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Search tags: country-house-mystery
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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 2017-09-22 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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review 2017-09-13 15:48
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Brat Farrar - Josephine Tey

This book has popped up on my radar screen several times - when I started it, I wasn't entirely sure where it might fit into Halloween bingo, but figured that I would be able to find someplace to slot it. After finishing, it fits into Amateur Sleuth, Murder Most Foul, Country House Mystery and Terrifying Women.


Those preliminaries out of the way, this was a really good book. It relies on the trope of the "prodigal son" or the "missing heir restored," but puts an interesting twist on that theme. Also, more generally, the writing is sublime. 


We initially meet Brat Farrar when he is being persuaded to impersonate the missing Ashby heir, Patrick, who seems to have committed suicide by walking into the sea at the age of 13. A body was recovered and buried, but it was so badly decomposed that no identification could be made. Brat bears an uncanny resemblance to the missing Patrick, whose twin Simon has inherited Latchetts, the country manor seat of the Ashby's, in his stead.


As the story unfolds, Brat is accepted into the Ashby family and we are introduced to his new relations: Aunt Bee, the spinster aunt who has single-handedly saved the family from financial ruin by building up its fortunes with a horse breeding program, Simon, Brat's "twin," a brash 20 year old who has been superceded by the return of "Patrick," and who has seemingly accepted this with such equanimity, Eleanor, the sensible 18 year old cousin, and yet another pair of twins, Jane and Ruth, who are as different as two sides of the same coin. The domestic details of the family are doled out in a way that is both soothing and convincing. 


However, it becomes clear early on that something is rotten in Denmark, and the tension continues to ratchet up between Brat and Simon. 


Simon asks, "'Who are you?'
Brat sat looking at him for a long time.
'Don't you recognize me?'
'No. Who are you?'


Tey's ability to build suspense is incredible, and by the end of the book, I was reading as quickly as possible to get to the end of the book and learn the truth. In fact, I was reading so fast that I really need to go back and re-read the last two chapters to make sure I entirely understand the resolution of the book!


Highly recommended as an outstanding example of vintage crime fiction - the domestic details are perfectly rendered, the tension is built with unerring precision and the ending is startling but doesn't come out of left field.

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