TBR Thursday 356…

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.

Challenge details

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.”

* * * * *

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…

Challenge details

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.

* * * * *

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.

Challenge details

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. 

* * * * *

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.

Challenge details

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.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

50 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 356…

  1. I’ve got a Ngaio Marsh novel on my Classics Club list (Death in a White Tie, I think) on the grounds that I haven’t read anything by her and want to give her a go – but I’ve been unable to get into it so far. Maybe you will convince me to try this one instead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think she has the snobbery issue that afflicted a lot of the Golden Agers, but her plotting always seemed better than most. It’s been a long time, though, and partly that’s because I’m not sure how I’ll get on with her now. However, I’ve started The Nursing Home Murder and am enjoying it, so fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, musical notation! It does sound a bit daunting. (And also reminds me of a recent film but I’ve no idea which one.) As for the other three … 😂😂😂 How will your frayed nerves cope?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I feel reading about murdered politicians and bankers might be oddly cathartic… fictional ones only, of course! 😉 The musical notation is a worry – my skills never got past playing Three Blind Mice on the recorder…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do love discovering a GA author whose work I don’t know. It’s sometimes a bit of an uneven journey, but I always like it! So I think whichever you choose next will be interesting. That said, my eye was drawn to The Nursing Home Murder. It’s an interesting case, actually, and there’s a bit in it about a proposed piece of legislation that I can see people arguing about in real life. Also it’s referred to in a way in Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia. If/when you get to this one, I hope you’ll like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never read anything by Ngaio Marsh. I’d better work through my Agatha Christies first. 😉

    Since I wasn’t bothered by Hugo’s architectural digressions, I don’t think the musical stuff would bother me either.

    Looking forward to your reviews of ALL of these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read lots but not all of Ngaio Marsh back in the day, but have been scared to revisit her because she has that Golden Age snobbery which seems to bother me more now than it did when I was young. However, I’ve started The Nursing Home Murder and so far am enjoying it a lot – the narrator is great! 😀

      Haha, but you know about music. If anything, I know marginally more about medieval French architecture, and that’s not much… 😂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, the musical notation is a worry – my musical skills never really extended past playing Three Blind Mice on the recorder! The Edwards’ book is very interesting even if I have found some of the books he highlighted a bit… variable. But it’s full of interesting stuff about the authors and the Detection Club.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good grief, really? After the last few weeks over here, I can’t think of anything I’d like more than to read about a few murdered politicians and bankers… purely fictional ones, though, of course! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m afraid that seems to be beyond stopping now. There have been some advantages from the internet but I honestly think they’re outweighed by the disadvantages. it’s far too easy to spread propaganda and conspiracy theories now, and they seem to have become almost respectable.

          Liked by 1 person

    • She was one of my favourites back in the day but I’ve avoided re-visiting her because I fear she has that Golden Age snobbery that seems to bother me more now than it did when I was young. However I’ve started The Nursing Home Murder and so far am really enjoying it, so hopefully she will work her old magic! 😀


  5. There are some billionaire tech bros and Republicans I’d be quite happy to see have a close encounter with a woodworker’s rasp… That’s an interesting tidbit about Ngaio Marsh working with a doctor for technical details for her book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, I’ve realised that perhaps crime fiction can be cathartic. My heart is filled with glee at the idea of reading about murdered politicians and bankers this month – though only fictional ones, of course! 😉 Martin Edwards’ book is full of interesting stuff about the various authors and about the Detection Club. Despite finding some of his highlighted books a bit disappointing, I still really recommend his own one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A good crop tis week! I’m fairly certain I read this one by Ngaio Marsh (I used to read her back in the 80s!) so the others are tempting.

    Like you, I haven’t really revisited the books. But I watched the TV adaptation and enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m enjoying the Marsh, although there’s a lot of that Golden Age snobbery again! The narrator is very good though. I can see that I’ll be adding more of them to my To Listen list!


    • Philip Franks is doing an excellent job of narrating The Nursing Home Murder – I can see he and Marsh are going to feature on my future To Listen list! Haha, I’m hopeful about Death on the Down Beat, but all those pages of musical notation have me worried…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. your dead banker and ‘zips lips’ comment made me LOL! That’s too funny.

    These all look great, the first one has a fantastic cover too. Ngaio Marsh is a name that’s vaguely familiar to me, but maybe that’s due to the reviews you’ve done before?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m feeling rather bitter about both politicians and bankers after the last few weeks! 😂
      I haven’t reviewed Ngaio Marsh before, but I’m sure I’ll have mentioned her often – she’s usually included as one of the three British Golden Age “Queens of Crime” with Christie and Margery Allingham. She’s very good but unfortunately also very snobbish which always puts me off a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

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