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Murder by Other Means Monday

What I've Finished Reading

In The Secret of Chimneys, not for the first time, everything gets a lot more entertaining once the bodies start piling up. There's a diamond theft and a bunch of highly important blackmail material in addition to plenty of posh people distractedly eating breakfast, and it all gets a little convoluted at times. Partly the problem is mine: whenever anyone starts talking about foreign interests or oil reserves or whatever my mind just sort of drifts away until we bob back around to the country-house cliches. I can definitely see what sue_bursztynski means by "traces of Wodehouse," this plot is imposter-riffic, with more than one character who is Not What They Seem. It's silly and fun, but maybe a little too silly to be as fun as it ought to be.

What I'm Reading Now

In The Inheritance, the Most Comfortable Man in London receives an ominous note from an old classmate, George Leigh, who believes his life is in danger. Years ago at school, in what Lenox thinks of as his "first case," they tried to ferret out the identity of the "mysterious benefactor" who had paid Leigh's school fees. They never succeeded, and Leigh was happy to be expelled anyway. Now Leigh thinks the MB has something to do with the current threat on his life. Meanwhile, there's a broken window and a potential scandal at Parliament, and Lenox's attempts to play matchmaker for fellow detectives Polly and Dallington seem to be (but probably aren't) permanently stalled. Finch-Lenox tries to get us to be anxious about some unspoken minor strife in the Lenox marriage, but what's the point? By now we're familiar enough with the natural laws of the Comfortverse to know that it will sort itself out to the usual low-key tenderness in time for the last-quarter brush with death. At least, I hope it will.

I can't tell if Finch-Lenox gets a little better with every book, or if my expectations just naturally deflate a little between books, so that when it finally arrives I'm unaccountably impressed by the same thing as before. Whichever one it is, he's in fine form here: perfectly confident storytelling, lots of reasonably skillful infodumping, a good double mystery, and plenty of material comforts that will have to wait to be fully enjoyed until after the mystery is solved. The mystery is neverending, but luckily so is the tea supply.

Also in coziness: Died in the Wool by Rett MacPherson. I took this book off a "take one leave one" shelf in a doughnut shop, because it has the same title as my first-ever Ngaio Marsh. I want to say it's not as good, but really it's just an entirely different creature. Here the answer to "How is this horrible thing supposed to be fun?" is: the murders are from long ago, and the present-day murder attempt is unsuccessful. Torie O'Shea is a prosperous small-town textile arts historian who buys a haunted house. Meanwhile tensions are escalating at the Garden Club. . . but is that really what's behind the latest strychnine poisoning? It's very breezy and Erma Bombeckian, with pretty good prose by random mystery-shelf contemporary standards.

What I Plan to Read Next

Still The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Although The Mysterious Affair at Styles is an amazing debut and I liked The Man in the Brown Suit a lot, I think this is the first of Christie's real masterpieces. I was mad at first about being accidentally spoiled for the killer's identity in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and I'm still sad that I'll never get to read it unspoiled. But knowing the ending also forced me to read it a little more analytically than my usual "whitewater reaction rafting" approach to fiction. I'm looking forward to reading it a second time.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
osprey_archer
Nov. 7th, 2016 01:30 pm (UTC)
Yesss, I'm glad the Most Comfortable Man in London remains in fine fettle. Do we get flashbacks to his schooldays? I would love to read flashbacks from his schooldays.
evelyn_b
Nov. 7th, 2016 02:42 pm (UTC)
More schooldays flashbacks than you can shake a stick at! With bonus reflection on how transportation in England has changed in the past 30 years, of course. <3
lost_spook
Nov. 7th, 2016 07:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, somebody nicked Ngaio Marsh's title and nobody made them change it to Killer Balls of Wool! The US publication industry is slacking! ;-)
evelyn_b
Nov. 8th, 2016 01:27 am (UTC)
I just sat in front of a blank comment box for 25 minutes trying to figure out how to make a pithy joke about Making America Great Again, and have just now given up. It wouldn't have been funny, anyway.

But yes! DIED in the Wool is a suitable American title because it makes it clear that someone has DIED, so maybe there's no need to change it? Unlike overly erudite hanging puns and titles that make it too clear that the Dolphin is a just a boring place name and not an exciting DOLPHIN.

(Unlike the Ngaio Marsh book, no one in this one has literally died in any wool. Actually, unless something happens to change it, it's not the most apt title for the story it's telling).
a_phoenixdragon
Nov. 7th, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC)
*HUGS*
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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