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review 2019-01-01 23:48
First book of the year is a winner!
Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways Mysteries) - Nicholas Blake

Color me impressed with Nicholas Blake because I loved this book. Nicholas Blake was a pseudonym for Cecil Day Lewis, father of Daniel Day Lewis and Poet Laureate of the UK from 1968 until 1972. This must explain his facility with words and language, as well as his familiarity with Elizabethan tragedy.


The plot is classic Golden Age - the victim, Fergus O'Brien, dashing pilot and war hero, contacts our intrepid amateur sleuth, Nigel Strangeways, because he has been receiving threatening letters. He engages Nigel to come to a house party he has planned at the Dower House, which he rents from Nigel's aunt & uncle. Everyone he can remotely conceive as having a motive to murder him has been invited to the house party because why not?


The book takes a bit to get going, and then Fergus turns up dead, just as the letter writer had threatened. As Nigel tries to work out the puzzle, there are a couple of additional deaths to complicate matters. Fergus's murder itself is a classic "impossible crime," although the solution to this element is fairly pedestrian. It's not, as the local Inspector claims early in the book "soopernatural."


Nigel is able to work the whole thing with some cleverness and a quick trip to Ireland. There is also a heart-pounding air pursuit when the chief suspect flees from Dower House and tries to escape by air to France or Spain. At the end, Nigel reveals all to his uncle, the and an old professor who had also been one of the guests in classic Golden Age fashion, with an explanation over sherry in Nigel's town flat.


Thou Shell of Death is the second outing for Nigel Strangeways, who appeared first in A Question of Proof, which is set in a boy's school. The fourth book, The Beast Must Die, is one of the featured books for Chapter 24 of TSoCC. Most of them are available through the Kindle Unlimited library, for anyone who subscribes.

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text 2019-01-01 19:02
Reading progress update: I've read 40%.
Thou Shell of Death (Nigel Strangeways Mysteries) - Nicholas Blake

I have absolutely no idea how far I am in Thou Shell of Death, because I am reading it as part of a kindle anthology that includes two Campion shorts, this full length mystery, and a second full-length mystery by Michael Innes called There Came Both Mist and Snow. This is a Kindle Unlimited offering which I grabbed because it was listed as a Margery Allingham book. I'd previously read both of her short stories - On Christmas Day in the Morning and A Word in Season - so that turned out to be a bit of a bust.


However, Nicholas Blake and Thou Shell of Death pop up in Chapter 24 of TSoCC, which is a chapter I haven't yet filled. So, Christmas Mystery + free + Detection Bingo square = must read right now.


It's a classic impossible crime - one set of tracks in the snow to the deceased, none leaving the place where he was murdered. Nigel Strangeways, the amateur detective, is clever and likeable and the writing has a really nice flow to it - better than a lot of the Golden Age mystery writers. 


So far, this is shaping up to be a good start to 2019!


I'm not sure if I will read the Innes book - he has another one - Death at the President's Lodging - which is a featured book for Chapter 11, Education, Education, Education. I've actually checked off that square, but I love mysteries set in British schools, and it is also available free from the KU library, so that might be something to read soon.

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review 2018-12-31 19:02
Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
Have His Carcase - Dorothy L. Sayers

I was reading the Wimsey mysteries in order, until I got to Five Red Herrings. Although I generally love books set in Scotland, there was something about that book that just ground my reading to a halt. After staring at it on my GR currently reading list for three weeks, I decided to just throw in the towel. I will likely go back and pick it up at some point, but it was time to move on.


So, I moved on to Have His Carcase, which is the second in the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane subseries, and is a whole lot of fun. Harriet Vane, fresh off of her terrible experience of being wrongly convicted of murder and narrowly escaping the noose, decides to take a solitary, open air walking tour of the British coast.


And she finds a body. Of course she does.


This is an extremely convoluted mystery, which ends with a quite simple solution that I should've seen coming (but really didn't). Along the way we encounter many of the usual tropes and suspects. Is it a suicide, or is it really M-U-R-D-E-R (it's murder). Is the victim a dancing partner for gullible elderly women, or the missing heir to the Russian throne ripe for a restoration? What is up with the picture of the woman in his wallet? And did the mare with the thrown shoe have anything to do with any of it?


Harriet and Peter must find out.


Also, would someone please write this series:


A novelist couldn’t possibly marry all the people from whom she wanted specialised information. Harriet pleased herself over the coffee with sketching out the career of an American detective-novelist who contracted a fresh marriage for each new book. For a book about poisons, she would marry an analytical chemist; for a book about somebody’s will, a solicitor; for a book about strangling, a—a hangman, of course. There might be something in it. A spoof book, of course. And the villainess might do away with each husband by the method described in the book she was working on at the time. Too obvious? Well, perhaps.


Anyway, I will be skipping Hangman's Holiday, because it's short stories and I don't own it, and moving into Murder Must Advertise in 2019.


This one satisfies Chapter 9, Resorting to Murder on my Detection Club Bingo Card!

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text 2018-12-31 19:00
Detection Club Bingo: UPDATES

With Have His Carcase, I got my first bingo! 



Links to the book lists - courtesy of Themis-Athena


The 100 books: The 100 books individually highlighted by the author.


Chapters 1 through 5: (Chapter 1: A New Era Dawns; Chapter 2: The Birth of the Golden Age; Chapter 3: The Great Detectives; Chapter 4: Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!; Chapter 5: Miraculous Murders)


Chapters 6 & 7: (Chapter Six: Serpents in Eden; Chapter Seven: Murder at the Manor)


Chapters 8 through 10: (Chapter Eight: Capital Crimes (London mysteries); Chapter Nine: Resorting to Murder (detectives solving crimes while on vacation); Chapter Ten: Making Fun of Murder)


Chapters 11 through 15: (Chapter Eleven: Education, Education, Education; Chapter Twelve: Playing Politics; Chapter Thirteeen: Scientific Enquiries;; Chapter Fourteen: The Long Arm of the Law; Chapter Fifteen: The Justice Game


Chapters 16 through 20: (Chapter 16: Multiplying Murders; Chapter 17: The Psychology of Crime; Chapter 18: Inverted Mysteries; Chapter 19: The Ironists; Chapter 20: Fiction from Fact)


Chapters 21 through 24: (Chapter Twenty-One: Singletons; Chapter Twenty-Two: Across the Atlantic; Chapter Twenty-Three: Cosmopolitan Crimes; ChapterTwenty-Four: The Way Ahead)


Update: 12/17/18


I'm over halfway done with filling my card - I've completed 16 out of 25 squares. I'd like to finish this little project in 2019!


Next up to check-off: Chapter 9: Resorting to Murder. I am planning on reading Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers, which is the second of the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries; my plan for Chapter 20: Fiction from Fact is The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey, which I picked up from the UBS a few weeks ago, and Chapter One: A New Era Dawns, I will either be rereading The Moonstone, or I'll read The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes.


The Card:


As promised, I put together a bingo card for The Detective Club, based on the chapter headings in Martin Edward's The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.


Each number refers to the relevant chapter in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. The images are either a detail from the cover image of a book mentioned in the chapter, with the exception of #3, and I couldn't resist an image of Hercule Poirot for a chapter called The Great Detectives!


1. A New Era Dawns: image: cover detail from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

2. The Birth of the Golden Age: image: cover detail from The Mystery of the Red House by A.A. Milne

3. The Great Detectives: image: Hercule Poirot as played by David Suchet
Hercule Poirot: The Murder on the Links

4. Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!: image: cover detail from The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Croft
The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Croft

5. Miraculous Murders: image: cover detail from Miraculous Murders anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne
Also read:
Miraculous Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards (anthology)
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

6. Serpents in Eden: image: cover detail from Serpents in Eden anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth
7. Murder at the Manor: image: cover detail from Murder at the Manor anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
Penhallow by Georgette Heyer

8. Capital Crimes:  image: cover detail from Capital Crimes anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston 
Murder in the Museum by John Rowlands
Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

9. Resorting to Murder: image: cover detail from Resorting to Murder anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers

10. Making Fun of Murder: image: cover detail from Ask A Policeman by The Detection Club
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

11. Education, Education, Education: image: cover detail from Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay
Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay
Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

12. Playing Politics: image: cover detail from The End of Andrew Harrison by Freeman Wills Croft

13. Scientific Enquiries: image: cover detail from Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg
Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts

14. The Long Arm of the Law: image: cover detail from anthology of the same name, edited by Martin Edwards

15. The Justice Game: image: cover detail from Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate

16. Multiplying Murders: image: cover detail from The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon
The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon (read 1/12/18)

17. The Psychology of Crime: image: cover detail from Payment Deferred by C.S. Forester

18. Inverted Mysteries: image: cover detail from Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith
Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith (read 11/23/18)

19. The Ironists: image: cover detail from Family Matters by Anthony Rolls

20. Fiction from Fact: image: cover detail from  The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

21. Singletons: image: cover detail from Darkness at Pemberley by T.H. White

22. Across the Atlantic: image: cover detail from Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

23. Cosmopolitan Crimes:image: cover detail from Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon 

24. The Way Ahead: image: cover detail from The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
Thou Shell of Death by Nicholas Blake
25. Free Square: I've used an image of The Detection Club mascot, Eric the Skull, for the free square.
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
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text 2018-12-31 15:45
A rather interesting Golden Age challenge

I'm still trying to decide if I am going to participate in this one, so I thought I'd drop a post so I can be sure to find it again! I like the idea behind it a lot. It's called the "Just the Facts Ma'am" challenge - full rules are here.


For purposes of the challenge, Golden Age Mysteries are anything published before 1960. There is also a Detective's Notebook for Silver Age Mysteries, which are mysteries published between 1960 and 1989. I haven't done a side-by-side detailed comparison, but it looks like the categories are the same for both.


In a nutshell, the challenge creator has set up a "Detective's Notebook" with categories to check off:






The levels of participation are:


Constable: 6 books -- one from each category

Detective Sergeant: 12 books -- two from each category

Inspector: 18 books -- three from each category

Inspired Amateur: 24 books -- four from each category
Chief Inspector: 30 books -- five from each category
Superintendent: 36 books -- six from each category
Chief Superintendent: 42 books -- seven from each category
Deputy Chief Constable: 48 books -- eight from each category
Chief Constable: 54 books -- nine from each category
Master Detective: 60 books -- all ten books from each category


If I decide to participate, I'll probably attempt the "Chief Inspector" level of play.


Alternatively, I was thinking about creating a new card for the Detection Club once I finish my current card that would identify 25 new categories to check off which would open up the reading to books/authors that didn't make it into Martin Edward's source book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - I really like some of her categories, and could use it as a bit of a jumping off point.

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