TBR Thursday (on a Sunday) 224…

An eighth batch of murder, mystery and mayhem…

(Yes, I know it’s Sunday but I’m so behind with postings that I’ll be reading books before I’ve included them on TBR posts soon, and I simply can’t cope with the mental and emotional discombobulation that would cause me!)

So, the first batch for 2020 for this challenge includes a couple of well-known names and a couple who are new to me…

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

This will be a re-read of the very first Christie novel. However it’s many, many years since I last read it, so I’ve pretty much forgotten it completely, including the crucial question of whodunit…

The Blurb says: Who poisoned the wealthy Emily Inglethorpe, and how did the murderer penetrate and escape from her locked bedroom? Suspects abound in the quaint village of Styles St. Mary–from the heiress’s fawning new husband to her two stepsons, her volatile housekeeper, and a pretty nurse who works in a hospital dispensary. Making his unforgettable debut, the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on the case. The key to the success of this style of detective novel lies in how the author deals with both the clues and the red herrings, and it has to be said that no one bettered Agatha Christie at this game.

Challenge details

Book No: 18

Subject Heading: The Great Detectives

Publication Year: 1920

Martin Edwards says: “Christie blends a rich variety of ingredients, including floor plans, facsimile documents, an inheritance tangle, impersonation, forgery and courtroom drama. The originality of her approach lay in the way she prioritised the springing of a surprise solution ahead of everything else…

* * * * *

Trent’s Last Case by EC Bentley

I don’t remember ever reading anything by Bentley before so this is unknown territory…

The Blurb says: On Wall Street, the mere mention of the name Sigsbee Manderson is enough to send a stock soaring—or bring it tumbling back to earth. Feared but not loved, Manderson has no one to mourn him when the gardener at his British country estate finds him facedown in the dirt, a bullet buried in his brain. There are bruises on his wrist and blood on his clothes, but no clue that will lead the police to the murderer. It will take an amateur to—inadvertently—show them the way.

Cheerful, charming, and always eager for a mystery, portrait artist and gentleman sleuth Philip Trent leaps into the Manderson affair with all the passion of the autodidact. Simply by reading the newspapers, he discovers overlooked details of the crime. Not all of his reasoning is sound, and his romantic interests are suspect, to say the least, but Trent’s dedication to the art of detection soon uncovers what no one expected him to find: the truth.

Challenge details

Book No: 12

Subject Heading: The Birth of the Golden Age

Publication Year: 1913

Edwards says: “The book opens with a scathing denunciation of the ruthless American magnate Sigsbee Manderson. More than a century after the book was published, this passage retains its power, and reminds us that there is nothing new about the unpopularity of financiers…

* * * * *

The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton

I’ve never been a fan of GK Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, so this one will be more of a duty than a pleasure… unless he manages to win me over this time!

The Blurb says: In thrilling tales such as “The Blue Cross,” “The Secret Garden,” and “The Hammer of God,” G. K. Chesterton’s immortal priest-detective applies his extraordinary intuition to the most intricate of mysteries. No corner of the human soul is too dark for Father Brown, no villain too ingenious. The Innocence of Father Brown is a testament to the power of faith and the pleasure of a story well told.

Challenge details

Book No: 7

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1911

Edwards says: “Chesterton took a real-life friend, a Bradford priest, as his model, ‘knocking him about; beating his hat and umbrella shapeless, untidying his clothes, punching his intelligent countenance into a condition of pudding-faced fatuity, and generally disguising Father O’Connor as Father Brown.’

* * * * *

The Crime at Diana’s Pool by Victor L Whitechurch

I’m sure I’ve read and enjoyed a short story from Whitechurch in one of the BL’s anthologies, though I may be mistaken since I can’t find any reference to it on the blog. Anyway, this is certainly my first novel by him…

The Blurb says: The Reverend Harry Westerman was “an energetic, capable parish priest, a good organiser, and a plain, sensible preacher” and “a particularly shrewd and capable man. It was no idle boast of his that he had made a habit of observation – many of his parishioners little guessed how closely and clearly he had summed them up by observing those ordinary idiosyncrasies which escape the notice of most people. He was also a man who could be deeply interested in many things quite apart from his professional calling, and chiefly in problems which concerned humanity.” Attending the garden party of a newcomer to the parish of Coppleswick he makes a discovery that leads to a long and complicated investigation with sinister connections to past events.

Challenge details

Book No: 37

Subject Heading: Murder at the Manor

Publication Year: 1927

Edwards says: “As Dorothy L Sayers complained, he did not put the reader ‘on an equal footing with the detective himself, as regards all clues and discoveries’. For her, this was a throwback to ‘the naughty tradition’, but she acknowledged that the novel was otherwise excellent.”

* * * * *

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?

18 thoughts on “TBR Thursday (on a Sunday) 224…

  1. Hmmm….I wonder what you’ll think of the Father Brown stories, FictionFan. I honestly don’t think those stories are for everyone (but then, what story really is?), although I do appreciate the contribution Chesterton made the genre. I hope you’ll enjoy your re-acquaintance with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. In my opinion, it’s not Christie at her very best. Still, there are some interesting elements to it. Anyway, the story behind the novel is that she tried and tried to get it published and it took quite some time (and revisions). I remind myself of that when my own writing is not going as I wish it would… As to the Whitechurch, I’ve not read anything by him, either, so I’ll be interested in what you think.

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    • Maybe my immersion in vintage crime will make me more open to Father Brown now, but I’m not convinced – my heart tends to sink a bit whenever he turns up in an anthology. I’m sure the reason I haven’t revisited The Mysterious Affair at Styles for so long is because it wasn’t one of my favourites either, but that does have the major advantage of meaning that I’ve forgotten the plot. Fascinating to think of her being rejected, isn’t it? Thank goodness she didn’t give up! There must be a lesson there for all crime writers… 😉

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  2. Unsurprisingly these all tempt me – I do like classic crime! I’ve never read the Father Brown series though, so I’ll be interested to see if he can win you over. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets whole plots, at least it makes for enjoyable re-reads 😀

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    • It’s a personal antipathy thing with me and Father Brown – we simply don’t see eye to eye on things! But most people seem to love him so I’ll give him another chance… 😉 Haha – I’ve always thought that my ability to forget plots is a major compensation for my inability to remember anything else… every cloud has a silver lining… 😂

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    • Hahaha – I know, we’re all such creatures of habit – and slaves to our blog schedules! It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t call everything by the day of the week – TBR Thursday, Tuesday Terror, etc. It makes moving posts tricky… 😉

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  3. Back when I first got my Kindle, I downloaded (for free, I think) the entire Father Brown collection. I’ve yet to try one, so I don’t know what I think of them. I hope you are won over this time! (be positive!!)

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    • Haha – I have so many freebie collections from that first rush of Kindle enthusiasm! Did I ever really think I would read the entire works of Henry James, for example? Or Ovid??? (Surely I must have had too much wine that night… 😂) I shall give Father Brown another chance, but he’ll have to work hard to win my affections, I fear… perhaps he should bring chocolates on our first date…

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  4. These ALL sound good!! As you know, I’m a big fan of Christie and while I’ve never read Father Brown, I’ll be interested to see if you become a fan after this one. So many mysteries … so little time!!

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    • They do, don’t they? Between this challenge and all the lovely goodies from the BL no wonder I’ve become a vintage crime addict! And they say there’s no cure… 😱 Father Brown will be a challenge all by himself, but I shall make sure I have a plentiful supply of chocolate to see me through… 😉

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  5. My only encounter with Father Brown has been an adaptation of one of them on the tv, I must have been particularly bored that day. I’ve certainly never felt tempted to read any of the books, and I can’t really see them being your thing, but we never know.
    The Mysterious Affair at Styles was another Christie I read quite late on, and I guessed the sollution, as I recognised the pattern from one of her later novels. I can’t pretend it is one of my favorites, and I don’t think it shows Christie at her best, but I guess it was in many ways the prototype for her Poirot fiction, so I suppose that’s why it is in the Edwards anthology.

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    • The Father Brown stories are very preachy – or maybe philosophical would be fairer. But it’s been a while since I read any except the occasional one in an anthology so I’ll try to give them a chance to win me round. I feel as if I don’t remember The Mysterious Affair at Styles at all from the blurb but it might all come back to me when I start reading. Yes, some of the choices in the Edwards book have been odd. He does make it clear it’s not a Top 100 list – rather that the books showed some element or development in the genre, but I must admit I’d probably have enjoyed more of them if he’d chosen them for their quality rather than their originality. But I’m enjoying enough of them to make it worth while, for now anyway…

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