Reading the Detectives discussion

The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)
This topic is about The Smiler With the Knife
16 views
Nicholas Blake buddy reads > The Smiler With the Knife - Nicholas Blake - SPOILER Thread

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Susan | 10526 comments Mod
Published in 1939, this is very much a novel about the coming war. It follows, "The Beast Must Die," and is followed by my favourite Blake novel, "Malice in Wonderland."

Detective Nigel Strangeways, and his explorer wife Georgia have taken a cottage in the countryside. They are slowly beginning to adjust to a more relaxed way of life when Georgia finds a mysterious locket in their garden and unwittingly sets the couple on a collision course with a power-hungry movement aimed at overthrowing the government.

It will take all of Nigel's brilliance and Georgia's bravery if they are to infiltrate the order and unmask the conspirators.

This novel feature Georgia as the main character and is more a spy/thriller than a crime novel.

Feel free to post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
This is very different from other Blake novels. It features Georgia in the main role and is more a spy thriller than anything else. We have been talking of Troy, and Harriet, in other threads. Any thoughts on Georgia? Again, she is described as not being particularly pretty - was this some kind of pre-requisite of the time? Authors thought that female characters would not be taken seriously if blonde and bubbly, for example? It is interesting that all our heroines are brunettes.


message 3: by Pamela (last edited Jun 20, 2018 05:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments I enjoyed this, though I tend to prefer mysteries to this kind of spy thriller. I preferred the chase at the end (especially hiding with the Father Christmases!) to the undercover operation in the country house as that dragged a bit.

I liked Georgia - she was brave and resourceful. It was a bit disappointing that she did all that work and got so close to escaping, and then had to be rescued by the men right at the end!

I completely agree with Susan's point about her being dark, and vivacious rather than beautiful, fitting a particular kind of heroine. I've read so many books where the dark haired girl is feisty, intelligent etc, but the men fall in love with the sweet blonde girl and need to protect her. Good for Nigel!


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
Good for Wimsey and Alleyn too. Unfortunately, I am a blonde, so I probably wouldn't attract our heroes...


message 5: by Pamela (last edited Jun 20, 2018 06:12AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments Patricia Wentworth's heroes would probably love you :)


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
Not a chance. Although I don't think I would want to appeal to anyone I have come across in Wentworth's books, to be honest... My own choice would definitely be Lord Peter ;)


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9419 comments Mod
I really like Georgia - it strikes me this could just as easily have worked as a standalone mystery/thriller with a one-off heroine. But Blake decided to work it into his series, and there are some touching bits about her marriage to Nigel, although he does not actually come into the story very much.

I have a feeling both male and female series detectives generally tend to be "interesting" in appearance rather than conventionally good-looking - Alleyn is an exception, while Wimsey starts off fairly plain but seems to get steadily more gorgeous as the series goes on!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9419 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "I enjoyed this, though I tend to prefer mysteries to this kind of spy thriller. I preferred the chase at the end (especially hiding with the Father Christmases!) to the undercover operation in the ..."

The Father Christmases were hilarious, weren't they? I can imagine this working really well in a film.


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
Sayers certainly seemed to fall in love with Wimsey as much as her readers did, didn't she?

I thought this worked almost as a stand alone, without Nigel. I also liked the Father Christmases and the hints of real danger, which stopped the novel being spoof like.


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9419 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I also liked the Father Christmases and the hints of real danger, which stopped the novel being spoof like...."

Yes, I agree - although there is quite a lot of humour, I was still on the edge of my seat wondering how Georgia was going to escape, as one danger led into another!


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9419 comments Mod
What did anyone think of the fascist gang/conspiracy in this one - did it convince you? I found them quite creepy - more scary than quite a few of the gangs in GA books.


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
I did wonder whether some of it was a little propaganda to get people ready for the internment of fascist leaders, like Mosley? This real suggestion that, in war, these people were dangerous and needed to be dealt with?


message 13: by Pamela (last edited Jun 30, 2018 07:40AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments Susan wrote: "I did wonder whether some of it was a little propaganda to get people ready for the internment of fascist leaders, like Mosley? ..."

I think it's very likely that Blake was warning people about the intentions of Fascism and how a weak Government could be manipulated in this way. He was still a Communist at this time, so he would certainly be wary of characters like Mosley.


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
I do think authors at that time were - not particularly told what to write, but certainly asked to write for the war effort. I know Christianna Brand was told that her writing could help bring American money into the country and that she should bring to American readers notice what was happening. She wrote, "Green for Danger," in response to requests for some stirring stuff and I am sure other authors were also approached.


Lorraine Petkus | 43 comments Loved the book it was a thriller more than a mystery. One of the things I love about GA books is that they take you to the time period, you can almost feel the uncertainty and fear that the people in the UK were feeling and Blake in his intricate plot wanted to show his love of his country and bring awareness of possibilities if they didn't look around. This is my 3rd Blake this year, enjoyed There's Trouble Brewing where Strangeways was hired to find the killer who drowned the owner's dog in a vat of beer.


Susan | 10526 comments Mod
Good to hear you are enjoying the series, Lorraine. It is one of my favourites and I think it has a really good sense of time, and place, which make them interesting as social history too.


back to top