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J F Norris
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This is one of the few Christie novels that I remember *everything* about. And I read back in high school! On occasion I pull one of her books off the shelves because I've actually forgotten most of the plot and the murderer. Not this one. I'll never be able to read it again. I saw the title and immediately remembered the murderer's full name, how the bloody crime was done, the telltale clue that almost goes unnoticed until the final pages, all of it! It must be because as you say it "is one of Christie's most carefully constructed books, superb in its misdirection of the reader's attention and expectations."
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2016 on "Towards Zero" at Classic Mysteries
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This is so insane! We are definitely in tune to some unique vintage mystery synchronicity, Les. First Reggie Fortune and now Carolus Deene. I just found a copy of this (the same paperback edition no less) at a book sale on Saturday. I'm hoping to get to it later this month. I remember I enjoyed FURIOUS OLD WOMEN which I read a very long time ago.
Toggle Commented May 12, 2015 on "Dead Man's Shoes" at Classic Mysteries
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Years ago when I first got interested in Isabel Ostrander you could buy any of her books for under $5 from any online bookseller. This may not be the case any longer. Sorry you got stuck with yet another bogus reprint stolen from the internet (bad OCR transfer text is a giveaway) and sold by an opportunistic "publisher". Reading of yet another digital book pirate hawking his wares on amazon burns me up. I don't think much of a "publisher" who uses a verbatim Wikipedia article posted on Ostrander to serve as the "About the Author" page. End of my mini tirade. You ought to try THE CLUE IN THE AIR (1917), the first book featuring her series characters Tim McCarty and Dennis Riordan. You may know of them if you've read Christie's PARTNERS IN CRIME. The story "Finessing the King" is a spoof of the ex-cop and fireman detective duo. It's one of Ostrander's best books and one of her few impossible crime mysteries. ASHES TO ASHES (1919) is Ostrander's contribution to the inverted detective novel. For the era it's an exceptional study of a guilt ridden criminal. Dorothy L. Sayers praised it in her seminal introduction to the first OMNIBUS OF CRIME. Just a heads up about two of those other novels in your anthology. THE FIFTH ACE and ANYTHING ONCE are westerns she wrote under her "Douglas Grant" pseudonym. They aren't detective novels.
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2015 on "At 1:30" at Classic Mysteries
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I know Isabel Ostrander very well, Les. In fact, I own nearly all her books, including most of the books she wrote under her three pseudonyms. I think I'm missing only three or four titles. She can tell a good story and was often ingenious and innovative. I blame Isabel for my total obsession with all things obscure in mystery and crime fiction. Reading THE TWENTY-SIX CLUES started it all. I've read AT 1:30 and about ten others but have yet to write about her on my blog. I hope to change that this year. Looking forward to reading what you think of Damon Gaunt, her blind detective. The fact that he can tell the color of hair from just from touching it cracked me up!
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2015 on New Year, Centennial Challenge at Classic Mysteries
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Well, one man's meat... I'm always willing to give in to outrageous plot twists if the writer got me hooked with the characters and setting. I think the book is worth reading for the inside workings of 1940s era department store. It felt 100% genuine and the zippy dialog really sang, IMO.
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Confession: I read Mary Stewart's books when I was a teenager. Probably the only boy in my town in the 1970s who did. My Mom was an old Book-of-the-Month Club subscriber and our house had shelves lined with hundreds of books from the 1950s and early 1960s. Several of Stewart's books were included: The Airs Above the Ground, (learned all about the Lippizaner horses) The Moon-Spinners, (better than the Haley Mills movie), Touch Not The Cat. That last one was from the 70s. She was the leading writer of this modern Neo-Gothic. And she was much better than Phyllis Whitney who was terribly formulaic. She sure got the setting aspect nailed down. And guess what? I found a pile of her early books just last year at an estate sale (all 1st editions with the wonderful Charles Geer cover art) and bought every last one of them in a fit of nostalgia. Thanks for bringing her out of the guilty pleasure closet, so to speak. She really was a leader in this genre way back when.
Les, You will be interested to learn that I wrote a review of this book and it's published over at Mystery*File. It goes into much greater detail about the plot than Collins' article did, but without giving much away. The book is well worth reading. I had thought of selling my copy last year, but now I'm holding onto it for dear life. Since Collins' article was published, however, there was much emailing and discussion about whether or not this is the absolute first detective novel. I argue that it is the first in English. Brian Stableford argues that the first is a French novel. This kind of literary posturing can go one indefinitely. We let it rest after about four days. In any case, I found it all very exciting especially since my review was posted on the internet on December 19, 2010 and Collins had recently finished his research at about the same time. How's that for Victorian coincidence! Link for the review: http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=6777
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2011 on The First Mystery Novelist at Classic Mysteries
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Jan 28, 2011