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text 2018-04-08 13:30
Detection Club Bingo: My Progress So Far
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards
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
Death on the Cherwell - Mavis Doriel Hay
The Hog's Back Mystery - Freeman Wills Crofts
The Red House Mystery - A.A. Milne
The Lake District Murder - John Bude


First bingo (bottom row) and three more in the making (second column from right, diagonal top left to bottom right, and 4 corners + central square).  Not that it greatly matters, but still. :D  Progress!


The Squares / Chapters:

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: A.A. Milne - The Red House Mystery
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!': Freeman Wills Crofts - The Hog's Back Mystery
5. Miraculous Murders: Anthony Wynne - Murder of a Lady
6. Serpents in Eden: John Bude - The Lake District Murder
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:
Mavis Doriel Hay - Death on the Cherwell
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:
Anne Meredith - Portrait of a Murderer
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 2018-04-05 20:05
Everything That's Underneath by Kristi DeMeester
Everything That's Underneath: A Collection of Weird and Horror Tales - Kristi DeMeester

First off I want to thank my generous friend Kimberly for sharing this book with me!

All of the stories in this collection are infected with a darkness that creeps under your skin. All of them. This review would become a book in itself if I were to break down every story as I usually do with collections so I’m not going to do it this time. The other reason is the fact that many of the stories contain very similar themes and I’m lazy. Some of the stories are only two pages long but they all pack a punch. I absolutely cannot wait to read more of this writers work. Every single story, yep, even the two-pagers, is darkly atmospheric and has a beautiful earthy grit that I just loved.

I took copious notes but I’m going to ignore them for the most part and just spotlight a few stories so you can get the gist of the content. You really should read this yourself and not have it all spoilered for you anyway.

Everything That’s Underneath starts things off with a man named Benjamin who is creating something for his wife. Something solid. Something good. Something that allows something to creep in. That something knows her name . . . 

This is a hell of a creepy story. I was sitting in a mechanic’s shop waiting for the inevitable bad news but was able to tune out all my worries once I started this strange little tale. Reading these stories feels like you've stepping into another world. 

This quote from one of my favorite childhood shows, Tales from the Darkside, sums it up perfectly:

“...there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit...a dark side.”

All of the stories reveal a dark side, an underbelly of fear, decay, dirt, blood. The writing is lush, morbid, darkly dreamy and haunting and the scenes are often raw and messy. 

The Fleshtival 

A flyer promises “Pussy for miles” and it is coming to a town near two perverts. For $1000 bucks these two fools head off into the woods to get what’s coming to them. I had an inkling what was coming to Paul and I couldn’t wait for it to happen!

From Like Feather, Like Bone

“I try to ignore her, but she is crunching its bones, and the sound is like the ground cracking open.”

Wow, so much creepy despair in only 3 pages!

Daughters of Hecate

This is a tale of abuse, terrible mothers and the damage they inflict all wrapped in a bleak horrific tale. Mother/daughter relationships are a huge theme in this collection.

Towards the end I will admit that I was starting to fatigue from this collection because many of themes are so similar and dealing with loss and desperation and messed up relationships. I would suggest doling these out one story at a time in between other reads as opposed to gobbling them all up at once as I tried to do. 

Highly recommend for dark fiction fans!

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review 2018-02-04 19:09
London's First Armchair Detective
The Old Man in the Corner: Twelve Classic Detective Stories - Emmuska Orczy,E.F. Bleiler

This is a collection of twelve stories taken from the first two (of three) books featuring the "Old Man in the Corner," one of Emmuska Orczy's very first literary creations and -- but for Edgar Allan Poe's M. Dupin (who solves the Mystery of Marie Rogêt solely based on a number of newspaper articles) -- one of, if not the earliest armchair detective ever to grace the pages of a book: He may occasionally attend a coroner's or police court hearing, but in all but one of the cases he is not personally involved in any way in the investigation, taking the bulk of his knowledge from what is reported of a case in the newspapers -- and yet, disdaining the police and the criminal courts for their inefficiency, since virtually all of these cases are considered mysteries because law enforcement has failed to produce the real culprit; in the "Old Man"'s opinion, as a result of getting caught up in procedure and petty routines instead of applying logical thought.  (Which, obviously, is an attitude that the "Old Man" shares with many a "consulting", amateur or plain private detective from Sherlock Holmes to Nero Wolfe and beyond.)


Orczy's Old Man in the Corner stories were originally serialized in newspapers and published in book form only later, with the third batch of stories (originally published in 1904) collected in book form first, in The Case of Miss Elliot (1905), and a book containing the first two batches (serialized in 1901 and 1902, respectively) following three years later and entitled simply The Old Man in the Corner.  (A final batch of stories, ultimately published in book form under the title Unravelled Knots, only followed in 1924-1925 and, if reviewers and editorialists are to be believed, wasn't up to the same standard as their much earlier predecessors.) This particular Dover Publications collection dating from 1980 is taken in almost equal parts from the first and second "Old Man" books, with three stories each representing the original 1901 and the 1902 series, and six stories the 1904 series later collected in The Case of Miss Elliot. -- One of the stories from the second series, The Glasgow Mystery, here sees the light of day for the first time since its original publication in a newspaper, as Orczy's erroneous inclusion of "coroner's proceedings" in a city where such do not actually exist (she should have referred to the Procurator Fiscal instead) caused a public outcry; and as a result, the story was not included in the selection originally published in book form -- which is a shame, because the mystery would work just as well if the proper law enforcement bodies and procedures were substituted for the miscast coroner.


BrokenTune noted in a recent review of a Sherlock Holmes story how certain recurring features in Arthur Conan Doyle's writing, from setting to dialogue to the construction of his stories, foster a sense of familiarity, recognition, and literally of "coming home" (to 221B Baker Street) on the part of the reader and can create, even for today's readers, a sense of community with these stories' original audience: The same can be said almost certainly, at least as far as Baroness Orcy's original readers were concerned, for the Old Man in the Corner stories.   In fact, reading them all in rapid succcession (as I did) may not be the best approach, because it's impossible not to notice their formulaic structure that way -- but that same formulaic approach that starts to grate a bit in quick mass exposure may well just have been the very element that invoked a sense of looked-for familiarity in the original readership, and the fact that there were several successive series of these stories manifestly testifies to their popularity.  Stylistically, in any event, they are accomplished enough, and if I hadn't known that the very first of these tales, The Fenchurch Street Mystery, was one of the first prose works (and the very first crime story) ever published by Orczy, I certainly wouldn't have guessed as much.


In each installment, a "Lady Journalist" (in the final stories, identified as one Polly Burton) meets up with the eponymous unnamed "Old Man", who sits in the corner of an A.B.C. tea room reading his newspaper, to proceed, in short order, to discussing the latest reported unsolved crime with her, all the while  tying and untying a piece of string into a series of impossibly complicated knots.  As in Conan Doyle's mysteries, the formula exceeds the mere framework setting and the Old Man's idiosynchrasies and extends to content; here, however, not so much to dialogue as to plot -- and while there still may have been either a sense of genuine surprise in the original audience (or, who knows, this, too, may have been part of the comfortable feeling of meeting old friends), I confess to me at some point it started coloring Orczy's narratives with a bit of a "one trick pony" brush, particularly as virtually everyone of them relies on a sleight of hand that is central to The Scarlet Pimpernel, too, and I ended up just looking for how she would set it up this time around, knowing once I had uncovered this particular feature I would also know the solution -- which somewhat impinged on the joy of the hunt and pretty much removed the element of surprise after a while.


Interestingly, the Old Man in the Corner shares a bit of publication history with both Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, in that his creator actually did not intend him to have quite the long-lasting career that he ended up enjoying: At the end of the last of the original five stories published in 1901 she has the Lady Journalist unmask the Old Man's identity (and, incidentally, his involvement with the case they have been discussing), which forces him into instant retirement -- so every installment of the later series has to remind the reader that this is an occurrence which actually took place before that "final" case at the end of which, so far as the narrator / Lady Journalist knows, for all practical purposes he vanished from sight.  As in the cases of the Old Man's (today) much more famous contemporaries, this, too, of course testifies to his enduring popularity with the reading public; not least taking into account Orczy's "Glasgow coroner" mess-up.


I've already read another book for the first square / chapter of the Detection Club bingo (A New Era Dawns), so I'm just going to be doubling up on squares there, but I will get to count this book towards the "O" square of the Women Writers Bingo.


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text 2018-01-15 14:18
You Should Join My New Release Mailing List

Join my New Release Mailing List and I'll send you a weird fairy tale called "I Will Tell You About Knoist." This short story is not for sale and is only available to mailing list subscribers. (It might take me a day or two to send you the story. Fulfillment is not automatic.) You'll receive both ePub and mobi copies of the story.

The mailing list will only be used to inform readers of my new releases. (I can't imagine you'd receive an e-mail from me any more than once every couple of months.)

I will not spam you.

I won't send you e-mails to tell you about my pets or what movies I've just watched.

I won't e-mail you about someone else's project or to ask you to donate to my favorite charity.

I will not sell your e-mail address to a third party.

You can unsubscribe to my mailing list at any time.

Use the form on my website to subscribe to my New Release Mailing List.

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review 2017-12-31 16:50
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 3 - Armistice Day / Veterans' Day: Murder at Castle Cloon
Death in December - Gordon Griffin,Victor Gunn

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.



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