Joy Ellis: They Disappeared


Before starting this book, I’d said I hoped Ellis was done with the serial killer plots, as I had a feeling she was at risk of turning into a one trick pony that way — well, let’s say I both did and didn’t get my wish.  (Several gruesome deaths, yes, but not a mentally diseased mind behind them.)  I loved that Ellis had the courage to give us a fresh perspective on IT whiz Orla Cracken: There’s always a risk associated with making a character heretofore so unapproachable and shrouded in secrecy as her more accessible, but Ellis pulled it of very well for the most part … even though I’m only half convinced by the part of “Orac”‘s past that is explored most in depth here: surely, based on the feats we’ve seen her perform in the past (and based on what we now know about her training), this should be a mystery that Orac herself should have been able to solve long ago — and on her own?  Be that as it may, though, it was interesting to see another character being included in this particular series’s sweep of Ellis’s authorial focus.  I also liked the setting she picked for this book — “urban exploration” — which seems almost tailor-made for her sort of books; even if her protagonists (who are all cops, after all) have a somewhat too tolerant (if not, downright gushing) attitude to that occupation, which is prohibited for a reason, after all.

Big spoiler warning for a previous non-series book, however: While I think it’s fair to say that any reader reading the Jackman & Evans series as such out of order does so at their peril (and this is true for this particular book, too, as it provides — or would seem to provide — a definite ending for one of the past several books’ major narrative strands, so it should definitely be read after everything from The Guilty Ones onwards by anyone wanting to avoid spoilers in that regard), I’m still a bit miffed to see this book also containing a major spoiler for a recent stand-alone by Ellis, which I haven’t read yet and had been planning to get to later this year (Guide Star).  I’m fine with authors setting all of their various series in the same universe (Michael Connelly does the same thing, after all), and as long as this merely meant swapping supporting characters (like Dr. Wilkinson) or cross-references in dialogue, I haven’t had a problem with this  sort of thing in Ellis’s case so far, either.  But the main characters from Guide Star have, it would seem, fully been integrated into the Jackman & Evans series, and Ellis apparently couldn’t find a way of doing that without giving away that other book’s conclusion, as it constitutes a major premise of the events in They Disappeared.  Shame.

Michael Connelly: The Night Fire


My bingo pre-read and a very welcome return to Los Angeles — or at least, the version thereof that constitutes the world of Connelly’s characters, which however only ends up making the city a major character of its own in addition to the humans living in it.

Harry Bosch may not officially be a cold case investigator any longer, but that doesn’t stop him from seeking justice for those who died without their murderers ever having been brought to justice; particularly if he is handed the relevant file by the widow of his own recently-deceased mentor.  He ropes in Ballard, and I loved seeing that it was she who was first to tumble to what was wrong with that long-dead investigation.  (I’m also relieved that, for the time being at least, Connelly doesn’t seem to be planning to make a couple out of them.)  Two other investigations keep our two protagonists busy at the same time, both concerned with more recent deaths.  The ending relies a bit too much on coincidence for my liking (for however much Connelly may be protesting that there is no such thing — and of course, in his writer’s mind there isn’t, since he’s the one who plotted the whole thing out to begin with, but from the characters’ / from inside the story’s perspective, it still remains a case of protesting too much); yet, by and large, a more than solid entry in the series.  It also would seem to explain, incidentally, why Connelly decided to focus on Jack McEvoy for a change again for his next book (Fair Warning), as there are recent developments in Bosch’s (and potentially Mickey Haller’s and Maddie’s) lives that he’ll likely will want to take some time developing.

Halloween Bingo 2020: The First Week (+1 Day)

This year’s Halloween Bingo started a lot more promising than last year’s with a strong joint entry in Michael Connelly’s Bosch and Ballard series, and in fact, not one of the books I read earned less than a four-star rating — with the standout being Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die, which turned out to be a perfect choice for the “Psych” square.

 

The “Week 1” Books


Michael Connelly: The Night Fire

My bingo pre-read and a very welcome return to Los Angeles — or at least, the version thereof that constitutes the world of Connelly’s characters, which however only ends up making the city a major character of its own in addition to the humans living in it.

Harry Bosch may not officially be a cold case investigator any longer, but that doesn’t stop him from seeking justice for those who died without their murderers ever having been brought to justice; particularly if he is handed the relevant file by the widow of his own recently-deceased mentor.  He ropes in Ballard, and I loved seeing that it was she who was first to tumble to what was wrong with that long-dead investigation.  (I’m also relieved that, for the time being at least, Connelly doesn’t seem to be planning to make a couple out of them.)  Two other investigations keep our two protagonists busy at the same time, both concerned with more recent deaths.  The ending relies a bit too much on coincidence for my liking (for however much Connelly may be protesting that there is no such thing — and of course, in his writer’s mind there isn’t, since he’s the one who plotted the whole thing out to begin with, but from the characters’ / from inside the story’s perspective, it still remains a case of protesting too much); yet, by and large, a more than solid entry in the series.  It also would seem to explain, incidentally, why Connelly decided to focus on Jack McEvoy for a change again for his next book (Fair Warning), as there are recent developments in Bosch’s (and potentially Mickey Haller’s and Maddie’s) lives that he’ll likely will want to take some time developing.

 


Joy Ellis: They Disappeared

Before starting this book, I’d said I hoped Ellis was done with the serial killer plots, as I had a feeling she was at risk of turning into a one trick pony that way — well, let’s say I both did and didn’t get my wish.  (Several gruesome deaths, yes, but not a mentally diseased mind behind them.)  I loved that Ellis had the courage to give us a fresh perspective on IT whiz Orla Cracken: There’s always a risk associated with making a character heretofore so unapproachable and shrouded in secrecy as her more accessible, but Ellis pulled it of very well for the most part … even though I’m only half convinced by the part of “Orac”‘s past that is explored most in depth here: surely, based on the feats we’ve seen her perform in the past (and based on what we now know about her training), this should be a mystery that Orac herself should have been able to solve long ago — and on her own?  Be that as it may, though, it was interesting to see another character being included in this particular series’s sweep of Ellis’s authorial focus.  I also liked the setting she picked for this book — “urban exploration” — which seems almost tailor-made for her sort of books; even if her protagonists (who are all cops, after all) have a somewhat too tolerant (if not, downright gushing) attitude to that occupation, which is prohibited for a reason, after all.

Big spoiler warning for a previous non-series book, however: While I think it’s fair to say that any reader reading the Jackman & Evans series as such out of order does so at their peril (and this is true for this particular book, too, as it provides — or would seem to provide — a definite ending for one of the past several books’ major narrative strands, so it should definitely be read after everything from The Guilty Ones onwards by anyone wanting to avoid spoilers in that regard), I’m still a bit miffed to see this book also containing a major spoiler for a recent stand-alone by Ellis, which I haven’t read yet and had been planning to get to later this year (Guide Star).  I’m fine with authors setting all of their various series in the same universe (Michael Connelly does the same thing, after all), and as long as this merely meant swapping supporting characters (like Dr. Wilkinson) or cross-references in dialogue, I haven’t had a problem with this  sort of thing in Ellis’s case so far, either.  But the main characters from Guide Star have, it would seem, fully been integrated into the Jackman & Evans series, and Ellis apparently couldn’t find a way of doing that without giving away that other book’s conclusion, as it constitutes a major premise of the events in They Disappeared.  Shame.

 


Margery Allingham: More Work for the Undertaker

The thirteenth book in the Campion series; one of the few I hadn’t read yet and thus, a proximate choice for the “13” bingo square.  In tone, I find that the post-WWII stories are markedly darker than the series’s very first entries, which by and large is all to the good, however; even if they don’t quite reach the heights of The Case of the Late Pig, Police at the Funeral, or Death of a Ghost.  The story is typically wacky and also a typical entry in the series in other respects (characters, setting, etc.) nevertheless, culminating in a rather outré / macabre chase (the clue is in the title) … and introducing a character who will feature as a light in other post-WWII episodes as well (now that Stanislaus Oates has made it all the way to the top of the apple tree), the theatrically / oratorically-gifted D.I. Charlie Luke.

 


Nicholas Blake: The Beast Must Die

Wow. What a stunner. Blake (aka Cecil Day Lewis) messes with the reader’s mind literally from page 1, and being fully aware of the fact still doesn’t mean you’ll be up to what he is doing — or at least not all of it.  Even to begin talking about the plot would mean giving away half  the twists, so let’s just say it concerns a writer’s search for the reckless driver who mowed down his little son a few months earlier, as well as a family dominated by a bullying patriarch (and his equally bullying mother).  And from outright suggestions of lunacy to characters deliberately disguising their identities — or their innermost nature and / or intentions — to a myriad other ways in which Blake indulges in his cat-and-mouse game with the reader’s mind (authorial / narrative perspective, sequencing — the whole kit and caboodle), this is one big screwed-up joy ride … for those of us who like this sort of thing every so often, that is.

Side note 1: If you’ve read any of Blake’s other Nigel Strangeways books before (particularly any of the early ones), forget everything you’ve seen there.  Even though this book features both the Strangeways couple (Nick and Georgina) and Inspector Blunt, it is anything but a typical entry in the series (and all the better for it).

Side note 2: If you are interested in sailing, you may particularly enjoy this story.  It also probably helps to be familiar with the lingo  — which I am not, but I could follow along nevertheless, and during the one crucial scene set on a boat, I was just too glued to my speakers to pause listening in order to embark on an online search for the meaning of individual terms.

 


Agatha Christie: The Thirteen Problems

Audio revisit courtesy of Joan Hickson’s narration, both for Halloween Bingo and as part of the Agatha Christie Centennary celebration of her first novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) — and I find I’m drawn to these stories more and more with every time I’m revisiting them. Review HERE.

 

Currently Reading


Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson, aka Anne Meredith): Death in Fancy Dress

Country house mystery meets Wuthering Heights, with rather enjoyable effects (though more for the reader than for the main characters).  I’ll probably finish this either tonight or tomorrow morning.

 

The State of the Card

Master Update Post: HERE

 

My Markers


Read             Called                   Read & Called   Read = Called

Halloween Bingo 2020: TA’s Game Preparation Post

Note

When updating this post during the game, the books actually selected will be highlighted in bold print and with a check mark (√) next to them.

Updates

Spell invoked: Bingo Flip with Lora — STONE COLD HORROR replaced by READ BY FLASHLIGHT OR CANDLELIGHT

Also, as our game hosts have made it clear that (like in most previous years) the center square won’t be called (but rather, can be claimed as soon as we’ve read a book for it), I’ll be adding a fourth marker for that square (read = called), featuring Charlie’s brother Sunny!

 

The Card

My Markers


Read             Called                   Read & Called   Read = Called

 

The Spell Pack

Authors (and books) possibly to be used with Amplification Spell:
Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, Memory
Emma Donoghue: The Sealed Letter, Kissing the Witch
Aminatta Forna: The Devil That Danced on the Water
Gabriel García Márquez: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No one Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories)
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable
Orhan Pamuk: My Name Is Red
Various Authors: Trinidad Noir
Oksana Zabuzhko: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets

Wild Card Author:
Agatha Christie

Possible squares for Bingo Flip and / or Transfiguration Spell:

Bingo Flip:
  
Spell invoked: Bingo Flip with Lora –“Stone Cold Horror” replaced by “Read by Flashlight or Candlelight”.

 

The Squares

SLEEPY HOLLOW
Most likely:
Alice Hoffman: The River King

Alternatives:
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, Misery, Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, The Talisman
Robert B. Parker: The Godwulf Manuscript, School Days, Chance, Hush Money, Small Vices
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford: The Amber Gods and Other Stories
Ellery Queen: Calamity Town
Sofie Ryan: The Whole Cat and Caboodle
Donna Tartt: The Secret History
Joel Townsley Rogers: The Red Right Hand

 

FILM AT 11
Most likely:
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice

or: Robert Louis Stevenson: Kidnapped

Alternatives:
Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
R.D. Blackmore: Lorna Doone
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Raymond Chandler: The Little Sister
Erskine Childers: The Riddle of the Sands
Agatha Christie: Endless Night, The Pale Horse, Curtain, Halloween Party
Ann Cleeves: The Crow Trap
Michael Crichton: The Great Train Robbery
Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist, Bleak House, David Copperfield
Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers
T.S. Eliot: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte
Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Peter Høeg: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Craig Johnson: The Cold Dish
Stephen King: Misery, Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, The Talisman
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
Philip MacDonald: The List of Adrian Messenger
Mario Puzo: The Godfather
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter series
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Richard III
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
R.D. Wingfield: A Killing Frost

 

SOUTHERN GOTHIC
Most likely:
Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Tom Dooley

Alternatives:
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Carolyn G. Hart: Death on Demand
Michael McDowell: Blackwater
Herman Melville: The Confidence-Man
Julie Smith: Louisiana Hotshot
Various Authors: New Orleans Noir

 

MURDER MOST FOUL
Most likely:
Michael Connelly: The Night Fire

or: Jason Goodwin: The Janissary Tree
or: Anna Katharine Green: The Leavenworth Case
Oo. Robert van Gulik: Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee
or: Margaret Millar: The Listening Walls

Alternatives:
Gary Corby: The Ionia Sanction
Deborah Crombie: Dreaming of the Bones
Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: Setting Scores or The Measure of Malice (British Library Crime Classics anthologies)
Ian Fleming: Goldfinger or Moonraker
Graham Greene: The Confidential Agent
Ellen Kushner: Swordspoint
Donna Leon: The Jewels of Paradise, The Golden Egg, Friends in High Places, or Fatal Remedies
Mystery Writers of America Presents: Odd Partners
George Pelecanos: Hard Revolution
Otto Penzler (ed.), Various Authors: The Big Book of Female Detectives
Ian Rankin: Rebus Audio Box Set 1
Ruth Rendell: Some Lie and Some Die, A Demon in My View, Thirteen Steps Down, Harm Done, A Sight for Sore Eyes, End in Tears, Simisola, Road Rage, A Dark Blue Perfume and Other Stories, An Unkindness of Ravens, Shake Hands Forever, A Guilty Thing Surprised, or The Speaker of Mandarin
J.D. Robb: Naked in Death
Georges Simenon: Maigret: Die spannendsten Fälle
Various Authors: Classic Crime Short Stories (audio collection)
Various Authors: Classic Railway Murders (audio collection)

… or any of the murder mysteries listed as options for other squares on my card.

 

SPELLBOUND
Most likely:
Naomi Novik: Spinning Silver

Alternatives:
Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan
Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
Emma Donoghue: Kissing the Witch
Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte
Stephen Fry: Heroes
Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
Tessa Gratton: The Queens of Innis Lear
Robert Jordan: The Eye of the World
Stephen King: Carrie, The Talisman
Katherine Kurtz: Deryni Rising
Ursula K. Le Guin: A Wizard of Earthsea
Anne McCaffrey: Dragonsong
Alexander McCall Smith (ed.): The Girl Who Married a Lion (African Folk Tales)
Vonda N. McIntyre: Dreamsnake
Christopher Paolini: Inheritance
Terry Pratchett: Jingo, Maskerade, Small Gods, BBC Dramatizatons (Mort, Wyrd Sisters, Guards! Guards!, Eric, Small Gods, Night Watch)
Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter books
William Shakespeare: Macbeth
Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment
Michael J. Sullivan: Theft of Swords
Judith Tarr: Alamut, The Isle of Glass
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Children of Húrin, Tales from the Perilous Realm
Aimée & David Thurlo: Second Sunrise
Various Authors: Magicats
Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Janny Wurts: Stormwarden

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMAN OF MYSTERY
Most likely:
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable

Alternatives:
Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace, The Robber Bride
Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, Memory
Emma Donoghue: The Sealed Letter, Kissing the Witch
Sarah Dunant: Blood & Beauty
Tana French: Broken Harbour
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Hannah Kent: Burial Rites
Barbara Nadel: Land of the Blind
Edna O’Brien: House of Splendid Isolation, The Little Red Chairs
S.J. Rozan: China Trade
Julie Smith: Louisiana Hotshot
Oksana Zabuzhko: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets

 

TERROR IN A SMALL TOWN
Most likely:
Michael Jecks: The Malice of Unnatural Death

or: Ann Cleeves: Red Bones
or: Peter Grainger: Songbird or But for the Grace
or: Cyril Hare: Death Walks the Woods or Untimely Death
or: Michael Jecks: The Templar’s Penance, The Mad Monk of Gidleigh, The Chapel of Bones, or The Butcher of St. Peter’s

Alternatives:
Rennie Airth: River of Darkness
Margery Allingham: Blackkerchief Dick
Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace
Simon Beaufort: Deadly Inheritance
Francis Beeding: Death Walks in Eastrepps
E.C. Bentley: Trent’s Own Case
R.D. Blackmore: Lorna Doone
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Carol Carnac: Crossed Skies
John Dickson Carr: Castle Skull
Erskine Childers: The Riddle of the Sands
Agatha Christie: Endless Night, The Pale Horse, Curtain, Halloween Party
Ann Cleeves: The Crow Trap
Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
Lesley Cookman: Murder in Midwinter
Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Cherringham
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Edmund Crispin: The Case of the Gilded Fly
Brian Flynn: The Billiard-Room Mystery
Tana French: Broken Harbour
Elizabeth George: A Place of Hiding, Careless in Red, This Body of Death
Anthony Gilbert: Death in a Fancy Dress
Friedrich Glauser: Wachtmeister Studer
J.M. Gregson: Murder at the Nineteenth
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Carolyn G. Hart: Death on Demand
Reginald Hill: A Clubbable Woman
Alice Hoffman: The River King
Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings
P.D. James: Unnatural Causes, Devices and Desires
Ianthe Jerrold: Let Him Lie
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable
Craig Johnson: The Cold Dish
Mons Kallentoft: Midwinter Sacrifice
Mary Kelly: The Spoilt Kill
Hannah Kent: Burial Rites
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, Misery, Shawshank Redemption, Carrie
Elizabeth Kostova: The Historian
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
John Le Carré: A Murder of Quality
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
E.C.R. Lorac: Murder in the Mill-Race, Fire in the Thatch
Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Tom Dooley
Michael McDowell: Blackwater
Michael McGarrity: Tularosa
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
Patricia Moyes: The Sunken Sailor
Gil North: The Methods of Sergeant Cluff
Edna O’Brien: House of Splendid Isolation, The Little Red Chairs
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice
Joyce Porter: Dover One
Amanda Quick: The Girl Who Knew too Much
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford: The Amber Gods and Other Stories
Ellery Queen: Calamity Town
Ruth Rendell: A New Lease of Death
Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
Peter Robinson: Gallows View, Wednesday’s Child
Priscilla Royal: Tyrant of the Mind
James Runcie: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
Sofie Ryan: The Whole Cat and Caboodle
Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River (?)
Mary Stewart: This Rough Magic
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Julian Symons: The Colour of Murder, The Players and the Game, The Plot Against Roger Rider
Donna Tartt: The Secret History
Aimée & David Thurlo: Second Sunrise
Joel Townsley Rogers: The Red Right Hand
Various Authors: Magicats
Various Authors: Feline Felonies
Various Authors: Trinidad Noir
Patricia Wentworth: Lonesome Road
T.H. White: Darkness at Pemberley
R.D. Wingfield: A Killing Frost

 

TRULY TERRIFYING
Most likely:
Kathryn Harkup: Death by Shakespeare

Alternatives:
Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
Humphrey Carpenter: The Inklings
John Curran: Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks, Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making
Judith Flanders: The Invention of Murder
Aminatta Forna: The Devil That Danced on the Water
Neil Gaiman: The View from the Cheap Seats
Christopher Hibbert: The Borgias and Their Enemies
Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm
Ulrich Lampen (ed.): Die NS-Führung im Verhör
Adrienne Mayor: The Poison King
W. Stanley Moss: Ill Met by Moonlight
Terry Pratchett: A Slip of the Keyboard
Friedrich Reck-Malleczwewen: Tagebuch eines Verzeifelten
Philippe Sands: East West Street
Julian Symons: The Tell-Tale Heart: The Life and Works of Edgar Allen Poe
Bob Woodward: The Last of the President’s Men, The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat

 

AMATEUR SLEUTH
Most likely:
Anthony Gilbert: Death in Fancy Dress

or: Philip Gooden: The Salisbury Manuscript
or: Mary Kelly: The Spoilt Kill
or: Priscilla Royal: Tyrant of the Mind

Alternatives:
Margery Allingham: More Work for the Undertaker, Coroner’s Pidgin
Simon Beaufort: Deadly Inheritance
Lauren Belfer: City of Light
E.C. Bentley: Trent’s Own Case
Nicholas Blake: Minute for Murder, The Beast Must Die
Jan Burke: Eighteen
Christopher Bush: The Perfect Murder Case
John Dickson Carr: It Walks by Night, Castle Skull
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow
Michael Connelly: Fair Warning
Lesley Cookman: Murder in Midwinter
Edmund Crispin: The Case of the Gilded Fly
Jeffery Deaver: The Bone Collector, The Cold Moon
Francis Durbridge: Paul Temple
Brian Flynn: The Billiard-Room Mystery
R. Austin Freeman: The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke, The Cat’s Eye
Jacques Futrelle: The Thinking Machine at Work
Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton
Elizabeth George: A Place of Hiding
Michael Gilbert: Death in Captivity
Robert Goddard: Sea Change
Sue Grafton: A Is for Alibi
Cyril Hare: Death Walks the Woods, Untimely Death
Carolyn G. Hart: Death on Demand
Peter Høeg: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder, The House of Silk
Ianthe Jerrold: Let Him Lie
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Laura Lippman: By a Spider’s Thread
Philip MacDonald: X v. Rex, The List of Adrian Messenger
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
Orhan Pamuk: My Name Is Red
Robert B. Parker: The Godwulf Manuscript, School Days, Burt Reynods Reads: Chance / Hush Money / Small Vices
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice
Ellery Queen: Calamity Town, The Chinese Orange Mystery
Amanda Quick: The Girl Who Knew too Much
Clayton Rawson: The Great Merlini
Candace Robb: The Riddle of St. Leonards’
Gillian Roberts: Caught Dead in Philadelphia
Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
S.J. Rozan: China Trade
James Runcie: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
Sofie Ryan: The Whole Cat and Caboodle
Frank Schätzing: Tod und Teufel
Julie Smith: Louisiana Hotshot
Mary Stewart: This Rough Magic
Jay Stringer: Ways to Die in Glasgow
Barbara Vine: Asta’s Book
Edgar Wallace: The Four Just Men
Patricia Wentworth: Lonesome Road

 

RELICS AND CURIOSITIES
Most likely:
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies

Alternatives:
Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan
Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers
Sarah Dunant: Blood & Beauty (?)
Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte
Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
Philip Gooden: The Salisbury Manuscript
Peter Høeg: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Stephen King: The Talisman
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight
Robin McKinley: The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword
Naomi Novik: Spinning Silver
Orhan Pamuk: My Name Is Red
Christopher Paolini: Inheritance
Robert B. Parker: The Godwulf Manuscript
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice
Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter books
S.J. Rozan: China Trade
William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice
Michael J. Sullivan: Theft of Swords
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

GENRE: HORROR
Most likely:
Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White

or: Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven & Annabelle Lee

Alternatives:
Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
R.D. Blackmore: Lorna Doone
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Agatha Christie: Endless Night
J.J. Connington: Nordenholt’s Million
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, Misery, Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, The Long Walk, The Talisman
Michael McDowell: Blackwater
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford: The Amber Gods and Other Stories
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

DYSTOPIAN HELLSCAPE
Most likely:
J.J. Connington: Nordenholt’s Million

Alternatives:
Ben Elton: Identity Crisis
Stephen King: The Long Walk, The Talisman
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
Ian Rankin: Westwind
James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

 

CENTER (RAVEN) SQUARE
Read: Agatha Christie: The Thirteen Problems

 

 

 

 

 

FULL MOON
Most likely:
W. Stanley Moss: Ill Met by Moonlight
or: Patricia Moyes: The Sunken Sailor

Alternatives:
Margery Allingham: Blackkerchief Dick (?)
Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales (?)
Jeffery Deaver: The Cold Moon
Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Robert Jordan: The Eye of the World
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Barbara Vine: The Blood Doctor
Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke

 

THIRTEEN
Most likely:
Margery Allingham: More Work for the Undertaker
or: Terry Pratchett: Small Gods

 

 

 

 

  

Spell invoked: Bingo Flip with Lora — STONE COLD HORROR replaced by READ BY FLASHLIGHT OR CANDLELIGHT

Read: Colin Dexter: The Dead of Jericho

Ugh. I’m going to have to give this one some further thought — currently it’s looking like a candidate for the application of one of my spell cards.

(This is going to be was a spur-of-the-moment selection … it’s not like my book pool (of everything BUT horror) is in danger of running low, after all!

 

PSYCH
Most likely:
Nicholas Blake: The Beast Must Die

or: Vera Caspary: Laura
or: C.S. Forester: Payment Deferred or Plain Murder
or: Tana French: Broken Harbour
or: Patricia Highsmith: Ripley Under Ground
or Michael Jecks: The Chapel of Bones or The Mad Monk of Gidleigh
or: Donna Tartt: The Secret History

Alternatives:
Charles Warren Adams: The Notting Hill Mystery
Rennie Airth: River of Darkness
Margaret Atwood: Alias Grace, The Robber Bride
Francis Beeding: Death Walks in Eastrepps
Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
Jay Bonansinga: The Sleep Police
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
Christopher Bush: The Perfect Murder Case
John Dickson Carr: It Walks by Night, Castle Skull
Jane Casey: The Burning
Agatha Christie: Endless Night
Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
Michael Connelly: Fair Warning
J.J. Connington: Nordenholt’s Million
Lesley Cookman: Murder in Midwinter
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Jeffery Deaver: The Bone Collector, The Cold Moon
Emma Donoghue: The Sealed Letter
Sarah Dunant: Blood & Beauty
Joy Ellis: They Disappeared
Ben Elton: Identity Crisis, The First Casualty
Hugh Fraser: Harm
Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
Elizabeth George: What Came Before He Shot her, This Body of Death, Believing the Lie
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Cyril Hare: Untimely Death
Peter Høeg: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Alice Hoffman: The River King
Roy Horniman: Kind Hearts and Coronets (aka Israel Rank)
Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder, The House of Silk
Richard Hull: Excellent Intentions
P.D. James: Unnatural Causes, Devices and Desires, A Certain Justice
Ianthe Jerrold: Let Him Lie
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable
Hannah Kent: Burial Rites
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, Misery, Carrie, The Talisman
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
John Le Carré: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Tailor of Panama, Our Kind of Traitor
Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
Philip MacDonald: X v. Rex, The List of Adrian Messenger
James MacManus: Black Venus
Val McDermid: Insidious Intent
Vonda N. McIntyre: Dreamsnake
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
Herman Melville: The Confidence-Man
Margaret Millar: An Air That Kills, Beast in View
Jo Nesbø: Macbeth
Anne Perry: Seven Dials, Southampton Row
Ellis Peters: The Devil’s Novice
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford: The Amber Gods and Other Stories
Steven Price: By Gaslight
Amanda Quick: The Girl Who Knew too Much
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses
Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
Priscilla Royal: Tyrant of the Mind
Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Richard III
Julie Smith: Louisiana Hotshot
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Julian Symons: The Colour of Murder, The Players and the Game, The Plot Against Roger Rider
Aimée & David Thurlo: Second Sunrise
Joel Townsley Rogers: The Red Right Hand
C.J. Tudor: The Taking of Annie Thorne
Various Authors: Helsinki Noir
Various Authors: Los Angeles Noir
Various Authors: New Orleans Noir
Various Authors: Trinidad Noir
Barbara Vine: The Blood Doctor, Asta’s Book, A Dark-Adapted Eye
Minette Walters: Disordered Minds
Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests
Patricia Wentworth: Lonesome Road
Mary Westmacott: Giant’s Bread, The Burden
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
R.D. Wingfield: A Killing Frost
Oksana Zabuzhko: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets

 

DOOMSDAY
Most likely:
A.S. Byatt: Ragnarok

Alternatives:
J.J. Connington: Nordenholt’s Million
Robert Jordan: The Eye of the World
Stephen King: The Long Walk, The Talisman
Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
Ian Rankin: Westwind
Candace Robb: The Riddle of St. Leonards’
James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Catherynne M. Valente: Space Opera
Janny Wurts: Stormwarden

 

BLACK CAT
Most likely:
T.S. Eliot: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Alternatives:
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General (?)
Stephen King: Pet Semetary
Sofie Ryan: The Whole Cat and Caboodle
Saki: Tobermory (?)
Various Authors: Magicats
Various Authors: Feline Felonies

 

DIVERSE VOICES
Most likely:
Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings

Substitution:
Aimée & David Thurlo: Second Sunrise √

Alternatives:
Preet Bharara: Doing Justice
Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, Memory
Aminatta Forna: The Devil That Danced on the Water
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No one Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories)
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable
Orhan Pamuk: My Name Is Red
Oksana Zabuzhko: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets

 

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT
Most likely:
Christianna Brand: Fog of Doubt
Brian Flynn: The Billiard-Room Mystery
Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford: The Amber Gods and Other Stories

Substitution:
Patricia Moyes: The Sunken Sailor

Alternatives:
Margery Allingham: Blackkerchief Dick (?)
R.D. Blackmore: Lorna Doone
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
A.S. Byatt: Ragnarok
John Dickson Carr: It Walks by Night, The Hollow Man
Vera Caspary: Laura
Erskine Childers: The Riddle of the Sands (?)
Agatha Christie: Endless Night, The Pale Horse
Ann Cleeves: Red Bones
Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
Michael Connelly: The Night Fire (?)
Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
Jeffery Deaver: The Cold Moon
Charles Dickens: Bleak House
David Dodge: To Catch a Thief
Sarah Dunant: Blood & Beauty (?)
Francis Durbridge: Send for Paul Temple
Nino Haratischwili: Die Katze und der General
Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Peter Høeg: Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Michael Jecks: The Butcher of St. Peter’s, The Mad Monk of Gidleigh
Robert Jordan: The Eye of the World
Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, Carrie
Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
John Le Carré: The Tailor of Panama
Val McDermid: Insidious Intent
Medieval Murderers: The Lost Prophecies
W. Stanley Moss: Ill Met by Moonlight
Jo Nesbo: Macbeth
Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven & Annabelle Lee
Terry Pratchett: Small Gods, BBC Dramatizatons (Mort, Wyrd Sisters, Guards! Guards!, Eric, Small Gods, Night Watch)
Steven Price: By Gaslight
Christopher Priest: The Prestige (?)
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River (?)
William Shakespeare: Macbeth, King Lear
Robert Louis Stevenson: Kidnapped
Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment
Bram Stoker: Dracula
Michael J. Sullivan: Theft of Swords
Aimée & David Thurlo: Second Sunrise
Joel Townsley Rogers: The Red Right Hand
Joan D. Vinge: Ladyhawke
Edgar Wallace: The Four Just Men, The Terror
Janny Wurts: Stormwarden

 

PAINT IT BLACK
Most likely:
James MacManus: Black Venus

Substitution:
Julie Smith (ed.) & Various Authors: New Orleans Noir

Alternatives:
Margery Allingham: More Work for the Undertaker, Coroner’s Pidgin, Blackkerchief Dick
Vera Caspary: Laura
Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Michael Connelly: The Black Echo
Hannah Crafts: The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, Memory
Francis Durbridge: Send for Paul Temple
C.S. Forester: Payment Deferred
Aminatta Forna: The Devil That Danced on the Water
Jacques Futrelle: The Thinking Machine at Work
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No one Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories)
Kathryn Harkup: Death by Shakespeare
Taylor Jenkins Reid: Daisy Jones and the Six
Marie-Elena John: Unburnable
Elizabeth Kostova: The Historian
George R.R. Martin (ed.), Various Authors: Dangerous Women
Mario Puzo: The Godfather
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses, Watchman
Michael J. Sullivan: Theft of Swords
Donna Tartt: The Secret History
Various Authors: Helsinki Noir
Various Authors: Los Angeles Noir
Various Authors: Trinidad Noir
T.H. White: Darkness at Pemberley

 

NEW RELEASE
Most likely:
Joy Ellis: They Disappeared

or: Roseanne A. Brown: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
or: Michael Connelly: Fair Warning

Alternative:
Martin Edwards (ed.), Various Authors: Setting Scores

 

 

GENRE: SUSPENSE
Most likely:
Patricia Highsmith: Ripley Under Ground

or: Patricia Highsmith: Carol
or: John Lanchester: Fragrant Harbour
or: Derek B. Miller: Norwegian by Night

Alternatives:
Ken Follett: Eye of the Needle
Maurice LeBlanc: Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes
John Le Carré: A Perfect Spy, The Little Drummer Girl, The Russia House, The Honorable School Boy, Call for the Dead, The Secret Pilgrim, or Absolute Friends
Mary Westmacott: Unfinished Portrait or Absent in the Spring

… or virtually any and all of the mysteries, horror and fantasy books listed as options for the other squares on my card.

 

DARKEST LONDON
Most likely:
Christianna Brand: Fog of Doubt

or: Charles Warren Adams: The Notting Hill Mystery
or: Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests

Alternatives:
Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
Nicholas Blake: Minute for Murder
Anthony Boucher: The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1
Christopher Bush: The Perfect Murder Case
John Dickson Carr: Death Watch
Jane Casey: The Burning
Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse
Rory Clements: Martyr
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Return of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow
Michael Crichton: The Great Train Robbery
Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist, Bleak House, David Copperfield
Emma Donoghue: The Sealed Letter
Francis Durbridge: Paul Temple — Complete Radio Collection, Volume 1
Ken Follett: A Dangerous Fortune
C.S. Forester: Plain Murder
Andrew Forrester: The Female Detective
R. Austin Freeman: The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke, The Cat’s Eye
Robert Goddard: Sea Change
Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder, The House of Silk
P.D. James: A Certain Justice
Philip MacDonald: X v. Rex, The List of Adrian Messenger
Arthur Morrison: Martin Hewitt, Investigator; Detective Stories
John Mortimer: Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
Anne Perry: Seven Dials, Southampton Row, A Sudden Fearful Death
Steven Price: By Gaslight
Christopher Priest: The Prestige
Ruth Rendell: Portobello
John Rhode: The Paddington Mystery
Stella Rimington: Dead Line
Barbara Vine: The Blood Doctor, Asta’s Book
Edgar Wallace: The Four Just Men, The Terror
Oscar Wilde: Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

Christianna Brand: Green for Danger

This was one of the discoveries of my foray into the realm of Golden Age mysteries; an eerie, claustrophobic, psychological drama revolving around several suspicious deaths (and near-deaths) at a wartime hospital in Kent during WWII.  None of Brand’s other mysteries that I’ve read so far is quite up to this level, but she excelled in closed-circle settings featuring a small group of people who all genuinely like each other (and really are, for the most part, likeable from the reader’s — and the investigating policeman’s — perspective, too), and in this particular book, the backdrop of the added danger arising from the wartime setting adds even more to the tension.  It’s also fairly obvious that Brand was writing from personal experience, which greatly enhances every single aspect of the book, from the setting and the atmosphere to the individual characters.

Josephine Tey: Inspector Grant Series

 

Having already read two books from Tey’s Alan Grant series (The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair) as well as her nonseries novel Brat Farrar in past years, and Miss Pym Disposes at the beginning of this year, I took the combined (re)read of The Daughter of Time and the play Dickon during the pandemic buddy reads (see above) as my cue to finally also read the rest of the Inspector Grant mysteries.  And I’m glad I finally did; Tey’s work as a whole is a paean to her much-beloved England — and though she was Scottish by birth, to a somewhat lesser degree also to Scotland –; a love that would eventually cause her to bequeath her entire estate to the National Trust. — Though the books are ostensibly mysteries, the actual “mystery” element almost takes a back seat to the land … and to its people, or rather to people like those who formed Tey’s personal circle of friends and acquaintances.  And it is in creating characters that her writing shines as much as in the description of England’s and Scotland’s natural beauty.

 

Tey’s plots take the reader from London’s West End …


… to the chalk cliffs of Kent and Sussex (images: Dover and Beachy Head)

 … the English Home Counties (images: Bibury, Cotswolds) …

… and finally, the storm-tossed Outer Hebrides (images: Butt of Lewis).
(All photos mine.)

2020 Mid-Year Reading Review and Statistics

What with the pandemic still very much ongoing, BL acting up again, MR’s and Char’s resulting posts re: BookLikes, the BL experience, and moving back to Goodreads, this feels like a somewhat odd moment to post my half-yearly reading stats.  I hope it won’t be the last time on this site, but I fear that the community to which I’ve belonged for almost a decade — longer than to any other online community — and which, most recently, has played a pivotal role in making the Corona pandemic more bearable to me, is on the point of breaking up.  And frankly, this is making me incredibly sad.

Book-wise, too, the pandemic has had a huge impact on my reading; for three out of the past six months, I pretty much exclusively withdrew into Golden Age mystery comfort reads, because I just didn’t have it in me to tackle anything else.  Though I suppose in comparison with others, who went into more or less full-fledged reading slumps, I can still color myself lucky.

That said, the past six months’ reading highlights definitely included all of the buddy reads, both for the shared reading experience and for the books themselves — as well as a number of books that I read either before the pandemic began or in the very recent couple of weeks … though I’m tempted to list every single favorite Golden Age mystery that I reread during the pandemic, too; in addition to a whole number of new discoveries.  So, without further ado (and roughly in reverse chronological order):

 

Highlights:

The Buddy Reads:

Jean-François Parot: L’énigme des blancs-manteaux (The Châtelet Apprentice)
The first of Parot’s Nicolas le Floch historical mysteries set in 18th century Paris.  Nicolas is a Breton by birth and, on the recommendation of his godfather, a Breton nobleman, joins the Paris police force under the command of its (real) Lieutenant General Antoine de Sartine, one of the late 18th century’s most influential statesmen and administrators. —  Parot was an expert on the period and a native Parisian, both of which elements clearly show in his writing, and I’m already looking forward to reading more books from the series.

French-language buddy read with Tannat and onnurtilraun — we’re now also looking into the possibly of “buddy-watching” the (French) TV adaptation starring Jérôme Robart.


The pandemic buddy reads; including and in particular:
Josephine Tey: A Daughter of Time (with BT’s and my individual add-on, Tey’s play Dickon, written under the name Gordon Daviot, which likewise aims at setting the record straight vis-à-vis Shakespeare’s Richard III) — A Daughter of Time was a reread; Dickon was new to me.
* Georgette Heyer: No Wind of Blame (the first of the Inspector Hemingway mysteries — also a reread);
* Agatha Christie: Towards Zero and Cat Among the Pigeons (both likewise rereads);
* Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (also a reread; one of my favorite Inspector Alleyn mysteries);
* Cyril Hare: Tenant for Death (the first Inspector Mallett mystery — new to me);
* Patricia Wentworth: The Case Is Closed (Miss Sliver book #2 — also new to me; this isn’t a series I am reading in publication order).

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (book 1 of the Lymond Chronicles)
16th century Scotland; the adventures of a main character somewhere between Rob Roy, Robin Hood and Scaramouche (mostly Scaramouche), but it also features a range of strong and altogether amazing female characters.  Another series I’m looking forward to continuing.

The first buddy read of the year, together with Moonlight Reader, BrokenTune, and Lillelara.

 

My Individual Highlights:

Bernardine Evaristo: Girl, Woman, Other
Heaven knows the Booker jury doesn’t always get it right IMHO, but wow, this time for once they absolutely did.  If you haven’t already read this, run, don’t walk to get it.  And though initially I was going to say “especially if you’re a woman (and from a minority)” — no, I’m actually going to make that, “especially if you’re a white man”.

Saša Stanišić: Herkunft (Origin) and Gaël Faye: Petit pays (Small Country)
Two autobiographical books dealing with the authors’ genocide experience, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Burundi, respectively. Stanišić’s account — an odd mix of fact on fiction, which does lean pretty strongly towards the factual, however — asks, as the title indicates, how precisely our geographical, ethnic and cultural origin / sense of “belonging” defines our identity; and it focuses chiefly on the refugee experience and the experience of creating a new place for oneself in a new (and substantially different) country and culture.  Faye’s short novel (barely longer than a novella) packs an equal amount of punch, but approaches the topic from the other end — it’s a coming of age tale looking at the way our cultural identity is first drummed into us … and how ethnic stereotypes and hostilities, when fanned and exploited, will almost invariably lead to war and genocide.

 

Josephine Tey: The Inspector Grant series, Dickon, and Miss Pym Disposes
Having already read two books from Tey’s Alan Grant series (The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair) as well as her nonseries novel Brat Farrar in past years, and Miss Pym Disposes at the beginning of this year, I took the combined (re)read of The Daughter of Time and the play Dickon during the pandemic buddy reads (see above) as my cue to finally also read the rest of the Inspector Grant mysteries.  And I’m glad I finally did; Tey’s work as a whole is a paean to her much-beloved England — and though she was Scottish by birth, to a somewhat lesser degree also to Scotland –; a love that would eventually cause her to bequeath her entire estate to the National Trust. — Though the books are ostensibly mysteries, the actual “mystery” element almost takes a back seat to the land … and to its people, or rather to people like those who formed Tey’s personal circle of friends and acquaintances.  And it is in creating characters that her writing shines as much as in the description of England’s and Scotland’s natural beauty.

Pete Brown: Shakespeare’s Local
Another book that I owned way too long before I finally got around to reading it; the discursive — in the best sense –, rollicking tale of one London (or rather, Southwark) pub from its earliest days in the Middle Ages to the 21st century, telling the history of Southwark, London, public houses, and their patrons along the way.  The title is glorious conjecture and based on little more than the fact that the pub is near the location of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (combined with the equally demonstrable fact that Shakespeare loved a good ale and what today we’d call a pub crawl) … so it’s highly likely that, like many another celebrity over the centuries, he’d have had the occasional pint at this particular inn, the George, as well.

Dorothy L. Sayers: Love All
A delightful drawing room comedy that was, owing to its completion during WWII, only performed twice during Sayers’s own lifetime and never again thereafter, which is utterly unfair to both the material and its author — topically, this is the firmly tongue in cheek stage companion to such works as Gaudy Night and the two speeches republished under the title Are Women Human?  (I’d call it feminist if Sayers hadn’t hated that term, but whatever label you want to stick on it, its message comes through loud and clear and with plenty of laughs.)

Christianna Brand: Green for Danger
One of the discoveries of my foray into the realm of Golden Age mysteries; an eerie, claustrophobic, psychological drama revolving around several suspicious deaths (and near-deaths) at a wartime hospital in Kent during WWII.  None of Brand’s other mysteries that I’ve read so far is quite up to this level, but she excelled in closed-circle settings featuring a small group of people who all genuinely like each other (and really are, for the most part, likeable from the reader’s — and the investigating policeman’s — perspective, too), and in this particular book, the backdrop of the added danger arising from the wartime setting adds even more to the tension.  It’s also fairly obvious that Brand was writing from personal experience, which greatly enhances every single aspect of the book, from the setting and the atmosphere to the individual characters.

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World
Sotomayor’s memoirs up to her first appointment to the Federal Bench.  What a courageous woman!  A trailblazer in every sense of the word — a passionate advocate for women, Latinos/-as (not just Puerto Ricans), those hindered in their career path by a pre-existing medical condition (in her case: diabetes), and more generally, everybody up against unequal odds.  Fiercely intelligent and never satisfied with second best (for herself and others alike), she nevertheless comes across as eminently likeable and open-minded — on the list of people I’d like to meet one day (however unlikely), she shot right up to a top spot after I’d read this book; in close vicinity with Michelle Obama.

John Bercow: Unspeakable
Bercow’s time as Speaker of the House of Commons was doubtlessly among the more remarkable periods in the history of the British Parliament, both on account of his personality and of the momentous decisions taken during those years; and his unmistakeable style jumps out from every page of his memoir — as well as every minute of the audio edition, which he narrates himself.  The last chapter (his attempt at outlining the odds for Britain post-Brexit) was already obsolete before the Corona pandemic hit; this is even more true now.  However, the vast majority of the book makes for a fascinating read, not least of course because of his insight into the politics — and politicians — of his time (he is neither sparing with the carrot nor with the stick, and some of his reflections, e.g., on the qualities of a “good” politician / member of parliament, would constitute ample food for thought for politicians anywhere).

 

Statistics:

As I said above, the one thing that definitely had the biggest impact on my reading in the first six months of 2020 was my three-month long “comfort reading” retreat into the world of Golden Age mysteries.  So guess what:

Of the 129 books I read in the first six months of 2020, a whopping 63% were Golden Age and contemporary mysteries — add in the 10 historical mysteries that also form the single biggest chunk of my historical fiction reading, you even get to 91 books or 70.5%.

I am rather pleased, though, that — comfort and escape reading aside and largely thanks to a number of truly interesting memoirs and biographies — the number of nonfiction books is roughly equivalent to the sum of “high brow” fiction (classics and litfic).

Another thing that makes me happy is that my extended foray into Golden Age mysteries was not overwhelmingly limited to rereads; these accounted for only 28% of all books read (36 in absolute figures), a percentage which is not substantially higher than my average in the last two years.  At the same time, as a comparatively large number of Golden Age mysteries are not (yet?) available as audiobooks — not even all of those that have been republished in print in recent years –, and as I have spent considerably less time driving to and from meetings and conferences than in the past two years, the share of print books consumed is higher than it was in 2018 and 2019.

 

Given the high percentage of comfort reading, it’s no surprise that my star ratings are on the high side for the first half of 2020 — the vast majority of the books were decent, if not good or even great reads.

Overall average: 3.7 stars 

However, my Golden Age mystery binge also had a noticeable effect on the two statistics I’m tracking particularly: gender and ethnicity.

As far as gender is concerned things still look very good if you just focus on the authors: 88 books by women (plus 5 mixed anthologies / author teams) vs. 36 books by male authors; hooray!  However, inspired by onnurtilraun, I decided to add another layer this time and also track protagonists … and of course, if there is one genre where women authors have created a plethora of iconic male protagonists, it is Golden Age mystery fiction; and all the Miss Marples, Miss Silvers, Mrs. Bradleys and other female sleuths out there can’t totally wipe out the number of books starring the likes of Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Roderick Alleyn, and other male detectives of note.  Then again, the Golden Age mystery novelists actually were ahead of their time in not only creating women sleuths acting independently but also in endowing their male detectives with equally strong female partners and friends, so the likes of Ariadne Oliver, Agatha “Troy” Alleyn, and of course the inimitable Harriet Vane, also make for a significantly higher number of books with both male and female protagonists.  Still, the gender shift is impossible to miss.

 

(For those wondering about the “N / A” protagonist, that’s Martha Wells’s Murderbot, who of course is an AI and deliberately created as gender-neutral.)

And of course, since there isn’t a non-white author to be found among the Golden Age mystery writers (or at least, none that I’m aware of and whose books figured as part of my reading during the past couple of months), the ethnicity chart goes completely out of the window.  Again, as long as you just look at the number of countries visited as part of my Around the World reading challenge (and if you ignore the number of books written by authors from / set in the UK and the U.S.), the figures actually still look pretty good — and yes, the relatively high number of European countries is deliberate; I mostly focused on authors from / settings in the Southern Hemisphere last year, so I figured since tracking ethnicity was substantially impacted by the mystery binge this year anyway, I might as well make a bit of headway with the European countries, too.

Yet, there is one interesting wrinkle even in the comparison of author vs. protagonist ethnicity; namely, where it comes to the non-Caucasian part of the table: It turns out that the number of non-white protagonists is slightly higher than that of non-white authors, because I managed to pick a few books at least which, though written by white authors, did feature non-white protagonists.  Make of that one what you will …

   

Nevertheless, for the rest of the year, the aim is clear … catch up on my Around the World reading challenge and build in as many books by non-Caucasian authors as possible!

Addendum
In a discussion on the BookLikes version of this post, the question came up whether the author’s gender and ethnicity matters at all, or whether the only thing that really matters is the quality of the writing to begin with.  Here’s what I wrote there:

I used to think it [= gender and ethnicity] didn’t / shouldn’t matter, too. Since I started to put greater weight on women’s writing and books by non-white authors, I’ve come to change my mind.

1) It’s not about “chromosomes”, but about life experience. Women, even in today’s society, experience life differently from men. That is true even for women who (like me) were raised — not necessarily deliberately, but as it were “by default” — in such a way as to embrace roles traditionally reserved for men from early childhood on (which incidentally frequently put me at odds with the boys in the playground), and who work in an industry that, even when I was in university, was still substantially dominated by (white) men, and to a certain extent still is even today (not in terms of access to the profession as such, but in terms of what is achievable and who calls the shots). And similarly, it is obvious that blacks, Latinos/-as, Asians, and members of other ethnicities experience society differently from whites — it didn’t take George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement to convince me of that.

So it is only natural that women — and non-white authors — also tell stories differently from men, and from white people, respectively. Not necessarily, perhaps not even overwhelmingly, the way that Bernadine Evaristo does — a book like “Girl, Women, Other” could of course never have been written by a man or by a white person to begin with. (And that’s precisely the reason why I said these are the people who most need to read this book — because it reflects a perspective that they / we will only ever be able to understand, if at all, intellectually; never instinctively and from personal experience.) Nor do I necessarily mean that male writing is more “testosterone-soaked” than women’s writing (though bad male writing almost invariably is), or that “men can’t write women characters” (and vice versa). — In most cases, the differences between men’s and women’s writing are so subtle that, as long as you don’t pay any attention, you don’t notice them at all. But if you come from reading a lot of books written by men (as I had, when I set out on this course a few years ago) and then you switch to reading books written mostly by women, you start noticing them after a while — in details of writerly focus, in little things like a detail of an individual characters’ response to a particular situation (or to somebody else’s comment), in the way dialogue is framed, in what matters to a character in a given situation, etc. Again, none of this rises to the level of “good / bad” “realistic / unrealistic” writing, or to “men writing women as men with XX.chromosomes” (or women writing men as women with XY-chromosomes, or whites writing other ethniticities as black-faced whites, etc.), but it’s there; and interestingly, it’s there as much in, say, Golden Age mystery fiction and other 19th and early 20th century classics as it is in contemporary writing.

2) It’s about industry access and noticeability. The publishing industry is, for all I can see, still way too much dominated by “pale stale males”. Like in my own industry (the law), it’s not so much a matter of a lack of women (or non-white) writers (and columnists, critics, journalists, etc.) But in the corporate structures, the old hierarchies die hard — not only at the top (= the tip of the iceberg) — and though I don’t know a lot of writers personally, I know enough to realize how much harder it is for women — and for writers of color — to obtain the same amount of exposure that a white male author would be able to obtain in their situation. (Again, this isn’t as simple as “good / bad writing” or a matter of talent — it’s about what it takes *in addition* to talent and good writing.) So if I can do my tiny little bit to help by actually buying and reading their books — and by occasionally even talking about those books, whenever I feel motivated enough to write a review, or by deliberately tracking my reading and talking about that, I’m more than happy to do that.

// TA steps off soap box.

 

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Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone

DNF @ 30% (approx)

“Illiterate” (read: dyslexic) working class home help kills her well-meaning but utterly clueless upper class employers.  The end.  (And because it’s an inverted mystery, we know literally from the first sentence that this is going to happen.)  Aaaannnd … I’m out.

I’m not merely bored, though.

 

Chiefly, I’m furious at Rendell for deliberately framing dyslexia:
(1) as a class issue (which it patently is not and never has been), and
(2) what is infinitely worse, as the trigger that causes a psychopath who is secretly morbidly ashamed of her lack of literacy to fatally lash out at others.

Shame on you, Baroness.  You ought to have known better.

Let no part of the blame fall on Carole Hayman, however, whose spirited reading made me give this book way more of my time than I should have.

 

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Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman’s Honeymoon

A Lethal Play, or, Sayers’s Last Word on Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane

“PETER (frowns): You know, Harriet, this is one of those exasperatingly simple cases. I mean, it’s not like those ones where the great financier is stabbed in the library –

   HARRIET: I know! And thousands of people stampede in and out of the French window all night, armed with motives and sharp instruments –

   PETER: And the corpse turns out toe be his own twin bother returned from the Fiji Islands and disguised as himself. That sort of thing is comparatively easy. But here’s a dead man in a locked house and a perfectly plain suspect, with means, motive, and opportunity, and all the evidence pat – with the trifling exception of the proof.”

Lord Peter Wimsey’s final full-length murder investigation first saw the light of day as a play – like the subsequent novel, titled Busman’s Honeymoon – co-written with Dorothy L. Sayers’s friend from her Somerville College, Muriel St. Clare Byrne. Although it enjoyed a successful run after its November 1936 Birmingham and December 1936 London premieres, the play’s success was transferred entirely onto the novel of the same name published the following year, and the playscript was never reprinted after its initial 1937 Gollancz first edition. It took another half century, the acquisition of the original manuscript and a wealth of associated papers by the Marion E. Wade Collection at Kent State University’s Wheaton College, and the express (and narrowly limited) consent by Sayers’s son Anthony Fleming for the play to be republished, along with the drawing room comedy Love All (in manuscript, alternatively titled Cat’s Cradle), which Sayers wrote together with another Somerville College friend, Marjorie Barber.

In the novel Busman’s Honeymoon, Sayers elaborates on the plot and the themes addressed in the play, but she remains faithful to the stage version in every respect, entire lines of dialogue are taken from there, and the play of course distills down the basic structure of the action, merging the demands of dramatic sequencing and those of a detective story scrupulously based on the fair play rule according to which, in the authors’ words, “every clue must be shown at the same time to the public and to the detective”. The detective is not to have any secret knowledge or other advantage over the audience (nor vice versa), and comparing their play’s structure to that of “a Three-part Fugue, moving contrapuntually to an ordered resolution”, the playwrights continue to explain in the authors’ note:

“It was necessary to invent a technique to express this formula, since the novelist’s approach by argument and explanation is clearly unsuited to the stage. For the First Act, in which most of the major clues are introduced, the method chosen is that of visual presentation. The clues as to Means are displayed, silently but conspicuously, down-stage, while at the same time the animated discussion of trivialities up-stage holds the ear and divides the attention of the audience. The producer’s task is thus to play, as it were, two independent tunes concurrently, concentrating upon inessentials in order to disguise, without concealing, the essentials of the plot-structure.

In the Second Act, the method, while still contrapuntal, is slightly varied. While the inquiry is ostensibly directed to Motive, the information actually conveyed to the audience chiefly concerns Opportunity, or the lack of it. Here, Superintendent Kirk’s unwavering canto fermo is contrasted with the freely moving descant played by Peter, who hovers continually above the action, sometimes in concord and sometimes in passing discord with the set theme. The producer may note the visual symbolism, whereby Kirk remains throughout firmly planted in his chair, while Peter wanders about the stage, darting in upon the problem from all angles.

In Act III, Scene 1, which for the purposes of the plot establishes Motive, the attention is held by yet another theme. This, introduced in the First Act and kept moving by occasional passages in Act II, here emerges into prominence. The human and emotional aspects of the situation, as it affects the private lives of the characters concerned, become the main source of interest. An effort is here made to do for the detective play what has already been achieved for the detective novel – that is, to combine it with the comedy of manners, and so bring it back into the main line of English dramatic tradition. In this scene, the masks are dropped all round: [along farcical-comedy and tragi-comedy lines by others and] along romantic-comedy lines by Peter and Harriet, the complete sincerity of whose emotion is the touchstone by which all the rest of the action must be tested.

In the final scene, both the disguised and the ostensible clues extracted from the previous scenes are presented and a fresh in a visual reconstruction to solve the problem on purely theatrical lines; and at the same time the emotional elements are brought into harmony.”

In a lengthy introduction, the book’s editor, Alzina Stone Dale, elaborates on the genesis and various birthing stages of the play, and the book’s no less than four appendices reproduce significant additional materials; including the authors’ stern warning to producers as to the truly lethal risks of the murder method employed here, coupled with several-pages-long minute instructions how Peter’s reconstruction of the crime at the end of the play should be faked, so as to avoid actually endangering anyone on stage (first and foremost the actor playing the murderer, who ends up caught in and unmasked by his own trap in the reconstruction).

Another appendix reproduces Sayers’s handwritten notes on the major characters:

“PETER will be 45 next birthday; & though his small bones, whippy figure & fair colouring give him a deceptive appearance of youth, his face, in its rare moments of repose is beginning to show the marks set there by time & experience. At first sight one would say that the lines of brow & chin ran back rather alarmingly; but this, too, is largely an illusion, due to the dominance of the high, beaked nose which is, one feels, a tradition handed down from the Norman Conquest or thereabouts & somewhat exaggerated in the transmission. The steadiness of the grey eyes & long, humorous mouth is reassuring, & there is certainly no lack of physical health or vitality; yet the acuteness of the facial angle, the silvery pallor of hair & skin, the slight droop of the eyelids, the sensitive and restless hands, & above all a certain nervous tautness of gesture & carriage – these signs perhaps convey a warning that the family blood will not stand very much more this kind of thing, & that in marrying a commoner he has shown no more than a proper consideration for posterity. His social poise is inborn; but his emotional balance appears to be rather a matter of discipline applied partly from within & partly by training and circumstance; his outbursts of inconsequent gaiety are the compensation for the exercise of a rigid control in other directions. A natural sweetness of disposition, allied to a freakish sense of humour & assisted by a highly-civilized upbringing, makes him easy enough to get on with, but to get within his guard is difficult. The light, high, over-bred voice is his own; but the drawl, like the monocle, is part of the comedian’s make-up which he can & does put off when he is in earnest. […] Nor does he hold any surprises for Bunter, who has known him from his teeth to his toe-nails for twenty years. How far Bunter has it in him to surprise Peter is a matter for infinite conjecture.

[…]

HARRIET is 30 years old, tall, strongly-made & vigorous in speech, movement & colouring. She has dark hair & eyes & a skin like honey; her face has more character than beauty, but the older she grows the handsomer she will become. […] Past unhappiness has matured but not tamed her; she has not learnt, & never will learn, self-discipline as Peter has learnt it. What she has got & what he loves her for, is an immense intellectual sincerity. She will commit endless errors of judgment & hold to them in the face of any emotional attack; but if her reason can be persuaded, she will admit the error freely & without rancor. It is evident that she will never be happy unless her passions & her reason can march side by side; & she is lucky to have found a man honest and unselfish enough to refrain from using her heart as a weapon against her conscience. Indeed, in this respect he is the more vulnerable, & it is her honesty that will prevent him from turning the same weapon against himself. The fact that they both have the same educational background is probably a considerable factor in the establishment of a common understanding; & though you might think that they are the last people who should ever have married one another, Oxford will in the end be justified of her children.”


The 1980s’ version of Harriet and Peter: Harriet Walter and Edward Petherbridge
— in the small screen adaptation of Gaudy Night

   HARRIET: Oh, my dear: What is happening to us? What has become of our peace?
   PETER: Broken! That’s what violence does. Once it starts, it catches us all – sooner or later.
   HARRIET: Is there no escape?
   PETER: Only by running away … (Pause) … Perhaps it might be better for us to run. If I finish this job, someone is going to hang. I have no right to drag you into this mess … Oh, my dear, don’t upset yourself so. (He goes up to her.) If you say the word, we will go right away. We’ll leave the whole damnable business … and never meddle again.
   HARRIET: Do you really mean that?
   PETER: Of course I mean it. I have said so. (His tone is that of a beaten man. He crosses and sits on arm of chair by table L.)
   HARRIET: Peter, you are mad. Never dare to suggest such a thing. Whatever marriage is, it isn’t that.
   PETER: Isn’t what, Harriet?
   HARRIET: Letting your affection corrupt your judgment. What kind of life could we have if I knew that you had become less than yourself by marrying me?
   PETER: My dear girl, most women would consider it a triumph.
   HARRIET: I know. (Gets up and comes down-stage.) I’ve heard them. ‘My husband would do anything for me.’ … It’s degrading. No human being ought to have such power over another.
   PETER: It’s a very real power, Harriet.
   HARRIET (decidedly): Then we won’t use it. If we disagree, we’ll fight it out like gentlemen. But we won’t stand for matrimonial blackmail.”
Busman’s Honeymoon, Act III, Scene 1

I just love that dialogue (which is contained both in the play and in the novel). It’s what epitomizes Peter and Harriet to me – and it just might explain, too, why Sayers didn’t finish a single further novel featuring them but, rather, only gave us glimpses at their married life in a couple of short stories. Because really, what else is there left to be said after this?

 
Dennis Arundell and Veronica Turleigh, who played Peter and Harriet in the 1936-1937 theatrical run of Busman’s Honeymoon (images from IMDb)

 

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Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time & Dickon

The Daughter Of Time - Josephine Tey Dickon - Gordon Daviot, Josephine Tey

This weekend’s “let’s-forget-the-pandemic” buddy read wasn’t the first time I read Josephine Tey’s setting-the-record-straight-about-Richard III novel, The Daughter of Time, but it was the first time that I did so by reading it together with her play on the same subject (written under the name Gordon Daviot), Dickon, and that combined reading changed my perspective on the novel yet again: not significantly, but in what I see as Tey’s impetus in writing it.

To begin with, maybe I should call Dickon “her other play” on the subject, as I think Sorry kids, no feet nailed it when she said in a comment on one of Tannat’s status updates that The Daughter of Time “read(s) like a play without actually being a play”.  It actually is a play, with only one stage setting — Grant’s hotel room –, deliberately confining him (who becomes the audience’s voice and brain) to that setting, depriving him of any and all other, and perhaps more conventional forms of entertainment right in the first chapter — not without a few wry sidelines on the state of the literary art and industry of the day –, and thus neatly focusing his, and hence the reader’s, attention on that one single thing remaining and apt enough to tease his brain: an investigation into an unsolved mystery of the past.  And of course, that hoary old chestnut, the fate of “the Princes in the Tower”, will never do — the investigation soon takes a completely different direction when Grant decides (very much like Ms. Tey herself, obviously) that Richard III’s face and his reputation simply don’t synch, and just how his name ended up on the list of history’s greatest villains must thus urgently be looked into (and set right).

Dubious, overrated, and dated starting point (“face reading”) aside, the real importance of Tey’s book lies, of course, in the profound shattering of the reputation that Richard III had had until then, ever since he lost his life at Bosworth and the Tudors had the control of what history would eventually make of the reign of the last York Plantagenet king.  There had been previous attempts to set the record straight both in the 18th and the 19th century, but it arguably took Tey’s deliberate choice of presenting the issue in the guise of a (well-researched) mass-marketed novel, in tandem with a stage play, to bring so much public attention to the matter that even well-known historic scholars could no longer ignore it — and the debate has been alive and well ever since.  (Even the presentation at the Bosworth visitor center is now painstakingly neutral in its overall approach, though some of the exhibit’s texts still clearly betray an anti-Ricardian bias.)

In The Daughter of Time, Tey presents the Tudors’ campaign of blackening Richard III’s name as only one, though a particularly grivous example of what she calls Tonypandy, for the town that was the focal point of the 1910-11 Welsh Miners’ strike, and which has since become a subject of a similarly furious historic dispute: to Tey, “Tonypandy” is a summary term signifying any and all instances of falsified historic and political propaganda.  Yet, as her play Dickon shows, it’s ultimately not “Tonypandy” at large that she is interested in but very much Richard III himself, in whom (and in whose features) she takes an enormous interest, reflected in Grant’s comments and thoughts on his portrait in The Daughter of Time, as much as in her own passionate advocacy, both in the play and in the novel.

In fact, the play neatly distills the “Dickon” content of the novel down to its essentials and presents the events in question in their own, proper historical setting; refuting — scene by scene — Shakespeare’s portrayal of the same events in his Richard III (or Tudor propaganda Exhibit A, as Tey saw it). And in one, perhaps the most endearing scene of the play, she has her Richard III do exactly what she expected of historians, and what Grant’s American “woolly lamb” research assistant does in the novel: Tease out the minutiae of daily life from the records left behind; obtain your information straight from the source, instead of relying on hearsay accounts written only after the fact.  “All the stuff of Middleham is here.  All that I have missed”, Richard tells his wife Anne when she wonders how he can possibly be so fascinated with their Yorkshire home’s account books, even though she faithfully reports on everything that is going on while he is in London with his brother, the King.  “But you don’t tell me that Betsy has been shod, that there is a new lock on the little east gate, that the dairy window was broken, that Kemp has had a boil on his neck,” he answers.  “That is Middleham.  If I cannot live it, I can at least look at the picture.”

Some of the things that Tey considered Tudor propaganda have since been proven true; e.g., the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in that infamous Leicester parking lot has revealed that he really did have a spinal deformity and would thus have presented as a hunchback — so the Tudors didn’t need to lie about everything; they could also exploit features that their contemporaries would have been familiar with.  And other things, we will probably never know — personally I doubt whether, even if the remains of the “Princes in the Tower” were now found, too (against all odds), centuries after their disappearance, that discovery would do much to clarify who engineered their disappearance and apparent murder (unless other instances would throw additional light on the issue at the same time).  But ultimately this is about more than the fates of Edward IV’s sons; it’s about truth in the historical record, about unbiased research, and about the value of primary (= direct) vs. secondary (= indirect) evidence / hearsay.

And whereas a reader interested in the period now may come to her (play-disguised-as-a-)novel (and her (other) play) with quite a different perspective on Richard III, his victorious rival Henry VII, and the period as such, the splash that her writing made upon its first publication can still be heard to this day.  For that in and of itself, her decision to take the issue out of the academic debate and into the realm of popular fiction can’t be applauded loudly enough.


Bosworth: the battlefield today.


The Leicester parking lot where Richard III’s remains were found.


Commemorative / explanatory plaque on a wall near the parking lot gates …


… and an out-take of the above image: Richard III’s skeleton


The parking lot is down a narrow alley from Leiceseter Cathedral


The Tomb in Leicester Cathedral


The gold-decorated chancel of Leicester Cathedral right behind the altar, where Richard’s tomb is located


The coffin in which Richard’s bones were carried into the cathedral for reburial (the cloth is hand-embroidered)

Tower of London: The round building center/left is the Bloody Tower, where King Edward IV’s sons, today known simply as “the Princes in the Tower,” are believed to have been held.

  
Bloody Tower: Exhibition on the disappearance of “the Princes in the Tower.”
(All photos mine.)

 

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