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text 2018-02-11 22:30
Detection Club Bingo: My Progress So Far
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards
Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne
The Tales of Max Carrados - Ernest Bramah,Stephen Fry
Pietr Le Letton - Georges Simenon
Lonely Magdalen: A Murder Story - Henry Wade
Margery Allingham Omnibus: Includes Sweet Danger, The Case of the Late Pig, The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
Family Matters (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Rolls


1. A New Era Dawns: Ernest Bramah - The Tales of Max Carrados;

Emmuska Orczy - The Old Man in the Corner

2. The Birth of the Golden Age
3. The Great Detectives:
Margery Allingham - The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke;

Anthony Berkeley - The Poisoned Chocolates Case

4. 'Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!'
5. Miraculous Murders:
Anthony Wynne - Murder of a Lady
6. Serpents in Eden
7. Murder at the Manor:
Ethel Lina White - The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch)
8. Capital Crimes
9. Resorting to Murder
10. Making Fun of Murder
11. Education, Education, Education
12. Playing Politics
13. Scientific Enquiries
14. The Long Arm of the Law:
Henry Wade - Lonely Magdalen
15. The Justice Game
16. Multiplying Murders
17. The Psychology of Crime
18. Inverted Mysteries
19. The Ironists:
Anthony Rolls - Family Matters
20. Fiction from Fact: Josephine Tey - The Franchise Affair

21. Singletons
22. Across the Atlantic
23. Cosmopolitan Crimes: Georges Simenon - Pietr le Letton (Pietr the Latvian)
24. The Way Ahead


Free Square / Eric the Skull: Martin Edwards - The Golden Age of Murder


The book that started it all:

Martin Edwards - The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books


The Detection Club Reading Lists:
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: The "100 Books" Presented
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 1-5

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 6 & 7
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 8-10
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 11-15
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 16-20
The story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 21-24

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review 2018-02-04 22:24
A Josephine Tey Double Dip
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey,Carole Boyd
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey,Carole Boyd

Both Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair were on my 2017 Halloween Bingo long list, but so were many other books ... oh well.  Both of these are stand-out books, in that (1) they're not, or not substantively, part of Josephine Tey's Inspector Grant series (in Franchise Affair Grant appears, but only as a minor character; in Brat Farrar he doesn't feature at all), and (2) more importantly, even though the bulk of both books is told from a man's perspective, they feature several strong female characters who are head and shoulders above and beyond what was expected of a woman at the time of their writing (1948-49, respectively) even in ordinary life; never mind in times of adversity.


Brat Farrar is a Martin Guerre / Sommersby type of tale set on a manor and stud farm on the Southern English coast; the difference being here, however, that the reader (unlike the family) is explicitly aware of the identity and most of the prior history of the  eponymous allegedly "returned son and heir" -- in fact, we're unequivocally being asked to empathize with him, on the basis of his character as much as on the basis of his prior history, and take his side in opposition to his alleged younger twin brother Simon, whom (if the gamble comes off) he is poised to replace as the stud farm's new owner as from his 21st birthday, which in turn is -- obviously -- right around the corner at the book's beginning.  Both in the setup and in the resolution of the story (which I could see coming on pretty much from the word "go"), there is a bit too much reliance on coincidence for my taste; however, in between the bits of coincidence, Tey crafted a powerful, quiet novel, featuring both a compelling mystery -- above and beyond the title character's identity -- and engaging characters, in the  male protagonist, Brat, as well as in the two leading ladies, Bee (who has taken over management of the farm after the death of her nephew Simon's and his siblings' parents), and her niece, Simon's sister Eleanor, the farm's chief horse trainer (besides Simon himself).


The Franchise Affair is based on the true story of the 1753 disappearance of a servant girl named Elizabeth Canning, who had claimed to have been kidnapped by two women and held in their house for a month, which initially resulted in the two women's arrest and conviction of theft and kidnapping; but after a new investigation they were pardoned and Canning was instead convicted of perjury, resulting in a one-month prison sentence and her deportation to Connecticut.  Tey leaves no doubt that she considers the girl's story a complete fabrication; yet, for the longest time this is merely the personal view of her protagonist, the accused women's attorney Robert Blair, who battles against the one fallacy that also beset the defense of the real-life alleged kidnappers: proof where, if not being held captive by his clients in their house, "The Franchise", as she alleged, young Betty had been instead (in the novel, Elizabeth Canning becomes Betty Kane).  And, just as the real Elizabeth Canning case had resulted in an unparralelled pamphleteering and mudslinging campaign for and against Elizabeth on the one hand and the two accused women on the other hand, so, too, Tey's novel makes no bones about the destructive nature of the tabloid press, in words that evoke eerily familiar images and connotations, in the age of social media more than ever:

   "The Ack-Emma was the latest representative of the tabloid newspaper to enter British journalism from the West.  It was run on the principle that two thousand pounds for damages is a cheap price to pay for sales worth half a million.  It had blacker headlines, more sensatiional pictures, and more indiscreet letterpress than any paper printed so far by British presses.  Fleet Street had its own name for it -- monosyllabic and unprintable -- but no protection against it.  The press had always been its own censor, deciding what was and what was not permissible by the principles of its own good sense and good taste.  If  a 'rogue' publication decided not to conform to those principles then there was no power that could make it conform [...]

   And it was the Ack-Emma that blew the Franchise affair wide open.

   [...] He dropped the page, and looked again at that shocking frontispiece.  Yesterday The Franchise was a house protected by four high walls; so unobtrusive, so sufficient unto itself that even Milford did not know what it looked like.  Now it was there to be stared at on every bookstall; on every news-agent's counter from Penzance to Pentland.  Its flat, forbidding front a foil for the innocence if the face above it [Betty's photo]."


   "Today's Ack-Emma had not been calculated to have an appeasing effect on the mob mind.  True, there were no further front-page headlines; the Franchise affair had moved itself to the correspondence page.  But the letters the Ack-Emma had chosen to print there -- and two-thirds of them were about the Franchise affair -- were not likely to prove oil in troubled waters.  They were so much paraffin on a fire that was going quite nicely anyhow.

   Threading his way out of the Larborough traffic, the silly phrases came back to him; and he marveilled all over again at the venom that these unknown women had roused in their writers' minds.  Rage and hatred spilled over on to the paper; malice ran unchecked through the largely-illiterate sentences.  It was an amazing exhibition.  And one of the oddities of it was that the dearest wish of so many of those indignant protesters against violence was to flog the said women within an inch of their lives.  Those who did not want to flog the women wanted to reform the police.  One writer suggested that a fund should be opened for the poor young victim of police inefficiency and bias [Betty Kane].  Another suggested that every man of good will should write to his Member of Parliament about it, and make their lives a misery until something was done about this miscarriage of justice.  Still another asked if anyone had noticed Betty Kane's marked resemblance to Saint Bernadette.

   There was every sign, if today's correspondence page of the Ack-Emma was any criterion, of the birth of a Betty Kane cult.  He hoped that its corollary would not be a Franchise vendetta."


   "[I]t would be a miracle, if, after the correspondence in the Ack-Emma, The Franchise was not the mecca of an evening pilgrimage.  But when he came within sight of it he found the long stretch of road deserted; and as he came nearer he saw why.  At the gate of The Franchise, solid and immobile and immaculate in the evening light, was the dark-blue-and-silver figure of a policeman.

   Deligthed that Hallam had been so generous with his scanty force, Robert slowed down to exchange greetings, but the greeting died on his lips.  Along the full length of the tall brick wall, in letters nearly six feet high was splashed a slogan. 'FASCISTS!' screamed the large white capitals.  And again on the further side of the gate: 'FASCISTS!'"



I own and have read the paperback editions of both books; I also listened to Carole Boyd's stellar narration, which brings a dimension entirely of its own to Tey's storytelling which enhances it considerably.


I'll be using both books towards the "T" square of the Women Writers Bingo, as well as The Franchise Affair towards the Fiction from Fact chapter / square of the Detection Club Bingo (which is actually taken from the cover of this book's paperback edition).


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text 2018-02-04 01:47
Updated my Currently Reading shelf!
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann
C is for Corpse - Sue Grafton
The Venetian Affair - Helen MacInnes
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart
4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie

My new narrative non-fiction read for February is Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, which I am very much looking forward to reading - it came highly recommended!


I'm currently listening to 4:50 From Paddington while I make a going away quilt for a friend who is hitting the road to see the U.S. in an R.V. before moving to Arkansas. Her going away party is on 2/17, which means I am hauling ass on it! The theme is "Adventure Quilt," and I hope it turns out as amazing as my vision!


I'm also starting the next Kinsey Millhone, for my read-along with Obsidian Blue, and I have two group reads scheduled - Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart! February should be a great reading month!

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text 2018-02-02 12:00
Friday Reads - February 2, 2018
Gambled Away: A Historical Romance Anthology - Isabel Cooper,Jeannie Lin,Rose Lerner,Joanna Bourne,Molly O'Keefe
A Bollywood Affair - Sonali Dev
The Bollywood Bride - Sonali Dev
A Change of Heart - Sonali Dev

I don't care about either team, the half-time show, or the Super Bowl in general plus it comes on here in England at 1am Monday morning and I have got to wake up and get the kids to school on Monday. (Also, English commentary on American football is ridiculous on a level that is comical when it doesn't raise your blood pressure.) Needless to say, I am just going to read and cross stitch the weekend away, and may the team with the lesser obnoxious fans win.


First, working on finishing Gambled Away anthology by the end of next week (I have 3 stories left). Then finishing up A Bollywood Affair and moving on to The Bollywood Bride and A Change of Heart. Those covers are gorgeous!


This week coming up is the last week of the second phase of COYER Winter Switch; on February 10th, I am moving on to just reading print books. 

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text 2018-02-01 10:02
Tea's TBR Thursday - February 1, 2018
All I Am (A Farmers' Market Story) - Nicole Helm
Dark in Death - J.D. Robb
A Bollywood Affair - Sonali Dev

Bookish meme created by Moonlight Reader


I have roughly 200 books on my personal TBR (ebooks and print with one audiobook). I would like to really read down my print TBR - with another military move happening in the next 15 months, I need to make sure we don't go over our household weight limit. Plus I feel bad for the movers having to lug all those boxes of books!


Books Read from TBR:

1. Love is Love by Various Authors (print)

2. Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner, and Alyssa Cole (Kindle)

3. The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin (NOOK)

4. The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin (NOOK)

5. Agnes Moore's Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole (Kindle)


Books borrowed from the library:

1. Something True by Karelia Stetz-Waters - DNF

2. Above All, Honor by Radclyffe - DNF

3. A Bollywood Affair (Bollywood #1) by Sonali Dev (currently reading)


Books put on hold at the library:

1. Dark in Death (...In Death #46) by JD Robb - I put a request in, but it will be a while.


Books added to my personal TBR:

1. All I Am (A Farmers' Market Story) by Nicole Helm (Kindle)


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