Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
The Miss Silver mysteries are charming reflections of their times, written in what sometimes seems a rather stilted style to today's reader. But once you get past that, the stories are interesting, the puzzles are ingenious, and Miss Silver solves them all.
Miss Silver is not like Miss Marple: Miss Silver actually does some detective work, like tailing suspects and re-enacting certain aspects of a murder. She is also not as endearing as Miss Marple, and I like her the better for it.
The Clock Strikes Twelve involves alibis that depend on times, clocks that are tampered with, and people disguising themselves to look like someone else, all in the context of a family New Years Eve party to welcome in 1940.
This is the seventh book in the Miss Silver series, and I think it is one of Patricia Wentworth's best. Diana Bishop takes a text which might be rather dry and makes it interesting and dramatic.
Wicked Autumn is a lovely British cozy mystery, set in a small village with interesting, eccentric characters, with a rather novel sleuth -- an ex MI-5 agent who is now an Anglican priest. The characters are engaging, the plot keeps you interested, and you do really care about these people.
It is so nice to see a new writer of the cozy mystery. May she write many, many more.
Michael Page, as usual, does a smashing job as narrator.
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.
Ngaio Marsh’s background in the theater (for which she was named a Dame of the British Empire) is evident in the “casting” of the characters that make up this ensemble. Sir Henry is a elderly, retired Shakespearian actor and head of a family full of people who are absolutely revel in their eccentricities. Indeed, the story begins when Sir Henry’s son arrives at Chief Inspector Alleyn’s wife’s London flat and begs her to do a portrait of his father. He dangles the eccentricities of his family before her, giving a quick sketch of all the personalities. Unwillingly, she becomes fascinated enough to succumb to his request.
Ngaio Marsh is known for her characterizations, and each of the characters is drawn with enough depth for us to see both redeeming qualities in the repellent and weaknesses in the most noble. You find yourself quite liking the tantrum throwing child, “Panty” and eventually becoming sympathetic to the common, gold-digging fiancée.
I love the stories in this series which feature Agatha Troy, Alleyn’s artist wife. This story occurs near the end of World War II when Troy and Roderick have been separated for several years due to wartime activities, and includes their reunion when Rory returns to England in time to solve the mystery. The glimpses of the British wartime lifestyle are an interesting backdrop to this tale, as are the jobs to which the Alleyn’s have been put by the war. Other stories which are key in their relationship include “Artists in Crime” where they first meet, and “Death in a White Tie” where Alleyn wins Troy’s consent to marry, and “Tied Up in Tinsel” is the story of another portrait painting job gone awry.
I recommend this mystery both as an interesting puzzle with a surprise ending, and as one of the milestone tales in the Alleyn’s personal lives in this wonderful series.