This novella by Victor Gunn (one of several pseudonyms of Edwy Searles Brooks) also forms the centerpiece of the second British Library Christmas mystery short fiction anthologies edited by Martin Edwards that I read this month (Crimson Snow), but I listened to it in the audio version narrated by Gordon Griffin, who is fast becoming one of my favorite narrators of classic / Golden Age British mysteries.
The story concerns a Christmas visit to Cloon Castle in Derbyshire, the home of Johnny Lister, sergeant to Chief Inspector Bill "Ironsides" Cromwell, Gunn's gruffly iconic series detective. And the two policemen haven't even arrived ante portas yet when they're running into their first mysterious appearance: a figure that seems to be walking in the snow at some distance; without, however, leaving so much as a single footprint. When they are assembled around the fireplace after dinner with the other guests, the afternoon's strange encounter is duly followed by the legend of the castle ghost and by a visit to the "ghost chamber", but things take a serious turn when one of the guests engages to spend the night in the "ghost chamber" to disprove the legend once and for all, only to be found injured and of obviously disturbed mind hours later -- and when not long thereafter, a stranger's corpse is found in one of the graves in the family crypt abutting the "ghost chamber." The solution, when ultimately revealed by "Ironsides", is very much down to earth and rather ugly, but there's plenty of derring-do to be had along the way, including a rather fiendish attempt on the Chief Inspector's life and much fine detection work (and enjoyable writing).
Since Johnny Lister's father, the host of this story's countryside Christmas gathering, is a retired general who has duly earned himself a DSO (I'm assuming in WWI -- the story was first published in the early 1940s, but it sounds like the general's retirement isn't a recent one, and retiring in the midst of WWII doesn't sound likely to begin with), I'm using this as my Veterans' Day / Armistice Day read in the context of the 16 Festive Tasks.
Ohhhh...December! I had very good Christmas, and I hope you all did too. I even managed to read a few books. I'm having a difficult time reconciling the end of 2017. Not sure why that is??? I just can't believe the new year is here, already. On to my re-cap...
(Audiobook) The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka
Finish Date: 12/01
4.3/5 STARS - GRADE=A-
(Audiobook) Marrow by Tarryn Fisher
Finish Date: 12/08
4.5/5 STARS - GRADE=A-
(Kindle eBook) Undone by Wendy Higgins
Finish Date: 12/13
4.8/5 STARS - GRADE=A
(Audiobook) Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Finish Date: 12/14
3/5 STARS - GRADE=C
(Kindle eBook) The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott
Finish Date: 12/19
5/5 STARS - GRADE=A+
(eBook Novella) Down to the Liar by Mary Elizabeth
Finish Date: 12/20
(Audiobook) Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Finish Date: 12/20
3.7/5 STARS - GRADE=B
(Audiobook) RoomHate by Penelope Ward
Finish Date: 12/23
3.8/5 STARS - GRADE=B
(Audiobook) Undertow by Michael Buckley
Finish Date: 12/29
4.2/5 STARS - GRADE=B+
(Netgalley eArc) Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy
Finish Date: 12/30
2.5/5 STARS - GRADE=D+
Plus 1 DNF...I just couldn't get into this.
11 BOOKS TOTAL
6 Audiobooks, 1 Novella, 2 eBooks, 1 DNF eBook and 1 Negalley eArc.
Last monthly wrap up of 2017. So many DNFs.....
BL/GR: 166/150 Complete!
Pop Sugar: 52/52 Complete!
Library Love: 2; 54/36 Complete!
16 Tasks: 32 points total
1. Saga Volumes 2-4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples - 4 stars to each volume
2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley - 5 stars (Recommend especially to the Flat Earth Society reading group, but I am going to be recommending this book to EVERY DAMN BODY in 2018)
3. Let Us Dream (from the anthology Daughters of a Nation) by Alyssa Cole - 2.5 stars
4. Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton - 0 stars
5. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes - 2 stars
6. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - 3.5 stars
7. I Know What I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee - 3 stars
8. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxanne Gay - 4 stars
9. Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Currently Reading: Beyond Belief: My Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill (50% completed)
A fun book and a tribute to These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. It was a fun read.
You can find my review here but here are some fun quotes from the books that I didn’t mention in it:
Roman blinked again and smacked Aspid’s nose with his hand. “What did I say about kisses? No kisses unless invited.”
Aspid’s tongue contracted. He pulled Roman into his mouth.
“Yes, I love you, too,” Roman said from inside the forest of teeth. “I need to go now. Come on.”
The dragon opened his mouth and put Roman back into the mud.
Review to come soon!
Review to come soon!
Much too short, even for a short. I can’t wait to get started on the next instalment from this series!
Okay, so I liked this book but that might have just been because I was imagining Emma Watson in place of the main character. I say this because the story introduced no novel concept. Whatever there was, it already had been done many times.
Much better than the previous book from this series!
This next part contains pictures from our visit to Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai. Go ahead, if you’d like to see what a mall based on the different ancient civilizations of the world would look like!