“Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

Novel, 1927 Murder mystery which hinges round a change in the inheritance laws, and the efforts of Lord Peter Wimsey to solve it, and to keep his senses of wonder and vanity in check. This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading “Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

“The Bishop’s Wife,” directed by Henry Koster

Movie, 1947 Charming Christmas movie, in which an angel played by Cary Grant, helps the titular Bishop see what’s important in life, through some manoeuvring and providing his wife and daughter some much needed attention. A film which is light and humorous, though feels a little uncomfortable and unconventional at times, with the Bishop’s wife clearly struggling and compromised over her feelings for Dudley (the … Continue reading “The Bishop’s Wife,” directed by Henry Koster

“The Yellow Dog”, by Georges Simenon

Novel, 1931 Maigret mystery set in the wonderfully, bleakly evoked Northern French port of Concarneau, and following the running down and persecution of a group of friends who hold high and respectable offices in the town’s civic life. A book which offers both a dreamy account of a humdrum life and existence, and in doing so, sets up a story which runs its course, but … Continue reading “The Yellow Dog”, by Georges Simenon

“Red Two,” directed by Dean Parisot

Movie, 2013 Flash, forgettable and largely unremarkable dirge, in which a team of crack somebodies, played by A-list screen presences, swan through death, brutality and one tired scene rammed into another, globetrotting and collecting an increasingly wearying body count as they go. While some of the humour may have been wasted on me, what I did pick up was disagreeable and unpleasant and did nothing … Continue reading “Red Two,” directed by Dean Parisot

“The Heat”, directed by Paul Feig

Movie, 2013 Buddy cop-movie, which follows most of the formulae and tropes of the genre, with the two chalk and cheese protagonists played be female leads. Which, in itself, gives a little edge, and just about gives it some interest for a viewer who might otherwise tire of the set pieces, or pull up a little at the blasé attitudes towards police brutality which is … Continue reading “The Heat”, directed by Paul Feig

“Trafalgar”, by Angélica Gorodischer

Fiction, 1979 Tales of the mythic-like character Trafalgar, who recalls travels in time and space, in different planets and situations. Interesting, quirky and something which works well, even if the narrative third-party retelling can feel as samey as Trafalgar’s addiction to thick black coffee and thick black cigarettes. Some of the stories are better than others, inevitably, though by the end, there’s a nice pace … Continue reading “Trafalgar”, by Angélica Gorodischer

“Red Harvest”, by Dashiell Hammett

Novel, 1929 A novel which racks up incidents, gangster teams, weapons, fights, narcotics and shoot-ups steadily at first, before building, by the end of the book, a frenetic pace. This is a novel where characters are sketched then slaughtered in short order, as the plot and almost everything else about the book is chewed up in an extraordinary tide of corruption and destruction. Everything is … Continue reading “Red Harvest”, by Dashiell Hammett

“Magic in the Moonlight”, directed by Woody Allen

Movie, 2014 A charming romance, with hints of Pygmalion and con-artist films of old simmering away underneath plot turns which divert a little, here and there, but which head towards an inevitable ending. If this is a film where the director’s treading water, it’s still entertaining and a decent story, for all its predictability. Colin Firth seems a little hesitant as the main lead, although … Continue reading “Magic in the Moonlight”, directed by Woody Allen

“The Daughter of Time”, by Josephine Tey

Novel, 1951 Fictional account of a detective’s investigation into the events surrounding Richard III, Henry VII and the death of the princes. This is a book which sets off at a fair crack, but slows down a little through fairly topographical accounts of history and its sources, and one of the main narrative devices, of Inspector Grant being laid up in hospital. The remove and … Continue reading “The Daughter of Time”, by Josephine Tey

“The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer

Novel, 1962 Tale of a mother of a number of children and a procession of husbands and partners, the latest of whom, Jake, is keen to concentrate on his film career. From fairly early on, it seems quite evident that all is not well with the nameless narrator. The first chapter is set in a psychiatrist or counsellor’s office, and while domestic scenes are punctuated … Continue reading “The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer