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review 2019-01-09 09:27
The Devereaux Legacy
The Devereaux Legacy - Carolyn Hart

An early stand-alone mystery from Carolyn Hart, that was originally bought by Harlequin and marketed as a gothic romance.  This is one of those stories that is best discovered by someone who hasn't already read a fair variety of romantic suspense.  With nothing to compare it to, one might find this a very lively and escapist story.


Leah arrives in South Carolina after the death of her paternal grandmother and Leah's subsequent discovery that she herself has been presumed dead since she was 2.  Wanting to find out why, and the truth about what happened to her parents, she arrives at the Devereaux Plantation full of questions, discovering she still has a maternal grandmother who is thrilled she's alive, and 3 cousins that might not be so thrilled.


This slim volume reads exactly like a Barbara Michaels in many respects.  Hart says in the introduction to this re-issue that she suddenly found herself in a market that had no interest in women writing murder mysteries, and after 9 years of rejection, found that she could sell her books if she made them romances.  This bow to contemporary demands is apparent in the romance: it's insta-love at it's most glaring, and more than a little bit naive and awkward.  


Sandwiched in between in the awkward romance is, unfortunately, only a slightly less awkward mystery, but knowing what I know about Hart's real mysteries, I have no problem believing it's because she had to cram it in along the edges.  It's a good mystery; just not one that was allowed the space to unfold naturally.


It's definitely nowhere close to Hart's normal standards of writing, but hints of what will come in her future Death on Demand series are evident: haunting atmosphere and fully fleshed out characters that are capable of passionate acts of love and cruelty.  


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review 2019-01-09 04:43
Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn #2)
Enter a Murderer - Ngaio Marsh

I've had Ngaio Marsh on my TBR pile for a few years now, and kept putting her off because the titles I have are all related to acting (Marsh herself being a former actress), and the stage and it's behind-the-scenes drama doesn't interest me much.  Still, she's a Golden Age writer of note, and I was determined to give the books a try.


I got off to a rough start; Golden Age writers generally have a very different writing style from most of today's fiction.  More staccato, more concise, and it takes me a period of adjustment to find the rhythm.  Enter a Murderer felt like that adjustment period took longer than usual, but once I found the groove, it was easy reading.


Alleyn has pale shades of Holmes about him; he's a thinking man's detective, and he likes to hold the clues close.  This was not a fair play mystery, though it was written smack in the middle of the era of Fair Play.  Still, I liked Alleyn well enough and I quite liked his sidekick, Nigel Bathgate.


The plot was, perhaps, trying too hard to be clever.  By the end (after the reveal) it's obvious what Marsh was aiming for, and it was an admirable goal, but achieving it required a fair amount of convoluted plotting.  I don't know if it didn't work for me because it was overdone, or because it required too much time with the secondary characters, all stereotypical stage actors of one sort or another, and hence, unreliable in the extreme.  Either way, I was unable to buy the motive, although I did enjoy the ride for the most part.


I have a few other Marsh books on the TBR pile, and I'll happily read them; there's enough here to peak my interest, if not quite enough to spark my devotion.

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review 2015-01-28 04:56
The Mousetrap
The Mousetrap and Other Plays - Agatha Christie

This one is going to screw with my stats - I read The Mousetrap last night while BookLikes was offline but this book contains 6? other plays as well that I didn't read.  Clearly, this review will be for just The Mousetrap and not the actual book.


This play is pure Agatha Christie and reading it, just as any of her other works, makes it painfully clear that all cozy writers since have been but pale imitators of one of the few originals.  Locked room mystery, the gathering of the suspects, misunderstanding-based suspicions, the final denouement: they're all here in this entertaining, quick read.


I'm never eager to read plays because I struggle not to read the stage direction (which never makes any sense to me at all) which tends to keep me from enjoying the story, but I could totally see the stage almost immediately, and I just lost myself in the audience.


The next time I'm in London, seeing this play is one of two non-negotiable must-do's (Ceremony of the Keys is #1).



[PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Play.]

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review 2013-10-20 08:27
Whose Body?
Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers

In my quest for BL book collection perfection, I noticed just how many of my books I never reviewed in any fashion.  Since I enjoy a good re-read now and again, I've decided to re-visit my shelves and the friends that lie therein, in between my Mt. TBR reads (which really, is getting to be the TBR Range).  


My first re-read is "Whose Body?" by Dorothy Sayers.  I figure if I start with a classic, anyone reading my reviews will forgive me when I get to "Silence of the Hams" and "A Knife to Remember".


A classic.  And really, what can be said about this classic that hasn't already been said? We can take it as read all the bits about Sayers' being a master of her craft, etc. etc.


What I will comment on, was that while I really enjoyed this book, and it was just the re-read I was looking for, it's not an easy book to just dive into.  At least for me.  There's a style and pacing to Ms. Sayers' writing that does not trip delightfully off my tongue - whether it be because of the times the book was written in, Peter's personality, or the British-to-American translation issues.  No matter, it was a chapter or two before I got into the groove again.


The story is fantastical - just the physical stamina needed to perpetrate this plot is remarkable.  The villain truly villainous.  I'll admit I'm still not sure, after reading this twice, what gave the game away for Lord Peter.


The footnotes used sparingly throughout the story show a depth of character development that isn't seen anymore in today's traditional/cozy mysteries.  Lord Peters has a rich, detailed backstory that was obviously developed before the stories were written.  Nice.


I'll be dipping into my Sayers collection again soon - I can't wait to get to Strong Poison!

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review 2013-08-28 00:00
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1) Audio
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Susan O'Malley,Elizabeth Peters

Ms. Peters is a master, there is no doubt about it. An excellent story, very well written, but I tend to prefer her Vicky Bliss books over Ms. Peabody. Still, I enjoyed the audiobook enough to buy the next one in the series. The narration was outstanding, although the narrator made Evelyn such a whispery girl I wanted to smack her. Still, if you like audiobooks and you're looking for a good old fashioned traditional mystery, I can recommend this one as worth the time.

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