The Red Right Hand, by Joel Townsley Rogers: A Review

The Red Right Hand, by Joel Townsley Rogers (Carroll & Graf, 1997)

The Red Right Hand, by Joel Townsley Rogers (Carroll & Graf, 1997)

I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, nor exactly when I picked up a copy… several years ago, perhaps. But, having read Joel Townsley Rogers’ 1945 novel The Red Right Hand, I can’t think why it took me so long to start.

A twisted psychological tale disguises itself in a straightforward narrative and a fairly conventional murder story. A doctor, Harry Riddle, is caught up in the murder of a well-off man who has eloped with his lovely young bride. It seems as though the story should be straightforward, but the reader is repeatedly left wondering what? What did I just read?

But it is the writing which most distinguishes this story. It has been described as hallucinatory, even ghostly, and that is an accurate assessment. There is a dreaminess to the landscape that Rogers wrote, a disconnectedness from time and space. At the same time, there are certain hard, immutable facts. It is like a waking dream, one which confuses perception with hallucination, without pharmacological intervention.

And the result: a tale that is by turns confusing, obscure, and horrific, but remains gripping and suspenseful to the end. There is a twist at the ending, and it is unexpected and terrifying. This is a fantastic short book, and deserves a wider readership.

Originally reviewed 13 November 2012.

Find your copy of The Red Right Hand at AbeBooks.com (title links directly to search results).

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About Bill Bibliomane

Reader and writer, collector and cataloguer. Amateur mineralogist, astronomer, numismatist, philatelist: I have too many hobbies. I'm somewhat compulsive when it comes to book shopping. Fortunately for my budget, there are no bookshops near to my home. Unfortunately, I've discovered the Internet. I started out reviewing books for my own amusement. Now I've decided to assemble them on my own site.
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