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review 2017-09-13 15:55
Halloween Bingo - Locked Room Mystery - I liked Mycroft better
The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle



I hadn't made up my mind about the Locked Room Mystery square until the last minute.  For some of the other squares my choices were fairly long and I was looking forward to them, so I was glad to spot The Sign of the Four on the suggested list. 


The novel is included in The Works of A. Conan Doyle published by Black's Readers Service, one of those inexpensive sets that used to be advertised -- maybe they still are? -- on the back cover of the Sunday newspaper magazine supplement.  My dad had a set bound in red cloth; I bought them in the tan paper-embossed-to-look-like-leather-and-stamped-in-gold back in the early 70s.




And it's been about that long, or maybe even longer, since I read The Sign of the Four, when I was on a Holmes binge.  Having just read Kareen Abdul-Jabbar's Mycroft Holmes, I thought the comparison would be interesting.


Yeah, I liked Mycroft better than his younger brother.


The opening scene with Sherlock shooting up cocaine because he's bored didn't shock me, because I had remembered it quite well.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it 45 or more years ago, and I didn't like it now.  "Well, if you're so freaking bored, why don't you go out and find a puzzle that's worthy of your supreme powers of deduction, you arrogant asshole?" was my thought yesterday.


See, Mycroft was arrogant, but he never reached the stage of full-fledged assholery his younger brother had.


As I continued reading, bits and pieces of the story came back to me, but not all in one flash, so as far as the story itself went, it was pretty much like a fresh read.  But Sherlock's personality didn't improve.  The general Victorian racism was no surprise either, but it sat no easier on my mind than Sherlock's addiction.


The locked room mystery part was quickly solved, and the rest was the search for the actual perpetrator once he'd been identified.   And the last quarter of so of the novella was in turn his tale of the events that had led up to the murder.


Many elements of Jonathan Small's history brought to mind The Moonstone (1868), but the Wilkie Collins novel was in my estimation not only much better done with a more interesting set of characters, but also dealt with the social issues more aligned with current attitudes than with the traditional Victorian views expressed by Conan Doyle.  Small's disposal of the treasure he considered he had a right to contrasted sharply with the ending of The Moonstone.  The mystery of the treasure really overshadowed the locked room mystery in The Sign of the Four, and Holmes had no part in solving it other than finally capturing Jonathan Small.





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review 2017-09-13 01:14
Locked Room Mysteries - Anthology
Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes (British Library Crime Classics) - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

The British Library Crime Classics series has published a number of anthologies edited by Martin Edwards. I was looking for a locked room mystery to fill a square in a Halloween bingo game, and thought that this one would fit the bill splendidly. And so it did.

Only one of the stories was an unredeemable clunker - the abysmal The Case of the Tragedies in the Greek Room by Sax Rohmer.

My favorite stories were The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle, a clever non-Holmes story about a train that simply disappears, The Miracle of Moon Crescent by G.K. Chesterton, an extremely complicated Father Brown mystery that was previously published in The Incredulity of Father Brown, and Too Clever By Half by GHD and Margaret Cole, which makes the point that complicated plots should be avoided.

The remaining stories are all entertaining, and contain all of the secret passages, disappearing weapons, and complicated murderous devices that a reader needs to be satisfied with a locked room/impossible crime. The story by Dorothy Sayers would be a charming Wimsey tale that follows directly on the heels of Harriet Vane giving birth to the Wimsey heir, with a suitably lighthearted solution but for the fact that it contains a disgusting racial slur which rather ruined the whole thing for me, so fair warning should be provided. Yes, different times, yada yada yada. Nonetheless, the slur used is indefensible, and shocking to the modern reader.

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review 2017-09-06 02:55
Another Awesome Book by my Favorite Author!!!!!
Secrets in Death - J.D. Robb

Awesome book again by my Favorite Author!!!! I have to say Roarke is my favorite book boyfriend ever and I would hate too ever be on his shit-list. And I have to say scary Roarke is super scary v but freaking hot!!!! While you don't see him be all scary Roarke you hear about him being scary Roarke!!!!! 

I really didn't like Larinda the witch that was murdered at all, and the killer was freaking nuts. I really had no idea who was bad at first but once that individual shows up, I knew it was that individual. I wish Mavis was in this one more, she was only in one scene and that was it. I really love when Roarke works along with Eve, those two are just so adorable together. 

I really love Nadine, Peabody, and McNap as well, oh and Trine I also like. I loved when Roarke finds out something he doesn't get upset, but understood and thought it was the right thing to do at that time. 

Now I have to wait until the end of January to read her next story that will be out, which will be called Dark in Death, which really looks pretty darn interesting and pretty creepy as well!!!!!!!!


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review 2017-09-01 14:52
Great Locked Room Mystery in Japan
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Pushkin Vertigo) - Shika MacKenzie,Soji Shimada,Ross MacKenzie

I am reading this for "Locked Room Mystery": The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada. This apparently is a locked room mystery novel that has been getting rave reviews. 


Wow all I have to say is that this book was great. More than anything I love clever books like this, and this was definitely very clever. I honestly was a bit worried for a couple of minutes that maybe I wouldn't be able to get the book since the setting is in Japan. But wow the author Soji Shimada is able to pretty much show you that murder is murder no matter where it takes place.


This book is broken into two time periods. The first is Japan in 1936 and the second time period is Japan in 1979.


In 1936, we are treated to a letter that is left by an artist named Heikichi Umezawa. Umezawa wants to "build" the perfect woman. We read of his obsession with women and their bodies as well as his comments on astrology. We realize that he plans on doing away with his children, stepchildren, and nieces (all female) and using parts of them to build his perfect woman and bring Japan back into a state of harmony. 


Oh here's the problem, Heikichi Umezawa is found murdered in a locked room. Yet the murders still take place. Who could have decided to follow Umezawa's plan?


When we are back in1979 we follow two amateur detectives (Kiyoshi Mitari and Kazumi Ishioka) our Sherlock and Dr. Watson if you will. FYI that would tick Mitari off since he had some hilarious bad opinions about Sherlock. We find out that the murders are famous in Japan and many people have tried to figure out who killed the women after Umezawa was dead where the perfect woman was left. Just like Sherlock, Mitari is subject to depression, and Kazumi is hoping that the puzzle of the Tokyo Zodiac Murders will drag him out of his depression. 


I was fascinated with Mitari since he is a respected astrologer and fortune teller. It seems an odd hobby for our amateur detective, but it makes sense when you get into the astrology aspect of this book.


There are a lot of characters in this one, but I was able to keep them straight. The author provides you the names of everyone up front and throughout the book. We really only get Kazumi's deductions and point of view since he is telling us the story. We do get glimpses of what drives Mitari though. 


I loved the writing. Reading about hos corpses were dismembered repeatedly may not be your thing, so be forewarned. The flow was great too. I also applauded the author for including illustrations of the locked room, and diagrams of other rooms, as well as the corpses being dismembered, and also people's names to family trees, etc. There are a lot of really good illustrations in this book and it made it for me, into a five-star read. 


I will say that aspects of this story just thrilled me from beginning to end. Trying to work out Umezawa was murdered and how an unexpected snowfall came into play was great.



I also loved thinking of Kyoto and cherry blossoms.



The reveal of who the murder was and how they carried it off was brilliant. I would imagine that Dame Agatha would have given this author kudos. Because once was revealed I had to go back and re-read clues.


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review 2016-07-15 01:55
Vanished - 4.5 stars...
Girl in the Blue Coat - Monica Hesse

It's 1943 and the Germans have arrived in Amsterdam. They are a constant presence on every street corner. Hanneke is just an ordinary girl who finds and delivers black market goods so that her and her parents can eat and survive another day. On one of her routine deliveries, her customer Mrs. Janssen, asks her to find a Jewish girl, Mirjam, that vanished from the secret room she was staying in. Hanneke realizes the task is very dangerous and at first balks at accepting but the more she learns about her friends, neighbors, Mirjam and herself, she feels like that's the least she could do.


All I can say is anytime we think we have it hard today, we need to remember what those who lived during World War II went through! This was a very moving and powerful story and will make you appreciate the freedoms that we enjoy today.


The story is part historical fiction but it's also a locked room mystery which I was thrilled about and enjoyed trying to solve. I didn't though- didn't even come close actually. There were some good twists that will definitely keep you guessing. The only reason I didn't give it a full five stars was because I felt like the ending was rushed. I would have liked to have heard what happened with the rest of the main characters in the story. It was still a great story though and worth the read if you enjoy war stories or mysteries.  

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