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Forester's masterpiece of suspense A middle aged bank clerk with a mountain of debt an I ve read this book on fadedpage It was easy to read few characters and the events were not that complicated The main idea revolves around the greed of Marble who makes him abandon his principles and his human values to meet his needsWe could start to reveal what will happen uickly However the style of the writer remains attractive We feel that there is a depth in the characters we can experience the emotions of each of them through the good description of Forester

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Him a fortune Hounded by his crime he suffers an ironic fate in an excellent final twi Originally published on my blog here in May 1999Most crime novels are about the process of detection Payment Deferred the novel which made Forester s name is about the effect that a crime has on the unsuspected criminalThe Marble family are sinking into debt their miserable suburban lower middle class existence is about to reach the point when it will have to be exchanged for something even worse as credit is no longer extended to them and threats of legal action are being made If those threats materialise they will lead to Mr Marble s position in the local high street bank being lost and the family will be ruined Salvation suddenly appears in the guise of an Australian cousin coming to England after the death of his parents He has made his fortune and he knows no one in England suddenly Mr Marble is tempted to murder with the potassium cyanide kept for his hobby of photography when he sees the vast amount of cash being carried by the young manBurying the young man in the back garden Marble becomes gradually destroyed psychologically like Macbeth by paranoid fantasies that his crime will be discovered Occasionally these fears drive him to acts he would not normally be capable of a brilliant coup on the foreign exchanges to provide the money to buy his rented house so he can prevent the garden falling into another s hands for example Generally they fuel his drink habit and lead to depression sleeplessness and so onThere are no strong characters in Payment Deferred it is a study in weakness There is no one with whom the reader would want to identify By this avoidance of the heroic Forester creates believable characters than he ever did in his later career The novel is a tragedy in the sense of Greek drama Marble s one act of hubris brings a punishment from within himself it is a long time before even his family start to suspect what has happened as though haunted by Orestes Furies Payment Deferred may well be Forester s best work though it is certainly not pleasant reading

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D an extravagant wife commits a murder in secret Later a profitable investment brings Fade to greyWe first meet William Marble as he sits in his dining room one evening totting up his debts William is a bank clerk who deals in currency exchange and his salary is of the respectable rather than the generous kind Despite his humble house he and his wife Annie always overspend their budget and for a long time William has been shuffling his debt around borrowing from one person to pay off another But now he s reached the point where he has no one left to tap and his creditors are looking to be paid Then his young nephew arrives unexpectedly from Australia with a wallet stuffed with wads of banknotes And it just so happens William has a cupboard full of photography chemicals that can easily double as poisonThis is not a detective novel so that little blurb isn t nearly as spoilerish as it might seem The murder happens right at the beginning and the book is actually about the impact it has on William s psychology We watch as guilt and fear eat away at him destroying his already weak character It s very well written and psychologically convincing but oh my it s depressing William is deeply unlikeable while Annie is portrayed as so stupid that it seems unlikely that William would ever have found her attractive They have two teenage children Winnie William s favourite starts out OK but becomes progressively harder to like as the book goes on while John the son has all the makings of a fine young man till his father s increasingly erratic behaviour begins to affect him I had a lot of sympathy for John a little for poor stupid Annie and none at all for the other twoWilliam eventually solves his money problems by carrying out a shady transaction at his bank what today we d describe as insider trading Clearly Forester understood what he was talking he about when he described the details of how this scheme worked but I fear I didn t and my eyes began to glaze over However the end result is that William suddenly becomes well off and we see how this change in fortune too affects the members of the family not for the betterThe element of suspense comes from wondering what the outcome will be Will William give himself away Will Annie begin to suspect him But it s very underplayed for reasons made clear early on there s no active investigation going on into the young victim s disappearance While the vast majority of the book is very credible the ending left me annoyed at the abrupt and contrived way Forester tied everything upAs you can probably tell this one is not a favourite of mine I often struggle with books where the criminal is the main character unless there s plenty of black humour to lift the tone In this one there is no humour leaving it a bleak story with a couple of episodes that I found distinctly unpleasant Had it been set amidst the anxious speed of big city life I would call it noir but the respectable dullness of the middle class suburban setting left the tone feeling grey I also felt it went on too long though in actual pages it s uite short the endless descriptions of William drinking whisky to drown his guilt his heart constantly thudding pounding racing poor Annie s repeated descent into sobbing for one reason or another all became so repetitive that they lost any impact after a while However this is mostly a matter of personal taste I do think it does what it sets out to do very well that is to show the disintegration of the man and the effect this has on his family Call me shallow but although I admired the skill and the writing I simply didn t find it entertaining or enjoyable Nor was it uite tragic enough to be harrowing somehow I can t wholeheartedly recommend it but the ratings on Goodreads suggest plenty of people have enjoyed it far than I did so if the idea of it appeals to you don t let my reaction put you off Noir is not my favourite colour even when it s fadedwwwfictionfanblogwordpresscom


10 thoughts on “Payment Deferred

  1. says:

    I've read this book on fadedpage It was easy to read few characters and the events were not that complicated The main idea revolves a

  2. says:

    This is my first book by the author This is dark psychological suspense involving Marble and his family Marble co

  3. says:

    discussed as a pair with a fascinating pair to read back to back Payment Deferred is a very modern psychological thriller which hooks the reade

  4. says:

    From BBC Radio 4 Saturday DramaMost famous for his Hornblower series CS Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction portraying ordinary desperate people committing monstrous acts and showing events spiralling terribly chillingly out of controlIn Payment Deferred set in 1926 William Marble a bank clerk living in south London with his

  5. says:

    I'm a sucker for this kind of thing and this was a beaut Kind of Therese Rauin ey with a dash of Simenon filled with paranoia foreboding lots of drinking and looking out the window at the backyard Written in the Twenties pre Hornblower it was concise uietly stylish and in terms of British noir uite revelatory Three yips for CSForester Yip Yi

  6. says:

    Fade to greyWe first meet William Marble as he sits in his dining room one evening totting up his debts William is a bank clerk who deals in currency exchange and his salary is of the respectable rather than the generous kind Despite his humbl

  7. says:

    Originally published on my blog here in May 1999Most crime novels are about the process of detection Payment Deferred the novel which made Forester's name is about the effect that a crime has on the unsuspected criminalThe Marble family are sinking into debt; their miserable suburban lower middle class existence is about to reach the point when it will have to be exchanged for something even worse as credit is no longer extended

  8. says:

    A memorable psychological dramaI ordered and read this immediately after finishing The Pursued by the same author If anything I enjoyed it even Poor Mr Marble he's trapped in a stultifying job and marriage as he sees it a

  9. says:

    I've never read any of the 'Hornblower' books and was pleasantly surprised by this and the other crime stories by Forester that I've recently read It certainly captures its era Forester seems to like portraying 'the common man' and we get an insight into the social and economic climate of the time The protagonist is a thoroughly unlikable character we don't sympathise with him for the majority of the novel as

  10. says:

    I've not yet read Crime and Punishment but is this perhaps somewhat similar A man commits a murder for financial gain and then has to live with the conseuences He is able to convert his ill gotten gains into true