TBR Thursday 169…

A fourth batch of murder, mystery and mayhem…

I’ve been falling behind on this challenge because of all the other vintage crime books that have come my way recently, but it’s time to get back on track!

And since I’ve now read and reviewed all the books from the third batch of MMM books, here goes for the fourth batch…

The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley

This is a book that gets mentioned all the time by vintage crime enthusiasts so it’s well past time I found out what the fuss is about. I’ve only read a couple of short stories from Anthony Berkeley to date – I thought one was great, the other silly. Let’s hope the book is great!

The Blurb says: Graham and Joan Bendix have apparently succeeded in making that eighth wonder of the modern world, a happy marriage. And into the middle of it there drops, like a clap of thunder, a box of chocolates.Joan Bendix is killed by a poisoned box of liqueur chocolates that cannot have been intended for her to eat. The police investigation rapidly reaches a dead end. Chief Inspector Moresby calls on Roger Sheringham and his Crimes Circle – six amateur but intrepid detectives – to consider the case. The evidence is laid before the Circle and the members take it in turn to offer a solution. Each is more convincing than the last, slowly filling in the pieces of the puzzle, until the dazzling conclusion. This new edition includes an alternative ending by the Golden Age writer Christianna Brand, as well as a brand new solution devised specially for the British Library by the crime novelist and Golden Age expert Martin Edwards.

Challenge details

Book No: 22

Subject Heading: The Great Detectives

Publication Year: 1929

Martin Edwards says: “As Roger [Sheringham, Berkeley’s detective] reflects…’That was the trouble with the old-fashioned detective-story. One deduction only was drawn from each fact, and it was invariably the right deduction. The Great Detectives of the past certainly had luck. In real life one can draw a hundred plausible deductions from one fact, and they’re all equally wrong.'”

* * * * *

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

A re-read of one of my favourite Christies, narrated by Captain Hastings himself, Hugh Fraser. Joy!

The Blurb says: The Murder at the Vicarage marks the debut of Agatha Christie’s unflappable and much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple. With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage. Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.

Challenge details

Book No: 24

Subject Heading: The Great Detectives

Publication Year: 1930

Edwards says: “Christie’s sly wit is also evident in the presentation of village life. When Raymond West compares St Mary Mead to a stagnant pool, Miss Marple reminds him that life teems beneath the surface of stagnant pools.”

* * * * *

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

Next to London, Oxford must surely be the murder capital of England… in the world of crime fiction, at least!

The Blurb says: As inventive as Agatha Christie, as hilarious as P.G. Wodehouse – discover the delightful detective stories of Edmund Crispin. Crime fiction at its quirkiest and best.

Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. The police are understandably skeptical of this tale but Richard’s former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn…

Challenge details

Book No: 49

Subject Heading: Making Fun of Murder

Publication Year: 1946

Edwards says: “The second chase culminates at Botley fairground, and an out-of-control roundabout; Alfred Hitchcock bought the right to use the scene for the film version of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train.

* * * * *

The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson

Courtesy of the British Library, who are republishing this one in August. I love the House of Commons as a setting for murder… in the fictional sense, of course!

The Blurb says: Originally published in 1932, this is the first Crime Classic novel written by an MP. And fittingly, the crime scene is within the House of Commons itself, in which a financier has been shot dead.

Entreated by the financier’s daughter, a young parliamentary private secretary turns sleuth to find the identity of the murderer – the world of politics proving itself to be domain not only of lies and intrigue, but also danger.Wilkinson’s own political career positioned her perfectly for this accurate but also sharply satirical novel of double cross and rivalries within the seat of the British Government.

Challenge details

Book No: 89

Subject Heading: Singletons

Publication Year: 1936

Edwards says: “A remarkable number of Golden Age detective stories were set in the world of Westminster, presumably because politicians made such popular murder victims. None, however, benefited from as much inside knowledge of the Parliament’s corridors of power as The Division Bell Mystery, whose author was a former MP and future minister.”

* * * * *

NB All blurbs taken from Goodreads or Amazon 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?

37 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 169…

  1. I haven’t read, or indeed heard of, the Wilkinson, but the other three are great I’ll join you in the reread. The Wilkinson popped up yesterday on my Kindle suggestions list.

  2. You’ve got such a great selection here, FictionFan! Many people think that The Moving Toyshop is one of Crispin’s best novels, so I’m especially glad to see that here. I’m also happy to see The Murder at the Vicarage, too, as you can guess. It presents a different approach to Miss Marple’s character to the one you see in the later books about her, and, for me, that’s part of what makes it such a great story. And what’s not to like about a Hugh Fraser narration??

    • I remember Cleo’s glowing review of The Moving Toyshop, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m loving these Hugh Fraser narrations, as you know, so that one will definitely be fun. And while I still think The Poisoned Chocolates Case sounds more like horror than mystery, I’ll steel myself… 😉

  3. The only one I’ve read is The Murder at the Vicarage – multiple times. And, of course, it’s the first book that Miss Marple appears in. I love all the Miss Marple books, so I just reread them over and over. Enjoy!

    • I love Miss Marple too and must know The Murder in the Vicarage inside out by now, but I’m loving listening to these Hugh Fraser narrations – it brings all the freshness back! Can’t wait to get to it… 😀

  4. All of them! I loved Murder at the Vicarage when I read it a couple of years ago, I was a huge fan of the Moving Toyshop when I read it this year, The Poisoned Chocolate Case is on my Classic Club list and although I hadn’t considered The Division Bell Mystery because bumping of MPs sounds like a good read to me!

    • I love The Murder at the Vicarage – one of my faves, so am looking forward to listening to Hugh Fraser read it to me. And it was your glowing review of The Moving Toyshop that made me push it up the priority list. I’m not sure about The Poisoned Chocolates Case – sounds more like a horror story to me! Haha – yes, at this point in time I feel more murder mysteries should be set in Parliament… 😉

  5. These sound delightful … except for that poisoned box of chocolates. How dare anyone cast aspersions on the wonders of an entire box of chocolates?!?

  6. I remember Cleo writing about the Moving Toyshop – it definitely appeals to me. Looking forward to seeing what you make of it. Murder at the Vicarage was delightful. I imagine the audio is even more so. Good stuff!

    • Yes, it was Cleo’s glowing review that made me bump it up the priority list! I’m loving these Hugh Fraser narrations of the Christie books, so that will be a special treat. 😀

  7. As a fellow GA fan, this is a terrible post for my TBR! Thank goodness I’ve read The Moving Toyshop so at least I’m one down 🙂 I really want to read Poisoned Chocolates, I hope it’s as good as everyone says.

    • Hahaha – I know! All these GA mysteries sound so good and so many of them are coming out now – I’m drowning in them! I’m looking forward to the Poisoned Chocs, though I still think the idea is blasphemous…

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