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Les Blatt
Interests: Classic mystery stories, communications, writing, podcasting, blogging, traveling, social media, web 2.0
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I think it's an interesting series, Joe,(as are Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael books). Some are quite dark, too. But I love the regulars - the Judge, his three principal assistants (four, if you count Sergeant Hoong), and his three wives. All 15 novels (16 if you count "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee") and the short stories in "Judge Dee at Work" are very much worth reading.
Toggle Commented Jan 11, 2017 on "The Haunted Monastery" at Classic Mysteries
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JJ, while there is a clear chronology followed by the novels - it is not related to the order in which the books were written. If you get the book of short stories called "Judge Dee at Work," you will find a five-page chronology of all of Judge Dee's cases, including information about some of the continuing characters and the aides who helped the judge solve the cases. But the books weren't written in that order. "The Chinese Gold Murders" is the first in this chronology, set in 663 AD, as it happens when Judge Dee takes his first independent official post. But it was the fifth book written in the series. "The Chinese Lake Murders" (666 AD)is the third in the chronology and also the third to be written. "The Haunted Monastery" is also set in 666 AD, but the sixth book written. Each book is a standalone, although as Van Gulik went on, he'd sometimes include a foreshadowing of "later" events in other books. I do think you'll enjoy them. By the way, the chronology was drawn up and published before Van Gulik's final book, "Necklace and Calabash," which is set in 668-669 AD. I find the whole thing fascinating.
Toggle Commented Jan 10, 2017 on "The Haunted Monastery" at Classic Mysteries
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JJ, I'd recommend two possible starting points. One is "The Chinese Lake Murders," which is very clever, with a lot of traditional elements; the other, "Necklace and Calabash," was the last in the series and is closest to "western" style. The Judge Dee mysteries kindled my interest in China, too, and I really do recommend the series. Some are quite dark - in particular "The Chinese Nail Murders" - but all are excellent. By the way, Van Gulik started by translating one of the old Chinese mysteries about Judge Dee, which is also a fine read - "The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" - at the end of which, he issued a "challenge" to other western authors to try their hand at writing a "traditional" Chinese mystery Nobody took up the challenge, so Van Gulik decided to do it himself!
Toggle Commented Jan 10, 2017 on "The Haunted Monastery" at Classic Mysteries
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Thanks, Moira. I found myself laughing out loud often enough to make fellow bus or subway riders look at me rather nervously. This is the third one I've read by Caudwell and the last one is staring at me from the TBR pile...
Toggle Commented Jan 2, 2017 on "Thus Was Adonis Murdered" at Classic Mysteries
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I didn't know that, Barry. Thanks!
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2016 on "Farewell, My Lovely" at Classic Mysteries
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I don't think I've ever seen the Mitchum version, Barry. If there's a Mercedes in it, I'm pretty sure I can keep delaying my initiation. I suspect I've only seen the 1946 version. But if the unresolved murder in that version was confusing, at least we know that confusion originated in the book (and confused the author as well)...
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2016 on "Farewell, My Lovely" at Classic Mysteries
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I think you'll enjoy it, Moira. The way it's written in present tense adds to the interest - I don't remember Innes doing that elsewhere. And the characters are fascinating!
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Yvette, I also enjoyed "Lady in the Lake." I also still enjoy re-reading "The Big Sleep," though that may be influenced by hearing Chandler's dialog coming out of Bogie's mouth in the classic movie. (Yes, I know, the endings are different. Vive la difference...)
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2016 on "Farewell, My Lovely" at Classic Mysteries
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AARRGH, D. How the hell did I come up with 1929? I think I may have had a bio of Dashiell Hammett open at the same time, as I'm reading "The Dain Curse," which WAS published in 1929. Serves me right. Anyway, it's been a while since I read "The Long Goodbye," so I'm overdue for that. Thanks for the catch, and I'll try to be fully awake when writing in the future... :-)
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2016 on "Farewell, My Lovely" at Classic Mysteries
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Yes, Shay, the movie bears little relationship to the book, except for its title. Great cast, but not the same story by any means.
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Thank you - and I'm very glad you enjoy the posts!
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2016 on Landmark Achieved: Podcast #500 at Classic Mysteries
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JJ, I'm really not sure why Catherine Aird hasn't really developed an enthusiastic following in the U.S. Her traditional mysteries are generally well-plotted (including some fine "locked room" type mysteries); she writes with wit and good humor; her main series characters, Sloan, Crosby and Leeyes, are well-defined and generally very likeable, even if Crosby and Leeyes are sore trials to Sloan; and she's still writing her mysteries. I'm glad you're enjoying her books! (And, folks, if you wonder about JJ's likes and dislikes as a fellow-blogger, check out his site, The Invisible Event, which offers lots of reviews of mysteries and locked room stories, and a lot more. https://theinvisibleevent.wordpress.com/
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2016 on "Slight Mourning" at Classic Mysteries
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I am constantly fighting that urge to binge, Yvette - in fact, there are one or two JDCarr books I still haven't read because when I have read them, there will be no more Carrs to discover. I'm also glad that I've reached an age where the details blur in memory - adds to my re-reading enjoyment!
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Glad you enjoy them, Joe. And, yes, by all means try to get this one - as I said, it's my own favorite.
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I haven't read any of the short stories, Ron (may have to add them to my to-be-read pile). I have read a few of the novels. I enjoyed this one, as well as "Mr. Splitfoot," "Through a Glass Darkly," and "Panic." She has a good feeling for atmospherics, of that feeling of evil that writers such as Carr were able to develop so well. I do recommend the books.
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2016 on "Cue for Murder" at Classic Mysteries
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Yes he was, Yvonne. Actually, most of the books we are told that Nero Wolfe was reading are/were real books, though few with the political punch delivered by THE FBI NOBODY KNOWS.
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"Guilty as charged," he said, with an evil grin... ;-)
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Joe, all of this is reminding me that it's been a while since I read the short stories. Time to expand the TBR pile again...
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The pace overall is a bit slower, Joe, but I find the style elegant, and I think there is still a lot of enjoyment for today's readers to find in these books.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2016 on "A Silent Witness" at Classic Mysteries
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Great minds and all that, Bev. ;-) But seriously, folks, check out Bev's review - the link in her post above needs to have the parentheses taken out; here's another version of the link that works: https://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-silent-witness-review.html/ . While you're over there, take a look at her other reviews and the reviews and comments posted by some of her regular visitors - they're excellent! By the way, Bev, I agree with you that Dr. Jardine could easily have been one of those Had I But Known heroines who insist on wandering into danger without thinking about it...
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2016 on "A Silent Witness" at Classic Mysteries
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Thanks, Curt. I haven't read that many Punshons (yet), but fine art is a major factor in several of the ones that I have read, such as Diabolic Candelabra and Triple Quest and, of course, this one. Fascinating field!
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Glad you can access the site again. I'm guessing it was a Typepad glitch of some sort - those do happen, happily quite infrequently, and I appreciate the alert when/if something like that affects you. Thanks!
Toggle Commented Jul 30, 2016 on "There Is No Return" at Classic Mysteries
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I can't seem to duplicate the problem with last week's entry (Death of a Bovver Boy). The direct link (which is to http://www.classicmysteries.net/2016/07/death-of-a-bovver-boy.html ) seems to be working properly. The link from my home page also seems to be working. What note did you see from Typepad? It might have been a temporary problem?
Toggle Commented Jul 29, 2016 on "There Is No Return" at Classic Mysteries
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Agreed, John - I'm the same way about rereading many of the Christies without remembering too many spoilers. I don't think I had read Toward Zero before, though, because none of it stuck in my head, and the misdirection is so well handled. 'Nuff said.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2016 on "Towards Zero" at Classic Mysteries
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I must admit I rather enjoyed the ending, which really grows out of the misdirection. Any good magician relies on skillful misdirection, so I agree with you completely - Christie was one of the best at sending readers off in the wrong direction!
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2016 on "Towards Zero" at Classic Mysteries
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