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review 2018-02-17 02:33
A quick read about a Ride Share Driver
Uber Diva: Hot Tips for Drivers and Passengers of Uber and Lyft - Charles St. Anthony,Marcella Hammer

This is a combination of memoir of a Lyft/Uber driver, and a guide to starting/surviving/thriving as one in a tough market. A memoir/guide written by a humorist, it should be stressed, so there's plenty of humor infused throughout. That right there sounds like a winning book -- and <b>Uber Diva</b> almost was one.

 

Sadly, it came across as a pretty good first draft or a series of short blog posts. Every chapter -- almost every paragraph -- could've used just a little more. A little more detail, a little more context. A few chapters read like a thorough outline rather than actual prose -- just a series of bullet points along a theme. A little more expansion, a little more time spent with each idea and this would've been a whole lot of fun. As it is, <b>Uber Diva</b> is frequently worth a chuckle or wry smile to oneself, but it's never enough to satisfy.

 

I'm not crazy about St. Anthony's organization, either -- I'm not sure it ever made that much sense. Particularly, the jump from his opening to the rest just didn't work for me, it was a jarring tonal shift. The first chapter would've fit better as a closing or penultimate chapter, if you ask me.

 

There's a lot to like here, but it feels undercooked. It's enjoyable enough -- especially, I bet, for Lyft/Uber drivers -- but it could've been so much better. A little more revision, a little expansion and I bet I'd be talking about a good read, rather than one that's just good enough.

 

<i><b>Disclaimer:</b> I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.</i>

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/02/16/uber-diva-by-charles-st-anthony
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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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review 2018-02-11 22:28
All in the Family
Family Matters (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Rolls
Family Matters - Anthony Rolls,Gordon Griffin

Ooooh, I'm so glad this book was rescued from oblivion by the editors of the British Library Crime Classics series.  And I'm all the more glad for the fact that, reading its description, I didn't expect half the delights it would turn out to have in store.

 

Family Matters is, on its face, a take on the age-old theme of marital discord leading to murder -- one of the most prevalent topics in crime fiction practically ever since the inception of the genre, and done practically to death in its own right as a result of having been tackled by everybody from Arthur Conan Doyle to the Golden Age Queens of Crime and pretty much every other modern suspense and thriller writer.  So, a rave review by Dorothy L. Sayers notwithstanding, I approached this with quite pinch of caution.

 

I needn't have worried, and I now fully understand why the ever-skeptical Sayers even went so far as to proclaim that she was "quite ready to accept anything that is told me by so convincing an author" as to the chemistry involved in bringing about the murder (or was it?) and in confounding, in turn, the police, the medical experts, the coroner, and (almost) the jury.  (Though I would love to get a chemist's perspective on the accuracy of it all at some point.)

 

The real stand-out feature of this novel is Rolls's ability to sketch a character and an atmosphere, and his deliciously malicious sense of humor, which extends to pretty much everybody and everything involved in this sordid tale, beginning with the community in which it takes place, all the way to the fighting couple's neighbors and friends, the inmates and atmosphere of their horrid household, and the murdered man himself: if ever a character asked to be murdered, surely it is this story's Robert Arthur Kewdingham who, however, for all of Roll's scathing satire of the archetypal mysogynistic bully, still manages to be ... well, let's say at least two-and-a-half-dimensional.

 

Of course, towards the end of the story the judicial process is administered its due share of jibes as well, and in light of the Flat Book Society's recent read of Val McDermid's Forensics, I particularly enjoyed Roll's pick on the era's preeminent medical expert witnesses of the ilk of a Dr. Bernard Spilsbury:

"Pulverbatch was a thin, pale man, with an expression like that of a highly intellectual saint.  He appeared to be in ceaseless communion with a fount of inner knowledge.  When he spoke, he had a way of drawing back his thin lips, showing two rows of very small natural teeth, and occasionally giving a short whispering whistle.  In the seclusion of his fine Bayswater home he attempted, with no great success, to play jigs upon the violin for the entertainment of Mrs. Pulverbatch.

 

'Hyaline deterioration?' said the Professor to his eminent colleague. 'Yes, my dear chap -- I quite agree with you. But look here ... [...] I never saw anything like it.  I wish we had Chesterton here.  But I think we shall ultimately come to the conclusion which I ventured to put forward as a working hypothesis at the start.'"

Though I do own, and have read, the paperback edition of this book, I also highly recommend the audio version narrated by Gordon Griffin, who has fast become one of my favorite go-to narrators of books by British authors (or set in Britain).

 

I read this book for the "Ironists" chapter / square of the Detection Club bingo, the image for which is actually taken from the cover of this particular book.

 

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review 2018-02-05 01:39
Anatomy of a Murder ... Courtesy of the Detection Club
The Poisoned Chocolates Case - Anthony Berkeley
The Poisoned Chocolates Case - Anthony Berkeley,Gordon Griffin

Anthony Berkeley (full name: Anthony Berkeley Cox) was one of the co-founders of the legendary Detection Club; he published mysteries both under his own name (minus "Cox") and the pseudonym Francis Iles, which when he first used it was kept a secret so successfully that it took a full two years until his cover was blown.

 

The Poisoned Chocolates Case is one of the best-known mysteries published under the name Anthony Berkeley; it features both series detectives about whom Berkeley wrote under that name, his "main man" Roger Sheringham and his secondary detective, Ambrose Chitterwick (whose last name incidentally is a delicious exercise in phonetic imagery).  Published a year prior to the foundation of the Detection Club, this novel probably not quite unwittingly establishes -- under the name "Crimes Club" -- the model on which the real-life organization would shortly be based, arising out of a series of dinners organized by Berkeley:

"Entry into the charmed Crimes Circle's dinners was not to be gained by all and hungry.  It was not enough for a would-be member to profess an adoration for murder and let it go at that; he or she had got to prove that they were capable of worthily wearing their criminological spurs.

 

Not only must the interest be intense in all branches of the science, in the detection side, for instance, just as much as the side of criminal psychology, with the history of all cases of the least importance at the applicant's finger-tips, but there must be constructive ability too; the candidate must have a brain and be able to use it.  To this end, a paper had to be written, from a choice of subjects suggested by members, and submitted to the president, who passed on such as he considered worthy to the members in conclave, who thereupon voted for or against the suppliant's election, and a single adverse vote meant rejection."

Replace the "paper to be written" by a candidate's literary output to date, and you pretty much have the real life Detection Club's membership criteria pinned down -- they indeed were aiming at literary quality and profound knowledge of the subject matter, they loved investigating real life cases, and yes, the statutes explicitly state that a single vote opposing a candidate's membership is sufficient for his rejection.

 

One of the Detection Club's "round robin" publications is entitled Anatomy of Murder; in it, several members of the club analyzed real life murder cases.  In another one, Six Against the Yard, six members of the Detection Club devised what they considered "the perfect murder", and it was then up to a real life policeman, Ex-Superintendent Cornish of Scotland Yard C.I.D., to determine whether they had succeeded or whether the murderer would have been uncovered by a real police investigation after all.  In this respect, too, then, the premise of The Poisoned Chocolates Case -- the notion that a policeman would invite this most distinguished circle of amateur criminologists to help solving a case -- is not too far from the path things were bound to take, at least as far as the Detection Club's collaborative publications were concerned.  (In fact, each of the Crimes Circle members taking a stab at the solution in this novel makes reference to other widely-reported [fictional] murder cases in construing their solution as well.)

 

The case regarding which Chief Inspector Moresby of Scotland Yard invites the Crimes Circle in on the investigation concerns the death of a lady from (you guessed it) eating poisoned chocolates, which came out of a box that her husband had given her, and which he in turn had received from an acquaintance on the occasion of a chance meeting (or was it?) at their club.  It doesn't take a regular diet of Agatha Christie novels, where this sort of scenario and the associated possibilities for all sorts of slights of hand appear repeatedly, to recognize that there are three potential intended victims here, and accordingly, a wide variety of potential murder suspects, motives, and factual background scenarios.  Berkeley intelligently uses this to demonstrate that in writing crime fiction, virtually everything depends on which facts the writer chooses to disclose to the reader (and at which precise moment): Each of the members of the Crimes Circle takes a stab at solving the case, is initially congratulated heartily on his or her solution -- only to see their case thereupon being deconstructed by another member of the club, and superseded by that other member's solution. (Indeed, several members even go so far as to demonstrate that they themselves, or other members of the Crimes Circle, could easily be the guilty party.)  Along the way, Berkeley certainly isn't shy at poking fun at his venerable detectives:

"Facts were very dear to Sir Charles.  More, they were meat and drink to him.  His income of roughly thirty thousand pounds was able to handle facts.  There was no one at the bar who could so convincingly distort an honest but awkward fact into carrying an entirely different interpretation from that which any ordinary person (counsel for the prosecution, for instance) would have put upon it.  He could take that fact, look it boldly in the face, twist it round, read a messsage from the back of its neck, turn it inside out and detect auguries in its entrails, dance triumphantly on its corpse, pulverise it completely, remould it if necessary into an utterly different shape, and finally, if the fact still had the temerity to retain any vestige of its primary aspect, bellow at it in the most terrifying manner.  If that failed he was quite prepared to weep at it in open court."

(In case you're wondering, according to this historic currency converter, 30,000 GBP in 1929 would translate into roughly 2.64 million USD or 1.871 million GBP in today's currency.  And incidentally, I'd wager that Mr. Berkeley would have been sorely disappointed with the boring and matter-of-fact way it is considered good form for counsel to deport themselves in a German court.)

 

Berkeley's method and narrative intent, as well as the fact that not only the three above-mentioned potential victims and their families, social circles and business acquaintances but also the six detectives and their various families, social circles and business acquaintances need to be taken into account -- none of which feature in Moresby's initial narrative to the members of the Crimes Circle -- leads to a good bit of factual material being introduced into the story virtually from left field during the six Crimes Club members' solutions, with no way for the reader to anticipate any such matter whatsoever.  Moreover, as the various speakers' solutions are presented, the deep personal involvement and interest in the case of more than one member of the group becomes apparent -- involvement and interest of such a nature as would have had to cause any real life investigator to recuse him- or herself from the case.  I could have forgiven one occurrence of any of these issues, but the middle of the book in particular is fairly riddled with them, and this began to grate immensely after a while.  Fortunately, just when I had reached saturation point, came the moment for Roger Sheringham, as well as, after him, the novelist Alicia Dammers (who may or may not have been modelled on E.M. Delafield, author of The Diary of a Provincial Lady, whom Berkeley may (or may not) have admired), and finally for Mr. Chitterwick got to deliver their solutions, and at least during the former two of these I was reasonably placated -- during Roger Sheringham's conclusions, not least because he is the one Crimes Circle member whose investigation we're actually allowed to follow as readers.

 

The British Library edition of this novel comes with two extras; one new ending penned by Christianna Brand (a post-WWII member of the Detection Club) 50 years after the novel's original publication, and one written by current Detection Club president and British Library series consultant (and editor of this edition), Martin Edwards.  Both are witty additions; Brand's is probably a bit more in her own style than that of Berkeley, and I admit I wasn't sure whether I'd like what Edwards has managed to come up with -- but he very successfully turns the tables both on the original ending and on that written by Brand; he does it very much in Berkeley's own style (you can tell he's a fan and has obviously not merely read but ingested every work Berkeley has ever written, under any name he ever used), and he even stays true to the Detection Club's dearly held tradition of including a few in-jokes ... while making them obvious enough, however, for any reader even marginally familiar with things Berkeley and Detection Club to recognize what is going on. There are, for example, references to Edgar Wallace (whose thrillers were considered too low-brow to make him eligible for Detection Club membership, though Edwards has included several of them in the Crime Classics short story anthologies he has edited to date) and to an infamous 1920s real life murder case -- the Thomspon / Bywaters case --, a  new character named Cox is introduced, Edwards gives us a deftly-executed slight of hand literally with the last sentence of his coda, and en route to all this Berkeley's stab at defense counsel (as partially quoted above) is parried -- very much in the spirit of Berkeley himself, who wasn't actually very enamored of the police as an institution -- by this little counter-punch:

"'What I'd like to know is, whether you're prepared to accept the consequences of your confession.  Can't expect old Moresby to treat this as a case for applying the Chatham House Rule.'

The Chief Inspector, who was but vaguely aware of the existence of Chatham House, and knew nothing about its Rule, contented himself with a genial smile."

(The Chatham House Rule holds that anyone attending a meeting conducted pursuant to this rule is free to use any information divulged during the meeting, but is not allowed to reveal the source of that information.)

 

I own and have read the British Library Crime Classics paperback edition of this book, but the opportunity to listen to yet another Golden Age mystery as narrated by Gordon Griffin was too good to pass up, and I heartily recommend that version as well.

 

As far as the bingos go, I've already used my early January Margery Allingham & Albert Campion binge for the "Great Detectives" chapter / square of the Detection Club bingo, so I'm just doubling up on that square with this read, but so be it!  I'm having a blast discovering more and more of the Golden Age detectives that have gone, unlike Monsieur Poirot and his little grey cells, unduly long forgotten and have only recently started to make a reappearance.

 

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text 2018-02-03 22:53
Please, tell me I'm not losing my mind completely
Medieval Future: The Last Dragon Throne - Michael Anthony

(edited to add more craziness at bottom)

 

I own this crappy Kindle book.  All I want to do is add it to my Booklikes shelf and know where it is.

 

The book page had the author listed as Michael Anthony Steele.  I've already reported that.  I don't know where the "Steele" came from, but I'm so frazzled now that I may have missed something.

 

The copyright page of the Kindle version only lists the author as "Michael Anthony."

 

I have difficulty finding things on my Booklikes shelves because the first names get all mixed up within the last names.  I've already pointed this out.  Piers Anthony books are mixed in with Evelyn Anthony books and so on, and it's very frustrating not to know how they're sorted.

 

But this terrible book doesn't show up anywhere in the Anthonys.  I don't know why.  Oh, it shows up if I SEARCH for "Anthony," but I don't know where it is.  It doesn't show up if I search for "Steele" either, so I know it's not with the "S" authors.  It shows up if I search for "Michael Anthony," but it's the only one that does, so I have no idea where on my shelves this book is.

 

Maybe it sounds nitpicky, but I have had so much difficulty locating books that I know are on my shelves, that have been listed under alternate authors, or alternate titles, or the wrong authors, or whatever, that I'm tearing my hair out.

 

REAL LIBRARIES DON'T OPERATE LIKE THIS.

 

 

 

EDITED TO ADD

 

 

Why are these Marx books in the middle of the last A authors?

 

 

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