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Gaudy Night

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book wasn’t what I expected, but it is none the worse for that!

For one thing, this isn’t a murder mystery.  What this is is a complicated study of relationships in the almost cloistered world of female academia at Oxford in the 1930s. There is a vicious Poison Pen on the loose – who could it be?

This is a world that Sayers knew well. She was one of the first women to ever receive a degree from Oxford and her knowledge of the culture there shines through in every line. there is also a lot of knowledge about women and how they interrelate to each other & some fascinating political insights – the 1930s were certainly an interesting time!

This is a book for a patient reader – which is normally the sort of book I hate! Just shows what a writer of skill can make you accept!

The Case is Closed

by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Although I thought this Miss Silver mystery was definitely a step up from the first one, [book:The Grey Mask|54529691] but I am giving them both the same rating. Just can’t quite bump the rating upt to 4★ as I know some of the later Silver novels are much better than this.

At the start of the story we find that Geoffrey Grey is already in prison for a crime that his wife’s cousin, the jaunty Hilary Carew, is convinced he didn’t commit. Marion Grey is Hilary’s cousin & she cuts a tragic [Bad Carol: too damn tragic!] figure for most of the book. But Hilary is a wonderful character with a habit of making up rhymes whenever she is bored or in a tight corner.

How bitter when your only bun, Is not at all a recent one

Brave and resourceful she refuses to give up on Geoffrey – and she ends up dragging her former fiancé along for the ride.

The book improves considerably near the second half with the arrival of Miss Silver, but it struggles from Miss Silver being too omniscient, too many clues and too few suspects. But there were a couple of very neat twists at the end and I will certainly read more Miss Silver mysteries.

Killed at the Whim of a Hat

by Colin Cotterill

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Our local library became sick of members vandalising books to record what they thought about the read, so they now stick a sheet of paper at the front of the book & members can put their mark there. Quite often they place one line reviews – especially if they hate the book! Yes, I know they could join Goodreads & record that way instead, but they don’t.

I was sick, so my husband picked up my book list for me.

If I had been on my feet this and the tepid reviews from most of my friends might have made me put this particular book back on the shelf.

I was pretty unenthusiastic about [book:The Coroner’s Lunch|243353] but I found enough to like that I thought I might like a different series by Cotterill better.

Cotterill captured the slightly off kilter feeling I have had both times I was in Thailand and there were some genuinely funny lines. Sometimes the story was really interesting and sometimes I didn’t have any trouble putting this book aside for days on end.

For most of the book I was enjoying it more than [book:The Coroner’s Lunch|243353]. But a terrible ending meant that only one of the mysteries was resolved. I felt disappointed to be honest.

I have not finished reading series by [author:Vanda Symon|895593], [author:Rex Stout|41112], [author:Erle Stanley Gardner|10214], [author:Dorothy L. Sayers|8734] and [author:Keigo Higashino|117366] Other than the latter, this authors have all been a bit uneven for me (yes,even Sayers!) but even their weakest offerings have been better than the mild liking I feel for Cotterill’s writing.

The Widows of Malabar Hill

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled with this book and it came perilously close to a DNF. Only my interest in the character of Perveen – lawyer/female gumshoe/fighter for women’s rights- enabled me to pick up this book again.

This book had a major stylistic fault.I hate flashbacks at this best of times and the flashbacks in this novel overwhelmed the mystery – and the mystery is what I signed up for. Ms Massey may have done this because the whodunnit part of this novel is very slight. Just not enough meat to sustain a whole book. I think Ms Massey would have been better advised to build up both the mystery, give more depth to the supporting characters and have Perveen’s back story revealed over the course of several books – sort of like Sue Grafton did with Kinsey Milhouse. In particular, her husband Cyrus’s fate could have been left for a sequel.

Also, for such a strong character, Perveen gave up her fight to qualify as a lawyer in 1910s Bombay very quickly. Consistency in character was sacrificed to the storyline.

The writing also had faults. Lots of asking questions, lots of explaining. Made the read very heavy going.

I had an earlier book of Ms Massey’s on one of my to-read lists, but deleted it when this story hit a particularly exasperating road bump. But I don’t rule out reading the next Perveen story The Satapur Moonstone if I read that the author stays in one time period and doesn’t make the next book so much of a history lesson!

Eat, Pray, Die

Eat, Pray, Die (An Eat, Pray, Die Humorous Mystery, #1)

Eat, Pray, Die by Chelsea Field

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chelsea Field is obviously a massive fan of Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum series, but she has managed to find a new twist on this tired, tired theme, by having her heroine Isabel be a poison taster for the rich & famous. There is (of course) a Joe to rescue Izzy from her stupider mistakes & I think I have picked out this book’s Ranger.Field strays into Kinsey territory with the friendly older neighbor, but the personality is more like my favourite Evanovich creation, Grandma Mazur.

Isabel has a bright & quirky personality, but although Field is an Australian herself, Isabel doesn’t seem particularly Australian – other than her longing to find a decent cup of coffee in Los Angeles. Possibly Ms Field’s editors & beta readers have urged her to remove every bit of Aussie slang from her vocabulary, but I think that is a pity. A writer can chase the American market too hard. Saying that, I like this series spoof literary titles & clever jacket branding. The constant book cover changing of some new authors just makes me crazy!

The book itself did have a couple of patches where the pace slowed & the whole story was highly improbable. I enjoyed, partly because I’ve had a run of dull, turgid books & partly because I switched my brain off and just had fun!

But if you want a decent coffee – pfft! New Zealand coffee & cafes are way superior to any I have encountered in Australia.

So there!

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