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)

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)

Shelf Control #90: Holiday House by Enid Blyton #TBR #Mystery #Children’sLiterature

Wednesday, the 13th 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 an Enid Blyton–Holiday House, first published in 1955. Blyton is of course one of my favourite authors (has been since my childhood) but with over 700 books to her credit, there are still many I haven’t read (and some I don’t even know of). This of course is one such. In fact, I only came across it very recently.

Holiday House is a standalone and one with a mystery element. Twins Patrick and Mary have been ill and are sent down by their parents to Holiday House in Devon by the sea. At the seaside, they set out to explore, and in the process find a secret passage and a derelict house, and of course, a mystery on their hands. What secrets do the passage and house hold? This book has been repackaged as part of the ‘Young Adventurers’ series with (from what I can see) different characters (Katie and Nick), but luckily I have the original version from fadedpage.com.

Enid Blyton’s mysteries, whether standalone or parts of series, are usually great fun–the findouters mysteries for instance have rather unique solutions in many of the stories, and the others even if they they have common elements like caves and hidden passages, are very enjoyable to read–the excitement of going down a passage through the caves, what one might find at the end of it, and the fear of the villains coming up on one, what a fun way of experiencing it all. So I am certainly looking forward to reading this one, soon.

Have you read this one? The original or repackaged edition? Did you enjoy it? Do you enjoy reading or revisiting children’s adventure stories or mysteries? Which ones are some favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

The cover image and description are from the Enid Blyton Society page (here)

Shelf Control #89: Murder in Ancient China by Robert Van Gulik

Wednesday, the 6th 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 isn’t a book per se, but two short stories by Robert Van Gulick which I found free on kindle–Murder in Ancient China. The stories feature Judge Dee, imperial magistrate, inquisitor and public avenger. These stories are part of a series of full-length mysteries by the author featuring the same character. Judge Dee or Detective Dee as he is known in the movie versions is based on a historical character Di Renjie, an official who served in the Tang and Zhou dynasties, serving twice as chancellor.

Di Renjie

Robert Van Gulik, Dutch diplomat, came across an eighteenth century Chinese detective novel Dee Gong An which he translated into English. After this, he began creating his own stories on the same lines with the same character, which were published as a series; the first of these was The Chinese Maze Murders published in 1950. The original tale dealt with Judge Dee solving three cases simultaneously, and without any element of the supernatural.

In this set of stories, Judge Dee finds himself solving in the first the case of an elderly poet murdered by moonlight in his garden pavilion, and in the second a mystery on the eve of Chinese New Year.

I”d heard about the Detective Dee/Judge Dee stories and was interested to explore them especially because of the setting in ancient China. The historical Judge Dee lived between 630 and 700. Mysteries are of course one of my favourite genres, and I thought this offering on Kindle would be a good place to give these a try.

Do you like historical mystery series? Which are some of of your favourites? Have you read any of the Judge Dee stories? Which ones and what did you think of them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Info on the book and the cover image are from Goodreads (here), the real life Judge Dee (and image) on Wikipedia (here) and Van Gulik also on Wikipedia (here).

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 #86: Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir #TBR #HistoricalFiction #Tudors

Wednesday, the 15th 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, 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, my pick is historical fiction, another of my favourite genres–Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. First published in 2007, this is Weir’s debut novel. This is the story of the nine-days queen, Lady Jane Grey.

A great-granddaughter of Henry VII, and first cousin once removed of Edward VI, she found herself between a queen awaiting coronation and deposed monarch within days. Born in turbulent times, she was the child of a scheming father and ruthless mother for whom she is just a pawn (reminding me a little of Katherine Howard here). And she is caught amidst the struggle for the throne when Edward VI, Henry VIIIth’s successor dies prematurely. She was honest. intelligent, and reputed to be one of the most learned women of her day, with a strength of character that enabled her to weather the storm she found herself caught in. And while she had no ambitions to rule, she was forced to accept the crown, and ended up paying with her life.

Having read (and enjoyed) Alison Weir’s non-fiction book The Six Wives of Henry VIII before (review here), I was interested in picking up some fiction by her as well. Then, a couple of years ago, I came across My Lady Jane, a comic (?)/alternative retelling of Jane Grey’s tale, which I wanted to read but decided also that I wanted to know a little of Jane Grey’s real story (with which I am unfamiliar) before I did that. So, picking up this book made a lot of sense, and I am looking forward to reading it. I only found out while writing this post that this was her debut, so it will certainly be a good place to start!

Have you read this one? Or any other/s of Alison Weir’s fiction? Which ones and how did you like them? Also if you’ve read My Lady Jane, let me know how you liked that! Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations.

Cover image: goodreads

Book/Lady Jane description: Goodreads (here) and Wikipedia (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)

Shelf Control #84: The Evening News by Arthur Hailey #TBR

Wednesday, the 1st of April–Fool’s day amidst lockdown/quarantine–did you manage to play any pranks to lighten things up (virtual ones, of course)? Hope all is well with everyone and their loved ones.

Of course, being Wednesday, it is also Shelf Control time 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. 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 popular fiction–The Evening News by Arthur Hailey, and the reason I picked this one is not only because it is on my TBR but that Hailey turns 100 later this week, so I thought it made sense to feature it at this time. The book was first published in 1990.

Like all his other books, this one is set around a specific industry/profession, in this case, television news. Anchorman Crawford Sloane is a respected reporter, having made his name as a reporter on the Vietnam War. He is known to be calm at all times, no matter what the situation. Terrorism dominates the news, and as a face of American democracy and thus a prime target, Sloane takes all possible precautions. But his family is kidnapped, and it falls to him to track them down and rescue them as he is unwilling to rely on either ruthless network executives or an intrepid reporter who was once his rival in love.

This is one of Hailey’s later novels, his second-last to be specific, and by this point, his popularity had somewhat declined (wikipedia here). Born in Bedfordshire, England in 1920, Hailey began writing poems, stories, and plays at a young age. His novels are always deeply researched and detailed, and quite fast-paced and gripping. Many of his works have also been adapted for the screen as films or TV miniseries.

I have read Strong Medicine, In High Places, The Moneychangers, Hotel, and Airport so far, and have enjoyed them all. The Evening News, I picked up a second-hand copy of at my neighbourhood book shop, possibly last year, but haven’t gotten down to reading it yet. But being by Hailey, I expect to enjoy the book.

Have you read this one or any of Hailey’s other titles? Which ones and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

The description of the book is essentially from here, and the cover image is from Goodreads as always; info on Hailey is from Wikipedia (here)

Shelf Control #83: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black #Fantasy #YoungAdult #TBR

Wednesday, the 25th of March–Shelf Control time once again! Shelf Control is a feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. It is a weekly feature, and appears every Wednesday. 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!

This week, the second time in a row, my pick is a young adult fantasy read, and coincidentally also the final one in a series (Last week, I featured Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor-post here)–The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. The Queen of Nothing is the third in the Folk of the Air series, the first two being The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. I picked up Cruel Prince last year, and found it so entertaining and enjoyable that I bought the sequel nearly immediately, and this was also as enjoyable and kept me hooked all through. So of course, I had to read the final instalment to see how everything turns out.

The series tells the story of Jude who with her twin Taryn and older sister Vivi are taken to live in Faerie, after their parents are brutally killed. There, many look down upon them, especially the youngest prince Cardan, who loses no chance to torment. While Taryn wants to fit in simply by falling in love and getting married, Jude wants to become a knight and be able to give a fitting response to her tormentors. But when things are not working the way she wants them to, she begins to take steps to acquire power, getting eventually involved in political games playing out around the throne of Faerie. In The Wicked King, the games continue with Jude finding herself occupying an important place as the power behind the throne. Love, hate, politics, conspiracy, and betrayal are constants, and both the plot and the characters surprise one more than once with twists, turns, and plenty of secrets.

Without going into too much of a spoiler, in this final instalment, Jude has been banished from Faerie, and to the mortal realm. She is biding her time and waiting to return. Her twin Taryn brings to her this opportunity, and Jude must return to an atmosphere where war is brewing and politics continues to be dangerous. A dormant but powerful curse is unleashed which forces her to make a choice–between ambition and her humanity. How do things turn out for her, for Taryn, for Cardan?

The Author: Holly Black is an American writer and editor. She has written several young adult and middle-grade novels, short stories, graphic novels and comics, and some poetry. Among her works are the Spiderwick Chronicles, and the Magesterium books co-written with Cassandra Clare.

Have you read this series? Did you enjoy it as much as I have been? What did you think of this instalment? Did it live up to your expectations? Looking forward to your thoughts!

I have featured The Cruel Prince in a previous Shelf Control Post (here), and my reviews of Cruel Prince and Wicked King are here and here.

Find reviews of The Queen of Nothing from the Orangutan Librarian (here), A Book A Thought (here), and Reading by Starlight (here)

Cover image and description as always are from goodreads (here) and the author (here)