Joy Ellis: Jackman and Evans & Matt Ballard Series

 The Murderer's Son - Richard Armitage, Joy Ellis Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Fourth Friend - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Guilty Ones: A Jackman and Evans Thriller - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage The Stolen Boys - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage
Beware the Past - Joy Ellis, Antony Ferguson Five Bloody Hearts - Joy Ellis, Matthew Lloyd Davies

As a new discovery, this is a carry-over from 2018, when Ellis’s Their Lost Daughters completely knocked me sideways during Halloween Bingo.  I’ve since read her entire Jackman & Evans series — my favorite entries still being Their Lost Daughters as well as, coming very close, book 4 of the series, The Guilty Ones — and I have continued my adventures in Ellis’s Fenlands world of detection with an encounter with DCI Matt Ballard in Beware the Past, the conclusion of which managed to knock me sideways yet again (though warning: this is definitely not a tale for the faint of heart).  And the good news is that the second book of the Matt Ballard series (Five Bloody Hearts) is already available as well, so I’m not done with the Fenlands by a long shot …

Halloween Bingo 2018: Blackout!

(Also, bingos Nos. 12 & 13 …)

 

The Books:

Country House Mystery: Georgette Heyer: Penhallow (Ulli Birvé audio)
Cryptozoologist: Patricia A. McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Dina Pearlman audio)
Romantic Suspense: Susanna Kearsley: A Desperate Fortune (Katherine Kellgren audio)
Terrifying Women: Mary Roberts Rinehart: Locked Doors (Anne Hancock audio)
Terror in a Small Town: Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters (Richard Armitage audio)

A Grimm Tale: Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber (Emilia Fox / Richard Armitage audio)
Genre: Horror: Michael McDowell: Gilded Needles (R.C. Bray audio)
Gothic: Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (3 audio versions, narrated by Anna Massey, Emma Fielding, and Emilia Fox)
Murder Most Foul: Anthony Berkeley: The Wychford Poisoning Case (Mike Grady audio)
Doomsday: Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon

13: The Detection Club: Verdict of 13 (anthology)
Supernatural: Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology (audio version, narrated by the author)
Free Space: Mavis Doriel Hay: Murder Underground (Patience Tomlinson audio)
Amateur Sleuth: Fredric Brown: The Fabulous Clipjoint
Southern Gothic: Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver (audio version, narrated by the author)

Ghost Stories: Charles Dickens: The Ghost Stories, Vol. 1 (Phil Reynolds audio)
Cozy Mystery: Alan Bradley: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Emilia Fox audio)
New Release: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling): Lethal White (Robert Glenister audio)
Diverse Voices: Walter Mosley: White Butterfly (Michael Boatman audio)
Creepy Carnivals: Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (Adjoa Andoh audio)

Fear the Drowning Deep: Daphne du Maurier: Frenchman’s Creek (John Nettles audio)
Classic Horror: Edith Wharton: Ghosts: Edith Wharton’s Gothic Tales (audio version, various narrators)
Darkest London: Andrew Taylor: The American Boy (Alex Jennings audio)
Genre: Suspense: M.P. Shiel: Prince Zaleski and Cummings King Monk
Relics and Curiosities: Terry Pratchett: The Colour of Magic (Nigel Planer audio)

 

My Square Markers and “Virgin” Bingo Card:

“Virgin” card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.

 


Read but not called


Called but not read


Read and Called

          

Wild Card Author: Neil Gaiman

 

Spreadsheet:

 

 

 

Original post:
http://themisathena.booklikes.com/post/1785918/halloween-bingo-2018-update-post-reading-blackout-and-bingo-no-2

Halloween Bingo 2018 Update Post — Reading Blackout and Bingo No. 2

 

The Books:

Country House Mystery: Georgette Heyer: Penhallow (Ulli Birvé audio)
Cryptozoologist: Patricia A. McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Dina Pearlman audio)
Romantic Suspense: Susanna Kearsley: A Desperate Fortune (Katherine Kellgren audio)
Terrifying Women: Mary Roberts Rinehart: Locked Doors (Anne Hancock audio)
Terror in a Small Town: Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters (Richard Armitage audio)

A Grimm Tale: Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber (Emilia Fox / Richard Armitage audio)
Genre: Horror: Michael McDowell: Gilded Needles (R.C. Bray audio)
Gothic: Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (3 audio versions, narrated by Anna Massey, Emma Fielding, and Emilia Fox)
Murder Most Foul: Anthony Berkeley: The Wychford Poisoning Case (Mike Grady audio)
Doomsday: Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon

13: The Detection Club: Verdict of 13 (anthology)
Supernatural: Neil Gaiman: Norse Mythology (audio version, narrated by the author)
Free Space: Mavis Doriel Hay: Murder Underground (Patience Tomlinson audio)
Amateur Sleuth: Fredric Brown: The Fabulous Clipjoint
Southern Gothic: Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver (audio version, narrated by the author)

Ghost Stories: Charles Dickens: The Ghost Stories, Vol. 1 (Phil Reynolds audio)
Cozy Mystery: Alan Bradley: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Emilia Fox audio)
New Release: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling): Lethal White (Robert Glenister audio)
Diverse Voices: Walter Mosley: White Butterfly (Michael Boatman audio)
Creepy Carnivals: Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (Adjoa Andoh audio)

Fear the Drowning Deep: Daphne du Maurier: Frenchman’s Creek (John Nettles audio)
Classic Horror: Edith Wharton: Ghosts: Edith Wharton’s Gothic Tales (audio version, various narrators)
Darkest London: Andrew Taylor: The American Boy (Alex Jennings audio)
Genre: Suspense: M.P. Shiel: Prince Zaleski and Cummings King Monk
Relics and Curiosities: Terry Pratchett: The Colour of Magic (Nigel Planer audio)

 

My Square Markers and “Virgin” Bingo Card:

“Virgin” card posted for ease of tracking and comparison.

 


Read but not called


Called but not read


Read and Called

          

Wild Card Author: Neil Gaiman

 

Spreadsheet:

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1785918/halloween-bingo-2018-update-post-reading-blackout-and-bingo-no-2

Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling): Lethal White

Reading Status Updates

20  of 1350 Minutes

Slight change of plan … I guess I have a row to catch up on after all now!  (4th row on my card.)

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1793461/reading-progress-update-i-ve-listened-20-out-of-1350-minutes

 

215 of 1350 Minutes

“‘I’ve heard … that there may be photographs.’

‘Photographs,” repeated Strike.

“Winn can’t have them, of course.  If he had it would be all over.  But he might be able to find a way of getting hold of them, yes.’  He shoved the last piece of tarte in his mouth, then said, ‘Of course, there’s a chance the photographs don’t incriminate me.  There are no distinguishing marks, so far as I’m aware.’

Strike’s imagination frankly boggled.  He yearned to ask, ‘Distinguishing marks on what, Minister?’, but refrained.”

Bwahahaha — don’t tell me Rowling has somehow anticipated l’affaire champignon (mushroom)?  Well, of sorts, anyway?  Not that Britain doesn’t have a rich history of its own as far as these, um, situations are concerned …

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1793493/reading-progress-update-i-ve-listened-215-out-of-1350-minutes

 

1000 of 1350 Minutes

“Geraint was representing me at that event and it will go the way it always goes in the press when it all comes out.  It will have been my fault, all of it.  Because men’s crimes are always ours in the final analysis, aren’t they, Mr. Strike?  Ultimate responsibility always lies with the woman — who should have stopped it.  Who should have acted.  Who must have known.  Your failings are really our failings, aren’t they?  Because the proper role of the woman is carer, and there is nothing lower in this whole world than a bad mother.”

Well, well, Joanne.

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1793705/reading-progress-update-i-ve-listened-to-1000-out-of-1350-minutes

 

1025 of 1350 Minutes

Well, good for you, Robin.  This was long overdue.  I hope this time you’re going to really go through with it.

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1793709/reading-progress-update-i-ve-listened-to-1025-out-of-1350-minutes

 

1350 of 1350 Minutes

Wow.  What a book.


Totilas

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1793952/reading-progress-update-i-ve-listened-to-1350-out-of-1350-minutes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Addendum:

On BookLikes, I had the following exchange with my friend Moonlight Reader regarding Robin’s story arc in book 3 of the series (Career of Evil) and book 4 (Lethal White):

Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books
When you were praising Robin in your review for book 2, that made me really curious how you were going to respond to this book. Because you’re not the only one who wanted to slap her more than a few times in this one … I spent the better part of the book being furious at her. — That said, I never thought of Michael as a suspect … just a major irritation (and a completely unnecessary complication in Robin’s life).

Moonlight Reader
My thinking of Matthew as a suspect was extremely brief, and didn’t make any sense. It was just one of things where I was like “could it be Shanker?” “could it be the police officer?” “could it be Matthew…” and then I immediately rejected it.

I was mad at Robin, but I can’t deny that her behavior represents a certain reality – young women get carried along into first marriages that they know will be a disaster pretty regularly, because they can’t figure out how to jump off the train that has left the station. [….]

Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books
There’s no question that Rowling has RL down pat in her characters — first and foremost, both Robin and Strike (and now I *really* want to see your response to book 4, in turn). I was chiefly mad at Robin because of her irresponsible behavior on the job — allowances for past history included; still, her whole set of expectations of Strike, of herself, of what she thought was due to her and what she could accomplish were so wildly off the mark and, more importantly, a serious risk to the whole operation, and to both her and Strike’s lives. But, yeah, of course I was yelling at her to get rid of Michael as well.

[…] And you’re right of course; there’s frequently a whole lot of (well-intentioned, but in fact fatal) social pressure going on in these types of situations. The way Rowling portrayed that was part of what I really liked about this book.

The Detection Club: Verdict of 13


An anthology published by the 1970s’ incarnation of the Detection Club, edited by its then-president Julian Symons, featuring 13 short stories all premised, in a very loose sense, on the concept of a jury (even if it’s only a jury of one).  Contributors include — in addition to Symons — P.D. James and Christianna Brand (see also The Wychford Poisoning Case / comments re: Florence Maybrick), Gwendoline Butler, Dick Francis, Michael Gilbert, Michael Innes, Patricia Highsmith, Celia Fremlin, H.R.F. Keating, Michael Underwood, Ngaio Marsh, and Peter Dickinson.

The stand-out stories, to me, are P.D. James’s Florence Maybrick-inspired look at an early moment in Inspector (then-Sergeant) Dalgliesh’s career (see comments above) and Michael Gilbert’s Verdict of Three, a cleverly constructed public-school-morphing-into-public-service combined update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventure of the Second Stain, The Naval Treaty, and The Bruce-Partington Plans, told from the perspective of the person who, in a Sherlock Holmes story, would be Holmes’s client (except that Holmes, here, has contrived to be part of the jury).  “Place” and “show” honors go jointly and equally to Ngaio Marsh’s Morpork (which I’d also read before, but long ago; a story set in the wilds of her native New Zealand); as well as Dick Francis’s  Twenty-One Good Men and True (involving race track betting), Gwendoline Butler’s The Rogue’s Twist (in which dogs are, depending how you look at it, either part of the jury or part of the prosecution), and Michael Underwood’s Murder at St. Oswald’s (as the title indicates, another story set in a public school; here, involving a bullying teacher).

Anthony Berkeley: The Wychford Poisoning Case


The fifth time, this year alone, that I’ve found myself running into a fictional incarnation of the (in)famous real life case of Florence Maybrick, the American-born Liverpool housewife convicted, in 1889, of having murdered her husband by administering to him a dose of arsenic obtained by soaking flypaper in water — allegedly in aid of concocting a beauty cream.  Mrs. Maybrick’s method, if indeed this was how her husband found his premature end, may have engendered several real-life copycats (including, most famously, just after the turn of the 20th century, Frederick Seddon and Herbert Rowse Armstrong … if the medical evidence given at their respective trials is to be believed, that is), and British mystery writers have downright flocked to her footsteps ever since in fiction as well.  Agatha Christie used a variation of the Maybrick case as a basis for Crooked House; Anthony Rolls based Family Matters on pretty much every salient detail of the Maybrick story except for the flypaper bit; which in turn, however, makes a starring appearance in P.D. James’s short story Great Aunt Ally’s Flypaper (later republished as The Boxdale Inheritance), which features a very young Sergeant (Inspector-to-be) Dalgliesh and is included in my very first read of this year, the P.D. James short story collection The Mistletoe Murder (as the title indicates, a “holdover” from my 2017 Christmas reads), as well as in the Detection Club anthology Verdict of 13, which I also read for this year’s Halloween Bingo.  Finally, also in that latter anthology, Christianna Brand has the real-life Mrs. Maybrick meet two other alleged, famous 19th century women poisoners in a story aptly entitled Cloud Nine.

No wonder, then, that Anthony Berkeley, like his fellow Detection Club members acutely aware of the criminal causes celèbres of his own and of bygone eras, would also seek inspiration in Mrs. Maybrick’s legacy.  Martin Edwards makes the case, in The Golden Age of Murder, that Berkeley’s books offer clues — perhaps more so than the books of his fellow Golden Age mystery novelists — to his own personality, experience, and outlook on life.  I haven’t read enough books by Berkeley yet to make up my mind how much I think there is to this theory, but if The Wychford Poisoning Case is any indication indeed, Mr. Berkeley (despite his reportedly boisterous persona) was, deep down, a very reticent and private man … and supremely uncomfortable around women, who are either “high” or “low”, either vamp, stupid chicken, naughty girl, mother, MissMarpleSilverBradleyVane incarnate, or grand dame, and only in the last-mentioned cases accorded a halfway rounded, three-dimensional, individual personality (with some allowances made in favor of girls from a decent background, who have the makings of turning either into true ladies / grand dames, or into women detectives or fiction writers, or even into all of the above, later in life).  There are passages in this book that are redolent with blatant misogyny, and yet, I hesitate to append this label wholesale … more than anything, it seems to me that Berkeley very much wanted to, but simply didn’t “get” women and, consequently finding himself rejected and dissatisfied (none of his several marriages were happy), resorted to the stereotype prevalent in his era anyway; essentially, the “sinner or saint” dichotomy.

That all being said, the mystery itself is cleverly constructed, and notably this is not the only book where Berkeley’s series detective, Roger Sheringham, comes into the case on the side of the accused woman and with the express intention to exonerate her from what he considers a rash and unjustified charge.  And while the true facts of the Maybrick case will almost certainly never be unraveled, it is just conceivable that Berkeley did, in fact, hit on the one solution that was closest to the historic truth.

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart: Locked Doors


The second of Rinehart’s “Nurse Hilda Adams” stories; in terms of setup, of the “woman in peril” kind of tale that Rinehart specialized in — and which I’m usually not a fan of, but I’ll gladly make an exception here.  Nurse Hilda is the epitome of what is called a “feisty” young woman in certain types of fiction: especially taking into account that this story was written shortly after the turn of the last century (published in 1914), she is independent (and independently-minded) and able to take care of herself to an extraordinary degree, and thus makes for an admirable protagonist.

Here she takes a position in a stately home where, as she soon finds out, bedroom doors are locked at night, beloved pets go missing, all the servants have recently left or been let go, and there seems to be a strange, slithering presence on the stairway at night and a mystery madwoman (or invalid) in, you guessed it, the attic — but before you cry “Gothic cliché”, beware … just like Nurse Hilda, Rinehart actually had her feet planted firmly on the ground, and was also very much up to date with the state of medical knowledge and research, which in an unexpected way made this story an enjoyable companion read / listen to Jennifer Wright’s decidedly less enjoyable Get Well Soon.

I guess at some point I should also read Rinehart’s Circular Staircase, which I’m still not entirely sold on however, but I’ll definitely read more of her Nurse Hilda stories.

 

Patricia McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld



My first book by McKillip; a short(ish) fantasy tale substantially in the traditional mold with a strong female heroine — a sorceress living on a mountainside high above the fighting human empires down in the plain; alone but for the company of a number of magical beasts.  At the risk of sounding jaded, the basic plotline (and the type of ending) is pretty much telegraphed from the very beginning; still, the characters are emphatically drawn, there are enough twists and turns over the course of the story to always ensure that the book held my attention, and I’m definitely interested in reading more books by McKillip in the future.

Georgette Heyer: Penhallow



On the face of it, your classic country house mystery, country estate and horse farm in Cornwall and all; but Heyer wrote this as a contract breaker, and boy, does it ever show.  Neither seekers after romance and after knights in shiny armour nor seekers of a genteel country house atmosphere need apply here, and what might be termed “a somewhat crotchety original” in any other book (including but not limited to Heyer’s own), here is styled as a crass, meanspirited old family tyrant who likes nothing better than bullying each and every member of his vast and long-suffering family into submission and downright terror.  With the exception of two creations by Agatha Christie (Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Mrs. Boynton in Appointment with Death), I can’t think of any character in another mystery, Golden Age or not, who is so totally devoid of redeeming qualities.  However, while both of Christie’s two infamous bullies — who clearly come from he same mold as old Penhallow — meet their ends fairly early on in the respective books and thus relieve both the reader and their families of their continued presence, we (and Penhallow’s harassed household) have to suffer until almost the 65% mark of this book until someone’s nerves finally snap once and for all.  We actually get to witness the murder, so there’s no great mystery as to whodunnit — although I admit that for the longest time I kept hoping for a Christie-esque twist, but that was not to be.

(Also, though this is a far cry from George R.R. Martin, be careful which of the other characters you invest your sympathies in … though God knows, few enough of them deserve any empathy to begin with; but then, with old man Penhallow around, it’s hard to see how any of them could have grown both a spine and halfway decent manners at all.)

There’s some ambivalence as to the book’s two LGBT characters — one son of Penhallow’s who is obviously modeled on Oscar Wilde and who, apart from a few witticisms, comes across rather negatively and as checking off pretty much every anti-gay cliché in the book, and a daughter who, apart from being a bit “bossy”, is one of the few members of the younger generation endowed with a brain, a healthy dose of common sense, and the gumption to stand up to her father (albeit helped, no doubt, by the fact that she is also one of the few family members not financially dependent on the old man).

All in all, a far cry from your typical Heyer (or at least, from her mysteries — can’t speak to her Regency romances) — I’m not sorry I read it, but as far as grumpy old patriarchs and bickering families go, I vastly prefer one of her Inspector Hemingway mysteries, Envious Casca (republished as A Christmas Party).

Reading Progress Update: 120 of 833 Minutes

Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters


Why, oh why did anybody think that this book’s title (!!) needed an appendage such as “a gripping crime thriller with a huge twist” on Amazon (and likely thus also on every other site that draws its feed from Amazon and where there aren’t any librarians to do away with this sort of nonsense) in order to generate proper sales?!  That sort of hype is, ordinarily, a sure fire turn-off for me, and it almost would have been here, too, had Their Lost Daughters not been reviewed favorably by friends whose opinions I trust (and, cough, I admit the fact that the audio version is narrated by Richard Armitage helped as well).  As a result, I’d almost have missed out on one of the best books I read all year … and that makes me even madder at whoever was the eejit that came up with that super-hypey tag line.

Beyond the fact that this begins as a “missing girls” investigation, there is little I can say in terms of plot description that wouldn’t be a huge spoiler, so let’s just stick with the fact that Ellis draws the sombre, downright oppressing Fenlands setting very, very astutely and expressively, and her team of detectives (led by DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans) are among the most likeable, rounded, and overall believable investigators that have appeared on the mystery scene in recent years — and I also very much like Marie’s (Welsh) mother, who I hope is going to be a continued presence in the series, too.  That all said, and much as it pains me to admit it, the “huge twist” thing from Amazon’s abominable tagline is actually true: even if you think you sort of see part of the solution coming, you don’t clue into how it all hangs together until it’s unraveled right under your very nose.  (And lest anyone say the solution is too outlandish to be true, there are several real life cases published in the past couple of years that featured decidedly more gruesome facts, and which may easily have inspired this book’s solution; or at least, certain parts of it.)