Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Christmas Card CrimeAnd Other Stories Edited by Martin Edwards

The Christmas Card Crime is a British Library Crime Classic loaded with short stories from some of the best Authors of the Golden Age of Writing. Each story is a gem of a mystery written by such famous names as Carter Dickson, better known as John Dickson Carr, Cyril Hare, John Bingham and many others. Bingham, 7th Baron of Clanmorris was recruited into MI5 and was the inspiration for John LeCarre's famous Spy Smiley. Each of these stories introduce you to an Author, which may be unfamiliar in this day and age, but are fascinating for further reading. 

The stories are a mix of everything. They include past murders- unsolved, puzzling, not quite locked- door mysteries and even a Gothic tone tucked into one. I found the Christmas theme so cozy, with snow and little tucked- away English Homes or Hotels- a treat to sit and read. It is hard to talk about a particular style when you have such a variety of Authors but this was the heyday of English Mysteries and each one is a work of Art.

I happen to love this Era of writing, particularly in mysteries, and I found several new Authors that I will further pursue and read full-length novels- after enjoying their short story. I hope you will do the same. Get your cup of hot tea and prepare to enjoy. Five Stars and I am highly recommending.

Blurb:

Monday, June 24, 2019

Manor of Dying (A Hampton Home and Garden Mystery Book 4) by Kathleen Bridge

Meg Barrett and her friend Elle are headed for Nightingale Manor, the site of a former mental asylum, complete with the history of a grisly murder. They are to pick out historical props for an upcoming series set in the 1930's. But when they arrive there is friction between factions and the house itself is cold and forbidding. The inventory is in the attic but the tension everywhere else has Meg curious, listening- for Murder is in the air...

I really loved the plot. The type of work Meg does and her friend Elle, that is exactly what I would like to do, particularly in set research for film. The additional plus of cataloging inventory and Thirties decor, between the two, was a major plus. The whole book read like my dream life with a dream job. I suspect many Readers will feel this way. This is Book 4 so there is quite a bit to take in.. especially the first few chapters. The pace is fast though and before I knew it I was halfway through the Book.

The descriptive details are amazing... a  ferry with its rough waves and a gray, forbidding ocean...a small cottage tucked into Montauk with views of a lighthouse.   But all through the Book these charming details are sprinkled and they add to the story along with- the warm friendship between Elle and Meg. Some of these characters I have not met yet, such as a boyfriend who delivers yachts to buyers and has invited Meg to Cornwall. But I can't wait to do so...

The shivery aspect of the Manor House, complete with Tombstones next to the gate house or tickets tucked into an armless doll, will enthrall everyone. Added to that, the forbidding, coldness of the Rooms and the basement which still houses the Asylum gurneys, will guarantee this will be a story you want to read. I could not stop until I had devoured the last page. Five stars


Blurb:

In a new Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery, Meg Barrett will have to uncover the truth about a long-ago murder before a killer decides she’s history . . .

When decorator Meg Barrett travels to a remote mansion to help select period pieces for a new 1930s-style television mystery series, she’s chilled to learn that the manor was once a mental asylum and the site of a mysterious decades-old murder. And when a fierce blizzard knocks out the power and strands Meg and her cohorts in the home’s rickety old elevator, they emerge to discover that another person has been murdered—in the same macabre manner as the original victim.

With a suspect list limited to those who were also stranded at the manor, Meg begins digging through their backgrounds for clues to both the old and new murder, trying to discover a connection that will lead her to the culprit’s identity. But the more she learns, the more clear it becomes that someone wants to keep the secrets of the past buried, and Meg knows she’ll have to watch her back before a ruthless killer decides to commit her to a grisly fate . . .

Includes scrumptious recipes and vintage decorating tips!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs

I found George Bellairs through the recommendation of a Golden Age Mystery site. He is one of the English Writers from a time period of the 1940's that produced small Village Murders often set around a manor house or Hotel and intricately woven plots and characters. I will say up- front that I am a huge fan of these type of mysteries and relish them when I find them. So I jumped at the chance to read one of his.

Inspector Littlejohn is on vacation and run down. He is looking forward to his time at Cape Mervin Hotel, when a Bishop is coshed over the head, and he is asked to investigate. The body of the religious leader is emaciated from lack of food, which on the surface is a very odd thing, until you find out he is trying to follow psychology through the Eastern Religions, which recommends fasting. But as the Inspector interviews and tracks... through a bewildering amount of interviews, it becomes apparent this won't be the only murder.

Bellairs has a way with words and from the first page I was in my chair until I finished the book. He throws a lot of red herrings at the reader- but they are worth pursuing. I especially like his gift for story telling. The Characters are well- developed and I particularly enjoyed the eccentricities of the Macintosh family. So I highly recommend George Bellairs, as a new Author, to people who love the golden age of Mysteries and who read Nagio Marsh and Dorothy Sayers. Five stars

Blurb:

A corpse belonging to a gentle bishop is found at the base of a cliff on the Isle of Man in an ingenious mystery by the master of the “pure British detective story” (The New York Times).

Dr. James Macintosh, the Bishop of Greyle, was a mysterious man. For a long time, nobody even knew his last name… until his body is found emaciated and battered having been pushed face-first off the edge of a cliff.

Inspector Littlejohn faces an incredibly peculiar case. How to explain the savage murder of a gentle Bishop? Did he know too much about the secretive citizens of Cape Marvin? Or did it have something to do with the strange family he left behind in Medhope?

Above all, why was the Bishop’s body so undernourished that death by violence won out by only a few days over death by starvation?

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Knife for Harry Dodd by George Bellairs

I haven't read George Bellairs until now but I certainly will again. This story moves with a really well- written cast of characters. Inspector Littlejohn is a regular in a long line of books and he puzzles things out by chasing the clues wherever they lead. There is a long, twisted, path of possible people with enough red-herrings to make it very enjoyable. I like the rural England shown in these descriptions written in 1953 and the Pub life in particular. The characters that hang out there...which Bellairs had a talent for developing-give life to this book.

George Bellairs wrote over 50 books in a long career. The writing is reminiscent of the top-notch English mystery writers of the day with plenty of puzzles and not a lot of gore.  I am fond of this type of writing and rejoice I have found another of these authors.

I had Bellairs recommended to me on one of the Golden Age Mystery sites and I highly recommend him to you. Harry Dodd has secrets in his life and they may have just gotten him murdered. Five Stars...


Blurb:


At first, the women hadn’t believed Dodd was dead. They had put him in his pyjamas, fixed up his wound with plaster and lint, and put him to bed. Then, they’d realised he had died quietly whilst in their hands.


When Harry Dodd calls Dorothy Nicholls for a ride home from the pub, she and her mother think he’s just had too much to drink. Little do they know that he’s dying of a stab wound to the back. By the time they get him home, he’s dead.

Who would want to kill Harry Dodd? When Inspector Littlejohn is called in to investigate this murder, he uncovers the dark side of the power-hungry Dodd family. Perhaps Dodd’s life was not as simple as it seemed…

Bogged down with jealousy, greed, and spurned lovers, Littlejohn has more suspects than he can handle. And as the body count rises, it seems there might be more than one murderer in his midst…

Monday, May 27, 2019

Murder, She Uncovered (Murder, She Reported Series Book 2) by Peg Cochran

Peg Cochran's smooth, touch is still apparent in the second book of the series. The Plot is good with strong characters, and I love the touches of 1930's vocabulary and clothes. Beverly Gray, Reporter has nothing on Biz (Elizabeth) Adams as she follows her hunches and helps the Reporter Kaminski...track down a Murderer before he kills again. The bodies are piling up and they are running out of time.

I am so glad I found this series and have been enjoying it immensely. It is a current day 1930's version of some of the best that became movies and books out of that Era. What a setting to go with... a storm has washed away buildings and bodies are stacked in chairs at the Country Club. That has to get your attention. But watch out... one of those bodies has a stab wound and not the bloated look of drowning.

Lots of interesting characters and a plot that is worthy of The Thin Man -makes Peg Cochran's Book Two of the Murder She Reported Series a sure-fire Winner. I am giving this five stars.

Blurb:

An intrepid 1930s Manhattan socialite uncovers deadly secrets during an assignment to the Hamptons in this riveting historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.

Westhampton, 1938. To the dismay of her well-to-do family, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned photographer over at the Daily Trumpet. Growing more confident in her decision to pursue a career, Elizabeth is thrilled when she and her reporter sidekick, Ralph Kaminsky, are sent to Long Island to cover the story of a young maid found dead in one of the glamourous summer homes in the devastating aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane—also known as the Long Island Express.

At first it’s assumed that the young woman was caught in the terrible storm, but when a suspicious wound is found on the side of her head, the police suspect murder. The maid’s death becomes even more tragic when it’s discovered she was pregnant, and with Elizabeth and Kaminsky at the scene of the crime, the Daily Trumpet scoops all the other papers in town.

The young woman’s boyfriend emerges as the likeliest suspect. But as Elizabeth follows the story, she begins to wonder whether someone in the household of the maid’s employers might be responsible—someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth about the baby’s paternity hidden. . . .

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Spirited Away (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery Book 4) by Lena Gregory

Lena Gregory has a good, little-psychic series going with Spirited Away. Cass is having a party in which a reading occurs but everything is going wrong and culminates with a death later that night.The book starts out slow but picks up- steam around Chapter four...her friend is accused of a murder. The Series has a strong character in Bee, who always has our main character's back and I really grew to like him.

The lifestyle and the cast of characters interacting with Cass are strong. I felt that the book had a lot of cleaning, wiping, and no-sleep descriptions, but the psychic moments were fun and I found myself wishing to know a lot more about crystals, moonstones, and readings. This is a new Author to me and I will be reading more of her work. A fun book... you will enjoy reading on those long, summer nights.

Blurb:
In the new Bay Island Psychic Mystery, psychic Cass Donovan is thrown into the middle of a macabre murder she never saw coming . . .

With the summer tourist season on Bay Island in full swing, shop owner Cass Donovan barely has a minute to breathe, and things at Mystical Musings become even more hectic when a fight breaks out at one of her psychic readings. Shaken by the fracas and discouraged that her sixth sense seems to be on the blink, Cass is even more dispirited to learn that one of the men involved in the altercation was later found dead—and that a close friend of hers is the main suspect.

Desperate to help her friend prove his innocence and consumed by haunting visions, Cass follows the clues from one possible culprit to the next, including some very mysterious tourists and not a few questionable locals. And when the police turn to Cass to help them find out who committed the ghoulish deed, she knows she’ll have to tread carefully, because her next grim premonition may be her last . . .

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Return of Mr. Campion by Margery Allingham

The Return of Mr. Campion is a series of short stories with the Margery Allingham style. She was one of the best writers of her day and many Author's have listed her as a favorite. Not all of the stories contain Albert Campion and in fact they are a mixed bag but I enjoyed each and every one. The insight into her writing life is especially interesting and with short stories you can go at your own pace.

I recommend this and really enjoyed reading it. Readers of the Golden Era of writing should take note of these.

Blurb:
In this fantastic collection of thirteen short stories, Margery Allingham explores both the Mystery and the other genres it has allowed her to write.

From a portrait of her leading man to classic capers, and from traditional British mysteries to wonderful literary short stories, Allingham displays her wit, her humour, and her prowess not just as a Mystery writer but as a storyteller.

Published thirty years after it’s first publication, The Return of Mr Campion proves that both The Mystery and Allingham, are still everywhere.