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Showing posts from September, 2007

Mystery author #35: Ngaio Marsh (WARNING: Very long post)

It may well surprise some to discover that until last month I had not read a single book by this illustrious mystery author, whose name is often mentioned in the same sentence as those of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, but it is really not surprising when you consider that Marsh's books seem to be mostly out of print (which makes me wonder: if she is as good as Christie and Sayers, why are her books not in print? Perhaps they are between printing cycles?). It is to be hoped that they will be re-issued as the ones I read are quite entertaining and certainly better than some of the modern mysteries I have been reading lately.

The author review is based on the first five books in the series. It will be interesting to see if my opinions change with further reading.

I will only review the books briefly and rate them. I will discuss the things they have in common in the author review.

Series detective: Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn of the Scotland Yard. In four of the…

Bibliophile reviews Going to Extremes by Joe McGinniss

Year published: 1980
Genre: Non-fiction, travel
Setting & time: Alaska, USA, late 1970s

McGinniss wanted to experience Alaska in all it's guises and seasons and went to live there for a year. The outcome was this report, often funny, sometimes sad or poignant, about a land and society during a period of rapid change. He takes a look at the problems facing the native communities, many of which were caused by the social-upheaval brought on by the arrival of the white man, and also at pioneers, oilmen, opportunists, politicians, scholars and ordinary people, all of them trying to make a living in the harsh environment of the USA's biggest state.

McGinniss does his best to avoid criticising the less savoury aspects of what he saw by trying to describe without judging, but one can not avoid noticing the subtle sarcasm that creeps into his prose whenever he mentions the oil pipeline, oilmen or oil-supporters and oil-supporting politicians, so his stance on that subject is rather obv…

Mystery author #34: Nancy Martin

Series: The Blackbird sisters
Series detective: Nora Blackbird, aided by her sisters Libby and Emma and Michael Abruzzo whom she is sort of dating but afraid to commit to
Type of investigator: Amateurs
Setting & time: Philadelphia, PA, USA; modern timeless
Type of mystery: Murder

Title:How to Murder a Millionaire
No. in series: 1
Year of publication: 2002

Story: When her parents flee the country and leave her with the family farm that has a 2 million dollar tax debt on it, recently widowed Nora Blackbird needs to find a job to pay the bills. A former debutante and society wife, all she really knows how to do is plan parties and be a hostess. This turns out to be the perfect background when she is hired as a society reporter by an old friend of the family who happens to own a newspaper. But then Nora finds him dead and it turns out he was murdered. The police ask for her help, as she knows everyone involved and knows how Philly high-society works. She becomes deeply involved in the investi…

Reading report for August 2007

I finished 13 books in August, and added three new authors to my challenge (I am writing the last review). I managed to finish 4 books I had started some time ago and then stopped reading.

Reviewed:
Laura Childs: Shades of Earl Grey
Deborah Crombie: A Share in Death

Unreviewed:
Leslie Carroll: Miss Match
Lorrain D'Essen: Kangaroos in the Kitchen
Barry Paris: Audrey Hepburn
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Georges Simenon: Maigret and the Toy Village
Paul Theroux, ed.: The Best American Travel Writing 2001

Reviews coming up:
Ngaio Marsh: A Man lay dead, Enter a murderer, The Nursing Home Murder, Death in Ecstacy
Nancy Martin: How to Murder a Millionnaire (I'm reading the second book in this series and will review them together)

Mystery author #33: Laura Childs

Title:Shades of Earl Grey
Series detective: Theodosia ‘Theo’ Browning
No. in series: 3
Year of publication: 2003
Type of mystery: Theft, possible manslaughter
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: Charleston, SC, USA; modern timeless

Story: When a number of valuable antiques are stolen and a young groom is tragically killed in a possibly theft-related incident, Theodosia seems to be the only one who thinks there might be a cat burglar specialising in antiques at work in Charleston. Some speculation and a little investigation reveals three possible suspects, and she and her sidekick, Drayton, plan a trap to capture the thief.

SPOILER WARNING:


Review: I love cozy mysteries and I had expectations of this book, but unfortunately it fell a long way from those expectations. It’s cozy all right, but the plotting is weak and the sleuthing consists mostly of conjecture and asking a friendly police officer some questions. Additionally, the sleuth commits what to me amounts to a crime: in a f…