Shelf Control #92: The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham #GoldenAge #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 27th of May–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, and such. If you participate, 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!

This week, I’ve once again picked something from one of my favourite genres, murder mysteries, and a Golden Age one at that–The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham. The book, first published in 1937, is the eighth in the Albert Campion series by the author. Albert Campion is a gentleman detective, born into a prominent British aristocratic family, and educated at Rugby and Cambridge. He first appeared in 1929, in the Crime at Black Dudley, and went on to appear in a total of nineteen books by Allingham. There are additional books completed or written by other authors (initially by her husband, Philip Youngman Carter, who completed her final work and wrote a couple of further mysteries on his own).

In the Case of the Late Pig, Campion is summoned to the village of Kepesake, where a rather nasty death has taken place. He finds that the body is that of Rowland ‘Pig’ Peters, his nemesis from school. But Campion had attended Peters’ funeral already–five months ago! Peters’ body goes missing and other corpses are found. Thus begins Campion’s search for the killer–which involves among other things a grisly scarecrow, a bit of romance, and Campion’s own ‘unglamorous past’. This is the only Campion mystery written in first person.

The author: Born in 1904, British author Margery Allingham is best remembered for her gentleman sleuth, Albert Campion, who was initially thought to be a parody of Lord Peter Wimsey, but soon emerged into an adventurer and detective in his own right. Allingham’s parents were both writers and her childhood was immersed in literature. She wrote her first novel at nineteen, and also contributed short stories articles for magazines including The Strand Magazine, and contributed Sexton Blake stories as well.

Albert Campion is a Golden Age detective, I’ve heard about often but not read so far so I was looking forward to trying the books out. This one, with its elements of past and present seemed like it would be an interesting introduction to the author and the detective. This is also a relatively short book.

Have you read any of the Campion stories before? Which ones and how did you find them?Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image, as always is from Goodreads; Info on the book is from Goodreads (here) and wikipedia (here); on Campion, wikipedia (here); and the author Wikipedia (here)

At Bertram’s Hotel: Some Tidbits

Lately, I have been re-reading Agatha Christie mysteries, which are comfortable cosies always fun to come back to when when is not in the mood for anything else. The latest in the list is not a Poirot like the last couple, but Miss Marple, At Bertram’s Hotel, which was a ‘buddy read’ with Rekha from the Book Decoder (here). This book (published in 1965), one of later Marple books, is set in Bertram’s, a hotel in London, which has managed to keep up its Edwardian facade, charm, and service, even many years after the war. Miss Marple is staying there as a treat, as always sent by her nephew Raymond West and his wife Joan (now themselves in their fifties). Almost as soon as she arrives, she begins to see red flags, and things not quite right, while the police (alongside) are investigating a string of daring robberies. When I last read this book (2017, as part of a Miss Marple Challenge on Goodreads), I wrote a full-length review (on Goodreads here), so this time, rather than writing another review (which will sounds pretty much the same), I’m just pointing out a few things that stood out to me on this read, or which I hadn’t picked up in my review last time. (Oh, and these aren’t really connected or in any particular order.)

  • Popular culture: While I’ve noticed references to books in Christie’s works often (like Postern of Fate where she reminisces about a lot of her childhood books, or Cranford mentioned in Bertram’s as well as E.M. Hull’s The Sheik referred to in The Secret of Chimneys), but not much so other elements of popular culture, but this one mentioned a film (which Canon Pennyfather ends up watching), The Walls of Jericho (1948), and also the Beatles (who Colonel Luscombe disapproves of).
  • Food: Usually when I think of food in books, I think of Enid Blyton, but Christie has her fair share too (take a look here), and Bertram’s is one where there is a lot of it, in the first part especially. Part of the hotel’s impeccable service is its food, which includes seed cake and muffins (real ones, not ‘American’ versions), doughnuts oozing real strawberry jam, and breakfast with beautifully poached eggs, creamy milk, and ‘a good sized round of butter’.
  • ‘Air-station’: The word ‘air-station’ when I looked it up now seems to be used in the context of military/naval bases but in this book, it is used interchangeably with ‘air-port’. I haven’t looked it up yet, but it would be interesting to see how the usage changed, or whether both terms were always used simultaneously as in this book.
  • Chesterton’s absent-mindedness: One of the characters in the book is Canon Pennyfather, absent-minded to the point of not knowing where he is or ought to be at any given time; In his context, Christie also brings up Chesterton’s absent-mindedness, which I found on looking up to be true; apparently he did often forget where he was supposed to be and telegraphed his wife to find out where he ought to be (wikipedia here).
  • Age: Something I’ve been noticing in both Poirot and Marple, but largely the latter is how Miss Marple uses her age to her advantage since people don’t think her a threat in any way; in Bertram’s, Chief Inspector Davy too faces some age-related prejudice when his junior Inspector Campbell thinks that he was possibly ‘all right in his day’ (and wonders how he got to the position he is in); in the Chief Inspector’s case, his looks–‘large, heavy, bovine face’ and being as if he was just ‘up from the country’ serve to the astute man’s advantage.
  • Plastic: Or rather the lack thereof–at the hotel, Miss Marple observes approvingly, ‘Not a bit of plastic in the place!’ but this (she knows) is part of the hotel’s attempt to preserve its Edwardian charm; today, of course it is everywhere, and a place with no plastic at all seems like a dream space, far in the future perhaps (and yet, a return to the past).

Re-reading, mysteries and especially Christie (but other books too), gives one an opportunity to pick up so many little things that one didn’t notice on previous reads or noticed but forgot all about. These were a few that I noticed on this visit to Bertram’s!

While this isn’t among my favourite Miss Marple books (favourites here), it was still a fun revisit!

Shelf Control#91: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Wednesday, the 20th of May–time once again for Shelf Control! 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, and such. If you participate, 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!

Today my pick is a historical mystery, The Hangman’s Daughter (2008) by Oliver Pötzsch. This is the first of a series of eight books, and was published in German in 2008 and translated into English in 2010 by Lee Chadeayne and Sabine Maric. What I have on my TBR is the kindle edition of the book.

The story is set in 1659 in Germany after the end of the Thirty-Years War. After a drowning and a gruesomely injured boy, fingers are pointed at a midwife Martha Stechlin, accusing her of witchcraft. On the other side, we have Magdalena, the daughter of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman, but one with unusual wisdom and empathy. They live outside the village walls. Magdalena is destined to be married to the son of another hangman but another young man, the son of the town’s physician, is in love with her. Kuisl, Magdalena’s father is entrusted with the job of extracting a confession from Martha Stechlin. Magdalena, her father, and her suitor (he physician’s son) believe Martha to be innocent and attempt solve the mystery, while another orphan is found dead.

The author: Oliver Pötzsch is a German author and filmmaker, and author of among other books, The Hangman’s Daughter series. He studied journalism in Munich and has worked in radio and television. He has also studied his own family history–he is the descendant of a famous line of executioners in Schongau. According to wikipedia, he was one of the first writers to achieve bestselling status from the publication of e-books.

Mysteries and historical fiction are among my favourites genres, and obviously I also enjoy combinations of the two like the Brother Cadfael mysteries, or the Matthew Shardlake ones. So I think, this should be one I would enjoy as well–the historical setting, mysterious deaths, witchcraft–well perhaps there are some gruesome elements which I may not like that much, but if the story is engrossing, and the mystery complicated, I know I will like it, even if, as reviewers say, the pacing is a little slow.

Have you read this one or any others in this series? Which ones and how did you find them? Any other historical mysteries in other languages that you’ve enjoyed? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book image from Goodreads as always, description (here), author image and information from Goodreads (here) and wikipedia (here)

Review: Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie #Mystery #Review #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge

The twenty-fourth Poirot mystery—I’ve been randomly reading books from my Agatha Christie shelf lately. Evil Under the Sun (1940) is set on a beach resort, the Jolly Roger Hotel, run by one Mrs Castle, and has as many Goodreads reviewers have commented, appeared in a short story form prior to this—that was probably a prototype, and on similar lines though not identical. Anyway, Poirot is among the guests staying at the Jolly Roger as is a young couple the Redferns—Patrick and Christine, an older American couple, the Gardners, Miss Emily Brewster, Rosamund Darnley, owner of a successful dressmaking business in London, Major Barry, Rev Stephen Lane, a preacher, and Horace Blatt, a rich man who spends his time sailing his yacht. As the story opens, we learn that the guests have recently been joined by the Marshall family, the serious Kenneth Marshall, Linda, his daughter from his first marriage, and his current wife, an actress, Arlena (Stuart) Marshall, beautiful and attractive but also a femme fatale—young Partrick Redfern is her newest conquest, much to the dismay of his wife. One morning Arlena sets off sunbathing on her own, and when Patrick Redfern, accompanied by Miss Brewster, set off to find her, he finds that she is dead—strangled! Arlena has plenty of enemies, but it would seem all of them were (or were expected to be women). Christine Redfern obviously has a grouse against her; her stepdaughter Linda disliked her; as did Rosamund Darnley who’s known Kenneth Marshall from childhood and clearly cares about him. But the evidence, the strength the crime would have required seems to point to a man. The police arrive to investigate and Inspector Colgate is pleased to have Poirot at hand to help.

This was once again a re-read for me so I remembered roughly the basic story and plot, but all the same all the little details, clues, and some parts of the side plots I didn’t remember so I enjoyed reading the book. The puzzle was, as most of hers are, complicated, and one I certainly didn’t see coming the first time around (I found and read the prototype short story only much later), and if you haven’t read either, I’m sure you will enjoy the denouement as well. She does give us clues, not ones that might directly point you to the answer, but perhaps ones you can piece together to reach it—as I wrote in my review of Dead Man’s Folly recently (here), pretty much every little thing, a happening, an object, a conversation has a purpose, and if one manages to pick up on that one could possible piece it together. But on the other hand, if you simply want a relaxing read, and not to tax your mind too much, you can simply read on and enjoy the surprise as well.

Usually one tends to think of Poirot and Miss Marple as very different from each other—Poirot has been in the police before, and uses his ‘little grey cells’ to solve his cases while Miss Marple relies on her human connections—people themselves and her knowledge of human nature, keenly observed in her little village of St Mary Mead to solve her mysteries, but reading Evil Under the Sun, I found one little point of similarity which was their age. Miss Marple is often thought of a fluffy, lacey, frail, and an old lady who one wouldn’t usually take too seriously (other than those who know her, that is), and this was the case with Poirot too in this one—No I don’t mean people think of him as an old lady—but that because of his age, some like Rosamund Darnley are apt to think of him as old and ‘practically gaga’ until he solves the mystery, perhaps stumping them. Poirot of course is also looked at differently by different characters we encounter here, such as Mrs Gardner who is always trying to understand the methods he uses to reach his answers, but the point was that both of them face a certain prejudice because of their age, but at the same time, this serves to their advantage as well since people would tend not to take them seriously.  

The characters once again have plenty of ‘meat’ to them—each one with a well-developed personality, and more than one with a secret. And it is only when most of these secrets are revealed or reached, rather, and these additional threads can be separated, that we reach the real answer.

Great fun yet again, as her cosies are!

*The film version with Peter Ustinov had plenty of changes (not the basic plot, though) but changed Emily Brewster to a man Rex Brewster (I didn’t understand why), and Rosamund Darnley was done away with changing Kenneth Marshall’s love interest to Mrs Castle (again, made little sense). There were also other changes giving others’ motive (perhaps to draw in viewers further), but it was enjoyable all the same.

Have you read this one? How did you find it? Have you watched any adaptations of this? Which one/s and how did you like it/them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image as always is from Goodreads!

Review: Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge

In this, the thirty-third Poirot mystery, Poirot receives a request for help from mystery-writer Ariadne Oliver. Mrs Oliver has been down at Nasse House, Nassecombe, Devon, where a village fête is to be held and one attraction is a ‘murder hunt’ on the lines of a treasure hunt which she is in charge of organising. (Poirot is to be present in the guise of giving out the prizes.) While the plans are going along well, Mrs Oliver is certain that she senses something wrong, perhaps that someone has been getting her to alter things ever so slightly, a small detail here and there, though she can’t point her finger to who or what, and what exactly might go wrong. Nasse House is owned by Sir George Stubbs whose wife Hattie (Lady Stubbs), originally from the West Indies, is simple minded. His efficient secretary Miss Brewis, Mrs Folliat whose family originally owned the house, and other residents at the village are all enthusiastically organising and contributing to the fête—Sally Legge (who is staying for a few months at the village with her husband Alec) for instance is to tell people’s futures as Madame Zuleika. Meanwhile, it seems that a cousin of Hattie Stubbs, Etienne De Sousa, whom she hasn’t seen for years (since she was a child, in fact) wants to look her up, and will arrive on the day of the fête. On the day of the fête, Mrs Oliver’s fears prove real and the young schoolgirl who was to play the ‘body’ in the murder hunt is found actually murdered while Hattie Stubbs has vanished entirely with no clue to where she could be and no body found. Where could she have gotten to? Had she been killed? And what reason would anyone have for killing Marlene Tucker, a harmless schoolgirl? This is a puzzle that baffles not only the police who are glad of Poirot’s presence on the scene but also Poirot who can’t solve the case quite as fast (or easily) as he usually does.

This was once again an enjoyable mystery from Christie, who (as another reviewer on Goodreads has also said) certainly has the best puzzles. She doesn’t leave us without clues—in fact here too, if one pays attention to even casual conversations Poirot has with various persons present, one might actually catch on to what was really going on (though one almost always never does, and some observations might be interpreted more than one way). This time since I was rereading, I did pick up some at least of these, a hint here, a clue there—and this was fun though I would say that may be compared to some other mysteries of hers, the clues/hints in this one weren’t perhaps as clear; yet everything and everyone, even if they seemed to be just a background or unconnected feature had a purpose.

Compared to his usual adventures, Poirot perhaps also took a touch longer to solve this one having to go back ‘defeated’ for a bit before he returns for another visit and set of conversations and can finally solve the case. Nonetheless, it is him and his grey cells alone that can put things together eventually, not only solving the mystery but also locating the evidence.

Mrs Oliver does not spare him over the time he takes, telling him when he calls her nearly a month after the events that it was about time he did see things. She is here in all her glory, with her rather fantastical hairstyles, and jumble of thoughts (from which she does manage to produce fairly complicated plots, and an equally complicated murder game) adding a bit of fun to the gravity of the murder and the other more serious storylines. In this one, she doesn’t have her usual struggles with her Finnish detective (reflecting Christie herself), but her one of her reader’s misconceptions about her add a few further comic moments as well.

As with Christie’s other books, this one too has other storylines moving alongside the mystery thread—some turn out connected while others simply throw one off course. But all the characters we are introduced to are also well developed—each with their individual personality and story.

An enjoyable revisit, and one where from cover onwards, everything gives you a clue!

Shelf Control #88: A Knife for Harry Dodd by George Bellairs #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 29th of April–time for Shelf Control, the last one this month! 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, and such. If you participate, 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!

Today, my pick is a mystery again, and one by an author I’ve never read but have been hearing a lot about, A Knife for Harry Dodd by George Bellairs. First published in 1953, this is part of the Inspector Littlejohn series by the author, and is book 21 in the series according to the Goodreads listing.

On his way back from the pub, Harry Dobbs is stabbed. Bur rather than calling the police, he calls his mistress and her mother to pick him up. Inspector Littlejohn and Sergeant Cromwell are called in to investigate. What they find on their hands when they come in is a complicated state of affairs, layers of intrigue, and a family riven with conflicts. Later, the victim’s lawyer and father, both meet their deaths much too similarly to be a coincidence. The investigation takes Littlejohn and Cromwell from an asylum to a gentleman’s club, and at every turn they are given false alibis. Who really did stab Dobbs and was responsible for the other two deaths?

I have been reading of this series and its elements of silly humour and crazy characters from Rekha at the bookdecoder (find her review of Harry Dobbs here), and have been wanting to try one. These sound like a great deal of fun, and its being an older series (from the ’50s) makes me all the more interested in picking it up.

George Bellairs

The author: Harold Blundell who wrote as George Bellairs was a bank manager and writer born in Lancashire. He began working at Martins Bank at the age of 15 and continued rising in seniority there till he retired. Between 1941 and 1982, he wrote over 50 books, most of which featured Inspector Littlejohn. Besides George Bellairs, he also wrote a few books under the pseudonym Harry Landon.

Have you read this book or any others by Bellairs before? Which one/s and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image from goodreads as always; also the picture of Bellairs (here); the book description is from Amazon (here); the info on Bellairs is from Wikipedia (here)

Shelf Control #87: A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia by Clara Benson #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 22nd of April–time for Shelf Control! 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, where you got it, and such. If you participate, 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!

Today my pick is a mystery once again, A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia by Clara Benson. This is the first in the series of mysteries featuring reporter Freddy Pilkington-Soames. I have ‘met’ Freddy before in the Angela Marchmont series by the author (which I have also featured a few times on this blog) where we first come across him in the fourth Angela Marchmont book, The Riddle at Gypsy’s Mile. In that one, he is a guest at the house Angela is visiting, and assists her in solving the case; then he is also a fellow-guest at Fives Castle in book er… five. He comes across in these books as a very Wodehousian character–something like Freddie Threepwood but with brains.

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia is his first solo adventure, set in 1929. The victim–Ticky Maltravers, toast of London high society, adored by all–but perhaps not really so, since someone poisons him. Various people actually wished him dead and there are plenty of secrets they wish to hide. Freddy, ‘newpaper reporter and man about town’ ends up coming upon the corpse when he is drunk; and it seems his mother has tampered with the evidence. If that wasn’t enough, a pretty girl with blue eyes seeks his help in solving the mystery. And so he must hide the wrong clues, find the right ones and solve the mystery before the police catch on to things.

Freddy, in the Angela Marchmont books, is a fun character (somewhat Wodehousian, as I said) who manages to make contributions to solving the case amidst a bit of foolery, so it will be fun to see how he fares on his own. I expect this book (in fact the series) to have more of a comic touch and tone than the Mrs Marchmont books which are fun but still ‘serious’ if that makes sense, and am looking forward to reading this one, especially since I really enjoy reading the Angela Marchmont books, even when I can guess whodunit.

Have you read any books in this series? Which ones and how did you like them? Have you read any of the Angela Marchmont ones? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image from Goodreads as always; book description as well: here

Some of my previous posts on Clara Benson’s books: here, here, and here

Shelf Control #85: The Case of the Screaming Beauty by Alison Golden and Grace Dagnall

Wednesday, the 8th of April–time for Shelf Control! 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. If you participate, 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!

After a couple of weeks of picking young-adult fantasies (here and here) and some popular fiction (here), I’m back to my favourite genre, mysteries. This time my pick is one I have waiting on kindle–The Case of the Screaming Beauty by Alison Golden and Grace Dagnall. This is the first of a series featuring Inspector David Graham (six books so far, see Goodreads here). This one is set in Lavender bed and breakfast in Chiddlinghurst, which has a ‘rich Tudor atmosphere, an enviously manicured lawn’, and a dead body! Found in one of the rooms is Norah Travis who has been murdered–with no witnesses and no motive. Inspector Graham and Sergeant Harris investigate. While the proprietors of the Bed and Breakfast seem to have nothing to hide, a long-time guest is shifty, while there are a number of suspects from an ex-husband to a housekeeper, and questions. This one is described as a ‘modern murder mystery with on old-fashioned feel’.

The author: Raised in Befordshire, England, Alison Golden is the author of the Inspector Graham, Revd. Annabelle Dixon, and Diana Hunter books; the first two are cosy mysteries, the last a thriller. She is now based in San Francisco.

I have read another of the Inspector Graham mysteries, The Case of the Hidden Flame earlier, in which the Inspector, newly posted to Jersey, finds himself investigating the first murder his new police station has seen in decades, a body found at the beach, of a guest staying at the White House Inn, where he is also staying. This was a light-hearted and quick cosy which I enjoyed reading (review here). The Case of the Screaming Beauty, which is set prior in time to this one (I think it was a prequel, but it appears as book 1 in the series now), seems to be on the same lines and sounds like one which will be a fun read.

Have you read this one or any others in this series? Which ones and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

The cover image is from goodreads as always, as is the info about the book (here) and author (here)

Review: 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie #Mystery #Review #BritishCrimeClassics

4:50 From Paddington, also published as What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw is the seventh of the Miss Marple books and I re-read this last week, having last read it in 2017 as part of a Miss Marple challenge. In this one, Elspeth McGillicuddy is travelling on a train from London (the 4:50 of the title), having done her Christmas shopping. Looking into a train passing by, she witnesses a man throttling a woman; but when she reports this, the railway authorities are inclined to dismiss it as a figment of her imagination, not helped by the fact that the ticket collector spots a magazine open near her with a story featuring the image of a girl being strangled. But Mrs McGillicuddy is on her way to visit a friend and that friend is none other than Jane Marple. So when she narrates her story to Miss Marple, the latter who knows her and that she is not inclined to be carried away by imagination of any sort, decides to look into the matter, even though having reported it to the police no body has been found, either on the train or any where else. But Miss Marple is convinced that something did happen, and being unable to undertake any physical activity herself, hires Lucy Eyelesbarrow, a graduate in mathematics who has taken up domestic service as a career—she only works for short periods, efficiently, and is paid highly for her services. Lucy takes on a position at Rutherford Hall, residence of Old Mr Crakenthorpe and his daughter Emma (the other children live away) in Brackhampton where Miss Marple has worked out the body could be, and of course, Lucy pokes around and finds it. While initially it seems to have nothing to do with the family in the hall, connections seem to pop up, and then further deaths. Meanwhile Mr Crakenthorpe’s young grandson and his pal have a fun time undertaking investigations of their own while the official investigation is handed over to Inspector Dermott Craddock, godson of Miss Marple’s old friend Sir Henry Clithering, and one who has seen a demonstration of her skills before.

This is one of my favourite Miss Marple mysteries (in fact it was in my list of Marple favourites that I made on my previous read: here), and has plenty of twists and turns while also being light-hearted and cosy. Miss Marple as always uses her particular strengths to solve the mystery—people, and her knowledge of human nature. Not only Lucy and Craddock but also her great-nephew David West (for his knowledge of trains; incidentally I only noticed on this read that this was a different nephew from the usual Raymond West, the author, though obviously related to him), Leonard the son of Griselda (the vicar’s wife who appeared in the first book) for his knowledge of maps, and her former maid Florence who runs a bed and breakfast in Brackhampton, to be near the scene.  

Lucy and Craddock do the legwork, and Miss Marple who poses as Lucy’s aunt staying in the neighbourhood, manages to visit the house and do what she does best, understand each of the residents’ natures by drawing parallels with those she knows, like Mr Eade the bank manager, a little too fond of money or Jenkins at the garage who made money off small dishonest dealings. Alongside, there is also a touch of romance with Lucy having more than one suitors—that mystery, who she picks we are left to figure out ourselves. And yes, also plenty of food and cooking throughout. An enjoyable revisit, even though I remembered most of it.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Among your favourite Miss Marples, or no? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Image source: Goodreads

#Review: Detection Unlimited #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge #GoldenAge #Mystery

One of the reading challenges I’m doing this year is #BritishCrimeClassicsChallenge hosted by Rekha at the Book Decoder (here) where one reads crime,mystery, or thriller books (British of course) published before 1965. Detection Unlimited (1953) is the third book I’m reading this year that falls in this category.

This is the third of the series featuring Chief Inspector Hemingway that I’ve read, though it is the fourth in the series/subseries. Once again in a classic setting—a small English village—this one opens one summer evening as many of the residents are heading to a tennis party thrown by Mrs Haswell. On the way to and at the party we learn of a solicitor Mr Sampson Warrenby, who has recently moved to the village, and is not well liked, in fact disliked by pretty much all the residents. The party guests are rather pleased that Warrenby chose not to attend, though his niece, Mavis, who is keeping house for him is there. Of course, by the time the games come to an end and the guests return, Mavis comes home to find her uncle shot dead in the garden of his home, Fox House. The local Detective-Inspector Thropton is away sick (similar to the case in Envious Casca), and so the Chief Constable decides to call in Scotland Yard, and Chief Inspector Hemingway is sent down, accompanied by Inspector Horace Harbottle.

While in some ways, the case before Hemingway is a simple one, a man shot dead in his garden, it turns out to be quite difficult to figure out as for one, there are so many suspects, all with different reasons to dislike Warrenby—from Mr Drybeck the solicitor whose practice and seats on various boards and committees have been taken away by Warrenby, to his niece, the saintly Mavis who seems to have fallen in love with a young Polish man, Ladislas Zamagorisky, who her uncle most certainly does not approve of, to Mrs Midgeholme, breeder of Pekes whose dog was kicked by Warrenby; many have reasons to dislike him, even kill him. In fact, Hemingway says at one point, ‘I don’t know when I’ve had so many possibles to choose from’ , identifying at least nine. To add to it, there are 37 rifles of the kind used in the murder in the vicinity. And if these alone weren’t enough, nearly everyone in the village from the said Mr Drybeck and Mrs Midgeholme, to youngsters Charles Haswell and Abigail Patterson, to a ninety-year-old former poacher Mr Biggleswade, has turned into an amateur detective approaching Hemingway with their theories and information they consider of the utmost importance, some to throw suspicion off themselves, but others genuinely ‘trying to help’.

I enjoyed this one, especially since like Hemingway, I certainly didn’t figure out whodunit until he did himself (in the previous Hemingway book I read, Envious Casca I did figure the ‘who’ out); so the book kept me reading till the end. The abundance of suspects and amateur detectives kept me guessing as well. Like the other two Hemingway books that I’ve read, this one too is humorous, in Hemingway’s tone and his exchanges with Inspector Harbottle for instance, as well as in some of the characters such as Mrs Midgeholme and her line of prize-winning Pekes Ultima, all named with the letter ‘U’ (Ulysees, Umberto, and Ursula, but also Uppish, Unruly, and Umbrella) and even the old poacher, for that matter. Hemingway’s observations in an instance or two do seem a touch insensitive or un-PC but overall he’s good fun. The rest of the characters too are pretty well drawn out, each standing out individually, and of course, more than one with their own secrets. I liked how Hemingway finally worked the thing out, picking up on various things that he’d missed when first told them—the explanation of who, how, and why runs into several pages where the Inspector is more or less putting together various pieces as he works it out. I find I’m really liking Heyer’s mysteries, ones more serious in tone like Penhallow as well as these lighter-hearted Hemingway ones a lot, and look forward to reading more soon.

Have you read this one or any of Heyer’s other mysteries? Which one/s and how did you like it/them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Image source: Cover image from goodreads as always.