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Mansions of Murder Monday

What I've Just Finished Reading

Home By Nightfall, the latest in the Most Comfortable Man in London series, which has settled into a pretty strong formula. Here, Lenox helps his brother Edward after the death of Edward's wife, and gets mixed up in a murder, as usual -- well, more than one, this time. The village murder has an unsavory explanation, involving a culprit who is comfortably and perhaps a little unrealistically condemned by all the good people in the narrative. There's also an unscrupulous rival detective agency trying to discredit Lenox's firm, but given what we've seen of the Comfortverse so far, can we really doubt that virtue will win out in the end?

Meanwhile there are the expected updates on Team Comfortable: Polly and Dallington are still flirting less discreetly than they think they are, Jane is still gentle and socially adept, the McConnells have sorted out their marriage and are more content than before, the babies are growing up, but not too quickly yet.

It was nice to spend some time with Lenox's brother, and we get a very low-key meditation on mortality and relationships, as befits the Most Comfortable Man in London's amiable nature. The multiple-mystery plot means there is a lot going on at once, and Charles Finch is not as good at action and suspense as he is at evoking the leisurely gravity of an armchair by the fire, but that doesn't hurt anything.

What I'm Reading Now

I'm finding The Great Mistake a little harder to follow. It's very dense -- with incident, with characters and their pasts, with corpses -- and there's a through-line of romance that isn't working as a through-line because I spent too much time being annoyed by one of the partners to notice when it was supposed to be developing. I really liked the first-person "murder in retrospect" conceit when I first started, but now that several murders have happened and multiple investigations are underway, that aspect of the narrative voice has dropped into the background, and Pat, the narrator, becomes less distinctive and more burdened with detail. But it'll probably come together by the end.

Ngaio Marsh's Night at the Vulcan is completely delightful. A young New Zealander, having made a poor (but so far unspecified) decision, finds last-minute work as a dresser for a troupe of Marsh actors, and gets some much-needed kindness and advice from the night porter, despite the night porter's inability to stop making fun of the antipodes. Now she's learning the ropes, along with plenty of gossip.

Also borrowed from my in-laws during Thanksgiving: a contemporary mystery novel with the irresistible title Honeymoons Can Be Murder. Charlie Parker is a CPA who does a little murder investigation on the side, and Drake is her new spouse, a helicopter pilot. They try to take a vacation, but naturally the guy who rented their cabin gets wrongfully arrested for murder immediately upon their arrival, so Charlie takes it upon herself to poke around and set things right. It's ok! The writing is not very exciting, but it does its job better than either Murder Uncorked or Murder is a Girl's Best Friend. Drake and Charlie are basically inoffensive, and there's a certain amount of fun vicarious activity (snowshoeing, flying around in a helicopter) that keeps the book moving. The actual investigation has been pretty casual so far -- lots of sidling up to people at parties and some mild poorly executed cattiness -- but the author is making the amateur investigator thing work, more or less, so I'm curious to see where it goes. The Detective Romance content is somewhat disappointingly non-gratuitous.

The tagline on the back cover, which has nothing to do with any aspect of the plot as far as I can tell, is "You may now KILL the bride!"

Appeared at my bookstore in the past week:

Night Watch by Stephen Kendrick, described in a subtitle as "A long-lost adventure in which Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown."

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
osprey_archer
Nov. 30th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
I haven't read Home by Nightfall yet, but that is surely the most Most Comfortable Man in London title ever. The words just ooze with coziness! Coming home at dusk, candles lit in the windows, a roaring fire already lit and your slippers by the chair...
evelyn_b
Nov. 30th, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
that is surely the most Most Comfortable Man in London title ever.

It surely is! I don't know how Finch-Lenox is going to top it for concentrated coziness (and, once you've read the book, a touch of melancholy).
osprey_archer
Dec. 21st, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
And now I've read the book! Which is rather fortuitous timing, as there is a little bit of a Christmas story about it, as well as quite a lot of other things going on.

I enjoyed this one a lot - I think the books set in the countryside are particularly strong in this series, for some reason, possibly because they contain the maximum possible amount of comfortableness. I felt some trepidation after you mentioned the meditations of mortality, but they turned out to be thoughtful, low-key, and relatively infrequent, which was all to the good.

And I agree that the speed with which everyone condemns Stevens is a bit unconvincing, although quite heartwarming. It helped that no one seemed terribly attached to him in the first place, so the only barrier to believing in his sleeziness was the fact that he seemed too boring to be awful rather than much sense of him as a good person... But still, it is awfully quick.

I did like that Lenox suggested that Liza Calloway should have gone to the police and all the women look at him all "Oh you sweet summer child." It made sense to me that he would be a bit naive about it, and I liked that he was willing to defer to their understanding of the matter.
lost_spook
Nov. 30th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
The tagline on the back cover, which has nothing to do with any aspect of the plot as far as I can tell, is "You may now KILL the bride!"

:lol: From the people who brought you KILLER DOLPHIN?? ;-)

"A long-lost adventure in which Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown."

Hmm, do you think Father Brown will convert Moriarty?
evelyn_b
Nov. 30th, 2015 10:25 pm (UTC)
Hah! It's funny, because you don't even need to have read the first two pages of the book to know it's an inappropriate tagline; the summary should have been enough.

Hmm, do you think Father Brown will convert Moriarty?

I'll buy it if the author can sell it! I don't think Father Brown as he exists in canon could convert Moriarty -- he's too self-satisfied and epigrammatic -- but the ideal Father Brown who only exists in my head would at least manage to plant some upsetting doubts in his mind.
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