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text 2017-10-25 21:58
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
Into the Water: A Novel - Paula Hawkins

Based on the synopsis, this may fit the Country House square. If not, I will move it to something else. If it fits no squares, I will just chalk it up to a book I read for Blue points. 

 

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text 2017-10-17 19:31
Halloween Bingo 2017 - Country House Mystery - Brat Farrar

 

 

 

 

Brat Farrar was the first book I read for Halloween Bingo 2017.

 

 

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review 2017-10-15 16:44
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers

I have to say that I have very little sympathy for Cathcart. This was a very convoluted mystery. Peter Wimsey investigates the death of his sister's fiancé when the police blame his brother, aided by his friend Parker. Saying more than that would spoil things.

 

It started it off pretty slow. I have to say that Sayers inquest and courtroom scenes aren't very riveting. Things pick up when Peter's mother comes onto the scene, and the scenes with banter and so on are fun.

 

I read this for the "Country House Mystery" square for the Halloween Bingo, making this my last official Bingo read. It fits the square quite nicely since the death takes place in the country and there's a limited pool of suspects. It's interesting that most of the salient events take place on the 14th of October, the same day I started to read the book (well, yes, some stuff happens before midnight on the 13th, but still).

 

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review 2017-09-25 06:50
Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries
Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries - Martin Edwards

One of the British Library Crime Classic anthologies recently published, this is a collection of - as the title says - short mysteries that take place at country houses of the nominally wealthy.  I haven't read the whole of the collection, but what I have read was almost uniformly excellent.

 

Below the list of stories I read, along with a few quick thoughts about each:

 

 

The Copper Beeches - Arthur Conan Doyle:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It's Sherlock Holmes, of course it's excellent.  It's one of the more far out story premises, but it's fantastic.  If you haven't read Sherlock Holmes yet... um, why?

 

The Problem of Dead Wood Hall - Dick Donovan: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

One of two I liked the least.  It's an inverted mystery, so really, not a mystery as far as I'm concerned.  There was no puzzle to be solved here, only what feels like an opportunity for the detective to boast.

 

Gentlemen and Players - E.W. Hornung - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ok, I'm going to kind of contradict myself now, because there's no mystery here either, but it's Raffles!  I've been wanting to read a Raffles story for ages, and I've finally got my chance.  It was fun, the writing was amusing, the pace quick and lively and the ending... I saw that ending coming but it was still everything I hoped it would be.  I need more Raffles in my life.

 

The White Pillars Murder - G.K. Chesterton - ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The other one I liked the least.  Chesterton and I are not destined for the author/fan dynamic.  I did not like The Haunted Bookshop because it took me forever to figure out that it wasn't a ghost story, and that what little plot it did have was drowning in the author's exposition.  I didn't like this one either; the prose was less superfluous, but the plot was... I don't know what the plot was.  I don't know what his point was in writing this, honestly; a cautionary tale to all P.I. hopefuls?  A slag off at Holmes?  Who knows, but it's strike two against this particular Golden Age writer for me.

 

The Same to Us - Margery Allingham - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

More 4.5 stars.  Very short story, and again, less mystery than a satire, but it was incredibly well written and humorous. There was never any doubt in my mind from the start what the ending was going to be, but that last 1/2 star was purely for the last line of the story.

 

The Murder at the Towers - E.V. Knox - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Martin Edwards mentions this story in his The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books in the chapter "Making Fun of Murder" and it's one of the stories I particularly wanted to read.  It did not disappoint.  It was hilarious; Knox doesn't try to be subtle, his humour is... well, to quote the first line of the story:

 

"Mr. Ponderby-Wilkins was a man so rich, so ugly, so cross, and so old, that even the stupidest reader could not expect him to survive any longer than chapter I. Vulpine in his secretiveness, he was porcine in his habits, saturnine in his appearance, and ovine in his unconsciousness of doom. He was the kind of man who might easily perish as early as paragraph 2."

 

I was in love from the start - and laughing.  The rest is also pure farce, but Knox manages to get a humdinger in at the very last line, and it left me laughing and shaking my head.

 

There's a few other stories in this collection that I want to make a point of reading in the near future; some authors that I'm only learning about whose work I want to check out.  I'll definitely be coming back to this one soon, and I'm looking forward to reading the other anthologies Edward has put together.

 

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review 2017-09-22 19:53
The Crime at the Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham

I read this one for Country House Murder, and it is a good example of that particular type of mystery. It would also work for Murder Most Foul and Amateur Sleuth

 

The Crime at the Black Dudley is designated as the first of the Albert Campion mysteries, but as others have noted, his appearance is pretty minimal. The main character is Dr. George Abbershaw, who seems to be at Black Dudley primarily to cement his relationship with the adorable Meggie. 

 

Shades of The Big Four, Abbershaw and his friends seem to have stumbled into some sort of an inexplicable criminal gang conspiracy involving a German man who is referred to as the Hun, who plans to set the place on fire and burn them up with it. The plot is bizarre, convoluted and somewhat incomprehensible. No one seems to be able to figure out why Campion is there or who invited him. 

 

I am going to reserve judgment on Allingham and her detective, since I don't think that this book is a particularly good example of her work. As a country house mystery, it was just all right, no where near as good as The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Peril at End House. As a detective, Campion isn't flattered by comparison to Poirot and his leetle grey cells or Peter Wimsey and the fabulous Bunter. 

 

The next book in the Campion series is Mystery Mile, but I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off digging deeper into the series. Martin Edwards mentioned Traitor's Purse & The Case of the Late Pig in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, and I've heard good things about The Tiger In The Smoke, so I'm thinking of trying one of those the next time I give Campion a try.

 

 

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