“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 This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading “Unnatural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

“Murder Underground,” by Mavis Doriel Hay

Novel, 1934 Genteel crime novel set not in some country estate, but the nonetheless leafy environs of Belsize Park in London, with a trip up to Coventry thrown in for good measure. While this, and the quite revealing look at life in a boarding house provide a different backdrop, the plotting and mystery are fairly run of the mill. Still, the book works quite well … Continue reading “Murder Underground,” by Mavis Doriel Hay

“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

“The Case of the Gilded Fly”, by Edmund Crispin

Novel, 1944 Golden Age whodunnit set around a play being put on in Oxford and featuring the eccentric Don and amateur sleuth, Gervase Fen. As a whole, this book unwinds rather gently, curiosities piqued as chapters conclude less with dramatic flourishes than an air of gentle expectation. The details of backstage bickering, organists and academia are all well done and the writing is witty and … Continue reading “The Case of the Gilded Fly”, by Edmund Crispin

“Deadlock”, by Sara Paretsky

Novel, 1984 Second outing for PI VI Warshawski, which manages to make compelling entertainment from freighters operating on the Great Lakes around Chicago. Conscious nods, references and homages to all sorts of literature and the detective genre, from chapter headings to scene set ups and action set pieces. Paretsky squeezes in and builds a convincing picture of the operation of shipping companies into the bargain, … Continue reading “Deadlock”, by Sara Paretsky

“Vintage Murder”, by Ngaio Marsh

Novel, 1937 Murder mystery, following a troupe of actors, members of which are eliminated, one-by-one, in order to deduce the guilty party. Some great descriptions here and there, though all in all, a fairly rigidly structured book in which interview follows interview and red herrings surface without greatly mixing up or adding much. Pretty entertaining, for all that, although it’s hard to fully follow and … Continue reading “Vintage Murder”, by Ngaio Marsh

“Police at the Funeral” by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1931 Fairly typical whodunnit, with a gothic edge rendered by an out of the way creepy house and mildly dysfunctional family at the centre of a series of unfolding mysteries. A good pace, too, even allowing for a high number of characters, traits and hints which pull the reader about just like they ought to be. Not a huge amount of peril, but some … Continue reading “Police at the Funeral” by Margery Allingham

“Blood Sympathy”, by Reginald Hill

Novel, 1993 Murder mystery, set in Luton and featuring the first outing of ex-car plant worker Joe Sixsmith and his cat, Whitey. If this sounds a little mixed up and curious, it matches the book’s taste and flavours which awkwardly mix thriller, mystery, soap opera and social commentary. By no means a dud, although the book hasn’t aged especially well, with some of the language … Continue reading “Blood Sympathy”, by Reginald Hill

"Indemnity Only," by Sara Paretsky

Novel, 1982 The first Warshawski novel and a fresh on the hard boiled exploits of Sam Spade and, particularly, Phillip Marlowe. This is a book where situations and dependencies are more nuanced, with a female protagonists noticing and building around psychologies of attraction and networks, rather than just falling foul to, or using them. The plotting and set-ups are reassuringly noir-ish, with a lively cast … Continue reading "Indemnity Only," by Sara Paretsky

"The Beckoning Lady", by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1955 Essentially, a country house whodunnit, but with mercantile and business characters and some fairly typical moral and other ambiguities popping up here and there. This is a soothing read which handles a large cast of characters and rather fizzles out just as things threaten to really get going. Enjoyable, though neither oddball, tense or mysterious enough to fully grip the attention. The book’s … Continue reading "The Beckoning Lady", by Margery Allingham