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Literature Reviews

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit – Performed by Andy Serkis

Like its magnificent sequel, The Hobbit is, I think, many things to many people: the first exposition of the universe that would become Middle-earth; prelude to The Lord of the Rings; a bite-sized visit to Middle-earth whenever you don’t feel up to the full blow of the War of the Ring(s); one of the most […]

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Literature Reviews

Karen Wynn Fonstad: The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth

Blurb: “Find your way through every part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great creation, from the Middle-earth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the undying lands of the West … The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-earth is an essential guide to the geography of Middle-earth, from its founding in the Elder Days – as […]

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Literature Reviews

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings – Performed by Andy Serkis

In another online community, we recently talked about the new Andy Serkis Lord of the Rings recordings.  Well, it turns out that the pull of The Ring is still mighty strong, for however much it may have been destroyed in Mount Doom. I had barely gotten my hands on these audios and I found I […]

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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

Terry Pratchett: I Shall Wear Midnight

Tiffany Aching is growing up — finally! To be fair, it never felt like Pratchett was writing “down” to Tiffany or to a younger audience in the first three books of this subseries; for one thing, Pratchett was probably constitutionally incapable of writing down to anybody to begin with, and the fact that Tiffany (being […]

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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

Vladimir Nabokov: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight

Hoo boy. This starts out really nicely, as the story of two Russian half brothers growing up remote from each other (even though in the same home), from which beginning we segue more or less seamlessly into the surviving younger brother’s quest for the life and identity of his elder sibling, who under the English […]

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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

D.E. Stevenson: Miss Buncle’s Book

Next to the Golden Age mystery writers, another group of seemingly long-forgotten writers who seem to be experiencing a mini-renaissance in recent yeas are the women writers of the interwar years — Winifred Holtby, Angela Thirkell, Stella Gibbons, Dorothy Whipple, Mollie Panter-Downes, Miss Read, and, well, D.E. Stevenson are all seeing a renaissance of their […]

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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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