#298: Five to…Try? – Books on My TBR That I Will Probably Never Read

Books waiting

We’ve all done it — in the excitement of finally stumbling across a novel by an author we’ve heard a lot about (or maybe heard nothing about, if you’re feeling adventurous) you snap up a book, take it home…and it lingers and lingers on your TBR, staring at you every time you go near your bookshelves to pick something out.  The guilt of its unread-ness builds inside of you, but the inclination to actually open it and read it never quite matches the initial rush of blood to the head that saw you buy it in the first place.

So, in the spirit of assuaging guilt that has now built to titanic levels, here alphabetically by author are five novels of Golden Age detection on my TBR that — in my heart of hearts — I honestly don’t think I’ll ever read.

Deep breath…

The Widow’s Cruise (1959) by Nicholas Blake

31hqbpinuol-_sx314_bo1204203200_I can’t even remember who recommended this as a Blake novel I would likely enjoy, but I’ve had it for a while now.  And every time I see someone write about what a wonderful book The Case of the Abominable Snowman (1941) is I remember the stultifying awfulness of that dread prose, those dry characters, the non-existent plot, the meagre scrapings of incident and interest, and the agita that takes hold of me at the slightest risk of being exposed to anything that cloth-eared and ham-fisted ever again.  If that’s quality in Blake’s output, I’ll happily go without his version of quality.

The Secret of High Eldersham (1931) by Miles Burton

higheldershamI’m not even sure why I’m so unmoved by this one.  I’ve read two strong and one terrible Burtons and he’s an author I have some interest in — the forthcoming Death at Breakfast (1936) and Invisible Weapons (1939) reissues, for instance — but it turns out to have its limits.  This is something to do with a small village and people staying at a pub and it’ll probably turn out to be drug smuggling because it’s set in 1931 when we used to believe that marijuana would turn you into a crazed killer.  Maybe I’m wrong and it’s amazing and has the most original Macguffin ever, but I doubt it.  Maybe time will tell, but I doubt it.

The Long Divorce (1951) by Edmund Crispin

crispin_longdivorce_ebookI recently discovered, much to my surprise, that I haven’t actually read this.  I’d conflated elements of the books that buffer this one — Frequent Hearses (1950) and The Glimpses of the Moon (1977) — and made up a plot all of my own.  Still, those two are terrible, and I’d prefer to remember Crispin for the wholesale barminess of The Moving Toyshop (1946) or the archness that went wildly awry following Love Lies Bleeding (1948).  Apparently this one has a cat that talks to Martians or something.  Zoinks, Scoob, what will those crazy folks think up next?!  A female alphabet?  Soup you can warm up in your slippers?  Yeah, no, I’m good.  Delusion is fine and dandy when it comes to your literary heroes.

Death on the Aisle (1942) by Frances and Richard Lockridge

lockridge-death-on-the-aisleThis is a Mr. & Mrs. North book I picked up before I read the first in the series, The Norths Meet Murder (1940) and experienced Pam North’s character trait of hilariously going off on tangents and so never saying what she means directly.  It’s so hilarious.  Like when she’s asked about a murder and starts talking about spam or soap or a vicar she knew when she was seven.  Hilarious.  It’s not at all a lazy approximation of the traits exhibited with far greater sharpness in characters like Jane Marple where genuine talent for insight is required.  Nope, this is it’s own hilariously hilarious thing.  And it’s too hilarious to risk reading another book with it in.  I might re-aggravate my hernia, and all the laughing would doubtless infuriate my neighbours.

The Chinese Chop (1949) by Juanita Sheridan

0915230321I actually feel a little bit bad admitting this one, as on paper there’s a lot that should intrigue me: a female sleuth of non-typical origin (I believe she’s Hawaiian), a family score to settle, the whole cross-cultural relationship that provides an eye on some aspects of racial difficulties and tensions at a time when confronting such things — especially in so frivolous an undertaking as a mere crime novel — was probably a taboo of sorts.  Yup, I should lap this up.  But I get the impression that it’ll spend ages setting up the central relationship and then throw in a lazy killer (or something) at the end of a not very interesting plot.  It strikes me, correctly or otherwise, as a book I can miss out without missing out.

~

Well, there they sit, and now you know.  And I know I’m not the only one.  C’mon, out with it…

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65 thoughts on “#298: Five to…Try? – Books on My TBR That I Will Probably Never Read

  1. *massive intake shocked breath* Not read The Chinese Chop!! ‘Lazy killer!!’ For shame JJ!! For shame. Not reading Blake and Crispin and even the Lockridge book I can understand, as the former are not the best of those authors and the latter author’s characters can be quite marmite like, but Juanita Sheridan’s Lily Wu!! For shame!! *walks off chuntering and muttering to herself*

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey, I said I felt bad about it…! I just can’t quite work up the enthusiasm, even though I bought it on the back of your own highly positive reviews. Hell, I love Rupert Penny, so we know our tastes differ significantly, right…?

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  2. Crispin’s Glimpses of the Moon is terrible and Frequent Hearses is pretty average, but The Long Divorce is actually a pretty good and serious detective story. Even with the comedic presence of a schizophrenic who thinks he’s saving the village from Martian invaders. If I recall correctly, the story also has a very original problem of a murder weapon that disappeared from a locked garage and this implicated an innocent person. Honestly, you’re robbing yourself if you let than one slip.

    The Widow’s Cruise is also better than you’d expect with the sole exception of the presence of a horrendously characterized child, but she’s eventually taken care off by the murderer. However, if you want to actually read a good Blake novel, I recommend the first one, A Question of Proof, which even received praise from Carr (there’s a semi-impossible stabbing towards the end, with a clever solution, he liked). The tone of the book and lively characters showed a very different writer than the one you encountered in The Case of the Abominable Snowman.

    I remember that The Chinese Chop was, plot-wise, one of the better books in the series, but story-wise, not as interesting as the ones set in Hawaii. The Waikiki Widow is a particularly good read until the plot falls apart in the final quarter of the story.

    As for my list, the only I can think of at the moment is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. It’s always throwing accusatory glances in my direction. And maybe Josephine Tey’s The Daughters of Time, because the premise alone makes me angry. No idea why I ever bought a copy of the book.

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    • A Question of Proof was one of the Blakes I have attempted to struggle through, and I just…don’t get it. He’s rather like Michael Innes for me: sure, the prose is probably delightful but, hairy Aaron, can you not just tell the frickin’ story??!

      And, I dunno, I was reassured of the delights of Buried for Pleasure and it was awful, so with the being the final Crispin left to thoroughly destroy his standing in my mind I just don’t know if I want to risk it and/or waste my time. Maybe I’ll get to it — never say never! — but I’ve waded through more than enough crap from Crispin that it feels better to cut my losses.

      I’m with you on The Moonstone. I went away for a long weekend earlier this year and took it as my sole reading material so that I had no choice but to give it a proper go…and, boy, did I ever hate it.

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      • Perfect, I’ll be getting to that in about another eight years and am more than happy to wait. Not desperate to find out what nonsense resolves that particular tale of woe (The Moonstone, I mean). Many thanks!

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        • Having read the solution to The Moonstone in The Hungry Goblin, I have to say that I’d be absolutely furious if I devoted effort to an entire novel only to have found out that I’d been hoodwinked by such a disgraceful cheat.

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        • Well, whaddaya expect? It’s from an era when “We’ve looked everywhere…okay, no, we didn’t actually look everywhere” was considered an innovative solution to an impossible disappearance…

          Liked by 1 person

        • But, The Moonstone is, like, 140+ years old by the writing of THG, right? Is it technically spoiling if it’s something that old and well-known? Discuss…

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        • I can only seem to reply to myself, but I’m really replying to you, JJ. 1) Carr spoils lots of things, not just the Moonstone and 2) Certainly it can be spoiled for you if you’ve never read it. There are so many books in existence you can’t assume anyone has read any particular thing and some of us, and it’s not just me, like Victorian lit. It’s why I’m a firm believer in Afterwords rather than Forewords. Who wants to know what happens before they read it? Not I.

          Liked by 1 person

        • 1) Does he? Maybe that’s a later career thing, when he stopped being quite so concerend about proprietry. I’ll keep an eye out…

          2) Ha, yes, of course. I suppose I was raising a more philosphical point about the point past which a certain knowledge is fair to be assumed. But that’s me told, good job!

          I’m with you on Afterwords, too. I’m not even really a fan of Introductions, particularly as the intorducer usually can’t help but prove how they’ve read the book by telling you something that happens 75% of the way in — I usually treat them as Afterwords and read ’em last. I’m starting to have more faith in the BL ones by Martin Edwards — he’s very intelligent in what he does and doesn’t reveal — but I still think I’ll play safe just in case…!

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        • I read introductions last, too. Some are trustworthy, but if they’re not, you’re not likely to forget the spoiler since you’re about to read the book!

          I just read a post on another blog which would have totally spoiled the book if I hadn’t read it, by referring to the plot of another book it was like. I’m not sure the author even realized what they’d done.

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        • Oh, the over-sharing comparison to books where the title compared has the exact same trick as the one being review infuriates the hell out of me. And you’d think that people who write about books would be wise to this. One review — title and site shall remain unreferenced — essentially went “Well, it’s a really interesting take on Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” which, ahem, ruins, like, everything.

          The ability to stand back and go “Hmmm, what would I be happy knowing before I read this?” is so, so important when dealing with books — considering not just the money but the extra investement of time (everyone apart from Kate needs a good four hours at least to read a decent-sized book, I’m guessing), it’s insensitive as all hell to be even vaguely clever-clever about what one says. And so many people, professional and amateur, do it time and again.

          Wow, turns I I really have all the feels about this topic. Man, I can’t even.

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  3. I might have thoughts on some of these books, but actually I just enjoyed the rant, I’m all for your having stern views, even if I disagree.
    I MAKE myself read everything eventually: every so often I have a forced march through the books that have been there a while. So there is nothing hanging round too long. (That’s in my time terms, which means a year or two, max.)
    Anyway, highly enjoyable list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Moira, I used to be exactly the same: until my early twenties I read every word of every page of every book I picked up. The one that broke me was Monstrum by Donald James — I remember it like it was yesterday — because, well, reasons that I may go into another time (actually, no, probably not; it doesn’t really fit my remit here).

      I still read a huge majority of what I pick up — and, like you, I don’t like things hanging around unread for too long — but my ability to force my way through something I’m not enjoying has waned massively in the last decade. And it’s not even like my views are especially stern here, I just…can’t be bothered for some reason. Meh. Maybe it’s some sort of existential ennui.

      Apologies, too, if I appeared to be ranting — that wasn’t my intention!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. TomCat writes : “If I recall correctly, the story also has a very original problem of a murder weapon that disappeared from a locked garage .”
    Yes, there is the impossible event of the murder weapon getting out of a locked car in a locked garage and returning to its original place in the car ! The solution to this impossibility reminds me of a novel by Paul Halter which both you and TomCat have read !

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  5. I seem to recall reading Nicholas Blake’s ‘Minute For Murder’ with some enthusiasm – it was based on his experiences in the Ministry of Information in WWII, which may have given it more substance and historical interest than his other books…among which are ‘The Deadly Joker, a terrible book, even worse (and much longer) than ‘Murder in the Museum’. To do him justice, he did write a charming children’s novel, ‘The Otterbury Incident’ (under his real name) and came up with some good poetry.

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    • As a poet, I can’t fault Cecil Day-Lewis — he’s awesome. As a crime novelist, I can. Too many literary aspirations, perhaps; I love this genre, but that doesn’t mean I can write in it…

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    • To each his own, but personally I thought “The Deadly Joker ” was terrific, it might even be my favourite Blake so far. It might not be the most original mystery, but to me the story was engagingly told and very suspenseful. I recall reading that book in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down.

      On the other hand the highly praised “End Of A Chapter” turned out to be a gigantic bore. It might be of some interest to people wanting to know more about the post-war British publishing industry, but the crime plot put me to sleep.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What I remember about ‘The Deadly Joker’ is that we were only ever offered one suspect – at least, that’s how I read it – and therefore there wasn’t much of a mystery! But I guess the mood one’s in has a big influence on one’s feelings about what one’s reading. I read Carter Dickson’s ‘Behind the Crimson Blind’ when suffering from an abscess, and I still don’t know whether it was the pain in my mouth or the book itself that made me really dislike it.

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        • I remember reading a serial killer novel after my appendectomy, my distinct memory now being that an overlarge proportion of the victims therein were disembowled…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the confessions – hope it felt somewhat cathartic at the end of it. Just as how I put in a good word for Rupert Penny at Kate’s blog, I feel like I should put in a good word for Juanita Sheridan on your blog. It wasn’t the strongest fair-play mystery, but I didn’t think the puzzle was especially ‘lazy’. Also, it’s probably quite crucial reading if one were to embark upon the Sheridan series, as certain key pieces of information about the two sleuths are established in ‘Chinese Chop’.

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    • Were I not to read Chinese Chop, I wouldn’t embark on Sheridan’s others at all. Maybe the spirit will take me somewhere down the track — I haven’t gotten rid of it unread, so that’s a start — but right now…nah, just not feeling it.

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  7. Why didn’t you call me?!? I bought Murder on the Aisle a month ago during one of those Kindle flash sales for 99 cents! I figured I have never touched the Lockridges before, and at least this one was set in the theatre.

    Actually, those Kindle sales probably account for a lot of the books I will never read. There – I said it out loud! I feel so relieved! And yet . . . Why exactly did I buy all those cheap Punshons when I wasn’t crazy about the one I read? Why three titles by Margaret Armstrong, of whom nobody has ever written? I paid $12:50 for that title by Ronald Knox and have yet to crack it open.

    Your post made me laugh when I read it, JJ . . . and now it makes me cry a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yeah, many a sudden Kindle reduction has resulted in me snapping up a book I was in two minds about only to be disappointed (I’m looking at you, Bleeding Hooks…more like Bleedin’ Hacks). My hit rate for completing and enjoying books is actually pretty high — and having the critical outlet of this place to examine when something doesn’t work for me is also a real boon.

      Have just checked out Margaret Armstrong at Jeff Bezos’ place and the first one is free…maybe I can invest in that and not read it without any loss of funds… And, hey, look, I may change my mind in due course — part of what provoked this post wasd the reading of Murder in the Museum, which I picked up precisely because I kept deliberately overlooking it — but right now, well, I’m just not feeling these. And haven’t for some time. But you only need to change your mind once. Or something.

      So don’t fret; you’re a busy man and will read stuff when you get to it, your interest suitably stimulated. For now…stick with what you want to read, the time will come for experimentation!

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  8. I own most of Margery Allingham’s books. I’ve only read a few of them and wasn’t too impressed, I have a feeling I won’t be renewing my acquaintance with Albert Campion anytime soon.

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  9. The Long Divorce is excellent. It’s sober and less inventive than Crispin’s earlier books, but it has a sympathetic woman doctor, good understanding of adolescent psychology, and a clever, well worked out plot.

    Probably it was I who recommended, and still recommend, The Widow’s Cruise. It’s tightly plotted and intricately clued; Blake is in wittier, more relaxed mood than is the norm for his late work; and it has an excellent setting (Greek cruise).

    I fear, though, that you won’t find Blake to your taste. You’ve said that you don’t much like the literate British writers (Marsh, Sayers, Innes, Chesterton, Mitchell, Allingham), so our tastes very much differ.

    Blake has been one of my favourite detective writers since I was fourteen; I read half his books then. He integrates a complex puzzle plot and solid detection with characterisation and good writing. He’s halfway between Agatha Christie and P.D. James. I also like Nigel Strangeways a lot.

    A Question of Proof: Cleverly written, amusing detective story based on the prep school where Day-Lewis taught. Good observation of schoolboys, sympathetic handling of adultery, and a well-hidden murderer.

    Thou Shell of Death: His most Michael Innesian book, published in the year of Innes’ début. Yuletide country house party, with quotation-spouting dons, with a trip to Ireland thrown in. (Day-Lewis was a “West Britisher”.) Ingenious murder plot inspired by Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy (attributed, at the time, to Tourneur). Stunning surprise ending.

    There’s Trouble Brewing: Workmanlike: has some of Blake’s best detection, several good murders, but the mystery is easy to solve. Set at a small town brewery, run by an odious capitalist. (Day-Lewis was a committed Socialist, and considered “dangerous” by British Intelligence. Later he became Poet Laureate. Go figure!)

    The Beast Must Die: Overrated. Best thing about it is the Sellar and Yeatmanesque questionnaire. (I may be biased; I saw Que la bête meure before I read the book.)

    The Smiler with the Knife: Fun, Buchanesque thriller, with Nigel’s wife Georgia infiltrating, and on the run from, a British Fascist plot.

    Malice in Wonderland: Holiday camp mystery, with espionage. Rather loose.

    TCOT Abominable Snowman: We’ll disagree about this one! Striking opening; lots of mysteries (why drug the cat? who is the man who revels in evil?); and a good spread of suspicion.

    Minute for Murder: Behind-the-scenes look at a government department, with good grasp of office politics and another excellent handling of an adulterous triangle. Barzun and Taylor, from memory, thought it Blake’s best book; it isn’t, though – the murderer is easy to spot, and the book suffers from longueurs.

    Head of a Traveller: Blake’s masterpiece. As a detective story, shows Blake’s skill at constructing a complex plot, with many small mysteries in the first half leading to a major revelation halfway through (as in Abominable Snowman). Excellent study of the victim’s return on a group of likeable characters; looks at the mysteries of poetic inspiration; and a powerful ending. This is detective fiction for adults.

    The Dreadful Hollow: When I first read it, I thought this was only average Blake – which means it’s a cut above most other writers’ work. (I’d mainly read the good detective writers, so didn’t realise what “average” meant!) Solid, traditional English detective story, with a poison pen and a murdered squire.

    The Whisper in the Gloom: One of the best of his spy stories, with schoolboys involved in murder and espionage. Full of invention, and introduces Clare Massinger, Nigel’s sculptress girlfriend.

    Both A Tangled Web and A Penknife in My Heart are very minor.

    End of Chapter: Publishing mystery, based on Blake’s work as a reader at Chatto and Windus. Victim is a writer of romance novels; her son is the memorably awful Cyprian Gleed, poisonous in both name and nature. Well constructed, if alibi heavy. P.D. James rewrote it as Original Sin.

    The Worm of Death: Moving into P.D. James territory, with rather grim study of Jewish doctor’s family. Excellent detection, although the murderer is not surprising.

    The Deadly Joker: I’ve read this, but can’t remember much about it. Village setting, with poison, sibling rivalry, and flower stalls at the fête?

    The Sad Variety: Cold War thriller that left me rather cold. Kidnapping of scientist’s daughter. Memorable for scene of death by exposure. Blake has long since renounced his Marxist ways (just a passing phase!).

    The Morning After Death: Strangeways in the States, at a New England college. (Hence title from Emily Dickinson.) Marred by Strangeways committing adultery.

    The Private Wound: A semi-autobiographical reflection on his amorous experiences in Ireland in the 1930s. Not detection proper, but a character drama.

    I haven’t read Blake for a decade; I haven’t read most of these for fifteen years, but, as I wrote these capsule reviews, characters, names, scenes, and lines came back to me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for the insight, Nick — maybe as I grow older my taste will shift more into this realm of things (fifteen years ago I was slaking my crime fiction needs with Harlan Coben, Muchael Connelly, Robert Crais, etc, and would have vituperated the very idea of myself as a Carrite or a fan of Crofts…how times change!).

      And that’s two knowledgable people coming out in favour of the Crispin…but, man, the two preceding this were so bad. Dare I? Dare I allow myself to believe…?

      Just one contention: Marsh as one of the literate British GAD writers? Really?! The others I don’t contest, but Marsh is more windy than literate…

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      • Oh, get over it, Boo-Boo! Marsh had a great “novel of manners” prose style, and her characters could be marvelously funny and bitchy. She faltered badly in the pacing of her investigations, and Alleyn is rather colorless. Marsh is not someone I would venture to re-read – so many great books, so little time – but I read her entire canon as a kid and enjoyed it. Now move on . . . 🙂

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        • Yeah, but “literate”? Crispin for his allusions, Sayers for her pomposity, Chesterton for his verbosity…all fine. Marsh is dull, simple. Hell, Brand does the cattiness better, and no-one’s lumping her in with Innes and Blake (good thing, too, she’s light years ahead of both)….

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      • Pray to St Crispin – and have faith in Fen!

        (And, yes, Buried for Pleasure and Frequent Hearses are both well below par for Crispin.)

        Poor old Ngaio! She’s uneven, granted – the pre-Troy books have dated badly, and her narrative powers slackened towards the end – but the middle period books are excellent.

        She’s a witty, stylish writer, with a painter’s eye for people and places, and a theatre director’s ear for characterisation and dialogue. Doesn’t have Brand, Christie or Carr’s SURPRISE! (“Tricked you!”), but they’re traditional puzzle plot mysteries, with strong detection and plot mechanics.

        The Marsh books I’d most recommend are:
        * Overture to Death: Village mystery, with death by exploding piano.

        * Death and the Dancing Footman: Host invites seven people who hate each other for the weekend, and a playwright to turn it into drama. Has a locked room murder.

        * Colour Scheme: New Zealand – victim boiled alive in mud pool. One of her cleverest plots.

        * Final Curtain: Elderly Shakespearean actor poisoned at his country house, by one of his family. Ingenious method.

        * Singing in the Shrouds: Serial slaughterer stalks ship sailing to South Africa.

        Other good ‘uns:
        Scales of Justice: a fishy business; older editions used to have a wonderful map
        Off with His Head: Marsh goes Gladysing! – rustics, folk dancing, and an impossible decapitation
        Clutch of Constables: Troy Alleyn on boat cruise where nearly all suspects are criminals – and one of ’em is a master criminal
        When in Rome: Tour group in Italy; ingenious alibi

        Death at the Bar is probably her best pure detection novel; it’s almost Humdrum: set in an inn, in-depth detection, multiple solutions, and a clever poisoning method. Slow, though.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I have Off With His Head ready to go at some point (an impossible crime, after all…), but my overbearing memory of marsh is the scuppered opportunities in things like Overture to Death (where a lack of description substitutes for an actual mystery) or Death in a White Tie (where lots of people walking round a house substitutes for an actual mystery) or…well, I could go on.

          I thought I’d read Death at the Bar, but maybe not as that does not sound in any way familiar. or maybe I just wasn’t in my proto-Humdrum mood I’m in now and aspects such as those passed me by. *Sigh*, I’m going to have to exhume the corpse of me and Ngaio Marsh, aren’t I? Dammit, is nothing ever finished…?

          Crispin first, though. If that’s terrible, your influence in this matter may start to wane… 🙂

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        • Betting on Crispin? You’re on!

          I’d call Marsh a good to very good writer, rather than a great one. You won’t get the intricate puzzles of Carr or Christie (The reader did it!), but her best books are well-written and ingenious. (Blake, her near-contemporary, is better, though!)

          I like Overture to Death, but, these days, am in a minority! Good setting and characters, amusingly written, and clever clueing (the onion in the teapot, a character “dribbling”). TVTropes says it’s spoofing Sayers – “The bells! The bells!”

          I think people like Death in a White Tie because Alleyn and Troy get together, and it’s set in high society (snob appeal!), rather than for the plot. The detection in too many early ones consists, as you say, of Alleyn reconstructing suspects’ movements. Enter a Murderer and Vintage Murder both suffer from this.

          The early ones with the best detection are Artists in Crime (owes a lot to Sayers) and Death at the Bar; I liked Death in Ecstasy, too, which is set in a cult.

          Surfeit of Lampreys is divisive; it has a great gruesome murder (peer skewered through the eye, in a lift), and witchcraft, but a lot of readers can’t stand the feckless but charming aristos. Later ones can be rather light, and arch.

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        • You see, it’s exactly those kind of comments by Nick Fuller that helped me guide through the genre during the 2000s when I still lurked on the various message boards, groups and websites dedicated to the classic detective story. Good to see you still got it, Nick! 🙂

          However, while I agree that Marsh is an uneven writer, I have to strongly disagree with your recommendation of that boring monstrosity known as Death and the Dancing Footman. I had to make myself slug through the pages and have yet to return to Marsh’s work, which dates back to my pre-blogging days. So that should give you an idea what a repellent effect that book had on me.

          On the other hand, I agree with your recommendations of Overture to Death and Final Curtain. Personally, I really liked Surfeit of Lampreys, Death at the Bar and Off With His Head. I also remember liking Enter a Murderer (even if the plot was paper-thin).

          Swing, Brother, Swing is an odd duck in Marsh’s oeuvre and still not entirely sure whether I like it or not. The first half reads like a well-written, sophisticated novella about a group of people connected to a popular night-club, which ends with an impossible murder during a musical performance at the club. Only problem is that by that time the reader should know who, why and how. This makes the second half a textbook example of, what some call, “dragging the marsh” with a never-ending parade of interviews. It’s a showcase of the best and worst of what Marsh was able to do as a (mystery) novelist.

          Anyhow, it might be time to return to Marsh. It’s been almost a decade since I read Dancing Footman and might like her again after this hiatus. Maybe Scales of Justice.

          Good to read we actually made you crack on Crispin, JJ! My declaration of victory has been validated!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Well, with so much kudso behind all these recommendations for the Crispin how could I possibly hold out? Here’s hoping it lives up to the billing, or a lot of people are going to fall a long way in my estimations… 😉

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    • Nick, I to read a lot of Blake when I was younger, and I’ve really forgotten everything except that I enjoyed him. If time allows, He is definitely due for a re-read. Thanks so much for your guidebook here, which will help me select what to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll put in another word here for The Long Divorce (honestly the blurb is very misleading here, the cat does not make much of an appearance and no actual Martians are communed with) and also suggest that High Eldersham is not one you’ll kick yourself for missing. However, we have such differing likes and dislikes (I love The Moonstone – you’re not alone, phinnea – and Sayers and like much of Allingham) that this probably shouldn’t sway you one way or the other.
    Enjoyed the post very much, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fine, I shall take the plunge with The Long Divorce. But if I don’t enjoy it, expect me not to remember who among you all said it was good and so not to be able to point the finger of blame at anyone in particular. You have been warned…!

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