Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: GREEN FOR DANGER (1944) by Christianna Brand

Friday's Forgotten Books is the weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE. Don't forget to drop in and take a look at the list of participating bloggers who'll be posting about Forgotten Books today.

I know several other bloggers have mentioned this book here there and everywhere, but I thought I'd add my own two cents as well.

I wish I hadn't seen the film first because it kind of spoils the ending for the book which is my second Christianna Brand read. But I'm glad I read the book anyway. As I always say: better late than never.

While my favorite Brand book so far is still TOUR DE FORCE, I do recommend GREEN FOR DANGER. The film too, while I'm at it. I'd say, read the book first if you haven't seen the film.

I wrote about the movie here, if you'd like to take a look.

Brand's crusty and curmudgeonly sleuth, Inspector Cockrill, is called to investigate the death of postman who had died while on the operating table during a fairly routine procedure. The setting is a military English field hospital during WWII. The suspects: the operating team's nurses and doctors.

The personal intrigues of these various personalities - all working under pressure - take center stage as suspicion begins to rear its ugly head. Especially when a bizarre second murder occurs. This time it's one of the nurses who is killed. Earlier that night, she'd indulged in a fit of jealousy and outrage, bragging to everyone who'd listen that she knew who killed the postman and had the proof. Of course, you and I both know that in a mystery, this is a BIG no-no. It practically guarantees the character is done for.

At the center of an overdose of female lust is Dr. Gervase Eden, the sort of man who, despite not being especially handsome, attracts women like bees to honey. The nurse that was killed, Sister Bates, was head over heels for Eden, but he'd spurned her after a brief affair. His roving eye had now settled on the beautiful Frederica Linley VAD, who, despite being engaged to young and earnest Dr. Barnes, is not impervious to Eden's bad boy 'charms'.


While Inspector Cockrill soon claims to know who the killer is (very annoying) he has no proof so must keep pestering the hospital staff even after two more attacks occur.

A hospital during war time is an excellent and very atmospheric setting and Christianna Brand obviously did her research. She brings the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere and the different medical personalities to vivid life.

The ending is a double stunner. If you haven't seen the film, you will not see it coming.

I am so pleased to have discovered Christianna Brand's books and can't wait to read my next one. Can't imagine how I ever missed her work the first time around.


  1. I have seen the film, and liked it very much, but have not read the book.

  2. I saw the film earlier this year and loved it. I think I'd still enjoy reading the book, though. When I saw the movie I wasn't aware that it was based on a book, or that there were more featuring Inspector Cockrill. It's too bad they didn't adapt more starring Alistair Sim - he was brilliant!

  3. As we have discussed before, Yvette, this is one of my favorites. The ending, as you say correctly, is simply stunning; I think I'm still suffering from whiplash. And the movie, as I recall from MANY years ago, was extremely well done. I'm seeing some of Brand coming back into print now. It's about time!

  4. As with Rick, I've liked the film for years, and should read the Brand version...

  5. Richard: The book is worth a good look, even if you've seen the film In my view, anyway.

  6. Elisabeth: I've just recently discovered Christianna Brand's books. I loved TOUR DE FORCE. Can't wait to read more.

  7. Les: I love a good rock'em, sock'em ending. Whiplash! Ha. Perfect.

    I've told Johh, we should go ahead with his original idea and have a Christianna Brand Challenge. :)

  8. I love this book (and the movie). It's been a very long time since I read/saw it. But it's my favorite Brand so far (I haven't read that many). If I could get my hands on them, would SO sign up for a Brand challenge. (Of course, I'm susceptible to challenges and sign up for them right and left.)

  9. Bev: We have to talk John into sponsoring it. :)

  10. Great review Yvette, though because I love the film so much I tend to always think of that first, then book second, so tend to prefer HEADS YOU LOSE and CAT AND MOUSE from he novels just because I can keep them more purely in my head! I am keeping TOUR DE FORCE and a couple of other Brand's on reserve for rainy days though as I'd hate to run out although i know there's a flaw int his approach somewhere ...


  11. Though I love GREEN FOR DANGER, I must admit that I loved TOUR DE FORCE even more. I can't wait to read more Brand myself.

    I understand wanting to make a special reading date with your books. :)


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