Plenty Under the Counter

Plenty Under the Counter

Kathleen Hewitt
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
This review is by Rebbonk

I felt rather cheated by the title of this wartime work of fiction. I thought it would be all about the black market and racketeers, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was about a recuperating RAF pilot (Flt David Heron) solving a murder! What isn’t really explained though, is why he gets caught up in the affair in the fist place, other than he’s there at the time. Fair enough the black market is involved, but more by way of the periphery, than as a central part of the story.

I have to say that it’s a good yarn but very tame by today’s standards. Of course, 1942 was a completely different world, for some. And it’s the ‘some’ that are the principal characters in this book. This book is centered around a few very middle class characters. They must be middle class because they take taxis everywhere, lunch at fancy restaurants and liberally use their own telephones: there are even telephone extension lines in their digs. Then there’s the opening of an idealistic new club where funds are readily obtained and money and time to carry out the necessary tasks involved seem to be no object.

To be honest, the plot is a little thin, I’d worked out most of the detail before it was revealed but non the less I found it quite an enjoyable read. The dialogue is very stilted and frankly, more than a little unreal: but I think that reflects the style of writing of the time when this work was first published.

There are definite shades of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton about the writing style. I almost felt voyeuristic peeping in on a middle class world that I’m not really supposed to know much about, but one that the author has graciously allowed me a cheeky glimpse of. A glimpse that the newspapers would be horrified if they knew I’d seen it. At times, this voyeuristic style of writing left me feeling a little ‘grubby’.

I read the book over a few nights coupled with a few glasses of my favourite tipple. The book, whilst not a page turner, does manage to draw in the reader and I was forever ‘just turning over’ to the next page to see if my own theories on the guilty parties was right.

This edition is published to coincide with the eightieth anniversary of the declaration of war on Germany by the UK and France, I suspect that this book is likely to be in demand and I wish it well. I understand that it will be priced at £8.99 which I think is a good price and offers decent value for a few evening’s entertainment.

I’m more than happy to run to 31/2 anchors on this little book, for the glimpse of past times via the eyes of the middle classes. - Something I will never see in real life.

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