Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE NIGHT THE GODS SMILED by Eric Wright








Eric Wright’s 1983 mystery The Night the God’s Smiled is a combination of a clue-driven cozy and a non-violent police procedural.

Toronto police detective Charlie Salter is on desk duty. He backed the wrong horse in the police promotion sweepstakes. Then there’s a murder.

Someone murders a local college professor while he is at a professional meeting in Montreal. The Montreal police ask Salter to follow up leads in Toronto. This is Salter’s chance to do real police work again.

He talks to the professor’s colleagues. He negotiates the vast difference between the English culture of Toronto and the French culture of Montreal. He plays squash with Salter’s regular squash partner. And he meets a young woman student who attracts him in a “platonic” way. (I use quotation marks on the word “platonic” because Salter’s interest in her is more than platonic, but Salter loves his wife. And the young woman is used to older men doting on her without wanting to go any farther.)

Salter’s meetings with the young woman reinvigorate his sex life with his wife. He decides to try to “go to Baghdad” with his wife. “To go to Baghdad” is the term Salter uses for memorable or ecstatic experiences. It seems he had a good time in Baghdad once.

In any case, Charlie solves a simple, yet opaque murder. He gets back into the good graces of his superiors. And he enjoys an reinvigorated and active sex life with his wife.

This book sets the stage for the next nine novels in this ten-novel series.

I found this book to be routine, readable, and complex enough to be interesting. I enjoyed The Night the Gods Smiled.

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This is the first book reprinted in A CHARLIE SALTER OMNIBUS. I read about a Charlie Salter mystery in B.V. Lawson's blog In Reference to Murder. When I looked Eric Wright up, I found an inexpensive reprinting of the first three of the Charlie Salter books on Kindle.

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