Thursday, 23 August 2012

My 900th post and Books #32 - #41

The images are amazon affiliate links so click on them if you want to buy - but dudes, I'm only in it for the pictures.

#32 The Saltmarsh Murders
by Gladys Mitchell

Although this is the fourth in the Mrs Bradley series it is my first and something I came across in the Library by chance. (Holborn Library is awesome by the way if you work in the area). I was attracted by the description of Mrs Bradley which I forget the exact words for but was something like "small, shrivelled and remarkably ugly". She sounded like my kind of anti-heroine and indeed in the books she is. My liking for this one caused me to get hold of the TV series starring the really beautiful Diana Rigg as Mrs Bradley. Not fitting a single element of the description in the book I was rather surprised at the casting but she does look f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s in the outfits. Sadly the series is bilge and only to be tried if you're in your second week of flu and have run through all the Murder She Wrote's already.

I rather liked the helter skelter plot of this and the way you weren't quite sure who was who or why they were being so weird. I retained faith that it would all be explained and it was and in a decently entertaining way. I have since read another and plan to read more.

#33 Sweet Death, Kind Death
by Amanda Cross

This would be a great book for someone who likes highbrow english lit and detective stories. Not being a highbrow english lit-er I didn't particularly enjoy it. The story revolves around the autobiography of a professor at an all female college in amercia being written by two men. They start to suspect it could be murder and suddenly our hero, Kate Fansler, is accepting an invite to investigate and sitting on a working group looking at womens studies or something. This is the 7th book in this series so I guess I should have started earlier to get more of the back story. As it was I was a bit lost as I'm not familiar with the american educational system. That aside, as a story this was quite well written but the plot left a lot to be desired as it fell into the Byrne category of "bit silly".

#34 The Ivory Dagger
by Patricia Wentworth

Yay for Miss Silver! Boo for the amazingly stupid, repellant, insipid, mimsy, useless young female. Yay for her friend who had pluck and was therefore a decent female character!

I rather liked the wicked Aunt in this one. I might almost say I aspire to be her. I adore Miss Silver. I definitely want to be her once I get to 70. All that knitting - what a gal.

#35 Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder
by Catriona McPherson

Bloody hell this was an awful book. I rather liked the others in this series, of which this is number six, but this one sucked. The story was morbid, which might sound like a strange thing to say about a murder mystery, but seriously it was. With every new revelation I felt like begging her to just stop there as she was clearly making everything worse and as painful as possible for the two families involved. What starts as Romeo and Juliet ends as some Freudian nightmare. Ugh.

#36 Death at the Opera
by Gladys Mitchell

 This is the fifth Mrs Bradley book and one that they tried to televise in that Diana Rigg series but made an awful mess of. The teachers at a small school decide to put on the Mikado and during the performance it all goes a bit pear shaped and one of them dies.

While you could tell that this was by the same authore as #32 it was sufficiently different for you not to be reminded of Agatha Christie or even Patricia Wentworth. Mrs Bradley remained at her ghastly best and romped about psychoanalysing and disturbing people. There is a strange interlude with a man with a tin bath which all weaves neatly in to the plot. A very satisfying and engaging read.

#37 The Documents in the Case
by Dorothy L Sayer

I did this one as an audio book which could have gone wrong ( as it is a series of letters) but actually worked rather well. Letters between various people over a period of time outline the story of a married couple with two lodgers and a female companion slash housekeeper and the interactions between them. I will say no more than to let you know that the husband enjoys eating wild mushrooms. Aha. Exactly.

Dorothy Sayers is most famous for her Lord Peter Wimsey stories but this is outside of that set. If you like a traditional mystery story then you will enjoy this one.

#38 Murder on the Eiffel Tower
by Claude Izner

I am still in two minds about whether to read another in this series. The book overall left me with a little puff of an out breath and a general feeling of 'meh'. But I did get the feeling of wanting to find out hwat happened next so maybe this was just a slow start?

This is the first book in the Victor Legris series. Victor runs a bookshop with a japanese friend who raised him and is his mentor but not in a lame karate kid type way. He happens to be present when a woman apprently dies from a bee sting but of course it's not that straight forward. All good fun and the heat of a paris summer is well evoked.

#39 A Christmas Beginning
by Anne Perry

My eyes! My eyes! Save me from the sight of any other books in this series. No! No! Take them away! Away!!!!!!

I just wanted to hit the main character. Don't ask me how he ever got to the rank he has. This book is only about 50 pages long and every one of them stank like three day old dog poo. I could not have cared less about who killed who or why by the end. God it sucked. And there are loads of them in the Library! I made the fatal mistake of thinking them must be ok if it was such a long running series. Ugh. Stupid me. If it hadn't been a library book I would have taken it to work and shredded it. Ugh.

#40 Mr Tickle
by Roger Hargreaves

I happened to read this when spotting it among Nickerjac's LB's toys at the weekend. I later read it to him, with actions, which only confirmed my earlier opinion. This book is a psychological exploration of the effect of in and out groups in a closed society and how Pavlovian theories can be used to good effect to bring about a change in disruptive behaviour and thus return the community to a state of harmony. I suspect this is how prisons are run.

#41 Death at Face Value
by Joyce Christmas

Who can forget the first of her books I read, "Suddenly in her Sorbet".

Ever since then I have been a devoted fan. I prefer the Lady Margaraet Priam series but I've read all those so now we're on Betty Trenka, retired office manager and looking to not be bored in her retirement. This was a quick read and good travel/beach reading as it was engaging without requiring a lot of thought. The murder of a model in New York triggers a series of events in Conneticut (are these places close to each other? I have no idea but I guess it doesn't matter). Betty ends up with a cat though which can only be a good thing.



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