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February and March 2021: Reading Recap

Well, go figure.  The first quarter of 2021 is already behind us, never mind that I’m still having to remind myself on occasion to write “2021” instead of “2020” … (and we’re even a week into April already, but let that go). Anyway, since I never got around to doing a “February in review” post, […]

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Literature Reviews

Patricia Highsmith: Carol (The Price of Salt)

My record with Highsmith’s writing is a mixed one: I found the first Ripley novel (The Talented Mr. Ripley) morbidly fascinating and the sardonic put-down of the arts world in the second one (Ripley Under Ground) oddly amusing, and I obviously love any cat story of hers where a cat gets the better of a […]

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Literature Reviews

Olivia Manning: The Spoilt City

The second volume of Manning’s Balkan Trilogy, which in turn forms the first part of her Fortunes of War story arch (whose second part, equally consisting of three installments, is known as the Levant Trilogy).  The hexalogy is based on Manning’s own World War II expat experience; it was adapted for the small screen in […]

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Literature Reviews

Gabriel García Márquez: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel, and Other Stories)

García Márquez’s writing, by and large, works better for me in his novels than in his short stories, and that turned out to be true in connection with this particular collection, too; even though its titular first entry is almost of novella-length: But this is a story where little moves — quite literally — and […]

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Literature Reviews

Patrick Leigh Fermor: The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos

The third and final part of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s narrative of his three-year trek on foot, begun more or less spontaneously at the tender age of eighteen, from the Hoek of Holland to Constantinople.  Unlike the first two parts (A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water), which cover his wanderings in […]

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Literature Reviews

Robert van Gulik (transl.) & Anonymous: Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Gong An)

This was “technically” a reread, but as unlike Robert van Gulik’s series of mysteries that were inspired by this book, I had not actually revisited the original novel itself in a minor eternity, almost all of it felt as fresh and new as if I had been reading it for the very first time. Although […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Well, talk about a book that you really cannot discuss without sticking spoiler warnings onto it right, left and center!  Christie was initially raked over the coals for its solution — and while her fellow mystery authors stoutly stood by her, it strikes me that it actually does break at least one of [Ronald] Knox’s […]

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Literature Movies Reviews

Graham Greene: The Third Man (and The Fallen Idol)

If you’re coming to this book from having watched the movie starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli and Trevor Howard (as you arguably should — Greene wrote the novella as a preliminary exercise for the screenplay), probably the first thing that is going to stand out to you is the changed perspective:  Whereas the […]

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Literature Reviews

Anna Katharine Green: The Leavenworth Case

Sigh.  Can you believe that in my Golden Age mystery quest I actually acquired three different editions of this book … only to be but marginally entertained by it?  Oh well. The Leavenworth Case was one of the first-ever detective novels, even predating Sherlock Holmes by almost a decade … and it was written by […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: A Murder Is Announced

One of my confirmed all-time favorite books not only in the Miss Marple series but in Agatha Christie’s entire body of work. Like in the case of The Man in the Brown Suit and Crooked House, there currently is an audio double feature available combining The Secret of Chimneys (our “Appointment with Agatha” February 2021 […]

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Literature Reviews

Nicholas Blake: Minute for Murder

If I’ve counted correctly, this is the fifth Nigel Strangeways mystery that I’ve read, and — like the sheer inexplicable segue from the stellar Murder of Roger Ackroyd to the beyond-lamentable Big Four at a similar point in the trajectory of Agatha Christie’s career — it is proof positive that there is no such thing […]

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Literature Reviews

Ellis Peters: Fallen into the Pit

The “Appointment with Agatha” group actually selected Dorothy L. Sayers’s The Nine Tailors as its official March 2021 side read, but as that is one of my favorite novels by Dorothy L. Sayers and one of my annual Christmas reads, I opted for the runner-up, Ellis Peters’s first “Felse investigation” instead.  And I am so […]

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Literature Music Reviews

Anne Tyler: Vinegar Girl

Sigh.  Well, I have to admit that it’s hard to translate a 16th century play’s spiky, waspish female main character, who at the end of the play seems to make a complete about-face and to submit to a man whom she professes not even to have married for love, into a modern context — and […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Secret of Chimneys

Oh, I would love to love this book so much more than I ultimately do.  There Christie goes and takes me on a merry romp in the spirit of The Secret Adversary (whose plot, let’s face it, is every bit as implausible as that of The Secret of Chimneys), complete with adventurers, mysterious manuscripts and […]

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Linked Items Literature Reblogs

LitHub: 50 Very Bad Book Covers for Literary Classics

Source: lithub.com/50-very-bad-book-covers-for-literary-classics/ When a book passes into the public domain, it means not only that it’s available for adapting and remixing, but for reprinting and reselling with a brand new cover. Some of these covers are … pretty bad. Which, obviously, makes them very fun to look at. [Continue] ________________________________________ Here are some of my personal favorites from the […]

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Literature Reviews

Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: Blood on the Tracks

The January “side read” — topic: Murder by Transport — for the Appointment with Agatha / Agatha Christie Centenary Celebration group read (blog master post HERE; Goodreads group HERE): For me, another reread after first having read this collection only last year, but decidedly one of my favorites among the British Library Classic Crime short […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Spider’s Web

Spider’s Web is a screwball drawing room murder mystery comedy mashup with bits of Christie’s own Bundle Brent books (The Secret of Chimneys and The Seven Dials Mystery), as well as bits of the Hitchcock comedy The Trouble with Harry thrown in for good measure.  The result is an evening’s entertainment of pure hilarity — […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: A Pocket Full of Rye

As a detective protagonist, like Agatha Christie herself, I prefer Miss Marple to Hercule Poirot, and among all of the Miss Marple books, this is one of my all-time favorites.  Needless to say, this was a (well, actually my umpteenth) repeat visit, courtesy (also on repeat) of Richard E. Grant’s narration as part of the […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: The Lie

This play, even to longstanding fans of Agatha Christie, must necessarily come as at least as great a surprise as to writer and director Julius Green, who discovered it in 2018 (apparently, along with a number of other plays — though at least those listed HERE were in fact already known and available in print […]

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Literature Reviews

Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Sandwiched between two personal accounts by modern-day black American leaders — Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold and Barack Obama’s A Promised Land –, as my January book for this year’s (Mostly) Dead Writers Society Literary Birthday challenge, I went back to a fictional account set in Jim Crow America: the story of Jeanie Crawford, […]

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