A Midsummer’s Equation

by Keigo Higashino

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I read The Devotion of Suspect X & Salvation of a Saint I was reminded of Chess or Shogi;

With this title (the third Detective Galileo novel published in English) I am reminded more of a kaleidoscope;

Where there are a lot of repetitive and blurry images that eventually become clear when you get to the resolution of the book – the true centre.

There were a lot of issues that resonated with me as I live in a touristy part of New Zealand (back when we had tourists) and the trade offs that are involved with having tourists, having other businesses operating and really wanting to enjoy a tranquil unspoilt world. And we have had plenty of battles with mining companies too! Some of these issues are repeated maybe too much. Others do have a point.

do have a point (hide spoiler)].)

A Higoshino read seems to always be a read that needs patience. But you will be rewarded.

I’m looking forward to reading Silent Parade next year.

The Paradine Case

by Robert Smyth Hichens

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I picked this book up from an op (charity) shop quite some time ago. I was surprised it wasn’t available as a kindle, especially as Hitchcock made this book into a film with the same name.

I’m no longer surprised

For one thing, at over 500 pages, this book is very long – & for the first 300 pages, very slow moving. Minute details are repeated endlessly.

Jewishness of some characters was repeated endlessly – I mean what are Jewish shoulders?

Accused poisoner Ingrid Paradine is probably meant to be enigmatic, but for most of the book her character comes across as…well she doesn’t have much character. Or personality. Her barrister, Sir Malcolm Keane’s infatuation can be partly explained by Ingrid’s resemblance to the wife Keane had previously adored (after all many of us go for the same type time after time.) & Keane will sacrifice everything & everyone for this blank doll…

From the film Alida Valli & Louis Jordan

Most people would have given up. I have no idea why I didn’t. But as slow moving as this book was, it was well written, with very vivid descriptions of the different scenes. It certainly reminded me of the old black & white movies I used to watch with my Mum on Sunday afternoons. But the last two hundred pages may have been melodramatic, but they were totally gripping – I had several ideas in my head how it was going to turn out – & they were all wrong!

For the patient reader.

Country House Murders

by Thomas Godfrey (Editor)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I bought this book (in hard cover!) many years ago. I read The Usual Suspects, but couldn’t get into the authors that had fallen into obscurity. I’m now an enthusiastic Golden Age mystery reader, so I thought I’d give these stories another try.

The Adventure of Abbey Grange by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Not every story in this book is Golden Age – and what collection of mysteries would be complete without a Sherlock Holmes! This isn’t one of Doyle’s best, but it certainly gives some interesting insights into Holmes’ character and his relationship with the faithful Dr Watson! 3★

A Marriage Tragedy by Wilkie Collins. I tried (& failed) to read The Moonstone many years ago. Maybe I would be more open to it now. I was definitely intrigued enough to finish to find out what had happened to husband from Hell, James Smith. This is by far the longest selection in this book (most of the others are less than 20 pages) and it did drag in a couple of places and the ending was somewhat gloomy. 3.5★

Lord Chizelrigg’s Missing Fortune by Robert Barr. Entertaining but very improbable. Lord Valmont is like an early version of Hercule Poirot! 3★

The Fordwych Castle Mystery by Baroness Orczy. Looks like it wasn’t just the obscure writers I was disappointed by! Silly, improbable, melodramatic and didn’t make much sense. I was really disappointed as Lady Molly was one of the first female detectives. 2★

The Blue Scarab by R. Austin Freeman. Competent mystery with workmanlike writing. Similar in style to Conan Doyle, but less engaging. 3★

The Doom of the Darnaways by G.K. Chesterton. Now this was very engaging writing with a cleverly constructed mystery. The clues are there for you – you just need to know where to look! 4★

The Shadow on the Glass by Agatha Christie. I read this last year in The Mysterious Mr. Quin I thought this was one of the slighter stories in that collection. I still think that 3★

The Queen’s Square by Dorothy L. Sayers. This was just too short to carry all the ideas & potential this mystery had. Bit of a shame. 3.5 ★

Death on the Air by Ngaio Marsh. Dame Ngaio didn’t write many short stories & (if this is representative of her skill with them) that is a pity because this one is ingenious & puts her normal snobbishness (which normally drives me crazy!) to good use. Unusually for Marsh this one shows a contempt for young female servants – in this case, insensitive & heartless. Still 4★

The Same to Us by Margery Allingham. Witty & entertaining, with a sly dig at some racist assumptions. My favourite so far. 4.5★

The Hunt Ball by Freeman Wills Crofts. A very fine example of what Thomas Godfrey (the editor of this collection) calls an “inverted” mystery where the reader knows who commits the crime & waits for the story to play out. 4★

The Incautious Burglar by John Dickson Carr. A satisfying mystery even though there were very few suspects. 5★

The Long Shot by Nicholas Blake Well written, but a bit improbable. 4★

Jeeves and the Stolen Venus by P.G. Wodehouse Funny (Of course – it’s Wodehouse!) But I was confused. 3.5★

Death in the Sun by Michael Innes Just too improbable for me! 3★

An Unlocked Window by Ethel Lina White. Yes I did guess where it was going but the journey was wonderfully thrilling! 5★

The-Wood-For-The-Trees by Philip MacDonald. I have been looking for The Rasp for quite some time, as I know reviewers who really love it. This short story made me want to look even harder. I’m quite sure I’ve read it before, a few too many characters, & if I hadn’t read it before I did a very good job of guessing everything that was going to happen! 4.5★

The Man on the Roof by Christianna Brand. Not so this one, although I normally like Brand’s work. Occasionally witty, but a confused/confusing mish-mash. I’m wondering if I should read again, but provisionally 2.5★

The death of Amy Robsart by Cyril Hare. In case you are wondering if this Golden Age author wrote a historical murder mystery – he didn’t. Very entertaining murder mystery with a film setting. There is a plot hole but I enjoyed this very much. 4★

Fen Hall by Ruth Rendell. The first thing I have read by Rendell. Well written but another plot hole & this one isn’t a whodunnit! Still very well written & I now want to read some more Rendell. 3.5★

A very Desirable Residence by P.D. James Well written but improbable. I found the end quite satisfying though! 3.5★

The Worcestershire Enigma by James Miles. “Who?” You might well ask! I couldn’t find any other trace of this author who uses another author’s creations (Conan Doyle’s) & a real life person. (I won’t spoil this for you) very badly. It isn’t quite as bad as the Orczy one but I am still giving this 2★

So, as always with short story collections, a very mixed bag! I would still recommend reading if you want a ‘taster’ of some of the less well known writers. Most of them I want to read some of their full length books!

Murder in Stained Glass

by Margaret Armstrong

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Armstrong has a bright and breezy writing style and a glimpse of her real life world (Armstrong was from a wealthy background in real life and her father was a stained glass artist) I was very envious of her female gumshoe’s life style (a Park Ave apartment!) & I do wish Armstrong’s detective, Miss Trumbull, had made more than just this one appearance in detective fiction.

Unfortunately, although Trumbull’s foibles were endearing, a lot of her actions didn’t make much sense. There was one heart stopping moment when Trumbull realises who the murderer is though and the book is an interesting snap shot of wealthy 1930s USA.

If the murderer had a motive though I missed it!

Recommended as a light, escapist read.

& an interesting bit of trivia. Armstrong was a talented professional artist. She designed the cover which is beautiful, but not relevant to the book!

Cover of edition I own

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.

Who Killed Charmian Kerslake?

by Annie Haynes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This book is a tough one to rate.

The writing is quite pedestrian in places, especially near the start.

But this improves greatly as the book progresses and I became intrigued with the character of Charmian Karslake.

I don’t think enough clues were given to guess the murderer, but this was an enjoyable tale none the less and I will read more by Annie Haynes. I own at least another two of her books.

The Tiger in the Smoke

by Margery Allingham

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This is only my second Allingham and is reputed to be her best work.

Based on this I may not go to any extraordinary effort to find any more of this author’s works.

The beginning was quite wonderful where we are introduced to the widowed Meg and her new swain Geoffrey.

Allingham in a little note before the book begins says she means London is “The Smoke.” But it certainly feels like the “pea-souper” fogs are The Smoke and it becomes almost another character in this book which is set just after World War Two.

Wonderful characters are introduced and there are many vividly written descriptive scenes, but some plot details don’t make much sense and there are long periods where the story drags. I didn’t have any trouble putting this book aside for days.Above all even Meg’s dead husband treats her like a child and, in a letter assumes she will always be a child – so patronising

A promising idea let down by an untidy execution.

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.

Salvation of a Saint

by Keigo Higashino

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have no idea why it took me so long to get back to this series, when I enjoyed [book:The Devotion of Suspect X|8686068] so much!

It may be a case of “Ooh look, shiny!” as new books cross my Goodreads path, but it is more likely that the number of group reads I do & my devotion to twentieth century fiction crowd even the ablest of modern writers out. Which is, of course, a pity.

But better late than never!

Devotion of Suspect X made me think of Shogi

This book features both chess

and badminton

It isn’t subtle (nothing about this book is) but it shows the value of keeping fit mentally and physically.

One of the main characters is a Japanese quilter. I know nothing about this art form( I guess you would call it) but I certainly looked at some beautiful examples.

This one might be closer to the style of Ayane’s work.

This art form is definitely the work of careful planner. And Ayane is indeed a planner!

It may also be the translation, but some of the points are very heavy handed.

Still, don’t give up. I definitely got a surprise at the end!

New Orleans Mourning

by Julie Smith

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I thought a murder mystery during Mardi Gras where the killer is dressed as Dolly Parton would be entertaining.

And so it was – in parts.

I enjoyed the background information on New Orleans, a city that has always seems so exotic to me. And I liked Skip and her boyfriend Steve, and found Skip’s struggles with her body image interesting.

The story had an action packed finale that took my breath away. I really wasn’t expecting it, but Ms Smith had left the clues there if you were sharp enough to see them.

My problem was with what happened in between.

This probably isn’t the right time in American history to be reading about cops with a casual attitude to violence, some events seemed highly unlikely to me (view spoiler) and a huge cast of mostly unlikable characters. In particular it became boring reading about all of one character’s drinks – it felt like reading my local liquor outlet’s catalogue! We heard a lot about this person’s drinking as this book featured a format I rarely enjoy – multiple POV. This technique really slowed the book down, as we heard a number of characters views about the same scene & the book started to seem longer than 352 pages.

Just not my sort of book.

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