Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
Mysteries written in the 20s or 30s -- or set in the 20s or 30s -- are some of my favorites. Rennie Airth has written a wonderful story, evocative of post WWI era, but introducing modern elements, like a serial killer with psychological problems. The characters are well-drawn, the plot keeps you interested, and a little love story is thrown in for added enjoyment. Christopher Kay does an excellent job narrating, making vaious regional British accents sound believable (at least to an American!) and still making them understandable.
I will definitely be looking for more from Airth.
Published in 2008, Death of a Cozy Writer is the first in a series featuring Detective Chief Inspector St. Just. All of the elements of a classic golden age mystery are present: a large country mansion, a gathering of all the members of a wealthy family, servants with varying degrees of loyalty to their employers, seething rancor and hatred among family members, a patriarch who is cruel and hatedul to all, and finally, murder. DCI St. Just and his Constable arrive toi nvestigate.
This is a well -written mystery, with well developed characters, an intriguing twist or two in the plot, and the atmosphere of a golden age detective story spiced by a few 21st century devices. In St. Just, Malliet has created a likeable and capable investigator with a sense of humor as well as common sense. All in all, a very enjoyable read, although I must say that I prefer Malliet's other series, the Max Tudor mysteries.
Published in 1934, Fer-De-Lance is the first of more than 40 Nero Wolfe books written by Rex Stout. This classic detective story introduces Nero Wolfe, a very fat and somewhat arrogant genius who grows orchids, eats only gourmet meals prepared by his cook, never leaves his house, and solves murders and other mysteries for very high fees. We also meet Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's secretary, gopher, guy Friday, and general assistant, who is the narrator of all the Wolfe books and does the legwork in the mystery solving business. Wolfe is at times taciturn, rarely expresses any emotion, and is often enigmatic. Archie Goodwin is a bit of a tough guy, a bit of a ladies' man, often utters wisecracks to the cops and others, and sometimes argues with Wolfe. Together they make a great detective, and their adventures are entertaining and sometimes informative. The books were written from 1934 through 1975, and often provide an interesting picture of the changing American society during those times.
Fer-De-Lance has an interesting and entertaining puzzle. The narration by Michael Prichard is quite good, although I could have wished for a bit more of a smart-aleck tone when delivering wisecracks.
I first discovered Nero Wolfe in my early mystery reading days (when paperbacks cost 35 to 50 cents), and read most of them I think. However, that was long ago, and I am delighted at having the chance to "read" them again.
These are mysteries that have some action, some emotion and some violence, but the primary focus is the puzzle and the relationship of Wolfe and Archie. So if you like a mystery that doesn't have a bunch of graphic sex or violence, I recommend Nero Wolfe.