Revenge and Regret: Vendetta by Harry Carmichael (1963)

“All of us nurse our own private sorrow. Where I come from, tragedy made a common bond between strangers. Since then we have taught ourselves to forget. It’s the only way to make life tolerable…’

So you discover a new-to-you-author and fall in love with the book and want to read more of him. Only thing is, his books are hard to get. The next time you go to library, however, you find a book of his winking at you from the shelves. You will agree with me that there are few things that give as much pleasure as finding a book – by an author you are keen to read more of – on the library shelves

John Piper calls on Fritz Haupmann, a prosperous shoe-manufacturar, who tells him that he wants to increase the insurance cover for both his shoe factory and his life. Haupmann is a spritualist and at a meeting of Psychic Research Society that he attended, he has been warned that something bad is going to happen to him. Haupmann wants to make sure that his wife and daughter do not suffer after he is gone. He goes so far to say that Piper should marry his daughter Gizelle as he feels that he would be able to give her the care and security that she wouldn’t get from her male friends should she marry any one of them. Piper is flabbergasted, he had but met Gizelle only for a few minutes when she came inside the room to borrow her father’s car. However, he had been terribly impressed by her beauty and for the first time in ages, since his wife died, desire had stirred within him. He politely refuses Haupmann’s proposal and thinks there is more to it than mere messages from spirits.

He does assess Haupmann’s property while a doctor examines Haupmann and in both cases, the insurance amount is increased. However, a few days later there is a fire at Haupmann’s factory though it is soon put out but since it seems a deliberate case of arson, the insurance company asks Piper to investigate. His investigation takes him first to the Psychic society and he also asks his friend, the crime reporter, Quinn to investigate Haupmann. Could it be that the restless spirits which are calling out to Haupmann belong to the bloody years of the war?

I found more things about Piper and Quinn, in this, my second meeting with them. Quinn is an alcoholic while Piper is lonely. I also got acquainted with Detective-Superintendent Mullett of the Scotland Yard, a man whom I liked immensely, because he is full of literary quotes. The context of the novel too is good, with the war still there in people’s memories and talks of refugees. All in all, the book keeps one engaged but is too grim because of its theme of revenge and retribution. Also I didn’t like the fact that an innocent person’s death was pretty much dismissed by everybody.


At one point, a character is completely absorbed in Mozart’s Symphony 16. Here it is for everybody’s hearing pleasure:


First Line: The note in Piper’s diary for Saturday, 11th December, read:

Fritz Haupmann, Fernlea, Adelaide Gardens, Ealing. Call 2.30 re factory insurance with Cresset.

Publication Details: London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1963

First Published: 1963

Pages: 256

Other books read of the same author: Death Trap

5 thoughts on “Revenge and Regret: Vendetta by Harry Carmichael (1963)

  1. Thank you for the lovely taste of Mozart, Neeru. What a genius he was… As for the book, it’s interesting that you’d bring up how grim the story is. I think that, for many authors, there is a balance between not wanting to make a story too ‘frothy’ and unrealistic, and also not wanting it to be too grim. And certainly, not making much of the death of an innocent person counts as grim…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you enjoyed that piece by Mozart, Margot. I am not very familiar with Western Music but loved the change in its tone at certain moments. I am not much for novels of revenge. And this one became too bleak and harsh in the end and it wasn’t all because of the death of an innocent person…. the whole modus operandi of revenge was pretty hard to read about.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.