Sunday, May 2, 2010

From Dead Center on...

So...I discovered why I've never heard of this author before. She's not exactly among the ranks of Christie or Sayers or, on this side of the pond, Daly. A mediocre mystery at certainly didn't play fair by Golden Age rules (despite it's being produced during the proper time period). Having vital information sprung upon the reader at the end was most disconcerting. The best part was the accurate portrayal of police reaction to an "amateur sleuth"....regarding Janet Keith as a nuisance rather than greeting her with an "oh, yes, please do our job for us." It was rather nice to see her deflated at the end when the official detectives revealed that they had already discovered all the clues she so eagerly had to offer (and had misinterpreted). I'm usually on the side of the amateur--after all I have a great fondness for Lord Peter Wimsey and Miss Marple--but Miss Keith was immensely annoying in her sleuthing style. I think Ms. Collins would have done better to use this character in a straight fiction novel--of the drawing room comedy sort. The Keith household (apart from delving in the murder) is a delightful mix of eccentrics and would have been better used in a different sort of book.

Having finished Dead Center, I moved on to Laurie R King's The Art of Detection. This was a very quick read...finished it up early this evening. It is a nicely plotted mystery that manages to bring the atmosphere of Holmes' era to modern day San Francisco. The story revolves around a Holmes fanatic who is killed in what looks to be precisely the manner of a murder in a recently discovered "lost Sherlock Holmes story." Is the story authentic? Was the victim killed because of the manuscript or was it more personal and more ancient reasons? King does an excellent job of pulling off the story within a story and tying all the ends together. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Next up: London After Midnight. A collection of stories that give the reader a fictional tour of the criminal haunts of London.

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