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Making Up Post Titles Can Be Murder Monday

What I've Just Finished Reading

Not a thing! But I somehow forgot to write anything about Speedy Death by Gladys Mitchell, which I finished a while ago. A brash young archaeologist is found dead in a bath, and also revealed to have been "a woman living as a man." This sounds like a minefield, but the character is handled with a lot of sympathy and caution, even as Mrs. Bradley is gleefully psycho-analyzing everyone else in sight. Mrs. Lestrange Bradley, who looks like a pterodactyl and seems to know too much about everything, is magnificently ghoulish. The narration is very wry and breezy and obviously genre-savvy.

Mrs. Bradley is a "psycho-analyst" whose psychological insights seem about as creditable as Inspector Grant's face-science. She's probably the most unambiguously anti-heroic of my investigators so far. I found her reptilian cackle and frank, pushy intelligence appealing for most of the book. But then. . .

One major development in Speedy Death shocked me a little. I'm not sure whether I want to applaud its cynical audacity or frown humorlessly at it. It takes an existing (uncomfortable) tendency of detective fiction to an unexpected extreme.

I think I do need to read a few more Mitchell books to figure out what's going on. She has a clean light-handed style and doesn't seem to be taking anything too seriously. I found some of the characters a little hard to tell apart at first, but they sorted themselves out by the end.

What I'm Reading Now

As of page 170-ish in The Cuckoo's Calling, Cormoran Strike is hiding out in a bedroom of his sister's house during his nephew's seventh birthday party, trying to watch the CCTV footage one of his contacts gave him from the night of Lula Landry's alleged murder. He is using Detective Subterfuge to watch the DVD at his sister's house without her noticing, because he is trying to hide the fact that he broke up with his girlfriend and is currently sleeping in his office, which does not have a DVD player.

I love Cormoran Strike.

The Cuckoo's Calling is full of good things and a few annoying things, but I'll wait until I've finished to tally them all up.

Spinsters in Jeopardy is all right so far, though it is a bit of a surprise to see Alleyn and Troy suddenly the parents of a six-year-old. If I'm not remembering wrong, Ricky's conception was noted somewhere toward the end of A Wreath for Rivera, he wasn't mentioned at all in the Troy-free Night at the Vulcan, and now he's six and full of weirdly charming verbal tics like tacking "however" onto the end of every sentence. It's a bit too cutesy and I hope Troy and Alleyn can manage some time alone together before the corpses show up, but whatever. Ricky's all right.

Anyway, the Alleyn family is going on vacation! You know what that means.

What I Plan to Read Next

Lawrence Sanders has several big hardcover books at the bookstore, which I've shelved many times without much interest (their covers are unappealing and I am shallow). While I was re-doing the "mystery and thriller" shelves today, I happened to glance at the back of one of them, and saw a blurb describing Sanders' detective Archy McNally as "a raffish combination of Dashiell Hammett's Nick Charles and P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster." WELL THEN.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
scripsi
Dec. 14th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
I have a vague feeling Mrs. Bradley was made into a TV series, which I enjoyed, but I never ead the books.

I read a lot of Sanders in my late teens and his books are better than the covers 8and the titles). Archie McNally is definitly inspired by by Woodhoues and they are very formulaic- have you read one you have basically read them all, the are definitly his weakest books. But as lightweight quickreads thay are quite amusing. Don't read them when you are hungry- Sanders very lovingly describes most meals eaten. :)
evelyn_b
Dec. 14th, 2015 05:22 pm (UTC)
I know, right? Nothing about the covers or the titles suggests anything remotely Wodehousian. They look like cut-rate spy stories with a sideline in cigar chomping. But now I'm going to read one. I'll let you know how it goes.
therck
Dec. 14th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC)
Looking at Amazon, the Mrs Bradley books did get made into a TV show, starring Diana Rigg, no less.
liadtbunny
Dec. 14th, 2015 04:17 pm (UTC)
I not read but watched 'Mrs Bradley' too, with Diana Rigg playing the lead. I think in the books she has a female secretary and in the TV one she has a chauffer as a side kick? The BBC adapted that particular story for TV and I found it easy to guess whodunit.
evelyn_b
Dec. 14th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
In Speedy Death, I could see whodunit coming, but my mind resisted it because I didn't want it to be true. Are the TV adaptations good TV? I might watch a few over Christmas.

Also, is that the Fifth Doctor in your icon, or just someone with a similar hat? He's my favorite of all the Doctors I haven't actually seen in their native episodes, because of his adorable guest appearance in "Time Crash."
liadtbunny
Dec. 15th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC)
If you like Diana Rigg going around being arch, talking to camera and wearing deco hats it is worth watching;) Peter Davison is in quite a few episodes as an inspector who thinks Mrs Bradley is dead good.

It is indeed Five:) You should watch some original Five! Peter Davison is an excellent actor, but the scripts are very variable in quality it has to said.
lost_spook
Dec. 14th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes, when you said Spinsters in Jeopardy was up next, I was thinking, BUT NO, IT CAN'T BE. They don't get a whole walking talking child that quickly. I can't really remember anything else about it. I don't think it was one of my favourites!

Like everyone else round here, I haven't read any Mrs Bradley, but I saw the TV series. (And I imagine Liadt used that icon, because Peter Davison was in the series.)
evelyn_b
Dec. 14th, 2015 07:03 pm (UTC)
I know! I kept checking to see if there was a book I was missing. Where did the time go?

Well, that's Troy/Alleyn for you. Tasteful elision is the name of the game. Still, I'm sad that Marsh went to all the trouble of inventing a child for Troy and Alleyn, but never gave us a scene in which Alleyn has a baby thrust into his arms at an inopportune time, and has to use his preternaturally soothing interrogation skills to calm it. The opportunities for baby-related awkwardness are endless!

Oh, well. Maybe there will still be a nice awkward conversation about the responsibilities of parenthood or something, but GUYS IT'S A LITTLE LATE NOW.

(And I imagine Liadt used that icon, because Peter Davison was in the series.)

Peter Davison is everywhere! I hope he doesn't play an incongruously adorable murderer :( I guess I'll find out!
lost_spook
Dec. 14th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC)
Peter Davison is everywhere! I hope he doesn't play an incongruously adorable murderer :( I guess I'll find out!

I think I only watched the first one, so I can't tell you. But he was an incongruously adorable murderer in the BBC 1980s Miss Marple, because he does, indeed, get everywhere.

(Talking of BBC mystery series, have you ever heard of Jonathan Creek? It is about a magician's trick designer and a true crime writer who solve improbable locked case mysteries while arguing a lot. Or at least, the first three series are, and then they lost Maddy and it's varied from still great to really really not ever after. And, er, sorry, I don't know why I keep talking about TV series.)

ETA: The logic in my brain being that Peter Davison was in that as well. You can't keep him away from a good mystery! (In fact, it was produced by Verity Lambert and clocked up a whole lot of DW peoples from Six getting murdered in the first episode to Vicki being in the second and Eight, Romana I, Lucie Miller etc. etc.) (My brain does have some logic; it's just v tired and shouldn't be talking.)

Edited at 2015-12-14 08:22 pm (UTC)
evelyn_b
Dec. 14th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
It is about a magician's trick designer and a true crime writer who solve improbable locked case mysteries while arguing a lot.

That sounds PERFECT. This is the first I've heard of it, but that is one delicious premise.
lost_spook
Dec. 14th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC)
I thought you would enjoy the thought of the premise! Its theme music is Danse Macabre and it starred Alan Davies (as Jonathan Creek, the magician's trick designer who doesn't want to solve mysteries, thank you) and Caroline Quentin as Maddy Magellan, the true crime writer who wants to solve mysteries and pick Jonathan's brains when it comes to really baffling crimes. It's a drama-comedy from about 97/98, but it's technically still going. Ish. Jonathan has a terrible magician boss called Adam whose storylines can sometimes be a bit cringe-inducing (but they're meant to be). Oh, and Jonathan lives in a windmill. :-)

The pilot is here (and the rest seems to be up on YT, but it's also the sort of thing that may well be found on DVD libraries or wherever). The pilot's a little odd in places (especially as Adam is played by Anthony Head, who then left because he'd had this job offer for Giles in Buffy), but still it's one of those quirky series there are never enough of.
silverflight8
Dec. 15th, 2015 01:40 am (UTC)
That is a rather appealing combination.
evelyn_b
Dec. 15th, 2015 04:53 am (UTC)
It is! So far McNally is not quite as delightful as the blurbs would have me believe, but he is a quick narrator and is more or less selling the tremendous quantities of exposition in the dialogue.
osprey_archer
Dec. 15th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
I too have seen the Mrs. Bradley TV series but not read the books. I enjoyed them, but then I'm a total sucker for Diane Rigg ever since watching her play Emma Peel in The Avengers (the 1960s TV show, not the Marvel movie).

It occurs to me that neither the TV show nor the movie involve any actual avenging of anything. Clearly the coolness of the name completely overrides considerations like "Does this actually make sense?"
evelyn_b
Dec. 15th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC)
It seems to be very well known! I'm surprised I'd never heard of it -- or maybe not that surprised.

I've never seen the 60s Avengers, but the back-formation of the name for the Avengers movie was that they were avenging Coulson's death, I guess? But then the subtitle of the first Captain America movie was The First Avenger, and I don't remember what if anything he was avenging there.
osprey_archer
Dec. 15th, 2015 05:05 am (UTC)
Maybe they were avenging something in the comics? And the movie-writers just left that part out of the movie.

I have a vague memory that in the 1960s TV series, the first episode or two actually did involve vengeance, but after that the vengeance angle was dropped in favor of goofy crime-fighting and witty banter.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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