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Pietr Le Letton
Georges Simenon
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry
The Golden Age of Murder
Martin Edwards
Merlin Trilogy
Mary Stewart
Progress: 340/928 pages
She Walks These Hills
Sharyn McCrumb
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle

Recently Added

The Redeemer - Jo Nesbø
Runaway - Peter  May
The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories - P. D. James
"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." ― Mae West


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Project Hamlet

Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 8 -- Bingo No. 5!

Vertical, right down the middle.

 

 

The "bingo" squares and books read:

 

 

                                                   

And now that "Country House Mystery" has been called, I actually do have an incentive to also finish my last bingo book -- Sharyn McCrumb's She Walks These Hills -- fairly soonish after all, as a "Supernatural" call now will give me another immediate bingo, too.

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

Tannat & Tigus: Eh voilà ...

 

... it's here.  Even though the cat could hardly be bothered!

 

 

(This is the only photo I got out of him at all.  After that, he decided this was too stupid for words and hoofed it under my bed.)

SPOILER ALERT!

Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 7 -- Bingos No. 3 & 4!

The Devil in the Marshalsea - Antonia Hodgson Cronica de una muerte anunciada - Gabriel Garcia Marquez Coffin Road - Peter  May Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu She Walks These Hills - Sharyn McCrumb

Bingo No. 3: First column to the right.

Bingo No. 4: Second row.

 

 

The "bingo" squares and books read:

Bingo No. 3:

   

                                                                

 

Bingo No. 4:


                                                                                

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                      
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     

 

I'll have a double bingo in the wings once "Amateur Sleuth" is called, and more immediate bingos for "Classic Horror" and "Country House Mystery."  Complete blackout should tumble in within the next 10 days or so, depending just how the remaining bingo calls come up.  So, I'll be taking my time finishing my last bingo book, Sharyn McCrumb's She Walks These Hills -- there hardly seems to be any reason for a particular rush.

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

 

Books Read / Finished - Update 7:


Antonia Hodgson: The Devil in the Marshalsea

Well, if this doesn't count for "Darkest London," then I don't know what will.  Our narrator is tossed into the Marshalsea prison for being in debt to the tune of several months' salary -- a bit more than £20.00, which would have been a year's salary or more to the poorer classes, but our Tom is an academic (albeit one without a degree, having been thrown out of Oxford for disorderly behaviour), so he'd have reached higher ... instead of which, however, he has managed to drink and gamble it all away and then get himself robbed off the spoils when trying to win it back by turning a lucky card.  Even though Tom, being perceived as a gentleman, is spared the ultimate humiliation of being locked away on the Common Side of the prison (where conditions are sub-human and jail fever or some other form of death would be his certain fate in a matter of days or weeks; months at best), even the so-called "Master's Side" -- where Tom ends up -- is a cut-throat place ruled by the diabolical whims of the prison governor and his brutal turnkeys, where your life and health is only worth as much as you are able to pay for them, and where you'll find yourself deprived of either quicker than you can count to three if you're stupid enough to trust even a single person.

 

To top it all off, Tom is given a choice of sharing either a putrid cell with a man dying of the pox for a cell-mate or occupying the bed of a recently-murdered man and sharing a cell with the man perceived as the most dangerous of all the inmates on the "Master's Side," nicknamed "the Devil" by the other prisoners ... only to be then clandestinely tasked in short order to investigate the murder of the former occupant of his bed as a price for being released from prison.

 

Antonia Hodgson certainly has a way with words and with building the atmosphere of a place, and I do believe she has done her research thoroughly.  I nevertheless didn't take to this book wholeheartedly; in no small part because -- aside from Kitty, a kitchen maid whom Tom meets in the Marshalsea -- I didn't find anybody I could truly empathize with; and that most definitely includes Tom himself. 

I also disliked the ending, which was (a) incredibly rushed and (b) a pronounced case of the solution being jammed up the investigator's nose without him having managed to uncover any significant clue on his own, so he hardly deserves any credit for it, and for a series that is billed as a historical P.I. series beginning with Tom's first "successful" investigation in the Marshalsea, that is simply not a very auspicious beginning.

(show spoiler)

  I've got the next two books of the series on my TBR and I'm going to leave them there for the time being -- I won't rule out that I am going to return to them at a later point after all.  It likely will not be anytime soon, however.

 

 


Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada
(Chronicle of a Death Foretold)

I read this book  in Spanish and I am glad I did -- based on the translation of the title alone, I don't know how many other subletlies I might have missed if I had gone for a translated version.  García Márquez's novella deals with an honor killing, and beyond what is implied in the book's English title, the resulting death is one that is both "foretold" (namely, in a dream) and blatantly announced by the would-be murderers, to all and sundry but to the victim himself. -- At the beginning of the book, the murder has already happened, and the story is told circuitously in reverse, leading up to an almost surreal, slow-motion pacing in the minutes before the actual killing, when fate, circumstances, cowardice, lethargy and ill luck conspire to see opportunity after opportunity to save the intended victim being missed.

 

In just over 100 pages, García Márquez employs pacing, perspective and contrasts (of perspective, plot elements, personalities, potential and actual murder weapons and much, much more) to deconstruct the society where the murder occurs -- a small coastal town in Columbia -- and its prevailing attitudes that excuse and justify the murder, a justice system unable to adequately deal with the crime, and of course the honor code that causes the murder to be committed in the first place.  It's a gut-punching book as far away from Love in the Time of Cholera as it could possibly be and it's been sitting on my shelves unread for far too long -- I'm glad I finally did something about that.

 

 


Peter May: Coffin Road

This book is billed as a stand-alone following May's Lewis Trilogy, but that's not actually quite correct, as the policeman from whose perspective part of the story is told (DS George Gunn) actually features in an important role in the Lewis Trilogy as well, and even the actual protagonist of that trilogy (Fin Macleod) and his girlfriend Marsailie are name-checked here.

 

That said, the book's primary protagonist is a gentleman who at the beginning of the book finds himself washed up on a beach in the Western part of Harris island (the two major northern Outer Hebrides islands, Harris and Lewis, for geographical and all practical purposes form a unity), wearing a life jacket and with not a clue to his own identity, which to recover henceforth obviously becomes his primary obsession.  In a matter of days, he takes a boat trip to the Flannan Isles, a small group of islands some 30 miles west of Lewis (and double the distance, correspondingly from Harris), on the largest of which -- Eilean Mòr -- he

stumbles across a corpse, and as he has clear indications that he must have visited the island before, he begins to suspect that he himself is the dead man's murderer.

(show spoiler)

 

The book's second protagonist is an Edinburgh teenager at odds with herself and the world ever since her scientist father is believed to have committed suicide two years earlier, and who is trying to find out whether that is actually what happened (and if so, why), or if not, where he is.

 

I tremendously enjoyed the book; May is a phantastic writer who manages to make the Hebrides come alive in all their magic austerity time and again.  Yet, this book has certain undeniable similarities to the first book of the Lewis Trilogy (The Blackhouse), which I read for last year's Halloween Bingo -- most notably, in that each book features a tiny, ocean-, wind- and rainswept island off the Outer Hebrides where the actual solution to the mystery haunting the hero is to be found, as well as contrasting narrative perspectives (first person present for the main protagonist, third person past tense for all other characters) -- and I also have to admit that loss-of-memory stories aren't my favorite type of mystery; chiefly because I never know with absolute certainty to what extent the described effects of the memory loss are in keeping with what is neurologically and psychologically / psychiatrically realistic.  (Which isn't to say that I distrust Peter May's level of research into the issue; still, there's always the odd little detail that has me thinking, "wow, for purposes of storytelling it's certainly convenient that he should [not] be able to remember this.") 

Also, again at the ending, the recovery of memory is happening a bit too quickly and completely, but what do I know ... if this is what May found to be possible, then so be it.   See what I mean about that little bit of uncertainty of where writerly imagination and storytelling needs come into play, though?

(show spoiler)

This all notwithstanding, however, I'm glad I've taken another, albeit "only" literary trip to the Hebrides -- and not just Harris and Lewis, either; some small parts of the book are also set on the Western Scottish mainland, just south of an area I particularly love, as well as on the Isle of Skye ... from where a couple of the story's characters take the early morning ferry to Harris, which is exactly what I did a few years ago, so this part of the book evoked a whole lot of memories as well.

 


Eilean Mòr, Flannan Isles: The lighthouse, chapel of St. Flannan and erstwhile rail tracks leading up to the lighthouse from the mooring place -- the novel's key Flannan Isles locations (photos from Wikipedia).

 


Leaving Uig (Isle of Skye) on the early morning ferry to Harris.

 


Harris Island: approach at dawn

 


The bridge connecting Harris and Lewis, from the sea.

 


On Harris Island

 


Tabert, Harris -- the ferry back to Uig, Isle of Skye.
(Even the bright yellow railing is mentioned in May's novel ...)




Isle of Skye: Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye Bridge



Isle of Skye: Sligachan Old Bridge



Western Scotland, near Achnasheen:
View towards the Torridon Mountains and Loch Maree

 

 


Western Scotland: in the Torridon Mountains, near Kinlochewe

 

 

 


Western Scotland, Applecross Peninsula: view of the Isle of Skye

 

 


Western Scotland: Sunset on Loch Torridon
(all photos of Harris, Skye and the Western Scottish mainland mine)

 

 

 
Joseph Sheridan Le  Fanu: Carmilla

I'd never read anything by Sheridan Le Fanu, even though In a Glass Darkly -- the short story collection which includes Carmilla -- has been sitting on my TBR for a minor eternity ... no pun intended.  So when Carmilla was picked as the "Classic Horror" group read, I made a snap decision to jump in and join, though I'm using this read for my card's "Vampire" square.

 

Carmilla predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by 25 years, and either both authors were equally inspired by the Romanian "Count Drácul" myth and its mountain setting or Stoker took a page and a half out of Sheridan Le Fanu's book.  Certainly, both vampires have similar attributes; not least their ability to shape-shift into a large mammal (a cat in Carmilla's case, a dog in Dracula's), which makes me wonder to what extent vampire and werewolf lore have common roots as well; and in both stories, ultimately a "vampire expert" is consulted and helps bring about the destruction of the vampire, strictly according to the rule book ... a stake through the heart coupled with a beheading.

 

Yet, Sheridan Le Fanu's story doesn't begin to come close to Stoker's in terms of atmosphere, and while Stoker's Jonathan Harker does acctually seek (and barely manage) to flee once he's clued into who his host is, Carmilla's hosts -- father and daughter alike -- keep wandering about with their eyes wide shut until it's almost too late, and have to be made wise by a friend who made the same mistake at the cost of his young ward's life.  Sheridan Le Fanu may have intended this approach as a concession to his readers' expected attitude ("well, really, there is no such thing as vampires"), but Stoker convincingly shows that if you're writing a book about supernatural monsters, there just comes a point where you have to kiss that attitude goodbye, and the more brutally and straightforward you do it, the more convincing it will ultimately come across.  (Heck, even Anne Rice managed that one better in Interview With the Vampire.)

 

That all being said, I'll likely go on to read the rest of In a Glass Darkly, too, even though probably in bits and pieces and not all in a single go.

 

 

Currently Reading:



 

First Bingo (Update 3 -- Sept. 23, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

  

 

 

Second Bingo (Update 5 -- Oct. 7, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

   

                                                                           

                                                   

                                                   

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 1:



Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites

 

 



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

 

 

 

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

 

 



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

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 2:



 Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

 

 


Ruth Rendell:

The Babes in the Wood

& Not in the Flesh

 

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

 

 


Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

 Raymond Chandler:

Farewell, My Lovely

  The Long Goodbye

The High Window

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 3:

 
Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

 

 
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(Prunella Scales & Samuel West audio)

 

 

 
Simon Brett: An Amateur Corpse

 

 

 

The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

(Bernadette Dunne audio)

 

 

  


Murder Most Foul (Anthology)

Edgar Allan Poe: The Dupin Stories -- The Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Mystery of Marie Rogêt / The Purloined Letter

(Kerry Shale audio)

 Agatha Christie: Endless Night
(BBC full cast dramatization)

 Dick Francis: Knockdown (Tim Pigott-Smith audio)


 

 Ngaio Marsh:

Artists in Crime (Benedict Cumberbatch audio)

Overture to Death (Anton Lesser audio)

Death and the Dancing Footman (Anton Lesser audio)

Surfet of Lampreys (Anton Lesser audio)

Opening Night (aka Night at the Vulcan) (Anton Lesser audio)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 4:

 
James D. Doss: Grandmother Spider

 

 


Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms

 

 


Ovid: Metamorphoses
(German / Latin parallel print edition and David Horovitch audio)

Apollodorus: Library of Greek Mythology

Plutarch: Life of Theseus

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Updates 5 & 6:

 
C.S. Forester: The African Queen

 

 

 
Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(David Thorpe audio)

 

 

 


Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

 

 

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

Change of plan:

C.S. Forester: The African Queen




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

Change of Plan:

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Carmilla




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 / The High Window

* 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Linda and me!

 

 

Spot the Cat!

His new favorite spot -- right in front of my desk, in my office.

 

I got him this bed yesterday, and since it's such a rousing success, I went straight back to the store today and also bought him the remaining two they had left (they were on sale) ... This should hopefully go some way towards taking care of all that black fur on my living room rug!

Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 6

The African Queen - C.S. Forester, Michael  Kitchen The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham, David Thorpe The Snowman - Jo Nesbø The Devil in the Marshalsea - Antonia Hodgson

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Updates 5 & 6:

 
C.S. Forester: The African Queen

C.S. Forester's wartime story about a trip down a mighty African river -- OK, so it's typically billed as a blend of romance and adventure (which is doubtlessly correct), but there are also enough elements of suspense for me to feel justified to claim it as a "Romantic Suspense" read -- heck, there's even a court martial.

Forester's original Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnutt are English, not American as in the movie starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, of course (and just in case you forget, Michael Kitchen's -- excellent -- reading leaves absolutely no doubt about this fact), which to a certain extent makes them different from the characters in the well-known movie adaptation, insofar as socialization impinges on behavior: both Rose and Charlie are class-conscious products of Edwardian Britain, and they have thus even more unwritten hurdles to overcome than the movie adaptation's characters.  Yet, they rally admirably, and their exchanges are great fun to follow along. -- The book doesn't answer my one big personal eyebrow-raiser any more satisfactorily than does the movie (namely, how Rose manages to not only learn to navigate at all, but to navigate skillfully enough to successfully steer the African Queen through a series of vicious rapids in a matter of days since she first grasped the meaning of terms such as "starboard" and the basic functioning of the boat's steering mechanism), but I suppose realism is a priority only up to a certain point in an adventure story, and by and large the fun and excitement in the narrative maintains the upper hand, and I am glad to have finally listened to a book that's on my TBR for way too long.

 

 

 
Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(David Thorpe audio)

 

Oh, good grief, can you say repetitive, redundant and stuffed with filler?  There is a story in there somewhere in this book, but by the time of the main characters' third (re)capture at the hands of the bad guys and subsequent failed escape attempt I'd essentially forgotten -- and stopped to care -- what the book's actual murder mystery was supposed to be concerned with.  If the whole kidnapping thing was in service of misdirection, then Ms. Allingham managed to direct me clean out of the book ... or she would have, if it hadn't been for David Thorpe, whose narration makes the most of the novel's characters and is the only reason this audiobook ever even got beyond the 2 star mark on my radar.  Even aside from the obvious filler and repetitiveness, the story is flat-out ridiculous (even more so than that of Look to the Lady, and that is decidedly not one of my favorite Campion books, either) -- the Golden Age mystery reading public must have been one forgiving sort of readership if Ms. Allingham was able to build a career as a mystery writer on the basis of this particular book.  If I hadn't already read other books from the series and thus didn't know that the quality of the plots actually did improve later on, this first book certainly would not have been an incentive for me to continue with the series at all.

 

That said, knowing that Albert Campion wasn't the star of the book I was surprised to see him being given more stage time than I had expected, and next to Mr. Thorpe's narration he was one of this book's saving graces for me; even though he is decidedly more of a cipher than in the later books, and even though the one voice I didn't care for in this audio version was Campion's, of all things.

 

Final note: Not even the cover of this audio recording is correct -- the murder weapon is a dagger, not poison or something else being imbibed.  Oh well.  Onwards and upwards from here, I suppose!

 

 


Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

I debated giving this book a 4.5 star rating for the addictive quality of Nesbø's writing alone -- but let's face it, I don't particularly like serial killer novels, I found few characters here with whom I could truly empathize; and between Harry Bosch, John Rebus and Kurt Wallander I've also reached a certain saturation level when it comes to policeman protagonists with a seriously bruised and damaged ego.  So, even if I will likely be reading more books from this series, I probably won't be rushing back to it.  That said, the story was well told; Nesbø certainly has a way with words (and with scenery and atmosphere), and even though I had an inkling early on where things would end up -- based both on the clues given at the very beginning as much as based on the inner dynamics of virtually every serial killer story

(namely, the personal duel between the killer and the policeman in pursuit of him, and the killer's desire to hit the policeman where it will hurt him most)

(show spoiler)

-- the book held my attention until the very end, and I could certainly have picked a much inferior book for this particular Halloween square.

 

May thanks to Tigus for the recommendation -- as I said, Nesbø is an author I'll likely want to return to at a given time, even if not in the very immediate future.

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

First Bingo (Update 3 -- Sept. 23, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

  

 

 

Second Bingo (Update 5 -- Oct. 7, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

   

                                                                           

                                                   

                                                   

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 1:



Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites

 

 



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

 

 

 

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

 

 



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

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 2:



 Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

 

 


Ruth Rendell:

The Babes in the Wood

& Not in the Flesh

 

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

 

 


Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

 Raymond Chandler:

Farewell, My Lovely

  The Long Goodbye

The High Window

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 3:

 
Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

 

 
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(Prunella Scales & Samuel West audio)

 

 

 
Simon Brett: An Amateur Corpse

 

 

 

The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

(Bernadette Dunne audio)

 

 

  


Murder Most Foul (Anthology)

Edgar Allan Poe: The Dupin Stories -- The Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Mystery of Marie Rogêt / The Purloined Letter

(Kerry Shale audio)

 Agatha Christie: Endless Night
(BBC full cast dramatization)

 Dick Francis: Knockdown (Tim Pigott-Smith audio)


 

 Ngaio Marsh:

Artists in Crime (Benedict Cumberbatch audio)

Overture to Death (Anton Lesser audio)

Death and the Dancing Footman (Anton Lesser audio)

Surfet of Lampreys (Anton Lesser audio)

Opening Night (aka Night at the Vulcan) (Anton Lesser audio)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 4:

 
James D. Doss: Grandmother Spider

 

 


Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms

 

 


Ovid: Metamorphoses
(German / Latin parallel print edition and David Horovitch audio)

Apollodorus: Library of Greek Mythology

Plutarch: Life of Theseus

 

 

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

Change of plan:

C.S. Forester: The African Queen




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 / The High Window

* 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Merken

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Merken

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Merken

Detection Club Bingo: My Progress So Far

Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne The Tales of Max Carrados - Ernest Bramah, Stephen Fry The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

 

Chapter 1, A New Era Dawns: Ernest Bramah - The Tales of Max Carrados

Chapter 5, Miraculous Mysteries: Anthony Wynne - Murder of a Lady

 

The book that started it all:

Martin Edwards - The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

The Detection Club Reading Lists:
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: The "100 Books" Presented
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 1-5

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 6 & 7
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 8-10
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 11-15
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 16-20
The story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 21-24

A Blind Sherlock Holmes

The Tales of Max Carrados - Ernest Bramah, Stephen Fry

 

Ernest Bramah's tales of the independently wealthy, blind amateur detective Max Carrados were once featured in Strand Magazine alongside Arthur Conan Dolye's Sherlock Holmes stories, and jointly with those and R. Austin Freeman's Dr. Thorndyke narratives they carried the distinction of having been singled out by George Orwell as "the only detective stories since Poe that are worth rereading."  Yet, like so much of Golden Age crime fiction their reputation didn't survive their own time, and once more it is thanks to Martin Edwards that I have discovered them ... though a resounding shout-out is due to Person of Interest for pointing me to this delicious audio version narrated by Stephen Fry.

 

Carrados has lost his eyesight as a consequence of a riding accident; he is suffering from the type of blindness known as amaurosis, i.e., vision loss that occurs without an apparent lesion affecting the eye.  (And yes, I looked that one up.)  Due to this fact, and also because he has since trained his other senses to replace his lost visual faculties, Carrados's blindness is not always immediately spotted by his interlocutors, and Bramah has great fun setting up these types of situations over and over -- a bit too much fun for the sake of credibility, in fact:  Martin Edwards quotes Bramah as having intended to highlight the "extraordinary achievements of blind people over the years," making special note of the fact that "many of the realities of fact have been deemed too improbable to be transferred to fiction."  Yet, Bramah's intent was quite obviously also to create a blind "great detective" in the same league as Sherlock Holmes -- whose methods of detection and sudden pronouncements of a solution that has been obvious to him alone while everybody else is still (figuratively) groping about in the dark are strikingly similar to Carrados's ... or rather, vice versa -- and in his intent to combine detective superpowers with an apparently severely crippling impairment Bramah overshoots the mark occasionally.  Only rarely do we  experience Carrados as much at the mercy of his seeing opponents as in the last story contained in this collection, "The Missing Witness Sensation."

 

Nevertheless, Bramah's style is engaging and the stories, which in this collection range from 1914 -- the year of Carrados's first appearance -- into the 1920s, are great fun to follow along, particularly of course when narrated by the one and only Stephen Fry.  (If it hadn't been for him I'd have given this collection a 4-star rating, but that just simply wouldn't have done justice to Fry's reading.  So only a half-star reduction remains to mark the fact that Carrados's faculties on occasion strain credibility.)  Not all of the mysteries concern murder; again like Sherlock Holmes, Carrados -- who in addition to being a detective is also an expert in numismatics -- is also called upon in particularly devious instances of theft and fraud.  And once more like the denizen of 221b Baker Street, Carrados has his Watson, a disbarred-lawyer-turned-professional-private-detective named Carlyle (a former school fellow of Carrados's; they meet again in their respective changed circumstances in the very first story, "The Coin of Dionysus," where Carlyle consults Carrados in his numismatic capacity, only to briskly unveil the would-be-detective), as well as a valet and driver named Parkinson, who very helpfully has a photographic memory. -- The stories are told from a third person narrative perspective, however, and neither Carlyle nor Parkinson appear in every single one of them.

 

In the context of the Detection Club bingo based on Martin Edwards's Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, this fulfills chapter / square 1, "A New Era Dawns."

 

In the context of the Halloween bingo, this would match the "Amateur Sleuth," "Murder Most Foul" and "Darkest London" squares; some of the stories would also qualify as "Locked Room Mysteries."

 

The Detection Club bingo card:

 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Babes in the ... Loch?

Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne

 

Well, this was a fun read.

 

Anthony Wynne (real name: Robert McNair Wilson), Martin Edwards informs us in this book's preface and in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, was the long-standing medical correspondent of The Times; a man with many and varied interests which, in addition to his medical profession and  publications in subjects ranging from science to history and, well, detective fiction -- also included politics and national economics.

 

His abiding interest in psychology (by training, he was a cardiologist and a nerve specialist) is certainly at play in this novel as well, in which the spinster sister of an impoverished Scottish laird is found dead in her bedroom, after its locked doors have been forced open.  The room's windows are likewise locked, and though she has suffered a brutally-administered (and obviously fatal) wound, no murder weapon is found, and she has lost surprisingly little blood given the nature of her wound.

 

Dr. Eustace Hailey -- Wynne's "great detective" and almost certainly at least in part a stand-in for the author, whose opinions and outlook on life he seems to share in quite a number of respects -- is called in to the investigation by the regional Procurator Fiscal, but shooed away again with comparatively little grace by the inspector sent by Police Headquarters in Glasgow to investigate the murder ... only to be resorted to once more (with equally little grace) in a matter of days, when the inspector's investigative trails have summarily run cold.

 

The murdered woman locally had a reputation touching on saintlihood, but was in fact a manipulative witch of the worst order who held her entire household in an oppressive stranglehold -- she was, in other words, a textbook Golden Age mystery victim.  Motives for her murder abound, but neither they nor the apparent opportunities to commit the crime are consistent with the psychology of the potential suspects, and just like Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Dr. Hailey refuses to attach guilt to a would-be suspect as long as motive, means, evidence and psychology are not aligned.  It also doesn't seem to help that local rumour soon ascribes the lady's death to a selkie believed to be living in Loch Fyne, where the events are taking place (I'd initially thought the book was set on Loch Lomond: turns out I was in error by two Trossach mountain ranges; still, the scenery is similar), on the strength of a fish scale found near the dead woman's body.

 

The novel is tightly-plotted, and I tremendously enjoyed both its psychological aspects and Wynne's way with words -- and unlike Tigus and Moonlight Reader I also didn't mind the amount of dialogue.  There were some things that didn't make sense to me, which I'm going to address in the spoiler below, but they didn't impinge on my enjoyment half as much as they might have in a weaker book.  By and large the story hangs together very well, and though the calamities certainly pile up towards the end, Wynne also manages to tie it up neatly and without any obvious rush.

 

As a coincidental side note, several elements of this book also tied in with my recent Halloween Bingo reads ... one of them being a reference to "the babes in the wood," a proverb based on a traditional children's tale dealing with -- you guessed it -- two kids all alone in the woods, after their parents have unwittingly left them to the care of their evil uncle, who in short order proceeds to deliver them into the hands of murderers.  The tale was first published as a ballad by Thomas Millington in Norwich in 1595 -- the late 19th century Caldecott version is available for free on the Project Gutenberg site -- and has given rise to a proverb indicating essentially the same as someone being "in over their head"; i.e., being overwhelmed by situation requiring decidedly more experience than one really possesses.  That would certainly be an apt description for many a member of the dead woman's household in this novel -- at least as much, if not more so than in Ruth Rendell's novel of the same name, which I read for (obviously) the "In the Dark, Dark Woods" square of the Halloween Bingo.

 

All in all, I am very grateful to Martin Edwards and the British Library for having unearthed this little gem after almost a century's worth of neglect, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for more books by Anthony Wynne ... hoping I can find them, that is.

 

NOTE: Don't read the below spoiler if you haven't read / finished this book yet; I'm going to address, inter alia, the novel's conclusion there.

 

 

Alright, so here are the things that had me scratching my head, and which prevented this from getting an even higher star rating:

 

 

 

1.) The "concealed" footsteps outside the writing room window below Mary Gregor's bedroom. "Covering up" footsteps with dirt (from the same ground they're in, in the first place) and they're supposed to still remain pristine underneath the "covering" dirt just waiting to be, ahem, unearthed by a detective unsatisfied with the apparently untouched appearance of that particular piece of ground?  Balderdash.

 

2.)  Eoghan's and Dr. McDonald's response to Dr. Hailey's arguments on the boat.  We're talking about an era when, and a social class where, people (well, men, anyway) who had terminally failed -- either in business, i.e., who had gone bankrupt, or personally, including having committed a crime or caused any other situation that would bring their family and loved ones into abject disrepute (like a murder trial certainly would, even if they were innocent; and both Eoghan and Dr. McDonald explicitly make reference to this) -- were quite literally socially expected to execute justice on themselves by committing suicide.  (Thomas Mann, for one, derived considerable mileage out of this circumstance alone in his writings.)  In fact, we're explicitly told repeatedly that the Duchlan family code, too, firmly embodied this line of thought.   Similarly -- as the odious Inspector Barley observes in one of his astuter moments -- husbands were expected to throw themselves on the sword in order to safeguard the honour of their wives, innocent or not; and Eoghan has demonstrated his willingness to do precisely that once already (and I couldn't help but root for him then, if only because it managed to shut Barley up good and proper for once at least).  And I know enough about people facing up to a terminal crisis that -- unlike people running away from it -- the only arguments these people will listen to are arguments conclusively addressing the worst case they see before themselves. Unless you can show them a convincing way to deal with that worst case, they won't care a jot about any spurious hope that it just might not come to that -- they are leagues past that sort of hope.

 

Now, when Eoghan and Dr. McDonald take Eoghan's boat out on the loch, they have both been both facing up to the consequences of a murder trial involving Oonagh and Dr. McDonald -- they aren't running away (without Oonagh, at that) but planning to commit suicide in order to spare her the trial and safeguard the Duchlan family name.  Yet, Dr. Hailey's arguments when persuading them to desist do not actually address the eventuality of a guilty verdict; nor the risk that nothing would actually be gained in Oonagh's favour by their proposed suicide.  His arguments are, essentially, of the "well, it might not come to that" and "surely, the jury would be more reasonable than you in your muddled-brain and worried current state expect them to be" brand that would easily convince only someone running away from a problem and willing to cling to every bit of spurious hope.  But both Eoghan and Dr. McDonald are past that point; in addition to which, as Dr. McDonald points out, between drowning and the rope, drowning would conceivably have been the easier death. -- So I was very surprised at the ease with which Dr. Hailey manages to get them to, literally, turn around; this didn't strike me as in keeping with the psychological insight at play in the rest of the novel at all.

 

3.)  The murder method.  By which I don't mean the use of ice as such -- that's a time-honoured "impossible crime" trope that has been used by everbody from John Dickson Carr (who even included it expressly as an example in his lecture on the seven types of locked room mysteries) and Roald Dahl to ... the author of another Halloween Bingo read of mine, James D. Doss.  Yet, leaving aside that killing someone by hitting them with a huge block of ice from a considerable height requires both a great deal of precision and for the victim to stand still long enough for that block of ice to hit its target (i.e., a hell of a lot of coincidence at play), only in the two last murders do I even buy into the reason why the victim ended up standing where they could be killed that way in the first place: Barley was enticed to move that way, and Duchlan had the misfortune to move where Dr. Hailey had set his trap; i.e., in his case, coincidence actually was at play in the worst of all possible ways.

 

However, most buildings from before WWI -- even "ordinary" city dwellings; even more so, centuries-old castles like Duchlan in this novel -- have outer walls that are easily several feet worth of massive stone in width.  And I know from personal experience (having lived in turn-of-the[19th-to-20th]-century buildings both as a kid and for several years while I was living in Berlin) that nothing works as a more efficient bar shielding the interior of such a building from outside weather conditions than these walls -- no air conditioning required whatsover.  Thus, even if it is (as we are told) swelteringly hot outside, you won't feel the heat indoors; in fact, it may even be so cool indoors that you find yourself resorting to a sweater, only to wish you could dispense with any and all clothing the second you step outside.  And yet, in precisely such a building, we're to believe that people move to the window for purposes of cooling down ... at a time when the air outside is (even though it's evening) quite likely still warmer than the air indoors?  Not on your life. -- (Added to which, again there is some mighty coincidence at play in the first murder, as there was no reason to expect Mary Gregor to even step to the window in the first place, as only the sudden shock she had received minutes earlier made her decide to close it at all, whereas usually it was her habit to sleep with her windows wide open.)

(show spoiler)

 

This novel fullfills the chapter 5 square on the Detection Club bingo card, "Miraculous Murders" (locked room mysteries and impossible crimes).

 

In the context of the Halloween Bingo, it would fit "Amateur Sleuth", "Country House Murders", "Murder Most Foul" and, of course, also "Locked Room Mystery."

 

The Detection Club bingo card:

 

Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 5 -- BINGO No. 2!

Third (= middle) row.

 

 

The "bingo" squares and books read:

 

   

                                                                           

                                                   

                                                   

 

Plus a bingo-"ready" completed column (second from right), another bingo in the wings as soon as "Classic Horror" is called, and several more completed rows and columns.

 

Considering that I've approached this bingo chiefly in "mood reader" mode, the calls continue to be extraordinarily lucky for me.

 

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                  Read = Called

 

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

 

 Reviews for the books I've read most recently will follow separately!

Merken

Merken

Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 288 pages.

Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne

Well done on your response to the odious Inspector Barley's cross examination, Eoghan.  That was admirable (even if predictably ultimately futile), and it makes me hope that you and your immediate family will come out of these strange events OK and with possibly even a hope for a better future.

 

I'm not buying into any of the suspects that are being shoved under my nose, however much it may seem that logically they are the only persons that can have committed the crimes (and however much superficially they might have had a motive).  There's an agent manipulating things in the background, I'm fairly certain -- Wynne places way too great an emphasis on psychology and on Mary Gregor's stranglehold of the entire Duchlan clan, from her youth onwards.  The solution has to be connected to that.

Reading progress update: I've read 84 out of 288 pages.

Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne

Hmmm.  Seems I've gotten to the novel's first major game-changing point, so it's as well to take a break here.  So far I'm loving it -- how inconceivable that this book should have been buried beneath the sands of time for the better part of a century.  Thanks and kudos to Martin Edwards and the British Library for unearthing it!

 

That said, I agree with Moonlight Reader that Mary Gregor is / was a hateful woman, and I very much share Dr. Hailey's sentiments when he quotes a popular comment:

 

"It's a wonder no one has murdered her before."

(show spoiler)

Side note: Since this book's author was a doctor by profession himself, I wonder where we're going with the kid's alleged "brain fever."  I can't help but think Wynne is setting this one up as a major debunking of that particular myth ... Dr. Hailey strikes me as way too commonsensical (and also way too good a psychologist, even if not one by training) to believe in that sort of nonsense himself.

 

Cat and Book Lovers: This Bag Was Made for You ...

Just shared on my FB wall by a friend ... isn't it too cute?

"Murder of a Lady" Buddy Read: Setting the Scene

Murder of a Lady (British Library Crime Classics) - Anthony Wynne

So, a thumbnail-size insert on the book's back cover informs us that the stunning front cover of Murder of a Lady is taken from an old advertisement poster for Tarbet Hotel on Loch Lomond.  (This isn't the only book where the British Library does this sort of mini "front cover source reveal" on the back, and I love them for that alone!)

 

That being the case, I figured I'd add some (more or less) present day visual context from a visit to the area some years ago, since Mr. Wynne informs us in the book's very first line that we are, indeed, in Argyll, so the selection of the British Library cover is not a random pretty picture from the Scottish Highlands but one striving for a certain level of period authenticity.

 


Tarbet Hotel aerial views (on YouTube)
(Note: When in BL Dashboard view, click on the link -- the video insert only shows in blog view.)

 

Though we didn't visit Tarbet during our trip, we did see several similarly fine old buildings on the shores of Loch Lomond; typically private properties whose access is barred to the general public, but which you can at least view from afar during a boat trip on the loch (or when climbing one of the nearby hillsides).

 

... and here's some more of the Loch Lomond scenery (with Ben Lomond [= Mt. Lomond] figuring prominently in the last two pictures):

 

Merken

Kazuo Ishiguro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall - KAZUO ISHIGURO The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro

   

Yey!  I wasn't totally enamored with The Buried Giant and Nocturnes (and I've yet to read The Unconsoled and An Artist of the Floating World), but I'm a fan of his on the basis of Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day, and When We Were Orphans alone.

 

Congratulations, Mr. Ishiguro!

Halloween Bingo 2017: Update 4

Grandmother Spider - James D. Doss Men at Arms (Discworld, #15) - Terry Pratchett Metamorphosen - Ovid Metamorphoses - Ovid, David Horovitch, Ian Johnston The Library of Greek Mythology (Oxford World's Classics) - Apollodorus, Robin Hard Plutarch’s Lives: Life of Theseus - Plutarch, John Dryden The Devil in the Marshalsea - Antonia Hodgson The Snowman - Jo Nesbø

 

 

My Square Markers and "Virgin" Bingo Card:

"Virgin" card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.


Black Kitty:
Read but not called


Black Vignette:
Called but not read

Black Kitty in Black Vignette:
Read and Called

Black Kitty Center Square:

                    Read = Called

 

 

Current Status of Spreadsheet:

(Note: Physical print editions unless stated otherwise)

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 4:

 
James D. Doss: Grandmother Spider

I "rediscovered" James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series during last year's bingo -- in fact, I had been sufficiently impressed with what I'd read about the books when I first found out about them years ago to buy several of them at a time, only to let them get buried, however, under a pile of other purchases in the interim.  Thank God, therefore, for last year's "Full Moon" square, which made me undust White Shell Woman, the serie's no.7 book ... whose events follow closely on the heels of Grandmother Spider, the book I chose for this year's "Diverse Voices" square!

 

Charlie Moon, the series's protagonist, is Acting Chief of the Ute Tribal Police; he usually teams up in his investigations with his friend Scott Parris, the Police Chief of Granite Creek, CO (who used to be the protagonist of the series's first book -- though Charlie took over from him soon enough).

 

Doss seemed to have a penchant for doings during dark and stormy nights; however, there is nothing Bulwer-Lytton'ish about his settings: You could easily be scared sh*tless by the atmosphere that he creates, if it weren't for the laugh-out-loud crap shots that he takes at himself and his characters just when things are on the point of getting serously spooky.  As such, at the beginning of Grandmother Spider, Charlie Moon's aunt Daisy -- a Ute shaman and tribal elder -- at nightfall tells her nine year old ward Sarah the legend of Grandmother Spider, a giant arachnid demon / deity / monster / spirit believed to live below Navajo Lake, to come out and avenge the death of any spiders killed by humans (such as, you guessed it, Sarah has just done) and to store any human bodies she isn't ready to eat just yet high up in a convenient tree.  (Shelob and her kin from The Hobbit, anyone?)  Only minutes later, they are confronted by a huge, round thing with eight tentacle-like legs and flashing lights that may or may not be eyes, flying past Daisy's trailer at the mouth of Canyon del Espíritu in Southern Colorado ... which does an instant vanishing act after having absorbed two rounds of bird shot that Daisy has emptied into it on the suspicion that it just might be a UFO carrying space aliens.  Minutes earlier, the same mysterious apparition has already been witnessed, in not-quite-biblical fashion, by a lone sheperd watching his flock at night on a nearby mountain ridge (failing any other logical explanation, he blames the apparition on the Government in D.C., once more out to annoy its loyal citizens out West), and somehow, the whole thing also seems to have something to do with the unlikely drinking-and-fishing -- mostly drinking -- fellowship spontaneously formed on the shores of Lake Navajo by a Ute tribesman and a New Mexico scientist passing through on his way to Albuquerque, who maybe would have done better heeding the warning in the rearview mirror of the Ute's truck: "Caution: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."  (One of them will, shortly thereafter, be discovered in a state of severe hypothermia up a tree quite a distance away, which of course does nothing for dispelling the supernatural overtones of these events.)

 

The solution to it all is, I am happy to report, anything but supernatural; however, high marks to Mr. Doss for sheer wackiness and invention alone.  What I like most about his books, though -- aside from his dry and spot-on sense of humor -- is the way in which the Native American spiritual world and beliefs and the secular world of the late 20th century blend together in a truly engaging storyline, with equal respect being paid to both; and on that count, Grandmother Spider delivers every bit as successfully as White Shell Woman.  What a pity Mr. Doss passed away in 2012 and there will be no new instalments to the series ... though I am looking forward to the 15 volumes I have yet to discover!

 

 


Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms

I'm not a big fan of werewolf or shifter literature -- but I'll gladly use any excuse out there to read another book from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, so here we go!

 

Men at Arms is part of the Night Watch subseries; it's the first book in which the Watch's werewolf recruit Angua makes her appearance, and to lasting effect ... though the star of this particular instalment, truth be told, is a flea-ridden canine mongrel about a third (or a forth) Angua's size named Gaspode who's acquired the gift of speech (and trust Pratchett not to go all soppy and anthropomorphic on this one).  After a bit of a meandering beginning, the story settles on the mysterious disappearance of a unique, lethal invention by local polymath Leonardo da Quirm, consisting of a barrel connected to a cylinder holding six cartridges filled with a "No.1 Powder" that are discharged pyrotechnically, and known as "the gonne".  Very much to the Guild of Assassins' annoyance, Sam Vimes and his Watch (which in addition to Angua has also acquired a dwarf and a troll recruit) discover

(1) the "gonne"'s existance, which had heretofore been a closely-guarded secret, (2) the fact that it had been entrusted to the Guild of Assassins for safekeeping, (3) the fact that it seems to have been stolen, and (4) the fact that it seems to be associated with several suspicious deaths occurring in quick succession.

(show spoiler)

 

Furthermore, we learn that Sam Vimes is getting married, and how it comes about that

(despite all appearances to the contrary) he remains with the Watch after all and the subseries doesn't come to a grinding halt with this particular book.

(show spoiler)

 

Although I loved Angua's and Gaspode's exchanges in particular, for some reason this book didn't grab me quite as much as some of the others in the series -- though don't get me wrong, this is measured only by Pratchett's very particular standards.  I'll be the first to admit I'm fairly spoiled at this point, and I'll gladly take any book by Pratchett over many another writer's best efforts.

 

 


Ovid: Metamorphoses
(German / Latin parallel print edition and David Horovitch audio)

Apollodorus: Library of Greek Mythology

Plutarch: Life of Theseus

For the "Monsters" square, I decided to revisit Ovid's Metamorphoses -- I had initially only been planning on the "Perseus and Medusa" and "Theseus and the Minotauros" episodes, but David Horovitch's fabulous reading drew me right back in and I decided to -- with apologies to Odysseus and his companions at Circe's court -- go the whole hog after all. If you only know Mr. Horovitch as the Inspector Slack of the BBC's 1980s adaptations of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries, do yourself a favor and run, don't walk to get an audiobook narrated by him.  I recently listened to his reading of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, and his narration alone lifts the gut-punch quality of that novel to a wholly different visceral level in a way I would never have believed it to be possible, short of Franco Zeffirelli's movie adaptation, that is.  I get goosebumps merely thinking about that audio recording.

The Metamorphoses are Roman poet Ovid's tour de force parcours through a millennium's worth of Greek and Roman mythology, focusing on the stories that (as the title says) involve some sort of transformation of one being into another -- nymphs into plants and animals, humans into all sorts of creatures (animal, vegetable, mineral, you name it) ... and of course, gods into whatever they please to be as well.  The book begins with the Greek creation myth (the three "prehistoric" ages -- golden, silver, and iron --, the creation of humanity from "the bones of mother Earth," i.e., rocks, by Deucalion and Pyrrha after the end of the Deluge, and the beginning of a new age), and it successively moves forward until it reaches the Trojan War, the travels of Aeneas, the mythical origins of Rome and, finally, the ages of Caesar and Augustus (i.e., Ovid's own lifetime).  The narration is somewhat difficult to follow at times, as it is not strictly linear and contains numerous "stories within a story"; yet, for its sheer narrative and topical audacity this is justifiedly one of world literature's great classics.

 

Yet, for almost all of their topical content, the Metamorphoses are only one of several sources; many of the myths recounted by Ovid are also to be found in other collections, such as those by Hesiod, Homer (of course), Vergil's Aeneid (ditto), even historians such as Plutarch and Livy -- as mythology and history formed a seamless blend in Antiquity -- and, especially, also the Library of Greek Mythology traditionally attributed to Apollodorus of Alexandria.

 

So for comparison's sake, I also consulted some of these sources; namely, Apollodorus's Library -- which contains among the most detailed renditions extant of both the Perseus and the Theseus myth -- as well as Plutarch's Life of Theseus, which collectively relies on all Greek sources available to Plutarch (some of which are now considered lost) and gives an overview of the, in part, substantially different versions of the Theseus saga.

 

(Just in case, for those unfamiliar with Greek mythology:

 

Medusa was a Gorgon, one of three erstwhile very beautiful sisters bewitched so as to have snakes for hair; whoever looked directly at Medusa's face was instantly turned to stone. Perseus was able to kill her after the goddess Athena (Minerva to the Romans) had given him a shield polished to mirror clarity; he cut off Medusa's head while she was sleeping and later used it to rescue a princess (Andromeda) from a sea dragon -- as a result of which her grateful parents gave him Andromeda's hand in marriage -- and to defeat his own enemies, including Andromeda's former suitor.

 

The Minotauros was half human and half bull; he was the offspring of an adulterous relationship of the wife of the king of Crete (Minos) and the sacred bull of Zeus (to the Romans; Jove / Jupiter). (Minotauros means "Minos's bull"). As a result of a war between Crete and Athens that Crete (Minos) had won, Minos was entitled to demand tribute from Athens, and his demand was a yearly tribute of seven Athenean young men and seven Athenean virgins.  Theseus, the son of Athen's king, sailed to Crete as one of the seven young men to be delivered on the third such voyage, and with the help of Minos's daughter Ariadne (who had fallen in love with him and had given him a thread so as to not lose his way), he was able to make his way into the labyrinth where the Minotauros was kept and kill the monster, thus freeing Athens from its obligation.

 

 


The Minoan Palace at Knossos, Crete:

Even in Antiquity, not everybody believed the version that Minos had a labyrinth built in which to hide the Minotauros, and indeed, the royal palace itself consists of such a myriad of rooms and hallways that it must have been very easy to get lost there: very likely it was reports of the palace itself that were embellished and expanded on in the process of repetition, until the legend of the labyrinth was born. (Photos: mine.)

 

Agios Nikolaos, Crete: Statue of Europa and the Bull

Crete is the location of a number of important Greek myths; among others, that of the abduction of Europa by Zeus / Jupiter, who is believed to have approached her in the guise of a bull.  This story, too, is (of course) recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses. (Photo: mine.)

 

 

Next Reads:

 

 

 

First Bingo (Update 3 -- Sept. 23, 2017): Squares and Books Read:

  

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 1:



Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites

 

 



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

 

 

 

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

 

 



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

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 2:



 Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

 

 


Ruth Rendell:

The Babes in the Wood

& Not in the Flesh

 

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

 

 


Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

 Raymond Chandler:

Farewell, My Lovely

  The Long Goodbye

The High Window

 

 

Books Read / Listened to - Update 3:

 
Martin Edwards: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

 

 
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(Prunella Scales & Samuel West audio)

 

 

 
Simon Brett: An Amateur Corpse

 

 

 

The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows

 

 

 

Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

(Bernadette Dunne audio)

 

 

  


Murder Most Foul (Anthology)

Edgar Allan Poe: The Dupin Stories -- The Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Mystery of Marie Rogêt / The Purloined Letter

(Kerry Shale audio)

 Agatha Christie: Endless Night
(BBC full cast dramatization)

 Dick Francis: Knockdown (Tim Pigott-Smith audio)

 


 

 Ngaio Marsh:

Artists in Crime (Benedict Cumberbatch audio)

Overture to Death (Anton Lesser audio)

Death and the Dancing Footman (Anton Lesser audio)

Surfet of Lampreys (Anton Lesser audio)

Opening Night (aka Night at the Vulcan) (Anton Lesser audio)

 

 

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 / The High Window

* 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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