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Unseen Machinations of Murder Monday

What I've Finished Reading

The Dead Man's Knock was perfectly satisfying, and just as pulpy as its cover promised. Dr. Gideon Fell is a good old-fashioned eccentric amateur - an enormous, rumpled, and billowing English expert on something or other who walks with (and/or brandishes) two canes, likes baffling his American hosts with cryptic jokes and seemingly trivial unsolicited opinions, and intones every other sentence. He's been invited to this small American college to look at some letters of Wilkie Collins, but his true area of study is MURDER. There's plenty of probably spurious mid-twentieth-century psychology, distributed generously among characters who are not always as distinct from one another as Dr. Fell is from them, and everyone is always driving three blocks in a giant car, because it's America and 1958.

The best thing about The Keeper of Lost Causes by far is its title - or maybe I should say my favorite thing; it's not a bad book of its kind, I think, but it's not exactly what I want to read. Psycho killers, lots of meticulously planned torture, violent action-suspense ending with unhappy and ambiguous denouement - not deal-breakers by any means, but not worth wading through awkwardly translated prose for the sake of. Add some random jeremiads about obesity and the laziness of the Danish people, and you've got a fool-proof recipe for my indifference. As a dark thriller with strong detective elements, it wasn't badly made. Carl Mørck eventually gets around to doing his job, there's plenty of suspense, and if you like reading about people in extreme situations trying to keep their heads together, this is an example of that.

What I'm Reading Now

The next book in my mystery bundle is The Mystery of Crooknose!

[The Mystery of Crooknose]
the mystery of crooknose

The Mystery of Crooknose isn't anything remarkable so far: there's a young, perky, slightly mean couple who run into a lot of murders apparently (Gin is the corpse magnet; Red is just the dashing boyfriend) and this conference for writers is no exception. It's fun to see Gin being so blasé about her inability to go anywhere without someone fetching up dead in mysterious circumstances. It's also fun to see a semi-satirical picture of the writing-conference scene from 1963. Crooknose is an enormous and venerable conference in New Hampshire, very obviously based on the real-life Bread Loaf. The mystery itself is nothing to write home about (so far), and neither are Gin and Red, apart from their breezy no-nonsense attitude toward death by foul play. It's just ok!

Last Ditch begins with Ricky Alleyn, Alleyn's ambiguously-aged son! I guess he's supposed to have just left university, and he's spending time on some island off the coast of Normandy to try to be a writer. It's probably fitting that Ricky is a little dull, just as Alleyn is a little dull before you get used to him. He meets a thin-skinned painter from New Zealand who wants to be introduced to Troy. There is something about sponsorship offers from a tube paint company, and Ricky's new friend offers him some drugs and is rebuffed, naturally, because all Alleyns are upright and clean, even amid the temptations of the Groovy Now. Meanwhile, back in Stasis House, Troy and Alleyn are reading Ricky's letters and acting paternal at one another. What I'm really curious about, of course, is whether Ricky will inherit his parents' persistent agelessness, and if so, whether it will kick in after he turns forty, like his father, or strand him in his twenties to avoid the awkward possibility of all the Alleyns being the same age at the same time. There probably aren't enough books left in the series for me to find out.

What I Plan to Read Next

. . .is not the only mystery, but a mystery nonetheless.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 29th, 2016 08:54 pm (UTC)
Oh drat. I was thinking I should take a break from Marsh, to save some for later - they are such good comfort reading in times of stress! - and yet Last Ditch sounds so tempting. I want to meet Ricky Alleyn! Even if he is a bit dull! Clearly he inherited his personality from the Alleyn rather than the Troy side of the family.

And this mystery bundle is offering up A++ titles if nothing else. The Mystery of Crooknose. I like the cover too, the white clapboard house with All the Windows surrounded be stabby dark trees.
Aug. 29th, 2016 09:16 pm (UTC)
I don't want to oversell Ricky and set you up for disappointment, or steal your future comfort reading, but it can't hurt, can it? I have no idea at this point whether Last Ditch is going to be good or not. Only one way to find out!
Aug. 29th, 2016 08:54 pm (UTC)
The couple in Crooknose sound like more accurate versions of Fred and Daphne from Scooby-Doo, lol!!

Aug. 29th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
Ha! I've actually never seen an entire episode of Scooby-Doo, but I'll take your word for it!
Aug. 29th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
Wasn't one of my personal favs. I was always more Warner Bros than Hanna-Barbara. But the descriptions sound stupefyingly close, lol!
Aug. 29th, 2016 09:28 pm (UTC)
You're right, The Keeper of Lost Causes is a good title... I always get a bit tetchy when one is used for a not so good book, just seems a waste to my lexiconophiliac mind.

That first book sounds promising...

Aug. 30th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
It's such a good title! It fits the story, too, even though I didn't like the story all that much.

It's the saddest when a bad book has a beautiful title. Well, maybe not the very saddest, but still. My sister has a book called A Landscape With Dragons, which sounds like it's going to be a nice dreamlike fantasy story, but is actually just some nutter ranting about how Pete's Dragon is evil because dragons represent the serpent from Genesis and if you show a kid making friends with a dragon it's like he's making friends with SATAN.

I always thought it was a waste of a good title, and that someone ought to poach it for a story about friendly dragons. Of course it would be a terrible disappointment if people kept buying the wrong one for their kids by mistake.
Aug. 30th, 2016 08:16 pm (UTC)
Graeme Base could do wonders with it...
Aug. 31st, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
Man, one of those books is called Starfish Are Pointy, which is also a genius title.
Sep. 1st, 2016 09:24 am (UTC)
It is rather... and the art is superb... :)
Aug. 30th, 2016 02:02 pm (UTC)
Yay for bogus made up psychology! I also like made up cures (a trip to a hospital in Sweden/Switzerland usually cures everything).

Another good book cover: there's a murder in her purse!
Aug. 30th, 2016 02:46 pm (UTC)
My favorite kind of psychology! And as much as I like for present-day medical technology to exist, those bright blue and white mountain cure hotels always seemed like they would be a good place to spend a couple of weeks. Sometimes what's wrong with you can't be cured by MOUNTAIN AIR, but I'm sure that sometimes it couldn't hurt.
Aug. 31st, 2016 02:04 pm (UTC)
After psychiatrists whose treatment involves telling the patient to snap out of it, who wouldn't want some fresh mountain air;p

If I made film sequels it would be about a plucky, young intern exposing bogus psychiatrists from the first.
Aug. 31st, 2016 06:09 pm (UTC)
I would read or watch your tales of plucky young intern bullshit hunting! As long as they didn't all end with the p.y. intern confined to a state hospital and receiving bogus psychiatric treatment for pathological insensitivity to authority figures. You can probably avoid this fate by making the p.y.i. a young man instead of the young woman I was picturing.
Sep. 1st, 2016 02:28 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, in the third film, the P.Y.I will get out of the psychiatric hospital and prove that they are, in fact, totally sane and didn't shoot their wife either. Hoorah!
Aug. 30th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
I must investigate John Dickson Carr at some point clearly. When I have brain, along with everything else, I suppose! :-)

I'm not entirely sure I can remember anything about Last Ditch. That may be a sign of how exciting Ricky is.

And your mystery bundle has at least come up with some fun titles and covers. :-)
Aug. 31st, 2016 06:14 pm (UTC)
Gideon Fell is a good egg. This is a later installment, so I might try to check out some of the earlier books next.

So far, Ricky hasn't had much to do but bear exposition and Say No to Drugs, but I'm charmed by his existence anyway. And concerned about hereditary Detective Stasis.

I love my mystery bundle so much I'm considering asking the bookstore owner to mail me a new one when I finish. It's already been enough fun to pay for itself + shipping and handling. <3
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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