I am hoping that this one will work for Haunted Houses, otherwise I will use it for my second card! It's not very ghosty so far, but with a title like "Greygallows," there is probably still time!
This is a historical gothic by Barbara Michaels, and I'm pretty sure that it is the first one I've read in recent memory. It's set during the early Victorian era, and is quite reminiscent of Victoria Holt, whose gothics are mostly historical.
At this point, the main character, heiress Lucy Cartwright, is annoyingly docile. She had one spark of independence that was easily squashed, and became even more compliant at that point, which I didn't necessarily think was possible. She'd better buck up soon, because someone is probably trying to kill her.
I am reading this for the Diverse Voices bingo square. The main character, Carlos Delacruz, is an "Inbetweener" who has been partially resurrected from a death - and life - that he remembers basically nothing about. It's set in Brooklyn, NY, which made me realize that New York is a setting that I don't see often in Urban Fantasy. That may well be a result of my reading choices, but now that I think about it, that's weird, right? I read series set in London, Atlanta, Chicago, California, but I can't think of anything else set in NYC.
I mean what could be a better setting for UF than NYC, with its rich and incredibly diverse population?
So far, the writing is breezy and engaging.
This was included in the Chapter 8 of The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books as a Capital Crime because of its London setting. It also could've been included in the chapter where Edwards discusses "inverted mysteries," as the murder doesn't occur until the 50% mark, and the reader pretty much knows the why and the who of it (the actual wielder of the dagger is unknown, but all of the conspirators are well defined) that the second half of the book centers around Inspector Wake, and whether or not he will, to adopt the vernacular, "get his man."
I'm really not a huge fan of inverted mysteries, so that's one strike against the book from my perspective. Even so, I enjoyed the way that the author developed both setting and character. The main character, young Bobbie Cheldon, is gentry-in-waiting, while his uncle, Massy Cheldon, occupies the estate with a life interest. As is so often the case in these British mysteries, we know going in that Massy is not long for the world. He is an ungenerous uncle, making Bobbie's mother a small allowance, but largely complaining bitterly whenever he needs to spend any money. When Bobbie moans about his prospects, his response is for Bobbie to buck up and get a job in the family business, at the bottom, and work his way up.
“Bobbie’s got to realise the unpleasant fact that he must take off his coat and forget his gentility. It’s useless his thinking that I’m going to die to suit his convenience. The Cheldon estate has been his curse. Waiting for dead men’s shoes always is. I’m good for another twenty years at least, although there are moments—”
Bobbie has gotten himself tangled up with a bad crowd, the denizens of a London nightclub called "The Frozen Fang," and has fallen hard for the delectable dancer, Nancy Curzon. Nancy is dumb as a box of hammers, not that great of a dancer, extremely attractive, and fully convinced that she deserves wealth, position and all of the trappings thereof, as soon as possible. She is not interested in being married to Bobbie Cheldon, the clerk at 5 shillings a week. Bobbie Sheldon the lord of the manor at ten thousand a year, on the other hand, is mighty fine. Nosey Ruslin, a small-time crook and swindler, sees in Bobbie the chance at a bit of blackmail if he can bring about Bobbie's ascension to the manor and hand him the lady on a silver platter. All good so far. The writing was solid, and more fluid than is often the case in these Golden Age mysteries.
A murder is planned, a murder in Piccadilly:
Now if we lived in Sausage-cum-Chips we’d spend the evenings talking about a strange chap we saw standing outside the Pig and Whistle or inquiring the shortest cut to the farm where hours later the body was found. If he asked us a question or passed the time of day we’d make conversation out of it for a fortnight, and if there was a murder we’d be able to tell what the stranger looked like, and he’d be copped inside an hour. If he wasn’t a stranger we’d know all about his quarrel with his wife’s sister-in-law’s uncle and the whole village would turn out to give evidence about the knife he sharpened on the stone above the river near the church. No, <***removed name***>, if you want to do a chap in do it in London where nobody takes no notice of nobody and it ain’t anyone’s business to talk about everybody’s. If I wanted to commit murder,” the articulation was barely audible. “I’d do it in the middle of Piccadilly when there was a big traffic jam worrying the peelers. I wouldn’t go down to Muck-on- the-Ridge and have the fifty inhabitants talking of nothing else but my visit. London has always been good enough for me, and don’t you forget it.”
And a murder occurs.
At the very instant of the murder of Massy Cheldon the Piccadilly Underground was a microcosm of London.
Inspector Wake is on the case. I quite liked the good inspector - he's in the mold of Superintendent Battle, I would say. A bright detective with good instincts. Not a bumbler. He target locks on the right investigative course and makes some solid discoveries.
So, why only 2 1/2 stars?
Everything was fine until 85%, at which point the author decides to introduce a twist, with an event that is so out of character for one of the characters, it just annoyed me. Why bother with all of that character development if one is just going to toss it out the window for a plot twist? Why? Why?
In addition, I know that the golden age mystery writers aren't really concerned about justice, but there were aspects of this book that really bothered me. I'm putting this part in spoiler tags, although it doesn't completely spoil the mystery, it does spoil a significant plot resolution.
I dithered between 2 1/2 and 3 stars, but in the end, the fact that it was set in London - one of my favorite settings - and was overall pretty enjoyable, just couldn't make up for the fact that I don't really enjoy inverted mysteries, a main character behaved irrationally just to provide an unexpected plot twist, and the ending was unsatisfying.
The titular murder has still not occurred.
This is shaping up to not be a whodunnit, or even, really, a whydunnit, since it appears that the murder is to be motivated by greed, and an heir who doesn't want to wait around for his rich relative to shuffle off the mortal coil by natural causes.
Which begs the question that so often arises in these golden age mysteries. Was the murder of rich old relatives in England as common as one would think from reading these books?
Terror in a small town: horror/murder which causes fear, set in a small town.
Originally published in 1936.
Mentioned in Chapter 8: Capital Crimes of The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.
Serial/spree killer: any book that involves a serial killer or a spree killer, no matter what genre/sub-genre it involves.
I'm reading this one for the serial/spree killer square, which will get me a BINGO once it's filled and called!
I read this book years ago, right around publication in 1994. At that time, I read a lot of crime/mystery fiction, but very little historical mystery. This was one of the books that really changed that, along with Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, which I also picked up at around this time.
My memory is that I really liked the book, and really enjoyed the atmospheric turn of the century New York setting, but that it was quite graphic. Memory says this is a four to four and a half star read - it will be interesting to see how it holds up to my current reading preferences!
I read this one for Country House Murder, and it is a good example of that particular type of mystery. It would also work for Murder Most Foul and Amateur Sleuth.
The Crime at the Black Dudley is designated as the first of the Albert Campion mysteries, but as others have noted, his appearance is pretty minimal. The main character is Dr. George Abbershaw, who seems to be at Black Dudley primarily to cement his relationship with the adorable Meggie.
Shades of The Big Four, Abbershaw and his friends seem to have stumbled into some sort of an inexplicable criminal gang conspiracy involving a German man who is referred to as the Hun, who plans to set the place on fire and burn them up with it. The plot is bizarre, convoluted and somewhat incomprehensible. No one seems to be able to figure out why Campion is there or who invited him.
I am going to reserve judgment on Allingham and her detective, since I don't think that this book is a particularly good example of her work. As a country house mystery, it was just all right, no where near as good as The Mysterious Affair at Styles or Peril at End House. As a detective, Campion isn't flattered by comparison to Poirot and his leetle grey cells or Peter Wimsey and the fabulous Bunter.
The next book in the Campion series is Mystery Mile, but I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off digging deeper into the series. Martin Edwards mentioned Traitor's Purse & The Case of the Late Pig in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, and I've heard good things about The Tiger In The Smoke, so I'm thinking of trying one of those the next time I give Campion a try.
Diverse voices: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book written by an author of color.
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.