‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

Movie, 1947 Tidy, well-plotted and paced mystery in which a lodger in a house full of oddbeats is accused of murder and struggles, both with PTSD and a doubt over whether or not he actually could have committed the crime in question. While there’s nothing leaping out from the film as being exceptional, and while the received pronunciation can be a little distracting at times, … Continue reading ‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

Novel, 1992 Old-fashioned, but very effective ghost story, written in an almost ‘period tense,’ with a passed-on text from a mysterious protagonist and an array of phantom children, spooky characters, snowfall, spectres and some quite wonderful suspense. A book which may demand that its reader get in the mood and give themselves over to the generic thrills on show. Those who enjoy ghost stories should … Continue reading ‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1945 Crime mystery, set in the last knockings of World War Two, involving a tricky plot of art theft, kidnapping and a cast of fairly diverse and dastardly characters. London has a downbeat, authentic feel to it, with characters raising pigs and living in bombsites, so giving an example of how things are somewhat grim, but treated with a matter-of-fact humour. Albert Campion is … Continue reading ‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

“The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

Movie, 1955 Solid, well-told story of a premonition of a plane crash and the gloomy unfolding of all the circumstances which rather suggest a lead up to tragedy. While this all feels very stiff upper-lip, there are some interesting characters and enough British actors to spot and to keep most people happy. The ending, it’s true, feels rushed and entirely underdone, but this is an … Continue reading “The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

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 This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading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

‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

Novel, 2012 Thriller, written from the viewpoints of the two main protagonists, in which a husband falls under suspicion of murder following the disappearance of his wife. A page turning read, with a number of twists and turns along the way. The interesting aspect of this book is the dual narration and the way that develops and gives nods, here and there, to straightforward mysteries, … Continue reading ‘Gone Girl,’ by Gillian Flynn

“Murder on the Orient Express,” directed by Kenneth Branagh

Movie, 2017 All star adaptation played pretty straight and down the line. Once the ludicrous moustaches Poirot wears and the over-snappy dialogue become less distracting, the film settles down, possibly plodding a little here and there, but offering a reasonable degree of entertainment. Everything feels as it should do – the luxury of Continental Pullman trains and the wealth of its passengers who can afford … Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express,” directed by Kenneth Branagh

“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

“Rebecca,” directed by Ben Wheatley

Movie, 2020 Sumptuous though rather flat adaptation of Du Maurier’s novel, which despite a few fresh touches here and there, never quite comes down as either a full-on romance nor creepy horror. It fails, too, to escape from the shadows of Hitchcock’s classic. Some nice moments, particularly the contrasts between the breezy early scenes on the Med and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Mandalay, although the … Continue reading “Rebecca,” directed by Ben Wheatley

“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