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review 2017-10-15 04:23
Dream of Orchids by Phyllis Whitney
Dream of Orchids - Phyllis A. Whitney

Phyllis Whitney was 82 years old when she wrote this book. Seriously, guys - she was my mother-in-law's age (and I'm 51) and she would go on to write another 10 freaking books after she was 82. I'm giving it a third star just for that reason.

As far as the book itself, it certainly wasn't a bad book, although it also wasn't a great book. It's set in Key West, and at times Whitney got a little too travelogue in her descriptions. She usually does a better job integrating the setting details into the story itself. But, did I mention that she was 82 years old when she wrote this book? I'm still dealing with that fact.

This book definitely follows the Whitney formula: appealing young woman goes to a place where she is on her own, and some sort of dangerous situation develops. There is always romance, and sometimes the object of desire is a decent sort and sometimes he's the villain. There's always at least one questionable death that is usually murder, and the villain - who can be either male or female - often has a tenuous grip on reality. Often times, some historical crime is exposed.

In Dream of Orchids, Laurel is a young bookseller in New England whose mother has recently passed away, and who was abandoned by her father, Clifton York, a well known author. A young man shows up at her bookstore, asking her to visit it her father in Key West. Once she arrives in Key West, she learns that things are not as she had believed, and that there is something quite sinister going on with her father, her two younger sisters, Iris and Fern, a sunken Spanish galleon and the orchid house where her step-mother, Poppy, bled to death in a bizarre accident. There's also a creepy secretary, her scarred ex-husband, and Iris's much older and far too sketchy fiance, Derek.

This is not Whitney's best work. But goddammit, she was 82 when she wrote it. And that's amazing.

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review 2017-09-28 14:32
The Bad Seed
The Bad Seed: A Vintage Movie Classic - William March

I remember watching that Macaulay Culkin movie a few years ago, "The Good Son" and realize that it was a homage to "The Bad Seed." I remember being freaked out at how Culkin acted in that movie. I have to say that Rhoda in "The Bad Seed" would have wiped out that character without breaking a sweat.


"The Bad Seed" is about a mother (Christine) at home waiting for her husband and realizing that her daughter (Rhoda) is not like the other boys and girls. When Christine starts to have suspicions about Rhoda's involvement in an accident that left a classmate of her's dead, more secrets that Christine has tried to forget come out. 


Christine's increasing horror at who her daughter really is was interesting to read. I just think with her going back and forth to the true crime writer to keep getting his opinions about a hypothetical which we readers realize is not a hypothetical was boring. 


And I had to roll my eyes about Christine's background reveal. I liked it better when we just had a story about the world's scariest little girl ever. 


Rhoda is scary as anything though. We get to hear about things she has done and we get to actually witness something she does do. 


I did enjoy this book, but don't think this is something I would read repeatedly in the future. I just think the main problem is that there was a lot of fluff to me in the middle that could have been cut back.


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text 2017-09-28 13:58
Reading progress update: I've read 224 out of 224 pages.
The Bad Seed: A Vintage Movie Classic - William March

This was actually only 205 pages. I liked it, but didn't love it. The back and forth that Rhoda's mother goes on and on about what she realizes about her daughter drags the book down a bit in my mind. Definitely chilling though. 


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text 2017-09-27 23:06
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 224 pages.
The Bad Seed: A Vintage Movie Classic - William March

Reading this for "Chilling Children" square.


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review 2017-09-22 19:53
The Crime at the Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham

I read this one for Country House Murder, and it is a good example of that particular type of mystery. It would also work for Murder Most Foul and Amateur Sleuth


The Crime at the Black Dudley is designated as the first of the Albert Campion mysteries, but as others have noted, his appearance is pretty minimal. The main character is Dr. George Abbershaw, who seems to be at Black Dudley primarily to cement his relationship with the adorable Meggie. 


Shades of The Big Four, Abbershaw and his friends seem to have stumbled into some sort of an inexplicable criminal gang conspiracy involving a German man who is referred to as the Hun, who plans to set the place on fire and burn them up with it. The plot is bizarre, convoluted and somewhat incomprehensible. No one seems to be able to figure out why Campion is there or who invited him. 


I am going to reserve judgment on Allingham and her detective, since I don't think that this book is a particularly good example of her work. As a country house mystery, it was just all right, no where near as good as The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Peril at End House. As a detective, Campion isn't flattered by comparison to Poirot and his leetle grey cells or Peter Wimsey and the fabulous Bunter. 


The next book in the Campion series is Mystery Mile, but I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off digging deeper into the series. Martin Edwards mentioned Traitor's Purse & The Case of the Late Pig in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, and I've heard good things about The Tiger In The Smoke, so I'm thinking of trying one of those the next time I give Campion a try.



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