Outside an English village in a nearby forest lies a troubled Harry. What is his trouble? Well, you see, he’s dead.
Jack Trevor Story published The Trouble With Harry in 1949, and the droll English mystery novel became a bestseller and served as the source material for Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation by the same title (1955).
Critics and readers loved Story’s clever counterpoint of humor, mystery, and death. Certainly, “death humor” tends toward the macabre in most novels, short stories, or movies, but Story managed to retain a genuinely charming, almost lighthearted tone while delivering a bona fide murder mystery. (Hitchcock’s movie version similarly approached the subject but was ironically not nearly so well-received by American audiences as was Story’s novel.) Despite death being the central plot point, it never becomes morose or repulsive; instead, Story established an almost whimsical environment through which his characters stumble about in their attempts to address the trouble with Harry. It is a relatively short read (current editions run to 128 pages or so), and it is ideal for a nippy autumn’s evening curl-up before the fireplace.
That’s Trouble With a Capital T, I’d Venture,
Cauli Le Chat
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Mystery Readers’ Advisory News Beat
P.S. Fans of the original Star Trek television series (1966-1969) treated DeForest Kelley’s frequent dialogue (as Doctor McCoy) of “He’s dead, Jim” or “She’s dead, captain!” as a running joke. It’s amazing how many times Kelley had to say variations of this line. This video collects several examples.