TBR Thursday (on a Wednesday) 299…

An eleventh batch of murder, mystery and mayhem…

This is a challenge to read all 102 (102? Yes, 102) books listed in Martin Edwards’ guide to vintage crime, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. (100? Yes, 100.) Because of all the other great vintage crime being republished at the moment, I’m going very slowly with this challenge and they’ve proved to be a bit of a mixed bag so far, though with more winners than losers. Here’s the second batch for 2021 and the eleventh overall…

Tracks in the Snow by Godfrey R Benson

I’ve never come across Godfrey R Benson before, which isn’t too surprising since apparently this was his only venture into crime fiction. The blurb sounds quite appealing…

The Blurb says: Robert Driver is temporarily fulfilling the post of parson at Long Wilton, a position he finds tedious in the extreme. But the monotony is relieved in terrible fashion when, one snowy evening, his friend Peters is found murdered at his country house, Grenville Combe. Driver takes an interest in the case, and when a chance discovery leads him to suspect that the police’s suspicions about the culprit’s identity may be entirely incorrect, he is determined to see that justice is done. He finds he must proceed with caution, however, if he is to avoid bringing down further tragedy upon himself and his family.

Originally published in 1906, this vintage detective story will delight all fans of classic crime fiction.

Challenge details

Book No: 4

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1906

Martin Edwards says: “…Benson’s thoughtful, well-crafted prose, his insights into human behaviour, and the way in which the story touches on issues such as free will and the ramifications of Britain’s imperial past combine to make his brief venture into the crime genre notable.”

* * * * *

Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah

I’ve read a couple of Max Carrados short stories in various anthologies and also the only novel he features in, The Bravo of London, and enjoyed them without loving them. Maybe this collection of eight stories will finally win me over…

The Blurb says: Max Carrados is the greatest detective you’ve never heard of. He may be blind, but what Carrados lacks in sight he more than makes up for in perception. He can pick out a voice in a crowded room and read a book by running his fingers over the print. Those who underestimate his abilities are soon surprised by the keen Carrados.

In one story, Carrados tracks down a criminal by analyzing a coin without ever leaving his study. Another finds him solving the mystery of a train accident that has far more to it than anyone expected. Bramah’s stories of Carrados regularly appeared in The Strand magazine, receiving top billing even over those of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Challenge details

Book No: 11

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1914

Edwards says: “George Orwell, a critic with stern opinions about the genre, said that Carrados’ cases were, together with those of Arthur Conan Doyle and R Austin Freeman, ‘the only detective stories since Poe that are worth rereading’.

* * * * *

Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare

Again I’ve come across a couple of Hare’s short stories in anthologies and enjoyed them, particularly for the quality of his writing, so I’m looking forward to seeing how his style translates to novel form…

The Blurb says: Tragedy at Law follows a rather self-important High Court judge, Mr Justice Barber, as he moves from town to town presiding over cases in the Southern England circuit. When an anonymous letter arrives for Barber, warning of imminent revenge, he dismisses it as the work of a harmless lunatic. But then a second letter appears, followed by a poisoned box of the judge’s favourite chocolates, and he begins to fear for his life. Enter barrister and amateur detective Francis Pettigrew, a man who was once in love with Barber’s wife and has never quite succeeded in his profession – can he find out who is threatening Barber before it is too late?

Challenge details

Book No: 66

Subject Heading: The Justice Game

Publication Year: 1942

Edwards says: “For this unorthodox variation on the concept of a crime novel set in a realistically evoked working environment, Cyril Hare drew on his own experience. Fifteen years spent practising at the Bar, and a spell as a judge’s marshal, meant that he was ideally suited to describing life on a judicial circuit. 

* * * * *

The Z Murders by J Jefferson Farjeon

I’ve read one novel by Farjeon in the BL’s Crime Classics series, Thirteen Guests, and wasn’t overly thrilled by it. However I didn’t hate it either, and I’ve had more success with a couple of his short stories in anthologies, so I’m keen to see if this novel will turn me into a fan…

The Blurb says: Richard Temperley arrives at Euston station early on a fogbound London morning. He takes refuge in a nearby hotel, along with a disagreeable fellow passenger, who had snored his way through the train journey. But within minutes the other man has snored for the last time – he has been shot dead while sleeping in an armchair. Temperley has a brief encounter with a beautiful young woman, but she flees the scene. When the police arrive, Detective Inspector James discovers a token at the crime scene: ‘a small piece of enamelled metal. Its colour was crimson, and it was in the shape of the letter Z.’

Temperley sets off in pursuit of the mysterious woman from the hotel, and finds himself embroiled in a cross-country chase – by train and taxi – on the tail of a sinister serial killer. This classic novel by the author of the best-selling Mystery in White is a gripping thriller by a neglected master of the genre.

Challenge details

Book No: 71

Subject Heading: Multiplying Murders

Publication Year: 1932

Edwards says: “…Farjeon cared about his prose, and liked to spice his mysteries with dashes of humour and romance. Time and again, imaginative literary flourishes lift the writing out of the mundanity commonplace in thrillers of this period”

* * * * *

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? Are you tempted?

54 thoughts on “TBR Thursday (on a Wednesday) 299…

  1. You are determined to confuse me with changing days. It doesn’t take much 😁 My partner is a fan of the classic crime series and is reading The Z Murders at the moment. I’m not at home right now so can’t ask for his latest opinion, but last I heard, he was very much enjoying it. Hope you do too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the sound of it too, especially the connection to our imperial past which always interests me, as you know. I like the sound of the Cyril Hare one too – using his personal knowledge of the justice system should make it feel authentic, I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read the Z Murders which I liked but didn’t love–the writing and banter were fun but not s much the mystery itself; the Cyril Hare is one of my Goodreads’ group’s picks for I think April next year, so I will be reading that as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really happy that a lot of these stories are becoming available again, FictionFan. Even if I never get the chance to read them, I enjoy learning about ‘new-to-me’ authors, and some of these sound terrific. Kudos to the publishers who are bringing them back. My vote would be for Tragedy at Law, but they all look interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are still quite a few of the ones Martin Edwards picked that aren’t available even for Kindle. I’m surprised – I thought some enterprising soul would have put them out by now, since I’m not the only person who’s trying to read them all. Tragedy at Law sounds good, and I’ve enjoyed his style in the couple of short stories I’ve read, so I have high-ish hopes!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All of those sound good! But Tracks in the Snow makes me a little nervous because of the lack of a follow-up. But perhaps there is a good reason for that and this is like To Kill a Mockingbird–so good he couldn’t come anywhere close to ever achieving it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it always puzzles me when someone writes just one book, but it’s not always a sign of failure. One or two of the “singletons” as Martin Edwards calls them have been pretty good!

      Like

  5. I think the Z Murders sounds the best, but I’m curious about the blind detective who can read a book by running his fingers over the print (which I presume is not Braille)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Max Carrados, the blind one, is a bit too unbelievable for me – there was a spate of detectives with disabilities that seemed more like superpowers for a while! The Z Murders sounds like fun, though the people who’ve read it seem to have mixed feelings about it… we’ll see!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to confess that I never made it through The Z Murders – not terrible, but it just didn’t grab me, and I want crime fiction to do that. However, I did enjoy Farjeon’s Mystery in White, though I think that was partly because of the festive atmosphere (I read it over Christmas one year). Tragedy at Law sounds the best of these to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t read Mystery in White – it was before I really got into the BL series and somehow I never seem to have time to backtrack to the ones I missed. Thirteen Guests was OK but not great, and The Z Murders doesn’t seem to have been loved by many of the people who’ve read it, but who knows – often it’s as much the mood I’m in as the quality of the book! I like the sound of Tragedy at Law too – looking forward to that one!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember seeing the one about the blind detective in the Martin Edwards book, and thinking it sounded a bit different. I only hope it has not gone too far down the conception about blind people’s other senses being hightened due to their lack of vision. It comes up a lot in fiction, and even general conversation, and I can see exactly where it is coming from, but it is actually quite far removed from the way blind people process sensory information in real life, certainly from my own and other blind colleagues’ experiences. We are maybe forced to use our other senses more, but they are not more strongly developed from conception, which is a subtle difference. It is a bit like the rather strange cliche about blind people needing to touch the faces of their sighted friends and family members in order to know, understand and form intimate relationships with them, which I have never felt the need to do at all. I’ll need to try and check this one out to see how neurologically and psychologically accurate the portrayal of blindness actually is. I have a feeling it will be fairly of its time, which is not a completely bad thing as I have suggested before, it is always good to see how we have progressed. On a lighter note, I see you have almost reached the 300 mark of your TBR posts. You’ll need to mark the ocasion tomorrow with an extra cake of chocolate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From the couple of short stories I’ve read, I do think Max Carrados falls into that category of having super senses to compensate for his blindness and that’s actually one of the things that rather put me off. In his case, I understand he became blind in adulthood due to an accident, rather than having been born blind, but the cases seem to be written around his blindness to use it as an advantage, if you see what I mean. However, maybe these stories will change my mind – I think they’re supposed to be the best of the Carrados stories. It’s interesting what you say about the facial touching – that has always seemed odd to me, especially for people who were born blind. I can see maybe with someone who was previously sighted that it may give them an internal visual impression of what a person would look like, but for someone born blind, I’ve often wondered if that kind of impression would be important. I’d certainly be interested to hear what you think of the Carrados stories if you get a chance to read them sometime.

      Haha, I’ve been trying to think of something special to mark my 300th post, but I’ll leave you in suspense until tomorrow… 😀

      Like

    • Ha, this challenge has been dragging on for years, which may answer your question! 😉 More seriously, I’ve enjoyed more of the books than not, but there have been quite a lot that I really don’t understand why he included them too. He does say it’s not his 100 favourites – he’s picked them because he feels it shows how the genre developed over time – but I think I’d have preferred a list of 100 Best Novels in retrospect. About twenty of them aren’t available either, so I’ll never finish the challenge…

      Like

  8. Fun temptations among these! Tracks in the Snow does look intriguing and the couple of Cyril Hare books I’ve read (not Tragedy at Law though), I’ve quite liked. Probably liked Thirteen Guests a bit more than you did, but he’s not a favorite GA writer. It would be marvelous to have all the Edwards choices available, but working out the rights issues would probably be a nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep meaning to ask the BL if they couldn’t try to publish some of the unavailable ones since it’s their fault we’re looking for them! Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed Cyril Hare – I’ve liked the couple of short stories I’ve read so am looking forward to the novel. I’m intrigued as to why Tracks in the Snow is a “singleton” novel – maybe it will become obvious when I read it… 😉 I quite liked Thirteen Guests – it just didn’t become a favourite. Apart from anything else, I felt thirteen were too many characters to get to grips with in such a short space, and the detection element was weak. But I enjoyed the writing so I haven’t given up hope of becoming a fan…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I seem to remember someone on Twitter suggesting this to Martin Edwards, but don’t know what his response was. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on the Farjeon, I’d like to read ‘Mystery in White’ as my next book from him.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mystery in White always seems to be the one that gets most positively reviewed. I must read it sometime too – maybe next year when my TBR will be fully under control… 😉 I’m going to mention those missing books to the BL publicist next time I email him – I’m sure some at least of the books must be out of copyright. Of course maybe they’re not very good…

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare. I have read several books by Hare that I loved. I think this was not my favorite but I say if Martin Edwards recommends it, it has to be good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This will be the first time I’ve read one of his novels but I’ve enjoyed his short stories whenever they’ve appeared in an anthology. Don’t know if I can afford to find any new favourite authors though – I’m drowning in my TBR already… 😉

      Like

      • I know exactly what you mean about not finding any more favorite authors. Every time I see one I am interested in, I have to quell my enthusiasm, at least until I make some progress on my TBR.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha, I have a list of authors I mean to follow up on some time, and the last time I checked it had about 140 names on it! They’re going to have to invent immortality soon… 😉

          Like

    • Ha, it always makes me laugh that so many places in the world find rain a rare experience! Here it’s just kinda the normal weather – the days we remark on are the ones when it doesn’t rain! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of them are available on the free out of copyright sites like Project Gutenberg or fadedpage.com, and a few other publishers are doing a great job of bringing back some of the vintage authors for Kindle. But there’s a hard core of about twenty out of the 100 that I can’t track down at all, or at least not at anything approaching reasonable prices. I was hoping the fact that they’re listed in the book might inspire some enterprising publisher to reissue them, but so far that hasn’t happened. Still, if I manage to read about 80% that’ll satisfy me!

      Like

    • Funnily enough there was a little spate of detectives with disabilities around that time – blind, deaf, and so on. Sometimes they’re a bit cringey now in the way they talk about it, much like race.

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment - I'd love to know who's visiting and what you think...of the post, of the book, of the blog, of life, of chocolate...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.