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Mad About Murder Monday

What I've Finished Reading

The Scoop and Behind the Screen, two collaborative mysteries by Assorted Members of the Detection Club - both lightweight and pretty delightful, free of the racist and antisemitic set dressing that marred The Floating Admiral. Hugh Walpole's opening chapter for Behind the Screen is a little masterpiece. These were originally published as "guess the killer!" serials with prizes for the best answers sent in by readers, so there's a brief discussion of the winners at the end.

I liked The Little Stranger, but I'm not entirely sure what to say about it yet! More a ghost story than a murder mystery. . .or is it?? (it depends).

Christie's The Mystery of the Blue Train has such a charming depiction of a solicitous father (one of Christie's better American millionaires) encouraging his stubborn, unhappy adult daughter to get a divorce. By far my favorite thing about this book was their relationship: imperfect, but genuine and sweet.

Unfortunately, [Lots of spoilers for The Mystery of the Blue Train]she gets murdered before she can get a divorce and her ongoing affair with a con man would have hurt her case even if she'd lived. Still, I really liked that her dad was being so encouraging and "modern" about it. I wish the whole book had just been about them dealing with the non-fatal consequences of her behavior and maybe learning to confide in each other a little more as equals.

Also, WHY is everyone so hot for Derek Kettering? WHY? He is a bog-standard cad who does not even manage to be charming in a bog-standardly caddish way. Literally the only thing he has going for him is [spoilers within spoilers]not being a murderer and he can't shut up about how providential his wife's murder was, which the narrative treats as admirable honesty instead of the not particularly admirable self-absorption it is. I guess it doesn't help that I liked his wife; she may be imperious and egotistical, but she felt like a real person with flaws, or at least a snappy 1930s romcom character with flaws, whereas Derek is just a generic douchebag. I wish she and her affectionate millionaire dad had been whisked away into a snappy 1930s romcom where the only victims are an assortment of dignities. The end can't rank with the best of Christie's awful romances, because no actual strangling takes place, but it's noteworthy anyway.

Also! The virtuous heroine used to work as an old person's companion in St. Mary Mead! Miss Marple does not appear because she hasn't been invented yet, but you know she's watching.

What I'm Reading Now

Partners in Crime: Tommy and Tuppence playing detective for some kind of poorly delineated spy purpose. It's just an excuse for them to put pipes in their mouths and pretend to be Sherlock Holmes, which you don't really need an excuse for in the first place, let's be honest.

The House by the River is a 1905 novel, in a very cheap, rapidly crumbling paperback, which the front cover assures me "is not only a love story, but is, as well, a rattling good detective story, by a very popular author." The popular author is Florence Warden. The story so far: a nice young typist who is Not Like Other Typists has just met a nice young man who seems to like her, learned that the nice young man has a fiancee, and stumbled across a corpse. It's promising enough in an undistinguished way.

What I Plan to Read Next

The Seven Dials Mystery or Murder at the Vicarage, maybe something else. I may need to take a week's hiatus from the Reading Memes to catch up on some things; we'll see.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:04 pm (UTC)
Katherine's St Mary Mead is in the wrong county, though. Otherwise Miss Marple would have warned her against annoying Ketterings.

(Random thing: even though this isn't at all my favourite, either, it's the only thing I know the Blue Train from, so it was kind of weird and exciting when I watched one of my old 30s films - The Ware Case - and a character went off on the Blue Train. So I know what it looks like, if only in b&w.)

I seem to remember the Seven Dials one being one of those lighter one-offs, and The Murder at the Vicarage is always fun, because of Griselda. (And Griselda and Len being a pairing that are rather nice and don't want to murder each other or be obnoxious; a reminder that Agatha Christie doesn't always think you should go out with stranglers. I'm not sure where that comes from...)

I am intrigued by the sound of the 1905 detective novel, probably just because it is a 1905 novel - with a typist heroine! (I like typist heroines.)
Jan. 4th, 2017 01:43 am (UTC)
Seven Dials is one I've read before (I'm re-reading in publication order) and it also has a pretty likable, strangulation-free romance, iirc.

Blue Train wasn't bad! It's not a top-tier Christie by any means and has Poirot being randomly antisemitic for no reason, but I really liked the millionaire and his daughter, and the unscrupulous male impersonator, and a splash of the grumpy-old-lady comedy that Christie does so well. And I'd be excited too if I saw the Blue Train in a movie! I like those glamorous murder-mystery trains.

The House by the River is interesting so far - hard to tell yet how the crime part is going to be handled, but being a typist is definitely the modern girl's gateway to romance and adventure (Enroll in our Business Course today!)

Edited at 2017-01-04 01:43 am (UTC)
Jan. 2nd, 2017 10:05 pm (UTC)
Won't have a lot of time to read here soon (not that I had much anyway!!) so it is nice to know I can live through you vicariously!

Jan. 4th, 2017 01:27 am (UTC)
Aww! I'm glad to be of use!

Good luck with the move!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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