Meet Eric the Skull, the mascot for The Detection Club! According to wikipedia:
The Detection Club was formed in 1930 by a group of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Arthur Morrison, Hugh Walpole, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard, Baroness Emma Orczy, R. Austin Freeman, G. D. H. Cole, Margaret Cole, E. C. Bentley, Henry Wade, and H. C. Bailey. Anthony Berkeley was instrumental in setting up the club, and the first president was G. K. Chesterton. There was a fanciful initiation ritual with an oath probably written by either Chesterton or Sayers, and the club held regular dinner meetings in London.
The Detection Club on Booklikes is a group where we will discuss and read crime classics for fun! Join the group here!
Take the oath:
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?
I'm considering starting a classic crime book club. We have a number of mystery/crime readers here on booklikes, and I'm wondering if there is enough interest to do a monthly book club?
One book per month, chosen by the club members;
Published between 1900 and 1960
Starting in October
Is anyone interested?
This is a book about books. Specifically, this is a book about a specific type of book written during a specific time period. I expect that I will refer to it, and have decided that I really need to buy in a physical book as well as have it on my kindle.
Themis-Athena did us all a solid by creating, at this point, two separate lists of the books that Edwards mentions in his book:
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (this list is 100 books long)
Books Mentioned - Chapters 1 through 5 (this list presently has 107 books on it)
This has been a huge undertaking, and I am so grateful that she has taken the time to do it! Now, to read!
My daughter and I were looking for something to watch yesterday - we've been listening to Dead Man's Folly, and haven't finished it, so that particular episode of Poirot was out and we've seen the rest of them (more than once), but we wanted something Agatha. Neither of us had seen this one (in fact, she didn't even know that there was a new adaptation), so we decided on this one.
This adaptation is three hours - two episodes of approximately an hour and a half each. It's incredibly well-cast, and Charles Dance as Justice Wargrave is amazing. Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard is compelling - dark and disturbingly attractive. It's a who's-who of accomplished British film & stage actors.
I think that this may well be the best Christie adaptation I've ever seen. And Then There Were None is flat out terrifying at times, and the tension of the film is palpable. The terror and suspicion of all of the guests is convincing, even knowing the end of the whodunnit (and, as always, the clues are there, if one but has eyes with which to see). The backstories of the guests were woven into the series in a way that was both natural and simultaneously chilling.
I'm not a fan of watching before reading, but I wish that I could've replicated the shock that an unsuspecting viewer would have at the moment of the reveal.
So well done.
Terrifying women: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book written by a woman.
2. Cozy Mysery
3. In the Dark, Dark Woods
5. Locked Room Mystery
6. Murder Most Foul
9. Modern Masters of Horror
10. Terrifying Women
I have a possible bingo developing right down the center! I just need that serial killer spot called & read. I think I'll focus on filling those called squares asap!
I also created a second, unofficial card! I will fill the squares on my official card first, but, since I'm only nine away from filling this one, I needed something to keep me busy in October! Cats mark the called squares, but I'm not reading for this card yet, so nothing to show my completed books!
Called + Read:
Cozy Mystery: Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer. Read 9.2.17 (320 pages)
Ghost: The Looking-Glass Portrait by Linda Hilton. Read 9.4.17 (391 pages)
In The Dark, Dark Woods: Endless Night by Agatha Christie. Read 9.7.17 (303 pages)
Locked Room Mystery: Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Murders and Impossible Crimes by Martin Edwards (351 pages)
Murder Most Foul: Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (288 pages)
Genre: Horror: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (512 pages)
Free Space: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards. Read 9.17.17 (357 pages)
Read + Waiting for a Call
Classic Noir: The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich. Read 9.1.17. (191 pages)
Monsters: Chaos Choregraphy by Seanan McGuire. Read 9.2.17. (368 pages)
Darkest London: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. Read 9.6.17 (396 pages)
Gothic: Listen For the Whisperer by Phyllis Whitney. Read 9.11.17 (299 pages)
Amateur Sleuth: A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Read 9.11.17 (108 pages)
American Horror Story: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Read 9.16.17 (201 pages) (this is my wild card)
Romantic Suspense: Columbella by Phyllis Whitney. Read 9.16.17 (276 pages)
Terror in a Small Town: The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie. Read 9.17.17 (299 pages)
Chilling Children: Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. Read 9.17.17 (240 pages)
Total pages read for bingo: 4900
Supernatural, Terrifying Women, Classic Horror, Diverse Voices, Magical Realism, Haunted Houses, Serial/Spree Killer, Country House Mystery, Witches
Serial/Spree Killer: The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Witches: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Terrifying Women: Hickory, Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie
I read this one for the Chilling Children square! It would also work for Ghost, Haunted Houses, Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Gothic, Terror in a Small Town and Classic Horror.
I am giving this book 3 1/2 stars based upon my enjoyment of the book this time around. If I had been rating this book circa 1976, two years after it was published and I was 10, I would've given it one million stars, once I emerged from my hiding place under my comforter. Because this book scared the bejeezus out of me when I read it as a pre-teen!
I still maintain that Down a Dark Hall is the scariest Duncan, with it's ghostly elements. A relatively short story, the author does a tremendously effective job in building tension. I can still visualize the climactic scene in my mind from when I first read it more than 40 years ago. I doubt that it would have the same impact on today's relatively sophisticated young people, but I can say that my daughter, at around age 13, disappeared into the kindle reissues of Duncan's books for one entire month during the summer vacation between 7th and 8th grade. She devoured them, reading one after another until she had read them all. She would come to me, kindle in hand, a look of pleading in her eyes and ask for Gallows Hill or I Know What You Did Last Summer or Summer of Fear. And, being a sucker for a child asking for a book, my answer was yes, yes, and yes again, at which point she would disappear to her tree house with an apple, reappearing only for dinner.
Duncan's books all involve young, female protagonists. While hardly revolutionary now, given the plethora of YA books published every year centering around young women, Duncan's books were unique in their time. Adults are largely absent, unless they are actively sinister. Young women, and groups of young women, frequently act together to get into, and get out of, their own problems. Evil wears both a female and a male face, but the victims are almost always young women who must empower themselves to face their fears and vanquish their tormentors.
Down a Dark Hall plays to these themes admirably. Kit is dropped off at Blackwood Hall by her parents who either cannot or will not see the obvious clues that danger lurks there. The red flags are so big that they are flapping loudly in the face of anyone with eyes to see. Kit is abandoned, at risk, and must literally fight her way out of danger. That she succeeds is a triumph. And that Duncan has created a terrifyingly realistic story out of frankly supernatural happenings is remarkable.
At the end of the book, there's a discussion with Duncan, who is still alive although she hasn't written anything new in years. In the Q&A, she talks about the process of updating the books in 2011 for the modern tween, where she attempts to deal with the reality that today's youth possess cell phones that enable them to call 9-1-1 at basically any moment. On the one hand, she did a reasonable job in fixing the texts. On the other hand, they are still obviously books for a different era, and, in some ways, I feel like it would've been better to just leave things as they are and let kids read them as books published before widespread availability of technology.
If you're interested in the ubiquitous nature of the Duncan YA horror phenomenon that swept teen and pre-teen girls in the 1970's, that extends even to today, the New Yorker published a lovely article titled I Know What I Read That Summer, which you can find here.
I read this one for Terror in a Small Town. It would also work for: Amateur Sleuth, Country House Mystery, Murder Most Foul and, also, Cozy Mystery.
Someone is terrorizing the village of Lymstock with poison pen letters, and everyone has received one! The letters are threatening, and accuse the inhabitants of things that they have most definitely not done.
Ostensibly a Miss Marple mystery, Miss Marple doesn't appear until approximately the last quarter of the book. This particular book is told from the perspective of Jerry Burton, a young pilot recovering from an injury he sustained in a plane crash. Jerry and his sister Joanna move there for his recuperation, having been told by his doctor that he needs to get out of town for peace and quiet. It's a first person narration.
I'm simultaneously listening to the Stephen Fry narration of the Sherlock Holmes canon, and something occurred to me while I was reading this particular book and listening to "A Case of Identity," which is one of the stories contained in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (an irritating story, by the way). Readers of Agatha Christie often identify Hercule Poirot (and his sidekick, Hastings) as a Sherlock Holmes analogue, with his focus on details and his cogitation skills (not to mention the fact that Hastings is none-to-bright, similar to Watson).
But Miss Marple is also a Holmes analogue - she just exemplifies his OTHER detecting skill, which is his vast, encyclopedic knowledge of other crimes and his ability to correlate those old crimes to what is happening in the case he has been asked to investigate. It's almost as though Christie split Holmes into separate personalities, and then created a detective for each of them.
Anyway, the absence of Miss Marple from most of the narrative means that we, the readers, are left without her observation on the personalities/quirks of the Lymstock inhabitants and we muddle along as best we can, largely getting hold of the wrong end of the stick.
Jerry isn't entirely likeable, with a rather strong sense of male entitlement that, at times, made me want to smack him. Joanna is seen only from his perspective, and I didn't get the sense that he really understood his sister very well, seeing her primarily as a foil for himself. Megan is probably the most interesting character of the book, a largely unwanted, Cinderella-esque figure (with Jerry playing the part of the fairy godmother) whose father has remarried and who has been frozen out of family life in the most subtle, English way possible, with everyone agreeing that she is a troubled girl.
She isn't a troubled girl. She's a lonely girl, because, it seems, the entire town has aligned with her father.
Anyway, I still prefer Poirot. But I enjoyed this one!
I decided to just post these, rather than put them in the bingo group!
I've created myself a second bingo card, since I'm only 9 books away from filling my official card! I'm wondering if anyone else would want one? A second card is just for fun, not official, is totally random, and doesn't "count" for bingo since we're already well into the calls. I'm not going to start filling it until I've filled my first one.
Let me know if you want one in the card requests thread in the bingo group!
Modern Masters of Horror: horror published in or after 2000.
So, this one was a bit underwhelming, to be perfectly honest. I wanted to like it, with it's aura of louche 1930's glamour. Unfortunately, I basically disliked all of the characters except for Nick & Nora.
I was especially uncomfortable with Dorry, who was depicted as a hormonally-driven drunken teenager, and Nick's reaction to her tight little body made me more than a little uncomfortable (actually, I'm not sure if she was a teenager). Her brother, Gilbert, was identified as being 18, and I can't remember if Dorothy was older or younger than he was by 2 years - so she was either 16, which is super gross, or she was 20, which is marginally less gross.
With respect to Nick, well, he simply didn't feel real to me. He seemed more like a far cooler version of Dashiell Hammett - a man's man, able to drink tall bottles with a single bound, deflecting bullets with the manliness of his manly chest. Too much wish fulfillment, too little substance.
And Nora. Ah, Nora. Gillian Flynn's Cool Girl, a manic pixie dream dame, Prohibition Edition. She didn't exist except as something for men to ogle over. Even her witty banter was performative. With her red hair and her extreme coolness, I never got a sense of what she would be like in a room by herself.
The mystery was meh.
The dog was cute, though.
I can totally understand how this book could've made a beloved movie, because it is so character driven, and the flaws that I couldn't ignore would've been much less apparent in film. I might make an effort to track it down and compare it to the source material.
So, I'm not sorry I read it, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed The Bride Wore Black.
"What do you have to do to get a drink?” I said: “You have to walk over to that table where the ice and bottles are and pour it.” Mimi said: “You drink too much.” “I don’t drink as much as Nick.” She went over to the table."
It's Christmas! Drink!
There are people over! Drink!
Oh, crap, I just got shot! Drink!
How do these people still have functioning livers?
But Rod, ’ I said, ‘you must sleep. ’
‘I daren’t! And you wouldn’t, either, if you knew what it was like. Last night—’ He lowered his voice, and glanced craftily about. ‘Last night I heard noises. I thought there was something at the door, something scratching, wanting to get in. Then I realised that the noise was inside me, that the thing that was scratching was inside me, trying to get out. It’s waiting, you see. It’s all very well them locking me in, but if I go to sleep—’
The creepy factor in this book has gone off the charts!
I'm just reading the tiniest bit today. I came across this, on page 17:
I got out of bed and mixed her a drink. As I brought it into the bedroom, the telephone began to ring. I looked at my watch on the table. It was nearly five o’clock.
In the MORNING. It was nearly five o'clock in the morning. And these people are mixing drinks.
I can see where this is going. . .
Aaand, now they ordering raw chopped beef sandwiches with onion.