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Bodies from the Library 2

Forgotten Stories of Mystery and Suspense by the Queens of Crime and Other Masters of Golden Age Detection
Narrated by: Philip Bretherton
Series: Bodies from the Library, Book 2
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
4 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together 13 tales from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form, including a newly discovered Gervase Fen novella by Edmund Crispin that has never previously been published.

With the Golden Age of detective fiction shining ever more brightly thanks to the recent reappearance of many forgotten crime novels, Bodies from the Library offers a rare opportunity to read lost stories from the first half of the twentieth century by some of the genre’s most accomplished writers.

This second volume is a showcase for popular figures of the Golden Age, in stories that even their most ardent fans will not be aware of. It includes uncollected and unpublished stories by acclaimed queens and kings of crime fiction, from Helen Simpson, Ethel Lina White, E.C.R. Lorac, Christianna Brand, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, to S.S. Van Dine, Jonathan Latimer, Clayton Rawson, Cyril Alington and Antony and Peter Shaffer (writing as Peter Antony).

This audiobook also features two full-length novellas – one from a rare magazine by Q Patrick, the other an unpublished Gervase Fen mystery by Edmund Crispin, written at the height of his career. It concludes with another remarkable discovery: The Locked Room by Dorothy L. Sayers, a never-before-published case for Lord Peter Wimsey!

Selected and introduced by Tony Medawar, who also provides fascinating pen portraits of each author, Bodies in the Library 2 is an indispensable collection for any crime fan.

©2019 Tony Medawar (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

After Volume One, Something of a Disappointment

The highest points are the four longer pieces. Christianna Brand’s “NO FACE” is chilling and expertly constructed. “Exit Before Midnight” transfers that staple of the Golden Age—a collection of suspects at a house party—to a New York office building, while the Edmund Crispin tale, “The Hours of Darkness”, gives us a house party served up with his trademark humor. The final story by Dorothy Sayers is a classic house party with a classic problem—a locked room—and a solution most of us have seen before. Nevertheless, Sayers is Sayers; the way the story is constructed, as well as the style with which it is told, are well worth the 50-some-odd minutes of your time.

As that mention of NYC suggests, this collection, though concentrating on the British Golden Age of Detective Fiction, pays homage to the parallel development of the Hardboiled School in America. “A Joke’s a Joke”, by Jonathan Latimer, is a good punch-in-the-gut sample as is, in its English way, “Hotel Evidence”. Both manage to hold you without a body, library or detective in sight. And the same is true of the madcap comedy of errors, “The Adventure of the Dorset Squire”, by C. A. Allington.

Finally, there’s “The Almost Perfect Murder Case”, by American S. S. Van Dine. Whether Hardboiled or Golden, it’s so good that I looked him up on Audible immediately, only to discover that the three recordings available are in what sounds like, to my untutored ear…Chinese.

However, some of the other shorter pieces just don’t deliver. The Agatha Christie is disappointing—I’m guessing it’s simply too short, making the dénouement seem rushed. And the same is true of E. C. R. Lorac’s “Chance is a Great Thing”. All I can say about “Before and After”, by Peter Antony, is that it didn’t hit me right—maybe your experience will be different. Clayton Rawson’s “The Mental Broadcast” features an older magician explaining a card trick to his younger assistant and… well, that’s it. Finally, besides being more than a little silly, Ethel Lina White’s “White Cap” features Bretherton’s awful attempt at a Canadian accent. Yet that last pan comes with a caveat: two of White’s novels became classic Hitchcock films—and both are available through Audible—so I’ll probably give her another hearing.

The final score: eight good or even great stories and five duds. Not a bad average, but something of a disappointment after the first “Bodies” collection, which was a treasure trove: Christianna Brand, Georgette Heyer, John Rhode, Cyril Hare, Freeman Wills Crofts, Nicholas Blake (aka poet C. Day Lewis) and A. A. Milne (yes, that A. A. Milne) and others—all names available through Audible. This effort is more uneven. Still, except in the case of S. S. Van Dine it will serve as a good guide to further listening. And Philip Bretherton, aside from that Canadian accent, is his usual superb self at the mic, even delivering creditable American voices.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Evonne
  • CAPE TOWN, WESTERN CAPE
  • 07-12-19

Good

worth the wait... puts us firmly in the golden age of detective stories.. more please!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointment

Bodies from the Library 2 was a disappointment. A number of the stories are not from the Golden Age, and unlike the first collection, a number are mediocre.

If a third volume is planned, I sincerely hope Mr. Medawar’s choices align more closely to the first volume.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not as good as Volume I but enjoyable

A mix of storied by Golden Age of detective fiction writers that often accent what we know about their characters. such as Edmund Crispin's Gervase Fen. There were one or two stories I skipped over, but that is a matter of taste. You might love them. So I won't say which ones. Philip Bretherton is a wonderful narrator. I will have to look for more by him. The author introductions by Tony Medawar are a highlight of the collection.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Okay but not the best.

After Agatha Christie, most of these pale in comparison. Okay to pass the time but not spellbinding.

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Wish I could make this a 10 star.

Can’t speak highly enough of this annotated collection of great but mostly uncelebrated short stories edited by Tony Medawar.
At the end of each story Mr Medawar tell the listener some history about author and background on the story.
I have sought out a number of works by the authors presented and my listening pleasure has leaped 10 fold.
I recommend this book heartily. But when you are listening keep a pen and paper handy to catch the authors ananym and research more books.

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  • Tabu
  • 07-18-19

Beware - This is NOT unabridged

Buyer Beware - Two of the stories from the print version (Room to Let by Margery Allingham and Sixpennyworth by John Rhode) are missing from this audio version - worth knowing before buying, sadly I will be returning it for this reason.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • merrigan123
  • 10-10-19

OK but could be better

Some of the stories aren't really mysteries or even murders, and the full history of each author in between each story does become annoying when some are longer than the actual story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • elly gausden
  • 11-21-19

Mostly dull

There's probably a reason a lot of these short stories haven't been published before. Most aren't that great and the reader isn't very good.