Friday, May 31, 2019

Book challenge by Erin 11.0



Basic Rules
First and foremost, have fun. Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.  

The challenge will run from JULY 1, 2019 to OCTOBER 31, 2019. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on July 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on October 31 will count. (We live in different time zones – follow this according to your own time zone.) 

Each book must be at least 200 pages long. Audio books are fine too.

For full details: Join the Book Challenge by Erin Facebook Page. 

Here are this round's categories and my selections:


• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages: 
Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh (7/7/19)

• 10 points: Read a book that starts with “F” :  
Family Affair by Ione Sandberg Shriber (8/6/19)

• 10 points: Read a book with one of the following words in the title: rain(s), thunder, lightning, or monsoon: 
A Hard Rain by Dean Wesley Smith (7/31/19)

• 15 points: Read a book with a picture of a building (i.e. a house, a castle, a school, a hospital, etc.) on the cover:  
Tenant for the Tomb by Anthony Gilbert (7/28/19)

• 20 points: Read a book that the published author uses an initial in his/her name

Murder in the Maze by J.J. Connington (8/10/19)

• 20 points: Read a book with an article of clothing or accessory in the title

The Spanish Cape Mystery by Ellery Queen

• 25 points: (in honour of our co-admin) – Read a book set in India

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster (7/21/19)

• 30 points: (selected by Lyndsay L.) – Read a book that has won or been short-listed for the Booker Prize:  
His Bloody Project by Graem Macrae Burnet (library book)

• 30 points: (selected by Deborah D.) – Read a book about a human with superpowers or supernatural powers: 
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (library book)

• 35 points: (selected by Lorraine J.) – Read a book that has the same title as another book in a different genre:  
 Black Aura by John Sladek (mystery) [shares title with Black Aura by Leia Kiuski (fantasy)


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Beverly Gray's Island Mystery

Beverly Gray's Island Mystery (1952) by Clair Blank

After coming home early from Beverly Gray's Vacation and heading to Florida in Beverly Gray's Secret, Beverly receives a letter from her friends (who are still in Hawaii). Lenora tells her that they are headed back to the East Coast in the Susabella and will have Professor Green, an elderly professor with them on the journey home. But the letter also says that a mysterious man was lurking around the boat and alarmed the Professor. Lenora managed to get a photo of the lurker, so she sends the picture along to Beverly to see what she can dig up on him. Beverly winds up consulting the authorities (FBI!) and discovers that the man, Captain Seers, is a notorious criminal.

When the Susabella fails to dock in Florida as scheduled, both Beverly and the FBI men are worried. A search by the Coast Guard comes up with nothing but an abandoned lifeboat with the names Green and Seers scratched into one of the seats. Beverly's investigations taker her to the college where Professor Green taught. She poses as his niece in order to get close to those who knew him best. The mystery will lead her to mysterious meetings in a cave, see her kidnapped, reveal the Professor's secret (for which Seer will kill, if necessary), and take her back to the Pacific in search of an island and her friends.

Another fun and exciting installment in the adventures of my namesake detective. [Yes, I know--I'm younger, so technically I'm her namesake...] Although this is one of the last stories in the series, it was the very first one I ever found. Prior to finding the book in one of our antique mall trips, I had no idea that there was a girl detective in the Nancy Drew School of mysteries running around with my name. I would have enjoyed these so much if I had know they existed back when I was devouring ND books right and left.

While these aren't terribly intricate in the mystery department, they are interesting. Beverly goes to all sorts of places--and has a legitimate reason for doing so. Since she's a reporter, she is called upon to follow stories wherever they may lead. Much as I love Nancy Drew, it is asking a bit much to believe that she went all over the world (for what proved to be involved stays and mysteries) in such a short period of time (two years at the most?) AND still had time for all those mysteries around River Heights. This story was even more pleasing because it features a professor in the mystery and part of the action takes place on a college campus. Academic mysteries are one of my weaknesses, you know. ★★

*********************
One death = heart attack
  

Scooby Doo Vol 1 #30: Spring-Heeled Jack

This particular comic book finds Scooby and the Mystery, Inc. gang taking on Spring-Heeled Jack, a Victorian Era menace who, though he was never said to have killed anyone, began tormenting London in 1837. It was claimed that he would jump out at women--tearing their clothes with "claws" and sometimes even blowing flames at them. Many stories and legends rose up around this figure which became more bizarre as the years passed, but it's unclear whether there was a real man at the base of these legends or not.

The Scooby comic has Spring-Heeled Jack haunting a museum's Sherlock Holmes gallery--supposedly because he's upset that Holmes gets so much attention and he is getting none. In the course of the gang's investigation into the appearances, Jack knocks Freddy over and after the bang on the head, Freddy takes on the Holmes persona. It's up to the rest of the mystery-solvers to get to the bottom of the mystery and find a way to return Freddy to himself.

Of course, comic books aren't the usual fare here on the Block--but the theme for May in Monthly Motif Challenge was "One Sitting Reads" and comics were given as an option. On one of our periodic visits to an antique mall, I found the Holmes-related Scooby Doo comic while helping my husband search for his favorites. I decided that it needed to come home with us and would be a perfect read for May's Motif. 

The story runs true to the cartoons that I remember from Saturday mornings when I was young (and then again re-watching with my son when he was little). You just know that Spring-Heeled Jack will be one of the people we meet in the museum who will have a secret reason for wanting the gallery to close. And you would be right. Good fun reading.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Five Red Herrings: Audio version

The Five Red Herrings (1931) by Dorothy L. Sayers [BBC Radio version] 

Once again, I've settled down to an audio presentation of a Sayers novel. This time, heading to Scotland with Lord Peter and Bunter for a fishing holiday. Of course, it turns into a busman's holiday when Lord Peter gets involved with a corpse amongst the artist's community that he's landed in. For my full review of the story, please see the link above. I'll just say here, that the BBC cast does an excellent job of bringing Sayers's characters to life. It is always a pleasure to hear Ian Carmichael in the lead as Lord Peter and the supporting cast are excellent as well. The only disappointment is that the story is shortened just a tad too much. As I mention in the linked review, the filmed version does condense the story as well--but does a much better job of it. All the essentials are there and the condensation simply removes Lord Peter's endless recounting of the facts and trying to fit them to each of the suspects. This radio version removes some of the more interesting (though not absolute vital) bits.

However, the performance is an overall good one and thoroughly enjoyable. ★★

[Finished 5/19/19]

The Lover (Spoilerific Review)

The Lover (2004) by Laura Wilson is a historical mystery set in England during World War II and based on the true story of the "Blackout Ripper." Like his predecessor, Jack, the Blackout Ripper set his sights on women who were known or rumored to be prostitutes. He got his name because he worked at night during the blackout years of the war in London. The actual murderer, Gordon Cummins was accused of murdering four women, found guilty and hanged for the murder of one of them, and suspected of killing two more. Wilson's book fictionalizes the story--crediting her murderer with three described deaths and implying more. However, one of the murders is laid at the feet of the man who had been living off the earnings of the prostitute and the book's end seems to imply that the actual killer escapes formal justice, but is missing--presumed dead in the war. A very unsatisfactory ending for those of us who like to see the killer get his just desserts in the final chapter.

This book is a mess. It changes point of view in every chapter. Sometimes that works, but more often than not, it doesn't. And it definitely doesn't here. The reader has little chance to become comfortable with the characters and have much connection to them because as soon as you start to settle down with a character, Wilson bounces us over to somebody else. The sole exception, is the kindly prostitute Rene Tate...which is unfortunate because, of course, she doesn't survive. Poor Rene who looked like she might have found an understanding man with whom she could settle down and get herself off of the game.

The descriptions of the murders are much more violent than I expected from this sort of historical mystery. Very off-putting and it made me skim more of the book than I should have liked--but when the killer showed such glee at what he was able to do with a poker and a can opener....Well, I just couldn't do it. 

Not a book that I feel like spending a great deal of effort on reviewing and definitely not one that I can recommend. 


**************
Finished: 5/17/19
Three deaths (unless in skimming I missed something) = two strangled, one stabbed (and all mutilated after the fact. Ick.)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Miss Agatha Doubles for Death


I know I should have had a nice young man handy, and we'd have gone round asking questions and finding clues, and in the last chapter, when we'd trapped Stephen, we'd have fallen in one another's arms. But there was no nice young man, and I don't like detective stories, and even if I could have proved Stephen's guilt, I don't know that I'd have wanted to. It wouldn't help Uncle Richard or Uncle David to have Stephen hanged.
~Ann Hughes
Miss Agatha Doubles for Death (1947) by H. L. V. Fletcher


Miss Ann Hughes, beautiful young heiress to a fortune in Wales, suddenly decides to visit her several-times-removed cousin Agatha Hughes in West Virginia. Miss Agatha is a shrewd, older woman (though how much older we're not told) who quickly realizes there is more than an eagerness to meet a long-lost relative behind Ann's arrival. After a little gentle prodding, Ann reveals that she has left Wales because she fears for her life. She's quite certain that her cousin Stephen has killed their two uncles and that she is next on his list. Stephen is a gambler and not just for money--he likes a good gamble in life as well, giving him the perfect amount of nerve to pit his wits against his victims and any detectives who might get on his trail 

Not that anyone officially suspects him of a crime. Just as Ann is certain that murder has been done, she's also certain that he has cleverly arranged things so no one would ever take an accusation of murder seriously. No one that is except Miss Agatha Hughes. Miss Agatha likes her new-found cousin and sees a lot of herself in Ann. She believes Ann absolutely when she says that Stephen is a murderer who is out to murder again for inheritance. But she's not sure how to help Ann.

The next thing we know Ann has been declared dead after an accident on the West Coast. Ann had always wanted to drive west to see friends in Hollywood. So she bought a car and did just that. But something went wrong and she died in a car accident. Miss Agatha goes west (apparently to identify Ann and bury her--though we're not told so specifically) and, immediately upon her return home, informs her lawyer that she's heading to Wales.

Now, one thing I should explain about Agatha Hughes. She is an invalid. She lost the use of her legs after an emotional shock when she was younger and never regained it. So, she's confined to a chair. She's a determined lady--in more ways than one--and has never let her disability prevent her from doing precisely what she pleased. The lawyer is aghast that she wants to go traipsing off to the British Isles with no one but her life-long companion/maid, but he knows better than to argue with her. She wants money made available for a trip to Wales? She's got it. She wants to buy the Hughes family home in Wales and set up house there for a bit. No problem.

So off she goes. And she meets up with Cousin Stephen. After they have time to get acquainted, she gives him every appearance of being quite taken with her last remaining relative. She even tells him that now that Ann is gone she has made a will in his favor and plans to send it off to her local lawyer immediately. She practically broadcasts her willingness to be his next victim. But Stephen doesn't know what an acute mind his American cousin possesses and he may not be prepared for all she has planned.

This really is quite an interesting mystery from Fletcher--an author who was from Wales himself (thanks to Bill Picard in the Golden Age Facebook group for that tidbit). There is never any question who the criminal is nor what his motive is. The real mystery is whether he will pull off one last murder or if Agatha will manage to turn the tables on him. And if she does just how she will do it. The reader is definitely rooting for Stephen to have a dose of justice served up to him, but it is improbable that any but the most discerning reader will figure out precisely what will happen in the last two chapters. 

A quite satisfying read. Fletcher writes very vividly of the Wales setting and, though not American, also writes the American portion very well. I enjoyed this one very much.★★

***************
All Challenges Fulfilled: Just the Facts, Mount TBR, Calendar of Crime, Craving for Cozies, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies, Cloak & Dagger, 52 Books in 52 Weeks, Adam's TBR Challenge, Outdo Yourself, How Many Books, Medical Examiner, Reading Road Trip
Deaths = one drowned, one poisoned, one dead in a fire
Calendar = December: word starting with "D"
Author from Wales

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Poirot Investigates

Poirot Investigates (1924) by Agatha Christie is one of the few Christie books that I don't own and I don't believe I've ever read.* The original British edition contained eleven short stories while the American edition (which I have read) includes an additional three. These early stories by Christie show a heavy influence of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Poirot keeps his clues extraordinarily close to his chest and in some instances we don't even get a peek at them. Hastings is endlessly annoyed that Poirot will not share his findings with him and even quite upset when he tries to play sleuth himslef only to find that Poirot has "allowed" him to make a fool of himself. But they are fun entries into the Poirot canon--giving us a good look at his relationships with Hastings and Inspector Japp. ★★

Original stories:
"The Adventure of the Western Star": Poirot investigates the theft of two fabulous matching diamonds. A film star, British aristocrats, and a mysterious Chinaman are all involved as Poirot looks to solve the case.

"The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor": Poirot takes on an insurance investigation when a man dies of an internal hemorrhage shortly after taking out a policy. They don't see how he could have committed suicide, but want to make sure since it would invalidate the policy.

"The Adventure of the Cheap Flat": Mrs. Robinson lands an incredible deal on a new flat in a fairly prestigious building. So incredible that Poirot decides he must investigate.

"The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge": Poirot is sick and Hastings goes to Hunter's Lodge to be his eyes and ears when Harrington Pace is murdered by a mysterious man in a black beard. The beard is probably a disguise--but is it the only one?

"The Million Dollar Bond Robbery": Phillip Ridgeway's fiancee calls upon Poirot to prove his innocence when the million dollars in Liberty Bond's that he transporting aboard the Olympia disappear before they reach the United States. Poirot again solves the mystery without ever visiting the scene of the crime.

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb": Members of an Egyptian archaeological dig begin dying of apparent natural causes and Lady Willard, whose husband was the first to die, fears that her son Guy might be next. She asks Poirot to determine if there is anything behind this supposed curse on Egyptian tombs.

"The Jewel Robbery at the Hotel Metropolitan": Hastings treats his friend to a holiday at the Hotel Metropolitan. While there, Poirot is called upon to discover the person behind the theft of a valuable pearl necklace.

"The Kidnapped Prime Minister": Following an attempted assignation, the British Prime Minister disappears. It's up to Poirot to release him from his captors in time for the Versailles Conference at the end of World War I.

"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim": Mr. Davenheim has vanished from his country house, The Cedars. Poirot bets Japp five pounds that he can solve the mystery of the disappearance without moving from his chair. Japp takes him up on it and agrees to share all the information he gathers--well, of course you know who wins the bet.

"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman": Dr. Hawker is visiting with Poirot and Hastings when his landlady brings a message that Count Foscatini has phoned for the doctor, crying out for help before the call is cut off. The three men race to the Count's apartments where they find him dead from a blow to the head. Remains of a meal for three are found on the table and it looks like two visitors were responsible...but Poirot knows the truth.

"The Case of the Missing Will": Miss Violet Marsh asks Poirot to help her find her inheritance. Her Uncle Andrew didn't have much use for book learning and was sure that his country common sense and natural wit was more than a match. So, after she went off to college, he made a will that would allow her to live in his house for one month. If she could use her wits and discover where he had hidden her true inheritance, then good for her. If she hadn't found it by the end of the month, then his property would pass to various charities. When Poirot succeeds, Hastings wonders if she hasn't cheated (since she didn't find it herself), but Poirot insists that she proved her wits--by knowing she needed to call in an expert.

Stories added to the American Edition
"The Chocolate Box": Poirot shares one of his failures (from early in his career) with Hastings. When Paul Déroulard, a French Deputy, dies suddenly of heart failure, his late wife's cousin Virginie Mesnard, asks Poirot to investigate--for she feels sure that it was not heart failure at all. Poirot misses a few clues and misreads the psychology of the crime--he only learns the truth when the actual murderer confesses (to prevent him charging the wrong person).

"The Veiled Lady": A heavily veiled lady comes to Poirot and begs him to help her retrieve an indiscreet letter which a blackmailer has stashed in a Chinese puzzle box hidden in a place her tormentor says she could never find. Poirot finds the box...and even more than what the lady asked him to find.

"The Lost Mine": Mr. Pearson needs Poirot's help to find out what really happened to Mr. Wu Ling and the important papers he was carrying to England. The papers concern an old lead-silver mine which had been worked for the silver, but now lead is at a premium and the mine would be worth a great deal. A man has been arrested for the death of Wu Ling--but the papers haven't been found. Poirot finds out exactly why.


********************
Finished on 5/12/19
Deaths = 10 (3 shot; 1 stabbed; 3 poisoned; one hit on head; one drowned; one fell/pushed)
 
*If I did read it when I binged on Christie novels from the Wabash Public Library, I didn't manage to log it. But honestly, the only way I remember encountering these stories is through the filmed versions with David Suchet.
March = original pub date
Deaths = 11 (3 shot; 1 stabbed; 4 poisoned; 1 hit on head; 1 drowned; 1 fell/pushed)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Strong Poison (audio version)

Dorothy L. Sayers's Strong Poison (1930) is a perennial favorite. I could not possibly tell you how many times I have read her mysteries starring Lord Peter Wimsey and this one in particular. I love it for many reasons and I recount a number of them at the review linked above (and the previous review linked within that one). I have also, as frequent visitors to the blog may have noticed, been on an audio novel bing this spring. This audio novel read by the incomparable Ian Carmichael is the latest of the LPW books on CD that I've brought home and this review (like previous audio novel reviews) will focus on the audio version and not the story itself.

This was especially satisfying because my last Sayers audio novel was not read by Ian Carmichael and did not impress me much. Carmichael is quite adept at giving voice to the numerous characters which Sayers uses to tell her tale of Harriet Vane, who stands wrongly accused of the murder of her lover, and the efforts to bring the correct villain to justice. He represents both men and women with equal talent and manages to portray various classes and professions--from servants to the aristocrats and from lawyers to reformed burglars with charming ease. I spent several delightful hours listening to Carmichael tell this much loved story. Full marks for a grand performance. ★★★★

Death on a Warm Wind

Death on a Warm Wind (1968) by Douglas Warner was, in some ways, a disappointment. It was found in the middle of the "Mystery" section at my local library's fall clearance sale a few years ago. It shows up on various library sites (I did a search to check) under "Detective & Mystery Stories." But it isn't truly a mystery story. The only real crime involved is a crime against humanity (as if that were a mere trifle)--but it's not a specific crime like the murder of an individual or the theft of valuable jewelry or even the work of a mass murderer and I wouldn't really categorize it as a crime novel. It is speculative fiction.

The "crime" involved is an act by an arrogant man who thinks he knows best about what it might be good for the public to know and believe. In fact, Sir Guy Rayenham (British minister) reminds me of all the climate change deniers who are helping steer humanity towards a very bleak future if drastic measures aren't taken very soon.* So many of these people don't even read the science that backs up the verdict on climate change--and Sir Guy doesn't read the "rubbish" that Robert Colston presented as a way to predict earthquakes. A method which allowed him to predict an earthquake that killed 95,000 people, including Sir Guy's son. But that didn't phase Sir Guy a bit and when indications are such that it looks like London will be hit by a similar quake he isn't willing to use his position to warn Londoners in time to save lives.

When Colston (who has been declared dead twice already) is gunned down** in front of his office, Ian Curtis, editor of a London evening newspaper and--incidentally--very antagonistic to Sir Guy, finds himself on a mission to discover the truth behind Colston's earthquake predictions. Were they really that unfounded and was the first prediction just a fluke? Or was Colston's research sound? Colston's investigations (and that of the reporters under him) find proof that Sir Guy arranged for Colston's paper on earthquake prevention to be gutted and when read before a conference of leading scientists it came across as nonsense. Colston was discredited and his reputation ruined. And people died as a result.

"You silly old fool!" I said, beside myself. "You won't listen. You've made up your mind that Colston is a crank and you won't budge. You won't read the evidence....you 'prove' your case by the reaction of scientists to a document you yourself destroyed....You're acting like the racist who keeps the black man in poverty, disease and terror and then 'proves' he is a savage when he revolts." 

Will Curtis be able to convince someone in government of the validity of Colston's findings before it's too late for London?

This is a fairly entertaining story (though the science behind the predictions is a bit iffy) that I probably would have enjoyed more if I hadn't been expecting a mystery. I realize that's not the author's fault--but when one is expecting a mystery/detective novel and it doesn't happen it is a bit of a let-down. I enjoyed watching Curtis and his reporters dig into the story and find the proofs to back Colston's predictions. And the story serves to highlight the mentality of those in authority--those who "know best" what should be done, regardless of facts. It is a sad commentary on government officials in general (and our current government in particular). 

In one way, I was pleased with the ending (much too spoilerish to be more explicit), but it did seem a bit abrupt. I am curious to know more about the aftermath of the earthquake. But I suppose Warner is leaving that to our imagination. ★★

*Please pardon my soapbox moment....
**One might think that this is the "mystery" which results in the book being categorized as "Detective & Mystery"--but Colston's death really isn't the focus of the story at all and it's no mystery who killed him. That is known right away, as is the motive. The man who kills Colston does so in revenge for his wife's death in an earthquake that Colston tried to warn people about. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spinsters in Jeopardy: Spoilerish Review

To discuss the novel in the way I would like, I may reveal more of the plot than those who have not yet read the book would like. Forge ahead at your own risk...


Spinsters in Jeopardy (1953; aka The Bride of Death) is one of the most bizarre books by Ngaio Marsh. Here we have England sending one of its most celebrated Scotland Yard detectives "undercover" to infiltrate a drug ring. And, as if that's not enough, he's going to take along his wife who is just as celebrated (or perhaps more so) in her own right as an artist. To make everything look like a totally legit family vacay, we'll throw in an incredibly precocious six-year-old son as well. 

On top of this ludicrous set-up, we have coincidences galore...Troy's mysterious cousin just happens to be working at the factory which is producing the drugs. The cousin is also in the inner circle of Mr. Oberon, leader of the cult which serves as a cover for the thriving heroin business. A spinster (one of those who wind up in jeopardy) on the train out to Rouqueville falls deathly ill and, having no friends or relations with her and none in the immediate vicinity, Alleyn and family take her under their wing and manage to use her as an entree to the cult's home base. Because, of course, there is a spectacular surgeon who's part of Oberon's entourage and he can save the day for the spinster. Then...it winds up that Carbury Glande, a fellow painter who's bound to recognize Troy and blow the gaff in a most disastrous way, is also part of the entourage. Only he doesn't--blow the gaff, that is. How fortunate that he doesn't know that Troy has married a celebrated policeman. Though how he could not, is beyond me. Maybe he forgot.

And...Marsh seems to be trying to stuff every conceivable bit of criminal activity into this book that she can: murder, gangs, kidnapping, drug producing, drug pushing, drug taking, and maybe even a bit of fraud since the cult is definitely not what it claims to be. It's no wonder I read this just once before (back in the mists of time when I was reading my way through all the mysteries in my home town library) and never had a desire to read it again until I joined up for the Ngaio Marsh Reading Challenge on Goodreads. Though--to be fair, I don't really remember thinking it was quite such a mess the first time I read it. It just seems to me that Marsh couldn't settle down to what kind of story she wanted to tell. Thriller? International drug ring? Murder viewed from a train? Charismatic figure leading cult members into a life of crime? Oh...why don't we just do it all!

There were some bright points--mostly in characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Raoul and Therese in supporting roles and Troy and Alleyn are delightful as usual excepting a few scenes with them as parents. I don't think Marsh writes parenting scenes well consistently. To be quite honest, she could have left Ricky out of the story altogether and it would have suited me better. And, seriously, what policeman going undercover into a possibly dangerous situation would take along their six-year-old?

Definitely not one of Marsh's best novels.

*****************
Finished on 5/6/19
Deaths = one: stabbed
Calendar = June: word with "J"
 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Murder at the 42nd Street Library

Murder at the 42nd Street Library (2016) by Con Lehane 

[from the back cover]
This first book in an irresistible new series introduces librarian and reluctant sleuth Raymond Ambler, a doggedly curious fellow who uncovers murderous secrets hidden behind the majestic marble façade of New York City’s landmark 42nd Street Library.

Murder at the 42nd Street Library follows Ambler and his partners in crime-solving as they track down a killer, shining a light on the dark deeds and secret relationships that are hidden deep inside the famous flagship building at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

In their search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler and his crew uncover sinister, and profoundly disturbing, relationships among the scholars studying in the iconic library. Included among the players are a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library’s crime fiction collection; that writer’s long-missing daughter, a prominent New York society woman with a hidden past, and more than one of Ambler’s colleagues at the library. Shocking revelations lead inexorably to the traumatic events that follow―the reading room will never be the same.


[My take:]
Okay....Well. I can't say that this is "irresistible." In fact, I pushed myself to finish the thing simply because I wanted to find out how many deaths I could rack up for Rick's Medical Examiner Challenge. Otherwise, I probably would have ditched it as a "Did Not Finish." I was extremely disappointed in what seemed to me to be a great-sounding story. Celebrated mystery writer. A research library with a crime fiction collection. People with hidden pasts. Shocking revelations and traumatic events. A nosy crime fiction research librarian to play amateur detective. What's not to like? Well...the nosy crime fiction research librarian for one. All the coincidences that happen for another. The messy plot. The REALLY big coincidence at the end. The endless side stories that seem to be intended as red herrings that somehow tie together because coincidences. (Did I mention there were all these coincidences?) An attempt by the author to combine all sorts of crime genres into one. We start out with what seems to be a cozy atmosphere and take a detour through an attempt at sleazy (near-porn) pulp. Then we wander around with a police procedural for a bit and throw in a bit of romantic mystery for good measure. 

To say this was a disappointing read would be an understatement. It might have helped if we had spent any sort of time at the library mentioned in the title. All the people who work at said library? Well, they don't actually seem to--work, that is. They spend a great deal of time talking to one another when they are there and then spend the rest of the time taking lunch breaks or wandering off to have drinks.  --maybe.

**************
Deaths = five (gunshot) I think I caught them all--but seriously, I was skimming there for quite a bit and may have missed somebody's death. I don't think it would have helped the story any if I had noticed more deaths.....
April = pub date