Most critics consider MINUTE FOR MURDER to be the best of this author's twenty mysteries featuring amateur detective Nigel Strangeways. They're probably right, but I think this book is outstanding. Blake took a real chance on writing a mystery in an unconventional way. Considering that this was only his fourth Strangeways book and that he was dependent on the money that the series brought in to support his family, I admire his guts. I also like that the main character (and for the first half of the book, the narrator) is himself a mystery writer.
Frank Cairns' young son was killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver. He's tormented by the knowledge that the police have little chance of finding the guilty party and that any punishment handed out would be laughable. He decides to find the driver himself and administer justice. He succeeds and the guilty man is fully as loathsome as Cairns imagined he would be. The man deserves to die. But will someone beat the grieving father to the punch?
I don't think that this book is as smooth as MINUTE FOR MURDER. The transfer from the diary of Frank Cairns to third person narrative is abrupt. There are some fascinating characters, but their actions aren't always totally believable. It's not a brilliant novel, but it's a very intriguing one. We've all known of situations where we felt that the legal process failed. How far are we justified in going to correct those failures? I've read five books in this series and they vary in quality, but all can be called "thought-provoking" without any exaggeration. Blake never talked down to his audience. He assumed that he was addressing readers who CARE about society as deeply as he did. He makes the reader part of the process and I like that.