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text 2018-09-22 20:19
Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 287 pages.
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon

So, we have several crimes

including a slashed painting, a dead dog, and two bodies,

(spoiler show)

and it seems the puzzle-solving is just getting underway.

“Well, Mr. John Foss,” said Nadine, as she sat on the pouffe that had been waiting for her all day, “shall we pool our knowledge and see whether we can make anything out of it?”

  “I’m afraid my own knowledge is very incomplete,” answered John.

“So is mine. So, I believe, is everybody’s. Just bits and pieces which they’re trying hard not to give up. Even Mr. Taverley.”

She paused, and added suddenly, “I don’t know whether you can feel it in here—this room is a sort of backwater—most reposeful—but the atmosphere in the rest of the house is positively—what?”

   “Secretive?” he suggested.

“Gives one the creeps. Yes, even quite apart from the fact that two dead people are lying in the studio. We’re all on guard against each other. Split up into small parties. That’s why I want to form a party with you. I wasn’t born for just my own company.”

   “I shouldn’t have thought you ever had to endure loneliness.”

“I don’t often. Perhaps that explains why I object to it so strongly when it happens. We’re all divided into groups of fours and twos and ones, and I refuse to be one of the ones!”

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text 2018-09-22 11:30
Reading progress update: I've read 76 out of 287 pages.
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon

Many things stirred that night. The golden retriever, Haig, restless in his kennel near the locked studio and sniffing sensitively with his cool black nose, was not alone in sensing uneasy happenings. The stag destined to be roused by harbourers on the morrow from his entanglement of fern and briar, lifted his head from the ground as though momentarily conscious of his new danger as well as his new dignity. He was in his fifth year, and had just emerged from the raw designation of young male deer. Then he lowered his head to invisibility again, with antlers laid back almost parallel with his body.

The cock-pheasant in the little wood near Bragley Court suddenly fluttered for no reason his sleepy mind could fathom. No stoat was near. Had Death itself, that unbelievable conception, cast a transitory shadow over the bird’s wing while seeking a location for its next victim? The sly old fox, back in his burrow at Mile Bottom after a pleasant meal of mice and beetles, took longer than usual to settle in his earthy den. He missed the badger whose house he had stolen. It was a pity the badger had not taken it kindly, and that they had quarrelled over the possession of a hen. They might have been pals.

Oooh. Could this be a nice bit of foreshadowing?

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text 2018-09-21 07:06
Reading progress update: I've read 71 out of 287 pages.
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon

Coming back to the fabulous Mr. Farjeon's writing after the two excursions into Mary Stewart's work of "romantic suspense" makes me appreciate his writing even more. 

 

If we must have an insta-something romance among the threat of blackmail and murder, then let it be written like this:

“You’re not going to ask me what I know about you that would make you wince?”

   “No. You can tell me that voluntarily, if ever you want to. May I put the question?”

“Yes.”

   “Well, here goes. It’ll show you, anyhow, that I’m not idealising you.” She wondered. “When you kissed me just now, did you feel as though you were beginning another ‘affair’?”

   For an instant she almost decided to cheat. But for his reference to David Garrick, she might have. That reference had weakened her defences, however, for she doubted now, as she saw his eyes watching her for every informative little sign, whether she could cheat him. For once in her life, she had the sense that she was being beaten.

“Would you like to withdraw the question?” She gave him that chance, but he did not take it. He shook his head.

“No, I didn’t feel I was beginning an affair,” she answered. “So now where are we?”

   He found, to his dismay, that he did not know. The exact significance of a kiss has baffled countless intelligences. His expression gave him away, and as she felt her power returning she was urged by an intense desire to use it kindly.

   “Listen, John,” she said. “And you can call me Nadine. That doesn’t mean anything these days. I’m not a silly, impulsive woman, though a few fools sometimes imagine I am, but I do react quickly to a situation when it develops. That’s my true nature. I even remember the day when I found it out—consciously, I mean. A pretty foul beast kissed me, and spoilt his chance of a repetition by saying, ‘If you can’t be good, be careful.’

I slapped his face, but I took his advice. I asked myself whether I was ‘good.’ I refused to hedge. I found I wasn’t. But—you may or you may not understand this—I refused to desert myself—to become twisted, or dull, or insignificant—by living the life of some one else. It wouldn’t have been life to a person like me. It would have been death. So I decided to be careful, to stick to a few rules I made, and have generally kept to, and to go through with it.”

She paused suddenly. Then gave a little shrug, and continued: “Rather funny, telling you all this after only a few hours’ acquaintance, but somehow I feel I owe it to you. And then one of my rules is to be frank—although I admit my frankness with you has been unusually rapid.... I wonder why?”

   He restrained an impulse to make a suggestion. Her self-analysis fascinated him, and he did not want to interrupt it. His eyes were on the contours of her shoulder, but his attention was on the contours of her mind.

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text 2018-09-16 20:45
Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 287 pages.
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon

Interestingly, this Farjeon story also starts with a scene on a train:

“Hallo—Flensham!” he exclaimed suddenly.

The train began to move on again. The young man jumped to his feet. On the rack above him was a suitcase. He seized it with one hand, while the other groped for the door-handle. A moment later the suitcase shot out on to the platform.

The sight amused the lady, to whom every sensation was meat, but it insulted the large and depressed station-master, to whom every sensation was a menace to routine.

Worse followed. The owner of the suitcase shot out after his belonging, and as he shot out his foot caught in the framework of the door. Now the lady’s amusement changed swiftly to anxiety, and the station-master’s indignation to alarm.

“Quick! Help him!” cried the lady.

The station-master, the chauffeur, and a porter ran forward. The train chugged on. Its late passenger sat on the ground, holding his foot. He had been pale before; he was considerably paler now.

I'm loving it so far. It has all the wit and fun that Mystery in White had. Maybe even more so.

The teacups at the Black Stag were thick and white. At Bragley Court they were thin and yellow, and they began their clinking in the drawing-room, a long, lofty room of pink and cream, and then followed the guests to their various locations. If you disliked pink and cream and a preponderance of elderly feminine society, you stayed away from the official headquarters, confident that the yellow cups would find out where you were and come to you. Mohammed, at Bragley Court, would not have been put to the trouble of going to his mountain.

John’s cup came to him at exactly five o’clock, on a brightly-polished mahogany tray.

Seriously, if this one continues the same way it has started, I will feel the need to read everything that Farjeon has written.

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text 2018-09-15 22:06
Halloween Bingo - 13
Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon

Inspired by Tigus' enthusiasm for J. Jefferson Farjeon, I'm picking up his book Thirteen Guests next. This will be for the "13" square. 

I hope it is as good as my first encounter with Farjeon's books, which was Mystery in White.

 

Also, I will have to mention the cover. I hope this is a slow read because I really would not mind seeing this cover on my currently reading shelf for a while. 

 

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