This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

lyzard's list: A live thing plus animation! - Part 2

75 Books Challenge for 2018

Join LibraryThing to post.

Jan 28, 4:34pm Top

The tawny frogmouth is native to Australia. These birds are nocturnal, and use camouflage both to disguise themselves during the day, while they sleep, and as a means of ambush predation. Tawny frogmouths have two different strategies for camouflage. The mottling of their feathers can make them almost indistinguishable from tree bark. They also practice "freezing", stretching out their heads and bodies and remaining motionless, with their colouring and outline mimicking broken tree branches.


Edited: Mar 29, 5:12pm Top

"Books are my constant inspiration and delight, and without them I should be a dead thing minus animation."
---James Corbett, The Merrivale Mystery



Currently reading:

In The Teeth Of The Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers (1939)

Edited: Mar 29, 5:17pm Top

2018 reading


1. The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden (1860)
2. The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden (1859)
3. The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth (1812)
4. Robbery At Portage Bend by Trygve Lund (1933)
5. The Loring Mystery by Jeffery Farnol (1924)
6. The Medusa Touch by Peter Van Greenaway (1973)
7. Initials Only by Anna Katharine Green (1911)
8. The Flickering Lamp by Netta Muskett (1931)
9. The Key by Patricia Wentworth (1944)
10. Crooked House by Agatha Christie (1949)
11. Ruth Fielding Down East; or, The Hermit Of Beach Plum Point by Alice B. Emerson (1920)
12. The Exploits Of Elaine by Arthur B. Reeve (1915)
13. The Secret Trail by Anthony Armstrong (1928)
14. The Crimson Circle by Edgar Wallace (1922)
15. Gains And Losses: Novels Of Faith And Doubt In Victorian England by Robert Lee Wolff (1977)
16. Anything But The Truth by Carolyn Wells (1925)
17. Who Killed Precious? How FBI Special Agents Combine High Technology And Psychology To Identify Violent Criminals by H. Paul Jeffers (1991)


18. Woman's Fiction: A Guide To Novels By And About Women In America, 1820-70 by Nina Baym (1978)
19. The Amityville Horror Part II by John G. Jones (1982)
20. Derelicts by William McFee (1938)
21. After Rain by Netta Muskett (1931)
22. The Shadow On Mockways by Marjorie Bowen (1932)
23. Mr Fortune Speaking by H. C. Bailey (1929)
24. Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry-Tree by Ernest Bramah (1940)
25. Penelope's Progress: Being Such Extracts From The Commonplace Book Of Penelope Hamilton As Relate To Her Experiences In Scotland by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1897)
26. Women's Friendship In Literature by Janet M. Todd (1980)
27. Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock (1815)
28. Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson (1925)
29. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1978)
30. The Story Of Dr Wassell by James Hilton (1944)
31. A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie (1950)
32. Jack O' Lantern by George Goodchild (1929)
33. The Man With The Dark Beard by Annie Haynes (1928)


34. Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen (1881)
35. The Brownstone by Ken Eulo (1980)
36. The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow by Anna Katharine Green (1917)
37. The Penrose Mystery by R. Austin Freeman (1936)
38. Grandmother Elsie by Martha Finley (1882)
39. Kai Lung Raises His Voice by Ernest Bramah (2010)
40. Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen (1933)
41. The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope (1847)
42. They Came To Baghdad by Agatha Christie (1951)

Edited: Mar 29, 5:18pm Top

Books in transit:

On interlibrary loan / branch transfer / storage request:
The Traveller Returns by Patricia Wentworth
Pack Mule by Ursula Bloom

Upcoming requests:
The Wychford Poisoning Case by Anthony Berkeley

Purchased and shipped:

On loan:
In The Teeth Of The Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers (05/04/2018)
*Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen (15/04/2018)
*Gains And Losses by Robert Lee Wolff (15/04/2018)
*The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope (15/04/2018)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (15/04/2018)
The Ayrshire Legatees by John Galt (15/04/2018)

Edited: Mar 29, 5:24pm Top

Reading projects 2018:

Blog reads:
Chronobibliography: The Secret History Of The Reigns Of K. Charles II, And K. James II by Anonymous
Authors In Depth:
- Forest Of Montalbano by Catherine Cuthbertson
- The Mother-In-Law by E. D. E. N. Southworth
- The Captain Of The Vulture by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
- The Sicilian by 'the author of The Mysterious Wife' / Ellesmere by Mrs Meeke
- Family Pictures by Susannah and Margaret Minifie
- The Old Engagement by Julia Day
- The Refugee In America by Frances Trollope
Reading Roulette: The Prisoners Of Hartling by J. D. Beresford
Australian fiction: Louisa Egerton by Mary Leman Grimstone
Gothic novel timeline: Reginald Du Bray by 'A Late Nobleman'
Early crime fiction: The Mysteries Of London by G. W. M. Reynolds
Related reading: Gains And Losses by Robert Lee Wollf / The Man Of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie / Le Loup Blanc by Paul Féval

Group / tutored reads:

Now: The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden (thread here)
Now: The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden (thread here)

Upcoming: Camilla by Frances Burney

General reading challenges:

America's best-selling novels (1895 - ????):
Next up: Green Light by Lloyd C. Douglas

Virago chronological reading project:
Next up: The Semi-Attached Couple; and The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden

Agatha Christie mysteries in chronological order:
Next up: Mrs McGinty's Dead

The C.K. Shorter List of Best 100 Novels:
Next up: The Ayrshire Legatees by John Galt

Mystery League publications:
Next up: The Mystery Of Burnleigh Manor by Walter Livingston

Banned In Boston!:
Next up: High Winds by Arthur Train

The evolution of detective fiction:
Next up: The Mysteries Of London (Volume II) by G. W. M. Reynolds

Random reading 1940 - 1969:
Next up: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Potential decommission:
Next up: Tribe Of The Dead by Gary Brandner

Potential decommission (non-fiction):
Lust For Blood by Olga Gruhzit Hoyt

Georgette Heyer historical romances in chronological order

Possible future reading projects:
- Georgette Heyer's historical fiction
- Nobel Prize winners who won for fiction
- Daily Telegraph's 100 Best Novels, 1899
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize
- Berkeley "Books Of The Century"
- Collins White Circle Crime Club / Green Penguins
- Dell paperbacks
- "El Mundo" 100 best novels of the twentieth century
- 100 Best Books by American Women During the Past 100 Years, 1833-1933
- 50 Classics of Crime Fiction 1900–1950 (Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor)
- The Guardian's 100 Best Novels
- Life Magazine "The 100 Outstanding Books of 1924 - 1944" (Henry Seidel Canby)

Edited: Mar 29, 5:25pm Top

A Century (And A Bit) Of Reading:

A book a year from 1800 - 1900!

1807: Corinne; ou, l'Italie by Madame de Staël
1809: The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter
1812: The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth
1815: Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock
1845: Zoe: The History Of Two Lives by Geraldine Jewsbury / The Mysteries Of London (Volume I) by G. W. M. Reynolds
1847: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë / The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope
1959: The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden
1860: The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden
1869: He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope
1873: Had You Been In His Place by Lizzie Bates
1877: Elsie's Children by Martha Finley
1880: The Duke's Children: First Complete Edition by Anthony Trollope / Elsie's Widowhood by Martha Finley
1881: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen / The Beautiful Wretch by William Black
1882: Grandmother Elsie by Martha Finley
1897: Penelope's Progress by Kate Douglas Wiggin
1899: Agatha Webb by Anna Katharine Green
1900: The Circular Study by Anna Katharine Green

(Note: I'm not counting the copy read of Paul Féval's The Mysteries Of London, as it is an abridgement.)

Edited: Feb 7, 5:02pm Top

Timeline of detective fiction:

Things As They Are; or, The Adventures Of Caleb Williams by William Godwin (1794)
Mademoiselle de Scudéri by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1819)
Richmond: Scenes In The Life Of A Bow Street Officer by Anonymous (1827)
Memoirs Of Vidocq by Eugene Francois Vidocq (1828)
Le Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac (1835)
Passages In The Secret History Of An Irish Countess by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1838); The Purcell Papers (1880)
The Murders In The Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales by Edgar Allan Poe (1841, 1842, 1845)

The Mysteries Of Paris by Eugene Sue (1842 - 1843)
The Mysteries Of London - Paul Feval (1844)
The Mysteries Of London - George Reynolds (1844 - 1848)
The Mysteries Of The Court Of London - George Reynolds (1848 - 1856)
John Devil by Paul Feval (1861)

Early detective novels:
Recollections Of A Detective Police-Officer by "Waters" (William Russell) (1856)
The Widow Lerouge by Emile Gaboriau (1866)
Under Lock And Key by T. W. Speight (1869)
Checkmate by J. Sheridan LeFanu (1871)
Is He The Man? by William Clark Russell (1876)
Devlin The Barber by B. J. Farjeon (1888)
Mr Meeson's Will by H. Rider Haggard (1888)
The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume (1889)
The Queen Anne's Gate Mystery by Richard Arkwright (1889)
The Ivory Queen by Norman Hurst (1889) (Check Julius H. Hurst 1899)
The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill (1892)

Female detectives:
The Diary Of Anne Rodway by Wilkie Collins (1856)
The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester (1864)
Revelations Of A Lady Detective by William Stephens Hayward (1864)
The Law And The Lady by Wilkie Collins (1875)
Madeline Payne; or, The Detective's Daughter by Lawrence L. Lynch (Emma Murdoch Van Deventer) (1884)
Mr Bazalgette's Agent by Leonard Merrick (1888)
Moina; or, Against The Mighty by Lawrence L. Lynch (Emma Murdoch Van Deventer) (sequel to Madeline Payne?) (1891)
The Experiences Of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis (1893)
When The Sea Gives Up Its Dead by Elizaberth Burgoyne Corbett (Mrs George Corbett)
Dorcas Dene, Detective by George Sims (1897)
- Amelia Butterworth series by Anna Katharine Grant (1897 - 1900)
Hagar Of The Pawn-Shop by Fergus Hume (1898)
The Adventures Of A Lady Pearl-Broker by Beatrice Heron-Maxwell (1899)
Miss Cayley's Adventures by Grant Allan (1899)
Hilda Wade by Grant Allan (1900)
Dora Myrl, The Lady Detective by M. McDonnel Bodkin (1900)
The Investigators by J. S. Fletcher (1902)
Lady Molly Of Scotland Yard by Baroness Orczy (1910)
Constance Dunlap, Woman Detective by Arthur B. Reeve (1913)

Related mainstream works:
Adventures Of Susan Hopley by Catherine Crowe (1841)
Men And Women; or, Manorial Rights by Catherine Crowe (1843)
Hargrave by Frances Trollope (1843)
Clement Lorimer by Angus Reach (1849)

True crime:
Clues: or, Leaves from a Chief Constable's Note Book by Sir William Henderson (1889)
Dreadful Deeds And Awful Murders by Joan Lock

Edited: Mar 14, 5:01pm Top

Series and sequels, 1866 - 1919:

(1866 - 1876) **Emile Gaboriau - Monsieur Lecoq - The Widow Lerouge (1/6) {ManyBooks}
(1867 - 1905) **Martha Finley - Elsie Dinsmore - Elsie's New Relations (9/28) {Project Gutenberg}
(1867 - 1872) **George MacDonald - The Seaboard Parish - Annals Of A Quiet Neighbourhood (1/3) {ManyBooks}
(1878 - 1917) **Anna Katharine Green - Ebenezer Gryce - The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow (13/13) {Project Gutenberg}
(1896 - 1909) **Melville Davisson Post - Randolph Mason - The Corrector Of Destinies (3/3) {Internet Archive}
(1893 - 1915) **Kate Douglas Wiggins - Penelope - Penelope's Irish Experiences (3/4) {Project Gutenberg}
(1894 - 1898) **Anthony Hope - Ruritania - Rupert Of Hentzau (3/3) {Project Gutenberg}
(1895 - 1901) **Guy Newell Boothby - Dr Nikola - The Lust Of Hate (3/5) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1897 - 1900) **Anna Katharine Green - Amelia Butterworth - The Circular Study (3/3) {Project Gutenberg}
(1899 - 1917) **Anna Katharine Green - Caleb Sweetwater - The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow (7/7) {Project Gutenberg}
(1899 - 1909) **E. W. Hornung - Raffles - The Black Mask (aka Raffles: Further Adventures Of The Amateur Cracksman) (2/4) {Project Gutenberg}
(1900 - 1974) Ernest Bramah - Kai Lung - Kai Lung: Six / Kai Lung Raises His Voice (7/7) {Kindle}

(1901 - 1919) **Carolyn Wells - Patty Fairfield - Patty's Pleasure Trip (7/17) {HathiTrust / Kindle}
(1901 - 1927) **George Barr McCutcheon - Graustark - Beverly Of Graustark (2/6) {Project Gutenberg}
(1903 - 1904) **Louis Tracy - Reginald Brett - The Albert Gate Mystery (2/2) {ManyBooks}
(1905 - 1925) **Baroness Orczy - The Old Man In The Corner - Unravelled Knots (3/3) {Project Gutenberg Australia}}
(1905 - 1928) **Edgar Wallace - The Just Men - Again The Three Just Men (6/6) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1906 - 1930) **John Galsworthy - The Forsyte Saga - Awakening (4/11) {Project Gutenberg}
(1907 - 1912) **Carolyn Wells - Marjorie - Marjorie's Vacation (1/6) {ManyBooks}
(1907 - 1942) R. Austin Freeman - Dr John Thorndyke - Felo De Se? (23/26) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1907 - 1941) *Maurice Leblanc - Arsene Lupin - The Hollow Needle (3/21) {ManyBooks}
(1908 - 1924) **Margaret Penrose - Dorothy Dale - Dorothy Dale: A Girl Of Today (1/13) {ManyBooks}
(1909 - 1942) *Carolyn Wells - Fleming Stone - The Daughter Of The House (19/49) {expensive}
(1909 - 1929) *J. S. Fletcher - Inspector Skarratt - Marchester Royal (1/3) {Kindle}
(1909 - 1912) **Emerson Hough - Western Trilogy - 54-40 Or Fight (1/3) {Project Gutenberg}
(1910 - 1936) *Arthur B. Reeve - Craig Kennedy - The Ear In The Wall (8/24) {Project Gutenberg}
(1910 - 1946) A. E. W. Mason - Inspector Hanaud - The House In Lordship Lane (7/7) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1910 - 1917) ***Edgar Wallace - Inspector Smith - Kate Plus Ten (3/3) {Project Gutenberg Australia}
(1910 - 1930) **Edgar Wallace - Inspector Elk - The Joker (3/6?) {ManyBooks}
(1910 - 1932) *Thomas, Mary and Hazel Hanshew - Cleek - The Amber Junk (9/12) {AbeBooks}
(1910 - 1918) **John McIntyre - Ashton-Kirk - Ashton-Kirk: Criminologist (4/4) {Project Gutenberg}
(1910 - 1931) Grace S. Richmond - Red Pepper Burns - Red Pepper Returns (6/6) {Internet Archive}
(1910 - 1933) Jeffery Farnol - The Vibarts - The Way Beyond (3/3) {Fisher Library storage}

(1911 - 1935) G. K. Chesterton - Father Brown - The Scandal Of Father Brown (5/5) {branch transfer}
(1911 - 1937) Mary Roberts Rinehart - Letitia Carberry - Tish Marches On (5/5) {Kindle}
(1911 - 1919) **Alfred Bishop Mason - Tom Strong - Tom Strong, Lincoln's Scout (5/5) {Project Gutenberg}
(1911 - 1940) *Bertram Atkey - Smiler Bunn - The Amazing Mr Bunn (1/10) {owned}
(1912 - 1919) **Gordon Holmes (Louis Tracy) - Steingall and Clancy - The Bartlett Mystery (3/3) {ManyBooks}
(1913 - 1928) **Louis Tracy - Winter and Furneaux - The Strange Case Of Mortimer Fenley (2/9) {ManyBooks}
(1913 - 1934) *Alice B. Emerson - Ruth Fielding - Ruth Fielding In The Great Northwest (17/30) {Project Gutenberg}
(1913 - 1973) Sax Rohmer - Fu-Manchu - The Bride Of Fu-Manchu (6/14) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}
(1913 - 1952) *Jeffery Farnol - Jasper Shrig - The High Adventure (4/9) {State Library NSW, held / ILL}
(1914 - 1950) Mary Roberts Rinehart - Hilda Adams - Episode Of The Wandering Knife (5/5) Better World Books}
(1914 - 1934) Ernest Bramah - Max Carrados - The Bravo Of London (5/5) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1916 - 1941) John Buchan - Edward Leithen - Sick Heart River (5/5) {Fisher Library}
(1915 - 1936) *John Buchan - Richard Hannay - The Thirty-Nine Steps (1/5) {Fisher Library / Project Gutenberg / branch transfer / Kindle}
(1915 - 1923) **Booth Tarkington - Growth - The Magnificent Ambersons (2/3) {Project Gutenberg / Fisher Library / Kindle}
(1916 - 1917) **Carolyn Wells - Alan Ford - Faulkner's Folly (2/2) {owned}
(1916 - 1927) **Natalie Sumner Lincoln - Inspector Mitchell - The Nameless Man (2/10) {AbeBooks}
(1916 - 1917) **Nevil Monroe Hopkins - Mason Brant - The Strange Cases Of Mason Brant (1/2) {Coachwhip Books}
(1917 - 1929) **Henry Handel Richardson - Dr Richard Mahony - Australia Felix (1/3) {Fisher Library / Kindle}
(1918 - 1923) **Carolyn Wells - Pennington Wise - In The Onyx Lobby (3/8) {Project Gutenberg}
(1918 - ????) *Valentine Williams - Okewood / Clubfoot - Clubfoot The Avenger (4/?) {AbeBooks}
(1918 - 1950) *Wyndham Martyn - Anthony Trent - Anthony Trent, Master Criminal (1/26) {Project Gutenberg}
(1919 - 1966) *Lee Thayer - Peter Clancy - The Key (6/60) {expensive / Rare Books}
(1919 - 1921) **Octavus Roy Cohen - David Carroll - The Crimson Alibi (1/3) {Rare Books / HathiTrust}

*** Incompletely available series
** Series complete pre-1931
* Present status pre-1931

Edited: Feb 12, 4:29pm Top

Series and sequels, 1920 - 1927:

(1920 - 1939) E. F. Benson - Mapp And Lucia - Trouble For Lucia (6/6) {interlibrary loan}
(1920 - 1948) *H. C. Bailey - Reggie Fortune - Mr Fortune Explains (6/23) {State Library NSW, ILL / HathiTrust}
(1920 - 1952) William McFee - Spenlove - Spenlove In Arcady - (5/7) {Fisher Library storage}
(1920 - 1932) *Alice B. Emerson - Betty Gordon - Betty Gordon At Bramble Farm (1/15) {ManyBooks}
(1920 - 1975) Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot - Mrs McGinty's Dead (27/39) {owned}
(1920 - 1921) **Natalie Sumner Lincoln - Ferguson - The Unseen Ear (2/2) {HathiTrust}
(1920 - 1937) *H. C. McNeile - Bulldog Drummond - Bull-Dog Drummond (1/10 - series continued) {Project Gutenberg / Fisher storage}

(1921 - 1929) **Charles J. Dutton - John Bartley - Streaked With Crimson (9/9) {owned}
(1921 - 1925) **Herman Landon - The Gray Phantom - Gray Terror (3/5) {Amazon}

(1922 - 1973) Agatha Christie - Tommy and Tuppence - By The Pricking Of My Thumbs (4/5) {owned}
(1922 - 1927) *Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry - Jerry Boyne - The Seventh Passenger (4/5) {Amazon}
(1922 - 1931) *Valentine Williams - Inspector Manderton - The Eye In Attendance (3/4) {AbeBooks}
(1922 - 1961) Mark Cross ("Valentine", aka Archibald Thomas Pechey) - Daphne Wrayne and her Four Adjusters - The Adjusters (1/53) {rare, expensive}

(1923 - 1937) Dorothy L. Sayers - Lord Peter Wimsey - In The Teeth Of The Evidence (14/14) {Conservatorium Library / interlibrary loan}
(1923 - 1924) **Carolyn Wells - Lorimer Lane - The Fourteenth Key (2/2) {eBay}
(1923 - 1931) *Agnes Miller - The Linger-Nots - The Linger-Nots And The Secret Maze (5/5) {unavailable}
(1923 - 1927) **Annie Haynes - Inspector Furnival - The Abbey Court Murder (1/3) {Kindle}

(1924 - 1959) Philip MacDonald - Colonel Anthony Gethryn - Persons Unknown (aka "The Maze") (5/24) {academic loan / State Library NSW, held / Kindle / interlibrary loan}
(1924 - 1957) *Freeman Wills Crofts - Inspector French - Inspector French And The Starvel Tragedy (3/30) {academic loan / State Library NSW, Rare Books / Rare Books / Kindle upcoming}
(1924 - 1935) * / ***Francis D. Grierson - Inspector Sims and Professor Wells - The Smiling Death (6/13) {AbeBooks, expensive}
(1924 - 1940) *Lynn Brock - Colonel Gore - The Slip-Carriage Mystery (4/12) {Kindle}
(1924 - 1933) *Herbert Adams - Jimmie Haswell - The Crooked Lip (2/9) {Rare Books}
(1924 - 1944) *A. Fielding - Inspector Pointer - The Charteris Mystery (2/23) {AbeBooks / Rare Books / Kindle, Resurrected Press}
(1924 - 1928) **Ford Madox Ford - Parade's End - No More Parades (2/4) {ebook}

(1925 - 1961) ***John Rhode - Dr Priestley - Death In The Hopfields (25/72) {HathiTrust / State Library NSW, held}
(1925 - 1953) *G. D. H. Cole / M. Cole - Superintendent Wilson - Superintendent Wilson's Holiday (5/?) {Internet Archive}
(1925 - 1937) *Hulbert Footner - Madame Storey - Madame Storey (2/10) {mobilereads / Project Gutenberg Canada}
(1925 - 1932) *Earl Derr Biggers - Charlie Chan - Behind That Curtain (3/6) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1925 - 1944) *Agatha Christie - Superintendent Battle - Towards Zero (5/5) {owned}
(1925 - 1934) *Anthony Berkeley - Roger Sheringham - The Second Shot (6/10) {academic loan / Rare Books}
(1925 - 1950) *Anthony Wynne (Robert McNair Wilson) - Dr Eustace Hailey - The Double-Thirteen Mystery (2/27) (aka "The Double Thirteen") {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1925 - 1939) *Charles Barry (Charles Bryson) - Inspector Lawrence Gilmartin - The Smaller Penny (1/15) {AbeBooks / Amazon}
(1925 - 1929) **Will Scott - Will Disher - Disher--Detective (aka "The Black Stamp") (1/3) {AbeBooks, expensive}
(1925 - 1927) **Francis Beeding - Professor Kreutzemark - The Seven Sleepers (1/2) {State Library NSW, interlibrary loan}

(1926 - 1968) * / ***Christopher Bush - Ludovic Travers - Murder At Fenwold (3/63) {Rare Books}
(1926 - 1939) *S. S. Van Dine - Philo Vance - The Scarab Murder Case (5/12) {fadedpage.com}
(1926 - 1952) *J. Jefferson Farjeon - Ben the Tramp - The House Opposite (2/8) {interlibrary loan / Kindle / State Library NSW, held}
(1926 - ????) *G. D. H. Cole / M. Cole - Everard Blatchington - Burglars In Bucks (aka "The Berkshire Mystery") (2/6) {Fisher Library}
(1926 - 1936) *Margery Lawrence - The Round Table - Nights Of The Round Table (1/2) {Kindle}
(1926 - ????) *Arthur Gask - Gilbert Larose - Cloud, The Smiter (1/27) {University of Adelaide / Project Gutenberg Australia}

(1927 - 1933) *Herman Landon - The Picaroon - The Picaroon Does Justice (2/7) {Book Searchers}
(1927 - 1932) *Anthony Armstrong - Jimmie Rezaire - The Trail Of The Lotto (3/5) {AbeBooks}
(1927 - 1937) *Ronald Knox - Miles Bredon - Footsteps At The Lock (2/5) {State Library NSW, interlibrary loan / Kindle / Project Gutenberg Canada}
(1927 - 1958) *Brian Flynn - Anthony Bathurst - The Murders Near Mapleton (3/54) {HathiTrust}
(1927 - 1947) *J. J. Connington - Sir Clinton Driffield - Tragedy At Ravensthorpe (2/17) {Murder Room ebook / Kindle}
(1927 - 1935) *Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Malleson) - Scott Egerton - Mystery Of The Open Window (4/10) {expensive}
(1927 - 1932) *William Morton (aka William Blair Morton Ferguson) - Daniel "Biff" Corrigan - Masquerade (1/4) {expensive}
(1927- 1929) **George Dilnot - Inspector Strickland - The Crooks' Game (1/2) {AbeBooks / Amazon}

*** Incompletely available series
** Series complete pre-1931
* Present status pre-1931

Edited: Feb 28, 3:36pm Top

Series and sequels, 1928 - 1930:

(1928 - 1961) Patricia Wentworth - Miss Silver - The Traveller Returns (aka "She Came Back") (9/33) {Kindle / interlibrary loan}
(1928 - 1936) *Gavin Holt - Luther Bastion - The Garden Of Silent Beasts (5/17) {academic loan / State Library NSW, held}
(1928 - ????) Trygve Lund - Weston of the Royal North-West Mounted Police - The Vanished Prospector (6/9) {AbeBooks}
(1928 - 1936) *Kay Cleaver Strahan - Lynn MacDonald - October House (4/7) {AbeBooks}
(1928 - 1937) *John Alexander Ferguson - Francis McNab - Murder On The Marsh (2/5) {Internet Archive / Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}
(1928 - 1960) *Cecil Freeman Gregg - Inspector Higgins - The Murdered Manservant (aka "The Body In The Safe") (1/35) {rare, expensive}
(1928 - 1959) *John Gordon Brandon - Inspector Patrick Aloysius McCarthy - The Black Joss (2/53) {State Library NSW, held}
(1928 - 1935) *Roland Daniel - Wu Fang / Inspector Saville - Wu Fang (2/6) {expensive}
(1928 - 1946) *Francis Beeding - Alistair Granby - Pretty Sinister (2/18) {academic loan}
(1928 - 1930) **Annie Haynes - Inspector Stoddart - The Crime At Tattenham Corner (2/4) {Project Gutenberg Australia / Kindle / mobilereads}
(1928 - 1930) **Elsa Barker - Dexter Drake and Paul Howard - The Cobra Candlestick (aka "The Cobra Shaped Candlestick") (1/3) {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1928 - ????) Adam Broome - Denzil Grigson - Crowner's Quest (2/?) {AbeBooks / eBay}

(1929 - 1947) Margery Allingham - Albert Campion - Flowers For The Judge (7/35) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}
(1929 - 1984) Gladys Mitchell - Mrs Bradley - The Devil At Saxon Wall (6/67) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}
(1929 - 1937) Patricia Wentworth - Benbow Smith - Down Under (4/4) {Kindle}
(1929 - ????) Mignon Eberhart - Nurse Sarah Keate - Murder By An Aristocrat (aka "Murder Of My Patient") (5/8) {Rare Books / Kindle US / academic loan}
(1929 - ????) ***Moray Dalton - Inspector Collier - ???? (3/?) - Death In The Cup {unavailable}, The Wife Of Baal {unavailable}
(1929 - ????) * / ***Charles Reed Jones - Leighton Swift - The King Murder (1/?) {AbeBooks}
(1929 - 1931) Carolyn Wells - Kenneth Carlisle - The Doorstep Murders (2/3) {Kindle}
(1929 - 1967) *George Goodchild - Inspector McLean - McLean Of Scotland Yard (1/65) {State Library NSW, held}
(1929 - 1979) *Leonard Gribble - Anthony Slade - The Case Of The Marsden Rubies (1/33) {AbeBooks / Rare Books / re-check Kindle}
(1929 - 1932) *E. R. Punshon - Carter and Bell - The Unexpected Legacy (1/5) {expensive, omnibus / Rare Books}
(1929 - 1971) *Ellery Queen - Ellery Queen - The Roman Hat Mystery (1/40) {interlibrary loan}
(1929 - 1966) *Arthur Upfield - Bony - The Sands Of Windee (2/29) {interlibrary loan / Rare Books}
(1929 - 1931) *Ernest Raymond - Once In England - A Family That Was (1/3) {State Library NSW, interlibrary loan}
(1929 - 1937) *Anthony Berkeley - Ambrose Chitterwick - The Piccadilly Murder (2/3) {interlibrary loan}
(1929 - 1940) *Jean Lilly - DA Bruce Perkins - The Seven Sisters (1/3) {AbeBooks / expensive shipping}
(1929 - 1935) *N. A. Temple-Ellis (Nevile Holdaway) - Montrose Arbuthnot - The Inconsistent Villains (1/4) {AbeBooks / expensive shipping}
(1929 - 1943) *Gret Lane - Kate Clare Marsh and Inspector Barrin - The Cancelled Score Mystery (1/9) {Kindle}
(1929 - 1961) *Henry Holt - Inspector Silver - The Mayfair Mystery (aka "The Mayfair Murder") (1/16) {AbeBooks}
(1929 - 1930) *J. J. Connington - Superintendent Ross - The Eye In The Museum (1/2) {Kindle}
(1929 - 1941) *H. Maynard Smith - Inspector Frost - Inspector Frost's Jigsaw (1/7) {AbeBooks, omnibus}
(1929 - ????) *Armstrong Livingston - Jimmy Traynor - The Doublecross (1/?) {AbeBooks}
(1929 - 1932) Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson - Sir John Saumarez - Re-Enter Sir John (3/3) {Fisher Library storage}
(1929 - 1940) *Rufus King - Lieutenant Valcour - Murder By The Clock (1/11) {AbeBooks, omnibus / Kindle}
(1929 - 1933) *Will Levinrew (Will Levine) - Professor Brierly - For Sale - Murder (4/5) {AbeBooks}
(1929 - 1932) *Nancy Barr Mavity - Peter Piper - The Body On The Floor (1/5) {AbeBooks / Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}
(1929 - 1934) *Charles J. Dutton - Professor Harley Manners - The Shadow Of Evil (2/6) {expensive}
(1929 - 1932) *Thomas Cobb - Inspector Bedison - Inspector Bedison And The Sunderland Case (2/4) {unavailable?}

(1930 - ????) ***Moray Dalton - Hermann Glide - ???? (3/?) {see above}
(1930 - 1932) Hugh Walpole - The Herries Chronicles - Vanessa (4/4) {Fisher Library storage}
(1930 - 1932) Faith Baldwin - The Girls Of Divine Corners - Myra: A Story Of Divine Corners (4/4) {owned}
(1930 - 1960) ***Miles Burton - Desmond Merrion - The Platinum Cat (17/57) {Rare Books}
(1930 - 1960) ***Miles Burton - Inspector Henry Arnold - The Platinum Cat (18/57) {Rare Books}
(1930 - 1933) ***Roger Scarlett - Inspector Kane - In The First Degree (5/5) {unavailable}
(1930 - 1941) *Harriette Ashbrook - Philip "Spike" Tracy - The Murder Of Sigurd Sharon (3/7) {Rare Books}
(1930 - 1943) Anthony Abbot - Thatcher Colt - About The Murder Of The Night Club Lady (3/8) {AbeBooks / serialised}
(1930 - ????) ***David Sharp - Professor Fielding - I, The Criminal (4/?) {unavailable?}
(1930 - 1950) *H. C. Bailey - Josiah Clunk - Garstons (aka The Garston Murder Case) (1/11) {HathiTrust}
(1930 - 1968) *Francis Van Wyck Mason - Hugh North - The Vesper Service Murders (2/41) {Kindle}
(1930 - 1976) *Agatha Christie - Miss Jane Marple - A Murder Is Announced (5/12) {owned}
(1930 - ????) *Anne Austin - James "Bonnie" Dundee - One Drop Of Blood (4/5) - {HathiTrust}
(1930 - 1950) *Leslie Ford (as David Frome) - Mr Pinkerton and Inspector Bull - The Hammersmith Murders (1/11) {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1930 - 1935) *"Diplomat" (John Franklin Carter) - Dennis Tyler - Murder In The State Department (1/7) {Amazon / Abebooks}
(1930 - 1962) *Helen Reilly - Inspector Christopher McKee - The Diamond Feather (1/31) {Rare Books}
(1930 - 1933) *Mary Plum - John Smith - The Killing Of Judge MacFarlane (1/4) {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1930 - 1945) *Hulbert Footner - Amos Lee Mappin - The Mystery Of The Folded Paper (aka The Folded Paper Mystery (1/10) {mobilereads / omnibus}
(1930 - 1940) *E. M. Delafield - The Provincial Lady - The Provincial Lady In Wartime (4/4) {Fisher Library}
(1930 - 1933) *Monte Barrett - Peter Cardigan - The Pelham Murder Case (1/3) {Amazon}
(1930 - 1931) Vernon Loder - Inspector Brews - Death Of An Editor (2/2) {Kindle}
(1930 - 1931) *Roland Daniel - John Hopkins - The Rosario Murder Case (1/2) {unavailable?}

*** Incompletely available series
** Series complete pre-1931
* Present status pre-1931

Edited: Jan 28, 5:22pm Top

Series and sequels, 1931 - 1955:

(1931 - 1940) Bruce Graeme - Superintendent Stevens and Pierre Allain - Satan's Mistress (4/8) {expensive}
(1931 - 1951) Phoebe Atwood Taylor - Asey Mayo - Sandbar Sinister (5/24) {AbeBooks}
(1931 - 1955) Stuart Palmer - Hildegarde Withers - Murder On The Blackboard (3/18) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1951) Olive Higgins Prouty - The Vale Novels - Home Port (4/5) {State Library NSW, held}
(1931 - 1933) Sydney Fowler - Inspector Cleveland - Arresting Delia (4/4) {Book Depository / Rare Books / online}
(1931 - 1934) J. H. Wallis - Inspector Wilton Jacks - The Capital City Mystery (2/6) {Rare Books}
(1931 - ????) Paul McGuire - Inspector Cummings - Daylight Murder (aka "Murder At High Noon") (3/5) {academic loan / State Library NSW, held}
(1931 - 1937) Carlton Dawe - Leathermouth - The Sign Of The Glove (2/13) {academic loan / State Library NSW, held}
(1931 - 1947) R. L. Goldman - Asaph Clume and Rufus Reed - Murder Without Motive (2/6) {Wildside Press}
(1931 - 1959) E. C. R. Lorac (Edith Caroline Rivett) - Inspector Robert Macdonald - The Murder On The Burrows (1/46) {rare, expensive}
(1931 - 1935) Clifton Robbins - Clay Harrison - Methylated Murder (5/5) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1972) Georges Simenon - Inspector Maigret - Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuves (9/75) {State Library NSW, held}
(1931 - 1934) T. S. Stribling - The Vaiden Trilogy - The Store (2/3) {Internet Archive / academic loan / State Library, held}
(1931 - 1935) Pearl S. Buck - The House Of Earth - A House Divided (3/3) {Fisher Library storage}
(1931 - 1942) R. A. J. Walling - Garstang - The Stroke Of One (1/3) {Amazon}
(1931 - ????) Francis Bonnamy (Audrey Boyers Walz) - Peter Utley Shane - Death By Appointment (1/8){AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1931 - 1937) J. S. Fletcher - Ronald Camberwell - Murder In The Squire's Pew (3/11) {Kindle / State Library NSW, held}
(1931 - 1933) Edwin Dial Torgerson - Sergeant Pierre Montigny - The Murderer Returns (1/2) {Rare Books)
(1931 - 1933) Molly Thynne - Dr Constantine and Inspector Arkwright - The Crime At The 'Noah's Ark' (1/3) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1935) Valentine Williams - Sergeant Trevor Dene - Death Answers The Bell (1/4) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1942) Patricia Wentworth - Frank Garrett - Pursuit Of A Parcel (5/5) {Kindle}

(1932 - 1954) Sydney Fowler - Inspector Cambridge and Mr Jellipot - The Bell Street Murders (1/11) {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1932 - 1935) Murray Thomas - Inspector Wilkins - Buzzards Pick The Bones (1/3) {AbeBooks, expensive}
(1932 - ????) R. A. J. Walling - Philip Tolefree - Prove It, Mr Tolefree (aka The Tolliver Case) (3/22) {AbeBooks}
(1932 - 1962) T. Arthur Plummer - Detective-Inspector Andrew Frampton - Shadowed By The C. I. D. (1/50) {unavailable?}
(1932 - 1936) John Victor Turner - Amos Petrie - Death Must Have Laughed (1/7) {Rare Books}
(1932 - 1944) Nicholas Brady (John Victor Turner) - Ebenezer Buckle - The House Of Strange Guests (1/4) {Kindle}
(1932 - 1932) Lizette M. Edholm - The Merriweather Girls - The Merriweather Girls At Good Old Rockhill (4/4) {HathiTrust}
(1932 - 1933) Barnaby Ross (aka Ellery Queen) - Drury Lane - Drury Lane's Last Case (4/4) {AbeBooks}
(1932 - 1952) D. E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim - Mrs Tim Flies Home (5/5) {interlibrary loan}
(1932 - ????) Richard Essex (Richard Harry Starr) - Jack Slade - Slade Of The Yard (1/?) {AbeBooks}
(1932 - 1933) Gerard Fairlie - Mr Malcolm - Shot In The Dark (1/3) (State Library NSW, held}
(1932 - 1934) Paul McGuire - Inspector Fillinger - The Tower Mystery (aka Death Tolls The Bell) (1/5) {Rare Books / State Library, held}
(1932 - 1946) Roland Daniel - Inspector Pearson - The Crackswoman (1/6) {unavailable?}
(1932 - 1951) Sydney Horler - Tiger Standish - Tiger Standish (1/11) {Rare Books}

(1933 - 1959) John Gordon Brandon - Arthur Stukeley Pennington - West End! (1/?) {AbeBooks / State Library, held}
(1933 - 1940) Lilian Garis - Carol Duncan - The Ghost Of Melody Lane (1/9) {AbeBooks}
(1933 - 1934) Peter Hunt (George Worthing Yates and Charles Hunt Marshall) - Allan Miller - Murders At Scandal House (1/3) {AbeBooks / Amazon}
(1933 - 1968) John Dickson Carr - Gideon Fell - Hag's Nook (1/23) {Better World Books / State Library NSW, interlibrary loan}
(1933 - 1939) Gregory Dean - Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Simon - The Case Of Marie Corwin (1/3) {AbeBooks / Amazon}
(1933 - 1956) E. R. Punshon - Detective-Sergeant Bobby Owen - Information Received (1/35) {academic loan / State Library NSW, held / Rare Books}
(1933 - 1970) Dennis Wheatley - Duke de Richlieu - The Forbidden Territory (1/11) {Fisher Library}
(1933 - 1934) Jackson Gregory - Paul Savoy - A Case For Mr Paul Savoy (1/3) {AbeBooks / Rare Books}
(1933 - 1957) John Creasey - Department Z - The Death Miser (1/28) {State Library NSW, held}
(1933 - 1940) Bruce Graeme - Superintendent Stevens - Body Unknown (2/2) {expensive}
(1933 - 1952) Wyndham Martyn - Christopher Bond - Christopher Bond, Adventurer (1/8) {rare}
(1934 - 1936) Storm Jameson - The Mirror In Darkness - Company Parade (1/3) {Fisher Library}
(1934 - 1949) Richard Goyne - Paul Templeton - Strange Motives (1/13) {unavailable?}
(1934 - 1941) N. A. Temple-Ellis (Nevile Holdaway) - Inspector Wren - Three Went In (1/3) {unavailable?}
(1934 - 1953) Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) - Sir Henry Merivale - The Plague Court Murders (1/22) {Fisher Library}
(1934 - 1968) Dennis Wheatley - Gregory Sallust - Black August (1/11) {interlibrary loan / omnibus}
(1935 - 1939) Francis Beeding - Inspector George Martin - The Norwich Victims (1/3) {AbeBooks / Book Depository / State Library NSW, held}
(1935 - 1976) Nigel Morland - Palmyra Pym - The Moon Murders (1/28) {State Library NSW, held}
(1935 - 1941) Clyde Clason - Professor Theocritus Lucius Westborough - The Fifth Tumbler (1/10) {unavailable?}
(1935 - ????) G. D. H. Cole / M. Cole - Dr Tancred - Dr Tancred Begins (1/?) (AbeBooks, expensive / State Library NSW, held / Rare Books}
(1935 - ????) George Harmon Coxe - Kent Murdock - Murder With Pictures (1/22) {AbeBooks}
(1935 - 1959) Kathleen Moore Knight - Elisha Macomber - Death Blew Out The Match (1/16) {AbeBooks / Amazon}
(1935 - 1953) Leslie Ford (Zenith Jones Brown) - Colonel John Primrose and Grace Latham - The Clock Strikes Twelve (aka "The Supreme Court Murder") (NB: novella) {owned}
(1936 - 1974) Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Malleson) - Arthur Crook - Murder By Experts (1/51) {interlibrary loan}
(1936 - 1952) Helen Dore Boylston - Sue Barton - Sue Barton, Student Nurse (1/7) {interlibrary loan}
(1936 - 1940) George Bell Dyer - The Catalyst Club - The Catalyst Club (1/3) {AbeBooks}
(1936 - 1956) Theodora Du Bois - Anne and Jeffrey McNeil - Armed With A New Terror (1/19) {unavailable?}
(1938 - 1944) Zelda Popkin - Mary Carner - Death Wears A White Gardenia (1/6) {Kindle}
(1939 - 1942) Patricia Wentworth - Inspector Lamb - The Key (5/?) {interlibrary loan}
(1939 - 1940) Clifton Robbins - George Staveley - Six Sign-Post Murder (1/2) {Biblio / rare}
(1940 - 1943) Bruce Graeme - Pierre Allain - The Corporal Died In Bed (1/3) {unavailable?}
(1941 - 1951) Bruce Graeme - Theodore I. Terhune - Seven Clues In Search Of A Crime (1/7) {unavailable?}
(1947 - 1974) Dennis Wheatley - Roger Brook - The Launching Of Roger Brook (1/12) {Fisher Library storage}
(1948 - 1971) E. V. Timms - The Gubbys - Forever To Remain (1/12) {Fisher Library / interlibrary loan}
(1953 - 1960) Dennis Wheatley - Molly Fountain and Colonel Verney - To The Devil A Daughter (1/2) {Fisher Library storage}
(1955 - 1956) D. E. Stevenson - The Ayrton Family - Summerhills (2/2) {interlibrary loan}
(1955 - 1991) Patricia Highsmith - Tom Ripley - Ripley Under Ground (2/5) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}
(1957 - 1993) Chester B. Himes - The Harlem Cycle - For Love Of Imabelle (aka "A Rage In Harlem") (1/9) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}

*** Incompletely available series
** Series complete pre-1931
* Present status pre-1931

Edited: Jan 28, 5:24pm Top

Unavailable series works:

John Rhode - Dr Priestley {NB: Now becoming available on Kindle}
The Paddington Mystery (#1)
Tragedy At The Unicorn (#5)
The Hanging Woman (#11)
The Corpse In The Car (#20) {expensive}

Christopher Bush - Ludovic Travers
The Plumley Inheritance (#1)

Moray Dalton - Inspector Collier
>#3 onwards (to end of series)

Moray Dalton - Hermann Glide
>#3 onwards (to end of series)

Miles Burton - Desmond Merrion / Inspector Arnold
>everything from #2 - #11 inclusive

David Sharp - Professor Fielding
When No Man Pursueth (#1)

Francis D. Grierson - Inspector Sims and Professor Wells
The Double Thumb (#3) {expensive}

Roger Scarlett - Inspector Kane {NB: Now available in paperback, but expensive}
>#4 onwards (to end of series)

Tom Strong - Alfred Bishop Mason
Tom Strong, Boy-Captain (#2)
Tom Strong, Junior (#3)
Tom Strong, Third (#4)

Wu Fang - Roland Daniel
The Society Of The Spiders (#1)

The Linger-Nots - Agnes Miller
The Linger-Nots And The Secret Maze (#5)

Edited: Feb 9, 3:02pm Top

TBR notes:

Currently 'missing':

The Paddington Mystery by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #1) {CARM / Kindle upcoming}
Tragedy At The Unicorn by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #5) {CARM}
The Corpse In The Car by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #20) {CARM}
The Black Death by Moray Dalton {CARM}

Mystery At Greycombe Farm by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #12) {Rare Books}
Dead Men At The Folly by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #13) {Rare Books}
The Robthorne Mystery by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #17) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}
Poison For One by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #18) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}
Shot At Dawn by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #19) {Rare Books}
Hendon's First Case by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #21) {Rare Books}
In Face Of The Verdict by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #24) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}
Secret Judges by Francis D. Grierson (Sims and Wells #2) {Rare Books}
The Platinum Cat by Miles Burton (Desmond Merrion #17 / Inspector Arnold #18) {Rare Books}
The Double-Thirteen Mystery by Anthony Wynne (Dr Eustace Hailey #2) {Rare Books}

Six Minutes Past Twelve by Gavin Holt (Luther Bastion #1) {State Library NSW, held}
The White-Faced Man by Gavin Holt (Luther Bastion #2) {State Library NSW, held}

Find The Clock by Harry Stephen Keeler {Kindle}
Fiddlestrings by John Haslette Vahey {serialised, The Australasian}
Down River by John Haslette Vahey {serialised, SMH}

The Wychford Poisoning Case by Anthony Berkeley (Roger Sheringham #2) {Kindle / ILL}
Mystery At Olympia (aka "Murder At The Motor Show") (Dr Priestley #22) {Kindle / State Library NSW, held}


The Matilda Hunter Murder by Harry Stephen Keeler {Kindle}

Pack Mule by Ursula Bloom {interlibrary loan, missing?}

The Crime At The 'Noah's Ark' by Molly Thynne (Dr Constantine and Inspector Arkwright #1) {Kindle / Rare Books}

Tragedy On The Line by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #10) {Rare Books}
Death By Appointment by "Francis Bonnamy" (Audrey Walz) (Peter Utley Shane #1) {Rare Books}
The Bell Street Murders by Sydney Fowler (S. Fowler Wright) (Inspector Cambridge and Mr Jellipot #1) {Rare Books}
The Murderer Returns by Edwin Dial Torgerson (Pierre Montigny #1) {Rare Books}

NB: Rest of 1931 listed on the Wiki

Shopping list:

Gray Terror by Herman Landon
The Pelham Murder Case by Monte Barrett
Prove It, Mr Tolefree by R. A. J. Walling
The Eye In Attendance by Valentine Williams


The Amber Junk (aka The Riddle Of The Amber Ship) by Hazel Phillips Hanshew
The Hawkmoor Mystery by W. H. Lane Crauford
Dead Man's Hat by Hulbert Footner
October House by Kay Cleaver Strahan
The Double Thumb by Francis Grierson
The Mystery Of The Open Window by Anthony Gilbert
The Mystery Of The Creeping Man by Frances Shelley Wees
The Shadow Of Evil by Charles J. Dutton
The Seventh Passenger by Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry

Edited: Mar 29, 5:33pm Top

Books currently on loan:


Edited: Mar 29, 5:26pm Top

Reading projects:




Other projects:



Edited: Mar 13, 6:22pm Top

Short-list TBR:



Edited: Jan 28, 5:44pm Top

Group read news:

We are just in the process of wrapping up the group reads of Emily Eden's The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House, for the Virago Chronological Read Project. The threads are here:

The Semi-Attached Couple
The Semi-Detached House

The next scheduled group read is for Frances Burney's Camilla; this will be in April.

We do not have anything organised as yet for Anthony Trollope, although there will certainly be something! However, it is my intention to read the first, uncensored version of Trollope's first novel, The Macdermots Of Ballycloran, and to set up a thread to post about the differences between that and what became the "standard" edition: my hope is that, as with the restored edition of The Duke's Children, other people might find this a useful resource.

While this will not be a formal group read, anyone wishing to read along will be very welcome; it will be happening in either February or March. At the moment I'm thinking March, to break up the chunksteriffic Anthony Adverse.

Edited: Feb 27, 4:33pm Top

February will be a month for getting up-to-date with all my challenge reading; noting that I will be taking another month off the best-seller challenge, as I recently read The Good Earth (#1 in 1931 and 1932).

Likely February reading:

Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson {Banned In Boston challenge}
Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock {C. K. Shorter challenge}
Jack O' Lantern by George Goodchild {Mystery League challenge}
A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie {chronological read}
The Mysteries Of London (Volume II) by G. W. M. Reynolds {evolution of detective fiction}
The Story Of Dr Wassell by James Hilton {random reading 1940-1969}
The Amityville Horror II by John G. Jones {potential decommission: fiction}
The Shadow On Mockways {general reading}
Lust For Blood: The Consuming Story Of Vampires by Olga Gruhzit Hoyt {potential decommission: non-fiction}
Woman's Fiction: A Guide To Novels By And About Women In America, 1820-70 by Nina Baym {non-fiction}
Women's Friendship In Literature by Janet Todd {non-fiction / ILL}
Mr Fortune Speaking by H. C. Bailey {ILL}
After Rain by Netta Muskett {ILL}
Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry Tree by Ernest Bramah {TIOLI}
The Captain Of The 'Vulture' by Mary Elizabeth Braddon {TIOLI}
Derelicts by William McFee {on loan}
The Man With The Dark Beard by Annie Haynes {series}

Edited: Jan 28, 5:46pm Top

I think that's it; come on in!

Edited: Jan 28, 5:47pm Top

Finished Gains And Losses for TIOLI #9.

Now reading Who Killed Precious? by H. Paul Jeffers; still reading Anything But The Truth by Carolyn Wells (and off to the library this afternoon, hopefully to finish it).

Jan 28, 5:50pm Top

Happy new thread, Liz! Cool birds!

Jan 28, 8:45pm Top

Those frogmouth birds are freaky, man. Especially the broken branches photo!

Jan 29, 1:20am Top

Happy New thread. That's quite some trick, being able to look like a stump. Makes you wonder how they first developed it and how the parents train their chicks to be able to do it too.

Jan 29, 2:28am Top

Happy new thread Liz - those birds are very impressive (I spent some time staring at the second photo before I realised what I was seeing!)

On Friday I thought I had plenty of time to read The Absentee and Crooked House before the end of the month and suddenly it's Monday morning and I didn't make much progress with my reading over the weekend and the next few days promise to be quite busy.....

>17 lyzard: I will read along with the The MacDermots. It sounds like the World's Classics edition (which I can get secondhand) has some of the redacted material as an appendix

Jan 29, 3:56am Top

Wow, so much going on here, and so much of it about books :)
Love the owl's clever camouflage, aren't animals incredible??!!

Love the titles of The Semi-Attached Couple and the The Semi-Detached House....and I have been waiting to read all sequels to The Good Earth since I read that one a few years ago. I have much to do.

Jan 29, 6:26am Top

Happy new thread, Liz!!

Jan 29, 10:32am Top

>25 LovingLit: I remember reading The Good Earth and its sequels a long, long time ago - dare I say about 55 years? But I remember the sensations of the book, and the wife's name, I think. O-Lan?

Jan 29, 12:42pm Top

Oooo. I loved The Good Earth!

Jan 29, 4:00pm Top

Visitors! Oh, glorious visitors!! :D

Thank you, Harry, Julia, Helen, Megan, Amber, Judy and Rachel!

I'm glad you like my frogmouths; I think they're amazing. These shots are only two of the ways they manage to hide themselves. Another trick, which I couldn't find a good shot of, is to have a small flock or a family all huddle together, so that in a line they mimic a whole bumpy branch. :)

Edited: Jan 29, 4:07pm Top

Happy new thread, Liz!

>1 lyzard: Cool birds! I looked at the first picture, did a search for the tawny frogmouth, returned here and then noticed there are two birds in that picture, I only noticed one of them the first time.

I like how you show all these covers, this months favorite is "Mr. Fortune speaking" with the line between the phones :-)

Edited: Jan 29, 4:08pm Top

>24 souloftherose:

Heh! Don't sweat it if you can't manage them: you've given me two shared reads already, so I think you're off the hook.

Yes, most standard editions of The Macdermots Of Ballycloran include the three omitted chapters in an appendix; but some of the remaining text was edited too, which what I want to identify. I would love to have you join in but don't feel obliged!

>25 LovingLit:

The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House are both good fun. The first gets serious towards the end but the second is a nicely sustained comedy.

>25 LovingLit:, >27 ffortsa:, >28 The_Hibernator:

I think everyone remembers O-Lan! I have read the sequels too: I don't think they're as strong - for one thing, they lack another female character of equal stature - but the historical aspects and the extreme contrasts between city and country life in the third book make them worthwhile.

Jan 29, 4:13pm Top

>30 FAMeulstee:

Hi, Anita - thanks for dropping in! That first shot is a good one for showing you both what a frogmouth can do, and what they look like when they're not hiding.

I'm glad you like my covers too! I always like to highlight the original cover art if I can. Wonder of wonders, I may actually get Mr Fortune Speaking read next month; it's on ILL request. :)

Jan 29, 4:38pm Top

A booky day, yesterday: finished Anything But The Truth for TIOLI #15, and also Who Killed Precious? for TIOLI #4.

Now pondering what I might be able to slip in under the January wire...

Jan 29, 5:03pm Top

>30 FAMeulstee: Oh! I had to go back to find the second bird!

Jan 29, 5:19pm Top

Jan 29, 6:33pm Top

>32 lyzard: Better you than me. I found Mr. Fortune Speaking unreadable.

Jan 29, 6:38pm Top

>36 harrygbutler:

Eep! Duly noted.

Jan 29, 6:56pm Top

>36 harrygbutler: You might be fine. I found Mr. Fortune himself too much to endure. Even though I've put up with a lot of — shall we say idiosyncratic — detectives, he grated from his first appearance. But I think there must be something off-putting for me about Bailey's style in general, as I didn't like (and indeed abandoned) the Joshua Clunk book I tried, too. I have a stack of Baileys available free to a good, or even not so good :-), home.

Jan 29, 7:05pm Top

I'll keep that in mind. :)

I find him completely irritating too, as with most of the post-Peter Wimsey, affectation-riddled breed, but so far I've found the stories themselves worth reading.

Jan 29, 7:14pm Top

>39 lyzard: I mostly don't mind the detectives of that sort, but he just doesn't work for me, and I can't get past it.

Edited: Jan 29, 7:34pm Top

Fair enough. I think I'm slightly softened by the 'medical detective' aspect, which I always like, though it seems to come into it less as the series progresses.

Edited: Jan 29, 7:44pm Top

Noting that I have several series in the home-stretch; I will try to wrap these up in the first part of the year:

Peter Wimsey / Dorothy Sayers: after my unsuccessful quest for a local library copy, I was relieved to discover that In The Teeth Of The Evidence is available via ILL. I am aware that there is some argument over where this series actually ends, but this is where I am drawing a line. (And no, I won't be going on to the Jill Paton Walsh books: as a rule continuations don't interest me.)

Ebenezer Gryce & Caleb Sweetwater / Anna Katharine Green: The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow is the last in both of these overlapping series, the 12th book for Gryce and the 7th for Sweetwater.

Kai Lung / Ernest Bramah: fortunately the later, more obscure Kai Lung books have now been made available on Kindle. I have two to go here - or, rather, two and a half: Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry Tree, which was the final book published by Ernest Bramah in his lifetime, and Kai Lung: Six, short stories not collected until 1974. Kai Lung Raises His Voice contains the same six stories, plus five more.

Dr John Thorndyke / R. Austin Freeman: I have further to go here, but I have also been further: I am up to The Penrose Mystery, #22 in a 26-book series which, if / when I get there, will be by far the longest I have so far completed.

Jan 29, 7:37pm Top

Slightly late to the party as seems to be my way these days.

Happy new thread, Liz.

Jan 29, 7:43pm Top

I'm so behind with my thread visiting you're an early bird in comparison!

Thanks, Paul. :)

Jan 30, 1:35am Top

>42 lyzard: Good. On the Wimsey books, I decided to draw the line in the same place. I have read the continuations and they lack a certain something. I'd struggle to say what it was, though. I also think Jill Paton Walsh took the additional books too far; Peter does not belong in the 1960s, he looks like an anachronism and it felt cruel.

Jan 30, 3:45am Top

>45 Helenliz:

Yes, I can understand that.

I think the practice rarely works, myself; besides an impulse to yell, "Get your own ideas!" :)

Jan 30, 4:05pm Top

I seem to be on a bit of a non-fiction roll, after so much neglect: the book that finally spoke to me was Woman's Fiction: A Guide To Novels By And About Women In America, 1820-70 by Nina Baym.

However, I certainly won't be finishing it today, so that's a line under January. (Yike! - that went fast!)

Jan 30, 7:49pm Top

Happy new thread, Liz!! That frogmouth is an amazing creature. I've never heard of it or seen one. Only Kookaburras.

Jan 30, 8:46pm Top

Thanks, Roni!

We have lots of great birds besides kookaburras and emus: maybe that should be my thread-header next year?? :)

Edited: Jan 31, 8:36pm Top

The Key - When refugee scientist, Michael Harsch, dies in the village of Bourne, Major Garth Albany is dispatched by the War Office to look into the case: having family in the village provides him with cover for his visit. From his superior, Sir George Rendal, Garth learns that Harsch was developing a powerful new explosive which he had promised to the government, and that he telephoned to say that the work was complete immediately before his death. Found in the church, where he sometimes played the organ, with the key to the locked door in his pocket and a gunshot wound in his temple, Harsch's death is ruled a suicide despite earnest rebuttal testimony from his some-time secretary, Janice Meade, as to his temperament and state of mind. It is, however, also determined that there were three other keys to the church---and Garth has already discovered that the one held by his step-aunt, Miss Sophy Fell, was not in its usual drawer at the critical time. Moreover, a village party-line means that almost anyone could have been aware that Harsch's critical war-work had been completed... This 1944 novel by Patricia Wentworth walks a neat and interesting line between the English village mystery (usually, and mostly incorrectly, associated with Agatha Christie's Miss Marple) and the war-time espionage thriller. For the most part, life in Bourne goes on as normal during the conflict, right down to casual home security and a party-line telephone that guarantees everyone knows everyone else's business; but the village is also home to rationing and blackouts, evacuee children (one of whom plays a significant part in the plot), and secret war-work. While there is no question that Harsch's explosive could have been a target for German agents, Garth's initial suspicion falls upon Evan Madoc, Harsch's fellow-scientist and house-mate: a "crank" and a "belligerent pacifist" (in the words of Sir George) who was near the church at the time of Harsch's death, and had access to a key---and to whom, in the event of his death, Harsch had willed his papers and formulae. Garth's report brings to the scene Inspector Lamb and Sergeant Abbott of Scotland Yard. Their investigation, and their interrogation of Madoc, end in the scientist's arrest. However, despite Madoc's constant bad temper and verbal insults, Janice Meade is certain that he is innocent; and she hires Miss Maud Silver to prove it... As a mystery, The Key is only moderately successful: there is a very limited suspect pool, for one thing, and it narrows even more after a second murder which is presumably a response to attempted blackmail. The novel's greater interest is in the handling of its characters---this time, beyond the delineation of Maudie herself, and her by-play with her professional colleagues. In particular, Wentworth's treatment of Evan Madoc is fascinating. Though deliberately obnoxious (a defence mechanism, as Miss Silver realises), a pacifist at a time when this was generally considered a form of treason, and an agnostic at best, Madoc is also highly intelligent, painfully honest and a man of unshakeable principle---and is accorded respect on that basis. The other surprising detail here is that Michael Harsch is Jewish. This is the root of his personal tragedy - he is a refugee, who lost his wife and daughter in a concentration camp - but otherwise is hardly mentioned. It has no impact upon the village, where Harsch is well-liked, indeed loved; there is not even a derogatory term in passing. All this may seem like much ado about nothing, but at a time when, despite the war, English books were studded with antisemitism ranging from the casual to the vicious, this instance of non-prejudice is remarkable, and must be highlighted.

    "My name is Maud Silver - Miss Maud Silver - and I am a private inquiry agent. Your friends, who do not believe that you shot Mr Harsch, have retained my services, and Chief Detective Inspector Lamb has kindly facilitated this interview."
    Evan Madoc pushed back an untidy black lock which was tickling his nose and said, "Why?"
    His voice could not very well have been ruder. Miss Silver looked at him reprovingly. Her manner indicated that discourtesy relegated one mentally and morally either to the nursery or the slum. A faint flush showed that the intimation had gone home. He said less rudely, but with a show of restrained temper, "I have nothing to say. And when you speak of my friends, I am at a loss---"
    Miss Silver modified her look. It was still hortatory, but it promised forgiveness---like Aunt Bronwen when she had finished her sermon and the toffee came out of her pocket. ""You have some very good friends, Mr Madoc. Miss Fell - with whom I am staying - Miss Meade, who was instrumental in calling me in---"
    He hit the table with the flat of his hand. "You are not going to make me believe that Janice Meade is crying her eyes out over me! She told me once to my face that I was the most disagreeable man she had ever met, and that she wouldn't have stayed with me a week if it hadn't been for Michael Harsch!"
    Miss Silver coughed. "Quite so. But she does not believe that you shot him. As a scientist you should be able to understand that there is such a thing as a passion for abstract justice..."

Edited: Jan 31, 8:32pm Top

Oh well done, Liz! I'm glad you mentioned the sort of styles mashup — cozy mystery and espionage thriller — which made this pretty unique among books I've read. And yes to noticing that Bourne was a village apparently ahead of its time in accepting the Jewish scientist in its midst — and really, the pacifist as well, who seemed to get more disapproval for his bad temper than his beliefs.

I love this line in the excerpt you quoted: discourtesy relegated one mentally and morally either to the nursery or the slum. I wish I could find a way to work that into casual conversation!

Jan 31, 8:44pm Top

Thank you!

It's sad that these things should be so noticeable, but at a time when when even otherwise "nice" and/or "advanced" books suddenly slip in a racial or religious slur, I thought it was imperative to point it out.

This is also the earliest book I've read to have someone refuse to swear an oath (even if he mostly does it to just make a scene! :D ).

I generally have a lot of sympathy with Madoc - though I hope I'm not that rude! - but I agree with Maudie on that point. :)

Jan 31, 9:05pm Top

>52 lyzard: it's definitely noticeable and worthy of calling attention to. It was astonishing to me when I first started reading books from this time period how utterly CASUAL the slurs were many times — used not as a shorthand way of illuminating an unsavory aspect of a character but simply for verisimilitude, utterly unremarkable for even otherwise "decent" characters to use.

Jan 31, 9:52pm Top

Yes, exactly! It's so jarring---and also why I'm really against books being "cleaned up" for modern consumption, because it's such a powerful illustration of how deep-rooted and pervasive these attitudes were.

Edited: Jan 31, 10:56pm Top

The Flickering Lamp - No-one is more surprised than she when Isabel Manning falls in love with Gerald Wykeham, a charming young man several years her junior. Hitherto cool and self0sufficient, Isabel is swept off her feet by this first romantic passion, and is quickly engaged and married despite the qualms of her friends and the bitter disappointment of Dr Owen Carstairs, who has loved her for many years. During its honeymoon phase the marriage is everything that both Isabel and Gerald could have anticipated; but as the two return to London and a normal life, problems begin to arise. In particular, Isabel is disturbed to discover that Gerald's casual, enjoyment-focused attitude to life makes him careless and impatient with his job. When he is finally dismissed, and unable to find another position, Isabel must take on the responsibility of earning an income; and the cracks which have already formed between them begin to widen... At a time when British male authors were churning out light-hearted stories based on love at first sight and happy-ever-after, their female counterparts were producing depressing tales of marriages going bung. Go figure. Netta Muskett's 1931 novel, The Flickering Lamp - though marketed as a "romance" - is one of the most distasteful books I've read for some time; and, moreover, one where it is impossible to be sure what we're supposed to take away from it. During its early phases, the book seems to be arguing that Romance (yes, with an 'R') is the one vital thing in a relationship: there is no spark in Isabel's feeling for Owen, despite everything they have in common; but as things go wrong between Isabel and Gerald, it seems instead to be a cautionary tale about Romance not being enough. Then things take an entirely bizarre, almost science fiction turn, after Gerald suffers near-fatal injuries in a car-crash. At this point the narrative introduces an "experimental operation": no details are given, but somehow it works to cure both a woman with tuberculosis and a man with head injuries; with the side-effect of making her ultra-feminine, and him ultra-masculine---in Gerald's case, turning him from a helpless, whiny man-child into an increasingly obnoxious alpha male. For a moment The Flickering Lamp seems to be teetering on the brink of being about how women all want to dominated by a man, really, even if they pretend otherwise; until Gerald's new personality rolls on, making him violent, oversexed and sadistic. The novel at this point offers a chillingly convincing picture of an abusive relationship; it then rolls on again until we seem to be in the midst of a critique of the contemporary British divorce laws. One whiff of something between Isabel and Owen is enough to give Gerald grounds (though he knows very well there's been nothing wrong), whereas Isabel has no hope of a divorce despite Gerald's infidelities, his constant - and brutal - demands for his "marital rights", and that the escalating situation ends with him beating the crap out her---none of this being considered evidence of "persistent cruelty". Then we move past this, too; until we're finally left with the suggestion that, once a woman loves a man, there's nothing he can do that will completely kill her feeling for him: "nothing", in this instance, including public and private humiliation, verbal and physical abuse, and repeated marital rape. "Romance", people; Romance...

    She undressed wearily and crept into bed, but as soon as her light was out he came back to her, passionate, ardent, gloating over her, filling her with sick disgust that came perilously near to hatred, never giving or seeking the tenderness, the gentler ways of love.
    And so the days went on, and so the nights. He had alienated all her friends, not from her but from the house in which she was prisoner of his will. If he discovered that she had made any plans of her own, had booked a seat at a concert which he scornfully termed "high-brow tripe", he managed to prevent her from going, invented some demand on her which she had learnt not to refuse. Refusal inevitably meant some cunningly devised punishment, usually an insult before her guests or the servants, or the placing of her in some intolerable position which she remembered with shame and a galling sense of humiliation.
    Her friends reproached her, argued with her, urged her to revolt against a position which they could only dimly recognise, her pride keeping her silent. Finally they left her alone, glad to see her in the stolen hours which she never really enjoyed, but keeping away with her tacit consent from the house...

Jan 31, 10:44pm Top

Goodness me, what a path that plot travels!

Jan 31, 11:01pm Top

I couldn't predict where it was going, and that's the one positive thing I can say about it...

Jan 31, 11:51pm Top

>55 lyzard: Well ick. How fortunate it wasn't a bestseller.

Feb 1, 12:48am Top

>58 swynn:

You'd be on your knees begging for a soppy romantic melodrama! :D

Feb 2, 7:02am Top

>55 lyzard: Ugh.

I thought you might be pleased to hear that I've added Susan Ferrier's Marriage to TIOLI #8 for Feb (read a book by an author you have previously struggled with). Of course, I need to finish The Absentee before I can give Marriage another try (I am quite liking TA btw).

Feb 2, 3:55pm Top

>60 souloftherose:

Oh, hon, don't do that unless you really want to! I wouldn't like to think I've teased you into it (you know it's only teasing, right??).

Mind you, I may see you there: I have a second book by the author of >55 lyzard: on ILL. I think I can honestly say I struggled...

Glad to hear you're getting along with The Absentee; I need to knuckle down and get it reviewed.

Edited: Feb 3, 7:40pm Top

Finished Woman's Fiction: A Guide To Novels By And About Women In America, 1820-70 for TIOLI #3.

Now reading Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson.

On second thoughts I want to catch up my reviewing before I plunge into another challenge book---so to go from one extreme to the other, now reading The Amityville Horror Part II by John G. Jones.

Feb 3, 12:31pm Top

>61 lyzard: It is entirely voluntary and I'm not going to force myself through it, but I thought I might be able to slot it in in February and then the most perfect TIOLI challenge presented it itself :-)

Looking at her author page Netta Muskett appears to have been worryingly prolific - please don't say they're all on the list?

Feb 3, 3:53pm Top


Yes, funny how TIOLI suddenly speaks to you, isn't it? :)

A bunch of them, I'm afraid (I think she got on there when I was obsessively adding books from 1931). She was extremely prolific---so you have to think this was an aberration, right? Right??

Edited: Feb 3, 7:41pm Top

The Semi-Attached Couple - After a brief, ballroom-acquaintance courtship, the beautiful young Lady Helen Eskdale becomes engaged to marital prize, Lord Teviot. Almost immediately, Helen begins to have doubts; but with two older sisters happily married on equally brief acquaintance and a mother serenely making wedding-plans, she struggles to articulate them, and the marriage goes ahead. Passionately in love with Helen, Teviot is hurt by her emotional reticence, and increasingly jealous of what seems to him a preference for her family's company over her husband's; and it is not long before an estrangement develops... Written in 1830, but not published for another thirty years, Emily Eden's The Semi-Attached Couple is a social comedy with a serious point. Not surprisingly for a first attempt at a novel (moreover, it seems that Eden did not revise her manuscript before eventually publishing it), this is an uneven work, whose shifts in tone do not always meld well. There is much overt comedy, most of it involving two awful supporting characters: Mrs Douglas, whose greatest pleasure in life is being miserable; and Lady Portmore, a social manoeuvrer suffering delusions of self-importance; the clashes between the two comprise some of the novel's funniest scenes. Emily Eden was a great admirer of Jane Austen, and it shows in a series of tart conversation set-pieces, between the mutually antagonistic ladies, and between Mrs Douglas and her long-suffering husband. But at the same time, Eden takes Helen, and her situation, perfectly seriously; and while she does poke some fun at Teviot's "superior male" attitudes and self-defeating jealousy (showing that he is, in his own way, almost as naive as Helen, and much more foolish), in the end she can only resolve her central dilemma by twisting her comedy into a near-tragedy, and tacking a conventional conclusion onto what is, in many ways, an unconventional novel. Despite these flaws, The Semi-Attached Couple is an unusual and entertaining work, offering an engaging picture of society between the Regency period and the Victorian era. It is also quite psychologically acute, particularly in its depiction of the way that Teviot's jealousy creates a self-fulfilling tragedy, by driving Helen away and therefore "proving" his worst fears. Moreover, Eden shows, as plainly as was permissible at the time, that to a girl of Helen's age and innocence, Teviot's very passion for her is more frightening than gratifying. Interestingly, Eden places great weight upon the disparate family situations of her central couple: Teviot is an only child, with a poor relationship with his father, and consequently has no experience and little understanding of Helen's deep attachment to her large, happy family; while Helen, conversely, has no experience of the world beyond family life, and cannot easily give it up. By dissecting the increasing estrangement between the two, and by placing around them several contrasting relationships, Eden offers valid criticism of the way marriages were made at the time, and the unrealistic expectations placed upon young and inexperienced women.

    Helen found every day some fresh cause to doubt whether she were as happy, engaged to Lord Teviot, as she was before she had ever seen him. He was always quarrelling with her---at least, so she thought; but the real truth was, that he was desperately in love, and she was not; that he was a man of strong feelings and exacting habits, and with considerable knowledge of the world; and that she was timid and gentle, unused to any violence of manner or language, and unequal to cope with it. He alarmed her, first by the eagerness with which he poured out his affection, and then by the bitterness of his reproaches because, as he averred, it was not returned.
    She tried to satisfy him; but when he had frightened away her playfulness, he had deprived her of her greatest charm, and she herself felt that her manner became daily colder and more repulsive. His prediction that she would be happier anywhere than with him seemed likely, by repetition, to insure its own fulfillment. Even their reconciliations---for what is the use of a quarrel but to bring on a reconciliation?---were unsatisfactory. She wished that he loved her less, or would say less about it; and he thought that the gentle willingness with which she met his excuses was only a fresh proof that his love or his anger were equally matters of indifference to her. No French actor with a broken voice, quivering hands, a stride, and a shrug, could have given half the emphasis to the sentiment, J'aimerais mieux être haï qu' aimé faiblement, than Lord Teviot did to the upbraidings with which he diversified the monotony of love-making...

Edited: Feb 3, 7:13pm Top

The Semi-Detached House - Emily Eden's second attempt at a novel was made almost thirty years after her first---and this time she published her work. The success, in 1859, of The Semi-Detached House prompted her to revive her long-neglected manuscript of The Semi-Attached Couple, which finally appeared in 1860. Despite their "paired" titles, the two novels have no direct connection, and in fact make for an interesting contrast---not least in that they depict, effectively, the same society more than a generation apart, offering an intriguing, unintentional sketch of the changes that occurred in between. In particular, while The Semi-Attached Couple restricts itself to the higher levels of society, The Semi-Detached House is about the beginning of the breakdown of social barriers and friendship across the classes. With her husband away on a diplomatic mission, the young Blanche, Lady Chester, who is expecting a baby, is ordered by her doctor to remove from the bustle and pollution of London. When her relatives hire for her a semi-detached house outside of the city, by the river, Blanche is at first dismayed at the thought of having "common people" for close neighbours. She does not realise that, thanks to a misinterpreted piece of gossip in a newspaper, the "common people" in question believe her to be either an adulterous wife separated from her husband, or a kept mistress, and are even more dismayed by the prospect of a "fallen woman" next door... While it is a less serious work than The Semi-Attached Couple, The Semi-Detached House is a better-written novel: Emily Eden sustains her comedy much more successfully, and though her themes are mostly light, they are consistent. The result is a minor but charming work, depicting the new friendships available in an evolving society, and offering the encouraging thought that nice people will always find each other. As it turns out, the people next door, the Hopkinsons, are almost exactly as the over-imaginative Blanche pictured them---except that they are also kind, generous, and entirely likeable. Her own qualms set at rest, Mrs Hopkinson takes Blanche to her heart, mothering her when she needs it most. Around this warmly-drawn central friendship, several romantic relationships are lightly sketched; while when Lord Chester returns, we are offered a welcome portrait of a young married couple very much in love. There is far more comedy than romance in this novel, however, with Eden again showing her skill at depicting amusingly horrid people: this time, the Baroness Sampson, a determined social-climber who disrupts the narrative's central idyll. (The subplot featuring the Baroness's unhappy niece, Rachel, is one of the novel's serious touches.) The Semi-Detached House also offers one of the era's most unusual characters in Charles Willis, Mrs Hopkinson's son-in-law, who is at once psychologically complex and perversely funny. Not, in fact, having cared much for his late wife, Willis had nevertheless turned himself into a monument of grief, crushing everyone else's spirits at every possible opportunity and deriving enormous gratification from his own mental image of himself as inconsolable---so much so, that when he finally falls genuinely in love, he hardly knows how to let himself be happy...

    Then Arthur's fond letter came, and after that matters mended considerably. There was the house to show to Aileen, and the garden to investigate, and all sorts of red and gold barges came careering up the river, with well-dressed people, looking slightly idiotical as they danced furiously in the hot sun... Blanche had several visitors the first week, and Dulham Lane was, as Janet and Rose had hoped, much enlivened thereby.
    But Mrs Hopkinson sat with her broad back to the window, pertinaciously declining to look at all the wickedness on wheels that was rolling by her door. She had found that the plan of shutting her shutters would probably end in a fall down her narrow staircase, so she had told her girls not to look out of the window, that poor Willis had reason to believe that the people next door were not at all creditable; and as Janet and Rose were singularly innocent in the ways of the world, and were always desirous to thwart Willis, and as they were particularly anxious to know whether flounces or double skirts were the prevailing fashion, they resented this exclusion from their only point of observation. Charlie missed his airings in the garden, and altogether the advent of Lady Chester had thrown a gloom over the Hopkinson circle.
    When Sunday arrived, a fresh grievance occurred. The Hopkinsons had been allowed to make use of the pew belonging to Pleasance, and that was now occupied by Lady Chester and her sister. The slight bustle occasioned by the attempt to find a seat for Mrs Hopkinson, who was of large dimensions, caused Blanche to look up, and with natural good breeding she opened her pew door, and beckoned to that lady to come in. She did so, and what with the heat of the day, and the thought of what Willis would say when he saw her sitting next to a lady of doubtful character, who had made a "fracaw in high life," she could hardly breathe...

Edited: Feb 3, 7:17pm Top

Emily Eden's two novels were part of the ongoing Virago Chronological Read Project:

Feb 4, 12:52pm Top

>65 lyzard:, >66 lyzard: Excellent reviews Liz - are you going to post them to the book page?

Feb 4, 4:46pm Top

Oh, I don't know. I might, with the right incentive... :D

Feb 4, 5:30pm Top

Finished The Amityville Horror Part II for TIOLI #3.

Now reading Derelicts by William McFee.

Edited: Feb 4, 9:58pm Top

The Absentee - 1800's Act of Union, which created the United Kingdom, served chiefly to highlight and exacerbate existing tensions between England and Ireland over Catholic emancipation, property ownership and parliamentary rule. Ownership of Irish land by Englishmen who rarely visited their property, but left it to be managed by agents, was already a major point of contention when the abolition of the Irish parliament, and the shifting of Irish governance to Westminster, saw a parallel move on the part of many Irish landowners, who in the search for a social centre abandoned Dublin for London, with disastrous consequences to their neglected tenants. Having already tackled this theme in her blackly comic debut novel, Castle Rackrent, in 1812 the Anglo-Irish Maria Edgeworth returned to it in her far more serious work, The Absentee. The novel focuses upon Lord Clonbrony, an Irish absentee; his social-climbing wife; and their high-principled young son, Lord Colambre. Though Lord Clonbrony would be happy enough to live upon his estates in Ireland, Lady Clonbrony will have none of it. Determined to win her way into London society, she devotes every waking moment and a great deal of money to her campaign, ignoring slights and mockery for her pushing ways, and winning only contempt for her struggle to suppress her natural accent and deny her roots. Meanwhile, Lord Clonbrony is falling ever-deeper into debt, and the power of the money-lenders. When his parents attempt to address their mutual problems by forcing him into marriage with an heiress, Colambre decides to withdraw from society and travel through Ireland. Not having seen the country of his birth since he was a child, Colambre is able to visit the family estates under an assumed identity---getting to know the tenants, learning of the unchecked power of the agents, and seeing for himself the immense damage done by his father's long absence... With a foot in each camp, it was Maria Edgeworth's great hope to bring about a better understanding between the English and the Irish. She was painfully aware of the extent of anti-Irish prejudice in England, and believed much of it based upon false ideas; but at the same time, she saw where the Irish themselves were at fault. In The Absentee, through Lord and Lady Clonbrony, she shows the worst face of the Irish upper-classes: careless of their responsibilities, taking all from their property and giving nothing in return, and (in the case of her ladyship) deeply ashamed of being Irish. Meanwhile, Colambre's travels bring him into contact with the best of Irish aristocracy, who are intelligent, cultured and responsible; while, at his father's estates, he discovers that, far from the prevailing stereotype of the lazy and stupid Irish peasant, Lord Clonbrony's tenants are honest, hard-working and courageous, wanting only a fair deal in life. Likewise, on that part of the family property that has fallen under the power of a corrupt and avaricious agent, suffering is endemic; while that which is under care of a good and honest agent is thriving---or could. When he learns to his horror that the honest agent, Mr Burke, is about to be dismissed because he will not resort to brutal tactics to wring more money out of the tenantry, Colambre knows he must intervene... The turn of the 19th century saw the rise of the regional novel, and Maria Edgeworth was one of the most important practitioners of Irish-focused fiction. Though unabashedly supporting the Irish cause, Edgeworth's clear-sightedness about the faults on both sides of the Irish-English antagonism, and her stringent criticisms of absentee Irish landlords, rescue The Absentee from outright didacticism. Meanwhile, the political aspects of the novel are leavened and balanced-out by subplots dealing with Colambre's romantic travails: his efforts to avoid being compromised into marriage with the heiress, Miss Broadbent; his near-trapping by a pair of fortune-hunting ladies; and his secret love for his penniless step-cousin, Grace Nugent. The latter may be, finally, the most contentious part of the novel, with Colambre discovering a shameful secret in Grace's family background, and severing himself from her as a consequence. His determination to visit the sins of her mother upon the unerring Grace is unlikely to endear him to modern readers, however much the narrative upholds him.

    "Ireland! of all places," cried Lady Clonbrony. "What upon earth puts it into your head to go to Ireland? You do very well to go out of the way of falling in love ridiculously, since that is the reason of your going; but what put Ireland into your head, child?"
    "I will not presume to ask my mother what put Ireland out of her head," said Lord Colambre, smiling; "but she will recollect that it is my native country."
    "That was your father's fault, not mine," said Lady Clonbrony; "for I wished to have been confined in England; but he would have it to say that his son and heir was born at Clonbrony Castle... But, after all, I don't see that having the misfortune to be born in a country should tie one to it in any sort of way; and I should have hoped your English edication, Colambre, would have given you too liberal ideers for that---so I reely don't see why you should go to Ireland merely because it's your native country."
    "Not merely because it is my native country; but I wish to go thither---I desire to become acquainted with it---because it is the country in which my father's property lies, and from which we draw our subsistence."
    "Subsistence! Lord bless me, what a word! fitter for a pauper than a nobleman---subsistence! Then, if you are going to look after your father's property, I hope you will make the agents do their duty, and send us remittances..."

Feb 4, 9:28pm Top

>71 lyzard: Absolutely outstanding review, Liz.

Feb 4, 9:51pm Top

Robbery At Portage Bend - The small Saskatchewan town of Portage Bend is rocked by a violent bank robbery, which leaves the bank-guard dead---and by the realisation that the victim would only have opened the door to someone he knew well. The expert opening of the safe suggests the involvement of a professional criminal from the city; while a ruse designed to draw the local Mounted Police away from town to a logging encampment indicates local knowledge. A second murder follows: investigating the scene, Corporal Williams discovers evidence implicating the reckless young Roy Bancroft, whose sister, Joan, he is in love with. Learning that Roy has left town on a putative trapping expedition, Williams pursues him into the wilderness---not to arrest him, but to warn him... This 1933 novel by Trygve Lund is technically the fifth book in his series featuring Richard Weston of the RCMP, but Weston - having risen to the rank of Inspector - is sidelined for much of the narrative; though he has an important role to play in the resolution of the plot. Most of the focus is upon the younger men under Weston's command, in particular Corporal Williams, who finds himself caught between love and duty when it seems that Roy Bancroft may be the murderer. As always, Lund's knowledge of the Canadian wilds, and of the functioning of the Mounties (for whom he served after emigrating from Norway), give his novel credibility and, in particular, a genuine sense of place; his love for his twin-themes is evident even when he is describing the most dangerous and physically demanding duties that might fall to a Mountie's lot. Thus, when Williams decides that the best way he can serve Joan Bancroft is by saving her brother from the consequences of his own actions, the narrative diverts from the town of Portage Bend into a well-sustained and suspenseful description of the young Mountie's lonely journey into the depths of the wilderness, undertaken just as winter is coming to the territory. Up-river by canoe, then through the woods on foot, across valleys and peaks, Williams is doggedly pursuing the faint smoke that indicates a cabin with a fireplace when a threatened storm breaks. Severely injured by a falling tree, Williams must make a final, desperate effort to find Bancroft's cabin to have any hope of saving his own life...

    The dark, sombre hills and ridges cast heavy shadows on the calm surface of the water below, giving the lake a bleak, forbidding aspect. Only the centre of the lake was bright, where the sun's rays played on the water and made it sparkle and glitter.
    It was a wild, desolate region, grim and inhospitable. Even the smiling sun failed to soften its austere aspect. There was a brooding hush over the whole scene, which was only broken by the weird, melancholy cry from a loon somewhere out on the lake.
    On the former occasions when the corporal had visited Swan Lake, he had found the wild scenery grand, almost majestic, in spite of its severity; but now the scene spreading before his eyes seemed sinister, malevolent, almost as if it were impregnated with a threat of evil, and he shuddered a little as if with cold as his gaze swept over the country, and a heavy sense of depression stole over him.
    Somewhere up here was Roy Bancroft, and he had to find him, and find him quickly...

Feb 4, 9:55pm Top

>73 lyzard:

And a BIG thank-you to Heather for helping me secure a copy of Robbery At Portage Bend! :)

Feb 4, 9:59pm Top

>72 bohemima:

Thank you very much, Gail!

Feb 6, 5:08am Top

>69 lyzard: A sloth and a pretty please?

>71 lyzard:, >72 bohemima: What Gail said! Coincidentally I just finished my read of The Absentee and I liked it a lot more than Castle Rackrent (I can see the latter is important but I really struggle to enjoy non-contemporary satire). The issue of Grace's parentage in TA was the only bit I was a bit bemused by - I feel like I'm getting the 19th century mixed up but it was something I thought would be less of an issue in 1812 compared to the Victorian period. And why was it ok for her to marry Mr Salisbury? Was it just because Mr S wasn't a lord?

>74 lyzard: You're welcome!

Feb 6, 4:02pm Top

>76 souloftherose:

Well, gosh! - I meant a thumb, but I would much rather have a sloth and a 'pretty please'! :D

And thank you, too. I'm glad you enjoyed The Absentee. I think Colambre's attitude represents the beginning of the "tightening up" of morality, which is certainly something that happened across the 19th century. Edgeworth was a strict moralist herself and therefore would have approved of Colambre's high standards. (And yes, Mr Salisbury's situation would have permitted him to be less "fussy".)

And it isn't a unique case. Consider, for example, the reaction to Lydia's behaviour in Pride And Prejudice: transgression by one family member "tainted" all the others by association. So Grace is "tainted" by her mother's misconduct, even though she herself is immaculate. These things seem (and of course, are) brutally unfair; but they were one of the many tactics used to keep women in line.

Feb 6, 4:07pm Top

>76 souloftherose: Awww, such a cute widdle baby sloth!

Edited: Mar 13, 6:25pm Top

The Loring Mystery - Mr Gillespie, lawyer to Sir Nevil Loring, is visited late one night by the Bow Street Runner, Jasper Shrig, who has grim news. To Gillespie's astonishment, Shrig reveals that he is aware of the secret family history of the Lorings: of the violent, near-deadly quarrel between twin brothers, Humphrey and Nevil; of Humphrey's departure for America; and that Nevil does not, in fact, legally hold the family title and property. Shrig also knows that, with the death of Humphrey, his son, David, is on his way to England to claim his inheritance. He does not mention, however, that his professional instincts have warned him to keep a close eye on Sir Nevil Loring... Shrig tells Mr Gillespie that a mutilated body has been pulled from the Thames, papers found indicating that the dead man was David Loring; and that examination has shown he was strangled. An evident struggle left certain clues behind which Shrig believes confidently will help him identify the murderer... Shrig is still on the waterfront the next morning when he is the target of a murderous assault. He escapes with his life partly because there is a witness, who intervenes: a young man himself badly injured, dirty and dishevelled and, as he confesses to the grateful Shrig, with no memory of who he is or what happened to him... Though The Loring Mystery is the third book in the series of historical romances by Jeffery Farnol featuring Jasper Shrig, it is the first to bring the Bow Street Runner front and centre, as a major character, rather than have him intrude tangentially upon the main narrative. This choice proves something of a mixed blessing, as Shrig's conversation, a twisted mix of professional vernacular, thieves' cant and Cockey, is rendered in dialect and is a sometimes trying read...particularly when David Loring's Virginia accent is added to the blend. However, Shrig is otherwise an engaging character, and a intelligent, dedicated detective---even if there is something a bit cheaty about the instinct which allows him to identify, a priori, someone destined to be (as he puts it himself) a Capital Cove. The Loring Mystery is an odd mix of a novel, blending one of Farnol's typical picaresque romances into a full-blooded murder mystery. After establishing its premise in an opening sequence that---well, we'll be polite and call it an homage to Dicken's Our Mutual Friend---the narrative of The Loring Mystery divides. One-half follows the adventures of young David Loring as he tries, literally and figuratively, to find himself; making friends along the way with a variety of colourful characters, ranging from an imperious but warm-hearted Duchess to a returned convict with a chip on his shoulder, and of course falling in love. The other half stays with Shrig as he investigates the waterfront murder---and as he grows ever-more certain that the wrong man was murdered by mistake... When his memory returns, David confronts his uncle with his true identity, only to be spurned with scorn and threats when he is unable to prove it. David is determined to stay in the neighbourhood of the Sussex property, however, both in hope of finding a way of proving his case, and because - very much against his will - he has fallen in love with Sir Nevil's beautiful but reckless and passionate young ward, Clea---upon whom Sir Nevil has designs of his own, despite the disparity in their ages. When Shrig follows David into Sussex, it is because he fears for the young man's life; but he soon has a different case on his hands when Sir Nevil is murdered, stabbed in the throat with a knife that David, upon discovering the body, recognises as Clea's---and so removes and conceals. However, Sir Nevil was a deeply hated man, and there is no shortage of alternative suspects. As Shrig investigates, the matter takes an even more sinister turn, with various locals insisting that they have seen Sir Nevil's ghost...

    "Vot brought you there last night?"
    "The hope that Ah might be in time to save Sir Nevil's life."
    "So you knowed 'e was in danger, pal---in near and deadly danger, did ye?"
    "Yes, Jasper."
    "Who from?"
    "This Ah cannot tell yuh."
    "Meaning as you know but von't tell?"
    "Pal, you don't 'ave to---I found the party's 'at, or, as you might say, cady---v'ich is an 'at as I think I've seen afore, an 'at belonging to...let's say, a nameless wagrant. Lord love me!" Shrig went on dolefully, "Lord love my eyes and limbs, but life's outrageous 'ard for one o' my perfession. Here's Sir Nevil Loring, Baronet, thanks to the perwerseness o' Fate, been an' got 'isself murdered and give me the slip only just in the werry nick o' time... He ought to ha' died---different, pal! You understand me, I think?"
    David bowed his head.
    "Con-seqvently here's me diddled by Fate most crool---and vith another case on my 'ands, a mystery, pal David, as is like to cost a deal o' time an' trouble."
    "Are clues so scarce, then, Jasper?"
    "Con-trairiwise, pal, they're a-layin' around so thick I'm a-running foul o' them---constant! Possible murderers is a-popping up on every 'and, con-tinual, and motives is everywhere..."

Edited: Feb 6, 5:42pm Top

It must be love:

    "I am so lonely!" Clea sobbed, "So...very lonely and...tired!"
    "Why, so am I, child!" David answered gently. "Very weary and utterly solitary...so pray will you not be my friend, Anticlea, and suffer me to be yours---"
    "And...my hair is...red!" she sobbed.
    "But very long and silky!" he answered.
    "And...red hair is...detestable!"
    "Not...not always!" he answered, "I mean...only sometimes."
    Here she turned her head to glance up at him tearfully over her shoulder:
    "What do you mean?" she enquired, with strange humility.
    "I mean that...some people might think red hair the...the loveliest in the world."
    "What people?"
    "People of...of a matured judgement."

Edited: Feb 6, 5:41pm Top

>78 rosalita:

Fancy seeing you here! :)

Feb 6, 5:47pm Top

>81 lyzard: I can't imagine what drew me to your thread! ;-)

Feb 6, 5:49pm Top

>82 rosalita:

I'd like to say the erudite conversation...but don't worry, I'm not fooling myself to that extent...

Feb 6, 5:55pm Top

>83 lyzard: That's what keeps me here once I arrive, for sure!

Feb 6, 6:04pm Top

Awww... :)

Edited: Feb 6, 6:52pm Top

The Medusa Touch - When obscure novelist John Morlar is savagely beaten to death, his head almost obliterated, the case falls to Inspector Cherry---who is therefore a witness to the impossible when it is discovered that despite appearances, and against all medical knowledge, Morlar is still alive... As Morlar continues to confound the experts by holding on in intensive care, his brain activity contradicting his extreme physical injuries, Cherry continues to pursue what is no longer, technically, a case of murder, but which has captured his imagination. His investigation leads him both into the secret reaches of government, where Morlar was viewed with fear and suspicion for his understanding of a corrupt and dangerous society, and to Morlar's therapist, Dr Zonfeld, who reveals to Cherry what brought Morlar to him: his belief that he had the power to bring about disaster... This 1973 horror novel by Peter Van Greenaway has its points of interest, but ultimately its faults outweigh them. The overriding one is its style: while John Morlar's voice dominates the narrative, which builds in a series of flashbacks to the night of the murderous assault, there is too little distinction made between that voice and those of the supporting characters; so that it can be difficult, at any given moment, to keep track of who is speaking. Since Morlar favours a distinctly grandiloquent style, this lack of individuality becomes rather absurd. The issue is exacerbated when, one by one, the supporting characters begin to agree with Morlar's nihilistic views, too. Peter Van Greenaway evidently believed, in the early 70s, that Britain was going to hell in a hand-basket; the political sections of the novel, which deal with corruption and plots and government conspiracy, become tiresome in their ceaseless drum-banging. On the other hand, the slow unfolding of Morlar's personal narrative remains intriguing---even if it requires (as did many horror and science fiction novels at the time) a straightforward acceptance of paranormal abilities such as psychokinesis. Assuming, at first, that Morlar is a man suffering a profound delusion, Dr Zonfeld is slowly forced to accept that the litany of disaster and death that has marked Morlar's life is no mere coincidence, but his own doing: the result of a terrible power that he has learned to control---and to focus... In 1978, The Medusa Touch was turned into a film which, truthfully, isn't very good either, but improves upon the novel thanks to a remarkable cast and a delightfully unsubtle central performance from Richard Burton; piling disaster upon disaster, it finally crosses the line from horrifying to perversely amusing. However, I should add a caveat: one of the disasters in question has a plane flying into a building. This is graphically rendered in the film, and may be too much for some potential viewers.

    Zonfeld nodded, but cautiously. His every action appeared to stem from a careful consideration of consequences. "He was a dangerous man."
    A bald statement, at odds with the character of the room, with Zonfeld himself.
    "Was dangerous?"
    "The most dangerous man in the world." Mock solemn, serious or derisory? A statement that could mean anything or nothing. Cherry waited, not wanting to spoil the effect Zonfeld insisted on creating.
    "He thought so, anyway."
    The structure collapsed. It meant nothing and Cherry kicked himself for daring to hope. But he sought for and found the one fact worth salvaging.
    "A delusion---that's why he came to you?"
    He caught at the nod but a rising inflection of the light gave a better view of Zonfeld's expression and that was more interesting. A corner of his mouth twitched visibly. How much of a patient's mental deformity transferred itself to the man in charge?

Feb 6, 8:11pm Top

Initials Only - Passing by the Clermont Hotel, the attention of Mr and Mrs Anderson is caught by a tall and striking-looking man---and by his strange behaviour, as he kneels to, it seems, wash his hands in the snow before disappearing into the night... A sudden outcry at the Clermont draws the Andersons back; and when they learn that a young woman is dead, apparently murdered, they feel that they must tell what they know... Now retired, very elderly and unwell, former New York police detective Ebenezer Gryce is still called in occasionally when a particularly baffling murder occurs; though he now leaves all the leg-work to his young protege, Caleb Sweetwater. And the case of Edith Challoner is as baffling as any the detectives have encountered. The cause of death is found to be a narrow, penetrating wound that reached the heart. It is thought at first that Edith was shot, but no bullet is found in the body. She must, therefore, have been stabbed---but no weapon is found at the scene; while Edith died in an open space in a wide room, with several witnesses insisting that no-one came near her before she collapsed... This 1911 novel by Anna Katharine Green, the 12th in her series featuring Ebenezer Gryce and the 6th to feature Caleb Sweetwater, is a fascinating work. This is not to say it is entirely credible: Green rarely was, being given more to melodrama and sensation that to the careful construction of a mystery; but it takes a highly unusual approach for the time of its writing. When Green introduced Caleb Sweetwater in her 1889 mystery, Agatha Webb, she included a detailed psychological portrait of the young man, showing how his need to be a detective stemmed from certain kinks in his make-up (this, a good twenty-five years before Dorothy Sayers was supposed to have pioneered such writing, in the character of Peter Wimsey). Here, she reverses the process and gives us instead an intense and not-unsympathetic portrait of a criminal. The investigation into Edith Challoner's death reveals that she was involved in a secret love-affair with a man who signed his letters with his initials only, "O. B." The final letter, after Edith evidently broke off the connection, is full of violence stemming from deeply wounded pride. The testimony of the Andersons leads the police to Orlando Brotherson, a brilliant engineer-inventor who also, albeit under a false identity, dabbles in social protest and the rights of the working-class. Brotherson coolly admits to writing the threatening letter; he further admits to being in the Clermont at the time of Edith's death; but he denies going anywhere near her, as witnesses can prove. Unable to explain it any other way, an inquest rules Edith's death a suicide - concluding that she stabbed herself, then somehow pulled out and threw away the weapon, which somehow hasn't been found. Certain that his daughter would never have killed herself, and deeply suspicious of the arrogant Brotherson, whose attitude is one of defiance rather than innocence, the grieving Mr Challoner hires Sweetwater to prove that it was murder. When he learns that a second woman, a poor washerwoman living in rooms near to Brotherson's, died under the same circumstances as Edith, Sweetwater agrees, undertaking a dangerous undercover mission in order to get close to Brotherson. To his own surprise, Sweetwater soon finds himself developing a genuine admiration for the undoubted brilliance and intelligence of the man. At the same time, he grows more and more certain of Brotherson's guilt---even as he begins to fear that he will never be able to prove it...

     Had the sleeper under the influence of a strain of music indissolubly associated with the death of Miss Challoner, been so completely forced back into the circumstances and environment of that moment that his mind had taken up and his lips repeated the thoughts with which that moment of horror was charged? Sweetwater imagined the scene---saw the figure of Brotherson hesitating at the top of the stairs---saw hers advancing from the writing-room, with startled and uplifted hand---heard the music---the crash of that great finale---and decided, without hesitation, that the words he had just heard were indeed the thoughts of that moment. “Edith, you know I promised you---” What had he promised? What she received was death! Had this been in his mind? Would this have been the termination of the sentence had he wakened less soon to consciousness and caution?
    Sweetwater dared to believe it. He was no nearer comprehending the mystery it involved than he had been before, but he felt sure that he had been given one true and positive glimpse into this harassed soul which showed its deeply hidden secret to be both deadly and fearsome; and happy to have won his way so far into the mystic labyrinth he had sworn to pierce, he rested in happy unconsciousness till morning when---
    Could it be? Was it he who was dreaming now, or was the event of the night a mere farce of his own imagining? Mr Brotherson was whistling in his room, gaily and with ever increasing verve, and the tune which filled the whole floor with music was the same grand finale from William Tell which had seemed to work such magic in the night. As Sweetwater caught the mellow but indifferent notes sounding from those lips of brass, he dragged forth the music-box he held hidden in his coat pocket, and flinging it on the floor stamped upon it.
    “The man is too strong for me,” he cried. “His heart is granite; he meets my every move. What am I to do now?”

Feb 6, 8:17pm Top

>79 lyzard: The dialects are indeed a bit much. But I find "Con-seqvently here's me diddled by Fate most crool ..." an excellent comic line. I enjoyed The Broad Highway, and would read some more Jeffery Farnol ... sometime ...

>86 lyzard: Whatever the qualities of the text, that cover is ... well, what a palette. Turns out my library has the film! I'll have to look into it.

Feb 6, 9:35pm Top

>88 swynn:

And I thought this was an excellent summation of the British Golden Age mystery:

"Possible murderers is a-popping up on every 'and, con-tinual, and motives is everywhere..."

A lot what Shrig says is clever and funny, but the need to decipher everything does kind of get in the way of it.

That's not my own cover of The Medusa Touch, which was a lot more boring:

I've got what I'm pretty sure is an unjustified soft spot for the film; I'd like to hear an unbiased opinion.

Edited: Feb 8, 4:55pm Top

Yesterday was another 'running between libraries' day. I went into my academic library, to make a start on Marjorie Bowen's The Shadow On Mockways---which also means that I am finally making a start on my general reading TBR, as I promised myself.

The Rare Book copy still had its dust jacket (Victorian Railways Bookstalls edition!):

...which was nice, though I was rather dismayed to discover that not only was the back of the jacket taken up with a tacky ad, but that the ad was embossed on the back of the book! -


I then came back via my local library to pick up two ILLs, Mr Fortune Speaking by H. C. Bailey and After Rain by Netta Muskett.

I got a plain cover for the latter. I was kind of hoping for this one; you all know how much I enjoy stories about red-haired waifs! -

(I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the answer to that question is 'yes'...)

Feb 8, 5:14pm Top

>90 lyzard: Wow, I have never seen an ad that was actually embossed into the hardcover like that! And such a weird thing to advertise in a book, unless the plot of The Shadow on the Mockways turns on the suspect's suspiciously white teeth.

Feb 8, 5:23pm Top

>91 rosalita:


I've seen books from that time that used their end-papers to carry ads, but I haven't seen this before. It's a Depression-era edition, though, so I imagine that it was a way of subsidising publication.

Feb 8, 5:39pm Top

>92 lyzard: That makes sense and if it helped publishers stay afloat during the Depression who am I to argue?

Feb 8, 6:13pm Top

>90 lyzard: Oooh, Kolynos! For a time, Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was sponsored by "the makers of Anacin and Kolynos."

Feb 8, 6:49pm Top

Between the two, it gives an interesting picture of the customers the company were targeting. (People of intelligence and taste, obviously!)

Feb 8, 6:55pm Top

Well, I like it. :-)

It's not actually very good, but it is pretty consistently enjoyable. I have no problem understanding how it stayed on the air for 18 years. I just wish there were more surviving episodes available.

I have yet to read the source novel, Robert W. Chambers' The Tracer of Lost Persons, though I have it around the house somewhere.

Feb 8, 7:17pm Top

That's on The List, but hasn't bobbed to the surface yet.

Feb 8, 7:18pm Top

Finished Derelicts for TIOLI #8.

Now reading After Rain by Netta Muskett; still reading The Shadow On Mockways by Marjorie Bowen.

Feb 8, 11:14pm Top

Heya Liz - long time no thread visit! I'm back LTing again and have been trying to slowly catch up on things, lurking about threads with my detestable red hair :P

Feb 8, 11:43pm Top

Megan! How lovely to have you here again: on LT and on this thread. :)

Personally I love red hair; the more red-haired visitors, the better!

Feb 8, 11:51pm Top

>100 lyzard: Hehe, it's a fantastic quote :)

Feb 9, 12:08am Top

It must be me: I'm currently in the middle of yet another hero changing his mind about the heroine's hair! (She's the "red haired waif" in >90 lyzard: :) )

Feb 9, 4:44pm Top

Finished After Rain for TIOLI #15.

Observation: that woman had issues.

Now reading Mr Fortune Speaking by H. C. Bailey.

Feb 10, 8:13pm Top

>90 lyzard: how incredible that they used to do that! Place ads on the backs of books, that is. I find it surprising, but I guess things moved a lot more slowly back in the those days :)

Edited: Feb 11, 4:24pm Top

Another Megan visiting! How lovely. :)

If you think about it, it's a fairly clever way of having a long-term ad for one payment: here we are looking at it 85 years later!

Edited: Mar 13, 6:31pm Top

Crooked House - Charles Hayward's post-war reunion with Sophia Leonides, the woman he hopes to marry, is disrupted by the death of her grandfather; worse is to come, as Sophia tells Charles that Aristide Leonides was murdered---his eye-drops having been substituted for the insulin of which he took regular injections. Sophia uses an expression that Charles does not understand - "If the right person did it" - but when, at the behest of his father, who is Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, Charles uses his connection with Sophia to play "inside man", he realises what she meant. Aristide's two grown sons, Roger and Philip; their wives, scientist Clemency and actress Magda; Magda and Philip's three children, Sophia, teenage Eustace and twelve-year-old Josephine; and Aristide's sister-in-law from his first marriage, Edith de Haviland, all lived with the old man. So too did his much-younger second wife, Brenda, and the children's tutor, Laurence Brown. Charles soon grasps the situation: the family wants the murderer to be Brenda, or Laurence, or both of them; but they don't really believe that it is... This 1949 mystery by Agatha Christie is an unusual work for its time, for a number of reasons---some of which we can safely discuss, and others which musn't be touched upon. Ultimately, Crooked House is as much a psychological thriller as it is a conventional mystery, with the solution to the puzzle to be found in the personalities and temperaments of those who reside in what Charles Hayward comes to think of (for more reasons than one) as "the crooked house". Since everyone in the household knew (thanks to an open conversation between Aristide and his younger granddaughter) how dangerous the eye-drops were, and since everyone likewise had access to both the drops and the old man's insulin, the question is not one of opportunity, but motive---and psychology. The other unusual aspect of this novel is the "split-vision" way in which the narrative is presented. The story is presented from the perspective of Charles Hayward who, like so many before him, reacts to coming into contact with murder by turning amateur detective; but the fact is that - unlike so many before him - he's not very good at it. (In the words of a much more talented detective---Charles sees, but he does not observe.) The reader, while seeing events through Charles's eyes, must work around his misapprehensions. As the investigation proceeds, possible motives for the crime begin to emerge: Roger's business failure and consequent embezzlement; Philip's pathological jealousy; Clemency's passionate desire to sever the bond between her husband and his father. However, when letters written between Brenda and Laurence come to light, which suggest a love affair and seem to hint at murder, suspicion swings back to its starting-point---until it is learned that Aristide Leonides has willed his entire fortune to Sophia, and that she knew he had done so... Meanwhile, Charles is growing increasingly worried about young Josephine, who is not only "playing detective" herself, but has taken to boasting loudly about her discoveries---insisting that she knows who the murderer is, and will soon be able to prove it. Of course, this might all just be a silly game; but on the other hand, Charles knows that with her spying and eavesdropping, Josephine may really have discovered something---and when there is an attempt on the child's life, he knows that someone else believes that she has...

    "I won't tell the police anything. They're stupid. They thought Brenda had done it---or Laurence. I wasn't stupid like that. I knew jolly well they hadn't done it. I've had an idea who it was all along, and then I made a kind of test---and now I know I'm right."
    She finished on a triumphant note. I prayed to Heaven for patience and started again.
    "Listen, Josephine. I dare say you're extremely clever---" Josephine looked gratified. "But it won't be much good to you to be clever if you're not alive to enjoy the fact. Don't you see, you little fool, that as long as you keep your secrets in this silly way you're in imminent danger?"
    Josephine nodded approvingly. "Of course I am."
    "Already you've had two very narrow escapes. One attempt nearly did for you. The other has cost somebody else their life. Don't you see if you go on strutting about the house and proclaiming at the top of your voice that you know who the killer is, there will be more attempts made---and that either you'll die or somebody else will?"
    "In some books person after person is killed," Josephine informed me with gusto. "You end by spotting the murderer because he or she is practically the only person left."
    "This isn't a detective story. This is Three Gables, Swinly Dean, and you're a silly little girl who has read more than is good for her!"

Feb 11, 5:33pm Top

Was Agatha having a go here at S. S. Van Dine, I wonder?---

"In some books person after person is killed," Josephine informed me with gusto. "You end by spotting the murderer because he or she is practically the only person left."

That's certainly how Philo Vance solves most of his cases... :D

Edited: Mar 13, 6:33pm Top

Ruth Fielding Down East; or, The Hermit Of Beach Plum Point - While recovering at home from her physical and mental war-time trauma, Ruth Fielding returns to her profession of writing scenarios for the movies, which she undertakes in the summer-house in the grounds of the Red Mill. She has just completed what she considers her best work when a violent storm breaks, and she must take shelter in the house. Afterwards, she discovers that her scenario and her notebooks - even her special gold pen - have disappeared. With not a single page to be found, Ruth is unable to believe that her work simply blew away. She is sure that it was stolen---and when she hears that an itinerant actor has been begging his way around the neighbourhood, she has a suspicion of who did it... Before Tom Cameron must return to France, he and his sister Helen, their friend Jennie Stone and her fiancé, Colonel Marchand, along with Ruth, set out for a holiday on the Maine coast, where another of Ruth's scenarios is being filmed by the company headed by her friend and employer, Mr Hammond. However, Ruth remains in low spirits, unable to shake off the blow of her stolen work; until her friends begin to worry about her state of mind... Though, with Ruth's return from France, Ruth Fielding Down East likewise returns to the usual story set-up of holiday good times - "down east" being, to these Upper New York State-ers, Maine - this entry has dark undertones not generally found in this cheerful young adult series, in which the preceding war-stories were a necessary anomaly. Having bravely held it all together during her war-service, we see the lingering effects of Ruth's time in France all through this short novel. Usually a model of level-headedness and even temperament, the loss of the work into which she put so much time and effort - and from which she was anticipating a significant financial return - is more than Ruth can deal with. Though she joins her friends on their travels, she is unable to shake off her depression, even though she knows she is spoiling things for the others. Worse is to follow: not only must she confess her loss to Mr Hammond but, when reading through a pile of other scenarios submitted to him, when she comes across what she believes to be a rewritten version of her own story, she is unable immediately to prove it; her determination to do so becoming an obsession... While this grim plot-line runs throughout the narrative, Ruth Fielding Down East does contain the usual fun and adventures, and also finds Ruth shaking off her funk long enough to come to the rescue of a girl being brutally mistreated by her employer: finding her an alternative place to live and work while she waits for word of her long-absent actor-father. Meanwhile, Ruth and Tom investigate the minor mystery of the "hermit of Beach Plum Point", who lives in an isolated shack near the site of the movie production, and who has been given "character" work by Mr Hammond. When Ruth discovers that this so-called "hermit" rented the shack just before the movie people arrived, she is sure he is a fraud; and when she learns that he is the author of the pirated scenario, she becomes certain that he is something much worse...

    Ruth did not add anything to this discussion. What she had discovered regarding the hermit’s scenario was of too serious a nature to be publicly discussed.
    Her interview the evening before with Mr Hammond regarding the matter had left Ruth in a most uncertain frame of mind. She did not know what to do about the stolen scenario. She shrank from telling even Helen or Tom of her discovery.
    To tell the truth, Mr Hammond’s seeming doubt---not of her truthfulness but of her wisdom---had shaken the girl’s belief in herself. It was a strange situation, indeed. She thought of the woman she had found wandering about the mountain in the storm who had lost control of both her nerves and her mind, and Ruth wondered if it could be possible that she, too, was on the verge of becoming a nervous wreck. Had she deceived herself about this hermit’s story? Had she allowed her mind to dwell on her loss until she was quite unaccountable for her mental decisions?...
    Practical as Ruth Fielding ordinarily was, she must confess that the shock she had received when the hospital in France was partly wrecked...had shaken the very foundations of her being. She shuddered even now when she thought of what she had been through in France and on the voyage coming back to America.
    She realised that even Tom and Helen looked at her sometimes when she spoke of her lost scenario in a most peculiar way...

Feb 12, 3:55am Top

Finished The Shadow On Mockways for TIOLI #18.

Still reading Mr Fortune Speaking by H. C. Bailey.

Feb 12, 4:30pm Top

Finished Mr Fortune Speaking for TIOLI #14.

Now reading Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry-Tree by Ernest Bramah.

Feb 12, 5:48pm Top

The Exploits Of Elaine - In one of the earliest examples of the 'novelisation', in 1915 Arthur B. Reeve turned his screenplay for the previous year's serial, The Exploits Of Elaine, into a book in his series featuring the scientific detective, Craig Kennedy. The transition was not a smooth one. As its title indicates (and as its casting of Pearl White in the role underscores), in the serial the focus was upon Elaine who, after her father is murdered, hires Craig Kennedy to help her unmask the mysterious criminal known as "The Clutching Hand", and plays an active role in the investigation. In his novelisation, however, Reeve twists the story so that it is presented from the perspective of Kennedy and his reporter-sidekick, Walter Jameson: it is Kennedy who takes the lead in the hunt for The Clutching Hand, with Elaine reduced to a mere damsel-in-distress, her "exploits" consisting of her walking into obvious traps over and over, and needing to be rescued. The narrative itself is entertaining enough, if not for a moment credible, with Kennedy pitting his various scientific inventions against The Clutching Hand's elaborate criminal ventures and his spectacular range of death-traps. However, the literally episodic nature of the serial just doesn't work on the page: though presented, for the most part, as a first-person narrative, Reeve is forced to include various third-person cutaways to let the reader know what the criminals are up to, and this jerky back-and-forth makes it hard for the reader to stay engaged. Furthermore, though this may not have been so evident as a one-chapter-a-week serial, on the printed page it is only too obvious that (i) it is physically impossible for the person eventually unmasked to be The Clutching Hand, and (ii) that after the compromising papers held by her father are found and destroyed, there is no reason for The Clutching Hand to go on targeting Elaine, let alone make that (or so it seems) his entire focus. (But then, he obviously has way too much time on his hands: at one point he forges Kennedy's fingerprints, apparently just as a way of thumbing his nose.) And as part of the Craig Kennedy series, The Exploits Of Elaine violates canon by having Kennedy fall in love with Elaine. Though not one of his era's traditional "woman-haters", the intellectual Kennedy has always been depicted as impervious to female charms (even though every other woman he meets is "one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen", according to Walter Jameson); but he falls for Elaine like a ton of bricks---resulting in the wholly unedifying spectacle of The Great Detective mooning through the narrative like a lovesick puppy, and neglecting his work in favour of hours of gazing soulfully at Elaine's framed photograph. Ugh.

    Without another word Kennedy passed into the drawing room and took his hat and coat. Both Elaine and Bennett followed.
    "I'm afraid I must ask you to excuse me---for the present," Craig apologised.
    Elaine looked at him anxiously. "You---you will not let that letter intimidate you?" she pleaded, laying her soft white hand on his arm. "Oh, Mr Kennedy," she added, bravely keeping back the tears, "avenge him! All the money in the world would be too little to pay---if only---"
    At the mere mention of money Kennedy's face seemed to cloud, but only for a moment. He must have felt the confiding pressure of her hand, for as she paused, appealingly, he took her hand in his, bowing slightly over it to look closer into her upturned face.
    "I'll try," he said simply.
    Elaine did not withdraw her hand as she continued to look up at him. Craig looked at her, as I had never seen him look at a woman before in all our long acquaintance.
    "Miss Dodge," he went on, his voice steady as though he were repressing something, "I will never take another case until the 'Clutching Hand' is captured."

Feb 12, 5:53pm Top

BTW, if you are at all interested in The Exploits Of Elaine - in either form - stay away from the serial's IMDb page: it tells you who The Clutching Hand is!

Edited: Feb 12, 7:10pm Top

{NB: Spoilers for The Trail Of Fear}

The Secret Trail - The Jimmie Rezaire series of Anthony Armstrong is surely one of the strangest of Britain's Golden Age. Jimmie is a professional criminal---and not the gentlemanly, Raffles sort: when we first meet him in The Trail Of Fear, he is part of a drug-trafficking ring; we learn later that he has been involved in a wide range of criminal activities; he hates the police with a passion; and he is (perhaps the biggest no-no in British writing of this era) a complete physical coward who spends much of his time running away and/or quaking with terror. Yet Jimmie does have a code of sorts: he draws the line at violence, selling out his partner, Big Sam, after the latter commits murder (and earning Sam's undying enmity); and at the end of The Trail Of Fear, he sacrifices himself to ensure the safety of his---well, let's be polite and call her his "girlfriend". When The Secret Trail opens, Jimmie has just been released after a two-year stretch in prison. He is on his way to a restaurant in Soho, to meet with one of the higher-ups in a gang involved in what he takes to be art-theft, when a man staggers out of a nearby lane and collapses at his feet, clutching at his ankles. With a couple of others, Jimmie helps move the man from the rain-soaked street to some shelter; it is not until then that he sees the blood---and realises that the second man who emerged from the alley, fussing over his "drunk" friend, was probably not an innocent passer-by... The next day, Jimmie is questioned by a Secret Service man, who explains obliquely that something has fallen into "the wrong hands" and asks urgently about any dying words. Jimmie is unable to help; but later, when he finds that the dying man tucked a scribbled message about "the Murchison sighter" into the cuff of his pants, he recalls a newspaper article about the crash of an R. A. F. plane and stolen apparatus, he puts two and two together. Having carried out a mission for the Secret Service once before, and with Captain Smith mentioning a large reward, he sees an opportunity... Jimmie negotiates his mission with Smith, but this does not stop him making his rescheduled meeting with Mr Neasden, the first being forestalled by the Soho murder. The more Neasden talks, the more Jimmie realises that he does not mean art-theft at all, but espionage; and that he has accidentally stumbled into the gang that is trying to get the experimental bomb-sight out of the country... The Secret Trail is a very effective thriller, with Jimmie Rezaire playing an ever-more dangerous game as a double-agent, using his knowledge culled from the dead man's message to manipulate the Secret Service, and what he learns as a member of the spy-gang to outwit and circumvent their activities. However, it is the tone of this novel which is perhaps its most fascinating aspect. Jimmie becomes more and more determined to prevent the Murchinson sighter from falling into enemy (read: Russian) hands, evening suppressing his most fundamental urge for self-preservation and risking his own life to do so; yet there is not the faintest whiff of patriotism in his actions. He is in for the reward, first and foremost; to prove himself smarter than either the government agents or the spies, secondarily; and lastly, after his cover is blown, to save his own life. This pragmatic self-interest is almost unheard of at the time of writing, when even the worst of criminals would suddenly evince a love of country. The same sort of shrugging realism is to be found in Jimmie's relationship with Vivienne: though the two, partners and lovers in the past, fall properly in love in the course of the story, the thought of marriage never crosses their minds: they simply shack up. But despite his many and blatant failings, Jimmie remains an oddly sympathetic character; and his increasingly dangerous situation makes for a gripping narrative. Jimmie is not in it alone, however: in his "absence", Vivienne went into professional partnership with Harry Hyslop, a young university man with a criminal bent; the two of them, each for their own reasons, join Jimmie in his mission---whereby it turns out that Hyslop has not only a real talent for undercover work, but an extraordinary knack of being in the right place at the right time...

    Captain Smith was silent thinking it over. He was young and beginning to feel impressed by Jimmie's personality. Also there was much truth in his remarks.
    "I'm offering myself as an agent for you with all these assets," resumed Jimmie as he perceived the hesitation. "I start with many advantages. In return, I require any further information and help that you can give."
    "There's a good bit in what you say," admitted Captain Smith at last. "But I haven't authority to---"
    "Well, Captain Smith, speaking as man to man, will you go and obtain it? You'll only lose if I don't take the job on. It's no good appealing to my patriotism and it's no good trying to bluff me. I'm making two square offers," he continued. "First to restore this missing Murchison sighter---"
    "Before it's too late?"
    "As long as it's in England it isn't too late. You must know as well as I do," he added remembering the dead man's notes, "that such a complicated thing can only be understood by experts. And photography is no good in this case. So it'll have to go to their own experts in Russia."
    "That's true."
    "And my second offer is, if possible, to round up the spies concerned. For each item, I expect a financial reward---without strings---payable as usual on results."

Edited: Feb 12, 10:02pm Top

The Crimson Circle - England is in the grip of a criminal organisation called the Crimson Circle: some are forced into service of the organisation through the exploitation of a secret; others are warned to pay up---or else. These are not idle threats: those who defy the Crimson Circle do not live long... When James Stamford Beardmore begins to receive letters demanding money he turns for help, not to Inspector Parr of Scotland Yard, who has official charge of the situation, but to Derrick Yale, a private investigator who - despite the scepticism of the Yard - has the ability to solve cases through psychometry, the touching of objects. Beardmore dismisses his own danger, however, showing greater concern over his son, Jack, who is attracted to Thalia Drummond, secretary to businessman Harvey Froyant, Beardmore's partner and owner of the adjoining estate. Beardmore does not consider Thalia an appropriate match for Jim, and makes his feelings clear. His father's murder drives all other thoughts from Jack's mind. The grieving young man turns to Parr and Yale, who are working together on the case. He is in their company when he spots Thalia coming out of a pawn-broker's; to his horror, Parr refers to her casually as "a thief, and the associate of thieves". It soon transpires that Thalia has indeed robbed her employer: an action she coolly justifies in terms of Froyant's stinginess. She is arrested and charged, though released upon her own recognisance as a first offender. Almost immediately, Thalia is contacted by the mysterious head of the Crimson Circle, who offers to arrange for her a new and advantageous position, as secretary to the banker, Mr Brabazon; in return for which, she will follow any orders received. Thalia accepts... Published in 1922, The Crimson Circle is a fairly typical Edgar Wallace thriller, inasmuch as it concerns an all-seeing, apparently unstoppable criminal organisation, and the secret identity of the individual who is the mastermind behind it. However, this turns out to be one of the stronger examples of this particular kind of novel, thanks to the characterisations at its heart. The novel's paired detectives, Inspector Parr and Mr Derrick Yale, could hardly be more of a contrast: the former a pragmatic, hard-headed individual, with the weight of public expectation upon his shoulders, and threat of a ruined career never far away as he doggedly pursues his quarry; the latter imaginative and idiosyncratic, with the unfair advantage of powers that put him on the track of a number of Crimson Circle operatives; though he never draws any closer to the organisation's mysterious head. However, it is Thalia Drummond who steals the show: cool, intelligent, and thoroughly ambiguous, unrepentant about her criminal activities, she becomes a person of extreme interest to both Parr and Yale---so much so that, after she necessarily leaves her position at Brabazon's Bank, Yale takes her into his own employ; overtly so that he may try to reform her, in reality to allow him to keep a close and worried eye upon her... For a time the battle between the detectives and the Crimson Circle holds steady, with the organisation pursuing its course of theft, money-laundering, extortion and murder, and Parr and Yale exploiting every resource to thwart the gang's activities and to gain a clue to the identity of the man in charge---albeit without success. But then the Crimson Circle changes direction, announcing its intention of pulling off one last, extraordinary coup: to hold the British government to ransom for one million pounds and a free pardon; with a Cabinet Minister per week to be murdered if the price is not met...

    Undoubtedly the Crimson Circle was the sensation of the hour. Some of the evening newspaper placards bore a crimson circle in imitation of the famous insignia of the gang, and wherever men met, there the possibility of the Circle carrying their threat into effect was discussed.
    Thalia Drummond looked up as her employer came in. The evening newspaper was in front of her, and her chin rested on her clasped hands, and she read every line, word by word. Derrick Yale noticed the interest, and observed, too, her momentary confusion as she folded the paper and put it away.
    "Well, Miss Drummond, what do you think of their last exploit?"
    "It is colossal," she said. "In some respects, admirable."
    Yale looked at her gravely.
    "I confess I can see little to admire," he said. "You take rather a queer, twisted view of things."
    "Don't I?" she said coolly. "You must never forget, Mr Yale, that I have a queer, twisted mind."
    He paused at the door of his room and looked back at her, a long, keen scrutiny, which she met without so much as an eyelid quivering...

Feb 13, 1:08am Top

>112 lyzard: how dreadful!
I'm listening to a Brammah at the moment, The tales of max Carrados. It's short stories, so works well in the car with my reduced commuting.

Feb 13, 1:20am Top

>107 lyzard: Could be... It's fun when you actually can catch the references in some of the golden age mysteries to the other authors. I just finished Mystery Mile and there were some overt references to Conan Doyle, and some less obvious references to Christie. It makes me wonder if I've missed others.

Edited: Feb 13, 4:14pm Top

>115 Helenliz:

Hi, Helen!

Apparently the expression 'secret identity' failed to convey the need for secrecy! I've seen a couple of instances of it there---and as a matter of fact, I avoid Common Knowledge here for the same reason: it can be far too spoiler-iffic.

I finished the Max Carrados series a while back; I can imagine those stories working in audio. Who is your narrator?

>116 rretzler:

There are quite a few out there, Robin, once you're tuned into it. Sometimes they're just allusions in passing, but sometimes you get something like The Moon Of Much Gladness (speaking of Ernest Bramah!) which is full of jokey references to the author's contemporary mystery writers.

I saw your comments on Mystery Mile: I know that some people do struggle with the early Campions, for various reasons; it's usually considered that the series 'settles down' around the fourth book, Sweet Danger.

Feb 13, 4:18pm Top

>117 lyzard: Stephen Fry is narrating. They're OK in short doses, but the feel quite repetitive. Not sure I'd want to read them in quick succession. But I understand that they were originally serialised, so maybe they were never intended to be read back to back.

Edited: Feb 13, 4:30pm Top

Oh, fabulous!

Yes, they were originally all published separately, in the magazines of the time, and collected into volumes afterwards. Using them as audio for your commute sounds like a good way of pacing them out. :)

Feb 13, 5:52pm Top

Anything But The Truth - The proposed engagement of Grant Maxwell and Lorraine Eldridge brings to light the fact that Lorraine is adopted. Grant's snobbish, social-climbing mother uses this as a reason to reject the engagement, and Austin Eldridge also refuses his consent, although without giving a reason. An attempt by Grant and Lorraine to change his mind only creates argument; though after Grant has gone into the house to wash up - and cool down - Eldridge tells Lorraine a secret... When the gong sounds for lunch, the house-party - which includes Eldridge's sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Mersereau, and another young man, Tom Kennedy - begins to gather. Intending to summon her brother and niece from their preferred seats - a large, high-backed chair near the front door of the house, overlooking the small front garden and the road, for Eldridge, a hammock strung beyond and behind the chair for Lorraine - Mrs Mersereau discovers to her horror that Eldridge has been stabbed to death... Published in 1925, Anything But The Truth is technically the 18th entry in Carolyn Wells' Fleming Stone series; but since this is a 319-page book and Stone shows up on pg 296, it seems rather silly to call it so. While it is by no means unusual for Stone to turn up late in these novels, what rescues this one is that instead of twiddling our thumbs while an incompetent policemen and/or a hopeful amateur run around in circles, the narrative introduces a second private investigator, Peter Thorne, who is invited into the case when Lorraine becomes the prime suspect of Detective-Sergeant Stiles---chiefly because it seems impossible for anyone else to have committed the murder without being seen. Though Thorne does not find evidence to clear Lorraine, he does at least succeed in proving that Austin Eldridge was involved in many dubious financial dealings, and built much of his fortune out of ruining others; and that a lot of people would have been glad to see him dead. At the same time, what cannot be found are the papers confirming Lorraine's legal adoption---and perhaps revealing her parentage. In the absence of this proof, Mrs Mersereau becomes her brother's heir; and she joins Mrs Maxwell in turning on Lorraine. When a second murder is committed, apparently because someone was caught Eldridge's papers, Lorraine's situation becomes even more desperate... Anything But The Truth is an exasperating book. It is actually one of Carolyn Wells' stronger mysteries from this time, with a plot that holds together far better than many; while Peter Thorne is a pleasingly competent young detective who makes many important discoveries---even if his faith in Lorraine does stem mainly from the fact that he falls in love with her. It also features another of Wells' amusing supporting characters in Mrs Milliken, the sharp-tongued housekeeper who is much smarter than her upper-class employers. And most notably of all, late in the narrative Wells does something extremely interesting, particularly considering the vintage of this novel; but she does it in such a rushed, almost throwaway manner that her clever idea is all but wasted. Overall, however, the most frustrating thing about Anything But The Truth is the way that it keeps---well, not being about what it seems to be about---and not in a good, hiding-the-twist kind of way; more in a "Whuh?" kind of way. Most obviously, the question of Lorraine's parentage looms large through the mystery, only to be revealed, eventually, as having not much to do with anything. That said, the narrative's attitude to adoption is uncomfortable. Mrs Mersereau, of course, has a reason to reject Lorraine; but the swiftness of everyone else to take the view that she was not Eldridge's "real" daughter is disturbing; although it pays off when, as more and more of Eldridge's dark past is revealed, Lorraine is able to reject him as, "Not my real father." Peter Thorne succeeds in solving the second murder, that of Lennox the butler; but when he makes no headway in the Eldridge case, he can only acquiesce when Grant Maxwell, intent upon clearing Lorraine decisively, insists they send for Fleming Stone...

    "I feel, Miss Eldridge, that I have done all I can... To trace that man by that finger print, is police work. They have far more and better facilities for that sort of thing than any detective can command. Therefore I do not feel that I am shirking my duty when I say I pass it over to the police department. If Mr Stone can gather in the man we're after, so much the better. For, I'll say frankly, I doubt if the police can catch him."
    "I doubt it, too. They have not shone in the whole affair. You have done wonders, Mr Thorne, and I shall never forget your kindness and faithfulness."
    "What I have done, Miss Eldridge, has been more in the line of setting wrongs right. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but Austin Eldridge was not a good man. He was not really your father, so I think you need not resent my speech. He wronged many people, many women, and so far as I have been able to make restitution possible, I am glad."
    "I am glad, too, and I do know my adopted father had many faults---but he was invariably kind and gentle with me, and though I'm glad to have the wrongs you speak of righted, I do feel that I must do my best to avenge his murder. I must find out the truth---"
    "Oh, Miss Eldridge," Peter Thorne exclaimed, suddenly. "Anything but the truth!"

Feb 13, 6:21pm Top


Realised this morning that I had an uninvited roommate:

Feb 13, 7:08pm Top

Feb 13, 7:26pm Top

Who Killed Precious? How FBI Special Agents Combine High Technology And Psychology To Identify Violent Criminals - When published in 1991, journalist H. Paul Jeffers' non-fiction work was one of the first to describe the functioning of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit and the process of criminal profiling. Time has since caught up with it in more ways than one: there is not much here that anyone with even a casual interest in the subject wouldn't know (even allowing for silly TV exaggeration); and it takes for granted the guilt of people like Albert DeSalvo and the Central Park Five; but in the end offers an interesting account of the founding and functioning of the unit, and describes its role in a number of high-profile cases---including its much-criticised and much-misunderstood (wilfully misunderstood, in some quarters, it seems) involvement in the USS Iowa gun-turret explosion case of 1989. Others described include 'Son of Sam', the Atlanta child murders, and the (unsuccessful) hunt for the Zodiac; while a number of less high-profile cases are also touched upon. It also places emphasis on the academic achievements and multiple qualifications of thosewgo work within the unit, and their obligations for ongoing training and teaching. As long as it focuses upon its main topics, this is still a worthwhile piece of writing, but it does have its shortcomings. Jeffers' political bias is on clear display throughout; and there are a number of small but irritating errors not caught during editing. (Ronald Reagan played General Custer in Santa Fe Trail, not They Died with Their Boots On!) From a true-crime perspective, perhaps the real value these days of Who Killed Precious? is its account of the long battle for establishment of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) and its Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) computer system, by law officers who had long since recognised the desperate need for a way for law enforcement agencies easily to share information. (At one point we hear how well-known homicide detective, Pierce Brooks, who fought for such systems over decades, once pursued a serial killer by spending all of his spare time at the library, reading crime reports in out-of-state newspapers, in the hope of spotting murders similar to the ones he was investigating.) As a background to this campaign, Jeffers offers a chilling account of the exponential escalation in cases of serial killing, rape and child molestation that took place across America from the post-war era into the 1980s. The numbers quoted here are absolutely terrifying.

    Are Richard Ramirez, Albert DeSalvo, David Berkowitz, and Ted Bundy as much a part of modern American life as Mom, apple pie, baseball, and the flag? Is there something in us as a nation that encourages serial murder? Or is each case unique? Is every mass murderer or serial killer special? Or is he one of a growing fraternity each of whose brothers is predictably the same as the other?
    This book is about a group of men and women who are seeking the answers to those questions and turning their findings to the assistance of law enforcement in identifying and tracking down the mass murderers and serial killers along with the rapists, molesters of children, victimisers of the elderly, arsonists, terrorists, and other violent criminals plaguing America. They are the scientists / Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Sciences Unit within the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), which operates as part of the FBI National Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia.

Feb 13, 7:28pm Top

>122 ffortsa:

They eat things like mosquitoes, so I actually like having them in the house. It's just their habit of being suddenly THERE that's unnerving. :)

Edited: Feb 13, 7:39pm Top

...and while I now have (sigh) three unwritten blog-posts, I am otherwise caught up to the end of January!

January stats:

Works read: 17
TIOLI: 17, in 12 different challenges

Mystery / thriller: 9
Classics: 3
Non-fiction: 2
Contemporary romance: 1
Young adult: 1
Horror: 1

Re-reads: 3
Series works: 9
Blog reads: 1
1932: 0
1931: 1
Virago / Persephone: 2
Potential decommission: 2

Owned: 4
Library: 7
Ebook: 6

Male authors : female authors: 9 (including 1 using a female pseudonym) : 8

Oldest work: The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth (1812)
Newest work: Who Killed Precious? How FBI Special Agents Combine High Technology And Psychology To Identify Violent Criminals by H. Paul Jeffers (1991)

Edited: Feb 13, 7:45pm Top

...and now I think I deserve a sloth.

Aw, heck: we all do!

Feb 14, 1:16am Top

>126 lyzard: is that sloth in a pie dish. I'm not sure that's a good thing...

Nice almost catching up on January and we're only half way through February.

Feb 14, 6:28am Top

>126 lyzard: SLOTH!!!!!

You knew that was coming. :-)

Feb 14, 10:27am Top

Aww. A sloth AND tawny frogmouths? Best thread ever. I do love tawny frogmouths, the HOOOM noise they make is fantastic.

Feb 14, 2:43pm Top

>127 Helenliz:

I'm pretty sure it's a bucket... :)

Since being caught up to the middle of February in the middle of February never seems feasible, I'll take it!

>128 rosalita:

I did. But it's welcome none the less!

>129 evilmoose:

Aww, someone who knows what tawny frogmouths are, best visitor ever! :D

Feb 14, 3:40pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day, Liz.

Feb 15, 12:25pm Top

Thought of you today, I was watching Pointless and the question was "words ending ...oth". Sloth was the first answer and scored 53 (out of 100 people surveyed). So lots of people think of sloths, apparently.

Feb 16, 4:07pm Top

>131 rretzler:

Thank you, Robin! Hope you had a great day. :)

>132 Helenliz:

It wasn't 100 / 100!? What is WRONG with people?? :D

Feb 16, 4:08pm Top

Finished Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry-Tree for TIOLI #9.

Now reading Penelope's Progress by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

Feb 18, 8:35pm Top

A quick drop-by, Liz, to wish you well and goggle at your continual unearthing of books unfamiliar but so interesting to me.

Feb 19, 4:05pm Top

>135 PaulCranswick:


Thanks, Paul!

Feb 19, 4:06pm Top

Finished Penelope's Progress for TIOLI #13.

Now reading Women's Friendship In Literature by Janet M. Todd.

Feb 19, 4:18pm Top

Why is it that a month only two or three days shorter than the rest feels so much shorter??

Having set February aside for catching up challenges, the month has gone a bit skew-whiff, and left me facing some serious reading days if I want to keep on track.

I find preliminary postings a good way of getting focused; although first off I need to deal with a challenge I'm not actually doing this month...

Anything to complicate matters. :D

Edited: Feb 19, 5:00pm Top

Best-selling books in the United States for 1931:

1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
2. Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather
3. A White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich
4. Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum
5. Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
6. The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque
7. The Bridge of Desire by Warwick Deeping
8. Back Street by Fannie Hurst
9. Finch's Fortune by Mazo de la Roche
10. Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy

(Noting that for all my recent reading focus on the early 30s, I've only read three out of this Top Ten.)

No overriding theme emerges in 1931, though we note the absent of 'light' reading. Even the "series" reading - John Galsworthy's Maid in Waiting, part of his 'Forsyte Saga', and Finch's Fortune, the 9th book in Mazo de la Roche's 'Whiteoaks of Jalna' series - are substantial, seriously intended works.

Willa Cather makes her first appearance on the best-seller list with Shadows on the Rock, an historical novel about the French settlement of Quebec.

The dissection of domesticity and conventional marriage, noted in the 1930 list, recurs. Margaret Ayer Barnes' Pulitzer Prize-winning Years of Grace, a holdover from the previous year, falls into this category, as does Warwick Deeping's 'mid-life crisis' novel, The Bridge of Desire. Acting as a rebuttal is Fannie Hurst's Back Street, a gruelling anti-romance about the mistress of a married man.

Bess Streeter Aldrich's A White Bird Flying is a sequel of sorts to her celebrated pioneer novel, A Lantern In Her Hand. It shows the opportunities for women that were opening up in the early decades of the 20th century, but ultimately has its aspiring-author heroine retreat into marriage.

Two seemingly very different views of Germany between the wars are found in Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel and Erich Maria Remarque's The Road Back, although both show the lingering trauma of WWI. Grand Hotel has its characters struggling valiantly, although mostly unavailingly, against the prevailing social conditions; while The Road Back deals with the physical and emotional sufferings of those who survived the war, but find themselves permanently severed from society.

The year's best-selling work was Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, an historical novel set in a poor agrarian society in pre-revolutionary China.

Edited: Feb 20, 5:48pm Top

Best-selling books in the United States for 1932:

1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
2. The Fountain by Charles Langbridge Morgan
3. Sons by Pearl S. Buck
4. Magnolia Street by Louis Golding
5. The Sheltered Life by Ellen Glasgow
6. Old Wine and New by Warwick Deeping
7. Mary's Neck by Booth Tarkington
8. Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas
9. Inheritance by Phyllis Bentley
10. Three Loves by A. J. Cronin

(...and have only read four of these...)

Well. We find one frivolous novel, at least, on the 1932 list: Booth Tarkington's Mary's Neck is one of his humorous novels, about a mid-western family holidaying at a New England seaside resort.

Otherwise, it is grim business as usual. WWI continues to hover: Charles Morgan's The Fountain is about a handful of British naval POWs held in a Dutch castle; although it is about the interactions of its characters rather than the war. Old Wine and New is about returned war-medic, who finds himself lost and unwanted in the world of the 'bright young things'. Louis Golding's Magnolia Street deals with a street in a town in the north of England, populated literally by Jews down one side and gentiles down the other: the state of this microcosmic society is followed through the pre-war to the post-war years.

Phyllis Bentley's Inheritance is also set in the north of England: an historical novel that follows two contrasting Yorkshire families from the early 19th century until contemporary times.

The Sheltered Life, meanwhile, is one of Ellen Glasgow's dissections of the contemporary American South, focusing on a girl whose ignorance of the world around her brings about tragedy.

A. J. Cronin's Three Loves has (for him) a rare female protagonist, in a complex study of a woman whose need for control sabotages the passions of her life.

For the second year in a row, America's best-selling book was Pearl Buck's The Good Earth; it was joined on the best-seller list by the novel's first sequel, Sons, which follows the three male children of Wang Lung as they lead very different lives: one a lazy, selfish landlord, living off his tenants; one an acute and avaricious businessman; and one a warrior, who establishes himself as a war-lord in a remote province.

Edited: Feb 19, 6:15pm Top

Born in West Virginia in 1892, Pearl Sydenstricker was taken to China by her missionary parents when she was only five months old. Raised in a bilingual household, as she grew up Pearl found herself caught between her parents' egalitarian views and the open racism of most of the white settlers in the district. As a young woman, Pearl returned to the US to attend college. At that time she had no thought of becoming a missionary herself, but when alerted to her mother's serious illness, she returned to China and served in that capacity from 1914 to 1932.

In 1917, she married fellow missionary John Lossing Buck. They spent many years in an agricultural district before moving to Nanking, where they taught at the university. In the early 1920s, the Bucks returned to the US, and Pearl earned a Master's degree from Cornell. The couple returned to China only to get get caught up in the revolutionary clash known as the "Nanking Incident"; they were rescued by American gunboats, and evacuated to Shanghai. They subsequently spent a year in Japan.

However, the Bucks' marriage was failing; while their daughter required expensive medical treatment for a serious chronic illness. Furthermore, Pearl was forced to resign after giving a thoroughly negative view of missionary work during a public speech---accusing many missionaries of narrow-mindedness and prejudice, and an inability to see the point of view of their "flock". Struggling under these disparate pressures, Pearl began to write, drawing upon her own experiences and knowledge of China. She won a contract at Doubleday; subsequently beginning a relationship with her editor, John Walsh, who became her second husband after she and John Buck divorced in 1935.

Pearl's first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published in 1930. She then returned to China, and began work on The Good Earth. Set in an agrarian community in the Anhui Province, where she and John Buck had lived for several years, the novel is overtly the story of Wang Lung, a poor farmer who slowly rises to success and wealth. However, it was the character of O-Lan, Wang's stoic, hard-working and long-suffering wife, who captured the imagination of her readers. Though she would write many more novels, including two sequels, Sons and A House Divided, The Good Earth remained Pearl's most successful and celebrated work. It was America's best-selling book for two years running, 1931 and 1932, and the bedrock of her subsequent awarding of the Novel Prize for Literature. She was the first American woman to achieve this landmark.

Feb 19, 4:27pm Top

>138 lyzard: For me, usually February feels much longer than its brevity suggests it should, because often the winter weather is severe, and yet one knows that spring is not far away. But of course that wouldn't apply for folks in the Southern Hemisphere. :-)

Edited: Feb 19, 4:31pm Top

No, but we've been struggling with sticky humidity instead, which makes everything difficult. I suspect your winter weather is rather more conducive to tucking up with a good book*... :)

(*Or even a Mystery League book!)

Feb 19, 5:14pm Top

I'm not sure any weather is conducive to tucking up with a Mystery League book. :-)

Feb 19, 5:26pm Top

>138 lyzard: I am hereby adopting the term "go skew-whiff," Liz!

Feb 19, 6:16pm Top

>144 harrygbutler:

Don't say that! I'm off to Rare Books this week to tackle Jack O' Lantern. :D

>145 rosalita:

It's a perfectly cromulent expression, my dear!

Edited: Feb 20, 5:49pm Top

The C. K. Shorter List of the Best 100 Novels:

Maria Edgeworth's 1812 novel, The Absentee, which I read last month (and reviewed here) was #21 on critic C. K. Shorter's 1898 "Best 100 Novels" list.

Next up is one you may have heard of; I believe I've read it once or twice myself.

#22: Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

I don't think there's much I need say about this one---except to note that in recent years there has been a tendency for critics to rank Austen's more "serious" works, Emma and Mansfield Park, over this perennially popular novel.

Edited: Mar 13, 6:45pm Top

The C. K. Shorter List of the Best 100 Novels:

I am skipping re-reads for this challenge and focusing on plugging some reading gaps. Consequently, the next novel I'll actually be reading (which I have a sneaking suspicion I have read before, but if so my memories are fuzzy enough to warrant a re-read) will be---

#23: Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock (1815)

Though he had ambitions as a poet and a playwright, and published in both these areas, it was finally as a satirist that Thomas Love Peacock finally found his literary voice. He wrote several almost plot-less novels in which, basically, people sit around and talk: via this device, he dissected, criticised and made fun of numerous aspects of Regency society---including other people's writing.

Headlong Hall was Peacock's first novel. Published in 1815*, this comic novel sets the pattern with its non-story of a group of monomaniacal eccentrics (each representing a philosophy or fashion that the author found absurd), who gather at the titular country estate and spend all their time airing their obsessions in lengthy dinner-table conversations.

(*As with a number of novels from this period, including several of Jane Austen's, Headlong Hall was published in December with a copyright date of the following year: it is usually dated as from 1816.)

Feb 19, 7:08pm Top

The Mystery League Inc. Challenge:

#6: Jack O' Lantern by George Goodchild (published 1929 in the UK and 1930 in the US, with a second UK edition in 1936; cover art by Gene Thurston)

Though George Goodchild found his greatest success with his ridiculously long-running series featuring Inspector McLean of Scotland Yard, he wrote standalone thrillers and general fiction as well. This is one of the more readily available Mystery League editions, including with its dust-jacket intact; however, I have not been able to find an image of either British edition.

Edited: Feb 19, 7:19pm Top

Banned in Boston!

#2: Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson (1925)

(For this challenge, we'll discuss why after the event!)

Feb 19, 7:21pm Top

...and I still have to get to this month's Christie, A Murder Is Announced.

So I'd better GO GET READING!! :)

Feb 20, 3:34pm Top

Finished Women's Friendship In Literature for TIOLI #1.

Now reading Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock.

Feb 20, 4:15pm Top

>152 lyzard: Will you even need a second post to add that you've finished reading Headlong Hall, or will you just edit this post? :-) My recollection of Peacock is that those little books just speed right by.

Feb 20, 4:24pm Top

>77 lyzard: A very belated return but I thumbed the reviews of the Emily Eden books.

>80 lyzard: Ha!

>106 lyzard: 'The reader, while seeing events through Charles's eyes, must work around his misapprehensions.'

This reader failed to do that and was totally surprised by the ending.

>121 lyzard: Yowzer!

>151 lyzard: A very rare occasion when I've done the reading and you haven't!

Feb 20, 5:44pm Top

Woman's Fiction: A Guide To Novels By And About Women In America, 1820-70 - Nina Baym's 1978 examination of 19th century American "woman's fiction" focuses about a particular subset of novels which she dubs the "trials and triumphs" genre. While her scope is declaredly somewhat wider, Baym bookends her study with two great American crises: the Panic of 1837 and the Civil War. Linking the recorded upsurge in women's writing in the mid-19th century to the former, Baym argues parallel development within and without fiction: financial necessity drove women to write to earn money, and taught them what they could achieve; they responded by creating a body of fiction which encouraged other women to have faith in their own abilities. The women in question made no bones about writing for money, nor about shaping their fiction to the marketplace; few of them were taken seriously by the critics of the time, and most are now almost forgotten. Nevertheless, Baym argues for a vital relationship between the new crop of female authors that emerged from the 1820s onwards and an ever-increasing audience of female readers, who looked to see their lives reflected in these works as they were not in the "serious" (read: male-authored) novels of the same period. Examining the novels of authors who differed among themselves in terms of their talent, social background, financial situation, education, marital status and religious beliefs - among them, Catharine Sedgwick, Maria Jane McIntosh, E. D. E. N. Southworth, Caroline Lee Hentz, Susan Warner, Ann Stephens, Marion Harland and Augusta Evans: a list which, it must be stressed, includes some of America's best-selling novelists of the 19th century; it is generally conceded that Southworth was *the* best-seller - Baym identifies a dominant plot, albeit one rendered with infinite variations: that of the young woman who is forced, by financial necessity, to fend for herself and in the process discovers her own powers. The heroine may be a sheltered girl, raised to depend upon others and to think only of making a good marriage, or she may be born and raised in poverty; but in either case, after much suffering and struggle, she will succeed in making a place for herself in the world---which may not be as a wife. One striking difference between the fiction of this time in England and America is the latter's cautious view of marriage. Far from taking it for granted, many American novels take the "many a slip" view, with a significant number - far more than were dreamed of across the Atlantic - leaving their heroines single, either from circumstance or choice; the heroine might lose her intended through death, or discover him to be unworthy, or place her responsibilities before her happiness. Where the plot allowed for successful marriage, mutual respect - often with the man learning to appreciate the woman's practical abilities - was shown as the key. Frequently, the competent heroine would be contrasted with one or both contrasting female "types": the helplessly feminine woman who in a crisis would prove not only useless, but a burden; and the coquette, thinking only of flattery and display, and who would likewise fail the tests of life. The underlying message remained constant: a woman should be able to depend upon herself. But while it dominated the middle years of the century, ultimately the "trials and triumphs" genre, rather than dying out, was killed off: Baym notes that, in a seeming contradiction, the Civil War ushered in a new age of conservatism in writing, and a return to novels with retiring, domesticated heroines and a marriage-plot.

    This story exists in two parallel variations. In one, the heroine begins as a poor and friendless child. Most frequently an orphan, she sometimes only thinks herself to be one, or has by necessity been separated from her parents for an indefinite time. In the second, the heroine is a pampered heiress who becomes poor and friendless in midadolescence, through the death or financial failure of her legal protectors. At this point the two plots merge, for both show how the heroine develops the capacity to survive and surmount her troubles. At the end of the novel she is no longer an underdog.
    The purpose of both plots is to deprive the heroine of all external aids and to make her success in life entirely a function of her own efforts and character. The idea that a woman's identity or place in life is a function of her father's or husband's place is firmly rejected, more merely on idealistic but also on realistic grounds. If the orphan's rags-to-riches story caight one aspect of American life and faith, the heiress's riches-to-rags caught another. As some moved up, others fell. When men fell, their dependent women fell with them. Several woman authors began their careers as a direct result of financial catastrophe in their families; as we will see, the panic of 1837 created a large new group of women authors, Their novels showed how women were forced to depend upon themselves. They asserted that women had to be prepared for both economic and emtional self-support, but promised that the sex was equal to the challenge, even that the challenge could become an opportunity...

Edited: Feb 20, 6:04pm Top

>153 harrygbutler:


Taking a reading break to get some reviews done, so a new post will be in order!

I'm not sorry to be faced with a shorter book, though: Dark Laughter is of intimidating length, with time slipping away.

Feb 20, 6:03pm Top

>154 souloftherose:

Thank you!

>80 lyzard: Two books in a row that had a man telling a woman how much he dislikes her hair and then taking it back: silly boys! :)

>106 lyzard: Whereas I have a soft spot for Crooked House because it was one of the few I worked out for myself during my first read of it!

Whether that had anything to do with Josephine and me being about the same age, I wouldn't like to say!

Christie was - the first? close to it if not - to use that particular twist, so it isn't surprising that it catches most people out.

>121 lyzard: It spent some time lurking in the curtains; not sure where it is now...

>151 lyzard: Aw, don't rub it in! :D

Feb 20, 6:04pm Top

>156 lyzard: Seems reasonable! :-)

I've got it ready to go, but it will be a few days before I can add it to the mix, I think.

Feb 20, 6:15pm Top

No hurry; nice to have you along. :)

BTW, are we going ahead with The Traveller Returns / She Came Back next month? I need to place an ILL if so. Julia?

Feb 20, 6:22pm Top

>159 lyzard: Yes, I suppose so, though I'd be willing to wait until April. :-)

Feb 20, 6:35pm Top

>160 harrygbutler:

I'm good either way so we'll leave it up to Julia.

Feb 21, 2:11pm Top

I am also fine either way. It sounds like Harry at least would appreciate pushing it back, so let's do it.

Feb 21, 2:23pm Top

>162 rosalita: Works for me. Thanks, Julia! I'm behind in at least one other shared read, and need to get some other series moving again, so I could use the breathing room.

Feb 21, 2:24pm Top

No worries! Just like Miss Silver herself, we'll make our appearance in her next book fashionably late. :-)

Feb 21, 3:30pm Top

>164 rosalita:


We're on no real schedule here, so if anyone needs (or simply would prefer) to skip a month, it would never be a problem. I'm sure the other two can always find something else to read!

Feb 21, 9:52pm Top

>165 lyzard: My sentiments exactly, Liz. It could easily be me next time asking for a reprieve because I've overextended myself with library books.

Feb 21, 10:00pm Top

I never do anything like that myself, of course, but I can see how you might... :D

Feb 21, 10:00pm Top

Finished Headlong Hall for TIOLI #19.

Now reading Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson.

Edited: Feb 21, 10:04pm Top

>165 lyzard: You mean I didn't have to watch that Old Mother Riley movie as punishment? :-) Which somehow reminds me: what is the next Mystery League book in the queue?

>166 rosalita: >167 lyzard: I can't imagine any of us would do something like that.

>168 lyzard: Whew! I was getting worried, as I hadn't seen word that you'd finished the Peacock.

Edited: Feb 21, 10:18pm Top

>169 harrygbutler:

I don't think that would be a fitting punishment for anything short of murder! :D

(She said, turning her attention back to the, ahem, problematic Dracula's Daughter...)

And that's a cruel, cruel segue! - I believe that The Mystery Of Burnleigh Manor is next up. (Gimme a break, though, I still haven't gotten to Jack O' Lantern!)

Heh! I got interrupted, so The Peacock took a little longer than it should have.

Edited: Feb 21, 10:32pm Top

>170 lyzard: And my DVD set includes 5 more (including Mother Riley Meets the Vampire, which I have seen but blissfully don't recall).

It has been quite some time since I watched Dracula's Daughter, and I haven't exactly been eager to revisit it. Still, it could be worse: it could be Frankenstein's Daughter. :-)

Ah, The Mystery of Burnleigh Manor is another where you'll be on your own; I read it back in 2014. So no need to hurry through Jack O' Lantern on my account. :-D

Edited: Feb 21, 10:46pm Top

{...*stunned silence*...}

Wow, you really are a masochist! - you make me feel much better about my viewing choices. :D

Oh, lord, Frankenstein's Daughter!? - "It must be a girl 'cos it's got lipstick on!" At least Dracula's Daughter has Gloria Holden, even if the rest of the film is a mess.

Ehh, I'm actually trying to hurry Jack O' Lantern on my own account, but I'm finding it easy to keep making excuses: the overriding one being that it's a read-in-the-library book, and the weather is being uncooperative. But I imagine I'll drag myself out eventually...

Feb 21, 11:03pm Top

Glad to be of service! :-)

I might have gotten only Mother Riley Meets the Vampire if it had been available separately, but it was not. I doubt I'll be rushing to view the rest; I've had the set for a few years and have only just now gotten around to watching a second one. Somehow so many other films clamor to be seen, or seen again, first.

Feb 22, 12:20am Top

I hear you!

I've been archiving old tapes lately; it's made for some very odd double-bills. :)

Edited: Feb 22, 8:25am Top

>174 lyzard: I can believe that, especially if they weren't sorted originally. If I did a random draw for a double feature from our movies on hand, there's a good chance the night's show would be rather strange.

We got rid of most of our tapes some time ago but kept back a few. I think it's now about time to jettison them as well, as I just don't see us getting a device to play them. (ETA: And that reminded me to order a copy of The Private Eyes, since that Don Knotts / Tim Conway movie wasn't available on DVD when we were purging tapes.)

Edited: Feb 22, 3:20pm Top

I still have my last VCR, a very gallant Panasonic which has needed one recent repair but on the whole does a remarkably good job. My brother and I also went halves in a last-generation DVD / VCR combo as a back-up, but it isn't nearly as up to the task of playing back old (and I mean old) tapes.

So I'm slowly working through, deciding what I want to copy to disc, and what can be watched and wiped---and checking what's been replaced by a DVD in the interim.

Feb 22, 3:36pm Top

>176 lyzard: Panasonics are (or at least were) excellent machines. Back in 2004 or so I got a Panasonic DVD recorder, and I used that constantly over the next several years (and have boxes and boxes of DVDs to show for it :-) ). It's still around, but I'm not doing any recording (and I'm not sure whether it still could record). It held up quite well for a long time, though. We had a combination machine at one point, but I think it broke down and we opted not to get another.

The disappointing situation with DVDs to me is that the prices dropped steadily for some time for classic and genre movies, but then swung back up and have settled at a higher point than I'd like for sampling, in part I suspect because of the prevalence of streaming services. Partially balancing that is the fact that at least around here they don't hold their value, and practically any used DVD is available for a quite reasonable price.

Feb 22, 3:44pm Top

> 176 we have a VCR that's still in its box, never been used. Probably moved house 3 times. We also have the box of tapes that haven't seen the light of day since at least before we moved into this house. He keeps telling me he'll transfer them, but I suspect that's never ever going to happen...
DVDs have the benefit of being smaller for the same amount of content than the tapes are.

My recording weakness is series of documentaries on BBC4. I have quite a lot of the magic recording box occupied this way. shhhh.

Feb 22, 4:59pm Top

I haven't had a television for years, but by golly I still have a VCR and a box full of old VHS tapes! Most of the tapes are rubbish, just recordings from the TV (I have all 7 games of the 1986 World Series between the Mets and the Red Sox if anyone wants 'em), but there are a couple of VHS tapes that I would like to get copied to DVD at some point, including the one shot by my friend and fellow Springsteen fanatic Clark, documenting our trip from Iowa to New Jersey to catch a week of Bruce shows in 1999.

Feb 22, 8:59pm Top


Feb 23, 3:45pm Top

>177 harrygbutler:

Yeah, the combo was necessity not choice.

As with books, for me it's less the cost of the disc than the cost of the shipping.

>178 Helenliz:

This has been a long-standing job for me too, Helen: basically from when we first got cable movie channels here and I was recording almost everything. I'm feeling very virtuous about actually making some progress. The space issue is a big part of it.

>179 rosalita:

Prior to me tackling my movies, my brother and I spent the summer organising and archiving our mutual collection of old football games---another "forever" job, proving it can be done! :)

I have some documentaries and miniseries (and, it turns out, a fair collection of old Warner Bros. cartoons) but it's mostly just movies...

>180 The_Hibernator:

Hi, Rachel! - thanks for visiting.

Feb 23, 4:20pm Top

Finished Dark Laughter for TIOLI #12.

Now reading The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson.

Feb 23, 4:23pm Top

See...this is what makes my life miserable:

Why not just say 'we do not ship to Australia'? It would have the same result, and be a lot less exasperating.

It looks like I'm going to need some help with this one...

Feb 23, 4:32pm Top

They're in Yaphank! We had a babysitter when I was little who lived in Yaphank. Memories ...

Do you need someone to buy and ship?

Feb 23, 4:42pm Top

>184 rosalita:

I may well do: at the moment I'm still crossing my fingers and hunting around, but it's not looking good...

Feb 23, 4:46pm Top

You know where to find me. :-)

Also, Ye Ole Codgers Book Shoppe is just too too twee.

Feb 23, 4:47pm Top

Aw, thanks! :)

Agreed! - I didn't want to buy from them anyway... {*sniff*}

Feb 23, 4:57pm Top


Edited: Feb 23, 5:55pm Top

>183 lyzard: Ugh. Of course, the shipping cost is not really all their fault; the U.S. Postal Service rates have been ridiculously high since it did away with surface mail. However, they certainly should be blamed for that name!

>184 rosalita: I only know it from Yip Yip Yaphank, the Berlin show that gave the world this wonderful song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71smG5d29to (though this is Berlin singing it in a much later movie, This Is the Army)

>181 lyzard: The cartoons (WB, but also Disney, Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker), and more) and shorts (both silent and sound) and serials we have on DVD make me wish we had a multi-disc player, as then I could contemplate setting up something close to a night or a matinee at the movies.

Feb 24, 4:35pm Top

It broke my heart when surface mail was abolished; that was the end of casual book-buying, and the beginning of agonising over each single purchase (and scrounging favours from friends!).

Ooh, that's a nice ambition... :)

Feb 24, 4:57pm Top

Finished The Amityville Horror for TIOLI #5.

Now reading The Story Of Dr Wassell by James Hilton.

Feb 25, 5:20pm Top

Finished The Story Of Dr Wassell, hopefully for TIOLI #16.

Now reading A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie.

Feb 27, 4:50pm Top

Finally made my way to Rare Books yesterday to take a chunk out of Jack O' Lantern for the Mystery League challenge. The copy held turned out not only to be a Mystery League edition, but in its original dust jacket. (Also in a protective plastic wrapper, which makes the images a bit glare-y.):


And while I wouldn't like to suggest that I'm the only person who's ever read this book - perhaps the previous readers were well-behaved, like me? - I also found within its pages a bookmark from its original release in 1930:


("IT'S TOASTED!" And so are you, if you follow their advice...)

Feb 27, 4:52pm Top

Finished A Murder Is Announced for TIOLI #16.

Now reading The Man With The Dark Beard by Annie Haynes; still reading Jack O' Lantern by George Goodchild.

Edited: Feb 27, 5:53pm Top

>193 lyzard: Nice find. Frankly, I preferred ABC to LSMFT. Luckies, like Starbucks coffee, always tasted burnt.

>194 lyzard: Permit me to shudder at that twosome of reading. :-)

Feb 27, 7:56pm Top

>193 lyzard: That "More books are coming!" blurb on the Mystery League bookmark has the distinct feel of a threat to me! :-)

Feb 27, 8:00pm Top

>195 harrygbutler:, >196 rosalita:

Boy, you two are in an unkind mood! :D

Feb 27, 8:08pm Top

>194 lyzard: That's next up for me in my re-read of Christie's novels in order, but I'm not going to be able to squeeze it in before the end of the month. There just aren't enough days in February!

Feb 27, 8:16pm Top

>197 lyzard: I just calls 'em as I sees 'em!

Feb 27, 10:11pm Top

>197 lyzard: Well, I've read both Jack O' Lantern and The Man with the Dark Beard, so I know whereof I speak. :-)

Feb 28, 1:11am Top

>198 cbl_tn:

Carrie! Thank you so much for stopping by, because among other things you've made me realise I lost your thread somewhere along the way!?

I did see that you'd listed in on the wiki, but oh well, these things happen! :)

>199 rosalita:

You can't say The Merrivale Mystery didn't have an impact! :D

>200 harrygbutler:

Finished the first: it was...interesting...

Edited: Feb 28, 1:13am Top

Ah, yes:

Finished Jack O' Lantern for TIOLI #18.

Still reading The Man With The Dark Beard by Annie Haynes.

Feb 28, 3:14am Top

>193 lyzard: I like to think that all readers are as well behaved, but how nice to find something like that in a book.

Edited: Feb 28, 11:21am Top

>201 lyzard: That's certainly a ... polite ... response to it. :-)

Edited: Feb 28, 4:01pm Top

>203 Helenliz:

I've found some interesting things used as a bookmark over the years, but I believe this is the first actual bookmark! :)

>204 harrygbutler:

On second thoughts, "different" might have been a better description. :D

Feb 28, 4:02pm Top

Finished The Man With The Dark Beard for TIOLI #12, just under the wire for February.

Now reading The Brownstone by Ken Eulo.

Feb 28, 4:03pm Top

You know what I hate?

I hate when characters in a horror story have a cat.

Feb 28, 4:18pm Top

February was an odd reading month for me---mostly because I knuckled down and read all my library books, which gave me a much lower proportion of mysteries and thrillers than usual, and more general and non-fiction.

Numerically it was higher than normal, thanks to a rush of short-ish books towards the end of the month.

March is also shaping up as a bit of an anomaly. It will be shaped by Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen, for the best-seller challenge - my copy is 1100-odd pages of pretty small font - and The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope, for which I intend to access the uncensored first edition in Rare Books, with the aim of seeing what was later cut / bowdlerised.

I suspect that around these two challenges (in both senses of the word), I will be having a higher proportion than usual of mysteries and thrillers. :)

Edited: Mar 13, 6:52pm Top

The Amityville Horror - First published in 1978, this short work by journalist Jay Anson is an account of the one-month occupancy, by George and Kathleen Lutz and their three children, of the riverside house in Amityville, Long Island, in which, a year earlier, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed his parents and four siblings. One of the most famous alleged hauntings in American history, and the basis for both a cottage industry of books, fiction and non-fiction, and an almost absurdly persistent film franchise, the Lutzes' story is now recognisable as being presented with a sort of split-vision that allows the reader to interpret events according to their own mind-set. On one hand, if you are susceptible to this sort of thing (disclaimer: I am), the narrative is certainly creepy enough---particularly, I have always found, those parts of the story dealing with the youngest child and her "invisible friend"---and though most of the bigger "events" just seem silly, the smaller stuff - the sound of a window opening in an empty room, for instance - is often genuinely unnerving. At the same time, behind the account of the escalating manifestations sits a very different and entirely real-world story of people under intolerable financial pressure: a newly blended family, a house they can't afford, a business under investigation by the IRS, two boats they never use but won't give up---who wouldn't want to run away? At this distance, too, the supposed obliviousness of the Lutzes to the media circus that was the trial of Ronald DeFeo, concluded only the month before they bought the house - and during which, of course, he claimed that "voices" had driven him to it - seems particularly disingenuous. Jay Anson's jerky, pseudo-journalistic style, all adjectives and exclamation marks, becomes tiresome; while the narrative's solemn protestations are hard to take in the light of the lawsuits, retractions and in-fighting that followed the book's publication. However, taken simply in its own right, The Amityville Horror remains an effective haunted-house story.

    He stood there, trying to catch his breath, shaking in his pyjamas. The wind was no longer blowing through the house, but he could hear it gusting violently outside. The chill remained. George took one more look around the room before he remembered Kathy. "Honey?" he called out. "You all right?"
    When Kathy followed her husband out into the hallway, she too had seen the open doors, and that Missy's door remained shut. Her heart thumping, Kathy had run to her daughter's room and burst through the doorway. She turned on the light.
    The room was warm, almost hot. The windows were shut and locked, and the little girl was fast asleep in her bed.
    There was something moving in the room. Then she saw it was Missy's chair beside the window, slowly rocking back and forth...

Edited: Mar 13, 6:54pm Top

The Amityville Horror Part II - It begins... If The Amityville Horror itself is hard to swallow these days, this four-years-later sequel presents the reader's powers of disbelief with a series of insuperable obstacles---overarchingly, in that we know that author John G. Jones went on from here to publish a string of overtly fictional 'Amityville' novels; and immediately, in that the opening of this continuation of the supposedly true story of George and Kathleen Lutz contradicts several aspects of its predecessor's closing: the family escapes at night, rather than the morning after a final night of terror; George Lutz go back to rescue Harry the dog, rather than everyone (including Harry) making it out together; their car is "attacked" on the way to Kathy's mother's house, not previously mentioned; and the manifestations which follow them there are more intense and persistent. Jarringly, Jones also changes the names of the children to match their fictionalised ones from the film. Most significant of all, however, is the statement made during the afterword of The Amityville Horror: Why, then, have the Lutzes reported no further trouble after moving to California?---when the entire premise of this book is that the "forces" that tormented the Lutzes inside the Amityville house followed them, not just to Kathy's mother's house, but cross-country to California, and then to England and Europe! Once again, the reader is presented with a kind of split-vision, with an account of the ongoing persecution of the Lutzes interwoven with the story of their encounters with the media, friendly and hostile, after the release of The Amityville Horror, the book, and in the lead-up to that of The Amityville Horror, the movie; and as was the case during The Amityville Horror, the reader is presented with a completely one-sided narrative, such that anyone who expresses scepticism towards the Lutzes is revealed as having some sort of personal axe to grind. Meanwhile, the supernatural attacks tend to beg two questions: (i) why are they bothering?, and (ii) why are they so ineffectual? Perhaps the strangest thing about this pseudo-sequel, however, is that despite the Lutzes' Catholicism being more or less "the point", the conclusion of The Amityville Horror Part II contends that George and Kathy were finally "freed" after undergoing exorcism by an Anglican minister. Hmm...

    A milky white shadow, as insubstantial as mist, was oozing out of the little girl's body. It rose and coagulated above her head as he watched.
    Kathy was behind him. She saw the milky white thing, too, and the moment she called her daughter's name, the spectre clapped out of existence, as if suddenly blocked from view.
    Amy didn't seem to hear them. She simply slipped into her bedroom without a backward glance.
    George stood at the foot of the stairs and gazed at the blank wall. He had tried to ignore the fact for weeks. He had hidden from it, and reasoned it away, and made excuses for as long as he could. But there were no excuses left; there were no places left to hide.
    They hadn't escaped the power from Amityville. They had only run from it.
    And they hadn't run far enough...

Edited: Feb 28, 9:07pm Top

>209 lyzard: I was born on Long Island not far from Amityville and we lived there until 1972, when I was 7, so we moved away before all the shenanigans, and I don't remember the actual news accounts, probably because I was so young and we had moved halfway across the country. But I remember avidly reading the original Amityville Horror book when it came out because it was a place I had been. I remember being suitably creeped out by it (as you say, it's often the little things that are the spookiest) but all I can remember now is an image of houseflies crawling out of a door keyhole. I can't remember if that's the book or the movie, though.

And I had no idea about the second "nonfiction" book, though I knew there had been a whole fictionalized cottage industry that followed the first one. Interesting!

Edited: Mar 3, 10:59pm Top

Oh, wow! Of course reporting of these cases was a lot different then, so there's no reason you would remember at that age. But I have a friend now who lives just over the river in New Jersey, right near the movie house, and he and I have conversations about this quite a lot.

I think the expression "cottage industry" was invented for this story. :)

The copy of The Amityville Horror I just re-read is the one I got for my 14th birthday. It completely freaked me out then, and still has its moments... I'm rather ashamed to confess that this reading prompted me to order a Hans Holzer omnibus: three books for ten bucks, so what the heck??

Feb 28, 9:08pm Top

There should be a term of art for books that regardless of their inherent quality prompt you to read/buy other books. I'm sure the Germans have a word for it, they are genius at that sort of thing.

Feb 28, 9:13pm Top

Ahem. Sounds like a TIOLI challenge to me...

I've seen all the movies; it just suddenly struck me as silly that I hadn't read any of the other books. (And yes, I'm aware that reading the books is even more silly...)

Mar 1, 3:17am Top

>209 lyzard:/>210 lyzard: consider me to have passed on those. I don't enjoy being scared.

Mar 1, 4:32pm Top

And that's just fine, Helen, of course! :)

Edited: Mar 1, 5:42pm Top

There's nothing more dangerous than picking something up just to glance at the introduction...

I have temporarily put aside The Brownstone, and am now reading Ghosts ('Gengangere') by Henrik Ibsen (an impressive 180 turn even by my standards, if I do say so myself!).

Mar 1, 6:41pm Top

Derelicts - This fourth book in William McFee's series featuring the author's alter-ego, Chief Engineer Fred Spenlove, follows the pattern of the earlier works in having as its central plot-thread a long and convoluted story told by ranconteur Spenlove to a sympathetic listener---and by having his story concern a disastrous romantic relationship. I have struggled with this series in the past because of McFee / Spenlove's habit of placing all the blame for relationship failures upon the woman, and for making the man the victim even when he walks away in one piece (McFee's women rarely do). Derelicts, however, is a more equitable work with a slightly different agenda. This time around, Spenlove's audience is the wealthy American, Mrs Colwell. Many years earlier, Mrs Colwell had a friend, Paula Harley, who had become a Countess through a brief, failed marriage to a titled Frenchman, and who had followed up this failed venture by a second, to her friends inexplicable marriage to the captain of an ocean liner. Spenlove in turn, knows and indeed served with the man in question, Cecil Remson; and between the two, he and Mrs Colwell reconstruct a relationship that was, self-evidently, doomed from the outset. So far this is standard McFee stuff---but Derelicts takes an unexpected but welcome turn. Remson has disappeared - socially speaking - leaving behind him an appalling reputation: for dereliction of duty on a liner, causing his dismissal; for deserting his wife; for cowardice in war-time; for "going native". Fighting against Mrs Colwell's scepticism, Spenlove tries to set the record straight, presenting to her a very different man with very different motives... Though Derelicts starts out as a dissection of the mutual delusion behind the marriage of Captain Remson and Countess de Barathy, its main romantic focus is upon the scandalous relationship between Remson and the young wife of an abusive German businessman, their elopement, and their life together, unmarried, in a remote corner of Central America. Even here, despite the deep mutual devotion of Remson and Ottilie, we raise pained eyebrows: not only have the two withdrawn from "the world" as both knew it, but there is a withdrawal beyond this, with their house having literal "women's quarters", and Ottilie living effectively in seclusion. This is, nevertheless, one of the few positively presented romantic relationships in the Spenlove novels so far, and the only one with a happy ending, so we'll take what we can get. And in fact, this relationship is not the main focus of Derelicts, which slowly reveals itself as a character study of a complicated and unhappy man. In his depiction of Cecil Remson, William McFee achieves a quiet triumph. Remson is not at all a likeable man, a class-conscious snob with a chilling manner to his "inferiors" (Spenlove among them); but McFee succeeds in making him interesting and, at last, sympathetic, as the novel traces the misunderstandings, injustices and episodes of cruel timing that have dogged Remson's life, and robbed him of everything that his birth, education and training initially promised. Though published in 1938, Derelicts is, in effect, a "sun sets on the Empire" story, as Remson's most cherished ideals regarding his country, birth, class and military training are progressively stripped away from him and exposed as specious and even farcical.

    "What impressed me, when I discovered Remson, was this very power of detachment, the living as it were almost entirely on his---and her---inner resources. There are plenty of bums on that coast, you know, I had one following me around in Señora Smith's bar, a fellow whose tongue vibrated like a turkey gobbler's. You ought to have heard him on the subject of Remson, who had kicked him out of Chocotan when he appeared and wanted a soft job. Fellow Britishers ought to stand together, didn't I think? Take it from him, that crook Remson was up to no good. Must be thick as thieves with the native politicos, what. Gone native. Got a native wife, they say. Not a ladina, a native I tell you, Zambu woman he picked up in the bush. They say he was a spy for the Germans in the war. Got cashiered from the Royal Navy, by God, sir! I had the story from the second engineer of the Tuxpan, the last time in. And so on.
    "There's your bummer for you. He's on every beach in Central America... No, Remson is not one of those. He's not like Captain Voit either, though commercially their rating is about the same. There is a spiritual necessity inspiring Remson's exile. He is, I think, a happy man in the genuine sense of living as he likes to live. He made a name for himself with the local people. He keeps order in his own bailiwick. And he has the prestige of capturing the Lotharinga."
    Mrs Colwell said: "Did he?"
    "I should say so. It was one of the minor feats of the war. Like most naval victories it was ninety per cent luck and ten per cent pluck. He did it single-handed. He did it by psychology, if you like..."

Mar 2, 3:45pm Top

Finished Ghosts for TIOLI #13.

Still reading The Brownstone by Ken Eulo.

Edited: Mar 2, 7:14pm Top

After Rain - After reading Netta Muskett's disturbing "romance", The Flickering Lamp, in January, I approached this novel from 1931 with caution---and as it turns out, I was right to do so. The first half of After Rain is at least absurd enough to be entertaining: Pygmalion meets The Admirable Crichton meets The Blue Lagoon, as scion of the upper classes, James Fortescue Alleyn, and self-named Cockey waif, Maureen Daphne Delisle, are cast away on a desert island. (No, really.) Supplies mysteriously cached upon the island, along with what they can catch or forage, allow them to survive in relative comfort; so that their mutually dismayed focus turns to being stuck with one another for an indeterminate period---possibly forever. This part of the novel has some genuine humour, and also some welcome class criticism, as the selfish and entitled James allows Maureen to do all the work (she's a servant, after all!), and she - a survivor of a hand-to-mouth existence on the streets of London - sets about demonstrating herself by far the more intelligent, competent and sensible of the two; until a mixture of boredom and shame finally gets James off his lazy backside. Alas, as soon as Maureen begins worrying that she "don't talk proper", all the fun of the book is over. Initially hostility turns to mutual respect and then, of course, to love---and then to excruciating embarrassment eighteen months later when the two are rescued by James's wealthy brother-in-law and his snobbish sister. The latter takes one appalled look at the jungle paradise and sets about destroying the bond between James and Maureen---and this being a "romance" by Netta Muskett, of course she succeeds. James is forced against his will back into the engagement he reluctantly contracted just before the ship disaster, and Maureen is repeatedly humiliated until she also does as Mary wants, and vanishes from James's life. Forced to support herself, Maureen returns to a life of servitude---a hard situation made even more brutally difficult when she realises she's pregnant... While there is some serious and necessary social criticism in After Rain, and while its sexual frankness is admirably mature, it really doesn't feel as if Netta Muskett was writing her story for those purposes. Instead, as in The Flickering Lamp, there is a sense here of cruelty for its own sake---almost to the point of sadism. All possible miseries are dumped upon Maureen as she fights to make a life for herself as an unmarried mother, facing rejection and scorn and literal starvation; while in parallel we find James getting over her and beginning to fall in love with his wife, Barbara. Maureen is a survivor, however, and she survives all this---finally settling into a comfortable if thoroughly compromised life. That in itself might be an acceptable ending, but for some reason I can't fathom, Muskett ends her book by showing us James happy in his marriage. Why on earth did she think we'd care?

    "Matron says you can sit up today, Mrs Allen, and I've brought you some papers to look at now that you can read them in comfort. I thought you would like to see the pictures of the wedding."
    "What wedding, sister?"
    "Why, Mr Alleyn and Miss Miller," came the surprised answer. "You knew Lady Mary's brother was being married, didn't you?"
    Half dazed, Maureen picked up the paper indicated, and there was the sound of many waters in her ears as she looked at the photograph of Barbara, lovely and smiling and happy under her bridal coronet, with her hand tucked within the arm of the man to whom Maureen had believed her married long since. Sister noticed nothing, packed the pillows comfortably behind her patient, and bustled away.
    "So he was free all the time! He could have married me if he wanted to! And he knew! Two days ago he knew! It would not have been too late even then. He might just have come to see me! To talk about it!" she whispered over and over again. It had come like the breath of an icy wind to her heart that he had been free all the time, had known perhaps all the time---and he had never come to her, never sent her a line, never a word of cheer, or hope, or regret...

Mar 2, 7:14pm Top

The Shadow On Mockways - Prompted to ask a reward after stopping the runaway horse of milionaire Jessamy Dobree, Edward Falkland asks only that his friend, artist Henry Beale, might be allowed to paint Dobree's isolated country house, Mockways: a request that is peremptorily refused. When a young woman who witnesses the scene urges Falkland to ask again, and to use the name 'Sarah Lomax', Falkland is annoyed enough to do so---and is startled by the result. Offered a job at a salary cannot refuse, on condition that he depart immediately with Dobree and his secretary, Harvey Manning, by the time he realises he has been all but kidnapped Falkland discovers that a second person is in Dobree's power: a lovely young girl called Isobel Conway, who Dobree claims is mentally unbalanced, but whose state of evident terror suggests more sinister possibilities. Falkland and Isobel are carried to Mockways, a house with a sinister reputation, surrounded by high, unscalable walls... In this novel from 1932, Marjorie Bowen tries to blend the contemporary thriller with the tropes of the Gothic novel, not with particularly happy results. The Gothicky bits are fun for those people who are familiar with the genre - the book even riffs on The Mysteries Of Udolpho, with a wax figure mistaken for a dead body - and there is a startling (and unexpectedly un-debunked) moment when it appears that Mockways really is haunted; but in the end we're left with a story undone by its own underlying realism, with the absurdity of the plot and the exaggeratedly villainous behaviour of Dobree and Manning insufficiently justified by the prosaic background mystery that is eventually revealed. Moreover, Bowen never succeeds in making the reader care what happens to any of the characters, while far too much of the plot is driven by Isobel's stupid behaviour and her inability to help herself---which leaves the overly-chivalrous Falkland and Isobel's nurse-servant, Mamie, trapped too, since they won't escape without her. Within the house, Falkland must hold off the threat posed by Dobree and Manning via his supposed knowledge of Sarah Lomax as he tries to get to the bottom of a series of strange appearances by a mysterious faceless figure that comes and goes without warning or explanation; while on the outside, Henry Beale joins forces with a journalist-turned-ghost-hunter named Compton, who is already investigating Mockways' reputation as a haunted house. Meanwhile, the young woman whose calculated advice was the catalyst for Falkland's terrifying adventure has her own par to play. Between the various investigations, it is determined that Dobree's possession of Mockways and its contents is linked to a darker mystery involving the previous owner of the house, and to the fate of the woman called Sarah Lomax...

    Out of the overwhelming silence of the lonely night rose a sudden wailing cry, suddenly checked.
    "A night bird," remarked Dobree pleasantly. "Quite gruesome, isn't it?"
    Falkland had seen the women's faces, blenched with panic; he felt that his own cheeks were pale, his own blood cold, his own lips stiff---well, he tried to tell himself that it might have been a night bird---though never had he heard one utter such a human note.
    They reached the end of the avenue at last; an open space seemed to be in front of them---as Falkland's eyes became accustomed to the dark he discerned the square blackness of a house ponderous against the paler blackness of the sky; he instinctively recoiled, nearer the women.
    "Where are we?" he asked.
    Dobree replied with the name of the place that Falkland had been twice warned not to enter.
    "This is Mockways..."

Mar 3, 4:32pm Top

Finished The Brownstone for TIOLI #1.

Now reading The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow by Anna Katharine Green.

Edited: Mar 5, 4:28pm Top

Mr Fortune Speaking - This fifth book in H. C. Bailey's series featuring Reginald Fortune, a collection of eight short stories, is a distinctively mixed bag. The problem is not so much the stories themselves, as the way they are presented: Reggie is a post-Peter-Wimsey bundle of verbal affectations, and by this point those affectations were getting out of hand: you could make a drinking game out his cries of "Oh, my aunt!" and "My dear fellow!"...although I don't advise it, unless you're willing to risk alcohol poisoning. This issues extend beyond the dialogue, too, with Reggie reacting to everything either "sadly" or "wearily", and moaning or sighing about something in every other paragraph. The cumulative effect is rather draining. On the other hand, Mr Fortune Speaking does remember, as some of the other collections do not, that Reggie is first and foremost a doctor; and these stories are at their strongest when a medical observation puts him on the track of a mystery. In Zodiacs, an air of corruption and stock manipulation surrounds the death of financier Arthur Bure, and Reggie finds himself in conflict with the doctors who ruled the death a murder. In The Cat's Milk, a colleague calls Reggie into the case of the elderly Mrs Heath, whose few words following a near-fatal fall include "pushed"... In The Pink Macaw, a businessman shoots dead a man who, he claims, attacked him with a knife---then falls ill with a condition that no-one can diagnose... In The Hazel Ice, Reggie's Swiss holiday is interrupted by the death while mountain-climbing of an eminent scientist. The body is found where the one witness indicates it should be---but the cause of death was asphyxiation... In The Painted Pebbles, Reggie finds himself mixed up in a case involving spiritualism and an improbable archaeological discovery... In The Woman In Wood, a striking piece of sculpture provides the clue to two apparently senseless crimes in a peaceful village... In The German Song, Reggie must crack an unusual cipher to solve a complicated case of fraud... In The Lion Fish, two seemingly unrelated but violent deaths put Reggie and the police on the trail of a dangerous gang of drug-smugglers...

    "Lomas!" Sir Henry caught at him. "My dear Lomas---you've known me for many years. You won't allow this, my dear friend."
    "Yes. You would try that," said Reggie.
    "We've had enough, Exon." Lomas frowned. "It's for the Public Prosecutor and a jury now. You'd better not talk any more. Take him away, Bell."
    The old man was led out tottering and whining. Mr Tromp turned from the sight, Mr Tromp made a gesture of despair. "Well, gentlemen, I wasn't feeling tender to him myself. But look at that. It gets you."
    Reggie stood up. His round face was pale and drawn. "Not me. No," he said. "I wasn't thinkin' of him. I'm thinking of Meyer."
    Mr Tromp looked at him with something of awe. "I've got to hand it to you, sir. But you're hard."
    "Oh, no, no," Reggie said. "I'm for the weak. I'm for the man that's wronged. That's all."

Mar 3, 7:10pm Top

Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry-Tree - The final Kai Lung book published in the lifetime of author Ernest Bramah, Kai Lung Beneath The Mulberry-Tree abandons the experimental novel format of its predecessor, The Moon Of Much Gladness, and returns to the standard series format of a collection of short stories, as told by itinerant professional story-teller, Kai Lung. Not everything is the same, however: not only is the underlying joke of the series, Bramah's patented "Chinoiserie" language via which some oddly familiar philosophies and sayings are rendered into their "Chinese" equivalents, beginning to wear thin, but this volume is lacking the lightness of touch that makes the earlier ones so entertaining. In particular, the lengthy three-part story about the well-intentioned Prince Ying seems infected with the pessimism of its war-time publication (this collection first appeared in 1940): Ying's attempt to rule via benevolence and justice, and his habit of forgiving his enemies, leads only to personal disaster. The remaining stories are more typical of the series overall, blending a kind of magic realism involving ghostly ancestors, spirits both evil and well-meaning and sentient animals into its split-vision humour, wherein some very modern phenomena are shown to have arisen first in ancient China. (In addition to historically correct inventions such as chess and gunpowder, the Chinese are demonstrated to be the originators of the wheel, the printing-press, ballooning, advertising and tabloid journalism.) In fact, the strongest stories here are the most typical: The Story Of Ton Hi, Precious Gem And The Inconspicuous Elephant, in which a beautiful and intelligent young woman must rescue her shopkeeper-lover from the consequences of his own scrupulous honesty; The Story Of Sam-Tso, The Family Called Wong And The Willing Buffalo, about a money-lender whose life is changed when he meets a poor farming family that has suffered a great personal loss; and The Story Of The Poet Lao Ping, Chun Shin's Daughter Fa, And The Fighting Crickets, in which the beautiful Fa outwits both her own avaricious father and the elderly magician who desires her via an elaborate scheme involving sports gambling, magic and crickets.

    In the course of his normal occupation Sam-tso was frequently met by a similar demur from one whom he would benefit so that in the process of time he had come to acquire a form of speech by which he could conclusively demonstrate that anyone becoming indebted to him was actually taking advantage of a lack of commercial acumen on his part and really held him at a disadvantage. Carried away by the familiar circumstances of this trend and his own inalienable promptings Sam-tso had arranged his hands in a persuasive display and was on the point of admitting his business incapacity when a slight, yet in the conjunction suggestive, happening recalled him to a sense of his dangerous position.
    Through a crevice in the mud-built wall a wandering beetle had strayed into the room and now, unmarked in the general stress, it was affecting to be busily engaged in collecting chance particles of garbage about the floor. To an ordinary person there was nothing therein to excite remark but Sam-tso had reason to be alert; he continued to watch guardedly with lowered lids and presently he realised that under the cloak of an all-absorbing zeal the beetle was listening intently. But for this lucky chance Sam-tso would inevitably have been committed to an indiscretion.
    "There are, however," he resourcefully pressed on, "a variety of wise apothegms and inspired remarks directly analogous to our case---as, to exemplify, 'In for a brass cash, in for a silver tael'; 'It is obtuse to endanger the raft for the sake of another nail'; 'He who is to be decapitated for a treasonable word may as well throw in an offensive gesture'---and it would be shallow to ignore their teaching."

Mar 3, 7:40pm Top

Hi, Liz. Just stopping by to catch up on your reading.

I believe I read at least the first Amityville book when it first came out, along with a plethora of fiction horror books - I was really into a horror phase in HS, but I don't think I've read any since the very early 80s.

I'm intrigued - what is this Mystery League of which you speak?

Edited: Mar 3, 8:12pm Top

Hi, Robin - thank you! :)

Yes, I was very heavily into horror literature in my teens, too: much of what I'm re-reading now was acquired during that phase.

what is this Mystery League of which you speak?

Nooooo!!!! Don't ask! Run away, run away!! :D

The Mystery League was a short-lived publishing company from the early 30s whose thing was getting books out of those intimidating bookstores and into the drugstores where "normal" people might buy them. (Hence the Lucky Strikes advertising shown in >193 lyzard:.) They then lured in their customers via striking cover-art (as per >149 lyzard:, for instance), which unfortunately was usually concealing second- or third- (or tenth-) rate mysteries and thrillers that the company picked up cheap because all the other publishers had rejected them.

So they might have been the inspiration for the expression, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

I'm currently reading through the Mystery League output (about 30 books in total), accompanied by Harry. Julia was supposed to be joining us, but cowardly sensibly backed out after her first attempt. Mostly it's an exercise in highlighting the covers, but I'm still optimistically hoping to uncover a lost gem or two.

Mar 3, 8:19pm Top

>225 rretzler: >226 lyzard: Liz started her comments on the Mystery League almost exactly as I was planning to do. :-)

I'll chime in to say that, though I'm someone who will happily reread mysteries, I've drawn the line at rereading any of the Mystery League books for our shared read of them all and thus am skipping months when we'd be tackling one of the books that I've already read in the past. However, if you'd like to try some, Robin, I'd be happy to pass along most of those that fall into that category. :-)

Mar 3, 9:20pm Top

I want to come back soon and read all your reviews!! They are so comprehensive...I wish I could somehow asterisk this starred thread:)

Edited: Mar 3, 9:26pm Top

>226 lyzard: I simply choose to not live the life of a potato. I won't apologize for that...

Mar 3, 11:04pm Top

>227 harrygbutler:

You've been warned, Robin!

>228 LovingLit:

Aw, thanks, Megan---I hope you do. :)

>229 rosalita:

Hmmph! I dare not utter my thoughts at present. They are too absurd and incredulous!

Mar 4, 5:27pm Top

>228 LovingLit: You can favourite a message under "more" (next to "reply") and find them back under "more options" at the top of the thread on the left.

Edited: Mar 13, 7:03pm Top

Dark Laughter - This 1925 novel by Sherwood Anderson was the author's only best-seller in his lifetime, an unexpected outcome for a piece of self-consciously experimental writing explicitly influenced by the works of James Joyce; although without Joyce's depth of allusion. Written predominantly in a stream-of-consciousness style, Dark Laughter reflects the experiences of John Stockton who, increasingly unhappy with both his newspaper job and his marriage, walks out upon both without a word. After rambling south via the Ohio River and the Mississippi, and a period of inactivity in New Orleans, Stockton finds himself returning to his childhood home of Old Harbor, Indiana. Though his connection to the town is now negligible, Stockton ensures non-recognition by growing a beard and changing his name to 'Bruce Dudley'. To support himself, and give himself time to consider his next step, Stockton gets a job in a local factory, where in time he becomes an object of interest to the owner's wife... Dark Laughter is in essence a "lost generation" novel, though its setting in the American south and mid-west somewhat disguises the fact. Stockton's abandonment of conventional work and marriage is a reflection not just of post-war malaise, but a wider dissatisfaction with the direction of America in general. Employing the prismatic medium of a stream-of-consciousness narrative, full of temporal shifts and memories, deliberate repetition, fragmentation and circular references, and moving between the thoughts of John Stockton, of Aline Grey, the woman who will become his lover, and of Aline's husband, Fred Grey, Sherwood Anderson expresses not only the confusion and frustrations of modern life, but his own doubts about America's "progress": the country's increasing industrialisation and its consequences; the accompanying destruction and/or abandonment of the land; the measurement of ambition and success in monetary terms; the commodification of everything from sex to art; and the absence of opportunity for "real" work. Where Dark Laughter fails is in its counter-depiction of what is being lost along the way---and who is losing it. The novel has a thoroughly white, middle-class perspective in which the working-classes and black people alike are presented as a mysterious "other", blessed by the retention in their lives some vital aspect of existence with which the over-civilised city-dwellers have lost contact; they have roots while others just drift; they feel and do instead of thinking. (It never seems to occur to Anderson that poor white people, and black people even less, had little choice about how or where to live their lives!) However, only in Stockton's factory-mate, Sponge Martin, does the author make any attempt to express this belief via a character; though in doing so, he is able to offer no better vision of what has been "lost" than repeated allusions to Sponge and his wife getting drunk and having sex on a pile of sawdust. Meanwhile, though often referred to, the novel's black people are not really people at all. They remain instead shadowy figures on the fringes of the narrative, symbols for the basic realities of life whose passing the novel mourns and of the cosmic "dark laughter" which mocks the foolishness of white American ambition. (Questionable enough in itself, the role played by black people in the novel is thoroughly undercut by copious use of racially derogative terms; the novel's sole Jewish character suffers similarly.) Within the broader framework of Dark Laughter, Anderson takes time to express his more focused concern about the position of art within contemporary society, his evident fear that the need to package everything for easy consumption is creating an world in which the superficial talent is privileged. The misuse of language in particular is viewed with deep suspicion. The ability to communicate honestly is another of civilisation's casualties, with the increasing puerility of existence reflected in the abuse of words through facile talk and cynical writing. Stockton himself is a journalist who writes nothing: he phones his stories through to his paper's re-write men, for whom he has nothing but scorn. The same scorn permeates the novel's depiction of professional - commercial - artists, whose shallowness we are to infer from the fact that they talk constantly about their work, about "being artists". This latter group includes Stockton's wife, Bernice, whose moderate success writing for the magazines is directly linked to Stockton's abandonment of her. Stockton himself, meanwhile, who speaks little and rarely puts pen to paper (he writes fragments of poetry, but they lead to nothing), somehow represents the "real" artist: "real" because, unlike the others, he doubts his own ability, hesitates to shape his thoughts into words. While this is strange enough, stranger still is that Sherwood Anderson should have remained oblivious to the overarching irony of embedding these specific criticisms and concerns within 300 pages of writing dominated by passages of stream-of-consciousness and internal monologue. Apparently it's okay to talk too much as long as you don't do it out loud.

    From the throats of the ragged black men as they trotted up and down the landing-stage, strange haunting notes. Words were caught up, tossed about, held in the throat. Word-lovers, sound-lovers---the blacks seemed to hold a tone in some warm place, under their red tongues perhaps. Their thick lips were walls under which the tone hid. Unconscious love of inanimate things lost to the whites---skies, the river, a moving boat---black mysticism---never expressed except in song or in the movement of bodies. The bodies of the black workers belonged to each other as the sky belonged to the river. Far off now, down river, where the sky was splashed with red, it touched the face of the river. The tones from the throats of the black workers touched each other, caressed each other. On the deck of the boat a red-faced man stood swearing as though at the sky and the river.
    The words coming from the throats of the black workers could not be understood by the boy but were strange and lovely. Afterwards when he thought of that moment Bruce always remembered the singing voices of the negro deck-hands as colours. Streaming reds, browns, golden yellows coming out of the black throats. He grew strangely excited inside himself, and his mother, sitting beside him, was also excited. "Ah, my baby! Ah, my baby!" Sounds caught and held in black throats. Notes split into quarter-notes. The word, as meaning, of no importance. Perhaps words were always unimportant...
    Brown bodies trotting, black bodies trotting. The bodies of all the men running up and down the landing-stage were one body. One could not be distinguished from another. They were lost in each other...

Edited: Mar 5, 4:22pm Top

Banned In Boston!

Unlike the previous entry in this challenge, The Wayward Man, which probably upset the censors via one or two specific passages, Dark Laughter is a work which would have offended them in its entirety. Though deeply critical of contemporary America, it is more likely that the novel was banned for its sexual content. It is frank if not explicit throughout, referring frequently to physical relationships. It is also critical of marriage; involves its main characters in an adulterous affair resulting in pregnancy; and includes allusions to homosexuality and even to an ugly post-war sex-party.

(As I've noted with respect to several other works from this era, you get the feeling that the sex had quite as much to do with the book's best-seller status as its literary qualities.)

As an illustration, here is the attempted lesbian seduction:

Mar 5, 3:10pm Top

Hi Liz. In a fit of madness (or unwarranted optimism) I ordered a copy of The MacDermots of Ballycloran (I mean March is 3 whole days longer than February right? So it will be fine....)

>223 lyzard: 'you could make a drinking game out his cries of "Oh, my aunt!" and "Mr dear fellow!"...although I don't advise it, unless you're willing to risk alcohol poisoning.'

*snort* (but that was just tea I was drinking)

>232 lyzard:, >233 lyzard: Erm, thanks for taking another one for the team?

Mar 5, 4:28pm Top

Hi, Heather!

Those three days do make a difference! I'm still settling in my own mind how I'm going to go about doing this---whether in fact I can work it as a thread if I have to do my research in Rare Books. Maybe lots and lots of photographs for reference?? Anyway---delighted to have you along!

Oh, Reggie... {*rolls eyes*}

I can't take credit for that, since Steve is reading along. I'm waiting to see if he got along with it better than I did... :)

Edited: Mar 5, 4:48pm Top

Sooo... No-one found this one at all inspiring, then? Or, I'm guessing, even bothered to open it??


I think I'll stick with this later effort---even if the image does happen to be suffering from plastic-cover-glare:

Mar 5, 4:53pm Top

So, yeah---

Finished The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow, which means that I have also finished not just one, but TWO series! This is the 13th and final work in the series by Anna Katharine Green featuring New York police detective, Ebenezer Gryce, and the 7th and final work in her overlapping series featuring Gryce's young protégé, Caleb Sweetwater.

Now reading The Penrose Mystery by R. Austin Freeman.

Edited: Mar 13, 5:29pm Top

Women's Friendship In Literature - I am an admirer of Janet Todd for her studies on Aphra Behn, which fought to re-establish this pioneering female writer in the timeline of English literature, so I was disappointed to find this 1980 study almost anti-feminist in tone. This may seem unlikely given the book's title, but this turns out to be one of those non-fiction works that spends its first chapter explaining why its title is misleading. In the first place, Todd limits her study to English and French fiction of the 18th century (begging the question of why it wasn't "---In 18th Century Literature": maybe her publishers advised against it?), breaking her self-imposed bounds only to - inevitably? - include Jane Austen; and in the second, this book is all but dedicated to proving that in the literature in question, there is no such thing as "female friendship"!---not, at least, in its simplest interpretation of women providing each another with companionship and support. Todd identifies five varieties of "friendship" between women - sentimental, erotic, manipulative, political and social - and illustrates their manifestation in close studies of various 18th century works: Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (sentimental); John Cleland's Fanny Hill and Denis Diderot's The Nun (erotic); Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Julie and de Sade's Juliette (manipulative); Mary Wollstonecraft's Mary, A Fiction and The Wrongs Of Women, and Madame de Staël's Delphine (political); and Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Emma (social). Another chapter follows, offering brief considerations of these pre-defined forms of friendship in the works of other 18th century authors, including Daniel Defoe, Frances Burney, Henry Fielding and Pierre Marivaux. Familiarity with 18th century literature immediately reveals this as an extremely - in fact, dishonestly - skewed and selective study. Most striking of all, perhaps, is the near absence of epistolary novels: Clarissa alone represents this genre, which was not only one of the dominant forms of novel-writing throughout the 18th century, but one which almost presupposes "women's friendship"---the vast majority of such novels involving the correspondence between either female friends or sisters, and usually dealing with exchanges of confidence, advice and affection. That this female-dominated genre is represented by a single book by a man (that one, granted, an extremely important example) speaks to everything that is wrong with this study. Negative illustrations of "friendship" drawn from books by male authors are allowed to dominate here, while important works by female authors arguing the opposite position - such as Sarah Scott's Millenium Hall, which features an entire community of women working together and supporting each other - are relegated to the "also rans" chapter. Even those works by female authors that are included are seem oddly selected, and oddly handled: for example, Todd focuses on Emma Woodhouse's rejection of Jane Fairfax as a friend in Emma, rather than, say, studying Catherine Morland's move from false friendship with Isabella Thorpe towards real friendship with Eleanor Tilney in Northanger Abbey. Above all, however, Todd provides one of the strangest readings I have ever encountered of Mansfield Park, and one of the nastiest. That said, I couldn't help being amused by the realisation that although Todd was able to maintain a detached attitude while discussing the horrifying sexualised violence of the Marquis de Sade, she was quite incapable of disguising her feelings of hostility towards Fanny Price.

    Feminist literary criticism in English has been predominantly an interdisciplinary affair, often brilliantly mingling sociology, history, literature, and biography. Certainly there is room for this kind of criticism in my topic, using actual female friendship of the eighteenth century and relating the literary presentation to the historical background. I have not intended to write such all-inclusive criticism, however. Instead I have concentrated on the text alone. My subject in the first part of the book is the literary phenomenon of female friendship, its ideology, the conventions that determine it, and the hidden patterns and repetitions that structure it. Yet I have been fascinated by the biographies of the major authors studied, the immediate context of their creations, and, although I have not wanted to emphasise links between life and literature, I have ended this work by speculating on the authors' experiences of female friendship. The speculations are there not as an explanation of the novels but as postlude to them.
    To look at female friendship in novels whose plots are usually the heterosexual romance is abruptly to change a critical focus. It is to concentrate on a relationship and an ideology often opposing the main romantic ones; to follow it is sometimes to discover a different fictional trajectory, embittering the comic end or mitigating the tragic...

Edited: Mar 6, 4:30pm Top

Penelope's Progress: Being Such Extracts From The Commonplace Book Of Penelope Hamilton As Relate To Her Experiences In Scotland - First published in England in 1897 as Penelope's Experiences In Scotland, and now generally known simply as Penelope's Progress, this is the second work in the humorous, semi-autobiographical series by Kate Douglas Wiggins. When her fiancé, William Beresford, is called away to the bedside of his sick mother, Penelope reunites with her friends, Salemina and Francesca, for a holiday in Scotland. The three Americans first visit Edinborough, where they immerse themselves in history and religion, before taking a tiny cottage in the countryside. As with the initial entry, Penelope's English Experiences, this is very much observational humour drawing upon national differences, real and perceived, and the difference in reaction between anglophile Salemina, fiercely patriotic Francesca, and open-minded Penelope to the same events. This entry is lacking the lightness of touch of its predecessor, however: too much of the "humour" is simply dialogue rendered in dialect; while almost the entirety of the Edinborough section deals with the ladies' fascination with the local religious practices. Things improve with the shift to the country, however, where the travellers make both friends and enemies with their idiosyncratic approach to life in a small village. The plot-thread that ties the two sections together is the unlikely romance that develops between Francesca and an intelligent, devout but equally country-loving young minister (who carries the somewhat unfortunate moniker of Ronald Macdonald), and the question of whether proud American Francesca can bear to give up her country for love. The most interesting detail, however, is the scene towards the end which finds the ladies participating in the bonfire lighting held to mark Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

    "I don't wish to interfere with anybody's diagnosis," I interposed at the first possible moment, "but perhaps after you've both finished your psychologic investigation the subject may be allowed to explain herself from the inside, so to speak. I won't deny the spell of Italy, but I think the spell that Scotland casts over one is quite a different thing, more spiritual, more difficult to break. Italy's charm has something physical in it; it is born of blue sky, sunlit waves, soft atmosphere, orange sails and yellow moons, and appeals more to the senses. In Scotland the climate certainly has naught to do with it, but the imagination is somehow made captive... The romance of Scotland has a flavour all its own. I do not quite know the secret of it."
    "It's the kilts and the pipes," said Francesca.
    "No, the history." (This from Salemina.)
    "Or Sir Walter and the literature," suggested Mr Macdonald.
    "Or the songs and ballads," ventured Jean Dalziel.
    "There!" I exclaimed triumphantly, "you see for yourselves you have named avenue after avenue along which one's mind is led in charmed subjection."

Mar 6, 1:03am Top

>236 lyzard: is there something wrong with the perspective in the final cover, or does that parrot look enormous?!

>238 lyzard: that sounds unpleasant.

>237 lyzard: whoop! a double series finish!! hurrah!!! stage direction: general rejoicing

Mar 6, 9:24am Top

>232 lyzard: I also found that the flaws outnumbered the strengths on that one. Now I just need to get around to posting some comments ...

Mar 6, 4:35pm Top

>240 Helenliz:

Hi, Helen!

I think it's meant to be a close-up, but it does look a bit odd. :)

It was certainly disappointing. The analyses were interesting, but when you pick up a book called Women's Friendship In Literature you don't expect to be told There Ain't No Such Thing.

Thank you - I do love that 'strike' function!

>241 swynn:

I'm looking forward to reading them, but of course I understand how writing about Moofs may be more appealing. :D

Mar 7, 4:08pm Top

Finished The Penrose Mystery for TIOLI #11.

Now reading Grandmother Elsie by Martha Finley.

Mar 7, 5:31pm Top

Headlong Hall - A party gathers at Headlong Hall, the country estate of Welsh squire, Harry Headlong, which includes an adherent of each of the major philosophies of the day. The guests of honour are Mr Foster, a perfectabilian; Mr Escot, a deteriorationist; and Mr Jenkinson, a status-quo-ite; as well as the Reverend Doctor Gaster, whose religious convictions get lost in his passion for dining, and Mr Milestone, who is determined to force his theories of the picturesque upon his companions. An already tense situation is exacerbated by the arrival of Mr Gall and Mr Treacle, literary critics who occasionally write very bad poetry, and Mr Nightshade and Mr MacLaurel, poets who occasionally write very bad criticism; not to mention Miss Philomena Poppyseed, "an indefatigable compounder of novels". A great deal of argument ensues---during which, no-one is convinced of anything... A minor poet and a frustrated playwright, in 1815 Thomas Love Peacock turned his hand to fiction and found immediate success in this slight, humorous satire of contemporary thinking. Peacock throws a wide net in Headlong Hall, poking fun in passing at the period's prevailing philosophies and social theories, as well as trends in music, art and literature, and the Romantic movement. A couple of his sketches are identifiable - Mr Escot is generally taken as a portrait of Peacock's good friend, Percy Shelley; while Mr Milestone is landscape designer, Humphry Repton - but most of the characters here are not really "characters" at all, merely types. Essentially plotless, Headlong Hall consists largely of lengthy conversations between the rival thinkers, with individual philosophies taken to their reductio ad absurdum extreme. So dominant is dialogue in Headlong Hall, quite often Peacock doesn't even bother to pretend that it is a conventional novel, but presents the conversations as he might have done in a play, character by character. While some of this novella's specific allusions might escape the modern reader, much of the text is still entirely comprehensible---and very funny, too. Indeed, that so many of Peacock's characters are still recognisable, and so much of his humour still on the mark, might incline the reader to side with Mr Jenkinson, the "status-quo-ite": people really don't change...

MR ESCOT: Unluckily for the rest of your argument, the understanding of literary people is for the most part exalted, as you express it, not so much by the love of truth and virtue, as by arrogance and self-sufficiency; and there is, perhaps, less disinterestedness, less liberality, less general benevolence, and more envy, hatred, and uncharitableness among them, than among any other description of men.

MR GALL: You allude, sir, I presume, to my review.

MR ESCOT: Pardon me, sir. You will be convinced it is impossible I can allude to your review, when I assure you I have never read a single page of it.


MR ESCOT: Never. I look on peridical criticism in general to be a species of shop, where panegyric and defamation are sold, wholesale, retail, and for exportation. I am not inclined to be a purchaser of these commodities, or to encourage a trade which I consider pregnant with mischief.

MR MACLAUREL: I can readily conceive, sir, ye wou'd na wullinly encoorage ony dealer in panegeeric: but, frae the manner on which ye speak o' the first creetics an' scholars o' the age, I shou'd think ye wou'd have a leetle mair predilaction for deefamation.

MR ESCOT: I have no predilection, sir, for defamation. I make a point of speaking the truth on all occasions; and it seldom happens that the truth can be spoken without some stricken deer pronouncing it a libel.

Edited: Mar 13, 7:09pm Top

The Story Of Dr Wassell - Published in 1944, this short work by James Hilton is a true story told in novel form, recounting the efforts of American naval doctor, Corydon Wassell, to evacuate the men under his care from Japanese-occupied Java in 1942. Assigned to a Dutch hospital to care for some forty-odd wounded sailors, in the wake of the fall of Singapore Wassell receives orders to arrange transport for his men to the port of Tjilatjap, so that they can be evacuated. Aware that he is only supposed to be taking "walking cases", Wassell nevertheless takes his entire contingent---only for the nine stretcher-cases to be refused passage. Offered a place on the ship himself, Wassell refuses it, devoting his efforts instead to carrying his most seriously injured patients back to the hospital. They make it, after a nightmare journey---only to learn that the worst has happened, and the Japanese have invaded... Self-evidently written as an "uplifting" war-time narative of heroism and sacrifice, The Story Of Dr Wassell is too simplistic and one-sided a story to be satisfactory now, however it might have been received at the time of its publication. As a true story, the travails of the nine wounded sailors under Wassell's care, who suffer courageously through the threat of bombings and capture, and agonising journeys back and forth as Wassell tries to find for them a way off the island, are both gripping and emotionally draining. The problem here is with Wassell himself. Gradually, the reader gains an image of Wassell as a frustrated man, whose life has been marked by failure and by (not through his own fault) jobs left uncompleted. Against this background, Wassell's efforts on behalf on the injured men seem, progressively, less about them than about himself: about finally achieving a mission, finishing a job; with the men a means to an end. This is not to downplay the real courage of all concerned, but to admit - as James Hilton is loath to do - that the situation and the motives involved were more complicated than at first appears. This aspect of the story seems to creep in against Hilton's intentions, as it were, so that behind the main narrative of endurance and devotion the reader finds hints of a more complex and much darker story that cannot be told, or rather, that conflicts with the author's purpose in writing The Story Of Dr Wassell in the first place.

    There had been second farewells at the hospital, but with a new and wilder note in them---the nurses kissed and embraced the men with a half-preoccupied air, for they were already constrained to think of other things, of what would happen to them and to their friends and families later. The men were derisive in an American way that the Dutch and Javanese could not properly understand---how could anyone joke at such a moment...?
    The nine men from the Marblehead sorted themselves out (under the doctor's supervision) into worse and better cases. The latter rode in a truck, lying down as best they could on the flat boards. The former climbed into the Ford car whose springs and cushions were kinder to their wounds; there were Sun, whose legs were not yet much recovered, and Francini, who had to sit upright. The doctor fixed Sun so that his legs stretched comfortably over the back of the front seat. Wilson, whose wounds enabled him to sit and almost now to stand, took the seat next to the doctor.
    Muller, with the shattered leg, was given a lift in the British captain's car.
    The doctor would not start until the entire company had passed, so that he knew for certain that his men had not been left behind...

Mar 8, 11:18am Top

I just realised Liz, that I think you're the kind of reader that I am cyclist - I'm constantly marvelling at the odd and off-the-beaten-tracks books you read, and the big long slogs of dubious pleasure levels that you manage to get through. I'm as amazed, baffled, and entertained by your reviews as people seem to be by my riding habits!

Mar 8, 6:15pm Top

>226 lyzard: >227 harrygbutler: Strangely, your warnings seem to have intrigued me more...

Mar 10, 4:31pm Top

>246 evilmoose:

I think that's a great analogy, Megan! And, hey! - after a while you get used to people looking at you strange, right?? :)

Thank you!

>247 rretzler:

Eep! Well, okay Robin, but--- All care taken, no responsibility accepted! :D

Mar 10, 4:37pm Top

Finished Grandmother Elsie for TIOLI #18.

Now reading Kai Lung Raises His Voice by Ernest Bramah.

Mar 13, 1:16pm Top

>238 lyzard: Oh, that's very disappointing. I do have Janet Todd's The Secret Life of Aphra Behn on my very long reading list (for whenever I get back to reading more by Behn) but will avoid that one.

>243 lyzard: Grandmother Elsie? I really feel for the extended Elsie family....

>244 lyzard: That sounds like it might be quite difficult to follow unless one was well-versed in all the contemporary philosophies. I have a Penguin edition of Nightmare Abbey and Crotchet Castle waiting to be read which I picked up thinking they were gothic novels. I'm now wondering if I misunderstood....

Edited: Mar 13, 7:10pm Top

>250 souloftherose:

Hi, Heather! I see you beat me to the end of February: I've been fighting a dose of summer flu, dagnabbit! :)

It feels like a book that may have been warped by her publishers. You know---"No-one wants to hear about obscure 18th century novels by obscure 18th century women", even though that would speak to the actual thesis. In any case, a title such as "Forms Of Friendship In 18th Century Literature" would have been a lot more honest.

I gather the Elsie books from this point are more about the younger generations, where there was an explosion in this entry: three marriages producing three-step-children and one baby. But the framework remains the same, sigh...

Headlong Hall isn't too difficult to follow: the optimists, pessimists and all-for-the-best types are still with us - as are writers and literary critics! - the landscaping stuff and the phrenology are more of their time but not difficult with any 19th century awareness. The other Peacock books, from memory (and it's been a long time), use the Gothic novel as the basis for the satire but are pretty much more of the same.

Mar 13, 7:23pm Top

Finished Kai Lung Raises His Voice for TIOLI #9...and, though not straightforwardly (as I will explain when I get around to my review), that means I have FINISHED ANOTHER SERIES!!

Now reading Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen.

(...1100 pages of teeny-weeny font, sigh...)

Mar 13, 7:32pm Top

Group read news:

Next month there will be a group read of Frances Burney's third novel, Camilla. This is picking up a dropped project from a couple of years ago, operated as a tangent to the Virago Chronological Read Project. At that time we read Burney's important first novel, Evelina, in preparation for her actual Virago reissue, Cecilia. Both novels were enjoyed by the participants and at that time we intended also to go on to Burney's remaining too novels; however, circumstances intervened and the subsequent reads did not then happen. I'm very pleased to be picking this project up again! - and, as always, anyone who cares to join in is very welcome.

Meanwhile, this month I will be reading Anthony trollope's first novel, The Macdermots Of Ballycloran, from 1847. The novel was controversial and all subsequent editions were shortened and censored. I will be accessing a copy of the first edition, and then setting up a thread to examine the differences between the first and the later editions. This is not a formal group read, just something I'm doing for my own information (though I hope the thread will be of interest to others); but again, anyone who would like to read along is welcome to do so.

Mar 14, 7:30am Top

>252 lyzard: Well done on knocking off another series, even if it was in a roundabout way. Soon you won't have any more series to read!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA!

Mar 14, 7:50am Top

Sarcasm is unbecoming, missy! :D

Mar 14, 9:26am Top

It's my default mode, I'm afraid. I can't always control it. ;-)

Mar 18, 4:07am Top

>251 lyzard: Sorry to hear about the summer flu :-(

>254 rosalita: :-)

Mar 21, 2:34pm Top

Noticing a decided Liz absence and hoping this doesn't mean you're still fighting the flu. Feel better soon!

Mar 22, 5:07pm Top

Adding my wishes for good health to Heather's. It's not the same around here without you, Liz!

Edited: Mar 23, 5:23pm Top

Thank you for checking in, guys! Yes, unfortunately my flu did come back for a second attack. And the little life remaining in me is being crushed out by Anthony Adverse. :D

Mar 23, 5:23pm Top

>260 lyzard: Hope you're feeling better now, Liz.

I had Anthony Adverse ready to read on my kindle and even that came in three volumes! I read the precis on Wikipedia and that felt like reading a complete novel so I decided that was enough.

Mar 23, 5:27pm Top

I hope you’re starting to feel better, Liz.

Edited: Mar 23, 7:18pm Top

>261 CDVicarage:

Hi, Kerry - thanks! Not 100%, but a bit better.

I think you're very wise! :)

>262 bohemima:

Thank you for visiting, Gail - it's lovely to see you back around the threads! Starting to, yes. :)

Mar 23, 5:35pm Top

...and in fact, I *do* feel better for getting the literary equivalent of the weight of the world off my shoulders. It was miserable here yesterday and I was still feeling blah, so I spent the whole day in bed, bundled up with my cat and FINISHED THE DAMN THING.

So, yeah---

Finished Anthony Adverse for TIOLI #8.

Now reading The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope.

Mar 23, 5:36pm Top

...and I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to be back in the comforting embrace of Trollope's prose...

Mar 23, 7:15pm Top

So---Harry and Julia, if you're listening: are we going ahead with The Traveller Returns next month?

Mar 23, 7:31pm Top

I'm up for it if you both are. Just say the word.

Mar 23, 9:48pm Top

Oh, so glad you're better, Liz! It was WAY too quiet around here...and am looking forward to your take on the Macdermots. I read the "cut" version last September, and have not been able to find the full version, except one that had one extra chapter.

Mar 24, 12:24am Top

I'm glad to see you back posting and that you're on the mend, Liz!

>266 lyzard: >267 rosalita: Sure, that's fine with me.

Mar 24, 3:10am Top

Good to have you back with us Liz and pleased to hear your on the mend.

Mar 24, 3:59am Top

Glad to hear you're feeling better.

Mar 24, 6:03pm Top

Congratulations on finishing Anthony Adverse! Hoping Trollope helps the continued recovery.

Mar 29, 4:39pm Top

Blergh. Relapse.

Mar 29, 4:41pm Top

Thanks, everyone, for your kind if cosmically unavailing wishes! :D

>267 rosalita:, >269 harrygbutler:

I have placed an ILL for The Traveller Returns, so we should be good to go.

Mar 29, 5:37pm Top

Well; that was not fun. However, it seems to be receding (again), so fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I did manage to wrap up---

The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope for TIOLI#8


The Came To Baghdad by Agatha Christie for TIOLI #7.

Now reading In The Teeth Of The Evidence And Other Stories by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Edited: Mar 29, 6:03pm Top

Much as I love my academic library, sometimes I find it deeply puzzling.

I've complained before about my difficulties (now solved) in getting hold of a copy of In The Teeth Of The Evidence. The library in question holds no less than eight copies of it---seven of which are in its Rare Books section and therefore not available for borrowing; the eighth is not in fact the full book, but only the title short story (!), in a simplified learn-to-read version (!!), held by the Conservatorium of Music (!!!).

What's frustrating is that of those seven editions, several of them are (as I have futilely argued from time to time) not rare, merely a bit old: reprints from the 50s through to the 70s. Wouldn't you think they'd make one of them available for, you know, reading?

And I've been having the same problem with Patricia Wentworth's The Traveller Returns: there's a copy of that in Rare Books, too, a paperback reissue from 1974.

Yet even while the library was doggedly denying me access to inexpensive paperback copies of books by popular authors, it was happy to lend me an 1821 first edition of John Galt's The Ayrshire Legatees.

Go figure.

Edited: Mar 29, 5:51pm Top

Here's hoping the blergh stays away this time, Liz!

>276 lyzard: Yet even while the library was doggedly denying its members access to inexpensive paperback copies of books by popular authors, it was happy to lend me an 1821 first edition of John Galt's The Ayrshire Legatees.

That certainly is strange!

This is completely unrelated, but when I went to Overdrive to borrow the ebook of The Traveller Returns (which, of course, is called something else here: She Came Back), I was perversely excited to see that not only did someone else have it checked out, but there was someone else waiting for it! So I ended up #3 on the list, but I should still get it before April is over so no worries. I just liked knowing that other people are out there reading about Miss Silver. :-)

Mar 29, 6:12pm Top

>274 lyzard: OK, I'll find my copy and get it handy.

>275 lyzard: Glad to hear you're on the mend. I just assumed you decided to read two Mystery League books back to back and were down for the count.

>276 lyzard: Well, now, which would people rather own? ;-)

Edited: Mar 29, 6:17pm Top

>277 rosalita:

Hi, Julia - thanks! It hasn't gone away, but at least it's receded enough to leave me partially functional, at least. :)

Yeah, I really don't understand them. I can't remember now what book it was, but a few years ago they were willing to lend me something so old and fragile, I took it back and told them I didn't think it ought to be available for borrowing---and they looked at me like I was nuts!

Heh! I tend to have the opposite reaction: my tastes are so obscure that if there is ever anyone else vying for *my* books, I get very shocked and indignant! :D

>278 harrygbutler:

Hi, Harry; I'm hanging in there... And no, the poor old Mystery League had NOTHING to do with it! :D

Depends who you mean by "people"...

Mar 30, 12:45am Top

Had to think of you yesterday when I saw a sloth popper for sale yesterday!

Mar 30, 6:01pm Top

Aww, that's sweet, Roni! :D

Mar 30, 7:44pm Top

I was hoping to get my February reviews wrapped up here (of course, I was also hoping to get them done in March, sigh); but now that my illness has made a natural hiatus, I thought it might be a good time to start a new thread.

I'll hope to see you there!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

393 members

114,764 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.



About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 129,503,129 books! | Top bar: Always visible