Wednesday, the 30th of November 2022, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

For my pick today, I went back to my tottering pile of classic mysteries, and found Murder by Matchlight (1945) by E.C.R. Lorac. E.C.R. Lorac was one of the pseudonyms used by English author Edith Caroline Rivett (1894-1958) under which she wrote mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Robert Macdonald (Lorac is Carol backwards). She also wrote under the pseudonyms Carol Carnac and Carol Rivett. Despite meaning to for a while, I read my first ECR Lorac only earlier this year for Karen and Simon’s 1954 Club (Shroud of Darkness) and enjoyed it very much. Opening on the train journey towards London in the midst of the thick fog, the setting, Lorac’s writing and characters pulled me in right from the start and kept me reading all through.

In Murder by Matchlight, which is an earlier one in the series (there are 46 books in all with Matchlight being number 26; Shroud was #40), it is 1945 and the midst of the blackout in London. Bruce Mallaig takes a stroll in Regent Park and spies two men acting suspiciously by a footbridge, when one of them is murdered, with Mallaig getting a chance to see the assailant only in a flash when a match is struck. The victim’s identity is uncertain and the murderer’s approach and escape defy all logic. Can the police apprehend him? How?

Over the last couple of years, I have been reading a fair few mysteries set in World War II London, either in the midst of the blitz or around it, but most of those have been historical fiction rather than written by someone who experienced it first hand. Lorac’s book is just that, in addition to being from an author whom I have previously enjoyed, for her plot, characters and writing. So I certainly am very keen to read this one.

Have you read this one by Lorac? How did you find it? As good as her others? Better?

Lisa’s pick this week is The Book of V by Anna Solomon, an interesting multiple timeline novel which contrasts the lives and roles of women at different points in time, and considers challenges and questions of independence and agency.


17 thoughts on “Shelf Control #207: Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac

  1. Hah, not only London was fog-shrouded last century, Mallika; as I write this much of Wales is under mist or fog as we head into December โ€“ reminiscent of Keats’s “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” โ€“ though luckily not the unhealthy smoke-laden smog that the capital used to experience. Swirling smog though is perfect for Golden Age murder mysteries!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We sadly do tend to battle smog in this season; pollution levels tend to go up and a grey, dreary plus unbreathable atmosphere results. But yes, the London fog does make for a great setting; I’ve read an Allingham that used it well too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this one. It was one of the first of hers that I read, and I was impressed by her London wartime setting. Since then I’ve come to realise that her settings are often her main strength whether urban or rural, wartime or peacetime. Although I’ve read a couple since then that I perhaps prefer, this remains one of my favourites. Hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still haven’t read anything by E.C.R. Lorac but I know she’s one of the most popular authors in the British Library Crime Classics series. I’m looking forward to trying one of her books – this one sounds very appealing!

    Liked by 1 person

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