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La Belle Dame Sans Murder Monday

What I've Finished Reading

The Crooknose Mystery doesn't make much use of its setting (the author doesn't seem interested in or capable of the kind of self-indulgent writer-culture satire I was hoping for) and is a pretty boilerplate mystery with forgettable characters. Gin functioned perfectly well as corpse magnet and amateur sleuth, but I didn't care about her -- except for one line:

“.. .Remember Bess, Gin. You thought you knew her.”

I remembered Bess. As though I could forget the woman I had loved, who had killed and would have allowed me, or anyone else, to hang for it.

. . . oh, no, what do we have here? Presumably this is a callback to a previous Gin Crane adventure, but WHAT HAPPENED? For once, I regret that there's no helpful publisher's footnote instructing me to read about the doomed love of Gin for Bess in The Deceitful Heart, Scribner's. Unfortunately, Laura W. Douglas is too obscure for a page on orderofbooks.com, and Amazon is almost as unhelpful. But it looks like there's a decent chance it might be in The Mystery of Arrowhead Hill.

(There's probably no point in trying to nominate a single line from an obscure mystery novel for Yuletide, is there?)

Tancredi by Lou Cameron, another in the Mystery Bundle. The front-cover blurb says it all: "The gripping bestseller of a cop in a corrupt city, caught in a deadly crossfire." Robert "Tank" Tancredi is the cop in question. It's basically Jake Peralta's 1970s TV-daydream life, only with a lot more ethnic slurs. Not really my flavor of garbage, but it was interesting to read and kept moving until it stopped.

What I'm Reading Now

[Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh]
There had never been any question of Ricky following in his father’s footsteps. From the time when his son went to his first school, Allyn had been at pains to keep his job at a remove as far as the boy was concerned. Ricky’s academic career had been more than satisfactory and about as far removed from the squalor, boredom, horror, and cynicism of a policeman’s lot as it would be possible to imagine.

And now? Here they were, both of them, converging on a case that might well turn out to be all compact of such elements. And over and above everything else, here was Ricky escaped from what, almost certainly, had been a murderous attack, the thought of which sent an icy spasm through his father’s stomach. Get him out of it, smartly, now, before there was any further involvement, he thought – and then had to recognize that already Ricky’s involvement was far too advanced for this to be possible. He must be treated as someone who might, himself in the clear, provide the police with “helpful information.”

And at the back of his extreme distaste for this development why was there an indefinable warmth, a latent pleasure? He wondered if perhaps an old loneliness had been, or looked to become, a little assuaged.

Last Ditch is adorable, even if it is unfortunately turning into a heroin story. Drugs are boring! There's been a gruesome horse-jumping accident that looks less and less like an accident the more attention gets paid to it. Lots of annoying nudge-nudge stuff about the sex life of the victim. Young Ricky Alleyn is, as you might expect, a man very slightly out of time -- just enough that it's startling when he puts on a t-shirt and jeans. I laughed when he gave his name to the police and they thought he was taking the piss.

Tancredi didn't have a very interesting cover (photo of a gun and some bullets), but the next book in the mystery bundle has a great cover AND a beautiful title:

[What could be spookier than. . .]forest of eyes


This is neither a murder mystery nor a Tough Cop Punches the Mob story, but a spy story set in Yugoslavia. I'm having a hard time getting into it, but it does have a nice title.

What I Plan to Read Next

Guess what finally arrived? The Monkey's Mask by Dorothy Porter! I had a look inside and it looks good. Plus whatever comes after A Forest of Eyes in the Mystery Bundle.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2016 04:19 pm (UTC)
A Forest of Eyes is an awesome title and totally wasted on a spy story. Clearly there's a horror novel in there waiting to break free!

I suspect that a single line from an obscure mystery novel is too obscure even for Yuletide (or Lost Library), which is too bad because there is SUCH DRAMA packed into it. Gin's doomed love for Bess the secret psychopath, who frames Gin for a murder!
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
And unless The Mystery of Arrowhead Hill turns out to be way less mediocre than Crooknose, I can't expect that anyone else will want to read the whole book, either. But it is such a drama-packed line. My head just whipped right around like somebody had said the magic word.

Sometimes I wish I would have a magic bullet conversion experience in which I suddenly appreciate spy novels, but A Forest of Eyes probably isn't going to be the one. Right now the only spy thing I like is The Prisoner, a beautifully batshit TV show from the 1960s.

Edited at 2016-09-05 05:20 pm (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC)
I've always meant to watch The Prisoner. Someday! Someday I will!
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:54 pm (UTC)
I can't recommend it enough, if you're down for CRAZINESS DELUXE and ultra-mod 60s spy technology + creepy manufactured village anachronisms + chairs that are a hollowed-out sphere for some reason. It's a unique viewing experience!
Sep. 6th, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
I was so intrigued that I checked Netflix, only to discover that Netflix doesn't have it. Netflix noooo, this is a bonafide classic! How can Netflix not have it?

Oh well. I will come across it someday!
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC)
There's probably no point in trying to nominate a single line from an obscure mystery novel for Yuletide, is there?

I dunno, this is Yuletide, the exchange that has nominated breakfast cereals before now. But I think, because it presumably refers to an actual novel, it might be ineligible because you should nominate said novel if you could ever track it down.

That is a very nice title and cover; now it just needs a different story to go in it?

(I am sadly lacking in much memory of the last few Alleyn books. I think this is because a) I keep re-reading the whole sequence in order, but don't always get to the end before I go back and start again, b) lack of ownership of the last few books and probably not c) they're not that good. I'm fairly sure... I still can't even remember if I've re-read Light Thickens since the first time when I was so confused by it, because it's a sequel to Death at the Dolphin (or Killer Dolphin!! as it's better known round these parts). I think so, but apparently I don't remember that, either.
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC)
I may have already ordered The Mystery of Arrowhead Hill, because I may have a slight problem with impulse control.

Even if the last three books are all bad, Marsh will still have an amazing track record. I'm not too worried. Last Ditch is ok and probably won't take too much of a downward turn in the next ~50 pages. I like Alleyn having subtle, proper, Alleyn-appropriate angst about his son being involved in a murder. (Much better than that book where Ricky was kidnapped, but what isn't?)

Oh, a Killer Dolphin! follow-up! That could be interesting, though to be honest I don't always follow Marsh's attempts at continuity very well, unless Troy is involved or it's something she harps on every book, like "Fox is learning French and has been for the past sixty years."
Sep. 5th, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC)
Aw, but these things have to be done! It is for the sake of us, your loyal flisters and readers of Murder Mondays. We need to know! *nods*

No, I don't really think they're bad, don't worry! I just have such vague impressions of them all. I do actually remember Light Thickens now - I think it's the epic Macbeth one. And I don't know how much continuity comes into it, but it opens with Peregrine and Emily (??) and we were clearly expected to know them and I'd read about 2 books in the entire series by that point and didn't have a clue who they were. I assumed they were semi-regulars and kept waiting for them to pop up in other books, but it took me a long time before I even chanced on Death at the Dolphin. (Emily and Peregrine have not been caught in detective stasis at all, apparently. I don't know how the stasis field works.)

"Fox is learning French and has been for the past sixty years."

Fox is nothing if not persistent!

Edited at 2016-09-05 08:06 pm (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2016 11:51 pm (UTC)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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