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review 2018-02-21 21:07
Somebody At The Door by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door - Raymond Postgate

I haven't read the other BLCC book by Postgate, Verdict of Twelve, which was recommended by Martin Edwards in Chapter 15, The Justice Game, of The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

 

As is the case in most of the BLCC books, Martin Edwards did write an introduction for Somebody at the Door. This one rose to the top of my current reading list based upon the WWII setting and the plot summary which captured my interest.

 

This is a very odd little book. It operates within a standard mystery framework: Councillor Henry Grayling, the victim, returns home after a day at work, travelling by train and in possession of more than 100 pounds in wages to be paid out the following day. Sometime after making it home, his wife Renata calls the doctor to report that he was later coming home and that he was very ill. Some time later, Grayling expires of what ends up being a mustard gas attack.

 

Inspector Holly, charged with solving the crime, determines who was in the train car with Grayling and conducts an investigation into their backgrounds. Each of them, in their own way, have a motive to murder Grayling, who was an unlikeable and highly unpleasant man. 

 

Each of the suspects is granted his/her own chapter, which is where things get either interesting or bogged down, depending upon your perspective, in terms of the narrative. Each chapter functions as a mini-tale, providing detailed insight into what life was like in England during 1942 for various characters and social classes. If you, as a reader, are interested in this sort of thing, then the book is a fascinating read. If you are here for the mystery, well, a great deal of the detailed meanderings are superfluous and tend to grind the mystery narrative to a halt.

 

I am interested in this sort of thing, so I enjoyed those chapters. But a lot of it has little to nothing to do with the central mystery. In addition, there was a pretty big plot element that was just left unresolved without being addressed by the author in any meaningful way at all. I think that Verdict of Twelve might be a better bet than this one!

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review 2018-02-13 09:43
Foreign Bodies - Martin Edwards,Various Authors

A coronet of the guards is murdered, his body absent from the crime scene. A Countess pleads with Hungarian police to protect her from her revenge seeking brother-in-law. A bed-ridden man manages to procure drugs even though he has no visitors. These are some of the stories to feature in the new collection of translated classic crime short stories.

 

This is a varied collection and as with most collated works, some of the stories were more appealing than others. There are some that remain in the memory, others that are recalled when the book is picked up again. The stories vary in length and tone, the authors nationalties cover the globe.

 

There is one name that will be recognisable amongst many in the collection which have passed by English speaking readers. I can finally say I have read something by Anton Chekov as the first story of the collection, The Swedish Match, is by the man himself.

There is an art to writing a good short story, particularly evident in a crime or mystery story. The author has few words to play with, must quickly set the scene, lay out all of the suspects, leave enough red herrings and reveal the culprit, all in the space of what would amount to a couple of chapters in a novel.

 

Some stories stand out more than others. Particular favourites include Footprints in the Snow by Maurice Leblanc, The Spider by Koga Saburo, The Venom of the Tarantula by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and The Puzzle of the Broken Watch by Maria Elvira Bermudez.

 

There are obvious influences from crime-writing stalwarts. Both Footprints in the Snow and The Venom of the Tarantula have shades of Holmes and Watson about them, for example, as does The Return of Lord Kingwood. Be sure to read the introductions to each author by Martin Edwards which provide an interesting overview of the writer, and which often note influences.

 

These are stories written before the advent of forensic evidence and fingerprints. It was detection and sometimes pure, old-fashioned luck, that solved the case. Many of them are puzzle murders, where logical thinking wins the day. When reading the stories it is easy to imagine the wonder and entertainment they created for contemporary readers. The twists have to be more logical, yet unforseen, though some, as in The Spider, would have appeared almost fantastical.

 

An interesting collection and a great introduction to translated fiction from the past. I’ll be looking out for more work by many of these authors should they become available.

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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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text 2018-02-09 21:28
Friday reading: February 9, 2017
The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm - Juliet Nicolson
D Is For Deadbeat - Sue Grafton
E is for Evidence - Sue Grafton
Somebody at the Door (British Library Crime Classics) - Raymond Postgate,Martin Edwards

 

Reading/Listening:

 

I'm still working hard on the Adventure Quilt - it has to be finished by the going away party next Saturday (2/17) because the recipient is leaving Oregon for parts unknown on 2/18. I'll post pics of the finished quilt.

 

Because of this, most of my reading is occurring through listening right now! I downloaded A Discovery of Witches as an audiobook because it sounded like an appealing reread. I'm about 5 hours in, and have about 18 hours left. I am still dithering on whether I will continue to listen to it, or move onto Crooked House by Agatha Christie, which I could probably finish this weekend.

 

I've barely dipped into A World Undone and I haven't even cracked This Rough Magic. I'm at about 20% in The Venetian Affair.

 

Haul:

 

I just bought D is for Deadbeat and E is for Evidence to continue my Kinsey Millhone read over the next ten days or so. I also picked up The Last Summer by Juliet Nicholson, which is a non-fiction book about the summer of 1911, prior to the beginning of WWI in 1914. I am planning to blow through that one (it's a mere 325 pages) before really digging into a A World Undone. I'm loosely planning on following it with Nicholson's book about the time after the armistice, called The Great Silence. I also bought Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate, mostly because I wanted to buy a BLCC and I liked the cover. 

 

Total for the week: $34.90

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text 2018-02-03 17:19
Setting aside for now!
Capital Crimes: London Mysteries: A British Library Crime Classic (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle,Stephen Fry

I will come back to both of these, but I'm not feeling short stories right now, and they are cluttering up my sidebar!

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