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moonlightreader

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Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 432 pages.

Prince Of Fire - Daniel Silva

Installment 5 in an ongoing series. I checked out book 6, and I only have 13 days left on the checkout. That'll teach me to put a hold on a book before I've read up to that book.

The Seven Dials Mystery is just plain fun

The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie

This is my third (I think) read of this particular Christie, and I found it to be a lot of fun this time around. I absolutely love Bundle, and George Lomax (Codders) is a hysterically funny, biting caricature of a certain type of British gentleman, puffed up with his own importance and significantly overestimating his importance and intellect. The proposal incident reminds me of Mr. Collins proposing to Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (I suspect that Christie intended that particular comparison).

 

I would love to see a modern, high quality adaptation of both Chimneys and Seven Dials, with a focus on Bundle Brent, who really comes into her own in this particular book. Her high spirits are delightful, but lurking beneath that somewhat dizzy front, there's a smart, capable and interesting woman. I don't think that Bundle will ever be serious, but I could see her doing legitimate war work, probably involving parachuting into occupied France and infiltrating the Nazis, and then hiking her way back to the coast. She's intrepid.

 

Anyway, I've picked my next Christie Comfort Read. I'm fast-fowarding to later in her career, but before the decline really started, when Christie was still writing at the height of her powers, and it's a Poirot.

 

Anybody want to take a guess?

Weak sauce

The Overlook (Harry Bosch) - Michael Connelly

I reread this one b/c the new season of Bosch incorporates this book and I remembered literally nothing of it from my earlier read.

 

Now I know why. If this isn't the weakest entry in the Bosch series, it must be close. The ending is so rushed that this feels like barely more than a novella. 

 

Connelly can do - and has done - so much better. Weak.

Fontana cover for The Murder at the Vicarage

I am obsessed with these crazy, 1960's paperback Fontana covers for Agatha Christie's mysteries. I pick them up on Abebooks when I see them, and I'm hoping to eventually collect all of them. 

 

Since BrokenTune & Portable Magic are reading this one right now, I thought I'd share the fabulousness.

 

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

The Secret of Chimneys - Agatha Christie

This is maybe the fourth time I've read The Secret of Chimneys. It's not a top tier Christie - first of all, it really isn't a puzzle mystery. It straddles the line between straight mystery and thriller. The clues are obscure, sometimes to the point of impenetrability, Christie hasn't mastered either pacing or character in this early offering, and there are a lot of cliches here.

 

The thing about Chimneys, though, is that it is solid gold British comfort read for me. As a mystery it is lacking, but as a part of my personal golden age canon, it has all of the elements: Edwardian English country house party, international cast of characters, bright young things, comfortable old aristocrats, beautiful grounds and landscape, royalty in disguise, references to political turmoil in faraway places.

 

In this time of tension and stress, Christie is the author who provides me with refuge. With 66 full length mysteries/thrillers, there is a Christie for every emotion. I turned to Bundle Brent and Chimneys for just that reason - and next, I'll continue with the Bundle duology by reading The Seven Dials Mystery.

Reading progress update: I've read 177 out of 432 pages.

Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks - John Curran

I've been trying to refrain from constant retail therapy, which for me involves buying books and pretty much nothing else right now. I've been doing pretty well, although I did break down and buy this one, and it's companion, in print format. I already owned the first of the Curran books which use Christie's notebooks as their basis as a kindle book, but I pretty much realized as soon as I started reading it that I would need it as a "real" book. 

 

This one isn't as good as the first one. I think that Curran used the best material for the first book, so this one feels thin. Having said that, I'm still enjoying dipping into it.

 

I have finally just given into the Christie Comfort Craving(tm) and started The Secret of Chimneys yesterday, after finishing The Pale Horse. I've been planning a chronological reread for a couple of years, but I've just decided to abandon that plan. Instead, I'm going to read what takes my fancy and I may, possibly, do some themed reads.

 

So, right now I'm reading the Bundle Brent pair of Chimneys to be followed by The Seven Dials Mystery because I am in the mood for a romp, and both of those very definitely qualify as romps. I'm not sure where I will go from there - I may continue with my romp theme, and go with Murder is Easy. I could move onto a transportation theme, and read one of her books set on a conveyance of some sort. I could also go with some books set in exotic locales - Murder in Mesopotamia, They Came to Baghdad or Death on the Nile, perhaps.

 

Or I could read some of her dysfunctional family books - the Angkatells, the Leonides, or Cloades or the Lees would all work for this theme.

 

With 66 novels to select from, the sky (Death in the Clouds) is the limit.

This was unexpected

True Grit - Donna Tartt, Charles Portis

The essay by Donna Tartt at the end is worth a read. 

 

I would never have picked up this book on my own, so thank you, Lillelara, for suggesting it. I love Mattie Ross, and found the ending of this book quite touching, indeed.

 

People love to talk. They love to slander you if you have any substance. They say I love nothing but money and the Presbyterian Church and that is why I never married. They think everybody is dying to get married. It is true that I love my church and my bank. What is wrong with that? I will tell you a secret. Those same people talk mighty nice when they come in to get a crop loan or beg a mortgage extension! I never had the time to get married but it is nobody’s business if I am married or not married. I care nothing for what they say. I would marry an ugly baboon if I wanted to and make him cashier. I never had the time to fool with it. A woman with brains and a frank tongue and one sleeve pinned up and an invalid mother to care for is at some disadvantage, although I will say I could have had two or three old untidy men around here who had their eyes fastened on my bank. No, thank you! It might surprise you to know their names

 

I'm not sure if it is worth tracking down the newest adaptation, because I don't want to watch a movie that focuses on Rooster - he's the supporting character here. It's Mattie Ross who is the star. She is an epic character in the way that Jane Eyre or Scout Finch are epic - a unique voice that can carry a story as effortlessly as if it were a feather. She jumps off the page.

Reading progress update: I've read 75%.

True Grit - Donna Tartt, Charles Portis

I'm thoroughly enjoying Mattie Ross - she is a unique, engaging and forthright character. This book is just full of life:

 

"I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces? Some preachers will say, well, that is superstitious “claptrap.” My answer is this: Preacher, go to your Bible and read Luke 8: 26-33"

 

"He said, “The killer has flown to the Territory and is now on the scout there.” “This is what I heard.” “He will find plenty of his own stamp there,” said he. “Birds of a feather. It is a sink of crime. Not a day goes by but there comes some new report of a farmer bludgeoned, a wife outraged, or a blameless traveler set upon and cut down in a sanguinary ambuscade. The civilizing arts of commerce do not flourish there.”
 
Sanguinary ambuscade? I wish people still talked like that...
 
29% - This exchange between Mattie & LeBoeuf (LaBeef) made me laugh out loud. Mattie is a pistol.
 
“I suppose that is you.
 
Well, if in four months I could not find Tom Chaney with a mark on his face like banished Cain I would not undertake to advise others how to do it.”
 
“A saucy manner does not go down with me.”
 
“I will not be bullied.”
 
He stood up and said, “Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young, and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt.”
 
“One would be as unpleasant as the other,” I replied. “Put a hand on me and you will answer for it. You are from Texas and ignorant of our ways but the good people of Arkansas do not go easy on men who abuse women and children.”
 
Saucy is an understatement. She's a pistol.
 
66%
 
“You do not think much of me, do you, Cogburn?” (LaBoeuf)
 
“I don’t think about you at all when your mouth is closed.” (Cogburn)
 
Hahahaha
 
There's also a section of direct and cross-examination of Rooster Cogburn towards the beginning of the book that is delightful, and could potentially be used as part of a law school class on trial practice it's so well done.

Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 314 pages.

The Secret of Chimneys - Agatha Christie

I decided that I need to revisit Bundle Brent and the ridiculous hi-jinks of this book and The Seven Dials Mystery to cheer me up.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

True Grit - Donna Tartt, Charles Portis

I decided to take a bit of a head start yesterday to check the lay of the land, so to speak, since this is definitely not my usual genre. I didn't get very far, but it's not a very long book, and it pretty much hooked me from the beginning.

 

Like Mike, I already like Mattie so much. Her narration is both tough and naive and her voice is extremely distinctive. I find her believable, when I put her in her proper context. I haven't met Rooster Cogburn yet.

 

True Grit, and John Wayne Westerns in general, had a lot of air play in my childhood home, so I know I have seen it and probably more than once. I'm not sure if I remember it or not - it's possible that scenes will trigger my memories depending on the faithfulness of the adaptation.

 

Anyway, I'm going to settle in and read for a while. It's rainy here today, and is a perfect day to spend puttering.

Buddy reading the pandemic: a proposal for what's next

True Grit - Donna Tartt, Charles Portis The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey

My modest proposal for the next 3 Saturday buddy reads:

 

Saturday, April 18: True Grit by Charles Portis, (proposed by Lillelara)

Saturday, April 25: Tenant for Death (poll closed)

Saturday, May 2: Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (proposed by MR)

 

Further continuation remains uncertain.

 

Poll for the Cyril Hare book:

 

 

Which Cyril Hare book do we want to read
With a Bare Bodkin
Tenant for Death
Tragedy at Law
Death Walks in the Woods
 
 
 

Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh

Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh

Another successful buddy read!

 

A most excellent choice, Themis! I'm so glad you suggested it.

Reading progress update: I've read 7%.

Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh

I'm finally underway!

 

She led the way to the house. Exotic wafts of something that was not roses drifted in her wake. She kept her torso rigid as she walked and slightly swayed her hips. ‘Very expensive,’ Mark Lacklander thought; ‘but not entirely exclusive. Why on earth did he marry her?’

 

 OUCH!

 

The continued pandemic reads

We already have this Saturday planned - we're reading The Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh, which is the 18th Inspector Alleyn mystery.

 

However, it occurs to me that after that, we haven't really had any further discussion related to continuing the buddy reads and what we might be reading.

 

So, here are our two questions:

 

1. Are we up for continuing the Saturday reads for a while longer?

 

If the answer to that is yes, then:

 

2. What should we read after Scales of Justice?

 

It might take some time for people to source the books at this point, given that libraries and bookstores are mostly closed, so it makes sense to provide as much lead time as possible.

 

I have a few ideas, but would welcome more in the comments.

 

First, I already own the following possibilities:

 

1. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

2. Death on the Agenda by Patricia Moyes

3. The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith

4. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

5. Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier

6. The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs

 

I'd also be up for a Mrs. Bradley by Gladys Mitchell, any other Tey, any du Maurier, any of the Albert Campion series except The Crime at the Black Dudley, or 

pretty much any of the British Library Crime Classics

 

 

I'm generally pretty much up for anything, so feel free to make suggestions below!

In this time of anxiety

I find myself returning to spend time with my dear friend.

 

 

Agatha, I just can't quit you.

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Lullaby Town - Robert Crais

Since I'm so close to finishing Bosch, I thought I would give this series a try. This one is a mafia mystery, and I genuinely hate stories involving the mafia so it's doing nothing for me.

 

I might try one of the later books in the series at some point, but this one is a DNF.

 

Life's too short.