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review 2018-02-21 21:07
Somebody At The Door by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door - Raymond Postgate

I haven't read the other BLCC book by Postgate, Verdict of Twelve, which was recommended by Martin Edwards in Chapter 15, The Justice Game, of The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.


As is the case in most of the BLCC books, Martin Edwards did write an introduction for Somebody at the Door. This one rose to the top of my current reading list based upon the WWII setting and the plot summary which captured my interest.


This is a very odd little book. It operates within a standard mystery framework: Councillor Henry Grayling, the victim, returns home after a day at work, travelling by train and in possession of more than 100 pounds in wages to be paid out the following day. Sometime after making it home, his wife Renata calls the doctor to report that he was later coming home and that he was very ill. Some time later, Grayling expires of what ends up being a mustard gas attack.


Inspector Holly, charged with solving the crime, determines who was in the train car with Grayling and conducts an investigation into their backgrounds. Each of them, in their own way, have a motive to murder Grayling, who was an unlikeable and highly unpleasant man. 


Each of the suspects is granted his/her own chapter, which is where things get either interesting or bogged down, depending upon your perspective, in terms of the narrative. Each chapter functions as a mini-tale, providing detailed insight into what life was like in England during 1942 for various characters and social classes. If you, as a reader, are interested in this sort of thing, then the book is a fascinating read. If you are here for the mystery, well, a great deal of the detailed meanderings are superfluous and tend to grind the mystery narrative to a halt.


I am interested in this sort of thing, so I enjoyed those chapters. But a lot of it has little to nothing to do with the central mystery. In addition, there was a pretty big plot element that was just left unresolved without being addressed by the author in any meaningful way at all. I think that Verdict of Twelve might be a better bet than this one!

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text 2018-02-09 21:28
Friday reading: February 9, 2017
The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm - Juliet Nicolson
D Is For Deadbeat - Sue Grafton
E is for Evidence - Sue Grafton
Somebody at the Door (British Library Crime Classics) - Raymond Postgate,Martin Edwards




I'm still working hard on the Adventure Quilt - it has to be finished by the going away party next Saturday (2/17) because the recipient is leaving Oregon for parts unknown on 2/18. I'll post pics of the finished quilt.


Because of this, most of my reading is occurring through listening right now! I downloaded A Discovery of Witches as an audiobook because it sounded like an appealing reread. I'm about 5 hours in, and have about 18 hours left. I am still dithering on whether I will continue to listen to it, or move onto Crooked House by Agatha Christie, which I could probably finish this weekend.


I've barely dipped into A World Undone and I haven't even cracked This Rough Magic. I'm at about 20% in The Venetian Affair.




I just bought D is for Deadbeat and E is for Evidence to continue my Kinsey Millhone read over the next ten days or so. I also picked up The Last Summer by Juliet Nicholson, which is a non-fiction book about the summer of 1911, prior to the beginning of WWI in 1914. I am planning to blow through that one (it's a mere 325 pages) before really digging into a A World Undone. I'm loosely planning on following it with Nicholson's book about the time after the armistice, called The Great Silence. I also bought Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate, mostly because I wanted to buy a BLCC and I liked the cover. 


Total for the week: $34.90

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review 2018-01-31 15:33
Somebody at the Door - Raymond Postgate

It’s a cold January evening in 1942 and Councillor Henry Grayling steps off the evening train carrying £120. Hours later he is dead, and it’s down to Inspector Holly to establish a list of suspects. As he investigates it becomes apparent that many of fellow passengers on the 6.12 from Euston had their own reasons for wish Councillor Grayling dead.


The more I read of the British Library crime classics the more I get drawn into the wonderful echo of the past they provide. They are fascinating little glimpses into the way of living from a that few of us today would recognise. Somebody at the Door is no exception.


Set during the Second World War, the story is not just a murder mystery but also a look at how lives continued at home whilst the war was being fought overseas. There are scenes set during bombing raids, where conversations continue as bombs and bullets sound out in the night, where the response to such events is a mixture of relief at survival and an almost nonchalent acceptance that such events will occur.


The story is less a detective story but rather one of character analysis. The story progresses as if each suspect is being ticked off that list. As a suspect is highlighted his or her history is told as a story. There are few scenes of actual interaction between a suspect and Inspector Holly. Rather, each suspect is dealt with almost like a short story, tying them to Councillor Grayling in some teneous or more direct link, dependant upon the character. Some characters are more likeable than others. There are ones who the reader will hope to be the culprit, once their story has been read, others where the reader will hope they aren’t the guilty party.


There were some parts of the novel where I felt that the story wasn’t progressing as quickly as I would have liked, and that too much time was spent on the back story of a character. That said, I did enjoy the novel as I assessed or dismissed each suspect intent as I was on unmasking the killer before the big reveal.


British Library crime classics are great, atmospheric steps back in time, from the beautiful covers to the language contained in the pages and Somebody at the Door has both a beautiful cover and transportative language that takes you back to another age. There are just over 50 classics in the collection and I can’t wait to tick them all off my list.

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text 2018-01-05 01:38
Reading progress update: I've read 132 out of 237 pages.
Verdict of Twelve (British Library Crime Classics) - Raymond Postgate

read a bit more...


wow. I can't believe this book is from 1940. some very disturbing scenes.

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text 2018-01-05 00:04
Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 237 pages.
Verdict of Twelve (British Library Crime Classics) - Raymond Postgate

unique structure, which I love, purely as a shake-up technique. backstories of all twelve jurors, some longer than others, all of them compelling. I've just gotten to the changeover to the next large Section, giving me the "Case" the jurors are there to decide. some shocking stuff in some jurors' lives that seems ahead of its time for a 1940 British Crime novel. let's see if this can be my first 4 or 5 star novel of the new year! leaning that way, so far.

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