Monday, February 29, 2016

The Avengers: A Celebration (mini-review)

I seem to be on a 1960s television connection reading jag. First The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and now The Avengers. This is a lovely coffee-table book that does it exactly what the title claims--it celebrates the show that made bowler hats and brollys chic; that played the top-secret-agent scene with tongue firmly in cheek; and that introduced the world to strong female leads in the persons of Cathy Gale and Emma Peel. The ladies were allowed to wear black leather fight suits and overpower the men without turning a hair or wrinkling their outfits. The show used the Mod background of Britain in the sixties and gave us stories with rare wit and high adventure...and the most unlikely crimes.

The book traces the story of The Avengers from the early days with Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry (yeah, I know, who?) through the advent of Honor Blackman as the first of Macnee's stylish, intelligent and assertive assistants to Diana Rigg and the addition of color and the final days with Linda Thorson as Tara King. It features 350 photographs including rare stills from the first shows with Hendry. Unfortunately, only two episodes remain from Hendry's stint with the show, so modern viewers can't really get a good taste of what The Avengers were like before women came along to keep John Steed in line. In addition to the photos, the book is broken into six chapters which cram a lot of production background and anecdotes from Macnee & others into very little prose. The showcase of the book is the collection of photographs. It is interesting to note that there are around 10,000 photographs in the Avengers archive. One can only imagine what other treasures might show up another day. A lovely book for the Avengers fan. ★★★★

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Calcutta Affair: Mini-Review

The Calcutta Affair (1967), George S. Elrick's entry in the assignments of the Man From U.N.C.L.E., finds Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in the teeming city of Calcutta hunting the evil T.H.R.U.S.H. agents behind the death by bubonic plague of Gordon Thorpe-Smith and the disappearance of Paddy O'Donnell, both fellow agents. O'Donnell had been sent to investigate strange plague death and vanished without a trace within hours of his arrival in India. Before it's all over, Solo and Kuryakin will encounter mice carrying bubonic plague; T.H.R.U.S.H. agents with the usual guns, knives, hypos, & radio-transmitting teeth plus a nuclear sub filled with enough plague to wipe out half the world; and Solo will have a brush with the disease that took out O'Donnell. But, hey, these are the men from U.N.C.L.E.--so it's no spoiler to tell you that they turn the tables on the bad guys and fly off into the sunset to fight evil another day.

This was a fun little book. Well, a Big Little book. I had several of these when I was growing up, but they were all cartoon characters--Bugs Bunny, the Roadrunner, Mickey Mouse, etc. This was the first one I'd seen based on a T.V. show and when I found it at a local flea market a couple years ago I knew I had to bring it home. It was nice to revisit my childhood through both the Big Little book medium and the familiar figures of Solo and Kuryakin. I first met the two U.N.C.L.E. agents through books based on the series and later watched episodes in syndication (I'm just a bit young for the original showing of the T.V. show). Very enjoyable in all mediums. ★★

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This fulfills the "Two People" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card as well as the "Crime-Fighting Duo" category for the Mystery Reporter Challenge.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gently With the Painters: Review

In Gently With the Painters (1960) George Gently has recently been promoted to Superintendent, C.I.D. and he is disappointed to find out how little fieldwork a superintendent gets to do. His days are now mostly filled with shuffling paperwork from Inbox to Outbox. When an interesting case of murder amongst the painting crowd pops up in his native Northshire, he begins avidly following the news and trying to come up with a good reason to contact the local inspector in charge. 

The victim is a young painter who was a member of the Palette Group. Shirley Johnson was found stabbed to death in a car park after one of the group's meetings. Ironically, the car park adjoins and sits in full view of the police headquarters. There was a bit of a row during that meeting and rumors emerge that Shirley, though married, may have had few extracurricular activities going on with her fellow artists....beyond artwork.

At first it looks like Inspector Hansom has it all sewn up. Although there are surface points that make the case look interesting, it begins to shape up as your standard husband kills wife scenario. Then there is an angry scene at the group's art exhibit which includes a painting by the dead woman and suddenly the Northshire police decide they need to call in the Yard. Gently's boss is all set to send the young and coming Inspector Stephens to take on the case with Gently giving the young inspector a briefing on his old stomping grounds. Gently wangles his way into the investigation and he and Stephens are off to Northshire.

After working their way from Hansom's theory that Johnson did it (and like a dog with a meaty bone, he refuses to give that theory up for long) and then through all the artistic suspects on the list, they come full circle back to Johnson. It looks especially bad when the ex-RAF pilot gives the man assigned to tail him the slip and leads the police on a marry chase via car, taxi, and plane. But is Johnson running from justice or looking for evidence to prove his innocence? Gently has a few ideas on that score....and, like the rebel he's known to be, those ideas may not make either Hansom or Stephens happy.

For some reason that I can't quite pin down I keep coming back to the Gently novels by Alan Hunter. I keep him on my TBF list (To Be Found) and pick the novels up whenever I see them. It must be Gently himself--because I do like George Gently--and Hunter's way with characterization, because I can't say that any of the books I've read so far have had knock-out mysteries. This one is decent, but definitely not fair play (for reasons that I can't mention without spoiling). The very best part is Gently's interactions with one of the suspects and the book has a very exciting penultimate scene worthy of the best chase movies. Another quibble (beyond the non-fair-play) that keeps this from the higher ranks is the dialogue style. There are many instances where I felt that I was overhearing a coded conversation; that there was much being left unsaid that Gently apparently understood and if I only had the code book I would understand the apparent non sequiturs too. That was a bit annoying. I've a few more Gently mysteries on the TBR pile. I'll keep hoping for a masterpiece.  ★★ for a decent police procedural with good characters, fair mystery, and exciting wrap-up.


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This fulfills the "Artist/Art  Equipment" Category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Bachelors of Broken Hill: Review

The Bachelors of Broken Hill (1950) is the 14th mystery in Arthur W. Upfield's series which features Inspector Napoleon "Bony" Bonaparte. It also finds Bony slightly out of his element--in the city rather than in the bush area and the sheep stations where he generally operates. 

When the police force at Broken Hill are faced with two cyanide poisoning deaths which both they and an obnoxious, self-important inspector from Sydney are unable to solve, Bony asks to be "seconded" to the New South Wales Police Department to bring his expert skills to bear. A third poisoning occurs shortly after he begins his investigation and he begins to see a pattern. All three victims are older, single men. All three die in crowded, public places while drinking tea or beer. All three are very messy when at table. And witnesses recall a woman being near the victims shortly before they died--though there is some disagreement about her description. The one item they all agree on--she was carrying a very old-fashioned blue purse with red, drawstring straps.

Even though one death occurs after Bony arrives, most of the clues are old, the crime scenes have been tidied, and the witnesses have to be mollified after being mishandled by the policeman from Sydney. But Bony is used to following the most meager of trails and employing unorthodox measures to find his man...or woman as the case may be. He'll make use of a burglar on holiday, an amateur sketch artist, and a barkeeper-turned-taxi-man as well as convincing the local constabulary to turn a blind eye to a bit of benevolent burgling in the quest for justice. The first thing he'll have to determine--does she kill out of an unreasonable hatred for messy bachelors or is there method to her madness? Perhaps she's playing the trick of hiding one important death amongst the others. Once Bony discovers the answer to that conundrum and makes the connection to a murder by glass knife he's well on his way to capturing his killer.

It is always a delight to watch the unorthodox, half-Aboriginal, half-white detective operate. It is particularly fun to watch him one-up the obnoxious Inspector Stillman from Sydney. Bony's character is self-assured ("I always finish a race, always finalise the case I consent to take up.") as well as intelligent, and utterly charming. It doesn't take him long to have the shop girls, who so recently became anti-police under the questioning of Stillman, eating out of his hand and going out of there way to help him identify the mysterious woman who hovers near every murder. 

In addition to the usual police procedural, this particular outing provides an interesting character study. Bony must first understand the character of the victims before he can begin to understand the character and psychology of the woman who kills them. The ending is a bit darker than the usual fare by Upfield--giving the reader a very intimate look at what could drive someone to kill in the manner portrayed in the book. A thoroughly good read. ★★★★

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This fulfills the "Dead Body" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

All challenges fulfilled: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, 100 Plus Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Travel the World, Cloak & Dagger, Charity Challenge, Triple Dog Dare, A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Mystery Reporter, My Kind of Mystery, Title Fight, Mad Reviewer,

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Black Rustle (1942): Review

 And then, directly above me, in the attic, I heard her quite distinctly--a light, gentle footfall and the whispered rustle of a skirt.

According to a Packett family legend, the little lady in black, a doll-like statue which normally stands on their country cottage mantle, leaves her post periodically, transforms into a ghost, and walks the floors whenever she gets perturbed by family behavior. Well....the weekend family get-together must have really upset her because she keeps disappearing and reappearing faster than a jack-in-the-box on an endless loop. But who wouldn't be upset when it seems that the family membesr are killing each other off?

Marina Hays is not a member of the family. But she has been invited to join the weekend festivities by her friends Marge and Elizabeth. She wasn't very enthusiastic and had to be convinced. And even though Bruce Collyer, the handsome cousin who own the cottage, seems interested in her (even though he can't seem to remember her name), it isn't long before she wishes she had stayed home. Because she didn't know "Stay Alive" was going to be one of the games. Elizabeth is the first victim. Initially, it looks like the poor swimmer just go in over her head and has perished in an accident. But then Marina notices a couple of items out of place and mentions them to Bruce Collyer (owner of the cottage). He makes sure the coroner is aware that the accident might really be murder. An investigation has barely begun before we have victim number two. This time the victim had been whispering about a secret. Did someone kill to make sure the secret would never be revealed? Marina's powers of observation will be needed again to help the authorities unravel the mystery.

Constance and Gwenyth Little wrote 21 mysteries together. All but one, their debut novel The Grey Mist Murder, had "Black" in the title and they all fall into the comic romantic mystery subgenre. The Black Rustle features the romance between Bruce and Marina--but what a romance. Bruce seems to think that the way to win the girl is to get her to hold boards while he nails and screws and saws. Oh--and call her anything but her name: Maggie and Malvina are favorites. It's also a great idea to do your courting in a cottage where everybody treats everybody else's room like their own--you never know who might pop in while you're whispering sweet nothings....or changing into your bathing suit. When you sit down and think about it, all that casual semi-nudity seems like it would be pretty risqué for the 1940s, but the Little sisters tell their story with such innocent comic charm that you don't sit down and think about it at the time.

These charming, cozy mysteries are great fun. Intricate puzzle plots--no. But interesting and original characters? Yes. The books are written with plenty of humor and with tongue firmly planted in cheek--especially when it comes to some of the murder methods. While they're often not the most practical method of disposing of an unwanted relative (rival, purse-string-holder, etc.), they're usually quite ingenious and well-thought out by their creators. A nice comfortable read from the vintage years. ★★
 

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This fulfills the "Statue" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Spiral Staircase: Review

As  Helen opened the door of Miss Warren's room, a small incident occurred which was fraught with future significance.

It was a dark and stormy night....no, really, it was. Fortunately, Ethel Lina White was a much better author than the potboiler creators who are generally credited  with starting their books in such fashion. The Spiral Staircase (1933; originally titled Some Must Watch) is a suspense thriller with a damsel in distress that makes excellent use of the dramatic storm-tossed night to provide a top-notch novel filled with Had-I-But-Known moments.  

She was visited by no prescience to warn her that--since her return--there had been certain trivial incidents which were the first cracks in the walls of her fortress. Once they were started, nothing could stop the process of disintegration; and each future development would act as a wedge, to force the fissures into ever-widening breaches letting in the night.

Things start off calmly enough. Helen Capel is over-joyed to find a position as lady's help at the Summit, Professor Warren's remote estate on the Welsh border. After all, apart from the loneliness of the locale, the post is a very good one--offering her a very nice room and sitting room of her own, good food, and she's even allowed to take her meals with the family. It is a bit worrisome that there is a murderer loose in the countryside. A mysterious killer who has chosen as his prey young women who work for their living. Some think he may be a man who believes these women have taken jobs away from men. 

But, reasons Helen, all the girls who have been killed have been alone.  And the murders have taken place at a good distance from the Summit. Surely she, and the others in the house, will be safe if they keep the place shuttered and bolted at night and they all stay inside. Yes, she's sure of it. Until a victim is strangled in a house just five miles away. Until the next victim is found murdered just on the other side of the estate. Death and terror creep closer to the Summit, but still Helen feels safe...until the stormy night when she bolts herself in the house only to find that the danger was somewhere inside and had chosen her as the next target.

White also provides the typical suspense-thriller heroine in Helen Capel, a self-identified independent-minded young woman who none-the-less does remarkably silly things for someone who suspects she's in danger. Through various plausible-sounding means, several of the inmates leave the house, a few of them are drugged, drunk or otherwise incapacitated, and Helen promptly goes about alienating one of the few people who couldn't possibly be the killer--thereby setting herself up to slip into the maniac's clutches. 

White manages to bring about a quite nifty ending--I won't spoil it by giving even a hint of what I mean. The book is a classic example of good suspense done right without blood and gore or explicit scenes. It is also a terrific character study with plenty of misdirection to allow the reader to question each person's motives and whether they are really what they seem. A very good read for a dark and stormy night of your own. Just make sure to lock all the doors. You might want to check under all the beds first, though. ★★★★

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Fulfills the "Staircase" category on the Vintage Golden Scavenger Hunt card as well as the "Dark & Stormy Night" category in the Mystery Reporter Challenge. It is also my third entry in Rich's February 2016 Crimes of Century feature. Got any 1933 mysteries on tap this month? Come join us! 
 
All Challenges Fulfilled: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Cloak & Dagger, Women Challenge, My Kind of Mystery, 100 Plus Challenge, Outdo Yourself, Crimes of the Century, Charity Challenge, Triple Dog Dare, Mystery Reporter, Mad Reviewer

Friday, February 19, 2016

Poacher's Bag: Review

Poacher's Bag (1980) is the twelfth novel in Douglas Clark's Masters and Green police procedural series. The series is quite solid in both procedure and characterization--and it has the added bonus of educating the reader on all sorts of medical topics. At the time this novel was written, Clark had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 18 years and was well-up on diseases, drugs, and their effects and the information he used to spice up his mystery novels was not as well-known to the general public. You didn't have various drugs appearing in every other commercial on the television. And he managed to drop the information in--primarily through dialogue--without it feeling like a lecture.

Poacher's Bag is no different. Superintendent George Masters and Inspector Bill Green take off for a rare weekend getaway. They have been invited to spend their holiday at the home of Master's force-of-nature mother-in-law, Bella Bartholomew. They think it's just a spur-of-the-moment invite, but it turns out that Bella intended them to make up her wedding party. She had planned on marrying her neighbor, ex-Cambridge don, Haydn Prior. 

They've barely begun to congratulate her when she tells them the wedding's off. No, they haven't had a falling out. Hadyn is dead and, though he was a man well along in years and his death has been attributed to a heart attack, both she and the police insist he was murdered. The local force believe they have their man--a poacher who shot Hadyn (he says because he was startled) and then chased the poor man causing a heart attack from over-exertion. The poacher was found over the body with his hand inside Hadyn's coat. He says to check for a heartbeat. The police say caught in the act of attempted robbery.

Bella knows the poacher and insists that he did not deliberately shoot her fiance and that he would never have tried to rob him and she wants Masters and Green to discover the real cause of Hadyn's death and the real murderer. This puts the two men in a bit of a spot. Being Yard men, they can't just start investigating on someone else's patch without cause--and a mother-in-law's "feelings" and intuition don't exactly constitute "cause." But the more she tells them about Hadyn's odd behavior in the days leading up to the shooting, the more interested Masters gets. And when a surprise claimant shows up to contest Hadyn Prior's will, Masters really begins to smell a rat. But how can he find out what he needs to know and manage to help the local constabulary to the solution without stepping all over their toes?

Clark does his usual fine job with the mystery set up and getting all the players in place. This one is a bit less of a puzzler--it doesn't take long to know who the villain of the piece is. The real question is how was it done and how Masters will diplomatically bring the dirty work to the attention of the local police. It is great fun watching his verbal fancy footwork. His mother-in-law is a finely drawn character and it's worth the ride just to see her interactions with Bill Green. A highly enjoyable entry in a consistently entertaining series. ★★★★

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Fulfills the "Green Object" on the Vintage Silver Scavenger Hunt card. 
 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Westhampton Leisure Hour & Supper Club: DNF

This was most definitely not my kind of book. The premise sounded very exciting when I was offered the review copy, but I could not get into the author's style of story-telling. The shifting point-of-view--from first person for Serena to an odd not-quite first person for her husband (he talks about himself in the third person quite a bit) to a weird omniscient point of view for other characters--just did not work for me. There is also a great deal of present tense going on and I'm not a big fan of that either. For me--this is a story that took place in the past, I'd prefer that the story-telling reflect that throughout the book. I realize these are personal preferences--which is why I am offering no formal review.

I tried skimming so I could have a real sense of the story and characters, but that didn't help me either. So--no real review and no star count.

*****
This is a book I received free from Jocelyn Kelley of Kelley& Hall book publicity for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review. I wish that I could give it my usual thorough examination.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Silver Anniversary Murder: Review

The Silver Anniversary Murder (2005) is the penultimate book in Lee Harris's mystery series starring ex-nun and amateur investigator Christine Bennett. It is also the last book in the series I needed to read to finish the series. The Chris Bennett mysteries are generally on the lighter side of the mystery field. Occasionally, the stories are a bit more intense emotionally, but Harris definitely keeps us within the cozy realm.

This particular entry begins with an anonymous phone call. A woman calls Chris and tells her that "A body will be found later today." There is also a cryptic reference to the woman's silver wedding anniversary. Quick thinking on Chris's part allow the police to trace the call to an empty apartment with nothing but a phone and a trace of blood on the bedroom carpet. Why did the attractive couple who were about to celebrate a milestone anniversary abandon their home and their careers without a trace? Neighbors in the apartment building have little to tell about the Mitchells--the couple who lived in the apartment. The couple never made friends and few saw them more than to say "Hi" to. One man remembers seeing furniture loaded into a U-Haul, but not much else.

The woman on the phone was a little optimistic in her prediction--the first body isn't found for two weeks. It's a woman and she's soon identified as Holly Mitchell. Or is she? Chris feels drawn to the case...drawn by the haunting voice on the phone. Who called? Was it the woman who has been killed? Or was it her killer? And who is the victim? Chris soon learns that Holly Mitchell may not really exist. There are other names and other identities in the Mitchells' past. Before long, Peter Mitchell's body is found as well and then the Mitchell's daughter arrives--worried that she hasn't been able to reach her parents by phone. Before long Ariana Brinker (the Mitchells' real last name) and Chris Bennett are on a cross-country scavenger hunt, following clues left by Ariana's parents and a trail leads to a 25-year-old secret.

This was a good book to end the series on. Plenty of twists and turns and a bit more actual detective work on the part of Chris Bennett. Throughout most of the series it seems that Chris has a lot of "luck" in her investigations, but this one is a bit more solid with clues. I enjoyed the bond she developed with Ariana. One does have to suspend one's disbelief a bit--just how much information would the local police share with her just because she's married to a NYC police officer? But the books are always interesting and her character is very likable and believable in other ways. It helps that she really likes what she does and is very compassionate in her dealings with victims and perpetrators alike. I highly recommend this series when you want something satisfying but not too heavy. ★★

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All Challenges Fulfilled: Mount TBR Challenge, Outdo Yourself, 100 Plus Challenge, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies, Women Challenge, Cloak & Dagger, Color Coded Challenge, My Kind of Mystery, Triple Dog Dare, A-Z Mystery Author Challenge, Lady Detective, Mad Reviewer

Challenge Complete: What's in a Name? 2016

What's In A Name 2016 logo

Well, that's all she wrote for the ninth annual What’s In A Name challenge. Details found over at The Worm Hole

As soon as the post when up, I headed to my TBR stacks and searched for titles that would help me conquer this one. The categories were especially fun this year--I loved being able to use "petticoats" and "bridal bed"! Thanks to Charlie for sponsoring this one--I can't wait to see what gets lined up for next time. 

The basics
The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories: 
  • A country (try not to use ‘Africa’!) Suggestions: Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Xiaolu Guo’s I Am China, Martin Wagner’s Deutschland)
  • An item of clothing (Su Dharmapala’s Saree, Ann Brashare’s The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Javier Moro’s El Sari Rojo; Pierre Lemaitre’s Vestido De Novia)
  • An item of furniture (Marghanita Laski’s The Victorian Chaise-Longue; C S Lewis’s The Silver Chair; Goslash;hril Gabrielsen’s The Looking-Glass Sisters)
  • A profession (Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife; Mikhail Elizarov’s The Librarian)
  • A month of the year (Elizabeth Von Arnim’s The Enchanted April; Rhoda Baxter’s Doctor January)
  • A title with the word ‘tree’ in it (Ai Mi’s Under The Hawthorn Tree; Elle Newmark’s The Sandalwood Tree)

  And here are the books I read for each category:

1. Four Against the Bank of England by Anne Huxley [Country] (1/25/16)
2. Puzzle in Petticoats by Samuel Melvin Kootz [Clothing] (1/20/16)
3. The Bridal Bed Murders by A. E. Martin [Furniture] (2/13/16)
4. Which Doctor by Edward Candy [Profession] (1/28/16)
5. The April Robin Murders by Craig Rice [Month] (2/17/16)
6. The Clue of the Judas Tree by Leslie Ford ["Tree"] (2/6/16)

The April Robin Murders: Review

As he stared at her, the only thought that flashed through Bingo's mind was that only that afternoon he'd promised Handsome that they were never going to be involved in any more murders in the future!

The April Robin Murders (1958) by Craig Rice [Georgiana Ann Randolph] & Ed McBain is a screwball mystery starring Rice's photographers with a penchant for landing in the middle of murder, Bingo Riggs and Handsome Kuzak. Bingo and Handsome, late of New York, have decided to head west to seek fortune and fame in Hollywood. Handsome has the added talent of being able to remember everything he has ever read (especially in newspapers).

The first thing they do is buy a house. Bingo is determined to own a mansion previously owned by a movie star and they manage to luck into an option on the moldering, monstrous mansion which once belonged to the legendary silent screen star April Robin. Winds up that they get much more than they bargained for--all kinds of mystery surrounds the house and its owners. First, there's April. Everybody remembers her. Everybody says she was gorgeous. Nobody knows what happened to her. She just disappeared. Drove off in her car one day and was gone. And Handsome is worried that he's losing his memory because he can't remember anything about her.

After April disappeared, the next owners were Julien and Lois Lattimer. They've both disappeared too--as well as a bundle of money. Everybody believes that Lois killed her husband and ran off with the dough. Except there's no body. The police have searched high and low--for the body, for the money, for Lois. Nothing. Then along come our boys from New York. A con man posing as a real estate agent sells them the house--with an apparently genuine Julien Lattimer signature on the paperwork. 

"According to our top handwriting expert, he did," Perroni [a police detective] said. "And when Clark Sellers says a signature is genuine, the signature is genuine."

The night Handsome and Bingo move in a body is found. But not Julien's. The caretaker/housekeeper--who dies from inhaling the poisonous fumes of dry cleaning fluid. Perroni and his partner Hendenfleder kind of wonder about that. They wonder about a lot of things. Who is this guy Courtney Budlong who sold the house to the boys? Why are there so many guys running around with the initials C. B.? Why does one of them (Chester Baxter) wind up dead in an alley with his throat cut? And how much do Handsome and Bingo know about it all?

But don't get me wrong. I don't disbelieve you. I don't disbelieve anybody. It don't pay. Especially here in Hollywood.

This is a fun read. A definite screwball comedy/mystery that I could see as a movie starring Martin & Lewis or Abbott & Costello. You've got con men running in and out the picture, gorgeous dames, possibly shady lawyers, the good cop/bad cop pair, the nosy neighbor, and our slightly dim but likable protagonists who manage to bumble their way into a solution to all the mysteries as well as landing a motion picture deal that will make them that fortune they were seeking. Slow-moving for the first half or so, but it picks up speed as it hurtles to the finish. Not an incredibly clever solution, but it works and makes for an enjoyable and solid read. ★★

*******
Fulfills the "Redhead" category on the Vintage Golden Scavenger card. It also fulfills the "at least three different people killed by three different means category in the Mystery Reporter Challenge.

1st death: poisoned by fumes of dry cleaning fluid
2nd death: throat cut
3rd death: run over by automobile



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Tuesday Night Bloggers Master List




The Tuesday Night Bloggers have been meeting now for several months with a group of us who are interested in golden age detective writers. Each month we focus on a different The first one was, of course, Agatha Christie (hence the reference in our collective name to The Tuesday Club Murders) and Curt Evans collected them all on his blog, The Passing Tramp. Next up was Ellery Queen--also hosted by Curt. Moira Redmond hosted our look at Ngaio Marsh on Clothes in Books and our musings on Rex Stout, were collected by Noah Stewart. Noah is also responsible for the very fine logo specially created for the February series, about Dorothy L. Sayers which will normally be found at the home of Helen Szamuely over at Conservative History Journal . Our lovely hostess is still a bit under the weather and I will be doing my best to fill her shoes while she recuperates. I am sitting this week out, but my fine friends in the GAD world have some delightful posts for you to investigate.

This week Kate Jackson at Cross Examining Crime turns the spotlight away from Wimsey to focus on one of Sayers' lesser known sleuths, Montague Egg.


Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books has put together a Sayers and Lord Peter Exam for those of us brave enough to sit for it. 


Noah Stewart at Noah's Archives gives us a peek at his Favorite Dorothy L. Sayers Title and tempts us with his usual fine assortment of editions to long for....


In the same vein, Al at Paperback Revolution joins us with an interesting post on Sayers in Albatross Books editions. [Now I have more hard-to-find editions to add to my Sayers hunt.]


My apologies if I've missed anyone. If you've got a post to share on Dorothy L. Sayers, please point me to it and I'll get you linked up! 

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2016 - It's Back!


So, thanks to Adam at Roof Beam Reader and Michelle at True Book Addict, I discovered that I've been living under a rock  and missed that this was being brought back by The Estella Society. I'm going to see if they'll still let me come out and play.


Our first mission:

Day 1: Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

Um. Right. Five. Only five. So...I'm going to do a little tour (as much as possible with five books) showing where I've been and where I am now as a reader and a collector.

So--my reading life really began with


When I was in second grade, my mom gave me her small collection of the tweed covered Nancy Drew books that she had received as a Christmas present one year. Sure, I had books before this--but the Nancy Drew series was the first one that I actively collected on my own. I would save my allowance money and buy them whenever I could. 

From there I moved on to the classic mysteries. The edition of Sherlock Holmes shown below was my first introduction to the Great Detective:


Nancy was my gateway to Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, John Dickson Carr, and all the vintage mysteries that I loved then and have since returned to. I read a steady diet of mysteries (with small snacks of various other genres) from second grade through sixth grade. Then I discovered science fiction. Again, it was the vintage work that grabbed my attention:

I worked my way through Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula Le Guin, Sherri S. Tepper, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and others. Science Fiction was my go-to pleasure-reading genre until I finished college. But, while completing my undergraduate English degree, I discovered my love for classic literature (primarily British):




Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Eliot, H. G. Wells, Charlotte Brontë, Wilkie Collins, and others became my favorites--with a particular affinity for Victorian and early 20th Century.

And then....when I left college and got married, I returned to my first love--mysteries. Our first apartment was in a tiny little town with what seemed like the world's tiniest public library. But the Spencer Public Library had the most amazing collection of vintage mysteries.



I'm pretty sure that Elizabeth Daly was the very first author I checked out (and I'm pretty sure it was the book above) and she started me back on a mystery journey that hasn't stopped. I'm constantly adding to my vintage mystery collection. So--if you ask me what kind of blogger and reader I am--I am a mystery blogger first and an eclectic blogger second. I'll read everything from science fiction to the classics to historical novels to history and biography. But if I had to choose one genre for the rest of my life? Mysteries--no question.