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Murder in the Rearview Monday

What I've Finished Reading

Mourned on Sunday by Helen Reilly. If you really want to get away with murder (not recommended by this blog), one way to do it is to come up with a scheme so elaborate that no one in their right mind would believe it. The scheme to commit multiple murders and pin them all on Nora Dalrymple is like this: it requires months of advance planning and probably a number of dress rehearsals, it requires a great deal of cooperation from unwitting pawns, and it requires you to trust that [Spoiler!]a guy won't notice that anything is wrong if you replace his wife with a similarly-sized look-alike, as long as you keep the lights dim and stick a couple bandages over her face. They would have gotten away with it, too, if not for the tireless efforts of Inspector McKee. The suspense in the first part of this book is terrific, but it's considerably weakened by the convoluted silliness of the revealed plot, which just goes to show you: I read this stuff all the time, and even I had trouble believing it. What's a jury going to think?

The setting is pretty similar to that of Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Great Mistake: affluent formerly-rural commuter village a short drive from New York City.

What I'm Reading Now

Best Martin Hewitt Detective Stories by Arthur Morrison - a contemporary of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose stories were also published in the Strand in the 1890s. These are not murder stories but inventive thefts, solved by organized professional investigator Hewitt. Morrison, who grew up poor in the East End, was the author of several novels about London slum life. In the Introduction, E. F. Bleiler regrets that his detective stories didn't draw on this material at all. "This is not to say that the classical British drawing-room story is aesthetically immoral, as some theorists of the hard-boiled school imply, but simply to say that there are many modes of detection, all equally valid, and that Morrison was in a unique position to enhance the form and did not."

All the stories so far are pretty low-key and likable. One of them includes what is probably the most plausible [Spoiler!]animal accomplice! I've encountered in the pre-WWI detectionverse, though to be fair I haven't made an extensive study.

Also started: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie! As much as I enjoyed pondering the mysteries of Giant's Bread, it's good to come home to Poirot and Hastings, immutable and unfailing. Poirot's just rejected a plea for help from the Home Secretary because he's on vacation, but it isn't long before he stumbles on a winsome young woman who doesn't realize that someone is trying to kill her. But who could possibly want to kill her? Can Poirot solve the mystery before the mysterious killer succeeds? I hope so!

What I Plan to Read Next

Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell or Common Murder by Val McDermid.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2017 03:24 pm (UTC)
I applaud Helen Reilly for making an effort!

I do like it when detectives investigate something other than murder, it can get repetitive.

Enjoy normal Christie service;)
Apr. 4th, 2017 07:43 pm (UTC)
Mourned on Sunday was pretty good! I don't blame her for the implausibility, really; plots are hard. Implausibility an occupational hazard for mystery novelists, but a great boon to the fictional murderer if you can pull it off.

Me too! I like the inventive thefts, and the nice thing about them is no one has to die. All the fun of a murder mystery without the nagging undertow of mortality. I can understand Bleiler's regret about Morrison sticking to the drawing-room formula instead of writing tough East End stories for the Strand, but I don't share it: it's a perfectly good formula and he does it well.
Apr. 13th, 2017 02:59 am (UTC)
Oh, oh, read Thus Was Adonis Murdered! I love that book – really the whole series – so very much.
Apr. 13th, 2017 01:05 pm (UTC)
I've already started Common Murder,, but I'll get to Adonis soon! I've heard good things.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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