? Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one — from your review, it doesn’t sound as if I’d have liked it either. On to the next — as someone very wise recently told me, there are LOTS of books out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This has been a strange challenge – I seem to be loving one, then hating one! Yes, I’m getting better at knowing when to quit if a book isn’t working for me – plenty more on the shelf!

      Liked by 1 person

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