Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: A Man Lay Dead

A Man Lay Dead A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have fond memories of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn, so I picked up this book, in which he makes his debut, with a great deal of eager anticipation. The image I had of Alleyn was that of a sophisticate, well-mannered sleuth from Scotland Yard. I don't know whether my memory is all-wrong or whether he changes in the course of the series but in this he is pretty facetious, even over-bearing and rude at times.

The novel itself is a mish-mash. It begins well in a country house where guests assemble, one of them with a Mongolian dagger, to play a game of Murder. And we all know how that game would end, don't we? With hardly any suspects, it is not too hard to solve the mystery. But the writer tries to confuse the issue with some Russian brotherhoods operating in England. In fact, the book reminded me of another boring book: Margery Allingham's The Crime at Black Dudley.


First Line: NIGEL BATHGATE, in the language of his own gossip column, was "definitely intrigued" about his week-end at Frantock.

Series: Roderick Alleyn #1

Source: Open Library
Other books read of the same author: (Among others) Artists in Crime.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Hag's Nook by John Dickson Carr

Hag's Nook Hag's Nook by John Dickson Carr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first Dr. Fell. An atmospheric tale with a decent mystery. However, it also revealed to me the problems that I have with Carr. Except for The Burning Court, which I loved, and He Who Whispers, which I hated, I find it difficult to get involved with his characters. In fact, the character that I liked the most in this novel was that of Mrs. Fell. I hope to read more of her.

You can read about the book @Tipping My Fedora and @Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

First Line: The old lexicographer's study ran the length of his small house.

Series: Dr. Fell #1
Source: Open Library

Other books read of the same author: (Among Others) The Eight of Swords

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts

The Hog's Back Mystery The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review contains SPOILERS. So please do not read it unless you have read the book as this gives away the murderer.

Opening Lines: “Ursula! I am glad to see you!” Julia Earle moved forward to the carriage door to greet the tall, well-dressed woman who stepped down on the platform of the tiny station of Ash in Surrey.

Series: Inspector French #10
First Published: 1933
Pages: 223

Other Books read of the same author: Sir John Macgill's Last Journey

Has it ever happened to you that a line coming somewhere at the end has destroyed the entire book for you or at least lessened to a great extent your enjoyment of it? To me, this happens quite often. This mystery too which was proceeding pretty finely, despite all the plodding, suddenly lost its charm because of this line:

Alice had always hated her brother, and had kept house for him solely for financial reasons.

Where in the text was this hatred presented???????? The Campions were portrayed as a loving family and Alice, the chatterbox, seemed to be having her way always. In fact, she even dictated terms to her brother who seemed to give way to her good naturedly. Just because he turned out to be the villain of the piece the writer seems at pains to show that Alice was so innocent that she merely kept the house for him for financial reason. Excuse me, but what is presented of Alice is hardly true of this. She is too spirited to merely yoke herself to a situation she dislikes only for financial reasons. And what about the other sister???? The writer makes no mention of her. Nor of Marjorie for that matter.

A good mystery that left a bad-taste in my mouth only because of this statement that rings absolutely false. However, I give it three stars for a good mystery that had me guessing though I did suspect the doctor although not his accomplice.

And with this, I light the first candle for my bhuaji.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Vegetable Duck

Vegetable Duck Vegetable Duck by John Rhode
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


First Line: At a quarter to nine in the evening of Thursday, August 31st, Mr. Charles Fransham walked hastily up to the entrance of G Block, Mundesley Mansions, Battersea, and went in.

Series: Dr. Priestly # 40
First Published: 1944
Source: Open Library

Can't understand how a person who could come up with such an ingenious murder plan as well as that trick with the letter could slip so badly? Come on, no disguise when interacting (profusely, no less) with others who might very well be called as witnesses.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: An Old-Fashioned Mystery

An Old-Fashioned Mystery An Old-Fashioned Mystery by Runa Fairleigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A post-modern look at the genre of mystery. I was getting mighty tired of it, till I read the last part, and that quite redeemed the entire book for me.

First Line: "'This chutney tastes a bit off to me,' the major said.

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Review: Shares in Murder

Shares in Murder Shares in Murder by Judah Waten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An impressive police procedural with a twist in the end. The police men investigating the murder of a woman, the reporters covering the case, the criminals associated with the case, all want to have their pound of flesh from the murder. Realistic and gritty.

First Line: The telephone rang before dawn and woke Inspector Stewart Brummel from an enjoyable dream.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Baker's Dozen: Unknown Authors 2017

I purchased a number of books from the World Book Fair at Delhi. Predictably, a majority of them were crime/ mysteries. Some of the authors and books, I had heard about but never read but there were quite a few totally unfamiliar to me. Have you read these books or authors? What do you think of them?


Previous A Baker's Dozen.