John le Carré, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, dies aged 89

John le Carré, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, dies aged 89
— Weiterlesen

R.I.P. — much more than a spy novelist; his knowledge of both human nature and post-WWII international politics was second to none. Fortunately, we’ll always have his books … but I do hope 2020 is finally done with the list of great people it’s taking from us forever.

Completed Series / Authors

As I just finished the last book of Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant series (and have also read both of her nonseries mysteries, Brat Farrar and Miss Pym Disposes), it occurred to me that there is a third “series reading” master post I should keep, in addition to the First in Series and Ongoing Series posts that I created a while ago, as inspired by Moonlight Reader; namely, one to collect all my completed reading. So this post collects everything from books / series recently finished to those that I read a long time ago in a galaxy much further away than I care to think about: in the latter case, if fiction, I can’t guarantee that I remember much about the plot or the characters (which just might mean that it’s time for a reread, but that’s a different matter); if nonfiction, whatever I remember of their contents has long merged into the general muddle of information about our world, past and present, that has passed through my brain over the years, mostly without taking permanent residence and definitely without me still being able to pinpoint any specific source. But so help me, I did read all of these — some only once, some have become favorite comfort reads.

I’ll only be collecting completed series or other similarly definable groups of books here (e.g., “all novels / short stories by …”); beginning with actually completed books and concluding with a section listing the series I have abandoned.  This is not intended as a master post listing all of my completed reading.



Dermot Bolger

Finbar’s Hotel (ed.)


G.K. Chesterton

Father Brown

Agatha Christie

– all mystery novels and short stories:
Miss Marple
Tommy & Tuppence
Superintendent Battle (incl. Bundle Brent)
Colonel Race
Parker Pyne
Qin & Satterthwaite
– Nonseries mysteries

Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes

Michael Connelly

Terry McCaleb

The Detection Club

The Floating Admiral

Colin Dexter

Inspector Morse

J. Jefferson Farjeon

Inspector Kendall

Caroline Graham

Midsomer Murders

George Heyer

– All mysteries:
Inspector Hannasyde
Inspector Hemingway
– Nonseries

Tony Hillerman

Leaphorn & Chee

P.D. James

Adam Dalgliesh
Cordelia Gray

Stephen King

The Green Mile

Stieg Larsson

Millennium (original series)

Dennis Lehane

Kenzie & Gennaro

Henning Mankell


Ngaio Marsh

Roderick Alleyn

Denise Mina

Garnethill Trilogy

George Pelecanos

Derek Strange & Terry Quinn

Catherine Louisa Pirkis

Loveday Brooke

Edgar Allan Poe

Dupin Tales

Ian Rankin

Jack Harvey Thrillers

Dorothy L. Sayers

Lord Peter Wimsey (incl. Wimsey & Vane subseries)

Josephine Tey

– All mysteries:
Inspector Grant series
– Nonseries mysteries (Brat Farrar & Miss Pym Disposes)



Robert van Gulik

Judge Dee

Anthony Horowitz

Sherlock Holmes sequels

John Jakes

North and South Trilogy

Patrick O’Brian

Aubrey & Maturin

Ellis Peters

Brother Cadfael

David Pirie

The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes

Jean Plaidy

Mary Stuart

Tony Riches

Tudor Trilogy



Hans Christian Andersen

– Complete Fairy Tales

Brothers Grimm

– Complete Fairy Tales

Wilhelm Hauff

– Complete Fairy Tales

C.S. Lewis

Chronicles of Narnia

Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter (minus The Cursed Child, which contrary to the sales hype wasn’t actually written by Rowling)

J.R.R. Tolkien

– Middle Earth: The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings

T.H. White

The Once and Future King

Tad Williams

Memory, Sorrow & Thorn




Oresteia (Agamemnon / The Libarion Bearers / The Eumenides)

Louisa May Alcott

Little Women (incl. Good Wives, Little Men & Jo’s Boys)

Margaret Atwood

Gilead (The Handmaid’s Tale & The Testaments)

Jane Austen

– Novels and fragments (minus juvenalia, except for The History of England)

Gabriel Chevalier

Clochemerle (Clochemerle & Clochemerle Babylon)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust (Parts I & II and Urfaust)

Lewis Grassic Gibbon

A Scots Quair

Robert Graves

I, Claudius

– Books on Greek mythology (The Greek Myths; Greek Gods and Heroes)

Selma Lagerlöf


D.H. Lawrence

Brangwen Family (The Rainbow & Women in Love)

Naguib Mahfouz

Cairo Trilogy

– Novels & stories of Ancient Egypt (Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia, Thebes at War, Akhenaten, Voices from the Other World)

Thomas Mann

– All novels and short stories

Edna O’Brien

Country Girls Trilogy

William Shakespeare

– All plays, sonnets and short poems


Theban Plays (Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonnus, Antigone)

Wallace Stegner

– Joe Allston (All the Little Live Things & The Spectator Bird)

Anthony Trollope

The Pallisers



Will & Ariel Durant

The Story of Civilization

Fischer Weltgeschichte

(various authors; elsewhere known as Universal History and Storia Unversale)

Antonia Fraser

A Royal History of England (ed.)

Hugo Hamilton

Childhood Memoirs

Hans J. Massaquoi

Destine to Witness

Hans Silvester

Cats in the Sun





Renée Ahdieh: The Wrath and the Dawn (after book 1, The Wrath and the Dawn)
Alan Bradley: Flavia de Luce (after book 1, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)
Dan Brown: Robert Langdon (after book 2, The Da Vinci Code; no other books from series read)
Miles Burton: Desmond Merrion (after book 1, The Secret of High Eldersham)
Trudi Canavan: Black Magician Trilogy (after book 1, The Magicians’ Guild)
Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown (after book 1, Sorcerer to the Crown)
Jennifer Estep: Crown of Shards (after book 1, Kill the Queen)
Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones’s Diary (after book 1, Bridget Jones’s Diary)
James Forrester: Clarenceux Trilogy (after book 1, Sacred Treason)
Elizabeth George: Inspector Lynley (after book 16, This Body of Death)
Lee Goldberg: Even Ronin (after book 1, Lost Hills)
Kerry Greenwood: Phryne Fischer (after book 1, Cocaine Blues, aka Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates)
Philippa Gregory: Tudor Court (after book 3, The Other Boleyn Girl; no other books from series read)
L.B. Hathaway: Posie Parker (DNF book 6.5, A Christmas Case; no other books from series read)
Martha Grimes: Richard Jury (after book 21, Dust)
Dorothy B. Hughes: Griselda Satterlee (after book 1, The So Blue Marble)
E.L. James: Fifty Shades (after book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey)
Carole Lawrence: Ian Hamilton (after book 1, Edinburgh Twilight)
Edward Marston: Christopher Redmayne (after book 1, The King’s Evil)
Francine Matthews: Caroline Carmichael (after book 1, The Cutout)
Pat McIntosh: Gil Cunningham (after book 1, The Harper’s Quine)
Stephenie Meyer: Twilight (after book 1, Twilight)
S.J. Parris: Giordano Bruno (after book 1, Heresy)
Louise Penny: Armand Gamache (after book 1, Still Life)
Elizabeth Peters: Amelia Peabody (after book 1, Crocodile on the Sandbank)
Valerie Plame Wilson & Sarah Lovett: Vanessa Pierson (after book 1, Blowback)
Patrick Senécal: Le vide (after book 1, Vivre au Max)
Helene Tursten: Inspector Irene Huss (after book 2, Night Rounds)


Anne Rice


Maifair Witches through book 2 (Lasher)

Vampire Chronicles through book 6 (The Vampire Armand)

– Stand-alones: Cry to Heaven, Violin, Vittorio the Vampire


Original post:

Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with]


The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author’s nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).


On the map I’m only tracking new reads, not also rereads.


This is a project continued from 2019.  2020 reads for a country already covered in 2019 will override the 2019 reads.  (2019 books listed below the page break.)


The Books:



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists (new)


South Africa

Agatha Christie: The Grand Tour: Letters and Photographs from the British Empire Expedition 1922 (new)



Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (new)



Gaël Faye: Petit pays (Small Country) (new)








Martha Wells: All Systems Red (new)

Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls (new)

Various Authors, Lee Child (ed.): Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance (new)

Tamora Pierce: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant (all new)

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora (new)

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World (new)

Charles Portis: True Grit (new)

Sara Paretsky: Indemnity Only (new)

Lee Goldberg: Lost Hills (new)

Anne Fadiman: Confessions of a Common Reader (new)

Martha Grimes: The Horse You Came In On (new)

Anthony Boucher: The Case of the Baker Street Originals (new)

Otto Penzler (ed.) & Various Authors: Murder at the Racetrack, Dangerous Women, and Bibliomysteries (all new)

Ian Doescher: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Verily, A New Hope (new)

Ellery Queen: The Roman Hat Mystery (new)



Jamaica Kincaid: A Small Place (new)



Nicholas Shakespeare: The Dancer Upstairs (new)







Mia Alvar: In the Country (new)



Rafik Schami: Murmeln meiner Kindheit (My Childhood’s Marbles) (new)



Barbara Cleverly: Ragtime in Simla (new)



Eve Makis: The Spice Box Letters (new)






Australia / Oceania







United Kingdom

Gladys Mitchell: Death Comes at Christmas (aka Dead Men’s Morris), Speedy Death, and The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (all new)

Agatha Christie: 12 Radio Mysteries, Towards Zero, Ordeal by Innocence, The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, Cat Among the Pigeons, and Dumb Witness (all revisited on audio)

E.M. Delafield: The Diary of a Provincial Lady (new)

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (new)

David Ashton: McLevy, Series 1 & 2 (new)

Elizabeth George: I, Richard (revisited on audio)

Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (twice), Overture to Death, Light Thickens, Dead Water, Death at the Bar, Enter a Murderer, A Man Lay Dead, Death on the Air and Other Stories, When in Rome, Singing in the Shrouds, False Scent, and Final Curtain (all revisited on audio)

Tony Riches: Jasper and Henry (both new)

John Bercow: Unspeakable (new)

Patricia Wentworth: The Case of William Smith, The Case Is Closed, and Pilgrim’s Rest (all new), Miss Silver Comes to Stay (reread)

Colin Dexter: Last Bus to Woodstock (revisited on audio)

Raymond Postgate: Somebody at the Door and Verdict of Twelve (both new)

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow and An Excellent Mystery (both revisited on audio)

J. Jefferson Farjeon: Thirteen Guests (new)

Terry Manners: The Man Who Became Sherlock Holmes (new)

Margery Allingham: The Beckoning Lady, Black Plumes (both new), Death of a Ghost, Mystery Mile, Sweet Danger, Dancers in Mourning, Flowers for the Judge, and Police at the Funeral (all revisited on audio), My Friend Mr. Campion and Other Stories (new), and The Case of the Late Pig (reread)

P.D. James: BBC 4 Radio Collection (7 full cast adaptations) (revisited)
Keith Frankel: Granada’s Greatest Detective (new)
Cyril Hare: Tragedy at Law (new)
Georgette Heyer: No Wind of Blame (reread)
Joy Ellis: The Patient Man (new)
Anne Perry: Defend and Betray (new)
Michael Cox: A Study in Celluloid (new)
Emmuska Orczy: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (new)
Val McDermid: Broken Ground (new)

Josephine Tey: A Daughter of Time (reread), Miss Pym Disposes, Dickon (as Gordon Daviot), The Man in the Queue, To Love and Be Wise, and A Shilling for Candles (all new)

Detection Club: Ask a Policeman (new)
Susanna Gregory: An Unholy Alliance (new)
R. Austin Freeman: The Red Thumb Mark (new)
Alan Melville: Weekend at Thrackley (new)
Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman’s Honeymoon and Love All (plays) (both new)
Bernard Capes: The Myystery of the Skeleton Key (new)
Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone (new)
P.G. Wodehouse: Thank You, Jeeves and Jeeves in the Offing (both new)
Clemence Dane & Helen Simpson: Enter Sir John (new)
Pete Brown: Shakespeare’s Local (new)

Christianna Brand: Green for Danger, Death in High Heels, and Tour de Force (all new)


Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: The Legacy (new)



Patricia Moyes: Dead Men Don’t Ski (new)



J. Jefferson Farjeon: Seven Dead (new)

Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask (new)

Jean-Francois Parot: L’énigme des Blancs-Manteaux (new)



Helene Tursten: Night Rounds (new)



Patrick Leigh Fermor: Between the Woods and the Water (new)



Olivia Manning: The Great Fortune (new)



Lili Grün: Alles ist Jazz (new)


Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Saša Stanišić: Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert and Herkunft (both new)




The “Gender Wars” Stats:

Read in 2020, to date:

Books by female authors: 83

– new: 49

– rereads: 34


Books by male authors: 35

– new: 34

– rereads:1


Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 5

– new: 5

– rereads:




The Reading Lists:











WOMEN WRITERS (global list):




The 2019 Books:

[World map created with]




Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus (new)



Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank (new)

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Nile (new) and Death on the Nile (revisited on audio)



Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (new)



Laila Lalami: The Moor’s Account (new)



Clea Koff: The Bone Woman (new)



Kofi Annan: Interventions: A Life in War and Peace (new)


Sierra Leone

Aminatta Forna: The Memory of Love (new)


Democratic Republic of Congo

Sandra Uwiringiyimana: How Dare the Sun Rise (new)








Michelle Obama: Becoming (new)

Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Red Lamp (new)

Nevada Barr: Track of the Cat (new)

Louise Erdrich: The Plague of Doves (new)

James D. Doss: The Night Visitor (new)

Ann Leckie: The Raven Tower (new)

Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling (eds.) & Various Authors: A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales (new)

Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering (new)

Fredric Brown: The Dead Ringer (new)

Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (new)

Anna Katharine Green: The Golden Slipper (new)

Toni Morrison: Beloved (new)

Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat (new)

Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing (new)

Rex Stout: And Be a Villain (new)

Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen (new)

Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke (revisited)

Dennis Lehane: The Given Day (new)

Sharyn McCrumb: The Unquiet Grave (new)

Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, Peter McDonnell, Steven Kramer & Various Contributors: Evil Has a Name (new)

Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (new)

Susan Orlean: The Library Book (new)

Dorothy B. Hughes: The So Blue Marble (new)

Donna Andrews: Owl Be Home for Christmas (new)

Louisa May Alcott: The Christmas Stories (individually part new, part revisited; new as a collection)

* Puerto Rico

Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon (new)



Stef Penney: The Tenderness of Wolves (new)

Margaret Atwood: Hag-Seed and The Testaments (both new); The Handmaid’s Tale (revisited on audio)

Louise Penny: Still Life (new)



Clarice Lispector: The Hour of the Star (new)



John le Carré: The Night Manager (new)


Dominican Republic

Julia Alvarez: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (new)



Tom Reis: The Black Count (new)



Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow (new)



Sara Collins: The Confessions of Frannie Langton (new)



Kathy Reichs: Grave Secrets (new)



Agatha Christie: A Caribbean Mystery (revisited on audio)

(Note: The book was inspired by Christie’s own visit to Barbados; presumably the book’s fictional island setting of “St. Honoré” is thus based on Barbados.)








Xinran: The Good Women of China (new)



Shizuko Natsuki: Murder at Mt. Fuji (new)


North Korea

Hyeonseo Lee: The Girl with Seven Names (new)


South Korea

Min Jin Lee: Pachinko (new)


Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje: Anil’s Ghost (new)



Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve (new)



Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Sister of My Heart (new)

M.M. Kaye: Death in Kashmir (new)

William Dalrymple: The Last Mughal (new)

Anne Perry: A Christmas Garland (new)



Chingiz Aitmatov: Jamilia (new)



Laurence Bergreen: Over the Edge of the World (new)



Gertrude Bell, Georgina Howell (ed.): A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert (new)



Banine: Days in the Caucasus (new)



Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown (new)


Israel / Palestine

Agatha Christie: Star Over Bethlehem and Other Stories (new)






Australia / Oceania


Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock (new)

Trudi Canavan: The Magicians’ Guild (new)


New Zealand

Ngaio Marsh: Vintage Murder, Died in the Wool, and Photo Finish (all revisited on audio)

Witi Ihimaera: The Whale Rider (new)







United Kingdom

Lorna Nicholl Morgan: Another Little Murder (new)

Stephen Fry, John Woolf, Nick Baker: Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets (new)

P.D. James: A Taste for Death (revisited on audio)

Agatha Christie: The Big Four, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, The Unexpected Guest, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Secret Adversary (twice), Parker Pyne Investigates, The Mysterious Mr. Quin, The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, Hallowe’en Party, And Then There Were None, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, Three Blind Mice and Other Stories, The Witness for the Prosecution, The Golden Ball and Other Stories, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (all revisited on audio; The Unexpected Guest also in print); as well as The Lost Plays: Butter in a Lordly Dish / Personal Call / Murder in the Mews (new)

Elizabeth Ferrars: Murder Among Friends (new)

Barbara Pym: Excellent Women, Quartet in Autumn, and An Unsuitable Attachment (all new)

Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters (both revisited on audio), Mort, Sourcery, Guards! Guards!, Monstrous Regiment, Pyramids (all new) and Hogfather (revisited on audio)

Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?, They Found Him Dead, A Blunt Instrument, The Unfinished Clue, and Footsteps in the Dark (all new)

Nicholas Blake: A Question of Proof, Thou Shell of Death, and The Case of the Abominable Snowman (all new)

Joy Ellis: The Murderer’s Son, The Fourth Friend, The Guilty Ones, The Stolen Boys, and Beware the Past, and Five Bloody Hearts (all new)

Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death (new)

Elizabeth Gaskell: My Lady Ludlow (new)

Various Authors / Contributors: Agatha Christie Close Up: A Radio Investigation (new)

Virginia Woolf: The String Quartet (new)

John Buchan: The 39 Steps (revisited on audio)

Oscar Wilde: Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (new)

Ellis Peters: The Hermit of Eyton Forest, Dead Man’s Ransom, The Leper of Saint Giles, St. Peter’s Fair, The Virgin in the Ice, Monk’s Hood (twice), and The Rose Rent (all revisited on audio)

Patricia Wentworth: The Alington Inheritance, The Gazebo, The Benevent Treasure, Anna, Where are You?, The Key, The Ivory Dagger, Out of the Past, The Silent Pool, The Catherine Wheel, The Fingerprint, and Eternity Ring (all new)

Dorothy L. Sayers: Whose Body? (twice) and The Five Red Herrings (both revisited on audio)

Martin Fido: The World of Sherlock Holmes (new)

Ian Rankin: In a House of Lies (new)

John le Carré: Our Game and A Murder of Quality (both new)

Martin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher: Furry Logic (new)

The Detection Club: The Floating Admiral (revisited on audio)

Tony Medawar (ed.) & var. Golden Age mystery writers: Bodies from the Libary and Bodies from the Library 2 (both new)

Peter Lovesey: The Last Detective (new)

Colin Dexter: Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories (new)

Miles Burton: The Secret of High Eldersham (new)

Ngaio Marsh: The Nursing Home Murder and Death and the Dancing Footman (both revisited on audio)

Ellen Wilkinson: The Division Bell Mystery (new)

Ronald Knox: The Three Taps and The Body in the Silo (both new)

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility (revisited on audio)

Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams: Skeletons (new)

Frank Froest: The Grell Mystery (new)

Julian Symons: The Belting Inheritance (new)

Israel Zangwill: The Perfect Crime, aka The Big Bow Mystery (new)

Richard Hull: The Murder of My Aunt (new)

Elizabeth George: Deception on His Mind (revisited on audio)

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (new)

C.J. Sansom: Tombland (new)

Winifred Holtby: South Riding (new)

Wendy Moore: Wedlock (new)

J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy (new)

Ruth Rendell: A Sleeping Life and The Monster in the Box (both new)

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman: Good Omens (revisited on audio)

Candace Robb: The Apothecary Rose and A Gift of Sanctuary (both new)

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Mystery of Cloomber, Lot No. 249, The Sealed Room, Danger! (all new), The Speckled Band, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, and Sherlock Holmes: Three Tales of Intrigue (all revisited on audio)

Cary Elwes: As You Wish (new)

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Thomas Cromwell (new)

Ben Schott: Jeeves and the King of Clubs (new)

Hesketh Pearson: Conan Doyle: His Life and Art (new)

Arthur Conan Doyle & Various Contributors: The Essential Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (new)

Ian Fleming: Casino Royale (new)

James Hilton: Was It Murder? (new)

Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence (new)

Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor (new)

Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased (new)

Anthony Rolls: Scarweather (new)

Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery (new)

Various Authors: The Lady Detectives, and The Rivals: Tales of Sherlock Holmes’ Rival Detectives (both new)

Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time (revisited on audio)

Catherine Louisa Pirkis: The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective (new)

Ann Cleeves: Raven Black and White Nights (both new)

J.B. Priestley: An Inspector Calls (new)

Joseph Conrad: The Heart of Darkness (revisited on audio)

Joanne Harris: Gentlemen and Players (new) and Chocolat (revisited on audio)

J.V. Turner: Below the Clock (new)

Tom Parker Bowles: The Cook Book: Fortnum and Mason (new)

Peter May: The Lewis Man (new)

Edmund Crispin: Glimpses of the Moon (new)

John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man (revisited on audio) and Death-Watch (new)

Michael Innes: Death at the President’s Lodging (new)

Gladys Mitchell: Murder in the Snow (revisited on audio) and Death Comes at Christmas (new)

E.C.R. Lorac: Murder by Matchlight (new)

Chris Ewan: The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris (new)

Cyril Hare: An English Murder (new)

Lesley Cookman: Murder in Steeple Martin (new)

Mary Kelly: The Christmas Egg (new)

Angela Thirkell: High Rising (new)

Anne Perry: A Christmas Beginning and A Christmas Odyssey (both new)

Emma Thompson & Greg Wise (eds.) & Various Authos: Last  Christmas (new)



Tana French: The Witch Elm (new)



Stephen Fry: Mythos (new)

Madeline Miller: Circe (new)

Plato: Timaeus and Critias (new)



Astrid Lindgren: Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren: Tagebücher 1939-1945 (A World Gone Mad: Diaries, 1939-45) (new)



Emmuska Orczy: The Elusive Pimpernel (new)

Sarah Bakewell: At the Existentialist Café (new)



Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (revisited on audio, twice)

(Note: Yugoslavia at the time of the writing — but the action is set after the train has passed Vinkovci, aka “The Gateway to Croatia”.)



Dolores Redondo: El guardián invisible / The Invisible Guardian (new)

Manuel Vicent: Son de mar / Der Gesang der Wellen (new)

Matthew G. Lewis: The Monk (new)



Andrea Camilleri: The Shape of Water (new)



John Le Carré: A Small Town in Germany and Absolute Friends (both new)



Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten (new)



Sofi Oksanen: Fegefeuer (The Purge) (new)



Teffi: Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea (new)

(Note: Counting Russia as European here, not Asian, as the author is from — and this particular book is set in — the country’s European part.)



Katrine Engberg: Krokodilwächter (The Tenant) (new)




The 2019 “Gender Wars” Stats:

Read in 2019:

Books by female authors: 152

– new: 107

– rereads: 45


Books by male authors: 85

– new: 75

– rereads: 10


Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 10

– new: 9

– rereads: 1


Original post:

Reading progress update: I’ve read 380 out of 380 pages.

L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text and images below.)

Well, that’s a wrap.  Somewhat against my own expectations, I finished this book in just under a week.  As I suspected, we don’t actually learn that much more in the final 150 pages, even though the action continued to move at a sprightly pace.  There were a few more things I could have done without


(including but not limited to the “dark and stormy night” goings-on which the author, it turns out, had only been saving for the book’s final chase(s), as well as a veritable “coup de théâtre” during the final conclave which might easily have backfired in real life),


and the author’s choice to present the solution in a Golden Age mystery-style “final conclave” didn’t really work for me, not least because — but for the revelations that actually only follow the “final conclave” — much of what Nicolas says there had at the very least been on the cards since the book’s halfway mark or (in part) longer.  But to the last, the book’s biggest draw for me was the historical detail — Parot clearly knows what he’s writing about, and he is very good at building it into the story’s setting and atmosphere.  (Unlike in other, similar cases, I didn’t even mind the footnotes; by and large, they actually worked better for me than a lengthy “historical note” at the end of the book would have done.)  As I said to Tannat in a comment on yesterday’s status update, the book feels like Parot is taking the reader on a tour of 18th century Paris (and 18th century Paris society), while at the same time telling a detective story.  Overall, that made for a very enjoyable experience.


Eh bien, voilà tout fini!  Plus ou moins contre mes propres expectations, j’ai fini ce livre dans un peu moins d’une semaine.  Comme j’avais supposé, on n’apprend plus grand’chose dans les 150 pages finales, bien que l’action continue d’avancer à un pas assez gaillard.  Il y avait encore quelques élements de plus auquels j’aurais bien voulu renoncer


(tels que les évenements “nuit sinistre et orageuse” qu’il émerge que l’auteur avait seulement conservé aux chasses finales, autant qu’un véritable coup de théâtre durant le “conclave final” qui aurait bien pu finir manière retour du bâton dans la vie réelle),


et le choix de l’auteur de présenter la grande solution façon “conclave final” d’un roman policier de l’Âge Dorée ne m’a pas exactement enchanté, non des moindres parce que — à part des révélations qui, en fait, suivent au “conclave final” — beaucoup des faits y  mentionnés par Nicolas avaient été au moins possibles depuis la moitié du livre (ou même plus longtemps).  Mais jusqu’au moment dernier l’attraction la plus grande du livre, pour moi, était le détail historique — c’est clair que Parot sait de quoi il parle, et il réussit bien à l’intégrer dans la mise en scène et l’atmosphère du récit.  (Au contraire d’autres cas pareils, même les notes individuelles de l’auteur ne m’ont pas dérangé; tout-en-un, je les ai préféré à une longue note historique à la fin du livre.)  Comme j’ai dit à Tannat dans un commentaire à mon status update de hier, ce livre me parait comme si Parot avait invité le lecteur à un tour du Paris du 18e siècle (et de la société parisienne du 18e siècle), tout en nous racontant une histoire policière.  En somme, cela a fait une expérience bien plaisante.


 Final images:

Etienne Jeaurat: Le carnaval des rues de Paris (oil on cloth, 1757, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

The Carnaval de Paris lasted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, from the day after Epiphany (Twelfth Night) until Ash Wednesday / the beginning of Lent.


Ebony and ivory Janseist crucifix: Christ is shown hanging with His hands above His head, so as to make His body form an arrow (rather than the “T” form of the traditional crucifix with His arms outstretched at a right angle to His body).  The arrow pointing down to the congregation in the Janseist cruxifix signified that Christ died only for the elect; whereas the traditional crucifix featuring outstretched arms indicates that Christ died for the whole world.




François Boucher: The Crocodile Hunt and The Leopard Hunt (both 1736), Charles Parrosel: The Hunt of the Wild Boar (1738), and Charles André van Loo: The Bear Hunt (1739), some of Louis XV’s “chasses exotiques”, then at Versailles — all now at the Musée de Picardie in Amiens. (Right-click on an image to see a larger version.)

An 18th century map of the faubourg Saint-Marcel (or Saint-Marceau) — in the 17th and 18th centuries, an extremely poor and downtrodden working class area — and its location on a map of the modern city (it was outside the city walls in the 18th century).  Rousseau wrote in his Confessions:

“En entrant [à Paris] par le faubourg Saint-Marceau je ne vis que de petites rues sales et puantes, de vilaines maisons noires, l’air de malpropreté, de la pauvreté, des mendiants, des charretiers, des ravaudeuses, des crieuses de tisane et de vieux chapeaux. Tout cela me frappa d’abord à un tel point que tout ce que j’ai vu depuis à Paris de magnificence réelle n’a pu détruire cette première impression, et qu’il m’en est resté toujours un secret dégoût pour l’habitation de cette capitale.”

Guérande (Nicolas’s home town) and its location on a satelite map.


Previous status updates:
41 pages
94 pages
112 pages
221 pages


Original post:

Reading progress update: I’ve read 221 out of 380 pages.

L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text, maps and images below. / Texte français, cartes et images en bas.)

Well, consider me well and truly hooked at this point.  There are a few mighty convenient and improbable conincidences —


e.g., the “inner voice” that guides Nicolas to more or less effortlessly draw pretty much the entire plot out of a wily old madam, and ink-stained footprints showing the path that a ransacking intruder has taken through Descart’s home


— surely you could have done better than that M. Parot?  (I also could seriously have done without Nicolas’s — and the author’s — patronizing attitude towards Awa and her “decapitated rooster” fortune telling stunt.  And towards Catherine on that same occasion, for that matter.)  But at least we didn’t also get the “[shocking things happening to the hero during a] dark and stormy night” cliché on the one occasion when the temptation to use it must have been huge, and I confess that both the action and the wealth of historical detail have rather drawn me in.  And it certainly helps to now also know why de Sartine felt he had to select an investigator from outside the ranks of the established police force (even if neither that nor Nicolas’s quick understanding and intelligence completely accounts for quite such a young, inexperience choice).  By and large, though, I am really enjoying this book, and I am looking forward every day to the time I’ve set aside at night (and / or in the morning) for this buddy read.

That being said, even before reaching the book’s halfway point — what with the things that Nicolas had learned at the Dauphin couronné and from Antoinette, and the subsequent discoveries at Vaugirard — it seemed to me that the mystery was pretty much solved,


and the only things remaining to be discovered at that point were the hiding place of the stolen papers, the exact role of Semacgus (if any), and the location of the final body to be found (which I’m sure we know at this point, too, even if Nicolas hasn’t clued into it yet),


and I think so even more now that I’m slightly past the halfway point.  Can it really take another 150+ pages to unveil the rest of what we’ve yet to learn?  The Golden Age mystery writers published entire novels of not much more than that length …

Final side note for now: I’ve learned a new verb — “bastiller” (or “embastiller”).  I was aware of the Bastille, of course, whose name, however, my mom’s battered Petit Larousse informs me, derives from the erstwhile “bastir” (“bâtir” in modern French) — so the name actually just denotes that it’s a building — whereas from the context it’s clear that “(em)bastiller” means “to imprison”.  So the Bastille, much more than even Le Châtelet and the Conciergerie, was synonymous with “prison”, to the point that it, in turn, gave rise to the use of a corresponding verb.  Which then again, of course, only goes to underline why it played such a symbolic role in the French Revolution …


Eh bien, on peut me considérér entièrement captivée de l’action du livre à ce moment.  Il y eu quelques coïncidences assez bien convenientes et improbables,


telles que la “voix intérieure” qui guidait Nicolas à tirer, sans effort, plus ou moins le complot entier d’une rusée propriétaire de maison infâme, et les empreintes encrées signalant le chemin  pris par un pilleur pénétré à la maison de Descart


— sûrement, vous auriez sait faire mieux que ça, M. Parot?  (J’aurais bien voulu renoncer aussi à l’attitude paternalisante de Nicolas — et de l’auteur — vis-à-vis Awa et son coup de prophésie au coq décapité.  Et, en ailleurs, vis-à-vis Catherine à la même occasion.)  Mais du moins on nous épargne le cliché “[des chocs souffert par le héros durant une] nuit sinistre et orageuse” au moment où la tentation de l’user doit avoir été la pire, et il me faut admettre que l’action autant que la richesse du détail historique m’ont bien sucée dans le livre.  Et bien sûr ce procès a été facilité aussi par le fait que maintenant nous savons pourquoi de Sartine le pensait indispensable de choisir un investigateur du dehors la police établie (même si ni ceci ni la compréhension rapide et l’intelligence de Nicolas expliquent entierement le choix d’un homme tellement jeune et inexpériencé).  Tout-en-un, pourtant, le livre me fait grand plaisir, et je me réjouie chaque jour au temps que j’ai réservé pour ce buddy read à la nuit (et / ou au matin).

Tout ceci étant dit, même avant d’avoir achevé la moitié du livre — en vue de ce que Nicolas avait appris au Dauphin couronné et d’Antoinette, et ses découvertes suivantes à Vaugirard — il me paraissait que le mystère était plus ou moins résolu,


et les seules choses à découvrir ètaient la cachette des papiers volés, le rôle exacte de Semacgus (s’il en avait un), et l’endroit du corps final à trouver (lequel je suis sûre nous connaissans déjà aussi à ce moment, bien que Nicolas ne l’ait pas encore entendu),


et je pense le même d’autant plus maintenant que j’aie lu un peu plus qu’à demi du livre.  Est-ce que ça prendra vraiment encore une 150e de pages de nous réveiller ce qui nous reste à découvrir?  Les auteurs des romans policiers de l’Âge Dorée ont publié des romans entiers de pas trop plus que ce calibre …

Commentaire marginal final pour le moment: J’ai appris un verbe nouveau — “bastiller” (ou “embastiller”).  Je connaissais La Bastille, naturellement, le nom de laquelle pourtant, le Petit Larousse battu de ma mère m’enseigne, descend de l’ancien “bastir” (“bâtir” en français moderne) — donc son nom seulement dénote, en effet, qu’il s’agit d’un bâtiment — pendant que du contexte c’est clair que “(em)bastiller” signifie “emprisonner”.  Donc c’étail La Bastille, beaucoup plus que même Le Châtelet et la Conciergerie, qui était synonyme de “prison”, au point d’engendre, en revanche, un verbe correspondant.  Tout ce qui, bien sûr, de son tour seulement va à souligner son rôle symbolique dans la Révolution française …



One of Parot’s historical notes contains a “by the way” reminder that Nicolas’s boss, Antoine de Sartine, was a historical person; he really was the Paris Chief of Police (and, for all practical purposes, the city’s true administrator) during the time in which this book is set.  He was reputed as a scrupulously fair and forward-thinking magistrate and a proponent of law and order, who however also didn’t shy away from locking people up or taking other measures on the basis of “lettres de cachet” (unappealable extraordinary orders signed by the King or by himself), and who used a wide network of spies, both abroad and at home.  His reputation preceded him to such an extent that his help and advice was frequently also sought by foreign governments and police forces.  (According to Wikipedia, “once, a minister of Maria Theresa wrote to Sartine asking him to arrest a famous Austrian thief who was thought to be hiding in Paris. Sartine replied to the minister that the thief was actually in Vienna, and gave the minister the street address where the thief was hiding, as well as a description of the thief’s disguise.”)

At about the halfway point of our novel, Nicolas overhears a conversation between de Sartine and another official (whose identity remains undisclosed), which — while chiefly about the disastrous French losses during the Seven Years’ War and the role of Mme. de Pompadour — also foreshadows de Sartine’s later role as Secretary of State for the Navy and architect of the new French naval forces which, in decades to come, would prove such a formidable adversary to those of Great Britain.

The set of books above right shows de Sartine’s coat of arms, with the representation of three sardines in the center (phonetically representing his name).

Pharaon (Faro) — the popular card game mentioned repeatedly in the novel, especially in connection with the goings-on at the Dauphin couronné.  (Another repeatedly-mentioned game is Lansquenet.)

Nicolas would probably not recognize the Faubourg Saint-Honoré of today (the location of the Dauphin couronné in the novel) — it, and especially the rue du Faubourg Honoré, is one of the most exclusive addresses of Paris nowadays, where haute couture, art galleries, embassies, and even the entrance of the Palais de l’Élysee are all sitting right next to each other. — (For reference, on the map the “P” of “Paris” again represents the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville / formerly Place de Grève; Le Châtelet would have been just beyond the second bridge to the left of there.)

Église Saint-Eustache — now and then, one of the unmissable sights in the Quartier des Halles — and its location with reference to the novel’s other key locations in the centre of Paris.

For those who are already at this point in the novel: the rue Montmartre is just north of the église Saint-Eustache and the Quartier des Halles.


Original post:

Reading progress update: I’ve read 112 out of 380 pages.

L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(English text and images below.  Some images in spoiler tags — trigger warning: substantial gross-out factor.)

Images en bas, quelques-uns marquées “spoiler” — attention: risque de nausée considérable.

Thanatos: le titre du chapitre dit tout ce qui est nécessaire pour résumir le chapitre no. 5. — En aillerurs, puisque Nicolas résiste à confirmer l’identité du mort trouvé avec l’aide de la vieille Émilie, probablement il vaut mieux ne pas encore fermer le dossier sur ce sujet-ci.  Pourtant, même si ce n’est pas l’un, sûrement ça veut dire que c’est l’autre … et le propriétaire de ces vêtements, en aurait-il vraiment se débarassé volontiers?  Je le doute.


Thanatos: The title of chapter 5 says all that’s necessary to sum up its contents. — Since, incidentally, Nicolas refuses to confirm the identity of the dead person found with old Émilie’s help, it’s probably a good idea to keep an open mind on that.  But surely, if it’s not one then it must be the other … and would the owner of those clothes really have given them up voluntarily?  I doubt it.

Place de Grève and Quartier de l’Hôtel de Ville (late 18th century map and depiction from the 1750s, respectively).  The Place de Grève was later renamed Place de l’Hôtel de Ville (and still has that name today). — For reference: Le Châtelet is just to the left of here.


Montfaucon, the actual location where the largely decomposed body was recovered.
(For reference: The Place de Grève / today: Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is in the spot of the “Pa” of the word “Paris”; Le Châtelet was just beyond the second bridge to the left of there.)


Montfaucon had been the main gallows of Paris since the Middle Ages; in addition, in 1761, the year in which this book was set, the refuse dump already existing there was declared the city’s main refuse dump.  Équarrisseurs (knackers’ yards — the places where horses were slaughtered and dismembered … with every single atom of their bodies destined to be put to new use) are documented there in 1766; what with the area’s general nature, it makes perfect sense for Parot to suppose their existence already in 1761.

“The Gibbet of Montfaucon”
(Sources and further information: here and here)

Montfaucon, cours des équarisseurs
(Source and further information)

(Given that those hanged at Montfaucon were denied a Christian burial and were dumped onto the refuse, the “soupe infâme en matière d’Arlequin … des morceaux dérobés à Montfaucon” that Émilie sells gains an unspeakably vile meaning.)

Place de Grève: the execution of Damiens (described in detail, on the basis of actual historical sources, in the course of chapter 5). (Source: Wikipedia)


Original post:

Reading progress update: I’ve read 94 out of 380 pages.

L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

Expand for images.


(Images et texte français en bas.)


I’m at the end of chapter 4 now, and things are definitely getting interesting.


The first two chapters (not merely chapter 1) were basically exposition, designed to get across that Nicolas is alone in Paris, with nothing to call him back to Brittany and, on the other hand, his job keeping him busy in the capital and providing the key reason for him to remain there.  The second chapter (set in Brittany and explaining why he believes he’s left it behind for good) was well-written, though, I thought.  And leaving aside my usual minor eye-roll at the fact that a young, personable recent ex-trainée is being put in charge of a major investigation (bypassing every single more senior professional), at least Nicolas isn’t making a complete fool of himself — and he is actually willing to listen to his more experienced second in command (whom he has asked to be put at his disposition to begin with), so props for that.


The action has caught up with (and moved on from) the scenes of the “official” prologue, which we now know happened on the night of Nicolas’s arrival in Chartres (i.e., on the doorsteps of Paris) on his return from Brittany, and we now also know the identity of one of the corpses deposited on the road to La Villette — and can at least guess at that of the second one.  And if I hadn’t decided that just around noon was late enough to be getting up, I might actually have continued reading after all … (which my cats would surely have preferred, seeing as it would have meant more cozy-up-with-mom-in-bed time for them).




Je viens de terminer le 4e chapitre, et les choses définitivement commencent à être intéressantes.


Les deux premiers chapitres (pas seulement le chapitre premier) principalement servent de mise en scène, et sont désignés de transmettrre l’idée de Nicolas seul à Paris, sans rien de le ramener à la Bretagne et, de l’autre côté, avec son métier fournissant son occupation et la raison principale pour lui de rester à la capitale.  Pourtant, le deuxième chapitre (qui se déroule en Bretagne et explique pourquoi Nicolas croit l’avoir quitté pour toujours) est bien écrit, je pense.  Et à part du fait que je suis, comme toujours, un peu énervée de voir un jeune et sympathique ex-apprenti récent mis en chef d’une investigation importante (en dépassant chacun des professionels avec plus d’expérience), du moins Nicolas ne se rend pas ridicule — et il est même prêt à écouter aux conseils de son officier adjoint plus éprouvé (lequel Nicolas lui-même a demandé être mis à sa disposition), donc ça me rend content.


L’action a maintenant repris (et continué) des scènes du prologue *officiel” qui, on sait maintenant, s’est déroulé dans la nuit de l’arrivée de Nicolas à Chartres (c-à-d au seuil de Paris) durant son retour de Bretagne; et on connaît aussi maintenant l’identité d’un des cadavres déposés sur la route à La Villette — et l’on peut du moins deviner celui du deuxième.  Et si je n’avais pas déterminé qu’il était déjà assez tard, au midi, de me lever, j’aurais bien pu continuer de lire … (ce que mes chats sans doute auraient préféré, puisqu’il aurait signifié, pour eux, plus de temps de câliner au lit de maman).




Le Châtelet (destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century) and its location


Rue des  Blancs-Manteaux today (screenshot from Google Streetview) and its location — Le Châtelet is in the lower left corner of the map, on the banks of the Seine.  The exact location of Lardin’s house in the rue des Blancs-Manteaux is unclear, as the two side streets mentioned as reference points do not / no longer exist.


The locations of Vaugirard (in the southwest) and La Villette (in the northeast), both now incorporated into the city of Paris.  Châtelet is almost exactly halfway between both (former) villages where the “P” of “Paris” is on the map.  (Right-click on the image to see a larger version of the map.)


Map of La Villette (1730)


Map of Vaugirard (1805)


(Neither the present-day La Villette nor the present-day [Blvd. de] Vaugirard recall, even in the slightest, the erstwhile villages.)


Original post:

Reading progress update: I’ve read 41 out of 380 pages.

L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

Buddy read en français avec / with Tannat & onnurtilraun.

(English text below.)

Et donc ça commence!  Comme d’Artagnan, Maigret, Valjean, Astérix et des nombreux autres protagonistes littéraires français (en tant comme, en ailleurs, La Pucelle, Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre, Danton, Marat, Desmoulins, Balzac, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, Sand, Marguerite de Navarre, Napoléon Bonaparte et beaucoup plus d’autres personnages historiques — pour ne même pas parler du Mouron rouge; héro français fictif qui était après tout, en vérité anglais), notre protagoniste, Nicolas Le Floch, n’est pas né à Paris mais en province: La capitale doit affiner ces gens (eh bien, sauf Astérix, évidemment), mais elle ne les produit pas.  Nous sommes donc traités d’une autre entrée à la vie citadine aux yeux grands ouverts, et la rapide transformation d’un jeune homme naïf et peu formé en un professionel bien entraîné et sûr des exigences de son métier.  Pourtant, je suis contente que tout cela se déroule au premier chapitre qui en vérité sert de prologue additionel — en plus du prologue “officiel” qui apparemment doit nous introduire à certains aspects du crime que formera le sujet de l’enquête de Nicolas — et à la fin duquel Nicolas est déjà de nouveau en route vers sa Bretagne natale … pour y accomplir quoi?  À voir au chapitre prochain, je pense …

Des deux supérieurs de Nicolas que nous venons de rencontrer au premier chapitre, Sartine me paraît le plus intéressant (et franchement le plus sympathique).  Je n’ai pas de confiance en Lardin (ni en ailleurs sa femme).


So it begins!  Like d’Artagnan, Maigret, Valjean, Astérix, and numerous other French literary characters (as well as, incidentally, the Maid of Orleans, Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre, Danton, Marat, Desmoulins, Balzac, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, Sand, Marguerite de Navarre, Napoléon Bonaparte, and plenty of other historical personages — not to mention the Scarlet Pimpernel, that fictional French hero who was, in reailty, of course an Englishman), our main character, Nicolas Le Floch, isn’t a native Parisian but from the French provinces: The capital may refine these good folks (well, with the exception of Asterix, of course), but it doesn’t actually bring them forth.  So we’re treated to yet another wide-eyed entry into city life, and the rapid transformation of a nave and unschooled young man into a well-trained professional with a firm handle on the demands of his job.  I’m glad, though, that this is all taken care of in the very first chapter, which essentially serves as a second prologue — in addition to the “official” prologue, which apparently introduces us to some of the aspects of the crime that Nicoals will be investigating — and at the end of which Nicholas is already leaving Paris again for his native Brittany … to do what?  We’ll find out in the next chapter, I think …

Of Nicolas’s two bosses that we have met in the first chapter, I think Sartine is the more interesting one (also frankly the one I just like better).  I don’t much trust Lardin (or his wife, for that matter).


Original post: