A fourteenth 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, especially recently. However I still have several books for it on my TBR, so I shall struggle womanfully on! Here’s the third batch for 2022 and the fourteenth overall…
The Rasp by Philip MacDonald
An author unknown to me, and the blurb has appealing aspects, like the murdered politician (it’s been a tough few weeks here in the UK! 😉 ), and bits that thrill me less, like the emphasis on alibis. However it has reasonably high ratings on Goodreads, so we’ll see.
The Blurb says: A victim is bludgeoned to death with a woodworker’s rasp in this first case for the famed gentleman detective Anthony Gethryn.
Ex-Secret Service agent Anthony Gethryn is killing time working for a newspaper when he is sent to cover the murder of Cabinet minister John Hoode, bludgeoned to death in his country home with a wood-rasp. Gethryn is convinced that the prime suspect, Hoode’s secretary Alan Deacon, is innocent, but to prove it he must convince the police that not everyone else has a cast-iron alibi for the time of the murder.
Book No: 20
Subject Heading: The Great Detectives
Publication Year: 1924
Martin Edwards says: “The zest of MacDonald’s prose contributed to the book’s success, and compensated for flaws such as Gethryn’s very lengthy explanation of the mystery at the end.”
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The Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh and Henry Jellett
I enjoyed Ngaio Marsh back in the day but haven’t revisited her in years. But her plots were always fun, and the audiobook narrator, Philip Franks, sounds good. Another murdered politician and this one is the Home Secretary! I shall preserve a tactful silence, but my UK friends will know what I’m thinking… 😉
The Blurb says: Ngaio Marsh’s bestselling and ingenious third novel remains one of the most popular pieces of crime fiction of all time.
Sir John Phillips, the Harley Street surgeon, and his beautiful nurse Jane Harden are almost too nervous to operate. The emergency case on the table before them is the Home Secretary – and they both have very good, personal reasons to wish him dead.
Within hours he does die, although the operation itself was a complete success, and Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn must find out why…
Book No: 55
Subject Heading: Playing Politics
Publication Year: 1935
Edwards says: “Marsh undertook her one and only collaborative novel in partnership with a doctor. While undergoing surgery in her native New Zealand she had been attended by Henry Jellett, an Irish gynaecologist who became a friend. She started work on the book during her convalescence with Jellett supplying the necessary technical expertise.“
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The Duke of York’s Steps by Henry Wade
To the best of my recollection I’ve never come across this author before. Not sure the blurb appeals much, but it has pretty good ratings from the few people who’ve reviewed it on Goodreads. Dead banker this time… *zips lips*
The Blurb says: A wealthy banker, Sir Garth Fratten, dies suddenly from an aneurysm on the Duke of York’s Steps. His doctor is satisfied that a mild shock such as being jostled would be enough to cause Sir Garth’s death. It all seems so straightforward, and there is no inquest.
But Fratten’s daughter Inez is not satisfied. She places an advertisement in the London newspapers that comes to the attention of Scotland Yard, and Inspector John Poole is assigned to make enquiries.
Poole’s investigation leads him into a world of high finance where things are not as they seem; a sordid world in which rich young men make fools of themselves over chorus girls.
Book No: 61
Subject Heading: The Long Arm of the Law
Publication Year: 1929
Edwards says: “Poole is familiar with the detective work of Holmes, Poirot and Hanaud, but regards the approach of Freeman Wills Crofts’ Inspector French as much more ‘true to life’. Crofts’ influence on Wade is reflected in the careful unravelling of an ingenious conspiracy, but even at this early stage in his career, Wade displays more interest than Crofts in bringing his characters to life.“
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Death on the Down Beat by Sebastian Farr
This was one I was having difficulty finding, but happily the British Library have just published it as part of their Crime Classics series. The plot sounds interesting, but Martin Edwards’ comments on it have me worried – see below!
The Blurb says: As a rousing Strauss piece is reaching its crescendo in Maningpool Civic Hall, the talented yet obnoxious conductor Sir Noel Grampian is shot dead in full view of the Municipal Orchestra and the audience. It was no secret that he had many enemies – musicians and music critics among them – but to be killed in mid flow suggests an act of the coldest calculation.
Told through the letters and documents sent by D.I. Alan Hope to his wife as he puzzles through the dauntingly vast pool of suspects and scant physical evidence in the case, this is an innovative and playful mystery underscored by the author’s extensive experience of the highly-strung world of music professionals. First published in 1941, this new edition returns Farr’s only crime novel to print to receive its long-deserved encore.
Book No: 90
Subject Heading: Singletons
Publication Year: 1941
Edwards says: “Farr choose the epistolary form for an unusual story in which the loathsome conductor of the Maningpool Municipal Orchestra is shot dead during a performance of Strauss’ tone poem “A Hero’s Life”. Instead of a floor plan of a country house, the reader is provided with a diagram showing the layout of the orchestra, and no fewer than four pages of musical notation – all of which contain information relevant to the plot.”
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.
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