This is a Good Book Thursday, May 9, 2019

This week I’ve been exploring Golden Age mysteries and discovered that Ngaio Marsh has been vastly underrated (by me) and Dorothy Sayers has been vastly overrated (also by me), although Murder Must Advertise is still a great book. The rest of them, you can have. Marsh, however, delights even when her mysteries suck because her characterization is so sharp. Which is a lesson to us all (us being writers). Also, Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar is the best Golden Age mystery I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of Golden Age mystery. After Tey, it’s Allingham, Marsh, and Gilbert, tied for second. I knew you’d want to know my opinion this.

So in your opinion, what’s a good book to read this week?

106 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 9, 2019

  1. When Jenny first brought up Ngaio Marsh, there was nothing by her in my library (everything having aged out, I’m assuming) but recently a group of reprint editions showed up. I haven’t read any yet, but based on spot skimming, I’ve checked out two, and hope to love them, based just on the language in the bits I skimmed.

    Meanwhile, I’m reading a fabulous book called Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf, which focuses on the US group usually called the Founding Fathers. From having seen the gardens at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home south of Washington DC) I knew George W. had a deep interest in plants and gardens, but this book is full of well-researched material on Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and John Adams and their various fascinations with plants, gardens, and agriculture.

    Wulf is a wonderful writer, and I’ve been drawn in by the details she’s pulled together on these men. Jefferson believed only farmers should be allowed to run for Congress! Abigail Adams had to hang laundry across the East Room of the brand new, empty and echoing White House because the surrounding forests were so dark! It reveals so much behind the scenes of the first few decades of my country’s history, too. A very satisfying book to read, if you like gardens. Or history!

    1. This leads to a question about those founding gardeners: Were they nudists as well?

      1. Who knows what they did in their private moments, but this book starts with the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where they met all summer long, in the humid heat of a Philadelphia summer, with the windows closed because of all the — whatever — bloggers or drones or tabloid writers trying to overhear all the bickering inside. And they were doing this (if you look at the pictures) in enough clothing each to cover three men at least. I think nudity might have sounded mighty good to some of them.

    2. Just think how much better a legislature we’d have today if only farmers could run for Congress! Or how much better agriculture we’d have if farming weren’t such an under-valued occupation.

      Okay, maybe expand it to farmers, scientists and bartenders.

      1. Ooh, I like the idea of adding scientists and bartenders. Seems like those three groups could make at least a good dent in a lot of big problems!

      2. Although the rural farming areas overwhelmingly supported Trump and that did not lead to competent government.

        1. I didn’t vote for him. I shurazel didn’t vote for the woman known as “That lyin’ bitch!” That just left the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, and thank goddess we didn’t elect *him.*

          2016 sucked. Will Rogers was right.

          1. I take it this is a joke, but Hillary shouldn’t be described as “that lying bitch” compared to the pathological liar we have in the White House.

          2. Trump is a lyin’ bastid. Hillary is a lyin’ bitch. I didn’t vote for either one. That’s all I got to say ’bout that.

          3. No more of this. It’s not a conversation about what Trump or Clinton has done wrong or right, it’s not a discussion of the lies they’ve told, it’s just name-calling, and I have no time for it. And yes, I’ve probably done it to Trump because I loathe him with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, so I’ll have to knock it off, too. I apologize.

            Basically, if you want to argue ideas, policies, newspaper reports, have at it as long as you’re polite to each other. No more name-calling and no personal attacks. I’ll do better, too.

          4. This interested me so I went to PolitiFacts Scorecards to review the profiles on the honesty issue. The percentage on their scores were as follows:

            Gary Johnson (GJ), Hilliary Clinton (HC), Donald Trump (DT)

            True Statements
            GJ: 6 % HC: 24%, DT: 6 %

            Mostly True Statements:
            GJ: 35% HC 25% DT: 11%

            Half True Statements:
            GJ : 29% HC: 23% DT: 14%

            Mostly False Statements:
            GJ: 18% HC: 10% DT: 21%

            False Statements:
            GJ: 12% HC: 10% DT: 34%

            Pants on Fire:
            GJ: 0% HC: 3% DT: 15%

            So if you add all the True scores together overall Hillary was the most honest at 72%, Gary Johnson was next at 70% and Trump came in at a surprising 31%, which was much higher than I expected. Although Hillary spoke the complete truth way more often than the other two, Gary Johnson never said anything that fell into Pants on Fire category.

  2. You may have been joking, but I definitely do want your opinion on Golden Age mystery rankings!

    I had consumed all of Christie’s mysteries in high school (and unfortunately can always remember who dunnit, so that there’s little motivation for rereads- an exception being The Mystery of the Blue Train which has a hilarious character and has some surprisingly modern takes). Didn’t discover Marsh, Sayers, and Tey until 10 years ago and have been forcing myself to go more slowly through them.

    Tried Allingham’s first Campion based on your rec a couple months ago but found it hard to get through due to some of the typical plot conventions of the time. But as you say, you don’t want to judge an author by their first book so maybe I’ll persevere.

    Recently reread another one of your recs, Missing Susan by Sharyn McCrumb. A group of tourists on a tour of historical serial killers’ sites in England keep experiencing close calls and near misfortunes, which the heroine discovers is actually their tour guide trying to bump one of them off (not a spoiler, in the book’s summary) and tries to figure out how to address it. Absolutely hysterical in parts!

    So yes, love your mystery recommendations- please keep them coming! 🙂

    1. The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch.
      The early Dalziel/Pascoe books by Reginald Hill (haven’t read the later ones).
      Absolutely anything by Michael Gilbert (Long Journey Home, The Quiet House, Body of a Girl). He has one that absolutely fascinates me called The End Game that has an absolute bastard as an anti-hero except that you kind of like him, and then as the plot goes on, you realize there’s something else going on; it’s a terrific book with a really interesting structure. But then I’m a big Gilbert fan girl.
      And if you haven’t read Brat Farrar, that one’s really good.

      1. Since I was totally intrigued by all of Aaronovitch’s and enjoyed most of Reginald Hall, I went to look for Michael Gilbert, which my library doesn’t carry and isn’t available in ebook 🙁
        Yes, and I adored every one of Josephine Tey’s, even The Singing Sands. Love trying out the recommendations on Aargh. Thank you.

        1. I have a lot of Michael Gilbert in ebook. It’s available at Barnes and Noble. I have no idea why its not on Amazon. (And you can download for free the nook software on your phone or tablet to read it.)

          1. I was wondering about that, too. I wanted to get some of his books that I had in hardcover and they’ve disappeared from Amazon and iTunes.

      2. This week I read The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham because it was recommended here. Rather than list the issues I had with it, I’ll just say that the Author was Present on every page.

        I also managed about 20 pages of Kianna Alexander’s This Tender Melody. I’d bought it and 3 other romances by black women after the Guardian article about the segregation of titles by/about black women. When I ordered them, I forgot that I don’t like regular romances — only Jenny’s. So, in This Tender Melody the heroine, who’s a hotshot businesswoman, runs out of rooms crying twice in the first 20 pages. And has a sexy kiss in the office with the hero who she just met. No. No. No. On the other hand, the hero isn’t driven, sexist, anti (hero or anything else), or stupid. He’s rich and likes to play with his jazz group. In a better book, I’d still be reading.

      3. I love Reginald Hill’s books. I love his playfulness – the way he pretty much reinvents himself with each book, even though it’s a series – and the way he always chucks in one word that I have NO IDEA of the meaning and have to look it up.
        Plus Dalziel is such a force of nature. The tv series diminished him so much.

    2. Charlotte Armstrong was really popular in the 50’s and 60’s, won an Edgar, and had many movies made of her work but I don’t know how she would read now. She wrote Mischief which became the film “Don’t bother to Knock” with Marilyn Monroe and “Merci pour Le Chocolat” with Isabelle Hubert. I remember The Balloon Man was creepy but not much else about it. Has anyone read anything by her recently?

    3. Sharyn McCrumb is a gas. She wrote a mystery series featuring Elizabeth MacPherson that’s fun, and I learned a *lot* about car racing from St. Dale (which would be Dale Earnhardt). She’s also written a ton of more serious books that are placed in Appalachia. I think my two favorites are the Jay Omega books, “Bimbos of the Death Sun” and “Zombies of the Gene Pool,” which feature science fiction nerds. I went into a used book store in Milwaukee and bought copies of those, and the proprietor yelled at me in front of all the other customers because, he said, Sharyn McCrumb was mean to science fiction nerds, and I shouldn’t read her. This from a guy in a waist-length pony tail wearing a prison-orange jumpsuit. I’ve never had that reaction before in a bookstore. Made me really, truly love Sharyn McCrumb.

      1. I am also a Sharyn McCrumb fan. After “St. Dale” was published, I sent her an e-mail to tell her how much I liked the structure of the novel (modeled on the Canterbury Tales). She wrote me back and told me she was making a change to the ending of the novel for the printing of the paperback version and sent me the new ending. I got to read it before the paperback came out. She was so very warm and kind in her response to my e-mail.

      2. Bimbos of the Death Sun should be a classic on many literature syllabi. And be updated and made into a miniseries because how great is that title?!

        I went through many of McCrumb’s Appalachia set mysteries. Beautiful and no punches pulled.

        1. Back when it first came out I had to buy both Bimbos and Zombies just for the titles alone. Of course I loved them – and could recognize the characters from my days helping run science fiction conventions. Yes, big SciFi nerd here, and I love Sharyn McCrumb!

          1. Have you read Donna Andrews’ We’ll always have Parrots? Fun mystery set at a fan convention for a small sci fi show.

      3. My fave title of hers was “If I’d Killed Him when I Met Him,” based on one of the protagonists clients saying, “If I’d killed him when I met him, I’d be out of jail by now.”

  3. I have been re-reading the Corinna Chapman mysteries Because the new one is coming out this month. Got started on them after I finished watching all of the Phrynie Fisher TV shows for the third time. So I started reading the original books. Different from the show but still enjoyable. Once I worked my way through those, I started in on the same author is Corinna Chapman series. They actually remind me a bit of Jennies books.. The main character is a plus size baker who loves to feed people and a sense of community is always a major part of the book. Not to mention her hunky hunky Israeli lover

    1. I like Corinna Chapman too. Are you in AUS? I don’t think the new one is coming out in the US till fall. Yup, just checked – Amazon says 9/10. So sad for me but good for you! Let us know if it’s yet another fun read.

      1. Yes, it’s another fun read, with the whole Insula family on board! [I got an advance copy from AUS]

    2. Have you seen that there’s a Phrynie Fisher spin-off by (I think) the same team as the main series? The sleuth is the original Fisher’s niece, I believe, and it’s something like “the modern Miss Fisher Mysteries.” I’ve seen ads for it on Acorn tv (which I highly recommend), but I don’t think it’s started yet. I definitely haven’t seen it, since I’m (gasp) not a huge fan of the original series. (Don’t dislike it, just never really got into it.)

      1. I was so disappointed by Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. I was only able to make it through fifteen minutes of the first episode before the heroine’s constant poor decision making irritated me to another show. I found myself wishing that the show had focused on the supporting cast of the Adventuresses’ Club instead, as I found those actress much more interesting and charismatic.

        1. Keep at them. She becomes a member of the club and a private eye. She has a team, Birdie and her brother who’s the Q of the group (James bond reference) she and the detective get together and she is not the flake she starts out to be.

  4. I just read the 2ND book in the new Ann Aguirre/Rachel Caine space opera series about space whales and the people who love them. HONOR BOUND. Interesting but ends on massive cliffhanger. Book left me vaguely dissatisfied, still not totally sure why. Not just because of cliffhanger; although this cliffhanger was so large and any other plot resolutions so small that when I reached the last page I felt as if I was merely stopping the story halfway through. Will have to think about what else was bothering me about this story. May just be me so this shouldn’t discourage anyone else from reading it.

    Also read SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS by Sy Montgomery – it was enjoyable and thought provoking. Just served to reinforce my view that the human race’s general attitude towards non-humans is simply tragic and the human race’s belief in innate superiority seems more and more unwarranted. A million species on brink of extinction because of us??? I wish I could say I’m surprised. Anyway, thanks to whoever recommended this book a while back. Am now reading other books by this author too; she has quite an engaging and readable writing style

    Also read ALWAYS, JULIA – a collection of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Quite interesting correspondence between two smart, well spoken women who don’t seem to let the stereotypical view of women’s roles in the 1950s hold them back too much. They talk about food and cooking and the long process of getting Child’s famous cookbooks published. They also talk about politics and about the McCarthy witch hunt. What was happening then in terms of polarization reminds me so much of what is happening now. The more things change, the more they stay the same… or should I say plus ca change…? In any case, I would recommend this book, with caveats regarding some awkward references to LGBTQ people; Child and DeVoto seem generally sympathetic but express it in a cringe inducing way.

    Someone else recommended Laura Florand, a romance writer I’d never heard of before. No books available at library. Any thoughts on whether I should spend hard earned $ on ordering one of her books? Thanks!

    Happy Reading!

    1. Laura Florand was too predictable and sugary for me; but other people here are really keen. I should try some sample pages from an ebook, even if you’re planning to buy a print edition. (If you don’t have a Kindle, there are free apps for every kind of computer.)

      1. Thanks for the suggestion. I did read something by her, it was ok but not to my taste, so I will be passing on reading anymore. Just a personal opinion so hope that doesn’t stop anyone else. Thanks again.

      1. Good, I hope you enjoy the rest. I like most of Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine’s other writing so not sure why I’m having a problem with the 2nd book. Maybe i was in the wrong state of mind to read it. Will be interested to know what you think when you read the 2nd book. May need to revisit another time.

  5. Mysteries… When I look back over my mystery reading, I see that I spent a fortnight or so with the rabbi, got up to around S with Kinsey Millhone, slobbered through a lot of Goldie Bear Shultz “where everything is just right,” and ate a lot of chocolate on the yooper peninsula. At least, I *think* Tenhuis Chocolade was on the upper peninsula. My favorite wizard named Harry solves mysteries, too. Patricia Cornwall wrote about Virginia mysteries, and the early ones were fairly decent. She totally lost me when she went international.

    I know there were others, but none of them come to mind, or the mystery was secondary to something else.

    Anyway, my book this week is “Power Surge” by E.J.Whitmer. Superhero stuff, crossed with a touch of romance and a lot of farce, and how has Anne not realized that her boss’s power is mind reading?

    1. Yes, Patricia Cornwall lost me, too. Partly because her books got even more violent, but also because they pretty much stopped being edited once she got really famous. I’m not sure what was going on – I’ve noticed this with a number of authors. Do they get so sure of themselves that they refuse editing, or does the publisher decide it doesn’t matter any more? Whatever the reason, it makes for messy, overlong books with way too much backstory.

      1. I think the publisher is normally less willing to do the hard editing, and the author is — in many cases — apt to feel that he/she is experienced enough not to need it.

    2. Upper peninsula as in upper Michigan? I saw horseflies there as big as a baseball.

      1. “The setting of the Chocoholic books is the fictional resort town of Warner Pier, Michigan. Set on the shore of Lake Michigan, Warner Pier’s quaint atmosphere and gorgeous beaches draw thousands of tourists and summer visitors each year. Many of the visitors are wealthy. Many come from families who have owned summer homes in the area for a hundred years. New housing developments have attracted professionals who commute to Holland or Grand Rapids. The 2,500 “locals” are employed in tourism or in growing peaches, apples, grapes, and other fruit – a business that’s still going strong even as the area loses its original rural character.”

        NOT on the upper peninsula.

  6. This week I read “Strangelets” by Michelle Gagnon which is a YA fantasy. It was really good and I am glad I persisted – I started to cry in the first two pages even though I knew better because I read the blurb. One of the main characters was a teenage girl dying of cancer. Highly recommend.

    I am still enjoying a Martha Wells binge and am reading “Death of the Necromancer” .

    1. oh yay! I LOVE Martha Wells, and I think she is criminally under-read. Have you gotten to the Fall of Ile Rein trilogy?

      1. I agree on the criminally under-read, but I think the Murderbot buzz may be changing that. I hope so. She seems like a really nice person. And the books really are good.

      2. I think I read it so long ago I no longer remember it clearly. So I am placing a hold on it and starting over again.

  7. I’m starting off slow on Ngaio Marsh and liking it so far. I learned my lesson when I went and bought the first 8 books of the Allingham series and found out that I really don’t like Campion after about the 4th or 5th book.

    So far, I’m liking Alleyn more than Campion. And, I really like the relationship between Alleyn and Nigel.

  8. Has anyone read Cathy Ace’s mysteries? They’re set in Wales (I have some Welsh ancestors, so the setting fascinates me), and I heard her speak at Malice Domestic this past weekend, and they sounded great, but I’ve been too busy to check them out since I got back from DC. It’s on my To Do list, and since I don’t have any other recommendations this week, I thought I’d throw that out. If the books are as interesting as the author is, they should be great.

    1. I just checked out one of her books but I don’t think it takes place in Wales. I haven’t read it yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

  9. My battery died afore I could post. Woe is me.

    In other news the no-buy and no-read is working quite well. I think I only splurged on Talia Hibberts new one in her Reluctant Royals series and I didn’t read it yet.

    I don’t read books, I devour them in one sitting. Result – lack of sleep aka misery. Insert quote from Dickens’s David Copperfield here.

    Battery dying again. It’s all the birthday wishes. I’ve asked to be worshipped. As is my due. All hail me.

    1. Don’t know about this hailing (except for a Mary), but I certainly wish you all happiness on your birthday.

    2. Thank you all. I felt the need to loom large so I referenced this, “Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant.”

      It turned out to be a very special week in small ways. Nothing grand, just comforting.

  10. My reading last week wasn’t very exciting. The new books – Faith Hunter’s Flame in the Dark and Sophie Kinsella’s I Owe You One – were both so-so. Not bad, but not outstanding either.
    My one re-read, Wen Spencer’s The Black Wolves of Boston, was as good as I expected and a balm for my reading heart. A couple days of pure pleasure. I really love Spencer. She is the best urban fantasy writer for me (at least at the moment). It makes me a little upset that not many readers share my love for this writer.

    1. Oh, I love Wen Spencer. I have read and re-read her books. She has a great imagination and lovely world building.

  11. I borrowed Carl Hiassan’s Razor Girl and Bad Monkey and read them in that order (i.e. the wrong one)

    Don’t care, still stayed up to 2 in the morning on a worknight to finish Razor Girl. So worth it.

    His books have that effect on me, but since this year I have been mostly comfort reading old books, I get the twin happys of trying something new and it actually being worth the effort.

  12. I adore Wen Spencer too – I’ve reread The Black Wolves a bunch of times, and the Tinker series, and the Ukiah series…

  13. Last week I was checking out my library’s website for new fiction (like I don’t have enough reading material) and came across Shayla Black and Lexi Blake’s Perfect Gentlemen series, just released book #5, At the Pleasure of the President, the finale. For me I have to start at the beginning so I read books 1-3, by the third book in (I admit to skipping chapters) I felt as though I was reading Nora Roberts on steroids. It is about six young men who have known each other since they were 12 and attended Prep school and graduated college together. In the first book one of them has died in an accident years after they are grown and gone onto separate careers. The careers intertwine throughout the books, with each having different skills. Of course they discover their one and onlys and with the exception of one they have all been born rich. (not to worry he does ok for himself) Each book is a separate but connected mystery. I hope that by the time I reach the last book I’ll find that the character that “died” is actually living in order to catch the killers. I’m going to try and not cheat.

  14. I finally got around to HONOR AMONG THIEVES, a YA SF by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre. I’m liking it a lot. It features sentient space ships like whales (see the comment above) and reminds me a bit of Anne McCaffrey’s THE SHIP WHO SANG. I’m about halfway through.

    I’m also reading a bunch of cozy mysteries, because I’m thinking of trying to write one. Most of them don’t appeal to me (not enough action or conflict or romance), although I have found a few authors I like. I’d be happy to get some recommendations. (Nothing paranormal, although I like a few of those–apparently they’re passe. Le sigh.)

    1. Yay! Come on over to the cozy side!

      If you haven’t already, check out Donna Andrews, the Meg Langslow series, and read them in order, but ignore the romance cliche in the first book. That element of her books gets better, and the rest stays delightful. She’s my main role model in the cozy world. Her books are all about the community really, and oh, there’s a mystery tossed in. But it’s really all about the community. And I like the way she structures her plots around an event that the sleuth is organizing for the community, like a wedding in the first book, a craft fair later on, and (one of my favorites) an over-the-top yard sale. So even when there isn’t mystery action going on, there’s event action that’s interesting. Really helps with the sagging middle that a lot of mysteries suffer from. I too find a lot of them drag, and I skip to the end. But Donna’s characters are so good, plus the crazy stuff happening in her over-the-top events, the stories never drag.

      I’m trying to think of who else was universally lauded at Malice Domestic last weekend, but can’t think of anyone in particular.

      1. Agreed, Donna Andrews is good, she has strong support characters and you get caught up in the events.

        I like Marian Babson’s Brimful Coffers series and from her Trixie and Evangeline’s series Shadows in their Blood and No Cooperation from the Cat.

        1. I’ll have to check them out. I’m always looking for more really top-notch cozies to learn from (and enjoy reading).

      2. I did especially enjoy MURDER WITH PEACOCKS, the first one, because the wedding frenzy — three weddings in a six-week period, with pressured/crazed brides — was such fun. Though I’ve often said that if I’d been Meg, those brides would have driven me to have been the murderer, not the sleuth.

      3. Donna is amazing. She and I are Facebook friends and we spent way too much time one evening brainstorming punny titles via Messenger for the cozy I’m thinking of doing. I love her books with all the love. But they’re not technically cozies, they’re standard mysteries (but with quirkier than usual characters).

  15. I read Rachel Hartman’s Tess of the Road, YA, which was pretty good, and then I read Jodi Taylor’s Nothing Girl, which I really loved. I didn’t realise she’d written anything apart from the time travel series until someone mentioned it here, so thank you.

    For the rest of the week it’s been Georgette Heyer (The Grand Sophy, which I continue to love), Georgette Heyer (Why Kill a Butler, which was very entertaining), and I’m halfway through the second of the Rockton books, which meant I took ages to get to sleep last night because it’s so gripping.

    1. The Rockton books are compelling, aren’t they? The most recent one, I didn’t start reading it for a week after it arrived because I knew that once I started I wouldn’t be able to put it down and I couldn’t afford to stay up too late, so I had to wait until I had a clear space in my diary.

    2. There’s a sequel to The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor. The Something Girl is equally delicious. Oh, the times I’ve wished for a Thomas.

    3. I’m half way through Dark Light, Jodi Taylor’s second volume of a “supernatural thriller” series (White Silence is volume one). The main character is a woman who can divine truth and character by means of auras, whether she wants to or no (à la Doyle in Cleeland’s Doyle and Acton). The pacing is uneven, the text repetitive (unedited), but the plot is unpredictable and I do like the worldbuilding. Will certainly finish it.

  16. Hmmm. I agree with the high ranking for Tey and Allingham. There’s Sayers and Sayers, and I tend to be selective about Marsh, too. But the Georgette Heyer mysteries tend to be overlooked. On this side of the Pond, Stout usually did very nice work, and people forget that, alone of the hard-boiled writers, Hammett frequently produced a decent fair play mystery. But the one I think is seriously under-rated these days is S.S. van Dine. (Don’t all throw stones at once, please!) The last two can and should be skipped, but the first ten are nicely done fair play mysteries with decent characterization. Yes, if I had reprint rights, I’d trim them about 10-15%. But I’d rank them as they stand above any of the imitations which were the early Ellery Queens.

    1. I need to look at the Queens again. I practically have the Stouts memorized, I’ve read them so many times. And Heyer, after the first one or two, is wonderful, too.

      Imagine writing books that are still compelling a hundred years later. I’m in awe.

  17. I love Josephine Tey. She does really interesting characters, who aren’t your typical heroes or heroines. Brat Farrar is definitely brilliant.

    I haven’t read any for years, but I used to love Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver mysteries. I must dig one out and see how they’ve aged.

    Another mystery author I love is Dana Stabenow – the Kate Shugak series. Stabenow’s Alaskan, and Kate is an Aleut. They’re good stories with a lot of fascinating detail about life in Alaska. But be warned that some of them get very violent, some end on cliffhangers, and halfway through the series she kills a main character. I nearly stopped reading after that.

  18. Have you read Sarah Caudwell? Thus Was Adonis Murdered is excellent. John Dickson Carr is good also. For cozy I love Marian Babson-Murder at the Cat Show is one of my favorites.

    1. Ah, Sarah Caudwell! Luxuriated in her books and longed for more. A loser’s game.

      1. I recently found out that she has a Professor Tamar short story, An Acquaintance with Mr. Collins, in the Suit of Diamonds compilation. I purchased a copy from Abebooks immediately and it’s sitting on my bookshelf, ready for the perfect moment to read for the first time.

  19. I love Murder Must Advertise, despite never being nearer the industry than reading Ask A Manager questions for entertainment purposes. The office politics work the same now.

    I’m re-reading Arabella by Heyer, since I needed some light travel reading. I also am reading Getting Rid of Bradley while babysitting nephews with a gastro virus. Light familiarity is the order of the week.

    1. Murder Must Advertise has been moved forefront on my shelves, and for months has been pulsing. I’ll pay attention and read.

  20. I read “Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe” and it was hilarious and hopeful and moving. It was exactly the book I needed to read this week. Balm to the soul.

  21. Loved the opening portrait. Well chosen. Did I live in the Golden Age, that would be me. And not only because hairstyle flatters and my best side is in repose with book.

  22. This week, I have been travelling. I brought along the current book – an old sci fi that had won awards – and my tablet. I’m about 60-75 pages into the scifi, and not feeling the love, so while on the plane, I picked up the tablet and started a reread of Welcome to Temptation. I still used the paperback for my “pre-sleep” reading – no worries about being caught up in the story. Meanwhile, I tore through WtT, finishing it on the final flight home. My travelling partner was complaining about the coughing on the flight and I had to admit I hadn’t heard it at all. She was the one with the headphones, but I was in southern Ohio!

    My trip involved going to a regional conference for libraries that serve the blind and physically disabled. At the evening reception, we had an author speak about the research for her most recent book. Preceding her talk, the hosts had arranged for the narrator of that recent book to read the first page or so. I had really wondered how a book titled “Queso” could be interesting, but it was a really fascinating trip through the history of the Southwest. I ended up buying her cookbook – “The Homesick Texan” – mostly because before the talk I didn’t think I’d need 47 different recipes for queso. But that historical research almost made me do a second purchase.

  23. I’ve been rereading the Judith Flanders mysteries; she has a tendency to be TSTL but the insight into publishing and the snark are great.

  24. I enjoy the Lydia Chin / Bill Smith books by SK Rozan. In addition to the settings of modern day NYC Chinatown, I enjoy the characters tense but collaborative and loyal partnership, the peripheral characters (especially Lydia’s mother), the descriptions of food, and especially how every other book switches perspective from Lydia to Bill.

  25. Another mystery author I like is Ellis Peters; both the Brother Cadfael series and the George Felse one. (I’m not positive about the spelling of George’s last name, but it’s close).

    I also like Tony Hillerman’s mysteries; they are not exactly cozy but he brings the Native American culture alive for his readers.

  26. I had a good reading week. I really enjoyed Donna MacMeans *The Education of Mrs. Brimley*. Now *that’s* how you do sexy historicals. Stick a heroine into an unavoidably sexy situation, and then play with the tropes. In this case, a virgin is running away from her wicked uncle and poses as a widow to get a job as a teacher with a pair of spinsters. And, a mysterious patron of the girls’ school has insisted that the students get a proper sex education course. So . . . there are so many rocks and hard places to get stuck between in this story! One of the hard places being the groin of the tortured artist/poem-memorizer hero. It doesn’t get tacky (unlike my review; cf previous sentence), the story feels like a historical but it isn’t pinned down to any time or particular details, and the ending is very satisfying. Also, it’s sexy.

  27. Curious that Jenny’s loss of affection for Dorothy Sayers books didn’t elicit many comments.

    My problem is with the Peter and Harriet relationship: Peter always has the final, perfect line (Harriet’s sonnet in Gaudy Night) and the solution to the mystery (every story they share). While this didn’t bother me when I first read them in college, it bothers me a lot now.

    I haven’t reread her other Whimsey mysteries for a long time; don’t know if Peter’s sensitivity and brilliance in them would bother me nowadays.

    1. It really bugged me that he finished her sonnet. And she was thrilled. You try messing with my writing, I not only do not marry you, I leave you with a few choice words of my own.

      Sayers problem is that she fell in love with her protagonist so the guy could do no wrong in her eyes even though he was arrogant and domineering. I know, make allowances for the time. At least Alleyn was polite and respectful while he was trying to convince Troy to marry him. And then there’s Albert Campion who was politely engaged for five years and had to get hit on the head to get married. Golden Age mystery detectives were really lousy lovers.

  28. I’m delurking here to say that I grew up reading Georgette Heyer (I’m 47 and had free range to my parents’ books early – inveterate mystery readers) and followed that up with Allingham, Marsh and Sayers in that order. In terms of mysteries I love Tey, don’t think she has a bad book, although I’m less keen in ‘Miss Pym Disposes’.

    Revisiting the mysteries that were the staple of my teens, I would rank Tey and Allingham a tie at the top – I do love the subtleties of the relationship between Albert and Amanda and I’m a sucker for recurring characters. Marsh and Sayers are joint second and it really depends on my mood as to which.

    For a completely different kind of mystery – I’m still partial to the police procedurals of Dell Shannon (aka Lesley Egan and Anne Blaisdell, pseudonyms of Elizabeth Linington). Definitely dated in parts but still a world that draws me in and characters I want to know.

    Joining this to other books, in my twenties I found Elizabeth Cadell, D E Stevenson and Lucilla Andrews and in my mind, they go together.

    1. Welcome out of lurk, Lisa!
      I liked Miss Pym a lot more on re-reading than I did on the first time through. She’s a great protagonist, and the girls’ school is a really rich setting.

    2. Elizabeth Cadell I reread recently. The heroes that charmed me at 18, annoy me excessively now. Mary Elgin, which I assume is a pseudonym, wrote four or five mysteries/romances in the late 60’s that I found really engaging but I could never find them again. Maybe someone will reissue them on Kindle and I will be able to see if they are still as readable.

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