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That First Fine Careless Murder Monday

The other night I had a dream that I had been recommended the perfect mystery novel, which was called "In Memoriam" by J. D. Robb. I was looking for it in a church rummage sale in a small town, and late for something else. In the morning I looked to see if it was a real book, but I don't think it is. There is a series by J. D. Robb of books with "In Death" in the title, but I have not investigated further.

Just Finished:

The Mystery of the Yellow Room was ridiculous and delightful right up to the end. I'm not sure that I love all the revelations about a central character, but something had to be done to account for all the inexplicable phenomena. The mystery is almost too neatly constructed, though there's a reason for that, too. Joseph Rouletabille, journalistic wunderkind and overenthusiastic investigative puppy, is as fun to read about as he would be exhausting in real life. He's sufficiently entertaining that I don't mind his dramatic refusal to explain any of his findings until the book is almost over the time is ripe. The other characters are mostly ciphers or near-ciphers, and Leroux's prose is a little less than deathless, but that's all right. It's a good puzzle story with an enjoyable investigator.

The Golden Age of Murder is good. Not perfect, I think, but my nitpicks are mostly cosmetic. I might have a little more to say in a week or two. It's rich and interesting. I'll probably end up buying it in paperback because the hardcover copy is too big and heavy to tote around, but I know I'll want to page back through it often enough to want a portable version.

Now Reading:

Traitor's Purse is chugging along all right. I'm about five chapters in. Amnesia and helplessness do wonders for Campion's personality, and Allingham clearly enjoys writing scenarios like this (the best part of Death of a Ghost was Campion wandering drug-addled through the streets of London, trying to remember why he was doing what he was doing). It's frustrating because he's known for several chapters that 1) something very serious needs his attention, and also 2) that he trusts Amanda, but he's still trying to hide the fact that he can't remember anything. If England gets blown up by Nazis because he was too embarrassed to admit he forgot his entire job, I will be impressed.

It's also annoying because the narrative can't get over how young Amanda is. She's twenty-three, but we are never allowed to forget that she looks and sounds like a teenager. Which, all right, fair enough, but it's not calculated to endear me to Campion or make me share his fond brain-damaged hope that she will totally marry him after all. And it annoys me because I like Amanda: she's a cheerful, self-sufficient, intelligent and competent young woman, and potentially (if not yet actually) the most interesting character in the entire series, but the one thing the narrative can't shut up about is what a REEDY YOUNG DEWY-FRESH BABY COLT GAMINE she is. Oh, well? Other than that, Traitor's Purse is shaping up to be a little more interesting than usual, and the sexist remarks seem to be back down to normal Allingham levels, though I guess I shouldn't speak too soon.

Reading Next:

The next Ngaio Marsh book in sequence is A Wreath for Rivera, which I've already read and didn't particularly like (iirc, it had all the homophobia of Final Curtain with about 10% of the charm, plus a boring drug war plot, my second-least favorite kind of mystery plot!) so I will be skipping straight to Night at the Vulcan, which I know nothing about.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Nov. 2nd, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
I had to go look up those two Ngaio Marsh books, as the US have been busy changing titles again. Apparently, those two are Swing, Brother, Swing, which, unlike you, I seem to think I liked, and Opening Night, which I think was pretty good, but it's not one I own any more, sadly.

It sounds like a not-bad week on balance, though?
evelyn_b
Nov. 2nd, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC)
There's a good chance I might like Rivera/SBS a little better on re-read, just because I've adjusted to Marsh (it was the second of her books that I read, after Died in the Wool). I'm probably better prepared now to enjoy the glimpses of Troy that we get, if nothing else.

I am a little confused by some of the title changes. I understand the reasoning behind changing Surfeit even if it's a terrible move, but there's no reason to think Americans would be confused by Swing, Brother, Swing, even if the execution pun is lost on them. And "A Wreath for Rivera" doesn't explain anything more about the situation or sound particularly more murdery. Same with Opening Night/Night at the Vulcan. It's hard to see what the change is supposed to accomplish.

But yes, it's been a decent week all around!
lost_spook
Nov. 3rd, 2015 01:32 pm (UTC)
Well, it's always possible that there were other books around with the same titles at the time or something. Death at the Dolphin as Killer Dolphin is the most priceless, though, even if they should have finished the effect off with an exclamation mark.

Good! Even if clearly you and Campion are never going to entirely get along. ;-)
evelyn_b
Nov. 3rd, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
That's a good point I hadn't thought of! Though the existence of KILLER DOLPHIN still suggests some carelessness to me.

And it's true, I've pretty much given up expecting Campion to surprise me. I am enjoying watching Allingham get a little better with each book, though. This one is solid. The amnesia is a good plot device, and a good characterization device, too.
lost_spook
Nov. 4th, 2015 08:51 am (UTC)
Indeed, the truly caring editor would have at least made it KILLER DOLPHIN!

I don't think I read any after Traitor's Purse, so I can't say. (The world didn't offer them to me; it wasn't a big decision to stop or anything.)
lisajulie
Nov. 3rd, 2015 10:29 pm (UTC)
just sticking my head in to recommend Mary Roberts Rhinehart. She wrote a lot of the same mystery and a lot of very different stories.
evelyn_b
Nov. 4th, 2015 01:25 am (UTC)
I have a book by Mary Roberts Rinehart sitting next to me as we speak! It's called The Great Mistake and the back cover explains that this "is the one irrevocable error that anyone can make. It's known as. . . MURDER!" It's in my to-read queue, but since you mentioned it, I will bump it up to the front of the line!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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