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text 2017-09-19 14:27
Reading progress update: I've read 98 out of 357 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

Well, I've read chapters 1 through 5, and I suppose this is what it sounds like when you get a walking encyclopedia talking. Even though it's, in a way, the print equivalent of having your favorite actor reading the phone book (which I expected going in -- the format itself suggests as much), it's addictively compelling, and I am racing through this book much more than I expected I would.  I also know I'll be revisiting it often for reference in the future.

 

When reading the chapters on the beginning of the Golden Age and on the Great Detectives, I also dipped into Edwards's Golden Age of Murder for further background, "met" the members of the Detection Club ... and learned that Ngaio Marsh was not a member (which I admit I'd heretofore taken almost for granted she was), but rather, "dined for weeks" on the experience of her one invitation to a Detection Club dinner.

 

Incidentally, for those who are interested, I've created a reading list for the "100 [main] Books" presented by Martin Edwards in "The Story of Classic Crime" here:

 

Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books -- the "100 Books" Presented

 

I've also started a listing of the other books mentioned by way of further reference in the individual chapters.  As Edwards easily manages to toss in an average of 20+ extra books per chapter, I've decided to break up the "other books mentioned" listing into several parts, with the first list going up to the end of chapter 5 (i.e., as far as I've read at present):

 

Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books -- Other Books Mentioned; Part 1 (Ch. 1-5)

 

I'm reading The Story of Classic Crime for the free (center / raven) bingo square, as well as by way of a buddy read.

 

 

Merken

Merken

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text 2017-09-09 22:22
Classic Noir Mini-Binge
The Bride Wore Black - William Irish,Cornell Woolrich
Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler,Elliott Gould
Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler,Full Cast,Toby Stephens
The High Window: A BBC Full-Cast Radio Drama - Raymond Chandler,Toby Stevens,Full Cast

Well, what with the last two bingo calls having given me some breathing space -- "genre: horror" is not on my card, and "locked room mystery" was one of the first squares I already read books for --, I've embarked on a classic noir mini-binge, with Cornell Woolrich's "The Bride Wore Black" (physical book) and a Raymond Chandler audio multi-pack -- "Farewell, My Lovely" (unabridged, read by Elliott Gould) and the recent(ish) BBC full cast dramatizations of "The Long Goodbye" and "The High Window" (starring Toby Stephens ... and yes, he does manage a credible enough Marlowe, accent and all).

 

I've yet to finish "The Bride Wore Black", and if I know Woolrich there will be some fairly devilish twist at the end -- but I have to say, the gem of the set so far is Chandler's "Farewell, My Lovely".  There's nothing like revisiting the mean streets of 1940s Los Angeles, Chandler's imagery is as gut-punching as ever, and it's just an unmitigated joy of having a classic noir novel read to me by Elliott Gould.

 

I suppose I could count these towards several different bingo squares ("murder most foul" and the free square in addition to "classic noir" if nothing else), but I think I'm going to count them all towards "classic noir" ... I just have too many other books that I really also want to get to during the bingo.  And if things don't go the way I hope they will, I can always reassign one or two of these later on ...

 

Merken

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-04 00:15
Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 1
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
Mrs. Zant and the Ghost - Wilkie Collins,Gillian Anderson
Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes (British Library Crime Classics) - Various Authors,Martin Edwards
Mrs. McGinty's Dead - Agatha Christie
Lord of the Wings: A Meg Langslow Mystery (Meg Langslow Mysteries) - Donna Andrews

 

My Square Markers:


Black Kitty: Read but not called

 


Black Vignette: Called but not read

 


Black Kitty in Black Vignette: Read and Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 1:



Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites

The first book of the Witches subseries and one of the earliest Discworld novels overall (it's book #3 of the series): by Pratchett's standards a slight book, which I knew going in, but since I'd started to read the Witches books subseries, I ought to go back and catch up with the beginning at some point before proceeding to far.

 

Still, it's an enjoyable enough ride; Granny Weatherwax is there (Nanny Ogg and Greebo aren't, though); and we do end up at the Unseen University, where Granny engages in a battle of magic with then-Archchancellor Cutangle, which ends up having some odd foreshadowings of Granny and Ridcully.  Ankh Morpork -- and indeed, even the market town closest to her Ramtops village -- is more "forn parts" to Granny than it will be ever after, which of course, however, doesn't stop her in the least from shepherding a youthful female wizard (yes, not a witch) all the way there once she has reconciled herself to the unheard-of notion that women of the magic persuasion can in fact be anything other than witches, even if they only got there accidentally, because a dying wizard didn't pay attention and conveyed his staff to an infant girl instead of the eighth son of an eighth son.  (In case you're wondering about the difference between wizardry and witchcraft, it's to do with whether you use the forces of air or earth, and how you treat your fellow furred and feathered creatures.)  Along the way, we get lots of opinionating -- Terry Pratchett's, the witches' and various wizards' -- about whether there is such a thing as "a woman's (witch's) proper job" as opposed to "a man's (wizard's) proper job", and if so, what exactly either of these might consist of, and whether or not women (witches) should be allowed to succeed in storming the battlements of a place of higher education. 

 

I began reading this on August 30, when Moonlight Reader opened up the "Halloween Bingo Pre-Season" and I could easily have finished it the next day; I had to stop myself on the edge of the book's climax so as to make it count towards the bingo. -- It's been fun to go back to the roots and visit the place from where Pratchett's amazing talent began to evolve, and by many another author's standards I'd have probably rated this even higher than I did.  Still, it has made me appreciate the later entries in the Discworld canon even more -- and I'm now looking forward even more to returning to Discworld at its best!

 

 



Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
(Gillian Anderson audio)

I remembered that several folks on Booklikes had listened to this novella / extended short story during last year's bingo, so when I saw it was available for free on Audible I snatched it up -- and when "Ghost" was the first square to be called, I made a snap decision to use this read for the square as I had just enough time to fit in the audio yesterday.

 

This is the story of a widowed father's acquaintance with a young woman (the eponymous Mrs. Zant) who, in turn, has recently lost her husband, and whose strange behaviour is giving rise to the suggestion that she might have gone mad.  After some initial  reluctance, she eventually confides in Mr. Rayburn (the widower, from whose point of view -- albeit in the third person -- the story is told), and he (and through him, the reader) is given to understand that ever since the untimely death of her much-loved husband Mrs. Zant has experienced instances of a mysterious invisible presence which, though it initially disturbed her and made her suspect herself of madness, too, she eventually learns to trust and come to consider benign -- much to the distress of her brother in law, who (at Rayburn's suggestion) takes her to his residence on the seaside in the professed hope of thus relieving her nervous state and nursing her back to stability and mental health.

 

To a 19th century reader, this story would probably have had much more novelty value, surprising turns and perhaps even spooky aspects than to this jaded late 20th / early 21st century reader (or listener) -- certainly, it's no competition to the likes of Henry James's "Turn of the Screw -- and Collins's narration does tend to meander a bit.  Still, it's a sweet enough little story, and for someone who is not a big horror reader, just the perfect kind of thing to cover this particular bingo square.

 

 



Martin Edwards / British Library:
Miraculous Mysteries - Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes

This is one of several Golden Age mystery short story anthologies recently published by the British Library and Martin Edwards. I had initially contemplated only reading some of the stories for this square, but once I'd started I was hooked pretty much instantaneously and soon there was no question whatsoever that I would read the whole thing.

 

Martin Edwards concurrently serves as the chair of the Crime Writers' Association and the Detection Club, and there is very little (if anything) that he does not know about mysteries and the history of mystery writing: his introductions to the individual stories -- and to this anthology itself -- alone are worth the price of admission.  The stories he selected cover the length and breadth of locked room scenarios, writing styles, and Golden Age writers, from those whom we still know today to some who undeservedly fell under the wheels of time and finally others ... who probably didn't. 

 

Even for the well-known representatives of the genre, Edwards managed to unearth less familiar stories, including a non-Holmes mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle from the time period after Holmes had supposedly drowned in the Reichenbach Falls, entitled "The Lost Special" and dealing with the mysterious disappearance of an entire train -- though true to the author's style, this, like many of Holmes's adventures, is a story that is (supposedly) first published only years after the actual events occurred (albeit unlike Holmes's adventures, not "because the world is not yet ready for it", but simply because it has taken this long for the case to be solved); thus fortuituously allowing, however, for the inclusion of a letter to the editor of a major newspaper reporting on the case when it first happened, written by "an amateur reasoner of some celebrity at that date [who] attempted to deal with the matter in a critical and semi-scientific manner," and whose letter begins with the words: "It is one of the elementary principles of practical reasoning that when the impossible has been eliminated the residuum, however improbable, must contain the truth."  (Would that he had actually been put on the case; one cannot feel but that it wouldn't have taken all of eight years to solve the mystery then.)

 

Of all of the stories contained in the anthology, I only knew Dorothy L. Sayers's "The Haunted Policeman" (one of her final three Wimsey stories), which is certainly one of the strongest in the lot -- though only Wimsey would welcome his firstborn son to the world wondering aloud whether the "collaborative effort" (with his wife) was "up to standard," noting that "I never knew so convincing a body of evidence produce such an inadequate result" (of his own efforts, one is given to assume) ... and after being thereupon thrown out of his wife's bedroom, proceeding to spend the rest of the night by killing two bottles of vintage champagne with the local bobby, listening to the police constable's woes about mysterious goings-on in a nearby house that can't possibly exist in the first place and a murder he's made to believe didn't happen, either, even though he has seen the corpse with his very own, then-sober eyes.

 

Like Sayers's story, several other entries in the anthology would cover not only "locked room" but also other bingo squares; in addition to "murder most foul", several have a supernatural touch, two of these with an added "ghost" element, whereas Sayers's is a tongue-in-cheek take on a "haunted house" story; and finally, this being the Golden Age of mysteries, several stories would also qualify as "country house murders". -- The entries that, in addition to Sayers's, I liked best overall were Sapper's "The Music Room" (even though its solution is of the "locked room" variety that I like the least), Christopher St. John Sprigg's "Death at 8.30" (again, despite its -- in this case, rather sensational -- solution), and E. Charles Vivian's "Locked In," which, of all the stories in the collection, is probably the neatest-written example of a classic locked-room mystery.

 

 



Agatha Christie: Mrs. McGinty's Dead
(Hugh Fraser audio)

This was a return visit courtesy of Hugh Fraser, the Captain Hastings of the long-running TV series starring David Suchet as Poirot, who has since come to narrate audio versions of almost every single Agatha Christie mystery; with the exception of a couple of Poirot books recorded by Suchet himself, the Miss Marple mysteries (narrated by the BBc's [and Christie's own favorite] Miss Marple -- Joan Hickson -- as well as the fabulous Stephanie Cole and, lately, Richard E. Grant), and a few short stories narrated by Isla Blair and Sir Christopher Lee. -- After having appeared alongside David Suchet in countless Poirot TV episodes, Fraser has Suchet's mannerisms as the Belgian detective down fairly pat, and he did indeed say in an interview that his reading was intended to keep faith with Suchet's performance (as in, how could it possibly not).  There are a couple of audio collections where both of them appear, and in those you can tell the two narrators apart, but to anyone hearing just a recording by Fraser and not listening too closely, his narration is pretty darned convincing and, therefore, contributes greatly to the listening pleasure.  In this instance, for Fraser's reading alone I upped my previous rating of a story I already liked considerably by yet another notch.

 

"Mrs. McGinty's Dead" provides several of Christie's recurring motifs and settings: Poirot's sidekick is (not Hastings, but instead) Christie's own mock-stand-in, Ariadne Oliver; the novel is set in a small town (named Broadhinny) -- even though this is ordinarily more Miss Marple's territory than Poirot's --; its title is based on a bit of poetic doggerel repeated in various forms throughout the story; and Poirot is called in at the last minute (by the policeman formerly in charge of the case, no less) to prevent a deadly miscarriage of justice.  The element striking terror in Broadhinny is not necessarily the murder itself -- the victim was a gossipy elderly charwoman who didn't greatly seem to matter; the man convicted for her murder is her former lodger, who is socially and as a person even more insignificant than his supposed victim -- but the arrival of Poirot and the facts revealed by his investigation: Starting with a newspaper article that he finds among the dead woman's last possessions, he investigates the local population's connections with a number of gruesome past crimes portrayed in that article, and he soon comes to conclude that several inhabitants of Broadhinny have more than a few skeletons of their own in their closets; in fact, more than one of them may have been involved with (or may be related to persons involved with) the crimes described by the newspaper. -- Along the way, we get a few pointed insights into Christie's own woes (uttered by Ms. Oliver, of course) regarding the less-than-faithful stage adaptations of her works ... and Poirot, to the reader's considerable amusement, gets to suffer ... not only the all-around unpleasantness of the British countryside, but also the horrors of a thoroughly chaotic and untidy boarding house, complete with water-drenched, overcooked, and generally tasteless cuisine (and this, after having agreed to take on the case upon having just returned from his favorite gourmet restaurant in London!).

 

 

Next Read:



 

 

The Book Pool:

Most likely: Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

Alternatively:

* Diane Mott Davidson: Catering to Nobody
* One or more stories from Martin Greenberg's and Ed Gorman's (eds.) Cat Crimes
* ... or something by Lilian Jackson Braun




Most likely: Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(audio return visit courtesy of either Michael Kitchen or Prunella Scales and Samuel West)

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: The Woman In White
(audio version read by Nigel Anthony and Susan Jameson)

* Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
(audio return visit courtesy of Anna Massey)
* Isak Dinesen: Seven Gothic Tales
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* ... or something by Daphne du Maurier




Candace Robb: The Apothecary Rose




Most likely: Simon Brett: A book from a four-novel omibus edition including An Amateur Corpse, Star Trap, So Much Blood, and Cast, in Order of Disappearance

Alternatively:

* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes




Most likely: Something from James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series (one of my great discoveries from last year's bingo)

Or one of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries

Alternatively:

Sherman Alexie: Indian Killer




Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum




One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes




Most likely: Agatha Christie: Mrs. McGinty's Dead
(audio return visit courtesy of Hugh Fraser)

Or one or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, To Love and Be Wise, or The Singing Sands
* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Peter May: The Lewis Man
* S.D. Sykes: Plague Land
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Mystery of Cloomber
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte
* Stephen Booth: Dancing with the Virgins
* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Martha Grimes: The End of the Pier
* Minette Walters: The Breaker




One of two "Joker" Squares:

 

To be filled in as my whimsy takes me (with apologies to Dorothy L. Sayers), either with one of the other mystery squares' alternate books, or with a murder mystery that doesn't meet any of the more specific squares' requirements.  In going through my shelves, I found to my shame that I own several bingo cards' worth of books that would fill this square alone, some of them bought years ago ... clearly something needs to be done about that, even if it's one book at a time!




Isabel Allende: Cuentos de Eva Luna (The Stories of Eva Luna) or
Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)




Most likely: One or more stories from Charles Dickens: Complete Ghost Stories or
Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
(Gillian Anderson audio)

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones




Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms




Obviously and as per definition in the rules, the second "Joker" Square.

 

Equally as per definition, the possibles for this square also include my alternate reads for the non-mystery squares.




Most likely: Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

Alternatively:

* Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely or The Long Goodbye

* James M. Cain: Mildred Pierce
* Horace McCoy: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
* David Goodis: Shoot the Piano Player or Dark Passage
* ... or something else by Cornell Woolrich, e.g., Phantom Lady or I Married a Dead Man




Most likely: Ruth Rendell: Not in the Flesh or The Babes in the Wood (audio versions read by Christopher Ravenscroft, aka Inspector Burden in the TV series)

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills




Most likely: Peter May: Coffin Road

Alternatively:

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones or Hearts in Atlantis
* Denise Mina: Field of Blood
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Breaker
* Jonathan Kellerman: When The Bough Breaks, Time Bomb, Blood Test, or Billy Straight

* Greg Iles: 24 Hours




Most likely: Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Greg Iles: Sleep No More




Most likely: Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)

Alternatively:

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries
* Georgette Heyer: They Found Him Dead
* Ellis Peters: Black is the Colour of My True-Love's Heart




Most likely: Something from Terry Pratchett's Discworld / Witches subseries -- either Equal Rites or Maskerade

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers

* Shirley Jackson: The Witchcraft of Salem Village




Most likely: Antonia Hodgson: The Devil in the Marshalsea

Alternatively:

* Rory Clements: Martyr
* Philip Gooden: Sleep of Death 
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes
* Ngaio Marsh: Death in Ecstasy

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Capital Crimes: London Mysteries




Most likely: Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
(audio return visit courtesy of Sir Christopher Lee)

Alternatively:

* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau 

* ... or something by Edgar Allan Poe




Most likely: Something from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Alternatively:

* Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bottle Imp
* Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market
* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau




Most likely: Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

Alternatively:

* Val McDermid: The Retribution
* Denise Mina: Sanctum 
* Mo Hayder: Birdman
* Caleb Carr: The Alienist
* Jonathan Kellerman: The Butcher's Theater
* Greg Iles: Mortal Fear




Most likely: The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows
or Hill of Bones

Alternatively:

* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills
* Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
* Stephen King: Bag of Bones
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte




Ooohhh, you know -- something by Shirley Jackson ... if I don't wimp out in the end; otherwise something by Daphne du Maurier.

 

 

 

 

 



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review 2017-08-17 15:43
Knitting Needles, Brains, and Burglary (by Proxy)
Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

This book marks Miss Silver's entrance into the annals of Golden Age crime fiction, and it's certainly an enjoyable one.

 

I'd read other Miss Silver mysteries before: This doesn't strike me as a series one absolutely has to read strictly in order; even though it is worthwhile noting that Wentworth also created several other fictional detectives, who even when appearing without Miss Silver clearly operate in the same fictional universe, and they do repeatedly show up in her cases as well.  Most, if not all of these other detectives are former pupils of Miss Silver, who once upon a time used to be a governess, and wherever they do appear alongside her, the ultimate honors of solving the case invariably go to her in the end.  So I guess the one aspect to be aware of is which one (if any) of her fellow sleuths is featured in a given book, and where in the sequence of their collaboration with Miss Silver the book in question is placed. -- For those interested, I've found a very neat overview on this on a blog called The Passing Tramp.

 

Anyway, having read other books featuring Miss Silver, I was interested to see how she had initially been introduced, so when there was talk of a Grey Mask buddy read, I jumped at the idea.  And I'm glad I did! 

 

We get to see more of Miss Silver's (on occasion quite formidable) ex-governess side in the later books, but even in this first venture -- where none of the aforementioned other detectives appears -- we see her treating a recalcitrant client essentially like the ten-year-olds she used to tutor, and most of her trademark features are already in place: the "gentle cough" that invariably precedes any statement of import; her knitting needles (not the only feature she shares with Agatha Christie's Miss Marple -- both ladies also have a certain penchant for primness, even if both of them are equally capable of taking it with a certain pinch of salt), her neat and capacious handbag, and most importantly, her razor-sharp brain, which easily puts her on a level with Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot ... and, again, Miss Marple, about whom none less than (ex-)CID Chief Sir Henry Clithering says in The Body in the Library, and not without reason, that she is "better at [solving crimes] than I am at it":

 

"Downstairs in the lounge ... there sits an old lady with a sweet, placid spinsterish face, and a mind that has plumbed the depths of human iniquity and taken it as all in the day's work." 

 

The same thing might just as well be said about Miss Silver -- who however, like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, leaves the reader (and the other party to the conversation) in no doubt as to the size of her brains and her capacity of logical thought, whereas Miss Marple outwardly is all flutter and modesty, while nevertheless surreptitiously manipulating others into doing just what she needs them to do ... while Miss Silver can be downright facetiously open about it:

 

"Miss Silver tapped with her pencil.

'Are you suggesting that we should apply for a search warrant?'

'No, I'm not.  I'm suggestin' doin' a little job of breakin' and enterin'.  Look here, Miss Silver, are you game? [...]'

'I've my reputation to consider,' said Miss Silver. She coughed. 'If I were walking along [that particular] Street and were to ring [that house's] bell --' she paused and gazed at him mildly.  'If you opened the door to me, it really would not be any business of mine how you got in.'"

 

And a while later:

 

"Miss Silver turned her torch down, picked up a metal bar, and put it into [his] hand.

'What is it?'

'Well,' said Miss Silver -- she gave a slight cough -- 'I believe it is called a jemmy -- an instrument in use amongst burglars.  I, of course, have my reputation to consider. But if you --' She coughed again. 'It really seems quite providential -- doesn't it?'

'Heaven helps those who help themselves, in fact,' [he] responded.

Miss Silver proceeded to give him expert advice as to lock-breaking."

 

I'm not sure that we'd ever see quite that sort of scene with Miss Marple (Holmes and Poirot are, of course, a different matter; they've both been known to burgle the odd building in the interests of higher justice), though Miss Marple would almost certainly have, amid a great deal of flutter, pinpointed the exact location to look for inside the house in question in advance, to within a few inches at most; probably after having gotten the vicar's wife to unearth for her precisely the same (published) source that had inspired the present owner of the house to make use of that very location in the first place.

 

Unlike Holmes and Poirot (and, for that matter, Miss Marple), who at least in the Final Reveal typically give a full account of their methods and thought processes, we are not given that sort of access here, and if anything, it is this that makes Miss Silver seem decidedly more ethereal than in the later books -- which, at least the ones I've read, do feature a traditional Final Reveal; warts and all: Not only does Miss Silver seem in this, her first venture, however, to appear out of nothing in her client's and the other protagonists' vista and vicinity on more than one occasion; she also has to do all her own research, since she does not have an assistant, which would have had to involve quite a substantial amount of interviews, visits to libraries, and other "legwork", all of which at times left me wondering how she could possibly have fitted all that activity into the time frame available ... while at the same time keeping exact tabs on her client's and his protegée's, as well as pretty much all the other major characters' whereabouts.

 

Patricia Wentworth had published several romance novels before turning to crime fiction, and this is not the only one of her books on which that writerly history has left an undelible mark.  (It's also not the only one of her books where the various emotional conflicts are "resolved" in rather a rushed way at the end.)  As for the book's major characters (besides Miss Silver), they fall nicely into the categories and types that had already been coined by other mystery authors at the time, and to a large extent made up the stock whose representatives would continue to populate the better part of Golden Age mysteries up to the eve of World War II and beyond.  Still, like the other Miss Silver mysteries I've read, this proved to be a quick, entertaining and deceptively lightly-written read, and I'll happily continue to sprinkle books from this series in among my reading pleasure.

 

*************

 

Previous status updates:

1/3 mark

2/3 mark

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review 2016-11-07 22:50
Reading progress update: I've read 249 out of 928 pages.
Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart

 

(Note: the page number is for the trilogy's omnibus edition, which is the book I'm actually reading.)

 

"Thanks" to having contracted some sort of cold or flu bug and having been out of commission for pretty much all other purposes over the weekend, I've progressed fairly well with this book -- well there has to be at least one upside to fever, perpetually running nose and clinging headache, I suppose.

 

Anyway, I'm enjoying this enormously, and I'm so glad I joined this buddy read, so a big thank you to Moonlight Reader for setting this up!

 

I confess I'm not, or perhaps just "not yet" reading Merlin as the same person as the old wizard known from most other incarnations of the Arthurian saga, though.  It actually struck me, especially in Part 1, how similar this trilogy's young Merlin is to the young Arthur of some of the other narratives -- a misfit and a loner, the kid that nobody really knows where and how to place him, entirely too bright for his own good, and intensely interested in books and learning (even though that doesn't mean he wants to be shut up behind the walls of a monastery),

 

And in Parts 3 and 4 we're now getting the one thing that I sorely miss in accounts like T.H. White's Once and Future King, great series though that is in all other respects ... a glimpse of our hero's coming of age and (with apologies to James Joyce) a Portrait Our Hero as a Young Man.  So, yey for that, too!  The magic stuff starts when he's still a boy, but he's learning more about his own magical powers as we go along now, too, as well as how to deal with other people's expectations of him (well, that's bound to happen, I suppose, especially looking at Stewart's source material and the story -- or throw-away line -- that she herself says inspired the whole trilogy).

 

A great read so far, in any event; here's hoping it's going to continue this way!

 

I'm reading this book both for the Merlin Trilogy Buddy Read and for The Twelf Tasks of the Festive Season (Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl).

 

Merken

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