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A Loose Affiliation of Murder Monday

What I've Finished Reading

Brat Farrar was terrific, maybe the best Tey of all? Of course our old friend the Blue-Eyed Nymphomaniac makes an appearance, and Tey manages to shoehorn in a dig at Scottish Independence for no reason whatsoever (except the only necessary and sufficient reason, which is that it's a Tey book and no one has made a dig at Scottish Independence yet).

Singing in the Shrouds was enjoyable for its conversations, for a good cast of characters, and for Alleyn's correspondence with Troy. The reveal was a disappointment. I guess it still counts as having fooled me if the solution was so obvious I would never have guessed it out of respect for the author. Good job subverting those expectations, Marsh!

I gave up on Champagne for One a while ago, even though I liked the setup, because I couldn't bring myself to pay attention to Archie anymore. I have no idea why my eyes glaze over every time Archie Goodwin tries to tell me about anything other than the weirdness of working for Nero Wolfe, but figuring it out will have to wait.

I should have given up on Night Watch, the Sherlock Holmes-Father Brown crossover, but instead I read the whole thing. I liked the idea of a Sherlock Holmes-Father Brown crossover too much, I think, and kept hoping it would get better. It's not the worst Long-Lost Holmes Adventure you could read (I appreciated that Stephen Kendrick doesn't try to play the "Watson could never truly understand Holmes!" card) but the prose and the characters were too indistinct to carry it off. My hopes for Father Brown character development were dashed; here he doesn't even get to be an effective epigram delivery system.

What I'm Reading Now

I picked up Georgette Heyer's Behold, Here's Poison on impulse at a book sale, and it is just the thing. The corpse turns up promptly on page 7, well before we've had the chance to form attachments to anyone living or dead, along with more arch artificiality than you can shake a cigarette holder at. You bright young things and your brittle wordplay! You bitter old dears and your burning resentments! It's like it was written by the most perfectly calibrated machine.

I was sort of vaguely planning to take a break from Ngaio Marsh, but then I realized I have only three books to go before KILLER DOLPHIN! so I have to keep on. False Scent is a Theater Crowd mystery and consequently off to a good start.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
Is there a Ngaio Marsh book with a murder committed by a dolphin??? How did I miss this?

I haven't even read any Father Brown and I am sad the Father Brown-Sherlock Holmes crossover didn't work out. It sounds so promising in theory! (And what is it with Sherlock Holmes pastiche-writers deciding that Watson could never truly understand Holmes? This seems like it would alienate a large part of their target audience.)
Apr. 18th, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
Is there a Ngaio Marsh book with a murder committed by a dolphin???

There is not. KILLER DOLPHIN is the dramatic but inaccurate American title of Death at the Dolphin (in which the Dolphin is a club or a theatre or something).

I haven't actually read enough Holmes pastiche to know whether it's common or not, but it was briefly alluded to in the movie Mr. Holmes, and in The Beekeeper's Apprentice Laurie R. King has Holmes say that Watson "could never be a true partner" to him and was only good as "a pair of hands" and a bunch of other UNTRUE things in order to underscore how special her protagonist is. I have a bit of a grudge.

Edited at 2016-04-18 08:40 pm (UTC)
Apr. 19th, 2016 06:48 am (UTC)
Apart from guessing the whole plot of Brat Farrar very quickly, I enjoyed it. I still think Daughter of Time is better, though. Tey is a weird writer, she can be both bothersomely prejudices (blue-eyed nymphos) and surprisingly psychologically clearsighted in the same book.
Apr. 19th, 2016 07:29 am (UTC)
I had a great time with Brat Farrar -- I guessed the solution pretty quickly, immediately dismissed it as too unsubtle, and spent the next hundred and fifty pages having it demonstrated to me that I was the unsubtle one and that the plot was actually brilliant. [Culprit] was sort of a much better-justified version of the culprit in The Franchise Affair.

I loved Daughter of Time for the most part, but all that gleeful unrelenting smugness about Tonypandy made me a lot unhappier than I was expecting. The batshit face science is easy enough for me to make fun of.

Tey is very weird. I'm slightly attracted to how uncomfortable she makes me, and the fact that she wrote one of the most gratuitiously vicious crime novels I've read and possibly the most generous (The Franchise Affair and To Love and Be Wise, respectively). I've enjoyed almost all her books, but I've also been at arm's length from all of them, in one way or another.
May. 7th, 2016 07:08 am (UTC)
I've enjoyed almost all her books, but I've also been at arm's length from all of them, in one way or another.

Sums up Tey's books very well! :)
Apr. 19th, 2016 10:03 am (UTC)
Singing in the Shrouds was the first Marsh I read and I was very excited about Alleyn's letters to Troy - that was the moment I realised that mysteries in which the detectives have personal lives actually existed. (Outside of Nancy Drew - and even then, her personal life seemed weirdly static.)

I'm curious about Heyer's mysteries - I haven't read any, but Heyer + murder sounds like a potentially excellent combination.
Apr. 19th, 2016 03:08 pm (UTC)

Are the Nancy Drew books worth reading, or is it the kind of thing where you have to get into them as a child? I tried and completely failed to get into them as a child, but that was also true of Agatha Christie, so maybe they're worth another shot?
Apr. 20th, 2016 05:50 am (UTC)
Hmm, I'm really not sure what Nancy Drew would be like from an adult perspective - whether those mysteries would be unashamedly fun, or painfully transparent. I read the books in my early teens and stopped around the time I discovered Agatha Christie. They were a bit of a guilty pleasure - at least, I felt like I was supposed to be reading "better" books, but I don't know if it was other people's reactions or the books themselves which gave me that impression.

The status quo of Nancy's personal life is always maintained, at least in the ones I read, so there's no realistic development there.
Apr. 19th, 2016 10:41 am (UTC)
I haven't read any of Heyer's non-historicals, I really must...

Edited at 2016-04-19 10:45 am (UTC)
Apr. 19th, 2016 03:21 pm (UTC)
This is only the second Heyer book I've read total, so I should probably refrain from trying to find any patterns! It feels like a clever writer whose knowledge of mystery novels comes mostly from cultural osmosis set out to write the ideal Golden Age house murder and more or less succeded.
Apr. 19th, 2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
Blue-eyed nympho solidarity fistbump? ;-)

I had to go look up the Heyer (for some reason I have terrible trouble remembering which is which just by the title) and, ha, it's the one with Randall and the spoiler in (one of those I actually had and which should have been easier to remember). (I have very mixed feelings about her mystery novels, but the regency comedies are excellent.)

Yes, Singing in the Shrouds is not the finest, but enjoyable enough.

It is very sad that a Sherlock Holmes-Father Brown should be so rubbish, because it's a lovely idea in theory. Yuletide could probably fix it.
Apr. 19th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC)

I'll be curious to hear your mixed feelings once I finish this one!

Singing in the Shrouds had a lot of interesting weirdnesses. Even the disappointing reveal didn't spoil it too much.

So much potential! I think the idea of Sherlock Holmes having to deal with a bunch of theologians is a great one, and my hope for Father Brown character development springs eternal.
Apr. 19th, 2016 08:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, my mixed feelings aren't complicated. It's just that stuff I'm fine with in books set in the 19th C, I'm not so much with with it when it's in the 20th C. And yet I still wind up reading and re-reading them on occionasion, because they've undeniably got some of the Heyer lightness & I can't resist.

So much potential! I think the idea of Sherlock Holmes having to deal with a bunch of theologians is a great one, and my hope for Father Brown character development springs eternal.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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