TBR Thursday 134…

Another batch of murder, mystery and mayhem…

It’s as much of a surprise to me as I’m sure it is to you to know that my TBR has only gone up by 1 this week – to 214! (I accidentally mistyped that as 2114 and considered leaving it like that to allow room for growth… but my better angels prevailed.) I wasn’t intending to do another batch of books for my new challenge till I’d read most of the first batch, but lucky me – I’ve acquired a few as review copies from various obliging sources, so they’ll have to be shoved onto the priority list.

So here goes for the second little batch…

The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace

I’m pretty sure I read this back in my youth when I used to filch books off my sister’s bookshelf, but that was… ahem… a few years ago now, so I remember nothing about it.

The Blurb says: When the Foreign Secretary Sir Philip Ramon receives a threatening, greenish-grey letter signed FOUR JUST MEN, he remains determined to see his Aliens Extradition Bill made law. A device in the members’ smokeroom and a sudden magnesium flash that could easily have been nitro-glycerine leave Scotland Yard baffled. Even Fleet Street cannot identify the illusive Manfred, Gonsalez, Pioccart and Thery – FOUR JUST MEN dedicated to punishing by death those whom conventional justice can not touch.

Challenge details

Book No: 2

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1905

Edwards says: “Wallace’s thriller was not only highly topical at the time it first appeared, but also, more than a century later, seems strikingly modern in its concerns – immigration and international terrorism.”

* * * * *

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville

Courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. A stonkingly good cover, a murder set in the world of theatre, and a bit of humour – joy!

The Blurb says: When Douglas B. Douglas – leading light of the London theatre – premieres his new musical extravaganza, Blue Music, he is sure the packed house will be dazzled by the performance. What he couldn’t predict is the death of his star, Brandon Baker, on stage in the middle of Act 2. Soon another member of the cast is found dead, and it seems to be a straightforward case of murder followed by suicide.

Inspector Wilson of Scotland Yard – who happens to be among the audience – soon discovers otherwise. Together with Derek, his journalist son, Wilson takes charge of proceedings in his own inimitable way.

This is a witty, satirical novel from the golden age of British crime fiction between the world wars.

Challenge details

Book No: 47

Subject Heading: Making Fun of Murder

Publication Year: 1934

Edwards says: “As Sayers said, Melville looks on ‘all this detective business as a huge joke’, but not only does he sustain the joke to the end of the book, his humour has also survived the passage of time.”

* * * * *

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Since MidasPR very kindly gave me some Audible credits to pick any books I liked for review (woohoo!), and since I have previously enjoyed a Gareth Armstrong reading of a Maigret novel, I decided to go for the audio version of this, the first in the Maigret series.

The Blurb says: A gripping new translation by David Bellos of the first novel in the famous Inspector Maigret series.

Who is Pietr the Latvian? Is he a gentleman thief? A Russian drinking absinthe in a grimy bar? A married Norwegian sea captain? A twisted corpse in a train bathroom? Or is he all of these men? Inspector Maigret, tracking a mysterious adversary and a trail of bodies, must bide his time before the answer comes into focus.

Challenge details

Book No: 97

Subject Heading: Cosmopolitan Crimes

Publication Year: 1930

Edwards says: “His genius as a detective is unglamorous but effective: ‘what he waited and watched out for was the crack in the wall. In other words, the instant when the human being came out from behind the opponent.'”

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Portrait of a Murderer (A Christmas Crime Story) by Anne Meredith

I am ridiculously excited about this one! I was lucky enough to be promised a copy by the British Library and expected the usual lovely paperback. But when it arrived, it’s a gorgeous hardback! Apparently it’s a special edition to celebrate the fact that it’s the 50th in their Crime Classics series and it’s bee-yoo-tee-full – the same picture on the slipcover, a lovely smart spine that will look great on the bookshelf, and…wait for it… wait for it… a red ribbon bookmark! THE perfect Christmas gift! (Hehe – the BL obviously think so too, since they sent it to me wrapped in Christmas paper. 😀 ) I wonder if they’ll do more hardbacks – I’m drooling at the thought of a shelf full of them…

The Blurb says: ‘Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.’

Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933 that has been too long neglected – until now. It is a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray’s six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve – and by the following morning, their wish has been granted.

This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

Challenge details

Book No: 78

Subject Heading: Inverted Mysteries

Publication Year: 1933

Edwards says: “Depriving herself of the opportunity to engage readers through a complex whodunit puzzle or an elaborate police investigation, Meredith concentrates on exploring the psychology of her characters, and incisive social comment.”

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or Audible UK. The quotes from Martin Edwards are from his book, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

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46 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 134…

  1. Oh, you are so lucky, FictionFan! Portrait of a Murderer sounds great. And that gorgeous cover, too! Wow! I have to say I like the look of the Melville, too. Sometimes it’s worth not paying too much attention to how big the TBR is getting…


    • Are you a theatre person then? I love the theatre too but purely from an audience perspective, and I think it’s always a great setting for mysteries – all those actors and props! This one sounds like fun… 😀


      • Only as a member of the audience these days but I trained for three years and then taught theatre studies at undergraduate level for a decade or so. Now I content myself with watching others perform.


        • Ah, I can see why the theatre setting would appeal to you then. Apparently the author had experience as a lyricist and writing for the theatre, and ‘gets great enjoyment out of scarifying all the leading lights of the profession, from producer to dramatic critic’ – sounds like fun!


  2. I would go with the Simenon, since it’s the first in the series and several people keep telling me how good it is. Good job increasing the TBR by only 1 this week. But I’m sure you’ll make up for that paltry number sooner rather than later… 🙂


    • I’m glad Martin Edwards picked the first in the series for his list since I wanted to backtrack to the beginning anyway. I read a couple of later ones and thoroughly enjoyed them. Haha – since I crossed that 200 barrier I feel totally liberated… 😉


  3. Ooh, an early Christmas present — sounds wonderful! Looks good on the shelf, too — what could be nicer?! I also find myself drawn to Quick Curtain. Something about the plotline intrigues me. And congrats on *only* upping the TBR by one!!


    • I know – I laughed when I saw the Christmas paper! But it would be the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who likes these old crime novels. I like the sound of Quick Curtain too – there’s something about the theatre that makes it the perfect setting for a mystery novel… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. They all sound good! Unfortunately for me, I just received 3 books in the mail today so I can’t add any more this week. Self-discipline being practiced here (for at least as long as it takes me to type this). 😎


    • Hah – I don’t believe you – you’ve got even less willpower than me! 😉 I’d actually gone down one till yesterday and suddenly NetGalley started approving requests that have been outstanding for so long I’d forgotten about them…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that the BL wrapped up the book in Christmas paper for you-they are quite cheeky aren’t they? Books set during specific holidays are my favourite, because I like to read them during that holiday time, it makes it all feel more special doesn’t it? Although that always means I’m ignoring family at holiday time to read books, but they’re used to it by now!


    • Hehe – I know! Great subliminal advertising – every reviewer who was sent a copy is going to say ‘perfect Christmas gift’. 😉 I do like to read snowy books at Christams even though we rarely get white Christmases. Last year, I had an anthology of short stories set at Christmas from this same series – loads of fun! And I think my family is quite happy if I shut up and read for a while… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember Edgar Wallace at all, though I’m pretty sure I read this one long ago. I’ve read a couple of the Simenons in these new translations recently and thoroughly enjoyed them, so it will be interesting to read the first in the series and see how it all began…


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