Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’
This is one of the series of the Cat Who mysteries with Jim Qwilleran. If you love cats and agree on how clever they are then you’ll love this series. I don’t have a cat but my family had them and my Mum now has a very clever cat with a rather siamese sounding meow, I can certainly see him doing some of the things Koko does. The only thing Koko doesn’t do is tell us how to solve the mystery, that’s only because he can’t speak English, if he could he’d then carefully drag out the clues keeping us in suspense rather than telling us quickly.
Anyway, back to the book. Jim Qwilleran is a reporter and it looks like he’s been demoted to the interior design pages, a world away from his normal base of operations, crime, but he seems to have a knack for finding the crime in the story and finds himself doing a feature on a very clever murderer. Koko helps him, of course, and collects a new companion along the way by the name of Yum Yum. At the end of the book Qwilleran has two siamese cats and it will be interesting to see how they run his life.
I thought this book was a nice marriage between a cat book and a murder mystery. All the clues were there and we only had to read them to make sense of the whole, something I rarely manage to do, I’ve read a lot of Agatha Christie and haven’t managed to pick the murderer yet. The writing was good and it was all packaged within 215 pages so there are no superfluous scenes and you have to read carefully as each word is important.
My only problem is finding time to read the rest of the series.
25 minutes before the time I like to publish an article on my blog every weekday and I’m struggling for an idea. I’ve had a couple of little ideas in my head for the past hour or so as I do other things and couldn’t make them work so I came back to the computer and just checking Twitter when I found this published on The Bookshop Blog. It’s about the Malice Domestic Writers Award, a lovely award given by the fans themselves at a conference in Virginia, the award itself appears to be a teapot…mmm…I could use a teapot I’ve mislaid mine, do you think it’s a bit extreme to write a book to win a teapot? A downside, I don’t think I could write a mystery novel for any amount of money or awards so I might just have to buy another teapot. Reading through the article I noticed an entry published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in June 2011 which got me thinking.
I started thinking about the number of series written by one author which have later turned out to be a pseudonym for multiple people. In the case of the Ellery Queen mysteries they were originally written by two cousins, Frederic Dannay and Manning Lee, who kept a tight rein on their writing and eventually allowed other writers to use the name as the author but not as the character. What? Ellery Queen was both the author and the character, he was much loved and many of these works were put on the radio and the television, Helene Hanff (of 84, Charing Cross Road fame) wrote some of the scripts. They started a mystery magazine in 1941 which is still being published to this day.
Other series which have one name on them but were actually written by several different authors are The Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, but not Enid Blyton, she wrote all her own books.
It must be useful to have so many tentacles, I wouldn’t mind being able to hold onto other things while holding my book up like this. It also makes it easier for Squid Ink to chase the Five Red Herrings at once. I’m sure Dorothy L Sayers didn’t have this mind when she wrote the book.
I’ve been wanting to read a Peter Straub book since I found him on Twitter some time ago, I finally found the time and the book altogether and was very pleased with the result. Here’s the description from the back of the book.
On the tiny Caribbean island of Mill Walk, the rich play tennis, polo and golf, trying to ignore the distasteful, uncomfortable and irritating realities of life. So when Tom Pasmore, the grandson of a powerful establishment figure, develops a passion for detective work – particularly murder cases – his reputation undergoes a subtle darkening. And his growing friendship with his strange neighbour, Lamont von Heilitz, the once-famous ‘amateur of crime’, only adds to Mill Walk society opinion that Tom Pasmore is perhaps not entirely reliable.
One murder in particular fascinates Tom – the 1925 killing of Jeanine Thielman at Eagle Lake, a resort patronized only by the cream of the island’s upper crust community. But when he starts investigating the case, Tom arouses much more than mere disapproval. On the edge of a sinister web of corruption, deceit and violence, he is in danger of uncovering the darkest secrets of the people who own and run Mill Walk…
I found this book very nicely put together. The characters were believable and the events very nicely dovetailed together, I didn’t find any inconsistencies. It was interesting being taken around this tiny little island in the middle of the Caribbean and being shown the two different types of societies dwelling there. You have the uppercrust who have a lot of money and have no time for anybody without money, those who make sure their daughters marry the right kind of people i.e. those with money and those who have previously been vetted and let into society. Then you have the lower classes who struggle for money and live in very shabby circumstances, some of whom just happen to have information that would be detrimental to the those in the upper class. Tom Pasmore’s grandfather is possibly the top of that society and holds many strings, he doesn’t want to see that change. It was interesting to see how Straub mostly showed this with the residences, the upper class have grand houses in beautiful suburbs while the lower classes have shabby flats which felt as though there were many shadows there.
The bulk of this book was set in the 1960′s, a time of ‘free love’ when things changed a lot. I didn’t see a lot of evidence of this a couple of small references. I had to figure out the time setting from when the murder happened and when people were born. Maybe that had to do with the small island setting where things move much more slowly or maybe I just didn’t see the references.
I did enjoy the book, I will be looking for more by Straub. I found it challenging to put down and finished it far faster than my time and the 548 pages should have allowed.
Poirot (by Agatha Christie) is probably the most loved of fictional detectives. There are two more who spring to mind as being fairly closely loved and they are Miss Marple (also written by Agatha Christie) and Sherlock Holmes. These three detectives are very different personalities and the one who stands out the most with his mannerisms and personality just happens to be Herule Poirot. Many people think he’s French but he’s actually Belgium and the accents are similar but different. I’ve met both French and Belgium people in real life and I noticed the difference in the accents the moment the Belgium lady started to talk.
There have been a number of TV series made from Agatha Christie’s books. The two best actors of Poirot are David Suchet and Peter Ustinov. I’ve always said if they could combine these two people you’d have one perfect Poirot as Peter Ustinov had the mannerisms absolutely perfect while David Suchet totally looked the part.
This book is set in 1997 during the lead up to the Y2K changeover and during the opening of the Crown Casino. These are both mentioned, in part due to Murray needing a plus one to take to the opening ceremony. The Premier of Victoria is called Kenneth Geoffries, a very thinly disguised pseudonym for our Premier of those times, Jeff Kennett.
In the previous books I’ve read, Murray Whelan is a rather naive man who does as he’s told and investigates things and just happens to find himself in a better job at the end of the book. In this book he’s matured a lot (he’d better, he’s now 50 and his son, Red, is having driving lessons) and he’s able to work the situations to his advantage. Yes, he ends up with a better job at the end of the book but this time it feels like he’s actually done the manipulating himself rather than having someone do it for him. It’s still got the flavour of the previous books, it’s just that Murray is older and, we hope, wiser. He’s starting to be more serious about taking care of his health and is running more often, the house is no longer falling down and he seems to have his life together.
This is Shane Maloney at his best. I’m sure I’ve spoken before about how politically naive I am so it’s really interesting to get a good insider’s view of the whole political machinations and to get a good understanding of the shenanegins. Maloney has a knack for writing in the vernacular while making it understandable by people outside the system. He’s taken a situation, shown how it could have happened and then shown us the politics behind the situation and then the wrap up so we can see one possible ending. I really could have done without the sex scenes but that’s just me and I think I understand how it could be a part of an unattached politician’s life.
I declare that the following article is my own work.
DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SHORT STORIES – UNTANGLING THE THREADS.
30th May 1947 – 30th May 2009, celebrating 62 years of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’
When, on 6th October 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, a play written by Agatha Christie, opened at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England, it had already undergone transformation from a radio play to a short story and then into the stage play. The play, ‘The Mousetrap’, was based on the short story, ‘Three Blind Mice’, written by Agatha Christie in a collection of her stories entitled ‘Three Blind Mice and other Stories’, which was published only in the United States of America in 1950, but the short story had previously been published in England in a women’s magazine in serial form. ‘Three Blind Mice’, a thirty minute radio play, was written in response to Queen Mary’s request for a play by Agatha Christie to celebrate her 80th birthday and was transmitted by the BBC on 30th May, 1947.
On 25th November, 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, the stage play, opened in the West End of London in the Ambassadors Theatre, and ran there until 23rd March 1974, when it was moved to the larger St Martin’s Theatre, next door, opening on 25th March 1974, keeping its ‘initial run’ status, where it still plays. It is the longest running play in history, and as requested by Dame Agatha Christie, the short story has never been published in England in any short story collection. Film adaptation, under the contract conditions of the play, will not be considered until the play has stopped running for a period of six months.
Such is the acclaim for Agatha Christie, often dubbed ‘The Queen of Crime’, and her works, in 1962, UNESCO claimed she was the ‘most widely read British writer in the world’, beating William Shakespeare for the first position. With her deft writing skills, Christie taunted her readers, laying red herrings to confuse them, and tacitly challenging them to unravel the mystery within her works. Her characters were believable and her writing style was fluid and compact. Author of numerous novels, radio plays, television plays and other works, Christie wrote 160 short stories.
Her novels beguile us, but her collections of short stories may have exactly the same effect for a different reason. While some collections of Christie’s short stories share the same title in the UK and in the USA, most do not. Many of Christie’s books were published firstly in England then later in America. To appeal to the American market, the titles were sometimes changed and another cover picture was created, more appropriate to the American life-style. ‘Poirot’s Early Cases’ (UK) was changed to ‘Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases’ for the American market, presumably because Hercule Poirot at that time was not as well known in America as he was in England. ‘Double Sin and Other Stories’ (US) contains eight short stories, which cannot be found together as a collection published in the UK, but can be found as parts of four other collections in England (‘Poirot’s Early Cases’, ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Other Entrees’, ‘Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories’ and ‘The Hound of Death and Other Stories’). Many of her short story collections suffered the same fate.
Whether it was because of cultural differences or for financial reasons, that Agatha Christie’s and/or her publishers chose to separate and publish her short stories in different collections, we may never know. To get a definitive collection of Agatha Christie’s short stories has, perhaps, become as much a challenge to unravel as anything Christie herself wrote.
To the ‘Queen of Crime’, long may she reign…..
Dame Agatha Christie: 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976.
1.‘The Mousetrap and Agatha Christie’ by Sir Peter Saunders, in ‘50th Year Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap’, Souvenir Brochure.
2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
© Valerie Ann Lettau 20th May 2009.
All rights reserved. No part of this article maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
As you might know from a previous post I have a lot of Agatha Christie books, I’m really only missing three titles of short stories and The Mousetrap. So it’s a very exciting time when I find a book I don’t have.
My other half took me away for a long weekend, we drove down to Lorne on Thursday afternoon and drove back to Melbourne on Sunday. On our way back he stopped at a tiny little town called Dean’s Marsh so I could take some photos of some fabulous sculptures. The sculptures were ingeniously carved from stumps of very large trees. While there I couldn’t resist visiting the local shop to see if there was any local produce or handicrafts. I’m a sucker for locally made goods. They had some really good looking produce; some lovely looking jams, chutneys and mustard – although I couldn’t buy any of it as everything had ingredients I couldn’t eat. They happened to have a very small number of pre-loved books and in this little collection was an Agatha Christie. It was The Mousetrap & Other Plays. This is The Mousetrap that has been playing in London for many years and will not be printed in England until the play stops running. I had to buy it, not just for my collection, not just because we saw it when we were in London in 2001, but also as it segues very nicely into an introduction to my first guest blogger.
Val is also an avid Agatha Christie fan. She is collecting all the Agatha Christie books which have cover art by Tom Adams. She’s put together a nice article for me to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the short radio play of The Mousetrap and this will be published here later this week.
Murder by Manuscript is the second in a series of murder mystery books written by Steve J. Spears. Probably set in Adelaide where he lived until his untimely death from cancer at the age of 56 in October 2007.
Steve Spears was a talented playwright with his most notable work being ‘The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin’ in 1976. He had also written several books about a journalist, Stella Pentangeli, and the enigmatic homicide detective Inspector Ng.
This book is fabulous and I’m anxious to find the others in the series. The author was very good at writing characters that I’d love to meet. Stella is not necessarily the nicest person, but she has character and she is really anxious to make Inspector Ng a very close friend. Inspector Ng is enigmatic, well thought of within the police force and doesn’t appear to have his mind focussed on everyday life. He is wonderful at solving cases, but has been assigned a regular policeman nearing retirement, Sergeant Cross, as his offsider…not actually offsider, more as a driver as when Inspector Ng is on a case (most of the time), he is not safe on the roads.
The writing style is very free and easy to read. It is uncomplicated, but Steve Spears has somehow managed to put a lot of depth into it.
1) It has some swearing and it makes me hesitate to let my 16yo read it.
2) It has some brief homosexual sex scenes. Very brief and it’s not dwelt on too much, but it does help them solve the case.
This is an interesting one. Originally my sister was collecting them. She moved countries when she got married and sold them to me. I continued collecting them and now have almost all of them. The only ones I’m missing are the plays and short stories. My kids have been helping and know more about them than I do. I’ve been thinking about this collection and have been asking myself why I still collect them and what I’m getting from this collection. I don’t actually have any answers here.