TBR Thursday 205…

A seventh batch of murder, mystery and mayhem…

I’m still going slowly with this challenge although I’m reading lots of other vintage crime too. So many great books are being re-issued now, it’s like having access to a long-buried treasure trove!

I haven’t finished reading and reviewing all of the books from the sixth batch of MMM books, but I’ve acquired a couple of review copies of ones recently re-issued, meaning I have to make some changes to the priority list. So here goes for the seventh batch…

The Curious Mr Tarrant by C. Daly King

This one is a collection of short stories rather than a novel, and mostly of the “impossible crime” or “locked room” variety. The original eight stories are the ones Edwards includes in his list, but the currently available edition contains another four, written at later dates.

The Blurb says: “The Most Imaginative Detective Stories of Our Times.” So wrote Ellery Queen about The Curious Mr. Tarrant, an extraordinary collection of detective stories by Charles Daly King (1895-1963). The cases solved by Trevis Tarrant, during the early 1930’s, assisted by his manservant (who is in actuality a Japanese spy) include locked rooms, headless corpses, a vanishing harp, and newly built but haunted house, and other bizarre events. With the encouragement of Ellery Queen, King wrote four additional stories about Mr. Tarrant, some of them becoming “curiouser and curiouser.” They include the case of a Hollywood star who disappears from a locked suite of rooms, in a house surrounded by detectives, and the murder solved only because of the absence of a fish. These additional stories along with the original eight tales are included in The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant. Introduction by Edward D. Hoch.

Challenge details

Book No: 92

Subject Heading: Across the Atlantic

Publication Year: 1935

Martin Edwards says: “King’s work illustrates the truth that, alongside the more acclaimed ‘hard-boiled’ crime fiction of the era, some of the most remarkable Golden Age mysteries were written by American authors.

* * * * *

Case for Three Detectives by Leo Bruce

While the author’s name means nothing to me, Sergeant Beef is ringing all kinds of bells. I feel I must have come across him when I was reading my way through my sister’s vast crime collection in my teens. Can’t remember if I liked him though… 

The Blurb says: Possibly the most unusual mystery ever written. A murder is committed, behind closed doors, in bizarre circumstances. Three amateur detectives take the case: Lord Simon Plimsoll, Monsieur Amer Picon, and Monsignor Smith (in whom discerning readers will note likeness to some familiar literary figures). Each arrives at his own brilliant solution, starting in its originality, ironclad in its logic. Meanwhile Sergeant Beef sits contemptuously in the background. “But,” says Sergeant Beef, “I know who done it!”

Challenge details

Book No: 48

Subject Heading: Making Fun of Murder

Publication Year: 1936

Edwards says: “Lord Simon Plimsoll, Amer Picon and Monsignor Smith are thinly disguised versions of Wimsey, Poirot and Father Brown, and the mannerisms, dialogue and methods of detection familiar from the originals are captured wittily and with considerable skill.

* * * * *

The Case of Miss Elliott by Baroness Orczy

Courtesy of Pushkin Vertigo via NetGalley. Another collection of short stories, and I do remember reading stories about The Old Man in the Corner when I was young – the sleuth whom Pushkin now appear to be calling the Teahouse Detective, which is a baffling mystery in itself…

The Blurb says: Classic mysteries by the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

In the corner of the ABC teashop on Norfolk Street, Polly Burton of the Evening Observer sets down her morning paper, filled with news of the latest outrages, and eagerly waits for her mysterious acquaintance to begin. For no matter how ghastly or confounding the crime, or how fiendishly tangled the plot, the Teahouse Detective can invariably find the solution without leaving the comfort of his café seat.

What did happen that tragic night to Miss Elliott? Who knows the truth about the stolen Black Diamonds? And what sinister workings are behind the curious disappearance of Count Collini? The police may be baffled, but rare is the mystery that eludes the brilliant Teahouse Detective.

Challenge details

Book No: 3

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1905

Edwards says: “The story-telling formula, although inherently limited, was neat and original, and the book enjoyed considerable popularity; it was included in the tiny library taken by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1915.

* * * * *

Family Matters by Anthony Rolls

Courtesy of the British Library – one from their back catalogue of Crime Classics. I enjoyed their later re-issue of the author’s Scarweather, so am looking forward to this one…

The Blurb says: Robert Arthur Kewdingham is an eccentric failure of a man. In middle age he retreats into a private world, hunting for Roman artifacts and devoting himself to bizarre mystical beliefs. Robert’s wife, Bertha, feels that there are few things more dreadful than a husband who will persist in making a fool of himself in public. Their marriage consists of horrible quarrels, futile arguments, incessant bickering. Scarcely any friends will visit the Kewdinghams in their peaceful hometown Shufflecester.

Everything is wrong – and with the entrance of John Harrigall, a bohemian bachelor from London who catches Bertha’s eye, they take a turn for the worse. Soon deep passions and resentments shatter the calm façade of the Kewdinghams’ lives.

This richly characterised and elegantly written crime novel from 1933 is a true forgotten classic.

Challenge details

Book No: 81

Subject Heading: The Ironists

Publication Year: 1933

Edwards says: Family Matters [earned] a rapturous review from Dorothy L. Sayers in The Sunday Times: ‘The characters are quite extraordinarily living, and the atmosphere of the horrid household creeps over one like a miasma.’

* * * * *

All blurbs and covers 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?

27 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 205…

  1. They’ve all got an appeal, FictionFan. It reminds me of what a good thing it is that some publishing houses are re-releasing some of this forgotten crime fiction It’s great that new audiences will have the chance to ‘meet’ some of these authors. And I love it that Edwards did all of that work in compiling the titles and information, so that we can explore classic crime. Of course, what that does to the TBR….

    • So many great ones are being re-released now! It’s killing my poor TBR! I’ve found Edwards’ choices very helpful. I haven’t loved them all, but then he didn’t pick them as his 100 favourites – rather he chose ones that he felt showed how the genre developed, and that gives a great starting point for readers to then go off and do their own exploring… 😀

  2. These kind of crime books are not me thing but for some reason I love to read about them. I adore the Edwards quotes. Especially the one about Shackleton. It never occurred to me that they would have taken books!
    x The Captain

    • Ha! That’s how I feel about your fantasy books – I rarely want to read them but I enjoy learning about them vicariously through your reviews! The Edwards’ book is full of interesting info like that, and anecdotes about the authors and so on. It’s a great book in its own right that I’m finding is adding a lot to my enjoyment of the novels he lists… 😀

  3. I can feel my interest rising over these, FF. There’s something very pleasant about reading short stories (probably because when we’re so busy during the summer months, a short read can be awfully satisfying). A vanishing harp, headless corpse, haunted house — yep, sign me up!

    • Haha – yes, anything with a headless corpse in it always appeals to me too. Worrying, isn’t it? 😉 I seem to have loads of short stories and vintage crime coming up at the moment – need to get my head down and get reading!

    • Aha!! That will be the explanation then – thank you! It did seem odd that the publisher should have changed the detective’s title – he was always known as The Old Man in the Corner in the books as far as I know. It had me checking a million times to be sure it was in fact the same collection…

  4. I remember reading and loving The Scarlet Pimpernel as a teenager (but don’t ask me to remember anything about it!), so perhaps I should say the one by Baroness Orczy…. but honestly it’s the Case for Three Detectives that most piques my interest.

    • I don’t know why I haven’t read The Scarlet Pimpernel – it sounds like the kind of thing I’d have enjoyed in my youth. My critical adult self might turn up a cynical lip, though – that self can be so annoying! 😉 The Case for Three Detectives does sound as if it should be fun… 😀

    • I always say I don’t but actually in recent years I seem to have accidentally read zillions of them, between vintage crime and horror! I like the sound of Case for Three Detectives too – should hopefully be fun!

  5. Right now, I must say I’m not tempted. And I have to ask, if you start reading books that are being reissued, how will you ever find time for new books? Or will your pile just keep growing until it falls on you like an elephant crushing a notorious big game hunter in Hwange? Sorry…..that last bit just crept in there.

    • Ah, I fear I must dispute that! I have inadvertently allowed myself to run out of coffee and have been stuck with tea for over 24 hours now – life is barely worth living! An urgent supermarket run has become a necessity… 😉

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