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Steven Saylor – The House of the Vestals (1999)

Although the sixth in terms of publication date, this collection of short stories is actually the second chronologically in the Roma Sub-Rosa series, featuring Gordianus the Finder. Read the rest of this entry »

J.I.M. Stewart – Myself and Michael Innes (1987)

This book is subtitled A Memoir, which is certainly a far more suitable description than auto-biography. Indeed it is short on some basic biographical facts which can more easily be picked up from Wikipedia. Stewart was born in 1906 in Edinburgh, where he attended the Edinburgh Academy, before moving on to Oriel College, Oxford. Read the rest of this entry »

Francis Pettigrew, Hare’s chief protagonist, is living in semi-retirement in the village of Yewbury in a house inherited by his wife Eleanor (whom he met in With A Bare Bodkin ); having recently moved there, they are plunged into the cycle of village life much of which is organised by a Mrs Pink. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh happens to be one of the few writers whom I have approached with any degree of system in terms of reviewing. This is not to say that I have reviewed all her books by any means, but I do have reasonably strong recollections of the vast majority which enables me to produce a ranking list – something of which I am inordinately fond. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Off With His Head (1957)

Mrs Bunz, a near obsessional folk-lorist, arrives at the tiny villages of East and West Mardian in the hope of witnessing the annual performance of the Dance of the Five Sons, an ancient mumming rite. Although she is rudely rebuffed by both Dame Alice Mardian, the matriarchal owner of Mardian Castle where the Dance takes place, and William Anderson the patriarchal blacksmith who is its’ main organiser, she manages to attend the performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – False Scent (1960)

Mary Bellamy, a famous and adored comedienne, is preparing for he 50th Birthday Party. Her mood is upset by the fact that one of her younger rivals, Kate Cavendish, has just been given the lead in a new play, which will be designed by Bertie Saracen, whom Mary considers her personal property, ; her mood gets even worse when she discovers that her ward and protege, Richard Dakers, has written a new play, a serious one, which is intended not for her but for the young actress with whom he is in love, Anelida Lee and will be directed by another of Mary’s friends Timon Gantry. Read the rest of this entry »

Ngaio Marsh – Artists in Crime (1938)

On his way back from New Zealand, where he has been solving the case of Vintage Murder, Alleyn meets the artist Agatha Troy (hereafter always known as Troy) on the boat and promptly falls in love. When she arrives back in England Troy goes to her house at Tatler’s End where she is running a course for a disparate group of artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Smith – What Will Survive (2007) [SPOILER]

Aisha Lincoln is an ex-model who now devotes her life to a charitable Trust established in her name devoted to campaigning for women and the poor in developing countries. In the company of a renowned photographer, Fabrizio Terzano, she takes a trip to Syria and Lebanon, and while in the south of the latter country is involved in an incident with a land-mine in which Fabrizio is killed, and she dies soon after her arrival at hospital in Beirut. Read the rest of this entry »

The Murder of My Aunt: Richard Hull (1934)

Highly-rated in some quarters, this book consists largely of a first-person
narrative by Edward Powell detailing his various attempts to murder his Aunt Mildred. Edward is an utterly charmless and repellent individual; bone-idle and contemptuous of virtually everyone with whom he comes in contact, he is completely financially dependent on Mildred. Read the rest of this entry »

Anthony Berkeley – Death in the House (1939)

When Lord Wellacombe, Secretary of State for India, collapses in the House
of Commons while he is introducing a Bill giving the Government draconian
powers to suppress Indian independence agitators, everyone believes it is a
stroke until tests reveal that he has been poisoned. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 2009