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review 2017-02-23 04:17
The White Cottage Mystery
The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham

My first Allingham, and fittingly, her first too.  Definitely not my last.  

 

DCI Challenor's son is on his way home to London one evening when he sees a young woman stepping off the bus with a heavy load and stops to offer her a ride to her home.  Moments after leaving her there, he and the local constable hear the rapport of a shotgun and on returning find a man most definitely dead and a hallway full of suspects.

 

This is a very short read, relative to today's average mystery, coming in at just 157 pages.  But it's a fast-paced 157 pages and Allingham dispenses with anything monotonous or that might smack of filler.  The timeline jumps from one paragraph to another; sometimes by just a few hours, sometimes a few days, towards the end, a few years.  This might really aggravate some readers but if you're familiar with Golden Age mysteries, you won't find it unusual.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed it; so much so that it was 1am when I finally shut the light off, having finished the entire book in one sitting.  She had me guessing the entire way through, and not once did I come close.  I found DCI Challenor's advice at the end appalling; it would never fly in our time, but in the age it was written, it would have been standard.

 

A very good mystery and from my first peek, I'd say Allingham is under valued as a master of mystery, but to be sure, I'll have to read a few more - as soon as possible.

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review 2017-02-15 07:44
The Big Over Easy (Nursery Crimes, #1)
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

This book...  I have so many random thoughts about this book.  In no particular order:

 

1.  Easily the most highly quotable book I've ever read.  Including books of quotes.  
One of my favourites:

 

Mr. Pewter led them through to a library filled with thousands of antiquarian books.

'Impressive, eh?'

'Very,' said Jack.  'How did you amass all these?'

'Well,' said Pewter, 'you know the person who always borrows books and never gives them back?'

'Yes–?'

'I'm that person.'

 

Don't know why, but that cracked me up.

 

2.  I'm pretty sure Fforde had no intention of writing a satire (based on what I've found on the interwebs) about the sensationalism of the free press, but this is definitely a case of current events shaping a reader's interpretation of the text.  I had a really hard time reading this and not drawing parallels.

 

3.  I'm equally sure he definitely meant to write a satirised murder mystery and this was easily the closest I've ever read to my blog's namesake movie, Murder By Death, which in my totally biased opinion is the acme of mystery satire.  Which brings me to another quote:

 

Dog Walker's Face Body-Finding Ban

 

Anyone who finds a corpse while walking their dog may be fined if proposed legislation is made law, it was disclosed yesterday.  The new measures, part of the Criminal Narrative Improvement Bill, have been drafted to avoid investigations looking clichéd...

 

Now this is legislation I can get behind.

 

4.  I wish I'd picked this book up directly after reading The Well of Lost Plots.  It makes no difference to someone new to Fforde's books, but I think those that have read TN would feel a stronger connection to the characters here when The Well... was still fresh in the memory.

 

5.  Prometheus has an incredible monologue on pages 271-273.  A popular fiction novel that can weave serious philosophy into its narrative always earns huge bonus points with me.

 

6.  Oh, yeah - good mystery plot too!

 

Off to order the second one...

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review 2017-02-09 02:25
The Persian Pickle Club
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas

This was an impulse purchase at one of my local library sales, I think.  It's set in 1930's Kentucky during the dust bowl years and featured friendship and quilts.  How bad could it be?

 

Turns out not bad at all - it was excellent.  AND what they don't tell you on the cover is that there's a mystery to be solved, so of course I loved it even more.

 

Queenie is a young farm wife and part of the quilting circle called the Persian Pickle Club.  Rita is a newcomer to town and the club; a city girl who has just married a hometown boy reluctantly returned to the farm.  Queenie decides to make Rita feel welcome and tries her best to fold Rita into the daily routine of life in a farming community, but Rita doesn't want to be a farmer's wife; she has ambitions of her own to be a journalist and in her pursuit she digs up secrets people would rather remain hidden.

 

The beauty of this book is that it isn't trying to be anything it isn't; it feels like an authentic snapshot of time and place (and warning: it includes some language common to the time that we consider verboten now).  It doesn't make any moral judgements and the plot doesn't adhere to the strict definition of justice.  And that's all I'm saying because anything else would spoil it.  Let's just say I was giddy over the way it surprised me.

 

It's an easy read with potential to be a comfort read as well.  Definitely one of the better impulse buys I've made.

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review 2016-12-26 10:47
Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop
Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop - Otto Penzler

This was my final holiday read for Christmas this year and it was excellent! 

 

Otto Penzler, the owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC, each year commissions a short mystery from a well-known author, to be published in a small pamphlet and given to customers at the holiday season as a way to say Thank You.  The only stipulations Penzler gives to the author is that the story take place at Christmas and have at least one scene take place at The Mysterious Bookshop.  

 

This book is a collection of 17 of those stories and only one of them failed to thrill me or at least amuse me.  (That one wasn't bad, it was just a creepy story in homage to Poe.)  My absolute favourite was Lawrence Block's As Dark As Christmas Gets.  A very close second was Jeremiah Healy's The Holiday Fairy and for sheer cleverness that had my giggling as I read was S.J. Rozan's The Grift of the Magi.

 

If you enjoy holiday stories and mysteries, definitely keep an eye out for this one.  I'll re-read more than a few of these stories again and again.

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review 2016-10-04 10:23
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Illustrated - Arthur Conan Doyle

What can I say?  Hound of the Baskervilles is a classic and might possibly be the best of the Holmes stories.  Perfectly crafted, and perfectly atmospheric, this is the kind of story that can be read again and again.

 

In fact, this is at least my third read and on this go-around I was much more able to admire the subtle clues and hints Conan Doyle wove through the tale.  Although I do have one question:  Dr. Mortimer's wife is mentioned several times in the story and I have to wonder how she felt about him traipsing off around the world without her?

 

If you like gothic, or mysteries, or just a good atmospheric thriller, you can't go wrong with this one.

 

This was the book I used for my Read with Booklikes Friends square for Halloween Book Bingo.

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