Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Swing, Brother, Swing (aka A Wreath for Rivera)

Blurb: Lord Pastern and Baggot is a classic English eccentric, given to passionate, peculiar enthusiasms. His latest: drumming in a jazz band. His wife is not amused, and even less so when her daughter falls hard for Carlos Rivera, the band’s sleazy accordion player. Aside from the young woman, nobody likes Rivera very much, so […]

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Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Death at the Bar

Well, as it turns out, I can’t leave well alone with just two books by Ngaio Marsh in a row, so here we go … As I revisited Overture to Death — the book immediately following Artists in Crime and Death in a White Tie — last year as part of the Appointment with Agatha […]

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Literature Reviews

Ngaio Marsh: Artists in Crime

Blurb: One of Ngaio Marsh’s most famous murder mysteries, which introduces Inspector Alleyn to his future wife, the irrepressible Agatha Troy. It started as a student exercise, the knife under the drape, the model’s pose chalked in place. But before Agatha Troy, artist and instructor, returns to the class, the pose has been reenacted in […]

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Literature Reviews

Lauren Belfer: City of Light

Blurb: “The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning. Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. Headmistress of Buffalo’s most prestigious school, Louisa is at ease in a world of men, protected by […]

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Literature Reviews

Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses

Blurb: ‘And in Edinburgh of all places. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you …?’ ‘ That sort of thing’ is the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, […]

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Literature Reviews

Kylie Logan: The Scent of Murder

Blurb: The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She is 35 years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school and a volunteer interest that she’s passionate about — Jazz […]

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Literature Reviews

Priscilla Royal: Sorrow Without End

Blurb: As the autumn storms of 1271 ravage the East Anglian coast, Crowner Ralf finds the corpse of a brutally murdered soldier in the woods near Tyndal Priory. The dagger in the man’s chest is engraved with a strange cursive design, and the body is wrapped in a crusader’s cloak. Was this the act of […]

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Literature Reviews

Ann Cleeves: The Long Call

The first of Cleeves’s Two Rivers books, and while I loved the atmosphere and (generally) the writing as such, the solution was rather a letdown — basically this is yet another mystery harping on corrupt powerful stale pale males. Don’t get me wrong, the particular kind of corruption at stake here, as well as the […]

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Literature Reviews

Georges Simenon: Maigret: Collected Cases (Maigret Goes Home / Maigret in Montmartre / Maigret Has Scruples / Maigret in Society / Maigret Sets a Trap)

Radio dramatizations of five novels from various periods of the Maigret canon, originally published (in the order in which they appear in this collection) as L’affaire Saint-Fiacre Maigret au Picratt’s (also translated as Maigret at Picratt’s and Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper) Les scrupules de Maigret Maigret et les vieillards (also translated as Maigret […]

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Literature Reviews

Margaret Millar: Vanish in an Instant

  The Appointment with Agatha group’s April side read, and the third book by Millar I’ve read this year alone. Though I didn’t like it quite as well as my very first foray into her oeuvre (An Air That Kills), it’s not very far behind, and I can definitely see how the two novels came […]

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Literature Reviews

Susanna Gregory: A Bone of Contention

Matthew Bartholomew mystery #3, and by this time it’s fair to say that Gregory had found her groove. The plot still comes across as mighty complex, but it’s more tightly-constructed than in the first two books — also, I’ve learned (at last) not to get too caught up in individual incidents but, for all their […]

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Literature Reviews

Agatha Christie: Murder in Mesopotamia

Any fan of Agatha Christie’s knows that this is one of several novelizations of Christie’s own experience gained during the months and years she spent with her second husband Max Mallowan on his archeological expeditions to (today’s) Syria and Iraq: To what far-reaching extent this is true, though, only occurred to me when I read […]

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Literature Reviews

Elizabeth Lemarchand: Death of an Old Girl

Lemarchand was a contemporary of Ellis Peters and Catherine Aird and, like them, a representative of the “Silver Age” of crime fiction (i.e., the post-WWII decades, roughly from the 1950s-60s to the end of the 1970s / beginning of the 1980s). Death of an Old Girl is the first book of Lemarchand’s Pollard and Toye […]

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Literature Reviews

Q1 / 2022 Reading Recap

Well, as it turned out 2022 began as 2021 had ended — all work and no play, albeit with the addition of a hospital detour to boot.  (Nothing serious, just way more painful and, all told, protracted, than it had any right to be.)  So I’m back to posting one summary post for the first […]

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Literature Reviews

Kate Ellis: The Armada Boy

Blurb: “Archaeologist Neil Watson did not expect to find the body of American veteran Norman Openheim in the ruins of the old chantry chapel. He turns to his old student friend, Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, for help. Ironically, both men are looking at an invading force — Wes the WWII Yanks and Neil a group […]

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Literature Reviews

Abir Mukherjee: A Rising Man

Blurb: Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with […]

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Literature Reviews

Neil Richards, Matthew Costello: Mydworth Mysteries 1-3: A Short in the Dark / A Little Night Murder / London Calling!

Blurb: This compilation contains episodes 1-3: A Shot in the Dark Sussex, England, 1929. Mydworth is a sleepy English market town just 50 miles from London. But things are about to liven up there considerably, when young Sir Harry Mortimer returns home from his government posting in Cairo, with his unconventional American wife — Kat […]

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Literature Reviews

Margaret Millar: Ask for Me Tomorrow

Blurb: Tom Aragon, a young Hispanic lawyer, is hired by Gilda Decker to find her husband who disappeared in Mexico after reportedly amassing a fortune. Aragon travels to Mexico to unravel the past, which he finds shrouded in mystery. But as he starts getting close to his quarry, witnesses start dying. The first of Millar’s […]

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Literature Reviews

Vera Caspary: Laura

Blurb: In the doorway of an elegant New York apartment, blood seeps over silk negligee, over polished wood floors and plush carpet: a beautiful young woman lies dead, her face disfigured by a single gun shot. But who was Laura? What power did she hold over the very different men in her life? How does […]

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Literature Reviews

Lindsey Davis: The Silver Pigs

Blurb: One fine day, A.D. 70, Sosia Camillina quite literally runs into Marcus Didius Falco on the steps of the Forum. It seems Sosia is on the run from a couple of street toughs, and after a quick and dirty rescue, P.I. Falco wants to know why. Falco finds out that Sosia, the niece of […]

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