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Search tags: british-library-crime-classics
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text 2018-09-15 21:10
Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 233 pages.
Seven Dead (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards,Eleanor Farjeon

wow. I’m in love with this book. I had finished my shark novel, which was very entertaining, and then proceeded to this neglected - previously neglected, thank goodness! - book by previously neglected J. Jefferson Farjeon. I just kept reading, from late morning into early afternoon, and then suddenly I was done. Seven Dead, and a few hours later I know why.

 

the book is fun in the early stages, but it was hard to tell if Farjeon could deliver something spectacular until getting deep into it. as the pieces fell into place, and the whole dreadful series of events extending from a first-time house-breaker finding seven dead bodies in the drawing room of a gloomy mansion - events extending, of course, both forwards and backwards from corpse discovery - unfolded with each exciting page, I realized I had just experienced maybe my absolute favorite British Library Crime Classic so far. can’t guarantee this will feel like a bloomin’ masterpiece to everyone who gives it a whirl, but I have no choice but to say “don’t ignore this one, don’t forget about this one”. let me finish by saying that, by the end, the book had a heavy emotional impact on my heart, as I thought about what had really happened to those seven doomed people, and why. almost shed a tear - not lying - and certainly had a lump in my throat.

 

a morning and an afternoon later, and I have a new/old whodunit to cherish, amongst my favourites.

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text 2018-04-16 21:08
Updates: Serpents in Eden, edited by Martin Edwards
Serpents in Eden (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards

I'm reading this collection for The Detection Club. I will update this post as I read the stories.

 

Table of Contents:

 

The Black Doctor by Arthur Conan Doyle: This is a non-Holmes story about a doctor of color (from the Argentine, so the precise racial background is undefined) practicing in a small rural community. It's interesting for the off-hand manner in which the doctor's minority status is addressed, as it is not a barrier to his ultimate engagement to a prominent white woman in town. The mystery is sort of obvious. 3 stars.

 

Murder by Proxy

The Fad of the Fisherman

The Genuine Tabard

The Gylston Slander

The Long Barrow

The Naturalist at Law

A Proper Mystery

Direct Evidence

Inquest

The Scarecrow

Clue in the Mustard

Our Pageant

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text 2018-02-22 20:07
TBR Thursday: February 22, 2018

Instead of doing a Friday reading post, I'm going to combine my "reading/listening" section with a haul post & call it "TBR Thursday," which means that I will be using the TBR tag!

 

Haul/Inbox:

 

It's a mystery week!

 

 

1. F is For Fugitive by Sue Grafton: I'm looking forward to continuing with the Kinsey Milhone series! 2. Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth: this one will satisfy Chapter 6 - Serpents in Eden - of Detection Club bingo. 3. Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley: Chapter 2 - The Birth of the Golden Age - of Detection Club Bingo. 4. Death Comes to Cambers by E.R. Punshon: Chapter 7 - Murder at the Manor - of Detection Club Bingo. 5. Death on the Cherwell: Chapter 11 - Education, Education, Education - of Detection Club Bingo.

 

Read/Outbox:

 

I had a solid reading week, finishing 5 books! I finished the Adventure Quilt and gifted it at the party, so I've taken a bit of a break from sewing/stitching.

 

 

Bluebird, Bluebird was my favorite of the five, and was one of my favorite reads of the year. The others were all solid reads, and E is for Evidence is my favorite Kinsey Millhone so far.

 

Reading/listening:

 

I'm still listening to Crooked House, Crooked House, although, as I mentioned above, my audiobook consumption has pretty much ground to a halt. I've also made some progress in A World Undone, and will be continuing to work on that one.

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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 2018-02-11 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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