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text 2017-09-19 14:27
Reading progress update: I've read 98 out of 357 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

Well, I've read chapters 1 through 5, and I suppose this is what it sounds like when you get a walking encyclopedia talking. Even though it's, in a way, the print equivalent of having your favorite actor reading the phone book (which I expected going in -- the format itself suggests as much), it's addictively compelling, and I am racing through this book much more than I expected I would.  I also know I'll be revisiting it often for reference in the future.

 

When reading the chapters on the beginning of the Golden Age and on the Great Detectives, I also dipped into Edwards's Golden Age of Murder for further background, "met" the members of the Detection Club ... and learned that Ngaio Marsh was not a member (which I admit I'd heretofore taken almost for granted she was), but rather, "dined for weeks" on the experience of her one invitation to a Detection Club dinner.

 

Incidentally, for those who are interested, I've created a reading list for the "100 [main] Books" presented by Martin Edwards in "The Story of Classic Crime" here:

 

Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books -- the "100 Books" Presented

 

I've also started a listing of the other books mentioned by way of further reference in the individual chapters.  As Edwards easily manages to toss in an average of 20+ extra books per chapter, I've decided to break up the "other books mentioned" listing into several parts, with the first list going up to the end of chapter 5 (i.e., as far as I've read at present):

 

Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books -- Other Books Mentioned; Part 1 (Ch. 1-5)

 

I'm reading The Story of Classic Crime for the free (center / raven) bingo square, as well as by way of a buddy read.

 

 

Merken

Merken

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review 2017-09-19 01:21
The devil asks you to sign
The Crucible - Arthur Miller,Christopher Bigsby

When ruling is based, and made stringent, on fear of an outside opponent, and someone has the brilliant idea of escalating yet to marking a personal opponent as an outsider, and it catches.

 

Might be easier to stomach going in without knowing how the episode goes and likely part of the reason that one was picked: no way really. Because no sucker-punch surprise horror can surpass the terror of inevitability, of seeing the evil the pettiness, the hysterical fanaticism and envy wreaths, knowing all the while the devastation it lead to.

 

I'm a bit discomfited by the part women play on this, saints or demons with little true humanity, but as a whole, a masterful depiction that ages all too well for my ease of mind.

 

Giles Corey, the contentious, canny old man, takes the badass-crown with his memetic "More weight". He knew what it was all about, and everyone could keep their saintliness debate to themselves. With Proctor the sinner and Hale the naive believer, they make a nice triad.

 

 

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review 2017-09-18 16:24
Nine Coaches Waiting / Mary Stewart
Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Sandra Brown,Mary Stewart

Read to fill the “Romantic Suspense” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.

This Bingo was a great excuse to revisit an old favourite, which only been slight worn by the passage of time. It is very much a gothic romance, with the heroine having the usual attributes—she is an orphan, she needs to pay her way in the world, and she is hired by a French family to school a young nobleman in English. The young Comte is nine years old and it takes a bit for Linda Martin to make friends with him and get him acting like a real small boy, but they manage to make the connection just before sinister things begin to happen. Has Linda been chosen because she is an orphan with no real connections in France? Will she be the scapegoat when young Philippe is killed?

Add the complication that Linda has fallen in love with Raoul, her employer’s son, who manages another large family estate. Raoul is as sophisticated as Linda is naïve, which causes much of the romantic tension, as the reader wonders whether he is serious or just playing with Linda. Stewart actually uses Cinderella imagery to reassure the reader—there is an Easter ball, of course, for which Linda sews her own dress and during which she dances with Raoul and they agree to become engaged. She has promised to visit her charge, Philippe, in “the dead of night” so he can feel included in the event, so she & Raoul take a “midnight feast” pilfered from the buffet table up to the little boy’s room. On her way up to the nursey, Linda’s shoe comes undone and she almost loses it, completing the Cinderella reference.

Nor is that the only literary reference. The book’s title comes from the poem The Revenger’s Tragedy, a tale of lust and ambition suited to the story line of Nine Coaches Waiting. Each of the chapters is referred to as a coach and Linda takes some kind of conveyance (train, car, plane) in each. The poem also includes a tempter’s list of pleasures: coaches, the palace, banquets, etc., all of which decadent indulgences may lure our heroine to overlook the attempts on her student’s life.

One of the joys of the book for me was the description of the French countryside and communities. These descriptive interludes extend the tension of both the mystery & the romance and give the reader some time to assimilate the clues and try to see the road ahead. It also gave me breathing room to assess the very whirlwind nature of the romance, something that I would usually find unrealistic & therefore off-putting (and which I never noticed as a teenager reading this novel).


I am delighted to report that I enjoyed this novel almost as much forty years later as I did when I first read it.

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review 2017-09-17 12:08
More banter, and I'd have been set
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

In a stark time-marches-on fashion, this one is very much a politically incorrect book all around. Since I don't mind that, I was enjoying it, but at some point around a third in, Nora stopped participating in dialogues and got relegated to audience surrogate, and I wasn't having as much fun.

 

I don't know that I was invested much in the mystery

I figured Wynant had to be dead, and someone was impersonating him for money. His not showing up anywhere was obvious pretty early.

(spoiler show)

but I have to confess I stayed for the train-wreck the characters are. As a rule, I avoid noir because it relies too much on drudgery, dialogue error and backtrack, and it bores me. Here, everyone is so messed up or downright insane I could get my jollies from their hijinks (sometimes horror inducing ones), and I coasted the whole book on this amused sense that I was reading a cast of grotesques caricatures.

 

Call me morbid, I had fun.

 

 

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review 2017-09-17 11:33
The Thin Man-Buddy Read for Halloween Bingo 2017
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Lost my review twice now so I'm ready to spit nails.

 

I was happy to read the comments from those that did this buddy read. Other than that, if this is an example of Classic Noir, I don't think I'm going to be a fan. I didn't like anyone. The writing at times was hard to understand since it was written in another time and place. A couple of things I had to go and look up and realized it would have been better for me to just watch an old black and white movie instead.

 

 

"The Thin Man" follows Nick Charles, a former PI who is dragged into looking for a missing man he used to know, Clyde Wynant. Wynant goes missing after a former mistress/lover of his is found murdered. Clyde's terrible ass family shows up and asks him to find Clyde and or just act genuinely annoying. Someone else called them sociopaths in one of the updates and honestly I agree. 

 

Nick Charles is the main character in "The Thin Man." I assume the movies make him and Nora (his wife) more partner like. But besides Nora calming down people, ordering Nick food, and making Nick a drink, there wasn't much for her to do. Oh yeah, she laughed about her husband being flirted with right in front of her. 

 

The other characters are cringe worthy individuals. 

 

Mimi Wynant is a terrible mother to her two kids, Dorothy and Gilbert. She's obsessed with finding her ex husband to see what money she can shake out of him. In a crazy scene she loses it and goes incoherent with rage. She also beats her daughter and everyone acts like that's cool.

 

 

Dorothy is a low rent Lolita wannabe.

 

Gilbert is obsessed with his sister (yeah not in a good way) gives her drugs and talks about taking cocaine to make himself sharper. As one does.

 

There's the guy having an affair, but that's okay cause his wife is awful. Shakes head. 

 

Nick is thrown up against criminals and cops and finally announces who did it. I didn't follow the clues at all. So it was a surprise to me. 

 

The writing was typical of the 1930s. I didn't care for it much though. The flow was awful. It was just people drinking and shouting at each other. There's also a random story about cannibalism I'm still confused about including. 

 

The setting of New York during the Christmas holiday didn't feel realistic at all. Did any character mention cold or snow? New York during the last days of Prohibition should have been awesome as a setting.

 

The ending as I said was just a sad trombone sound come to life. Nick explains to Nora the who and the why. She argues with him, he ignores her, and they talk about New Year's Eve.

 

The end.

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