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lyzard's list: Travelling a route obscure and lonely in 2020 - Part1

75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Dec 31, 2019, 5:00am Top

For my thread-toppers this year, I've decided to stick with images from the 'wildlife photographer of the year' awards, but in a slightly different way: the 2019 awards were announced not long ago, and I will be using a selection of the winning and highly commended shots on my threads.

While some of the winning images are naturally rather confronting or sad, I'll be sticking with the ones that raise my spirits; hopefully yours too!

My first choice for 2020 is a rare shot of three spinetail devil rays in a courtship dance, with two males competing for a female. This image was captured in Honda Bay, off the Philippines.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 4:14pm Top

My thread title this year is taken from Edgar Allan Poe's poem, Dream-Land: it seemed appropriate considering the nature of my reading plans!

    By a route obscure and lonely,
    Haunted by ill angels only,
    Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
    On a black throne reigns upright,
    I have reached these lands but newly
    From an ultimate dim Thule---
    From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
        Out of SPACE---Out of TIME.

(The complete poem can be found here.)

Edited: Jan 3, 4:44pm Top


Hello, all! Welcome to my 2020 thread.

I'm Liz, and this will be my 11th year on LT, and my 10th as a full participant of the 75ers group.

My reading tends to older and often more obscure material---in particular Golden Age mysteries and thrillers, and 17th - 19th century literature.

I am a relentless self-challenger (see >7 below), and also an enthusiastic participant in the TIOLI (Take It Or Leave It) challenges.

I have a blog, A Course Of Steady Reading, at which I pursue in more depth particular areas of reading interest, including the early development of the English novel, and the roots of detective and Gothic fiction.

One of my hopes for this year is to be much more regular with my blog updates, and of course with the reading required for it. I am therefore anticipating a heavier emphasis on pre-20th century books, both classic and not-so-classic. This also ties into two of my self-challenges, the 'C. K. Shorter challenge' (perhaps the first 'Best 100 Novels' list ever constructed by a critic, put together in 1898) and my own 'A Century Of Reading' challenge, for which I am aiming for one book for each of the years from 1800 - 1900.

I also have the privilege of leading group reads in this area; you will find more information further down the thread.

Of course I realise that my particular reading tastes tend to leave me out of loop of general discussion around the threads---which is why you will find me slavishly grateful for any visitors!

Also, I'm always thrilled when anyone decides to read along with any of my projects or just an individual book; so if anything here does catch your interest, please feel free to join me!

Edited: Yesterday, 1:16am Top


Currently reading:

Death Walks In Eastrepps by Francis Beeding (1931)

Edited: Yesterday, 1:16am Top

2020 reading:


1. The Daughter Of The House by Carolyn Wells (1925)
2. Leandro: or, The Lucky Rescue by J. Smythies (1690)
3. Wilhelm Meister's Travels by Johann Goethe (1821 / 1829)
4. The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope (1859)
5. Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk (1955)
6. Ralph The Bailiff, And Other Tales by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1862)

Edited: Jan 17, 8:04pm Top

Books in transit:

Purchased and shipped:

On interlibrary loan / branch transfer / storage / Rare Book request:

Library books to collect:
The Creaking Tree Mystery by Leonard Knight
Ambrose Holt And Family by Susan Glaspell

Upcoming requests:
The Wild Irish Girl by Sydney Morgan {Fisher storage}
^Don't Go Near The Water by William Brinkley {ILL / JFR}
Close Quarters by Michael Gilbert {JFR}
Poison In The Garden Suburb by George and Margaret Cole {JFR}
The Spectacles Of Mr Cagliostro (aka The Blue Spectacles) by Harry Stephen Keeler {CARM}
The High Adventure by Jeffery Farnoll {JFR / Rare Books}
The Back-Seat Murder by Herman Landon {Rare Books}

On loan:
**The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (14/12/2019)
**The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain (16/01/2020)
*Wilhelm Meister's Travels by Johann Goethe (05/03/2020 / 15/03/2020)
The Last Of The Mohicans by James Fenimoore Cooper (13/03/2019)
*Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk (13/03/2019)
Oil! by Upton Sinclair (13/03/2019)

Edited: Yesterday, 4:42am Top

Ongoing reading projects:

Blog reads:
Chronobibliography: The Fugitive Reviv'd by Peter Belon
Authors In Depth:
- Forest Of Montalbano by Catherine Cuthbertson
- Shannondale (aka "The Three Beauties; or, Shannondale: A Novel") by E.D.E.N. Southworth
- Ralph The Bailiff, And Other Tales by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
- Ellesmere by Mrs Meeke
- The Cottage by Margaret Minifie
- The Old Engagement by Julia Day
- The Refugee In America by Frances Trollope
Reading Roulette: Pique by Sarah Stickney Ellis
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
Silver-fork novels: Sayings And Doings; or, Sketches From Life (First Series) by Theodore Hook
Related reading: Gains And Losses by Robert Lee Wollf / The Man Of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie / Le Loup Blanc by Paul Féval / Theresa Marchmont; or, The Maid Of Honour by Catherine Gore

Group / tutored reads:

NOW: The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope (thread here)

General reading challenges:

America's best-selling novels (1895 - ????):
Next up: Don't Go Near The Water by William Brinkley

Virago chronological reading project:
Next up: Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Agatha Christie mysteries in chronological order:
Next up: Nemesis

The C.K. Shorter List of Best 100 Novels:
Next up: The Last Of The Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Mystery League publications:
Next up: Death Walks In Eastrepps by Francis Beeding

Banned In Boston!: (here)
Next up: Oil! by Upton Sinclair

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

Random reading 1940 - 1969:
Next up: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh / Close Quarters by Michael Francis Gilbert

Potential decommission:
Next up: Disordered Minds by Minette Walters

Potential decommission (non-fiction):
Next up: Faces In The Smoke by Douchan Gersi

Completed challenges:
Georgette Heyer historical romances in chronological order

Possible future reading projects:
- Agatha Christie uncollected short stories
- 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)
- "40 Trashy Novels You Must Read Before You Die" (Flavorwire)
- best-novel lists in Wikipedia article on The Grapes Of Wrath
- Pandora 'Mothers Of The Novel'
- Newark Library list (here)
- "The Story Of Classic Crime In 100 Books" (here)

Edited: Jan 17, 8:11pm Top

TBR notes:

Currently 'missing' series works:

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}
The Corpse In The Car by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #20) {CARM}
Hendon's First Case by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #21) {Rare Books}
Mystery At Olympia (aka "Murder At The Motor Show") (Dr Priestley #22) {Kindle / State Library NSW, held}
In Face Of The Verdict by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #24) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, held}

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}

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}

The Black Death by Moray Dalton {CARM}


Murder From Beyond by R. Francis Foster {HathiTrust}

Ambrose Holt And Family by Susan Glaspell {ILL / JFR}
The Creaking Tree Mystery by L. A. Knight {ILL / JFR}
The Murderer Invisible by Philip Wylie {Rare Books}
The Back-Seat Murder by Herman Landon {Rare Books}
One-Man Girl by Maisie Greig {Mitchell Library}
Cameos by Octavus Roy Cohen {State Library NSW}

The Matilda Hunter Murder by Harry Stephen Keeler {Kindle}

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

Completist reading:

The Spectacles Of Mr Cagliostro (aka The Blue Spectacles) by Harry Stephen Keeler (#3) {CARM}
The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope (#7) {owned}
XYZ by Anna Katharine Green {Project Gutenberg}
The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart {Project Gutenberg}
The White Cockatoo by Mignon Eberhart

Shopping list:


The Amber Junk (aka The Riddle Of The Amber Ship) by Hazel Phillips Hanshew (Cleek #9)
The Hawkmoor Mystery by W. H. Lane Crauford
Dead Man's Hat by Hulbert Footner
October House by Kay Cleaver Strahan (Lynn MacDonald #4)
The Double Thumb by Francis Grierson (Sims and Wells #3)
The Mystery Of The Open Window by Anthony Gilbert (Scott Egerton #4)
The Mystery Of The Creeping Man by Frances Shelley Wees (Michael Forrester #2)
The Shadow Of Evil by Charles J. Dutton (Harley Manners #2)
The Seventh Passenger by Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry (Jerry Boyne #4)
The Pelham Murder Case by Monte Barrett (Peter Cardigan #1)
Prove It, Mr Tolefree (aka "The Tolliver Case") by R. A. J. Walling (Philip Tolefree #3)
The Hanging Woman by John Rhode (Dr Priestley #11)

Edited: Jan 10, 10:29pm Top

A Century (And A Bit) Of Reading:

A book a year from 1800 - 1900!

1800: Juliania; or, The Affectionate Sisters by Elizabeth Sandham
1801: Belinda by Maria Edgeworth
1802: The Infidel Father by Jane West
1803: Thaddeus Of Warsaw by Jane Porter
1804: The Lake Of Killarney by Anna Maria Porter
1805: The Impenetrable Secret, Find It Out! by Francis Lathom
1807: Corinne; ou, l'Italie by Madame de Staël
1809: The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter
1812: The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth
1814: The Wanderer; or, Female Difficulties by Frances Burney
1815: Headlong Hall by Thomas Love Peacock
1820: The Sketch Book Of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving
1821: The Ayrshire Legatees; or, The Pringle Family by John Galt / Valerius: A Roman Story by J. G. Lockhart / Kenilworth by Walter Scott
1822: Bracebridge Hall; or, The Humorists by Washington Irving
1824: The Adventures Of Hajji Baba Of Ispahan by James Justinian Morier
1826: Lichtenstein by Wilhelm Hauff
1827: The Epicurean by Thomas Moore / The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
1829: Wilhelm Meister's Travels by Johann Goethe
1836: The Tree And Its Fruits; or, Narratives From Real Life by Phoebe Hinsdale Brown
1845: Zoe: The History Of Two Lives by Geraldine Jewsbury / The Mysteries Of London (Volume I) by G. W. M. Reynolds
1846: The Mysteries Of London (Volume II) by G. W. M. Reynolds
1847: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë / The Macdermots Of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope
1848: The Kellys And The O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope
1851: The Mother-In-Law; or, The Isle Of Rays by E.D.E.N. Southworth
1857: The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope
1859: The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden / The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope
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
1874: Chaste As Ice, Pure As Snow by Charlotte Despard
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
1883: Elsie's New Relations by Martha Finley
1884: Elsie At Nantucket by Martha Finley
1885: The Two Elsies by Martha Finley
1886: Elsie's Kith And Kin by Martha Finley
1894: Martin Hewitt, Investigator by Arthur Morrison / The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
1896: The Island Of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells
1897: Penelope's Progress by Kate Douglas Wiggin
1898: A Man From The North by Arnold Bennett / The Lust Of Hate by Guy Newell Boothby
1899: Agatha Webb by Anna Katharine Green / Dr Nikola's Experiment by Guy Newell Boothby
1900: The Circular Study by Anna Katharine Green

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 5:59am 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); Tales Of Hoffmann (1982)
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 London: Volume I
- The Mysteries Of London: Volume II
- The Mysteries Of London: Volume III
- The Mysteries Of London: Volume IV
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)
Ruth The Betrayer; or, The Female Spy by Edward Ellis (!862-1863)
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)
Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective by Hugh C. Weir (1914)

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: Dec 31, 2019, 9:12pm 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 Friends At Woodburn (13/28) {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)
(1896 - 1909) **Melville Davisson Post - Randolph Mason - The Corrector Of Destinies (3/3)
(1893 - 1915) **Kate Douglas Wiggins - Penelope - Penelope's Postscripts (4/4)
(1894 - 1898) **Anthony Hope - Ruritania - Rupert Of Hentzau (3/3)
(1894 - 1903) **Arthur Morrison - Martin Hewitt - Chronicles Of Martin Hewitt (2/4) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1895 - 1901) **Guy Newell Boothby - Dr Nikola - Farewell, Nikola (5/5)
(1897 - 1900) **Anna Katharine Green - Amelia Butterworth - The Circular Study (3/3)
(1898 - 1918) **Arnold Bennett - Five Towns - Anna Of The Five Towns (2/11) {Sutherland Library}
(1899 - 1917) **Anna Katharine Green - Caleb Sweetwater - The Mystery Of The Hasty Arrow (7/7)
(1899 - 1909) **E. W. Hornung - Raffles - Mr Justice Raffles (4/4)
(1900 - 1974) Ernest Bramah - Kai Lung - Kai Lung: Six / Kai Lung Raises His Voice (7/7)

(1901 - 1919) **Carolyn Wells - Patty Fairfield - Patty's Social Season (11/17) {Project Gutenberg}
(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)
(1905 - 1925) **Baroness Orczy - The Old Man In The Corner - Unravelled Knots (3/3)}
(1905 - 1928) **Edgar Wallace - The Just Men - Again The Three Just Men (6/6)
(1906 - 1930) **John Galsworthy - The Forsyte Saga - The White Monkey (6/11) {Fisher storage / Sutherland stack}
(1907 - 1912) **Carolyn Wells - Marjorie - Marjorie's Vacation (1/6) {ManyBooks}
(1907 - 1942) R. Austin Freeman - Dr John Thorndyke - The Jacob Street Mystery (26/26)
(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 Bronze Hand (20/49) {mobilereads}
(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 Adventuress (10/24) {ILL}
(1910 - 1946) A. E. W. Mason - Inspector Hanaud - The House In Lordship Lane (7/7)
(1910 - 1917) Edgar Wallace - Inspector Smith - Kate Plus Ten (3/3)
(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)
(1910 - 1931) Grace S. Richmond - Red Pepper Burns - Red Pepper Returns (6/6)
(1910 - 1933) Jeffery Farnol - The Vibarts - The Way Beyond (3/3) {Fisher Library storage / fadedpage.com}
(1910 - 1928) **Louis Tracy - Winter and Furneaux - The Postmaster's Daughter (5/9) {Project Gutenberg}

(1911 - 1935) G. K. Chesterton - Father Brown - The Scandal Of Father Brown (5/5)
(1911 - 1937) Mary Roberts Rinehart - Letitia Carberry - Tish Marches On (5/5)
(1911 - 1919) **Alfred Bishop Mason - Tom Strong - Tom Strong, Lincoln's Scout (5/5)
(1911 - 1940) *Bertram Atkey - Smiler Bunn - The Smiler Bunn Brigade (2/10) {rare, expensive}
(1912 - 1919) **Gordon Holmes (Louis Tracy) - Steingall and Clancy - The Bartlett Mystery (3/3)
(1913 - 1934) *Alice B. Emerson - Ruth Fielding - Ruth Fielding In The Far North (20/30) {expensive}
(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, JFR / Rare Books}
(1914 - 1950) Mary Roberts Rinehart - Hilda Adams - Episode Of The Wandering Knife (5/5)
(1914 - 1934) Ernest Bramah - Max Carrados - The Bravo Of London (5/5)
(1916 - 1941) John Buchan - Edward Leithen - Sick Heart River (5/5)
(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 - The Luminous Face (5/8) {Project Gutenberg}
(1918 - 1939) Valentine Williams - The Okewood Brothers - The Spider's Touch (6/?) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1918 - 1944) Valentine Williams - Clubfoot - The Spider's Touch (7/8) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1918 - 1950) *Wyndham Martyn - Anthony Trent - The Mysterious Mr Garland (3/26) {CARM}
(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: Dec 31, 2019, 6:09am Top

Series and sequels, 1920 - 1927:

(1920 - 1939) E. F. Benson - Mapp And Lucia - Trouble For Lucia (6/6)
(1920 - 1948) *H. C. Bailey - Reggie Fortune - Case For Mr Fortune (7/23) {State Library NSW, JFR}
(1920 - 1952) William McFee - Spenlove - The Adopted - (7/7)
(1920 - 1932) *Alice B. Emerson - Betty Gordon - Betty Gordon At Bramble Farm (1/15) {ManyBooks}
(1920 - 1975) Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot - Hallowe'en Party (35/39) {owned}
(1920 - 1921) **Natalie Sumner Lincoln - Ferguson - The Unseen Ear (2/2)
(1920 - 1937) *H. C. McNeile - Bulldog Drummond - The Black Gang (2/10 - series continued) {Roy Glashan's Library}

(1921 - 1929) **Charles J. Dutton - John Bartley - Streaked With Crimson (9/9)
(1921 - 1925) **Herman Landon - The Gray Phantom - Gray Magic (5/5)

(1922 - 1973) Agatha Christie - Tommy and Tuppence - Postern Of Fate (5/5) {owned}
(1922 - 1927) *Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry - Jerry Boyne - The Seventh Passenger (4/5) {Amazon}
(1922 - 1931) Valentine Williams - Inspector Manderton - Death Answers The Bell (4/4)
(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)
(1923 - 1924) **Carolyn Wells - Lorimer Lane - The Fourteenth Key (2/2)
(1923 - 1931) *Agnes Miller - The Linger-Nots - The Linger-Nots And The Secret Maze (5/5) {unavailable}
(1923 - 1927) Annie Haynes - Inspector Furnival - The Crow's Inn Tragedy (3/3)

(1924 - 1959) Philip MacDonald - Colonel Anthony Gethryn - The Wraith (6/24) {ILL / JFR}
(1924 - 1957) *Freeman Wills Crofts - Inspector French - The Sea Mystery (4/30) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, JFR / ILL / Kindle}
(1924 - 1935) * / ***Francis D. Grierson - Inspector Sims and Professor Wells - The Smiling Death (6/13) {AbeBooks, expensive}
(1924 - 1940) *Lynn Brock - Colonel Gore - The Dagwort Coombe Murder (5/12) {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}
(1924 - 1936) *Hulbert Footner - Madame Storey - Easy To Kill (7/14) {Roy Glashan's Library}

(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 - Poison In A Garden Suburb (6/?) {State Library NSW, JFR}
(1925 - 1932) Earl Derr Biggers - Charlie Chan - Keeper Of The Keys (6/6)
(1925 - 1944) Agatha Christie - Superintendent Battle - Towards Zero (5/5)
(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) {Roy Glashan's Library / 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 Kennel Murder Case (6/12) {fadedpage.com}
(1926 - 1952) *J. Jefferson Farjeon - Ben the Tramp - Murderer's Trail (3/8) {interlibrary loan / Kindle}
(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 - The Dark Highway (2/27) {University of Adelaide / Project Gutenberg Australia}
(1926 - 1931) *Aidan de Brune - Dr Night - Dr Night (1/3) {Roy Glashan's Library}

(1927 - 1933) *Herman Landon - The Picaroon - The Picaroon Does Justice (2/7) {Book Searchers / CARM}
(1927 - 1932) *Anthony Armstrong - Jimmie Rezaire - The Trail Of The Lotto (3/5) {AbeBooks}
(1927 - 1937) *Ronald Knox - Miles Bredon - The Body In The Silo (3/5) {Kindle / Rare Books}
(1927 - 1958) *Brian Flynn - Anthony Bathurst - The Five Red Fingers (5/54) {Kindle}
(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}
(1927 - 1960) **Mazo de la Roche - Jalna - Jalna (1/16) {State Library NSW, JFR / fadedpage.com}
(1927 - 1949) **Dornford Yates - Richard Chandos - Perishable Goods (2/8) {State Library, JFR / Kindle}

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

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:14am Top

Series and sequels, 1928 - 1930:

(1928 - 1961) Patricia Wentworth - Miss Silver - Anna, Where Are You? (20/33) {fadedpage.com}
(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 Crystal Beads Murder (4/4)
(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 - The Case Of The Late Pig (8/35) {interlibrary loan / Kindle / fadedpage.com}
(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)
(1929 - ????) Mignon Eberhart - Nurse Sarah Keate - Dead Yesterday And Other Stories (6/8) (NB: multiple Eberhart characters) {expensive / limited edition} / Wolf In Man's Clothing (7/8) {Rare Books / Kindle}
(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 Skeleton At The Feast (3/3) {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 - Wings Above The Diamantina (3/29) {Fisher Library}
(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)
(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) {Kindle}
(1929 - ????) * J. C. Lenehan - Inspector Kilby - The Tunnel Mystery (1/?) {Kindle}
(1929 - 1936) *Robin Forsythe - Anthony Algernon Vereker - Missing Or Murdered (1/5) {Kindle}

(1930 - ????) ***Moray Dalton - Hermann Glide - ???? (3/?) {see above}
(1930 - 1932) Hugh Walpole - The Herries Chronicles - Vanessa (4/4)
(1930 - 1932) Faith Baldwin - The Girls Of Divine Corners - Myra: A Story Of Divine Corners (4/4)
(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) {expensive}
(1930 - 1941) *Harriette Ashbrook - Philip "Spike" Tracy - The Murder Of Sigurd Sharon (3/7) {Kindle / 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 - Nemesis (13/13) {owned}
(1930 - 1939) Anne Austin - James "Bonnie" Dundee - Murdered But Not Dead (5/5)
(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 Death Of A Celebrity (2/10) {mobilereads / omnibus}
(1930 - 1940) *E. M. Delafield - The Provincial Lady - The Provincial Lady In Wartime (4/4)
(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)
(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 2, 3:44pm 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, expensive}
(1931 - 1955) Stuart Palmer - Hildegarde Withers - Murder On The Blackboard (3/18) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1951) Olive Higgins Prouty - The Vale Novels - Fabia (5/5)
(1931 - 1933) Sydney Fowler - Inspector Cleveland - Arresting Delia (4/4)
(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)
(1931 - 1972) Georges Simenon - Inspector Maigret - L'Ombre chinoise (12/75) {ILL}
(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)
(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 - Death In The Dentist's Chair (2/3) {Kindle}
(1931 - 1935) Valentine Williams - Sergeant Trevor Dene - The Clock Ticks On (2/4) {Roy Glashan's Library}
(1931 - 1942) Patricia Wentworth - Frank Garrett - Pursuit Of A Parcel (5/5)

(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) {Kindle / 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}
(1934 - 1953) Leslie Ford (Zenith Jones Brown) - Colonel Primrose - The Strangled Witness (1/17) {Rare Books}
(1934 - 1975) Rex Stout - Nero Wolfe - Fer-de-Lance (1/?) {Rare Books / State Library NSW, JFR / Kindle}
(1934 - 1935) Vernon Loder - Inspector Chace - Murder From Three Angles (1/2) {Kindle /
(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}
(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?}
(1937 - 1953) Leslie Ford (Zenith Jones Brown) - Grace Latham - Ill Met By Moonlight (1/16){Kindle}
(1938 - 1944) Zelda Popkin - Mary Carner - Death Wears A White Gardenia (1/6) {Kindle}
(1939 - 1942) Patricia Wentworth - Inspector Lamb - The Catherine-Wheel (10/?) {fadedpage.com}
(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

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:20am Top

Unavailable series works:

John Rhode - Dr Priestley
The Hanging Woman (#11) {rare, expensive}

Moray Dalton - Inspector Collier {NB: some now available in Kindle}
>#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)

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

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

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

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:20am Top

Books currently on loan:


Edited: Jan 15, 3:39pm Top

Reading projects:




Other projects:



Edited: Jan 2, 3:43pm Top

Group read news:

There will be a group read of Anthony Trollope's 1859 novel, The Bertrams, starting this month. It was decided to push the start date a couple of weeks both to allow the crossover madness to recede a little, and because we had about equal numbers voting for January and February as the preferred month.

I will probably be putting the thread up over the weekend of the 11th / 12th; please let me know if this is unsuitable for any reason.

I will also be resurrecting the long-interrupted Virago chronological read project, with Mary Elizabeth Braddon's breakthrough novel, Lady Audley's Secret. We do no have a confirmed date as yet, but April is likely.

Also, after tackling Emmeline, The Orphan Of The Castle last year, Heather and I were thinking of doing another of Charlotte Smith's novels. Nothing definite has been decided, however. It could be a group project or just a shared read.

As always---all welcome!

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:31am Top

Assuming that I haven't already frightened everyone away---

---please come on in and say hi!

Dec 31, 2019, 5:47am Top

Best wishes for 2020!

Dec 31, 2019, 7:42am Top

Hi Liz! Personally, I'm here on purpose for all the obscurity. (Besides, how else am I going to figure out how the Elsie Dinsmore series ends? :))

Dec 31, 2019, 8:57am Top

Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2019, 1:10pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 31, 2019, 4:08pm Top

Dropping my trail of breadcrumbs to one of the more illuminating threads on LT. I'm always learning something. Sometimes it's that certain books are best left unread, and we thank you for taking one for the team. Wishing you great reading in 2020

Dec 31, 2019, 4:51pm Top

Thank you all for visiting, and your kind wishes! :)

>20 DianaNL:

Welcome back, Diana!

>21 casvelyn:

Just as long as it DOES end!! :D

>22 PaulCranswick:

Me too; I guess we'll see. :)

>23 drneutron:

Thanks as always for hard work, Jim!

>24 Helenliz:

If I'm going to be a reading masochist, others might as well benefit. :D

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:46pm Top

...and having done my best to frighten everybody away with my reading plans, I shall now make an embarrassingly blatant attempt to lure them back with cat pictures!

I was cleaning out my phone (not before time, since obviously one of these dates from last winter), and thought I would post these two as a reminder to myself that The Boys can get along sometimes.

Just occasionally...


Dec 31, 2019, 6:01pm Top

That moment when...

...the New Year / Group / Thread excitement recedes and you realise that you still have two months' worth of unwritten reviews.

Think I'll ease myself into it by cheating...

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:47pm Top

Best-selling books in the United States for 1953:

1. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
2. The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
3. Desirée by Annemarie Selinko
4. Battle Cry by Leon M. Uris
5. From Here to Eternity by James Jones
6. The High and the Mighty by Ernest K. Gann
7. Beyond This Place by A. J. Cronin
8. Time and Time Again by James Hilton
9. Lord Vanity by Samuel Shellabarger
10. The Unconquered by Ben Ames Williams

Religion, history and the war continued to dominate American reading in 1953.

The outliers are A. J. Cronin's Beyond This Place, about a young man who sets out to prove that his father was innocent of the murder of which he was convicted; and James Hilton's Time and Time Again, an insightful character study about a repressed and rather stuffy middle-aged diplomat.

Ernest K. Gann's The High and the Mighty, meanwhile, is about an unfolding air disaster and how it affects the lives of those involved: a book of special meaning to me, since it was the basis for the first modern disaster movie (which I have reviewed).

Samuel Shellabarger's Lord Vanity is an historical romance spanning 18th century Europe and the Americas, whose climax unfolds at the battle for Montreal. Ben Ames Williams' The Unconquered is the sequel to his 1947 novel, House Divided (#7 on the 1947 best-seller list), set in post-Civil War Louisiana. Annemarie Selinko's Desirée is a biographical novel about Eugénie Désirée Clary, who was engaged to Napoleon, jilted and forced on his brother, Joseph, and ended up Queen of Sweden.

James Jones' From Here to Eternity, #1 in 1951 (and reviewed here), returns to the Top Ten again in conjunction with the release of its movie adaptation. Meanwhile, Leon M. Uris's Battle Cry is about a group of young men who join the marines in the wake of Pearl Harbor.

Religion tops the list again, however: at #2 we have Thomas B. Costain's The Silver Chalice, which was #1 in 1952 (and reviewed here); while at #1 in 1953 we have the book that was also #1 in 1943 (and reviewed here): Lloyd C. Douglas's The Robe.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 6:48pm Top

This was Lloyd C. Douglas's fourth time at the top of the American best-sellers list, and the second time that The Robe made it to #1. It returned to the charts in 1953 as a result of the release of its movie adaptation, famous as the first ever Cinemascope production.

Douglas's other #1 best-sellers were Green Light, in 1935 (reviewed here), and The Big Fisherman in 1948 (reviewed here).

An overview of Douglas's life and career may be found here.

(And since I had already read and reviewed The Robe, I got a month off---whoo!)

Dec 31, 2019, 6:09pm Top

>28 lyzard: I remember reading Desirée as a teenager and quite enjoying it ...

Dec 31, 2019, 6:37pm Top

Happy reading in 2020, Liz!

I love browsing through all your reading plans. I haven't seen any opportunities for shared reads yet. Maybe later this year.

Dec 31, 2019, 6:52pm Top

>30 SandDune:

Hi, Rhian - thanks for visiting (particularly when I was so slack last year!).

I've only read about Desirée but I know it's supposed to be very good.

>31 FAMeulstee:

Thanks, Anita! Never mind, hopefully our planets will align at some point. :)

Dec 31, 2019, 7:02pm Top

And of course I should have mentioned that my first read for the year will be Carolyn Wells' The Daughter Of The House.

Which, after all my efforts to secure a copy and my celebratory carry on about it on my last thread, is probably guaranteed to be terrible. :D

Dec 31, 2019, 7:03pm Top

>28 lyzard: I had to laugh - when I read the post above I was wishing the bestseller was Desiree - which I've read several times. Then I got excited when Rhian said she'd read it - we're a very small minority these days!

Dec 31, 2019, 7:03pm Top

And I forgot to add - good work with the cat photos!

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 9:59pm Top

>34 Dejah_Thoris:. >35 Dejah_Thoris:

Hi, Dejah!

If I've learned anything from the best-seller challenge, it's that the book you think ought to be #1, or you want to be #1, is never #1! It's a much tougher challenge than you feel it should be. :D

Glad you like my boys!

Dec 31, 2019, 9:01pm Top

Dropping a star to follow along! And finding myself increasingly thinking of rereading The Bertrams to further Trollopean (Trollopeian? Trollopian?) reading plans for 2020.

Dec 31, 2019, 9:03pm Top

>37 NinieB:

Thanks, Ninie! Re-reading or just refreshing, we'll be delighted to have you join in. :)

(Trollopean, I believe.)

Dec 31, 2019, 10:05pm Top

Finished The Daughter Of The House for TIOLI #15.

(It wasn't terrible, but...)

And, oh well, let's get into those resolutions!---

Now reading Leandro: or, The Lucky Rescue by J. Smythies.

Dec 31, 2019, 11:18pm Top

Marking my place!

Jan 1, 9:23am Top

Wishing you 12 months of success
52 weeks of laughter
366 days of fun (leap year!)
8,784 hours of joy
527,040 minutes of good luck
and 31,622,400 seconds of happiness!!

Jan 1, 9:39am Top

Happy New Year, Liz!

>26 lyzard: Great to see the photos!

>27 lyzard: I gave up on commenting on the December movies and my last books for 2019.

Jan 1, 3:01pm Top

>40 thornton37814:

Much appreciated, Lori!

>41 Berly:

Thanks, Kim - all the best to you, too. :)

>42 harrygbutler:

Hi, Harry!

Aw, glad you like them.

Very sensible of you! - but unfortunately for me, I'm far too anal ever to just let stuff go... :D

Jan 1, 3:43pm Top

Happy 2020 Thread, Liz. I look forward to learning about more golden oldies this year. Cool photo of the spinetail devil rays up top.

Jan 1, 4:02pm Top

Thanks, Joe! I can only say that there are plenty of golden oldies on the horizon... :)

Jan 1, 4:05pm Top

Finished Leandro: or, The Lucky Rescue for TIOLI #1.

(Let's just see how the blogging goes...)

Now reading Wilhelm Meister's Travels by Johann Goethe.

Jan 1, 6:58pm Top

Boy, Poe really had you pegged, didn't he? However could he have known back then what you would be getting up to now? ;-)

I thoroughly approve of more beautiful wildlife photos. When I saw your caption about that being a courtship dance of the rays, I was looking forward to googling "non-traditional mating habits of spinetail devil rays" but alas, it is not to be. Maybe next time ... :-D

Onward to 2020!

Jan 1, 7:10pm Top

>47 rosalita:

Sad but true, my dear; sad but true...

Ah, good! There are some lovely shots among this year's winners (including, I was amused to note, at least one sloth image; but I'll save that for elsewhere); and really, it was not being able to pick just one that gave me the idea to do it this way.

Ahem. If you're interested in "non-traditional mating habits", you might want to Google "gay interracial octopus sex".

Or not. :D

Jan 1, 7:20pm Top

>48 lyzard: Well, how can I resist a challenge like that? Probably save it for my home computer, though. ;-)

Jan 2, 10:12am Top

Jan 2, 2:34pm Top

50 messages already?! Happy new year and new thread Liz!

>26 lyzard: Lovely to see the boys :-)

>47 rosalita:, >48 lyzard:, >49 rosalita: *snort*

Jan 2, 3:52pm Top

>49 rosalita:

Very wise! Though perhaps not so wise as not doing it at all...

>50 paulstalder:

Thank you, Paul! I'm looking forward to another year of mindbending challenges. :)

>51 souloftherose:

Hi, Heather - thank you! Yeah, I love the beginning of the year, when even *I* can get visitors! :D

Aw, thanks again. :)

BTW, were you still interested in tackling more Charlotte Smith at some point? I stress, at some point: no pressure at all, just getting mentally organised.

Jan 2, 8:56pm Top

Happy New Year, Liz! I saw on another thread that you're reading Death Walks in Eastrepps this month. I have a copy around here somewhere, so maybe I'll join you.

Jan 2, 9:26pm Top

Thank you, Carrie! That would be fabulous if you could manage it. :)

Jan 2, 11:36pm Top

>3 lyzard: Hi Liz I'm new to your thread but wanted to star it because I'm developing a reading interest in the stories around "earlier times".

I am only in my 2nd year of 75-er Talk and reading Challenge ~ and already I noted my last year's reading was enhanced by the discussions on the group talk threads.

Beside our both being keen on Georgette Heyer, I was intrigued by your comment My reading tends to older and often more obscure material. So the book discussions on this thread may lead me into being more enthusiastic about reading a wider variety of titles set in the 17th century or earlier, for example. How about the Bronze Age!

Yes, a long chatty post for an opening visit!

Jan 3, 12:56pm Top

>52 lyzard: Yes, still interested in Charlotte Smith and relaxed about when we fit it in.

BTW, I'm hoping to encourage a real-life friend who enjoys Anthony Trollope's novels to join us for our read of The Bertrams. I'm assuming this is ok in a 'the more the merrier' sense but wanted to let you know.

Jan 3, 4:02pm Top

Happy New Year, Liz! Love the kitties!

Edited: Jan 3, 4:24pm Top

>55 SandyAMcPherson:

Welcome, Sandy! It's great to hear from you, and thanks for visiting.

My various projects have me reading material written in the 17th - 19th centuries; usually contemporary works of those times, but some very early examples of the historical novel too. I've also been reading more modern historical fiction via my best-seller challenge, which has ranged from the Civil War (Gone With The Wind) back to the 18th Dynasty (Sinuhe The Egyptian). So not quite the Bronze Age yet!

Are you a member of the 'Historical Fiction' group? I'm not, but I know it's very active; you might find some good talk there too.

Jan 3, 4:10pm Top

>56 souloftherose:

Lovely: we'll pencil that in and we can talk about it later.

Sure! I've also advertised it over in the 'Geeks who love the classics' group so we may have one or two newbies from there too.

>57 ronincats:

Thanks, Roni! Best to you and yours (human and hairy) too!

Jan 3, 6:46pm Top


I have finished my first blog-post of the year!

Leandro: or, The Lucky Rescue, from 1690, was disappointing: it begins by dealing with the persecution of the Huguenots under Louis XVI, but then degenerates into a familiar (and rather silly) picaresque tale.

My post is here.

Edited: Jan 3, 6:48pm Top

This lemur isn't surprised by me getting some blogging done on time, but looks entirely unconvinced that my resolutions will outlive the second week of January...

Jan 3, 7:47pm Top

>61 lyzard: That lemur has been around the block a few times. You will not fool that lemur with your fancy words and your fast talking. That is a lemur who KNOWS THINGS.

Jan 3, 7:55pm Top

>61 lyzard: Prove him wrong!! ; )

Jan 3, 8:13pm Top

>62 rosalita:


>63 Berly:

Eh, I would; but my next blog work is early 19th century German philosophy and I'm frankly finding it impenetrable...

(In other words...I set myself up for a JANUARY FAIL.)

Jan 3, 8:20pm Top

It is only day 3 of January. Perhaps you should set a new goal for your blog? Or just go with the fail. LOL Good luck either way!

Edited: Jan 4, 5:05pm Top

>65 Berly:

Unfortunately for me, my OCD is not in the habit of allowing me to just Let Stuff Go... :D

Jan 4, 4:01pm Top

We had a brutally hot day here yesterday, which almost compelled me to do nothing but lie about reading (for a couple of hours of that, in a cool bath); so---

Finished Wilhelm Meister's Travels for TIOLI #5.


I was really hoping I wouldn't be trotting this out quite so much in 2020, let alone so early:

Now reading The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope.


Jan 4, 4:31pm Top

Hi Liz! We're getting tons of news about the fires, and it does sound incredibly hot everywhere.

The Bertrams GR sounds good - I'll have to visit Project Gutenberg :-)

Jan 4, 5:05pm Top

>68 susanj67:

Hi, Susan - thanks for visiting!

I shouldn't complain: where I am, the heat and smoky air is all I have to deal with. :(

You would be very welcome to join us! I should be putting up the thread next weekend.

Jan 5, 7:04pm Top

Hello, obviously you've already come around to my thread, so I thought I might come round to yours, and... wow, your reading list is huge.

I see that you are planning to read The Last of the Mohicans. I remember that I once had an option to read it for class in high school, but I opted to read something else. Since then though, I seem to have noticed that it is quite a famous classic... Perhaps when you start a group read with it, I just might come and join in too.

I've also read Lady Audley's Secret some years ago, and I would be interested in your thoughts on the book as well, since I personally really quite enjoyed it.

Jan 6, 3:51pm Top

>70 Majel-Susan:

Hi, thanks for finding me!

Oh, that's not my reading list, just the tip of my various icebergs! The reading list is much scarier! :D

The Last Of The Mohicans won't be a group read (unless there's a sudden demand for it?): it's for one of my 'self-challenges', in this case, what is considered the first ever 'Best 100 Novels' list, compiled by the critic C. K. Shorter in 1898.

However, we could do it as a shared read if you were interested; that is, reading it within the same month and comparing notes. Were you thinking of joining in the TIOLI challenges at all? Shared reads are very much encouraged there and you get points for them. :)

We encourage lurkers as well as participants in our group reads, so feel free to stop by and see how it's going, and share your thoughts too, when we tackle Lady Audley's Secret.

Jan 6, 4:25pm Top


...let's do this:

Edited: Jan 6, 5:19pm Top

Dracula's Guest - This is a collection of short stories by Bram Stoker, collated and published in 1914, after his death. The title story is not a story at all, but a previously unpublished excerpt from Dracula, excised from the novel for length. In this tone-setting passage, an English traveller stubbornly refuses to listen to his local guide, and sets off on foot through a lonely and unpopulated stretch of the countryside... In The Judge's House, a young student, determined to force himself to study for his final exams, rents an isolated country house that once belonged to man with a reputation as a hanging judge, and finds himself harassed by a large, persistent rat; and perhaps by something else... In The Squaw, a man who casually kills a kitten is tracked and harried by its mother... In The Secret Of The Growing Gold, after the tempestuous relationship between Geoffrey Brent and Margaret Delandre ends in violence and mystery, Brent marries and tries to live a peaceful life; but Margaret's quest for vengeance persists after her death... In The Gypsy Prophecy, a happy, loving marriage is overshadowed by a fortune-teller's insistence that the husband will kill his wife... In The Coming Of Abel Behenna, a love-triangle in a Cornish fishing village leads to madness and murder... In The Burial Of The Rats, an English traveller wanders into a community of deprived Parisian outcasts and must stage a desperate fight for survival... In A Dream Of Red Hands, a man is haunted by the memory of an act of violence in his past... In Crooken Sands, an English merchant encounters what seems to be his Doppelgänger... Like most such collections, Dracula's Guest is a bit of a mixed bag. Certain themes recur, particularly that of revenge for an injury, which in some cases persists beyond death; while, more amusingly, the Irish Stoker makes mileage out of his English characters' assumption of superiority and refusal to take advice. A couple of the stories lose steam through overwriting, others pull back from their horrors---and, not surprisingly, the best of the bunch are those that find a balance and play it straight. Dracula's Guest is tantalising and creepy, but Stoker was right to cut it from his novel as wandering from his point. The Squaw is powerful but its reliance on violence against animals is upsetting (all the more, since we're clearly not supposed to side with the cat); The Coming Of Abel Behenna uses the recurrent theme of revenge most effectively; while The Judge's House is with good reason among the most celebrated of Stoker's short works.

    Malcolmson felt that his work was over for the night, and determined then and there to vary the monotony of the proceedings by a hunt for the rat, and took off the green shade of the lamp so as to insure a wider spreading light. As he did so the gloom of the upper part of the room was relieved, and in the new flood of light, great by comparison with the previous darkness, the pictures on the wall stood out boldly. From where he stood, Malcolmson saw right opposite to him the third picture on the wall from the right of the fireplace. He rubbed his eyes in surprise, and then a great fear began to come upon him.
    In the centre of the picture was a great irregular patch of brown canvas, as fresh as when it was stretched on the frame. The background was as before, with chair and chimney-corner and rope, but the figure of the Judge had disappeared...

Jan 6, 6:45pm Top

>71 lyzard: Ooh! Thank you for pointing out the TIOLI challenge to me. I didn't know what it was, but now that I've looked it up, I think I get the idea. Yes, I think that I shall consider taking up a challenge or so.

And thanks for your invitations, though of course, unfortunately my free time varies too much for me to know when I would be able to keep up with a shared read in the months ahead. Ah, life.

But yes, I would be interested in reading everybody's thoughts on Lady Audley's Secret!

Jan 6, 7:06pm Top

The Mystery Of The Folded Paper (UK title: The Folded Paper Mystery) - When reporter-turned author, Finlay Corveth, discovers that his friend, a watchmaker and jeweller who calls himself Nick Peters, has been badly beaten up and his store wrecked, he is determined to do something about it---but finds himself hindered by Nick himself, who refuses to talk and is desperate not to have the police involved. Fin, who has all sorts of odd contacts, calls upon local crime boss, Henny Friend, looking for information---but pretending that he is only interested in turning the incident into one of his stories. Henny produces the thug in question, Tony Casino, who tells Fin that he doesn't know the name of the man who hired him, only that he swore Nick had once stolen a valuable emerald from him. By assuming a disinterested attitude, Fin also learns what Tony hit Nick with - a brass bed-knob found at the scene - and what he did with it afterwards. He then sets out on a desperate quest---having discovered from Nick that the unfound emerald was concealed all along in the bed-knob... Like many first series works, The Mystery Of The Folded Paper is a strange book. This is, for one thing, a thriller rather than a mystery; it is also an example of a subgenre I don't particular care for, the "treasure hunt"; although it was interesting to read an American take on an almost exclusively British phenomenon. (That said, some of the novel's ideas about Europe and European politics are peculiar!) Also, despite the focus of the activities of Fin Corveth as he sets out to find the missing emerald, this is actually the first work in Hulbert Footner's series featuring Amos Lee Mappin, "a famous writer on crime", but also one of those dilettante amateur detectives who knows a bit about everything, and is wealthy enough to indulge his hobbies. And of course, no such narrative would be complete without a seemingly jovial but really sinister and dangerous adversary---and one turns up in due course in the form of a man calling himself "General Diamond", a soldier-of-fortune and master of disguise known in trouble-spots all over the world. Fin and Mappin succeed quite quickly in recovering the emerald, although not, to Fin's great grief, until Nick Peters has been killed for his stubborn loyalty to his cause; and it is this cause that occupies most of the narrative of The Mystery Of The Folded Paper. Though reluctant to speak plainly, Nick does confide to Fin that the emerald is only one aspect of the secret he has kept for some sixteen years, and that there is a great deal more at stake than merely possession of a valuable jewel. He also tells him about a girl called - or using the name - Mariula Peters; begging Fin to guard her should anything happen to him. Fin does succeed in recovering the bed-knob, but when he returns to Nick, hoping to hear the whole story, he finds him dead. Uncertain what he should do, Fin turns to his friend Mappin for advice and help. The latter cuts open the brass knob, finding inside not only the emerald but a piece of folded paper that is - or appears to be - blank. Eventually the two learn that behind all these events is the struggle for power in a small European country, to which end certain parties will stop at nothing to get the emerald, the paper and Mariula herself into their hands. Fin is certain that General Diamond is behind it all---and reacts with bewilderment and dismay when Mappin decides, evidently in the spirit of keeping his enemies close, to enter into partnership with him...

    "Man's subconscious," Mr Mappin went on, smiling, "is his own best oracle. Ask of your subconscious and it shall be given to you. Every man has a subconscious, but few know how to use it. Most of us rely on reason, a very imperfect faculty. Your reason tells you what you want it to tell you, but your subconscious is never deceived."
    "I don't quite get you," said Fin.
    "Well, to put it in the vernacular," said Mr Mappin, with a wider smile, "I'm waiting for a hunch."
    "Oh!" said Fin.
    "At the same time," Mr Mappin went on, "you must not neglect to feed your subconscious with every bit of information available... This paper was presumably prepared by Mariula's parents, who died when she was an infant. Tragic deaths are indicated. It is hardly questionable but that their deaths were brought about by the same evil influence that is now trying to recover the paper. That would make it about sixteen years old. I try to project myself back into that time. The beginning of the Great War, when man's inventive faculty was enormously stimulated by the desire to wipe out his fellow-men..."

Jan 6, 7:09pm Top

>74 Majel-Susan:

They are a lot of fun and that rare reading challenge that doesn't involve you putting pressure on yourself. I'll hope to see you there. :)

And of course you're also very welcome to join the other projects but don't worry if you can't find the time.

Edited: Jan 6, 7:24pm Top

>77 swynn: clearly not supposed to side with the cat

I do anyway. The bastard had it coming. I wouldn't have minded if she had taken out that smug narrator as well.

Jan 6, 10:01pm Top

>75 lyzard: Why, Liz, why ever are you not railing against the silly re-titling of this book in the UK? Or is it only a shooting offense when the Americans do it? :-P

Edited: Jan 7, 2:26pm Top

>77 swynn:

Yesssss... Please explain to me how the cat is the bad guy in that story??

Even then--- I could cop it until that last sentence; and then, I'm afraid, it's, "Oh, @#$% you, Bram!"

Jan 6, 10:17pm Top

>78 rosalita:

Dammit, I actually meant to! - then I got interrupted and forgot to come back to it.

(I think this one's just for length, but still...)

Jan 7, 10:00am Top

See now, I got to distracted by your omission that I forgot what I came here for originally — I just read One Two, Buckle My Shoe in my chrono Poirot read, and thought it was one of the better books in the series. It had the usual twisty nature, and surprise (to me) solution, but I thought there was maybe a bit more humor and Poirot seemed somewhat less insufferably stuffy than he has in other books. I see it's not particularly well-reviewed here on LT, which makes me think I must be missing something. Do you have thoughts?

Edited: Jan 7, 6:26pm Top

>81 rosalita:

I think it's just not one of the flashier / more adapted ones (though of course there has been a TV version...which, as always, tampers too much with the text). People seem to react to it in the same way the characters do: "But it's just a dentist!" But of course that's the moral crux of it: to Poirot, there's no "just" about it.

As for your remarks about Poirot, I think our view of him varies according to how much time we spend in his head, and how often we're seeing him from someone else's point of view. This is a very "internal" narrative, hence more humour, less stuffiness.

One of the things I like best about OTBMS is the ending---not the solution, but the last conversation about the rights and wrongs of it, which is not something you often find in this kind of writing. You could argue that Poirot is being morally "stuffy" there. :)

BTW, though---weren't you up for Sad Cypress? Or have you read that already?

It would be easier to keep up with these things if YOU HAD A THREAD!! :D

Edited: Jan 7, 3:16pm Top

Oh! - and while I remember to say this---

One of the things I have always found a strength in Agatha's writing is that she was never afraid to have her "nice" people guilty. This, as we've said, is where Patricia is problematic: there are always at least two and often more characters at the outset of her stories who you know already are not guilty, which dictates your attitude to the others. Agatha is a lot more ruthless / realistic: often her characters' niceness is the very point; they have so much to lose.

And One, Two, Buckle My Shoe gives us a fascinating twist to that, the argument that the public good justifies a private murder.

Stuff like this is why I get exasperated when people write Agatha off as just a constructor of puzzles.

Mind you---if you read as many lower-tier mysteries as I do, you can come away with a greater appreciation of Patricia, too: there's a subset of weaker mysteries that tend to involve a group of "nice" people and one outsider, and you know instantaneously who the guilty party is, it's only a matter of how and why! :D

Edited: Jan 7, 3:26pm Top

>82 lyzard: >You've put your finger exactly on it (well, both 'it's) in that it was exactly that final conversation Poirot has that really wowed me: He so neatly counters the "just a dentist"/"for the public good" argument that I nearly stood up and cheered. And also agree about the interior vs exterior views of Poirot swaying how readers react to him. I'm not sure I've ever felt so sympathetic toward him as I did when he was ruminating on having to visit the dentist. :-)

Also a plus: No Hastings, whom I find insurfferable in a way that Watson never is (for me).

EEEK!!!! You are so right — I completely skipped Sad Cypress!! I was thrown off because in the series list there was a checkmark next to it, but it's the green checkmark that means I own it, not the checkmark that means I've read it. Dagnabit!

>83 lyzard: You know I enjoy our time with Miss Silver, but you are so right that reading PW has made me appreciate AC all the more. People don't give Dame Agatha enough credit for her deft characterizations, I don't think. People are never just one thing or another. All those lovely shades of gray!

Jan 7, 3:26pm Top

Also, let us not speak of those weaker mysteries, lest we find ourselves leading the life of a potato ...

Edited: Jan 7, 3:46pm Top

>84 rosalita:

The moment that always gets me is, "Of course we could be wrong." They're not; but that they stop and consider it is fascinating.

I don't think you've read Mrs McGinty's Dead yet, have you? That is another to ruminate upon murder that "matters".

Poor old Arthur has quite an impact, considering the relatively small percentage of the total he actually, ahem, graces with his presence! :D

Never, never, NEVER trust the lists; even your lists! Always check before you start! (said the voice of bitter experience). I don't think there are spoilers involved, though, so you're probably okay.

Edited: Jan 7, 6:37pm Top

>85 rosalita:


Though to be fair to James Corbett, he certainly does not give us a house full of nice people!

Edited: Jan 7, 4:26pm Top

Elsie's Kith And Kin - Let no-one accuse Martha Finley of not being willing to write her subject matter into the ground in order to make a point! - this 1886 work is, I think, the fourth straight entry in this series to focus its plot upon young Lulu Raymond's inability to control her temper and her refusal to bow to any authority but her father's. The upside of this is that we've seen rather less of Elsie over this stretch (though her steady sympathy with Lulu through her struggles makes her more easily likeable than is sometimes the case when we do), and very little of the obnoxious Horace Dinsmore: Lulu's hostile dislike of her step-grandfather puts the reader firmly on her side, whatever Finley's intentions. Anyhoo--- Finley finally manages to bring this dragged-out plot to a climax here when, after yet another series of rolling crises, Lulu accidentally injures her baby half-sister in one of her fits of temper. Finley backs away from actually killing off the little girl (making her less ruthless than quite a number of evangelical writers I could name); and of course it all ends in remorse, repentance, submission and an acceptance of Christ---and, no doubt, in Lulu being a far less interesting character going forward. To be fair, there are a few interesting shades to this, such as Lulu's initial but now long-forgotten jealousy when the baby was first born coming back to bite her. The main supporting subplot, such as it is, involves a nasty acquaintance causing trouble between Edward and Zoe Travilla---where of course, though both of them are in the wrong (and Edward the most so, to modern eyes), it is Zoe who gets cosmically punished when Edward is nearly killed in a train wreck, on the back of her angry and defiant parting words to him. Meanwhile - because, of course, good Christians are always rewarded with obscene amounts of worldly goods, amiright? - Captain Raymond inherits a fortune, retires from the navy, and buys a mansion near to his in-laws' estates...because good Christians can't be happy in anything less than a whacking great house, amiright?

    In passing through the hall on his way from Lulu's room to the nursery, Captain Raymond met "grandma Elsie." She stopped him, and asked, in a tone of kindly concern, if Lulu was ill, adding, that something she had accidentally overheard him saying to the doctor had made her fear the child was not well.
    "Thank you, mother," he said: "you are very kind to take any interest in Lulu after what has occurred. No, she is not quite well: the mental distress of the last two days has been very great, and has exhausted her physically. It could not, of course, be otherwise, unless she were quite heartless. She is full of remorse for her passion and its consequences, and my only consolation is the hope that this terrible lesson may prove a lasting one to her."
    "I hope so, indeed," Elsie said, with emotion. "Yes, she must have suffered greatly; for she is a warm-hearted, affectionate child, and would not, I am sure, have intentionally done her baby sister an injury."
    "No, it was not intentional; yet, as the result of allowing herself to get into a passion, she is responsible for it, as she feels and acknowledges. And so deeply ashamed is she, that she knows not how to face the family, or any one of them, and therefore entreats me to allow her to seclude herself in her own room till I can take her to the home I hope to make for my wife and children ere long."
    "Poor child!" sighed Elsie. "Tell her, Levis, that she need not shrink from us as if we were not sinners, as well as herself."

Jan 7, 10:29pm Top

Angels & Insects - A. S. Byatt's 1999 work is not a novel, but two novellas, each set in the second half of the 19th century, and dealing with two very different objects of Victorian obsession: first, the need to name, catalogue and generally organise life itself - and to fit Homo sapiens into an overall pattern; the shadow of Darwin is long here - and second, what might seem exactly the converse impulse, the era's upsurge in spiritualism; although both of these might be considered forms of exploration. Insects come first: in Morpho Eugenia, upon his return from years in the Amazon, and after surviving a shipwreck which costs him nearly all of his collected specimens (which he did not think to insure), naturalist William Adamson is taken into the home of one of his patrons, the Reverend Sir Harald Alabaster. He finds himself attracted to one of the Alabaster daughters, Eugenia, whose distant manner, he learns, is due to the death of her fiancé. Somewhat to his own surprise, William's courtship of Eugenia is successful; and although various aspects of life as part of the Alabaster household are distasteful to him, and although his marriage is not at all points successful, William is reconciled to his lot partly by his realisation of the richness of insect life around the estate, and the opportunity for in-depth study. Indeed, William is so focused upon these tiny lives, he fails to see what is really under his nose... The second novella, The Conjugial Angel, is set in the seaside town of Margate, where the pragmatic Lilias Papagay acts as a manager of sorts for her friend, Sophy Sheekhy, who has mediumistic powers. Despite their lower social status, Sophy's abilities see the two invited to join a group of "believers", each of whom is seeking something different from their séances; while Lilias, with her sailor-husband missing, presumed dead, the meetings are a time of fear that she will get a message... Neither half of Angels & Insects is an easy read, both offering their different challenges. Morpho Eugenia spends much of its time down on the ground with William, peering closely at insects in a way that some may find either boring or creepy (disclosure: I love bugs, so enjoyed this very much!); while The Conjugial Angel mixes its fictional characters with real historical figures, and weaves fiction around the latter in a manner that is occasionally uncomfortable. Both novellas treat their characters with an air of ironic detachment that some may find off-putting; though there are measures of amused sympathy offered too, particularly to Lilias Papagay, in her memories of her strange but passionate marriage, and to an extent to William Adamson, who is unequipped to deal with what lies behind the façade of Victorian England; though that said, William's obliviousness to the qualities of mind and character that define Matty Compton, who becomes his more-than-partner in his entomological studies, grows ever more exasperating. Byatt links the two seemingly disparate halves of her work chiefly through her use of imagery and allusion, in addition to one concrete detail; and while the references to winged things both corporeal and incorporeal give a sense of unity, the use of insect imagery which is woven through Morpho Eugenia is more cohesive and purposeful (and ultimately, quite nasty).

    The end of the summer made him think sourly of the fate of the drones, not only in terms of himself and the ants, but in terms of the other male members of the household... Robin Swinnerton and Rowena were back in the neighbourhood, still childless. Robin invited William to ride with him, and said that he envied him his luck: "A man feels a fool, you know, if an heir doesn't put in an appearance in due course - and unlike Edgar, I don't have little love-children all over the county to show I can father them if I choose...
    "Wild oats," said Robin Swinnerton, "according to Edgar, are stronger and more savoury than the cultivated kind. I always meant to save myself, to commit myself - to one."
    "You have not been married long," William said uncomfortably. "You should not lose hope, I am sure."
    "I do not," said Robin. "But Rowena is downcast, and looks somewhat enviously at Eugenia's bliss. Your little ones are very true to type - veritable Alabasters."
    "It is though environment was everything and inheritance nothing, I sometimes think. They suck in Alabaster substance and grow into perfect little Alabasters - I only rarely catch glimpses of myself in their expression - "
    He thought of the Wood Ants enslaved by the sanguinea, who believed they were sanguinea, and shook himself. Men are not ants, said William Adamson to himself, and besides, the analogy will not do, an enslaved Wood Ant looks like a Wood Ant, tho' to a sanguinea it may smell Blood-red. I am convinced their modes of recognition are almost entirely olfactory. Though it is possible they navigate by the sun, and that is to do with the eyes...
    "You are dreaming," said Robin.

Jan 7, 10:54pm Top

>89 lyzard: Qualifies for the British Author Challenge, Liz. Just sayin.

I will start Death Walks in Eastrepps tonight.

Jan 8, 3:44pm Top

>90 PaulCranswick:

Unfortunately read last year, but thank you for the thought!

You didn't really think I was up to my January reviews, did you?? :D

I have one-and-a-half chunksters still to get through first, but I promise I'll be getting to it eventually. Hope you enjoy it!

Jan 8, 5:08pm Top

B. F.'s Daughter - John P. Marquand's 1946 novel is (as he declares in his preface) an examination not so much of the social, but the moral upheaval of wartime---though one set amongst a specific and rather narrow group of people. Most of it is told in retrospect, from the point of view of Polly Fulton Brett as she deals with two great crises in her life: the apparent failure of her marriage, and the death of her father, self-made industrialist Burton Fulton - "B. F." The narrative traces B. F.'s rise from poverty and obscurity to great success and wealth; nouveau wealth; but its main thrust is the long-term effect upon Polly of her father's idiosyncratic nature and her own position as a fringe-dweller in the upper-crust society to which he has raised her---and Polly's eventual realisation that, rebel against it as she might, she is very much her father's daughter---ruthless and managing; but what meant success for B. F. means disaster for his daughter. In the here-and-now, Polly must deal with her growing suspicion that it is not only his war-work that keeps her husband, Tom Brett, away from her in Washington. This in turn leads her to ponder her early relationship with the blue-blooded Bob Tasmin, and whether she married the wrong man... There is a serious and cogent argument at the heart of B. F.'s Daughter, in its broad observations about the moral impact of war even "back home": how "nothing that used to matter seems to matter any more"; the fear that the old standards were gone, without anything solid to replace them. While this is clearly why Marquand sets his novel amongst the wealthy and privileged - the people he thinks ought to be setting those standards - it makes it hard to take their personal problems too seriously. Oddly, Marquand himself is aware of this: an observation is made several times that, whatever her difficulties, "no-one feels sorry for a girl if she's on a yacht". Another, and ultimately more serious issue is that Marquand doesn't seem to like his own protagonist very much; we get the feeling that he's rather sorry for both men involved with her. Furthermore, while Polly's rebellion against her relationship with Bob Tasmin as just a little too perfect, a little too obvious, a little too expected, is psychologically acute, Marquand never succeeds in making her marriage to the brash, self-absorbed Tom Brett credible. But at least we see their marriage. Bob Tasmin is Marquand's idealised sketch of aristocratic America, his model for what the upper classes ought to be: honourable, dutiful, self-sacrificing, courageous; and evidently we are intended to take the novel's ruminations upon his perfections straight, unleavened by irony, despite the occasional dip from the sublime to the prosaic. It is presumably for this reason that we are never shown Bob's own rebound marriage at all until towards end of the book---we might find something in it to criticise, and criticism of Bob Tasmin just isn't permitted. In this, if in very little else in B. F.'s Daughter, we are in sympathy with Polly and her rejection of a man who, so this novel insists, never does the wrong thing.

    You never particularly envied security in others until your own was gone. In fact, if you possessed it yourself, you gave it a different name when you observed it in other people. You called it complacency or dullness or unawareness. Mildred Tasmin's conviction that everything was right in her world seemed to Polly now a priceless possession. It was all very well to tell herself that everything was falling to dust around Mildred, poor thing, without her knowing it, but when the news reached Mildred Tasmin, as Polly was certain it would, that Lieutenant Colonel Tasmin's plane was overdue and might be presumed lost, Mildred would still be secure with his memory. It was exasperating to Polly that Mildred should not have shown that she valued what she had. If she were Mildred, she would have stayed right there in Scott Circle, instead of going to Connecticut. She would have been making a nuisance of herself getting in touch with officers who might have news of Bob Tasmin. She would not be sitting waiting, saying that no news was good news.
    She wished Mildred had not called, because Bob Tasmin was back in her thoughts again. Wherever he might be now, if he were alive, he would fit---never saying too little or too much, always looking as though he were meant to be there---and if he was afraid he would not show it. Even if he were dead, his memory would be as clear as Burton Fulton's, without any smudges or shadows. If there were any women, Bob Tasmin would not be mixed up with them. Bob Tasmin would not need sedatives for insomnia, and if he threw cigarettes at the fireplace, they would land there. His trousers would be neatly folded on a chair, and he would not leave his pajamas in a heap on the floor.
    Polly slammed the bedroom door shut so that she would not see Tom's evening clothes or his pajamas...

Jan 9, 7:55am Top

>88 lyzard: So business as usual for the Dinsmore family LOL!

because good Christians can't be happy in anything less than a whacking great house, amiright?

I wish someone would give my realtor that memo. I may or may not be a particularly good Christian some days, but I really would like a whacking great house! (Total sarcasm, by the way... I've never been much of one for the prosperity gospel.)

Jan 9, 9:53am Top

A belated Happy New Year to you! Your cats are very handsome!

Marjorie Morningstar is on my TBR pile and I'd love to join the group read when it gets going.

Jan 9, 10:13am Top

>92 lyzard: If ever a book was calling out for a title change, surely this is it. The Daughter of B.F., anyone?

Also, wanted to report that I have dug up my copy of Sad Cypress and am correcting my dreadful out-of-order reading snafu. No Poirot during the initial setup scenes, but now that the first dead body has hit the stage I expect things to pick up nicely.

Jan 9, 3:50pm Top

>93 casvelyn:

I am not even halfway through that series yet. :(

You should do what the Dinsmore clan did, and clean up in the property market after a Civil War, when everyone else is broke and desperate.

Good Christians, you know...

>94 Sakerfalcon:

Hi, Claire, thanks for visiting! My boys thank you too. :)

Marjorie Morningstar isn't for a group read, it is for the 'Best-Seller Challenge' which I am doing with Steve (swynn): it was America's best-selling book for 1955. But I will be reading it this month (and it will be one of my TIOLI reads) if you would care to join in? :)

>95 rosalita:


There you go! - proving that British publishers just weren't in the race with the American ones!

I should think so! After such a disgraceful blunder I was considering banning you from my thread! - you know, except for the whole desperate-for-visitors thing...

I hope you enjoy it: it's one of the lesser known ones I really like.

Jan 9, 5:54pm Top

>96 lyzard: I do feel as though the universe is settling back into its normal rhythm again. It was unsettling to realize I had accidentally broken the Cardinal Rule of series reading. (Don't tell Susan, please.)

You certainly needn't feel desperate for visitors — you've got Harry and Heather and Steve and others who can actually comment on the books you read. I'm just here to provide a little comic relief now and then. And to yell SLOTH!!!!!!!!! at appropriate intervals.

Edited: Jan 9, 6:23pm Top

The Lake Of Killarney - Though not as significant a writer as her sister, Jane, who effectively invented the modern historical novel, Anna Maria Porter also found a measure of success as a novelist. This, her first novel, from 1804, is something of a transition-work: melodramatic and heavily sentimental, as was much of the fiction of the late 18th century, yet also a "domestic-Gothic", with a plot revolving around sinister schemes and false identities but with its action set in (more or less) contemporary society. Its protagonists are Felix Charlemont, the second son of the Earl of Roscommon, from whom he is estranged on account of his father's second marriage to a woman of notorious reputation; and Rose de Blaquiere, who passes for the niece of the cultured Irishman, Mr O'Niel, and his sister, but was really taken in by them some twenty years before as an abandoned baby. The two fall in love, only to be separated by secrets, misunderstandings and evil plots... The Lake Of Killarney is only a minor work, but certainly not without interest. For one thing, it is that rare three-volume novel of this era that gets better and more interesting as it goes along, rather than blowing all its best material at the outset and then struggling to fill its pages, as many others do. The first volume, which is too much sentiment and not enough plot, is actually a bit of a struggle: we spend far too much of it being told (by narrator and characters alike) about the "genius" and "brilliance" and "rare qualities" of Charlemont, when all the time he's behaving like a whiny, self-absorbed emo-boy, having convinced himself (and being determined not to do anything to unconvince himself) that Rose loves someone else. The novel is a lot easier to swallow once we get past that exasperating phase; and likewise, Charlemont himself improves as a character, even if he never quite gets over his tendency to react first and think later. Rose's own plot, meanwhile, of course involves unravelling the dark mystery of her birth and establishing her true identity. However, while all this is entertaining (assuming you have a tolerance for high-flown emotion and absurd plot-twists), the real triumph of The Lake Of Killarney lies amongst its supporting cast, where we find some genuinely good writing---in particular, with respect to Captain Harry Fitzpatrick, a most unusual creation in this sort of novel specifically because he is not "brilliant" or "a genius". On the contrary: Fitzpatrick is anything but the sharpest knife in the drawer; but his warm-heartedness, generosity and devotion to his (much smarter) wife make him the novel's most engaging character; while Flora, who marries him on the rebound, quickly learns to appreciate his real qualities. Porter's subsequent portrait of a young couple happily married and very much in love is something extremely rare in this form of literature, and gives the novel some unexpected emotional depth.

    Rose, having unthinkingly taken off her mask, whilst she drank a glass of lemonade, found herself immediately followed, by a person in the dress of a conjuror. This mask, pulling her by the sleeve, whispered, "I am a magician, child! and if you wish to hear of any lover abroad, I can tell you all that you desire."
    Rose was at first startled by this salutation; but speedily recollecting herself, answered, with great unconcern, "I have no lover abroad, and I have no questions to ask."
    "You cannot deceive me," replied the mask, in an agitated voice, "there is a man in Holland whom you were once going to marry."
    Rose, overwhelmed with the dreadful remembrances which this sentence occasioned, tried to disengage herself from the hold of the conjuror, and to mingle in the ground; the mask held her arm. "Tell me," said the person, in a voice still more agitated, "do you not love this man?---Do you not, at some future period, intend to become his wife?"
    Rose, for a moment, found a wild fancy possess her brain. She almost believed that Charlemont had returned from abroad, and was at that instant addressing her. "No," said she, rapidly, while her voice was broken by emotion, "I cannot be indifferent to his future conduct through life, but I will never see him more."
    The mask prest her hand. "Be firm in this; remember that you ought to be firm. You have no right, Rose, to dispose of yourself; you have a mother."
    Phrensied with this sentence, Rose convulsively grasped the hand which was hastily relinquishing her's---"O Heaven! do you know my mother! Tell me, I beseech you, who she is! where she is!--- Have I ever seen her?"
    The sobs, bursting from her overcharged heart, seemed to affect the person she addressed. The voice softened, from its assumed harshness, to that of a woman's---"You affect me, Rose! go. I know little of your parents, but I warn you not to marry, till you learn who they are..."

Jan 9, 6:18pm Top

With respect to the bestseller challenge: progress is being made on The Cardinal and you're right. It *is* very Catholic. Also very long. On the other hand, I've read worse books that sold even better ...

Edited: Jan 9, 6:35pm Top

>97 rosalita:

You find me less scary than Susan in that respect? I'm hurt. :D

On the contrary, you're my mainstay at the moment; and as your reward, I am (at least) working towards a new sloth...

>99 swynn:

Well, speak of angels!

Oh, dear boy, we both have. Really, though, the number books in this challenge that could have used an editor with a firm hand are starting to become for me the literary equivalent of Sisyphus' boulder.

Edited: Jan 9, 7:34pm Top

To Let - John Galsworthy's 'Forsyte Saga' picks up in the wake of WWI, with its estranged characters living their very separate lives; although - being all in and around London, and belonging to essentially the same social group - with their paths occasionally crossing. One of these encounters occurs at first at an art gallery, and afterwards within a pastry-cook's; and while the older people try unavailingly to avoid one another, Jon Forsyte and his previously unknown second cousin, Fleur, first lay eyes on one another. Fleur, who is accustomed to having her own way in everything, is spurred to pursue her attraction to the handsome young man by her awareness that there is something forbidden about him. Out of the sight of their elders, the two young people fall in love---and when the relationship is revealed, it brings with it the exposure of old secrets and a new tragedy... Given that the whole point of the original novel, The Forsyte Saga, was Galsworthy's scathing exposure of late-Victorian society, I have always felt a touch of the unnecessary about the later works in his chronicles, all set in contemporary times. It is probably not coincidental, then, that the finest passages in To Let have nothing to do with the main plot, but deal with Timothy, the last surviving Forsyte of the original family, and the cavernous, old-fashioned house in which he is living out his days. Similarly, there is unexpected emotional depth in Soames' belated appreciation of Young Jolyon's work as an artist, which over the years he always held cheap. As for that main plot, of course it places the reader in the same position as the respective parents - Young Jolyon and Irene, and Soames (Annette has little to do with her daughter) - as the thread holding the Sword of Damocles that is their mutual secrets begins to snap. There is some power in the shared situation of Soames and Irene, each of them devoted to their child and dreading the consequences of an exposure of the past. That said, Galsworthy has always, in my opinion, been rather too forgiving of Soames; and is likewise over-sympathetic to him here; though the characterisation remains his most psychologically acute. Meanwhile, somewhat frustratingly as always, we continue to see Irene, not directly, but chiefly through the eyes of the men who love and hate her. These two central portraits are supported by a thoughtful and detailed analysis of Young Jolyon, as he struggles with the secret of his failing health. Set against these three complex adults, the novel's younger characters are insufficiently interesting in their own right, being so rather because of the unknowing way they are blundering towards tragedy. Fleur, who beneath her surface femininity has all of her father's ruthlessness, makes the running in the forbidden relationship; while Jon's capacity for passionate worship means that his first love is no mere youthful fling, easily set aside. It is Young Joylon who finally takes the decisive step, revealing to Jon the long-hidden truths of the past...

    Bitterly wounded, Soames gazed at her passionate figure writhing there in front of him.
    "You didn't try---you didn't---I was a fool---I won't believe he could---he ever could! Only yesterday he---! Oh! why did I ask you?"
    "Yes," said Soames quietly, "why did you? I swallowed my feelings; I did my best for you, against my judgement---and this is my reward. Good-night!"
    With every nerve in his body twitching he went towards the door.
    Fleur darted after him. "He gives me up? You mean that? Father!"
    Soames turned and forced himself to answer: "Yes."
    "Oh!" cried Fleur. "What did you---what could you have done in those old days?"
    The breathless sense of really monstrous injustice cut the power of speech in Soames' throat. What had HE done! What had they done to him! And with quite unconscious dignity he put his hand on his breast, and looked at her.
    "It's a shame!" cried Fleur passionately.
    Soames went out. He mounted, slow and icy, to his picture-gallery, and paced among his treasures. Outrageous! Oh! Outrageous! She was spoiled! Ah! and who had spoiled her? He stood still before the Goya copy. Accustomed to her own way in everything---Flower of his life! And now that she couldn't have it--- He turned to the window for some air. Daylight was dying, the moon rising, gold behind the poplars! What sound was that? Why! That piano thing! A dark tune, with a thrum and a throb! She had set it going---what comfort could she get from that? His eyes caught movement down there beyond the lawn, under the trellis of rambler roses and young acacia-trees, where the moonlight fell. There she was, roaming up and down. His heart gave a little sickening jump. What would she do under this blow? How could he tell? What did he know of her---he had only loved her all his life...

Jan 9, 11:26pm Top

>96 lyzard: My mother always speaks fondly of Marjorie Morningstar and I've always intended to read it, but I'm not sure I can talk myself into it, lol.

Jan 9, 11:28pm Top

>102 Dejah_Thoris:

I'll probably be tackling it when I finish The Bertrams, and certainly TIOLI-ing it; but - as I always say at these moments - don't feel obliged. :)

Jan 9, 11:33pm Top

>103 lyzard: Oh, I don't feel obliged , but you keep reading things I think I ought to get to sometime - and I'm lazy!

Jan 10, 3:42am Top

>101 lyzard: Nicely sumarised. I lurk here and occasionally think "well at least I'm not reading that!".
Thats and I like the sloths and other wildlife that pops up now and then.

Jan 10, 10:04am Top

>67 lyzard: Great image! I snagged it to express my current difficulties with a book I'm probably going to send to my DNF graveyard.

Jan 10, 10:15am Top

Hi Liz, question about Silver Chalice ~ looking back on >16 lyzard: and later #28, I am unsure if you thought the novel was well-written and, say, a 4-star read. It looks intriguing.

I did follow your link to the review and I am not criticizing this write-up, just expressing my inability to decide "but was it a good read?"

I'm liking the idea of having some "mid-century" mystery novels in my reading objectives this year. It's great to have your thread to refer back and find titles.

Edited: Jan 10, 5:06pm Top

>104 Dejah_Thoris:

I struggle with the concept of my books being anyone else's books! :D

>105 Helenliz:

Thanks, Helen. Note to self: more wildlife shots! :)

(Ooh! - come to think of it, we should have a marmoset this month at least; with a faint possibility of a second lemur...)

>106 SandyAMcPherson:

A very sensible use of it! Of course I never not finish anything, sigh...

>107 SandyAMcPherson:

Let me put it this way: when I finished reading The Silver Chalice, I commented:

...which escapes my crushed-by-a-book logo purely by virtue of being a bit shorter, and a bit easier to read, than the rest of its Overlong Religious-Themed Best-Seller ilk.

By 'shorter' I mean it was only 527 pages long. :)

It is hard for me to be objective about it as an individual book because I've recently had a surfeit of this sort of work---which not only suffer from their "sameness" but from being, in my opinion, all much longer than they had any need to be. It isn't so much a case of well-written or poorly written, as just over-written.

So personally I can't say I found it "a good read", but certainly others with more of a taste for this sort of fiction - or who simply haven't spent months drowning in this sort of material - could well do so.

>107 SandyAMcPherson:

Delighted to think my lists are of use to someone else. :)

Jan 10, 5:52pm Top

I've remembered a bit of what I wanted to say about Through the Wall — I thought the after-the-capture wrapup section was a bit too long and explainary. I tend to think if you have to explain that much at the end you probably didn't do a great job along the way, but I know scattering clues and red herrings isn't really Wentworth's forte.

Also, just the absurdity of four of the main suspects being so obviously not suspects because they were our Romantic Pairings got to me. And finally, I probably was going to say something about the coincidence of Maudie having met with the victim in London, not gotten hired by her, then just happening to be on holiday in the same beach town when the crime happens and thus Janey-on-the-Spot for a little detecting — even by Wentworth's standards that deserved and got a massive eyeroll!

Edited: Jan 10, 6:17pm Top

Bulldog Drummond - Bored with peacetime, and in need of a way of earning an income, Captain Hugh Drummond places a newspaper advertisement offering his services to anyone who can, in turn, offer him both adventure and profit. Amongst a flood of replies, most of them distinctly not what Drummond is looking for, one letter stands out: a terse missive written by a woman in need of help, and even more in need of someone she can trust. Following directions, Drummond meets Phyllis Benton as if casually, for tea, and finds himself listening to an incredible story of criminal conspiracy and murder. Not entirely convinced that he isn't the victim of an elaborate joke, Drummond decides to play along---only to discover that Phyllis' tale is merely the tip of an iceberg, and that a plot is in motion that threatens the very security of England... The post-war era saw the English literary market flooded by what we might call "two-fisted thrillers", of which the Bulldog Drummond stories of Herman Cyril "Sapper" McNeile remain perhaps the best-known---chiefly because they were turned into a series of films that, frankly, don't have much to do with their source, beyond their depiction of the title character. Of upper-class background, cool, unflappable, at his best in a crisis and usually with a quip on his lips, Drummond is the exemplar-hero of this sort of fictional tale. As for the tale itself, it was a cliché even when McNeile wrote it in 1920: of course there's a beautiful girl, "the loveliest thing he had ever seen"; of course there's a conspiracy of sinister foreigners; of course "England itself" is at stake; and of course Drummond and his band of equally two-fisted followers are too much for this complex international conspiracy. The one point of originality here is that while (of course) the object of the conspiracy is to bring about a violent revolution that will leave England in tatters, so that the conspirators can move in and take over, it's all being done from a rather prosaic, business point-of-view, with those who profited from the war looking for another source of income. The narrative is - ahem, of course - full of thrust and counter-thrust, narrow escapes from death-traps and lots of nasty murders; but did those conspirators really think they had a chance against half-a-dozen Englishmen who all went to the right schools? But while it's impossible not to mock this sort of jingoistic fiction, there's a dark underbelly to Bulldog Drummond which isn't funny at all. The novel offers up a "hero" whose response to four years in the trenches of WWI is, "That was fun, let's do it again!", and who, over the course of the narrative, reveals not just a talent, but a taste, for hands-on killing. To put it bluntly, the man is a sociopath; our increasing discomfort with him topped off by the fact that Drummond was, evidently, based upon a real person: the author Gerard Fairlie who, in a creepy meta-touch, took over the writing of the Bulldog Drummond stories after McNeile's early death.

    Drummond stood leaning against the banisters regaining his self-control. There was no further sound from the cobra; seemingly it only got annoyed when its own particular domain was approached. In fact, Hugh had just determined to reconnoitre the curtained doorway again to see if it was possible to circumvent the snake, when a low chuckle came distinctly to his ears from the landing above.
    He flushed angrily in the darkness. There was no doubt whatever as to the human origin of that laugh, and Hugh suddenly realised that he was making the most profound fool of himself. And such a realisation, though possibly salutary to all of us at times, is most unpleasant.
    For Hugh Drummond, who, with all his lack of conceit, had a very good idea of Hugh Drummond's capabilities, to be at an absolute disadvantage---to be laughed at by some dirty swine whom he could strangle in half a minute---was impossible! His fists clenched, and he swore softly under his breath. Then as silently as he had come down, he commenced to climb the stairs again. He had a hazy idea that he would like to hit something---hard.
    There were nine stairs in the first half of the flight, and it was as he stood on the fifth that he again heard the low chuckle. At the same instant something whizzed past his head so low that it almost touched his hair, and there was a clang on the wall beside him. He ducked instinctively, and regardless of noise raced up the remaining stairs, on all-fours. His jaw was set like a vice, his eyes were blazing; in fact, Hugh Drummond was seeing red.
    He paused when he reached the top, crouching in the darkness. Close to him he could feel someone else, and holding his breath, he listened. Then he heard the man move---only the very faintest sound---but it was enough. Without a second's thought he sprang, and his hands closed on human flesh. He laughed gently; then he fought in silence.
    His opponent was strong above the average, but after a minute he was like a child in Hugh's grasp. He choked once or twice and muttered something; then Hugh slipped his right hand gently on to the man's throat...

Jan 10, 8:30pm Top

>110 lyzard: Hey, I've heard of this one! At least the detective's name is familiar to me, though I didn't know any details until I read your review. Funny, with a name like that I always assumed he was an American. And yikes about the sociopath bit.

Jan 10, 8:38pm Top

I assume that the parallel of villains driven to villainy by the loss of wartime revenue being defeated by a thug driven to thuggery by the loss of wartime revenue is lost on Mr. Drummond ....

Edited: Jan 10, 10:18pm Top

>109 rosalita:

But everyone comes to Ledstowe, right??

Of course stuff like that takes coincidence too far, but I think if you're going to dabble in this genre you just have to be prepared to accept certain tropes. For example, look at at something like Murder, She Wrote: Jessica Fletcher can't go anywhere in THE ENTIRE WORLD without stumbling over a corpse. And conversely, if we went for realism instead of coincidental meetings in Ledstowe, we'd have Maudie sitting in a dingy office and spending her time doing divorce work, as most PIs do. :D

>111 rosalita:

Bulldogs are (or were) British, m'dear, and yet another symbolic animal. (Which these days we might interpret rather differently, given their tendency to die prematurely of a range of in-bred genetic defects...)

I was polite: I didn't say "psychopath".

>112 swynn:

Oh, but he's not doing it for the money! - he's doing it for the opportunity to kill a bunch of people with his bare hands the honour of England!

Jan 10, 10:30pm Top

Finished The Bertrams for TIOLI #3.

I will be putting up the thread for the group read tomorrow; hope to see you there!

Now reading Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.

Edited: Jan 11, 1:32am Top

>114 lyzard: Haha, I'm still only on chapter 7 of the first volume of The Bertrams. 😅

Jan 10, 11:58pm Top

>115 Majel-Susan:

No hurry at all! I like to finish in advance so I have the big picture in my head when we start our discussion, but that discussion works best if others are reading (and hopefully commenting) at about the same pace.

Jan 11, 3:57am Top

Hallowe'en Party - While staying with her friend, Judith Butler, a young widow, in the village of Woodleigh Common, Ariadne Oliver becomes one of numerous people assisting with the preparations for a Hallowe'en party to be held for the benefit of the local children and teenagers, in the house of local doyen, Rowena Drake. Mrs Oliver is somewhat embarrassed to find herself considered a "guest celebrity", and the conversation naturally drifting to her mysteries and to real-life murder. However, when one of the young helpers, a girl called Joyce Reynolds, insists that she once saw a murder, she is scornfully shouted down by her companions; Mrs Oliver later learns that Joyce has a reputation as a teller of stories, and that no-one pays much attention to what she says. The party that evening is a great success, with all of the games and events going as planned. It is only at the end of the night that a shocking discovery is made: that Joyce Reynolds has been drowned in the large corrugated bucket used for bobbing for apples... Hallowe'en Party, like the earlier Third Girl, is a transition novel for Agatha Christie, blending a traditional mystery into a dark portrait of a modern world in which, it seems, random violence is never far away; where the "peaceful village" of Woodleigh Common turns out to have had more than its fair share of tragedies; and in which the image of the endangered child becomes a recurrent motif. Even the presence of Ariadne Oliver fails to lighten the mood, as it usually does; although there is a certain grim humour in the novelist's growing conviction that (after the events of Dead Man's Folly) she is somehow a lightning-rod for murder... Responding to Mrs Oliver's cry for help, Hercule Poirot finds the people of Woodleigh Common trying to convince themselves that Joyce fell foul of an outsider, a passing stranger, someone mentally disturbed; although the circumstances of the crime argue otherwise. Though the dead girl had a reputation as a story-teller - not to say liar - the very fact of her murder would seem to establish that, for once, she was telling the truth: begging the question of what, exactly, she saw---and who? Turning to the newly retired Inspector Spence, who lives in the district, Poirot learns of four unsolved mysteries within the assumed time-frame: a shop-girl beaten to death in the woods; the strangulation of a young teacher; the knife-murder of a lawyer's clerk; and the disappearance of an au pair after, apparently, she forged a will to her own benefit. Poirot must look into the past in order to determine which of these crimes could have been Joyce's murder: a task that takes on a whole new urgency when a second child is found dead...

    "I shouldn't have said we have any likely murderers round here. And certainly nothing spectacular in the way of murders."
    "One can have likely murderers anywhere," said Poirot, "or shall I say unlikely murderers, but nevertheless murderers. Because unlikely murderers are not so prone to be suspected. There is probably not very much evidence against them, and it would be a rude shock to such a murderer to find that there had actually been an eyewitness to his or her crime."
    "Why didn't Joyce say something at the time?" asked Spence. "That's what I'd like to know. Was she bribed to silence by someone, do you think? Too risky surely."
    "No," said Poirot. "I gather from what Mrs Oliver mentioned that she didn't recognise that it was a murder she was looking at at the time."
    "Oh, surely that's most unlikely," said Spence.
    "Not necessarily," said Poirot. "A child of thirteen was speaking. She was remembering something she's seen in the past. We don't know exactly when. It might have been three or even four years previously. She saw something but she did not realise its true significance..."

Jan 11, 4:22am Top

November stats:

Works read: 11
TIOLI: 11, in 11 different challenges, with 2 shared reads

Mystery / thriller: 3
Contemporary drama: 2
Classic: 2
Historical drama: 1
Young adult: 1
Anthology: 1
Horror: 1

Re-reads: 3
Series works: 5
Blog reads: 0
1932: 0
1931: 0
Virago / Persephone: 0
Potential decommission: 1

Owned: 3
Library: 1
Ebooks: 7

Male authors : female authors: 6 : 4
{NB: anthology authors and editors not included in totals}

Oldest work: The Lake Of Killarney by Anna Maria Porter (1804)
Newest work: Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie (1969)


YTD stats:

Works read: 127
TIOLI: 127, in 113 different challenges, with 16 shared reads

Mystery / thriller: 60
Contemporary drama: 18
Classics: 18
Historical drama: 1
Non-fiction: 9
Short stories: 4
Young adult: 4
Horror: 2
Anthology: 1
Humour: 1

Re-reads: 21
Series works: 60
Blog reads: 4
1932: 4
1931: 13
Virago / Persephone: 2
Potential decommission: 6

Owned: 30
Library: 45
Ebooks: 52

Male authors : female authors : 73 : 54
{NB: anthology authors and editors not included in totals}

Oldest work: Emmeline, The Orphan Of The Castle by Charlotte Smith (1788)
Newest work: The Social Life Of Fluids: Blood, Milk, And Water In The Victorian Novel by Jules David Law (2010)

Edited: Jan 11, 4:26am Top

November done? - hanging in there...

(This, by the way, is a picture of Liane, the world's oldest sloth, who turned 50 in November.)

Jan 11, 4:32am Top


Although one has to wonder if that degree of enthusiasm is appropriate for a sloth.

Jan 11, 8:17am Top

>108 lyzard: Susan (quondame) once commented on lengthy books, saying something along the lines of "this was a 300-page book that was 550 pages long".

I use that sentiment in reviews now because that is so true. I've many 1970-80's fantasies that are 'good reads' and all under 350 pages; more recent fantasies are edging up to 450 pages, many by the same authors. Is it a publisher driven standard? Or are the editors not able to do the work required to rein in the wordy mass market publications?

Just asking...

Jan 11, 9:02am Top

Where have you been hiding this thread???

Anyway, here I am, belatedly. There are too many posts here for me to comment adequately on the books we have both read.

But..I eagerly await your reaction to Marjorie Morningstar. My opinion is divided about this one: I loved ot at about 18 and then again around 30. On my last read, however...I’ll just say religion is strong in this one and not always in ways you might think.

Looking forward to The Bertrams!

And I love your thread, partly because we seem to be on parallel quests for mysteries (you’re much more dedicated to chronology than I), and partly because we both love the ancient and obscure.
And Trollope, of course.

Edited: Jan 11, 9:24am Top

>96 lyzard: You should do what the Dinsmore clan did, and clean up in the property market after a Civil War, when everyone else is broke and desperate.

Yeah... not happening on a civil servant's salary.

Jan 11, 9:55am Top

>119 lyzard: You cracked me up with Liane, Liz - a 50 year old sloth? My kindred spirit, lol!

Now if I could just get the hanging upside down part right....

Jan 11, 4:28pm Top

>120 Helenliz:

...yyyyyyaaaayyyyyy sssslotttthhhh... :)

>121 SandyAMcPherson:

Oh that is it EXACTLY.

I thought at first perhaps the publishers of these religiously-themed books were hesitant to cut, as if it would be disrespectful, but From Here To Eternity had exactly the same issue (and you could hardly find anything more irreligious), so I guess it was just a phase in American publishing.

Why we get these phases is a good question. (The same thing happens in the film industry, where apparently now we can't tell a story in under two-and-a-half hours.) Do they think they're giving better value for money, or is it a lack of discipline at both ends of the process?

>122 bohemima:

In plain sight, my dear, in plain sight. :D

I'd be very hurt by your neglect, if only I wasn't the world's slackest thread-visitor.

I'm enjoying Marjorie Morningstar so far, but I'm not deep enough yet to comment.

Aw, thank you, Gail. :)

>123 casvelyn:

Well, I guess you're just not a good enough Christian...

>124 Dejah_Thoris:

I thought that might fetch you! :D

Jan 11, 6:37pm Top

I have created the thread for the group read of Anthony Trollope's The Bertrams:


All welcome!

Jan 12, 10:07am Top

I've now finished Sad Cypress and am once more aligned with the chronological world. Whew!

One of the incomprehensible (to me) British things highlighted in this book is fish paste sandwiches. I'm not entirely sure what fish paste is, but it sounds dreadful!

Jan 12, 6:31pm Top

>127 rosalita:

I can breathe again! :D

It's just a flavoured sandwich spread; how much seafood was actually in it is highly debatable. It was cheap and easy and therefore popular. I may say that I remember it clearly enough from my childhood although come to think of it I can't recall seeing it any time recently; I wonder if it still exists?

Jan 12, 7:50pm Top

>127 rosalita: >128 lyzard: I always thought it sounded revolting!

Jan 12, 8:45pm Top

>129 Dejah_Thoris:

I always found the idea of peanut butter and jelly revolting, so I quite understand. :D

Jan 13, 1:33am Top

Fish paste. mmm. It came in jars, made by Shipdhams. You can still buy it in the UK. Think a poor man's salmon pate and you're not too far wrong. It tasted better than it sounds, honest.

Jan 13, 5:25am Top

>131 Helenliz: It tasted better than it sounds, honest.

It would almost have to, Helen! :-) I think it's the name that is most off-putting to my ears. If someone offered me salmon pate I would probably be happy to try it, but fish paste? Ew.

In Sad Cypress the alleged poisoner bought two jars — shrimp and anchovy, and salmon and shrimp, if I remember correctly. Honestly compels me to say that the poison was not already in the jars!

Edited: Jan 13, 8:13am Top

Laughing my head off at the fish paste commentary.
Some things you just have to grow up with on the menu. Like Marmite. Blech!

Some of my best friends came from a British Isles background and loved both products, fish paste sandwiches or marmite on toast. Regional tastes vary, I guess. Kind of like the regionality of certain novel themes. I read Supermarket last year and noted that the drama around business practices has apparently become a popular theme by Japanese authors.

Jan 13, 10:29am Top

I was brought up on fish paste sandwiches, but I don't recall seeing it (or eating) it in years, and I don't remember ever actual buying it myself as an adult. It's still sold, but pretty out-of-fashion I would imagine. Princes is the brand I remember ...

Jan 13, 5:31pm Top

So! - I've finally figured out how to get visitors and conversation on my thread. :D

I can remember the little glass jars of...what did we call it here? I don't think it was fish paste...but I haven't been a sandwich person since I was at school and have no idea if it still exists. I'll keep an eye out the next time I'm at the supermarket.

>133 SandyAMcPherson:

Feh! - Marmite is just Vegemite for wimps. :)

Jan 14, 12:58am Top

>135 lyzard: food always brings people in >;-)

Vegemite tastes OK, but has a wierd, grainy texture that I really can't be getting on with. Marmite, however, is one of the foods of the gods*. When I had a bout of anemia, and the doctor was listing foods high in B12, Marmite was on the list. Never have I been so pleased to follow medical advice. >:-p

*I may have some very strange gods inhabiting my own personal pantheon!

Jan 14, 6:00pm Top

>136 Helenliz:

Noted. I should start posting my cooking disasters experiments. :D

I've never had a texture problem with Vegemite; I wonder if the overseas versions are different somehow? But yes, it is a ridiculously healthy foodstuff, B vitamins in particular. (We use it as a hangover cure here which, given its origins, strikes me as a weirdly appropriate 'circle of life' sort of arrangement.)

Meanwhile---this doesn't sound any more appetising but my memory has - so to speak - thrown up the term "Peck's paste", which as far as I can tell is still commonly available in supermarkets. I will now try to hunt a jar down during my next shop and see what my adult tastebuds have to say.

Jan 14, 6:08pm Top

>130 lyzard: What do you have against peanut butter and jelly? Although, truth but told I only like crunchy peanut butter and truly prefer jam.

I live in the state (Georgia) that produces over 50% of the U.S. peanut crop - I have to come to it's defense!

Btw, I picked up Marjorie Morningstar from the library. It looked pretty reasonable until I realized how small the print was....

Edited: Jan 15, 4:36pm Top

>138 Dejah_Thoris:

The whole concept is just disgusting to me - I don't like disparate things mixed together - but, separating it into its component parts, I don't eat jam or jelly anyway (allergies) and I'm not a sandwich person so I don't eat peanut butter.

So a 'no' all around.

(I do eat peanuts, if that helps soothe your hurt feelings!)

I had exactly that reaction when I opened Marjorie Morningstar! It's a reasonably easy read, though I found much of it a bit tedious, rather wash-rinse-repeat if you know what I mean. (I've got about 50 pages to go, ironic considering how '50 pages to go' is used metaphorically within the book.)

Jan 14, 6:17pm Top

>139 lyzard: Well, at least you eat peanuts.

Marjorie Morningstar sounds doable - I'll finally be able to tell my mother I've read it.

Edited: Jan 14, 7:08pm Top

Move Over: A Novel Of Our "Better Classes" - Sheila Tressinger is born into wealth, luxury and privilege, and is accustomed to getting everything she wants; and when she is nineteen, she decides that what she wants is Chris Challoner. As far as appearance goes, the handsome young man is a perfect match for Sheila. Chris is, however, the product of a poor family who has had to work for everything he has, and intends to go on working even after he becomes "Mr Sheila Tressinger". During the honeymoon the couple's debates upon the subject usually end inconclusively, lost amongst the lovemaking; but once they try to establish a home together their opposed ideas begin to drive a wedge between them. Chris's determination to work takes him away from Sheila for longer and longer periods, during which she finds herself consoled by the company of the attractive but impecunious and cynical Don Dulaney... Ethel Pettit's 1927 exposé of the misbehaviour of the obscenely wealthy caused something of a furor when the novel was published, though it all seems like a storm in a teacup today, and a rather dull one at that. However, Move Over's prosaic attitude to such matters as adultery and divorce does separate from various contemporary works which, if they dealt with such topics, usually did so in a hostile crusading spirit. Pettit, though equally condemnatory, confines herself to a disgusted shrug. Moreover, she has enough honesty to follow through on her premise; and though Chris is left badly burned by his experiences amongst the "rich and famous", Sheila quickly shakes off what she comes to regard as her mistake and is reabsorbed back into her society. The novel's sympathy is all with Chris, whose personal integrity makes him something of a freak in the world into which he has married; and yet the mistake is his too: it is painfully evident to the reader that he and Sheila have nothing in common but their physical attraction to one another, and once the honeymoon is over, literally and physically, it is only a question of whether or not Chris will give up his fight for autonomy---doomed as that fight self-evidently is. There's such a sense of inevitability about the crumbling of the marriage that it is hard to stay engaged. The one real point of interest here is the reaction of Mr Tressinger to these events: he, having taken Chris to his heart as a son, is mortified by Sheila's behaviour, yet feels obliged to side with her despite his profound disapproval. This tangled response is a tiny oasis of genuine feeling in a work otherwise devoted to depicting self-absorption and self-indulgence---even if it is called "love".

    "I must tell you something, you silly little mug," Don said, "something very important, probably, to you. Now get this straight in your pretty little head and heart. If you love Chris, and I think you do, if you just happen to like to sit here in my arms just because you rather like to---Oh, Sheila," he ended.
    And then, after they had come to no mutually persuasive conclusion, Don continued his idea. "I want to be fair to you, Sheila. Chris won't stand for any deceit on your part. Chris (and believe me, even though I am an unlaureled psychologist) Chris is the only person I've ever known that will thumb his nose at a hundred million dollars."
    "What do you mean?"
    "He has you licked, dearest. One of you will have to give up." Don hugged her fiercely to himself. "If you want to keep Chris---"
    "Don," she asked, "couldn't you continue to love me if---"
    "Dear, yes, a thousand yeses. But Chris won't stand for it."
    "I didn't mean---" she began, and stopped.
    And he knew perfectly what she didn't mean but what he could make her mean...

Edited: Jan 14, 7:19pm Top

Move Over was of course Banned In Boston: at a time when any novel dealing frankly with divorce (even to condemn it) ended up banned, this one never stood a chance. In addition we have the behaviour of the novel's "heroine", who cheats on her husband, divorces him, and then effectively bribes her lover into marrying her:

Next up in the Banned in Boston challenge:

Oil! by Upton Sinclair.

Jan 15, 3:52pm Top

Finished Marjorie Morningstar for TIOLI #14.

Now reading Ralph The Bailiff, And Other Tales by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Edited: Jan 15, 6:47pm Top

Best-selling books in the United States for 1954:

1. Not as a Stranger by Morton Thompson
2. Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier
3. Love Is Eternal by Irving Stone
4. The Royal Box by Frances Parkinson Keyes
5. The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
6. No Time for Sergeants by Mac Hyman
7. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
8. The View from Pompey's Head by Hamilton Basso
9. Never Victorious, Never Defeated by Taylor Caldwell
10. Benton's Row by Frank Yerby

America's reading in 1954 was again dominated by war and history.

Mika Waltari's The Egyptian, the #1 best-seller of 1949 (reviewed here), reappears courtesy of the release of its film version. Frank Yerby's regular best-seller, Benton's Row, is about an ambitious, social climbing Southerner and his descendants, and stretches from the pre-Civil War era to WWI. Taylor Caldwell's Never Victorious, Never Defeated is set against the presidency of Andrew Jackson and the construction of the railways, and deals with the impact of industrialisation, capitalism and business monopolies upon the ideals of democracy. Irving Stone's Love Is Eternal is a biographical novel about Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd.

Daphne du Maurier's Mary Anne is a Regency-set novel about Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of Frederick, Duke of York, who drew him into a notorious scandal of selling army promotions. The novel is generally considered over-kind to Clarke---possibly because she was du Maurier's great-grandmother.

John Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday is effectively a sequel to Cannery Row, with his characters picking up the pieces in the wake of WWII. However, we see that by this time it was okay to laugh at the military, if not the war: Mac Hyman's No Time for Sergeants is a comic novel about the misadventures of two bumbling young conscripts.

Both Frances Parkinson Keyes' The Royal Box and Hamilton Basso's The View from Pompey's Head are contemporary works with their roots in the past. The former is based upon a real-life scandal, and traces events over some three decades to show how a scandalous affair eventually led to murder; the latter deals with a New York lawyer returning to the South, where he grew up, to investigate a possible crime, and dealing also with the philosophical divide of the two halves of his life.

The year's best-seller is also set across a period of decades, from the early 20th century onwards: Morton Thompson's Not as a Stranger is the story of a poor young man's determination to be a doctor, and his ruthless journey to achieve his ambition.

Edited: Jan 15, 7:12pm Top

Little is publicly known about the life of Morton Thompson, although he had a great many famous friends. He was predominantly a journalist and columnist, including for the Hollywood Citizen News. He found some success as a screenwriter, and as the author of "journalistic memoirs". He wrote only two novels, both of them with medical themes: 1949's The Cry And The Covenant is a biographical novel about Ignaz Semmelweis, who fought to propagate his ideas about hygiene and sanitation in medical practice; while 1954's Not As A Stranger is a work of fiction about a young man's fight to be a doctor, and hospital conditions during the first half of the 20th century.

Sadly, Thompson died prematurely in 1953---not living to see his second novel become America's best-selling book of the following year.

These days, however, bizarrely enough, Morton Thompson is remembered not so much for his writing, as for his recipe for preparing turkey.

The entire story (or at least, a version of it) may be found here.

Edited: Jan 16, 5:34pm Top

Not As A Stranger - From his earliest days Lucas Marsh knows only one thing: that he is destined to be a doctor. His fight to achieve his dream begins early, as both of his parents - otherwise at loggerheads over everything - are in agreement with their disapproval: his father, Job, because there is no money in it; his mother, Ouida, because of her spiritualistic rejection of standard medical practices. However, Lucas finds sympathisers in the town's doctors, who foster his ambition by lending him books and even allowing him to accompany them on their rounds. However, it is finally his mother's grim death from cancer that paves the way for Lucas's enrollment in college, where his every contact with the medical profession strengthens his determination. However, when his father's erratic behaviour leaves him unable to pay his fees, Lucas discovers that when it comes to his professional ambition, there is nothing he won't do---a realisation that finally leads him to cold-bloodedly court and marry theatre-nurse, Kristina Hedvigsen, who he despises, but who has sufficient money to carry him through his final studies and his embarkation as a fully-qualified doctor... Published in 1954, Morton Thompson's Not As a Stranger is set over the early decades of the 20th century, and deals with the state of contemporary medical and hospital practice with disturbing frankness. The novel strips away any romanticised ideas about the medical profession and showing instead, on one hand, the continual, crushing battle against not merely disease, but the effects of poverty and ignorance; on the other, the devastating consequences of incompetence, carelessness and greed in a profession with, literally, power over life and death. Against this is set the character of Lucas Marsh, whose dedication to Medicine (always with a capital 'M') is absolute. This is where the novel hits a brick wall: Lucas may be a good doctor, but he's a lousy human being. Not As A Stranger is a perfect example of (and I apologise for this: I know I have to find a better expression, but in the meantime this covers it) The Male Narrative: those novels devoted to a male protagonist's ruthless pursuit of his goals and the lengths to which he will go to achieve them---in which the reader is apparently expected to stay engaged despite his often appalling behaviour. Here, Lucas's position as the embodiment of Pure Medicine is evidently supposed to compensate for his self-righteousness, his utter selfishness, his disinterest in people - as opposed to patients - and above all his unconscionable treatment of his wife, who commits the unforgivable sin of not quite having the same view as him of Medicine...in addition to being Swedish. (Given Lucas' disgust with his society's treatment of Jewish and black doctors, his vicious bigotry with respect to Kristina and her origins seems more than a little bizarre; I guess the Swedes don't produce so many good doctors, so screw 'em...) In this context, Lucas's last-minute reformation - not to mention the events that bring it about - are entirely unbelievable; less so, given the nature of this sort of fiction, that these same events conspire to make everything just fine for Lucas Marsh.

    "Nothing can be done?"
    "I won't take their money. There's hundreds of sick people to treat, people you can really do something for---"
    "But they're sick too. If it can't be cured they need a doctor worse than than any of them---"
    "I'm not a witch doctor, Kristina."
    "But if they get comfort---if they're willing to pay---"
    "There are plenty of doctors who will take them, "Lucas said bitterly. "Plenty, it seems."
    "But Dr Runkleman---"
    "I don't think Dr Runkleman ever had the time to fully diagnose---I think he just did the best he could in the time he had---treating a symptom here---popping pills like popping candy into kids' mouths to keep them quiet. I can't do that."
    "If they get the good out of it---if what they pay lets you do charity work for the ones that need it---"
    "There's no such thing as charity work," he said wearily. "There's only Medicine. Just one Medicine."
    He turned away. "You'll never understand, Kristina. I might as well be talking to a laundress, or a shopkeeper... It's not in you. You understand money. Money's not Medicine."
    "I know, Lucas! I know how you feel! That's how I want you to feel! But you got to have money---a little money---just enough to---"
    "To what?"
    "To be...to be happy."
    He looked at her with dislike and contempt...

Jan 16, 5:47am Top

Was drawn to your thread when I saw you were reading Majorie Morningstar which I want to read sometime. I started the audiobook last year but wasn't in love with the narrator so put it to one side.

I remember those fish paste sandwiches, not sure if I had it that often though...and I'm from a marmite family, still can't believe that my brother went over to vegemite when he got married.

Edited: Jan 16, 1:54pm Top

>144 lyzard: You make the The Royal Box sound interesting, although I've only ever read part of another of the author's work, Dinner at Antoine's but it was tediously looong and I didn't finish it. I looked on LT at the RB work page and no one has reviewed it! Fiddle.

I still have JS's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday on my shelves. The only other Steinbeck I've saved from that era is Travels with Charley. I hugely admired Doc, (Ed Ricketts) for his still outstanding intertidal work, Between Pacific Tides.

Your 1950's reading objective is sure a trip down memory lane!

Jan 16, 5:48pm Top

>147 avatiakh:

Hi, Kerry! I have to say I ended up disappointed in Marjorie Morningstar, for reasons I'll explain at unnecessary length in due course. :)

Who was the narrator? I avoid audiobooks because I very rarely hit a narrator who doesn't bug me in some way or other (and therefore disengage me).

Another fish paster! - I don't feel so bad now.

still can't believe that my brother went over to vegemite when he got married.


>148 SandyAMcPherson:

Hi, Sandy! I think Keyes was trying for the Dorothy Sayers thing of mixing mystery and literature, which can be a very tricky game. The Royal Box seems fairly readily available here, and of course it's on The List, so we'll see.

I haven't gotten any further than the obvious with Steinbeck. I can't say I love him, but I know I should give a chance to a wider range of his works.

I hope you're getting something out of it! - I can't honestly say my recent 50s reading is giving me too many memories I want to have. :)

Edited: Jan 16, 5:50pm Top

Speaking of which---

Perhaps I'll say this before Steve does:

At least Not As A Stranger is 500 pages shorter than Anthony Adverse. :D

Jan 16, 5:50pm Top

Marjorie Morningstar, on the other hand---

There we have The Female Narrative; meaning that we spend 650 pages agonising over whether or not Marjorie will get married.


Jan 16, 6:09pm Top

Edited: Jan 16, 8:50pm Top

>152 swynn:

Both of these books have something to offer - Not As A Stranger its depiction of hospital practice and its often gruesome medical detail (if you like that sort of thing), and Marjorie Morningstar its Jewishness, if I can put it like that* - but it doesn't outweigh their protagonist-related issues.

(*I will say that I enjoyed this Jewish novel a lot more than our recent Catholic one! - not that's it's a contest, of course... :D )

Edited: Jan 16, 9:30pm Top

>89 lyzard: Adding that one to the BlackHole, Liz. I am a fan of Byatt.

>144 lyzard: I loved The Egyptian when I read it several years ago. I aim to get a copy of it one of these days.

Jan 16, 9:26pm Top

>154 alcottacre:

Hi, Stasia! - thanks for visiting. :)

That was my first Byatt: I can imagine some readers finding her tone off-putting but I'd be interested in reading more...one of these days...

I enjoyed The Egyptian more than I expected to and found it surprisingly accessible; although as Steve and I were saying, there's certainly stuff in it that can be tricky to interpret.

Jan 16, 9:31pm Top

>155 lyzard: I have read both Possession and The Children's Book by Byatt and would recommend them to you.

Jan 16, 9:39pm Top

Jan 16, 9:40pm Top

Oh, dear.

This is a couple of years old now, but I don't expect the situation has changed much in the interim:

Women better represented in Victorian novels than modern, study finds

Jan 17, 12:07am Top

Serial Killers: The Insatiable Passion - Published in 1995, this is yet another of that period's seemingly endless studies of serial killers, and a generally unsatisfactory one. This is not a focused work so much as a literature review, which examines other studies on serial killers in an effort to reach some consensus on the subject---finally to admit that there is no consensus, not least because no-one can even agree upon a definition of "serial killer". Thus, some of the case studies offered and the conclusions drawn from them include (for example) people who commit multiple murders purely for personal gain; whereas others confine themselves to crimes with a clear psycho-sexual motive. A lot of information is presented that would no doubt be of use to those formally studying in this area (if only to warn them of the pitfalls in this sort of research), and there is no doubt that David Lester intended to highlight the contradictions and confusions; but for the more casual reader the cumulative effect is frustrating. In addition, the second half of the book is, conceptually, all over the place. Part of it is devoted to discussions of those not usually thought of as "serial killers" at all: historical figures such as Gilles de Rais, and the outlaws and bandits of more recent times; the Nazi doctors; terrorists; gang members; and organised crime figures. The book concludes by discussing the tricky question of whether a serial killer must be insane - or legally insane, which is of course different; and concludes with a case study of Dennis Nilsen, the British serial killer who murdered sixteen young men between 1978 and 1983, in a particularly gruesome example of "killing for company".

In the end, we must realise that there are so many types of serial murderers that, with the present state of knowledge, it is virtually impossible to construct a solid profile of serial killers. Much more research needs to be conducted on the psychological and behavioural characteristics of serial killers, as well as the reasons why people turn to this type of murder. A scientific understanding of this sort can only be achieved through a careful and measured study of the facts---a movement past the sensationalism toward study and analysis. It is my hope that this book will be seen as a step in that direction.

Jan 17, 8:27am Top

I'm a big fan of Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, too. Nice to see the latter made the bestseller list that year.

Jan 17, 9:17am Top

Interesting dialogue going on in here.
I so would not tackle a 650-page book like at >151 lyzard:, ~ Marjorie Morningstar

Jan 17, 11:46am Top

>153 lyzard: Well, that's encouraging.

I've only just begun From Here To Eternity and proceeding slowly but it's so far not bad. I think I won't hate it, though Jones still has plenty of room to lose me.

Jan 17, 4:05pm Top

>160 jnwelch:

Hi, Joe! Thanks, noted. It's interesting that Cannery Row itself didn't make the best-seller list but Sweet Thursday did. We've encountered a number of other Steinbecks on the way through, though: East Of Eden, The Wayward Bus, The Moon Is Down, Of Mice And Men, and of course The Grapes Of Wrath, which was our #1 in 1939.

>161 SandyAMcPherson:

It was disappointing because at the outset it seems like a book about Marjorie's efforts to escape her "natural destiny" but at some point it just gives up on that and becomes about whether she can get the man she wants to marry to marry her.

But around all this, as I say, is the fact of Marjorie being Jewish and her interactions with her family and community, and that aspect of the novel is fascinating. This is really the first Jewish novel we've come across, and absolutely the first to present Jewish people in a normal and natural light. For example by contrast Not As A Stranger talks about the endemic antisemitism within the medical profession and the dreadful treatment of Jewish doctors by their peers.

So as I say, it's not without value, but ultimately I found it disappointing.

>153 lyzard:

See above. :D

I personally put From Here To Eternity in the same category, it does have a lot to offer but also has certain aspects that finally left a negative impression. It is also - and thank you again to Susan and Sandy - another "300 page book that was 550 pages long", or in this case maybe a 500 page book that was 955 pages long. If these books knew when to quit I'd probably feel a lot less hostile.

BUT - all that said - you may well bring away a completely different impression of all three.

Jan 17, 6:45pm Top

Lichtenstein: Romantische Sage aus der wuerttembergischen Geschichte (Lichtenstein: Romantic Saga from the History of Württemberg) - Wilhelm Hauff is today best known for his fairy-tales drawing upon German folklore, but he has another claim to fame in that, in 1826, only a year before his sadly premature death, he published the first example of the German historical novel. Only one English translation of his work has ever been undertaken, however, that published in 1839 by James Justinian Morier under the title The Banished: A Swabian Historical Tale: a version that opens with Morier's declaration that "though considerable freedom has been used in the translation from the original text, the subject matter has been closely followed". This of course makes me acutely uncomfortable; but (as was also the case with Mika Waltari's Sinuhe The Egyptian, read for the best-seller challenge), if it's the only game in town, what choice do I have? Wilhelm Hauff was born and raised in Württemberg, then a part of the Duchy of Swabia (located in what is now the southwest part of Germany); and he takes as his subject matter a critical period in Württemberg's history, the 1519 invasion of the territory by the so-called "Swabian League", which drove its hereditary ruler, Duke Ulrich, into exile. Hauff's declared purpose in Lichtenstein was to in some measure rehabilitate the reputation of Ulrich who, the novel argues, was the victim of false of damaging rumours set about by the members of the League, who then used them as an excuse to "rescue" Ulrich's subjects in what was essentially a land-grab. In this respect, it cannot be said that the novel achieves its purpose. Though Ulrich may not have been guilty of murdering the man he believed to be his wife's lover, Hauff's narrative still presents him as a reckless and hot-tempered man whose inability to keep his head in a crisis was at the root of his difficulties, and who hardly deserved the loyalty and devotion of those noblemen who risked everything in his attempt to regain his position. Moreover, though Ulrich did eventually succeed in driving the invaders out and re-establishing himself, Hauff concentrates his narrative on his first, unsuccessful attempt to do so. The reason for this is clearly the author's own fascination with the stronghold castle of Lichtenstein, a medieval fortress built on a high escarpment in the Swabian Jura: in Hauff's version of the story, rather than fleeing Württemberg as was generally believed, Ulrich found a refuge in Lichtenstein, and from there launched his first attempt to seize back his country. It is very evident that Wilhelm Hauff was hugely influenced in the writing of Lichtenstein by the novels of Walter Scott, Waverley in particular---and this shows itself not just in its focus on a doomed cause, but Hauff's decision to place at the centre of his story a young and rather vacillating "hero", who gets caught up in historical events more or less by accident. Albert von Sturmfeder is of noble heritage, but cruel circumstances have stripped him of his family's property and left him to make his own way in the world. His need to do so is all the more urgent since he is in love with, and secretly betrothed to, Bertha von Lichtenstein. With little thought of the rights and wrongs of the situation, Albert impulsively allies himself with the Swabian League---only to discover that Bertha's father, the Knight of Lichtenstein, is Ulrich's most passionate adherent. Not having committed himself so far that he may not honourably withdraw, Albert manages to extricate himself from the Swabians and sets off to offer his sword to the Duke and his cause... Though interesting in the historical sense, Lichtenstein is a somewhat frustrating work in that its two main characters are likewise frustrating. Though we must commend Wilhelm Hauff for not whitewashing Ulrich or ignoring his flaws, the fact that the Duke's own reckless behaviour is chiefly responsible for both his initial loss of his territory and his failure to regain it make it impossible to sympathise with him; while the devotion of his followers and the sacrifices they make in his cause are hard to understand and even harder to swallow. Albert is, in a sense, Ulrich in miniature---always being praised for his supposed noble qualities, while what we see is his emotional immaturity and impulsiveness. Despite these stumbling-blocks, Lichtenstein is an interesting novel about an important period in German history. In particular, it has a strong sense of time and place, and offers a number of memorable descriptive passages, most notably in the scenes set in and around the castle from which it takes its title.

    "The whole forty have broken their oaths---you have lost your country. My Lord Duke, Tübingen is gone!"
    The man, whom these words more immediately concerned, sank in a chair at the window: he covered his face with his hands, his agitated breast appeared to seek in vain for breath, his whole frame trembled.
    The eyes of all were directed to him, expressive of commiseration and pain, particularly Albert's, who now for the first time learnt the name of "the man"---it was him, Duke Ulrich of Würtemberg! Recollections of the first moment he had met him, of his first visit to the cavern, of the conversation they had had, and the way which his whole bearing had surprised him and bound him to his cause, crossed his mind in one rapid flight. It was quite incomprehensible to him, that he had not long ago made the discovery.
    No one dared to break the silence for some time. The heavy breathing of the Duke only was heard, and his faithful dog, who appeared to partake of his master's misery, added his pitiable whining to the distressing scene. Old Lichtenstein at length giving a sign to the knight of Schweinsberg, they both approached the Duke, and touched his cloak, in order to rouse him, but he remained immoveable and silent. Bertha had stood aloof, with tears in her eyes. She now drew near with hesitating step, put her hand on his shoulder, and, beholding him with a look of tender compassion, at last took courage to say, "My Lord Duke! it is still good Würtemberg for ever!"
    A deep sigh escaping from his breast, was the only notice he took of the kind girl's solicitude. Albert then approached him. The expression which the exile had made use of, when they first met, flashed across his mind, and he ventured to address the same words now to his afflicted friend. "Man without a name," said he, "why so downhearted? Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum ferient ruinæ!"
    These words acted like a charm upon Ulrich. Whether he had adopted them as his motto, or whether it was that combination of greatness of soul, and obstinate contempt of misfortune, which formed his character, and acquired for him the name of the "Undaunted," he was reanimated, as if by an electric spark, when he heard them repeated, and from that moment rose worthy of his name...

Edited: Jan 17, 9:15pm Top

Lichtenstein was read for the C. K. Shorter 'Best 100 Novels' challenge; next up is James Fenimore Cooper's The Last Of The Mohicans, which I am hoping to read next month.

Meanwhile, I am still wrestling with an earlier entry in the same challenge, known in its English-language iteration simply as Wilhelm Meister. This is Thomas Carlyle's 1824 translation of Johann Goethe's 1796 novel, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, and its belated sequel, Wilhelm Meister's Travels.

Though the first work is dense and often confusing, I managed not only to get it read, but blogged. The latter, though shorter, turned out to be even more difficult.

For one thing, Goethe significantly revised it between its initial appearance in 1821 and the second edition of 1829---meaning, among other things, that the Carlyle translation of 1824 is not taken from what is now considered the standard text (this, in addition to the fact that, as did James Morier when translating Lichtenstein, Carlyle tampered with the text).

But there is a greater problem: while Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship is a difficult but important work, Wilhelm Meister's Travels struck me as unnecessary and rather self-indulgent. I've made a start on blogging it, but it is hard to find a hook on which to hang a narrative. Still---in the spirit of keeping at least one of this year's resolutions for as much as a month, I'd really like to get it wrapped up by the end of the month.

Jan 17, 10:11pm Top

The Ivory Dagger - When Bill Waring leaves for America, on business, he considers himself engaged to the beautiful Lila Dryden, in spite of the objections of her avaricious mother. An accident in which he is injured detains him, however; and when Bill arrives home, it is to discover Lila on the verge of marriage with the much older and very wealthy Sir Herbert Whitall. The news is broken to him by Ray Fortescue, Lila's cousin, who herself cherishes a secret love for Bill. She is frightened by his anger, and unable to stop him pursuing Lila to Vineyards, Whitall's country house. The gathering is not a happy one: Lila is dreading her marriage, but is too weak, and too frightened of Whitall and her step-mother, to take any steps to avoid it; Lady Dryden herself is guarding a secret, and is in Whitall's power; Eric Haile, a relative, is there chiefly to try and borrow money, but gets a vicious tongue-lashing instead; while Whitall's secretary, Millicent Whitaker - once his mistress - is being blackmailed into retaining her post even after the wedding. Even Whitall himself suffers humiliation at the hands of a neighbour, Professor Richardson, who insists that Whitall has been imposed upon with respect to his latest addition to his collection of ivory, a carved dagger whose supposed provenance Richardson dismisses as a crude invention. It is perhaps not surprising that before this tumultuous evening is over, Sir Herbert Whitall is dead, stabbed with his own dagger; but no-one expects the shocking sight of a dazed Lila Dryden standing over the body with blood on her dress and the dagger at her feet... The 19th in Patricia Wentworth's series featuring private investigator, Miss Maud Silver, The Ivory Dagger is one of those credibility-challenged mysteries that depends not only upon gathering a house full of people with motive for murder, but manages to place pretty much all of them, overtly or covertly, at the scene of the crime. That said, Herbert Whitall is so very hateful, the desire of almost everyone he knows for his death is perfectly understandable: the man is a practising sadist, whose pleasure in controlling and manipulating those around him, and exploiting their secrets to his own ends, knows no bounds. Meanwhile, the novel's inevitable romantic subplot is relatively unobtrusive, which is always a bonus. There is some wry humour, too, in Wentworth's handling of Bill's equally inevitable drift from Lila to Ray, his disillusionment with the latter dating from his receipt of a letter which reveals her - be she ever so beautiful - as both childish and rather stupid. Even so, no-one who knows her believes Lila guilty of the murder---in spite of her own doubts upon the subject: Lila is a sleep-walker, and insists she has no memory of anything before she found herself standing over Whitall's body; a story which the police - in the shape of our old friends, Inspector Lamb and Frank Abbott, the latter by now promoted to Detective-Inspector - receive with some scepticism. Meanwhile, this is one of those rare series entries in which Miss Silver is hired outright as a detective, rather than just being conveniently in the vicinity. It is Lady Dryden who calls her in, desperate to have Lila's innocence proven; though as always, Miss Silver promises only to pursue the truth. It becomes clear in the course of the investigation that the case is very much one of timing: not just the actual time of the murder, but when various other people came and went from the scene, be their business with Whitall open or secret. In the end, however, it is Miss Silver's understanding of people, and her ability to get them to trust her and open, that finally cracks the case, as she persuades an unexpected witness to come forward...

    They went on talking---about Haile, about Lady Dryden, about the Professor. And what it came to in the end was that there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case against any of them. Haile had a very strong motive if he knew what was in the first will, but there was no proof that he did. Lady Dryden had a motive if Herbert Whitall was blackmailing her into pushing on the marriage to Lila, but there was no proof that there was any blackmail going on. The world is full of women who will rush a girl into a marriage they consider advantageous. Professor Richardson could hardly be said to have a motive at all. On the other hand, he admitted to something like a quarrel, and he was certainly one of the last people to see Herbert Whitall alive. He left Vineyards at a quarter past eleven, according to his own statement and the evidence of Frederick. Either Haile or Lady Dryden could have come down and stabbed Sir Herbert after that. Or Adrian Grey, or Marsham, or Mrs Marsham, or Frederick. So far as opportunity went, they all had it and could have availed themselves of it. And there wasn’t any evidence to show that anyone of them did.
    Miss Silver had been knitting in a thoughtful silence. She now gave a gentle cough.
    "If I may make a suggestion---"
    Lamb turned to look at her. "Think you’ve got something?"
    She smiled disarmingly. "I would not go so far as to say that. It was just a suggestion."
    "The time that is so important is from a quarter past eleven, when Professor Richardson is known to have left, and twelve o’clock, when according to her own evidence and that of Frederick it seems probable that Miss Whitaker found Sir Herbert dead. The medical evidence also supports this probability. We have, therefore, rather less than three-quarters of an hour during which anyone in the house could have come to the study and stabbed Sir Herbert..."

Jan 17, 10:35pm Top

>159 lyzard: Too bad about that one. I enjoy reading true crime stuff and it sounds like that one would have been up my alley.

Jan 17, 11:28pm Top

>167 alcottacre:

Me too, but this one was just too disorganised and unfocused.

Jan 17, 11:28pm Top

>164 lyzard: That sounds interesting even if flawed. Someday ...

>165 lyzard: Wilhelm Meister, on the other hand, holds little attraction to me, having bounced off it hard long ago. It's possible -- likely, even -- that I'd appreciate it more now with a perspective of, ahem, a few more years. But I can't work up the interest.

Jan 17, 11:31pm Top

>169 swynn:

Not great, but interesting, and something I didn't know much about. I did struggle with the German names and titles but I don't suppose you'd have as much difficulty.

Ah! - this is where I say, "Don't bother reading it, just read my blog-posts!" :D

Yesterday, 1:17am Top

Finished Ralph The Bailiff, And Other Tales for TIOLI #13.

Now reading Death Walks In Eastrepps by Francis Beeding.

Yesterday, 9:18am Top

>166 lyzard: I think you've captured most of my feelings about The Ivory Dagger, Liz. The only character I wanted to hear more from was the Professor in all his testy academic glory. The rest of them were fairly distasteful to some degree. Yes, even Ray, who was prepared to lose the love of her life without a fight when she knew darn well both her friend and her lover would make themselves miserable if they married. Heaven spare me from the self-martyring woman of (hopefully only) yesteryear.

Wentworth sure has a knack for drawing murder victims who so thoroughly deserve to be killed that there's a perverse satisfaction when the deed is finally done. No shades of gray for Our Patricia! I kinda like that about her.

Edited: Yesterday, 6:48pm Top

>172 rosalita:

She did a better job of setting up a range of suspects:

Despite the usual romance clause, I wasn't quite sure that the Lila / Adrian situation was exempt; I could see Adrian doing it in a worm-turns manner. And I was kind of sorry that it wasn't Millicent: she'd earned the right to shove a knife between his ribs.

Wellll...she had always felt somewhat responsible for Lila and wasn't privy to what was going on in Bill's head. They were technically engaged after all, and Bill did come busting in demanding to see Lila and planning to carry her away. Ray just needed to be certain that neither of them really wanted the other.

But yes, as hateful murder victims go...yeesh!

Afterthought: regarding your recent reading:

This makes a pretty stark contrast to the murder of Mary Gerard in Sad Cypress, which I find one of the coldest-blooded murders in the Christie canon.

Edited: Yesterday, 7:49pm Top

Turmoil At Brede - A late night confrontation between Elizabeth Wild and Basil Gorman at Brede Hall, the country house of the young widow, Lady Hermione Brede, ends with Gorman being shot and wounded and Elizabeth fleeing into the night with Gorman's attache-case. Terrified of pursuit and arrest, when her train slows as it approaches London, Elizabeth jumps out and makes her way on foot to her grim, backstreets home. There she finds no refuge: instead, she blunders into some sort of meeting involving her father and must flee again. Rescue comes in a most unexpected form: a man, who she recognises from the train, and who dresses like a tramp but speaks like a gentleman, intervenes to save her---by addressing her pursuer by name, Charles Latchmer, and by showing Latchmer his own face by streetlight... Owning only to the name "Mr Penn of Pentonville", the man reveals that he knows almost as much about Elizabeth's business as she does herself, and stuns her again by carrying her to his luxurious flat. There, Elizabeth explains that her father, the solicitor Barrington Wild, has been drawn into some kind of criminal venture, and forced to write a confession which is being held over his head. In meeting Gorman, she hoped to frighten him into turning over the confession by using a piece of information she had accidentally gained, about something called "the Akenside-Wyatt affair": a phrase which electrifies Penn... First published in 1931, Seldon Truss' Turmoil At Brede is a complicated thriller with a fabulous premise, but which ultimately doesn't quite live up to its potential. Parts of it are excellent, however---including the outrageous scheme being carried out by the bad guys, who include not just Gorman and Latchmer, but the beautiful and socially prominent Lady Hermione, involving arranged marriages between wealthy social-climbing girls and impecunious but titled men---which somehow always end in tragic death and the disappearance of large sums of money. Furthermore, the eventual revelation of the true identity of the mysterious "Mr Penn" is a genuine shock---although that said, this revelation opens up a can of worms that the novel never attempts to deal with. Overall, Turmoil At Brede is a familiar enough thriller, involving an improbable criminal conspiracy, lots of false identities, a dollop of mad science, and various death-traps from which the good guys always manage to extricate themselves at the last possible moment---including a terrifying oubliette built into the subterranean regions of Brede Hall. (Weirdly, Dornford Yates' thriller, Blind Corner, which I read last year, also made nasty use of an oubliette.) The novel's biggest disappoint is Elizabeth, who turns out to be a rather irritating heroine, always putting herself in danger and having to be rescued. Meanwhile, an important supporting role is played by Inspector Shane of Scotland Yard, who despite his deep suspicions of "Mr Penn" turns out to be a shrewd and reliable colleague.

    What a supra-trap this was, worthy of a modern Sweeney Todd! By rights every bone in the victim's body should be smashed by the impact with the stone floor from such a height. Mr Penn began to feel himself all over and marvelled at his miraculous escape with nothing worse than bruises and severe shock. At that moment he became aware of a shapeless something on the floor a few feet away, beneath the trap-door. Hitherto he had directed the beams of a torch along the walls and vaulting and this dark shadow had escaped his notice. Now, as he lowered the torch, he understood what had broken his fall and saved his life. The thing was the dead body of a man.
    Stiffly, Penn crept towards it. To the question instantly uppermost in his mind there could be only one answer. This was the body of Barrington Wild, the ill-fated father of a brave and loyal daughter. But as he turned the thing over he saw his mistake. The torch revealed the features, mottled and discoloured by decomposition, of a much younger man. He was clad in fashionably cut morning clothes and white spats. In his buttonhole were the shrivelled petals of an orchid. He had been dead many weeks.
    Who was he? Mr Penn had been inured by the vicissitudes of an adventurous life to such gruesome sights as this and there was no hesitation in his search through the pockets of this poor dandy's clothes. Presently he found a gold card case. The cards were engraved with the name: Mr R. L. Akenside-Wyatt...

Edited: Yesterday, 8:01pm Top

...which marked my long-delayed resumption of The Mystery League Inc. challenge.

#14: Turmoil At Brede by Seldon Truss (published in the US in 1931 and the UK in 1932, with a second UK edition in 1936; cover art by Gene Thurston)

Another piece of simple but striking art by 'Gene'---one illustrating the scene from which my quote was taken, which occurs more than halfway through the novel and indicates that he went to the trouble of reading the book---gasp!

(Personally I doubt that a body that decomposed would do much to break a fall, but anyhoo...)

Next up in the Mystery League challenge is my current read, Francis Beeding's Death Walks In Eastrepps.

Yesterday, 7:59pm Top

>174 lyzard: I do hate "rather irritating heroines," don't you?

Yesterday, 8:01pm Top

>175 lyzard:

Particularly when they're called "Elizabeth"... :)

Edited: Yesterday, 8:12pm Top

Aside from it literary success and failures, Turmoil At Brede caused me some personal angst inasmuch as it is the second of three novels to feature Inspector Shane.

The first of the three, Gallows Bait, aka "The Living Alibi", is rare and quite expensive, which is how I'm salving my conscience over skipping it. The really irritating thing is that I'm quite sure its cost is related not to its quality, but its cover art:


Yesterday, 8:28pm Top

>178 lyzard: Well, that is some terrific cover art!

Yesterday, 8:30pm Top

>179 alcottacre:

And for a first novel, too! Both his publishers must have been sure they were onto something good. (The hints of mad science are making me frustrated that I can't get hold of it.)

Edited: Yesterday, 8:33pm Top

>180 lyzard: The hints of mad science are making me frustrated that I can't get hold of it.

Yeah, I can see how that is a problem! It appeals to me for the same reason.

Edited: Yesterday, 9:52pm Top

Passenger To Frankfurt - While waiting for his connecting flight at Geneva, Sir Stafford Nye, a lower-level diplomat whose career has stalled over a perception that he doesn't "take things seriously", is approached by a woman who makes him a startling proposition. Insisting that her life is in immediate danger, and pointing out the general resemblance between them, she begs him to change places with her and allow her to catch his flight to England. Caught up in the adventure of the moment, Nye not only gives the woman his distinctive cloak with which to disguise herself, but his passport---and goes so far as to allow her to drug him mildly, to back up his subsequent story of a robbery. Back In England, Nye learns that the woman, whose name - one of whose names - is Daphne Theodofanous, code name "Mary Ann", has done work for the British government; yet there is some suspicion that she may be a double agent and not to be trusted. However, when he encounters her again, Nye backs his own instinct---and finds himself drawn into a fight against a conspiracy that has absolute world power as its goal... Sad as it is to report, Passenger To Frankfurt represents the first outright failure of Agatha Christie's career---a career, I feel compelled to point out, was then fifty years old, which is a pretty remarkable track record. Self-evidently, this is a throwback to her political thrillers of the 1930s; but whereas those novels, however extravagant and improbable in plot, and whatever the ominous real-life events lurking in their background, always offered an engaging mixture of adventure and humour, Passenger To Frankfurt is an unhappy piece of scaremongering, written by someone out of touch with the modern world, and in particular with the political forces at work in it: something illustrated most graphically by Christie's apparent inability to conceive a threat to world peace emanating from anywhere but Germany. Perhaps most exasperating of all, though, is the novel's depiction of "these young people today", envisioned collectively as a terrifying force for violence, and nothing else---but at the same time too stupid to be violent on their own account, and easily manipulated into it by those with an agenda. Passenger To Frankfurt has a few effective scenes, and there are some nice touches in the character of Stafford Nye (even if having a middle-aged diplomat with a handle to his name as the hero in a novel written in 1970 pretty much sums up what's wrong with it); but ultimately, the only thing that raise a smile here are reappearances by characters from some of Christie's earlier works: Colonel Pikeaway, from Cat Among The Pigeons; Amy Leatheran from Murder In Mesopotamia; and the financier "Mr Robinson", also from Cat Among The Pigeons, and At Bertram's Hotel.

    "There are people capable of communicating to others a wild enthusiasm, a kind of vision of life and of happening. They can do that though it is not really by what they say, it is not the words you hear, it is not even the idea described. It's something else. It's the magnetic power that a very few men have of starting something, of producing and creating a vision. By their personal magnetism perhaps, a tone of voice, perhaps some emanation that comes forth straight from the flesh. I don't know, but it exists.
    "Such people have power. The great religious teachers had this, and so has an evil spirit power also. Belief can be created in a certain movement, in certain things to be done, things that will result in a new heaven and a new earth, and people will believe it and work for it and fight for it and even die for it."
    Lord Altamount lowered his voice as he said: "Jan Smuts put it in a phrase. He said, 'Leadership, besides being a great creative force, can be diabolical'."

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