Sunday, June 24, 2012

{review} the bottle factory outing

This is almost my last post for a month. I'm off to Edinburgh (for a conference, the preparation for which has been interfering greatly with my reading), various bits of England, and Paris. I shan't be posting much until I get back, but I might do some 'monitoring' of my pâtisserie intake via twitter. I will have a post up for Paris in July sometime too. 

However, I couldn't envisage leaving the country without having done my post for Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week (the brainchild of gaskella). 


Beryl Bainbridge The Bottle Factory Outing (1974)
‘That’s Italian, isn’t it, Rossi?’ asked Freda. She pointed at an inscription on the wall. ‘What’s it say?’
He studied it carefully. ‘Ah well,’ he said, ‘it is the Latin.’
Ave lumen oculorum
Liberator languidorum
Dentium angustia
‘Hail bright eyes,’ said Brenda unexpectedly. ‘Sleepy liberator … bent anguish.’
‘What’s that mean?’ asked Freda.
‘It is the sufferers from toothache,’ explained Vittorio; and Brenda felt it was an omen. Here, far from the farm and the absent Stanley, someone was caring for her teeth.


Well! I suspect that this book was either the perfect and lucky choice for a Beryl Bainbridge first-timer to select, or else all of her books are brilliant. I am really hoping the latter is the case, as I can't wait to read some more.

I'm not going to spoil the plot if I say that The Bottle Factory Outing deals with just that topic. Two English girls hold down low-wage jobs sticking labels on bottles in a smallish wine-bottling factory in London owned by an Italian. It is freezingly cold ("after midday, when the damp got to her bones, she climbed into a mail bag for warmth") and the conditions are appalling. The alcohol is only a perk or sorts:
Tearing herself free she stumbled from the washroom and ran back to her beer crate and her labels. She supposed it was the fumes from the wine that kept them all in a constant state of lust. It wasn’t as if she set out to be desirable.
All the other employees are Italian, and it is very much a closed shop. One of the English girls, Freda, is a big, exuberant, Rubenesque type, who "longed to be flung into the midst of chaos" - a natural bully:
She was five foot ten in height, twenty-six years old, and she weighed sixteen stone. All her life she had cherished the hope that one day she would become part of a community, a family. She wanted to be adored and protected, she wanted to be called ‘little one’.
The other, Brenda, is a browbeaten shy creature who exists in a constant state of embarrassment and fear - a natural victim ("flattening her vowels to accommodate him"):
‘Is she coming?’ asked Brenda.
‘God knows,’ said Freda, and she went upstairs to the bathroom, taking a pan of water with her to flush down the lavatory. The cistern had been broken for ten days and the landlady said she couldn’t find a plumber to mend it. Only Freda was inconvenienced. Brenda, who would have died rather than let the other occupants of the house know she used the toilet, usually went round the corner to the tube station.
Freda organizes a rare outing for the factory employees - a way of attempting a seduction of the boss's second-in-command. But things do not go to plan...

Some things that really struck me about this book:
  • the astonishingly wonderful prose, with no words out of place and every word so loaded with intent; 
  • the precision of the plotting, whereby signs barely registered before the event become loaded with significance in hindsight; the feel for 'place' whether it be the girls' shabby bedsit or the battered bus in a lion park near Windsor:
Brenda had fashioned a bolster to put down the middle of the bed and a row of books to ensure that they lay less intimately at night. Freda complained that the books were uncomfortable – but then she had never been married. At night when they prepared for bed Freda removed all her clothes and lay like a great fretful baby, majestically dimpled and curved. Brenda wore her pyjamas and her underwear and a tweed coat – that was the difference between them. Brenda said it was on account of nearly being frozen to death in Ramsbottom, but it wasn’t really that.
I also cannot fathom how Bainbridge manages to pull of an incredibly surreal scene about two-thirds through the book during which, as reader, I too felt as though wrapped in the scene's fog of shock and incomprehension, as though removed at a few paces from the action that nevertheless continues apace, but where the everyday reality has tipped over into surreality. It was a real down-the-rabbit-hole moment.

A really excellent read and I am so grateful to gaskella for persuading me to read some Beryl Bainbridge. I have so enjoyed reading everyone else's thoughts on her books as well this week.
He was a man of sensibilities and everything was against her – his background, his nationality, the particular regard he had for women or a category of womanhood to which she did not belong. By the strength of her sloping shoulders, the broad curve of her throat, the dimpled vastness of her columnar thighs, she would manoeuvre him into her arms. I will be one of those women, she thought, painted naked on ceilings, lolling amidst rose-coloured clouds. She straightened and stared at a chair. She imagined how she might mesmerise him with her wide blue eyes. Wearing a see-through dressing-gown chosen from a Littlewoods catalogue, she would open the door to him... Against her will her mind dwelt on an image of Brenda in the cellar, cobwebs lacing her hair, and Rossi, hands trembling, tearing her newspaper to shreds. I will rip you to pieces, she thought; and her hand flew to her mouth as if she had spoken aloud. Beyond the romantic dreams, the little girl waiting to be cuddled, it was power of a kind she was after. It is not so much that I want him, she thought, but that I would like him to want me.
Which one should I read next?!

This is Dame Beryl Bainbridge's writing area, 
photographed by Eamonn McCabe in 2007. 
The gun is a toy (apparently!). Source (and a close-up here)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

{weekend words}

The waiters hovered beside us, the courses came, delicious and appetizing, and the empty plates vanished as if by magic. I remember red mullet, done somehow with lemons, and a succulent golden-brown fowl bursting with truffles and flanked by tiny peas, then a froth of ice and whipped cream dashed with kirsch, and the fine smooth caress of the wine through it all. Then, finally, apricots and big black grapes, and coffee. The waiter removed the little silver filtres, and vanished, leaving us alone in our alcove. The liqueur brandy was swimming in its own fragrance in the enormous iridescent glasses, and for a moment I watched it idly, enjoying its rich smooth gleam, then I leaned back against the cushions and looked about me with the eyes of a patient who has just woken from the first long natural sleep after an anaesthetic. Where before the colours had been blurred and heightened, and the outlines undefined, proportions unstable, and sounds hollow and wavering, now the focus had shifted sharply, and drawn the bright little restaurant into sharp dramatic outline.
Mary Stewart (1954)  

Monday, June 18, 2012

{review} seducers in ecuador & the heir

Vita Sackville-West Seducers in Ecuador & The Heir ([1924 & 1922] 2011)

It was in Egypt that Arthur Lomax contracted the habit which, after a pleasantly varied career, brought him finally to the scaffold.
Two lovely, classy short pieces (novellas? novelettes?) in one book: what could be better for the time-strapped reader? Simon of stuck in a book recommended The Heir, and (as usual) he's spot on. The Heir is one of those wonderful stories about the magic surrounding the discovery of finding one's right and true place. It is spectacularly snobby in one sense, in that our clerk hero ("the alien clerk from Wolverhampton, who hesitated to go downstairs to dinner because he feared there would be a servant in the room to wait upon him") is emotionally, morally and almost physically transformed by the unexpected inheritance of a Knole-like pile in the country. It is all done so tenderly though, that it is impossible to sneer.
He reconsidered even the pictures, not as the representation of meaningless ghosts, but as men and women whose blood had gone to the making of that now in his own veins. It was the land, the farms, the rick-yards, the sown, the fallow, that taught him this wisdom. He learnt it slowly, and without knowing that he learnt. He absorbed it in the company of men such as he had never previously known, and who treated him as he had never before been treated – not with deference only, which would have confused him, but with a paternal kindliness, a quiet familiarity, an acquaintance immediately linked by virtue of tradition. To them, he, the clerk of Wolverhampton, was, quite simply, Chase of Blackboys. He came to value the smile in their eyes, when they looked at him, as a caress.
This is such a beautiful story. There is little doubt that Sackville-West was ideally placed to communicate the emotional bond between (wo)man and ancestral home; the anguish of her loss of Knole (which Woolf attempted to restore to her in Orlando) is vividly communicated through the growing feelings that Chase, the heir, comes to feel for the enormous financial burden that is Blackboys, "[m]ortgaged up to the last shilling, and overrun with peacocks". It has a touch of the magic of, say, The Secret Garden, about it, but expressed with that careful Sackville-West seductive sternness of vision.
Chase stood looking at the bowl of tulips; it seemed to him that he spent his days for ever looking at something, and deriving from it that new, quiet satisfaction.
Exactly
 *   *   *
Procrastination and a carefully chosen pair of spectacles would make him a very giant of decision.
Seducers in Ecuador is wonderfully eccentric; a bit like one of those stories where all decisions are made by the throw of a dice, however, in this case, it is a pair of coloured sun spectacles which lead their wearer into acts irrational, illogical, matrimonial and, eventually, murderous. 

Arthur Lomax goes on a yachting holiday with three companions:
It is now time to be a little more explicit on the question of the companions of Lomax. Perhaps Miss Whitaker deserves precedence, since it was she, after all, who married Lomax. And perhaps Bellamy should come next, since it was he, after all, for whose murder Lomax was hanged. And perhaps Artivale should come third, since it was to him, after all, that Lomax bequeathed his, that is to say Bellamy’s, fortune. The practised reader will have observed by now that the element of surprise is not to be looked for in this story.
Unfortunately, as they are going to hot climes, he brings along a pair of dark spectacles which rather alter his (inner) vision and, more dangerously, his value system. What is most intriguing about this is how little obvious change his hitherto unremarkable life will undergo, yet with such remarkable consequences.
There were moments when it seemed to Lomax, even behind the black glasses, perfectly ridiculous that he should suggest marriage to Miss Whitaker. He did not even know her; but then, certainly, the idea of marriage with a woman one did not know had always appeared to him a degree less grotesque than the reverse. The only woman in his life being inaccessible, one reason for marriage with anybody else was as good as another. And what better reason than that one had found a lonely woman in tears, and had looked on her through coloured glasses?
Ouch. The writing in this little story completely swept me away. Sackville-West does astonishing tiny little set-pieces of perfect observation; little bubbles of brilliantly worded near nature morte, such as the "The little Swiss waiter in his cupboard of a bedroom saw the sweat from his forehead drip upon the floor as he pared away the corn upon his toe. He sat, unconsciously, in the attitude of the Tireur d’Epines." 

This is a sad little story, yet Seducers in Ecuador is also very funny in a manner that is both cruel yet strangely empathetic. Really, quite an astonishing read. 

Rating: both quite extraordinary. 

If you liked this: The Edwardians (excellent); Pepita (odd). Incidentally, Seducers in Ecuador is introduced by one of my writing heroines, Lisa St Aubin de Terán {on whom see here}.

 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

{weekend words}

Francesco brought an ashtray over to the balcony table, and leant close to place it beside him, so close that Georgie could clearly smell his perfume. He wondered if it might be one of those new French colognes, and what it might be like to wear a daring cologne himself rather than just boring old toilet water.
‘I did enjoy your recital with Miss Bracely, sir,’ his valet murmured respectfully. ‘I had no idea you were such a talented pianist in addition to your painting skills.’
‘Thank you,’ Georgie replied awkwardly into Francesco’s shirt front. He found his heart was suddenly beating more quickly, doubtless as a result of his agitation.
‘Tell me, sir,’ Francesco enquired softly. ‘You are clearly such a sensitive gentleman. Do you possess any other particular ... artistic tastes?’
This at least was an easy question to answer. ‘Why, yes,’ Georgie said brightly. ‘How clever of you to guess. Actually, do you know, I’m very fond of needlepoint.’
Francesco moved away and said, ‘Indeed, sir’ as he gently closed the French window.
 Guy Fraser-Sampson 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

{paris in july}

Don't forget Paris in July, mes amis

All the info you need is here 



It was such good fun last year.
This year I will be in Paris in July, so I'm doubly excited!

Monday, June 11, 2012

{review} the mystery of a hansom cab

Fergus Hume The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) 

On the twenty-seventh day of July, at the hour of twenty minutes to two o'clock in the morning, a hansom cab drove up to the police station in Grey Street, St. Kilda, and the driver made the startling statement that his cab contained the body of a man who he had reason to believe had been murdered.
Fergus Hume has the distinction of writing the first Australian crime novel. It was HUGE - a phenomenon in its time (to borrow from John Sutherland: the "most sensationally popular crime and detective novel of the century" [dodgy source]). However, poor Hume had sold the rights and made sod all from its subsequent wild success. 

Hansom Cab is the story of the investigation into a mysterious murder in, yes, a hansom cab. It is set in Melbourne and, for those who know Melbourne ("Glasgow with the sky of Alexandria"), it is quite a good game to try to figure out how little has changed in that streetscape since Victorian times.
If there is one thing which the Melbourne folk love more than another, it is music. Their fondness for it is only equalled by their admiration for horse-racing. Any street band which plays at all decently, may be sure of a good audience, and a substantial remuneration for their performance. Some writer has described Melbourne, as Glasgow with the sky of Alexandria; and certainly the beautiful climate of Australia, so Italian in its brightness, must have a great effect on the nature of such an adaptable race as the Anglo-Saxon. In spite of the dismal prognostications of Marcus Clarke regarding the future Australian, whom he describes as being "a tall, coarse, strong-jawed, greedy, pushing, talented man, excelling in swimming and horsemanship," it is more likely that he will be a cultured, indolent individual, with an intense appreciation of the arts and sciences, and a dislike to hard work and utilitarian principles.
The story is a fairly typical one: a murder, a corpse without identification, a handful of potential suspects, a lovable dialect-speaking landlady, a determined detective or two, a crime with its roots in the past, and a spot of tender romance.
"You do not regret?" he said, bending his head. "Regret, no," she answered, looking at him with loving eyes. "With you by my side, I fear nothing. Surely our hearts have been tried in the furnace of affliction, and our love has been chastened and purified."
It is quite a good read and a decent shot at sensational fiction. It is hard to imagine how astonishingly original it must have been in its day, since it fits so neatly the stereotypes of the typical crime novel… stereotypes it created. There is apparently a parody of it out there somewhere; it is hard to see how it could beat the original. Its modern day appeal may well now be primarily to Australians as a sort of period piece on Melbourne society, rather than as a crime novel. 

My interest in Hume lies in another area, namely his reuse of ancient themes in other novels that never hit the big-time like Hansom Cab. It is noticeable how often the ancient world pops its head into this book, which is filled with references to popular myth - the sphinx, Midas, asses' ears and so on: "I don't like Latin," said Miss Frettlby, shaking her pretty head. 'I agree with Heine's remark, that if the Romans had been forced to learn it they would not have found time to conquer the world.'" The narrator also suggests that Australians would be cooler if they adopted Greek dress!
It was a broiling hot day--one of those cloudless days, with the blazing sun beating down on the arid streets, and casting deep, black shadows--a real Australian December day dropped by mistake of the clerk of the weather into the middle of August. The previous week having been really chilly, it was all the more welcome. It was Saturday morning, and fashionable Melbourne was "doing the Block." Collins Street is to the Southern city what Bond Street and the Row are to London, and the Boulevards to Paris. It is on the Block that people show off their new dresses, bow to their friends, cut their enemies, and chatter small talk. The same thing no doubt occurred in the Appian Way, the fashionable street of Imperial Rome, when Catullus talked gay nonsense to Lesbia, and Horace received the congratulations of his friends over his new volume of society verses. History repeats itself, and every city is bound by all the laws of civilisation to have one special street, wherein the votaries of fashion can congregate.
This sort of thing may well irritate the hell out of many readers. The book is also frequently interestingly intertextual, which probably should not surprise given that Hume set out in cold-blood to write a popular crime novel based on his reading of other instances of the genre: "Puts one in mind of 'The Leavenworth Case,' and all that sort of thing," said Felix, whose reading was of the lightest description. "Awfully exciting, like putting a Chinese puzzle together. Gad, I wouldn't mind being a detective myself."
"Murdered in a cab," he said, lighting a fresh cigarette, and blowing a cloud of smoke. "A romance in real life, which beats Miss Braddon hollow."
Hume has a great turn of phrase: one character, hot on the trail of scandal, "was one of those witty men who would rather lose a friend than suppress an epigram." And sultry Queensland gets an unforgettable mention: "a profane traveller of an epigrammatic turn of mind once fittingly called it, 'An amateur hell'." 

Rating: a must read for anyone interested in the history of the crime novel or Victorian (in both senses) Australia. (I read a free manybooks.net edition with an unfortunately amount of typos) 

If you liked this: oh, surely "Miss Braddon" (Lady Audley's Secret is a cracker), though Anna Katharine Green's The Leavenworth Case is another marvellous period piece. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

{weekend words}

As it happens... we have a detailed account of the work habits of one of antiquity's more prolific scholars, the Elder Pliny. In a well-known letter (3.5), the Younger Pliny describes the solution to his uncle's (evidently unusual) desire for reading efficiency: he had a lector read to him over meals and scolded a friend who made the lector slow down to repeat a mispronounced word (11-12); when taken a bath he had a book read to him or dictated notes (14); he traveled with a secretary, who performed the same duties in any spare moments (15); to allow similar accommodation during the journey itself, he always used a litter in preference to walking (16).
William A. Johnson (2010) 


An instance of the ancient audio book? I wonder if this would improve my efficiency. You can read the letter in full in English (scroll down to 3.5), rather archaic English or in Latin.

Monday, June 4, 2012

{review} this republic of suffering


Another soldier, asked by a doctor for his last words to send home, responded by requesting the doctor to provide them. "I do not know what to say. Well, tell them only just such a message as you would like to send if you were dying."
I read this book a long time ago, but it has stuck with me and I would really like to read it again one day. I almost didn't want to share it, I liked it so much. That isn't a great help for a blogger! I was attracted by a review in the LRB (a terrible source of temptation) and sought it out because, first of all, I'm interested in ways of memorializing both the living and the dead in the ancient world; second, I don't know nearly enough about the American Civil War (apart from Gone With The Wind). It seemed a good kill-two-birds choice. And it was: this is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is an academic book which is also accessible to the lay reader, and this is a rare combination in my opinion: many academic titles are branded in catchy ways to bump up sales, but prove, on exploration, as impenetrable as the Rosetta Stone to a non-specialist. 

This book charts the transition from the individual management of death to what might be termed the professionalization, even the industrialisation, of the management of war dead. Gilpin Faust (incidentally, the first woman president of Harvard) brings her subject to life by threading her historical narrative with extracts from letters and diaries and records of personal - often heartbreaking - experience from the battlefields. The core of the book concerns the ways in which both the military, the soldiers' families and the soldiers themselves dealt with the mammoth task of managing the Civil War's huge death tolls. 

Gilpin Faust explores how this necessity establishes, by trial and error almost, future management of mass war casualties - how the dead are identified (and how the living seek to mark themselves against future misidentification as a consequence); who buries the dead; how the graves are marked; record-keeping; transport of the dead (and innovations in the accoutrements required); repatriation of remains. How do the victors treat the remains of the vanquished? Can the establishment of national organisations to commemorate (and, sadly, just to find) the dead assist in healing the wounds of a country torn apart by civil war? What happens to the families, the widows, the children of soldiers presumed dead? 

The author makes use of a fascinating range of primary sources: diaries and letters as well as some chilling photographs, along with local and national archival sources. One thing I found terribly moving was the presence of members of the family at the scene of battles seeking their dead. One instance is that of Oliver Wendall Holmes Snr., seeking his son's body after the Battle of Antietam (23,000 casualties in one day). Holmes Jnr. had been shot and as he lay wounded he scrawled his name, rank and family on a scrap of paper. He survived and kept the little note, commenting, "I wrote the above when I was lying in a little house on the field of Antietam which was for a while within the enemy's lines, as I thought I might faint & so be unable to tell who I was." Walt Whitman was another visitor to the battlefield whose life (the "very centre, circumference, umbilicus") was changed by his experience in search of his brother George. 

Others were not so fortunate as the younger Holmes or George Whitman, and there are many profoundly moving stories in this book of parents who never gave up the search to find their sons' final resting places. There is a particularly well constructed section on condolence letters and the presentation of the 'Good Death' which "structured the imperatives of Christianity, military courage, and masculinity into a hierarchy of solace." 

Rating: wonderful. Hugely informative and moving. (I've given up numerical ratings)

Friday, June 1, 2012

{misc.}


Dim image of dessert train (taken by over-sugared photographer 
with fear of taking photos of food in public and
accompanied by food photography disapproving friend.)

Well, I'm crazy insane busy in a why-did-I-do-this-when-I-could-be-reading-fun-books?-way. 'This' being a paper I am writing for a conference in early July. In Edinburgh. In Scotland (in case there is another Edinburgh somewhere). I haven't given a serious academic paper for so long. Years. Many, many years. Books for fun have certainly fallen by the wayside while I juggle too many things, including my day job which has nothing to do with my other lives.

And my reading plans? I do hope to read something for Beryl Bainbridge week. And I do hope that I will be able to wallow in frivolous reading during the horrific number of hours/days it will take me to get from Australia to Scotland (via - my reward! - Paris).

Anyway, I had a lovely bookish encounter the week before last when, on a quick jaunt from Adelaide to Sydney (primarily to use the university library, though I confess I also used a dessert train to sustain my endeavours), I was taken by a friend to hear Sulari Gentill speak at Sydney Writers' Festival. I had loved her debut historical crime novel, A Few Right Thinking Men {REVIEW}, and was pleased to find the author as quirky and amusing as her book. She was an excellent speaker 'in conversation' about how - and what - she writes. She also grows black truffles and studied both astrophysics and law at university. Afterwards I got to speak with her, while getting the next two books in the Rowland Sinclair series signed (always a thrill to have a signed copy, I think), and she was such a delight.

It is nice when a writer one admires turns out to be a lovely person as well. Incidentally, there was quite a bit of celebrity-spotting available at the festival. At the next signing booth was Dame Stella Rimington. The thrill! And, according to a passerby, Roddy Doyle was sitting next to us at lunch.

The Sulari Gentill books I bought (breaking the book-buying ban that has been in force to fund my 'holiday') were A Decline in Prophets and Miles Off Course (more info via the publisher). If only I had the time to read them...

 

{READ IN 2017}

  • SEPTEMBER
  • AUGUST
  • 85.
  • 84. Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham
  • 83. Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham
  • 82. Look to the Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 81. Mystery Mile - Margery Allingham
  • 80. The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham
  • 79. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham
  • 78. Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay
  • 77. No Man's Land - David Baldacci
  • 76. The Escape - David Baldacci
  • 75. The Forgotten - David Baldacci
  • 74. Zero Day - David Baldacci
  • JULY
  • 73. Pilgrim's Rest - Patricia Wentworth
  • 72. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth
  • 71. The Watersplash - Patricia Wentworth
  • 70. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth
  • 69. The Listening Eye - Patricia Wentworth
  • 68. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth
  • 67. Out of the Past - Patricia Wentworth
  • 66. Mistress - Amanda Quick
  • 65. The Black Widow - Daniel Silva
  • 64. The Narrow - Michael Connelly
  • 63. The Poet - Michael Connelly
  • 62. The Visitor - Lee Child
  • 61. No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories - Lee Child
  • JUNE
  • 60. The Queen's Accomplice - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 59. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 58. The PM's Secret Agent - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 57. His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 56. Princess Elizabeth's Spy - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 55. Mr Churchill's Secretary - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 54. A Lesson in Secrets - Jacqueline Winspear
  • 53. Hit & Run - Lawrence Block
  • 52. Hit Parade - Lawrence Block
  • 51. Hit List - Lawrence Block
  • 50. Six Were Present - E. R. Punshon
  • 49. Triple Quest - E. R. Punshon
  • MAY
  • 48. Dark is the Clue - E. R. Punshon
  • 47. Brought to Light - E. R. Punshon
  • 46. Strange Ending - E. R. Punshon
  • 45. The Attending Truth - E. R. Punshon
  • 44. The Golden Dagger - E. R. Punshon
  • 43. The Secret Search - E. R. Punshon
  • 42. Spook Street - Mick Herron
  • 41. Real Tigers - Mick Herron
  • 40. Dead Lions - Mick Herron
  • 39. Slow Horses - Mick Herron
  • APRIL
  • 38. Everybody Always Tells - E. R. Punshon
  • 37. So Many Doors - E. R. Punshon
  • 36. The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey
  • 35. A Scream in Soho - John G. Brandon
  • 34. A Murder is Arranged - Basil Thomson
  • 33. The Milliner's Hat Mystery - Basil Thomson
  • 32. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? - Basil Thomson
  • 31. The Dartmoor Enigma - Basil Thomson
  • 30. The Case of the Dead Diplomat - Basil Thomson
  • 29. The Case of Naomi Clynes - Basil Thomson
  • 28. Richardson Scores Again - Basil Thomson
  • 27. A Deadly Thaw - Sarah Ward
  • MARCH
  • 26. The Spy Paramount - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 25. The Great Impersonation - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 24. Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
  • 23. The Case of Sir Adam Braid - Molly Thynne
  • 22. The Ministry of Fear - Graham Greene
  • 21. The Draycott Murder Mystery - Molly Thynne
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • FEBRUARY
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • JANUARY
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore

{READ IN 2016}

  • (K = Kindle; rr = re-read)
  • DECEMBER
  • 92. Richardson's First Case - Basil Thomson [K]
  • 91. The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 90. Orphan X - Gregg Hurwitz [K]
  • 89. The House of Godwinsson [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 88. Music Tells All [Bobby Owen 24] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 87. Helen Passes By [Bobby Owen 23] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • NOVEMBER
  • 86. It Might Lead Anywhere [Bobby Owen 22] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 85. There's a Reason for Everything [Bobby Owen 21] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 84. Secrets Can't Be Kept [Bobby Owen 20] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • OCTOBER
  • 83. Night's Cloak [Bobby Owen 19] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 82. The Conqueror Inn [Bobby Owen 18] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 81. The Diabolic Candelabra [Bobby Owen 17] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • 80. The Dark Garden [Bobby Owen 16] - E. R. Punshon [K]
  • SEPTEMBER
  • 79. Picture Miss Seeton - Heron Carvic [K]
  • 78. Down Under (Benbow Smith 4) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 77. Walk with Care (Benbow Smith 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 76. Danger Calling (Benbow Smith 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 75. Fool Errant (Benbow Smith 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 74. The Annam Jewel - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 73. Mr Zero - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 72. Will o' the Wisp - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 71. Red Shadow - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 70. Pursuit of a Parcel (Lamb 3) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 69. Who Pays the Piper (Lamb 2) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 68. The Blind Side (Lamb 1) - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 67. Outrageous Fortune - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 66. The Amazing Chance - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 65. Red Stefan - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • AUGUST
  • 64. The Coldstone - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 63. Anne Belinda - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 62. The Black Cabinet - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 61. Hue & Cry - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 60. The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 59. The Kill Room - Jeffery Deaver [K]
  • 58. Nothing Venture - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 57. Kingdom Lost - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 56. Beggar's Choice - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 55. Hole and Corner - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 54. Touch and Go - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 53. The Red Lacquer Case - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 52. Run! - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 51. Fear by Night - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • JULY
  • 50. The Dower House Mystery - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 49. The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 48. Weekend with Death - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 47. Blindfold - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 46. Silence in Court - Patricia Wentworth [K]
  • 45. Acts of the Assassins - Richard Beard [K]
  • JUNE
  • 44. Hack - Kieran Crowley [K]
  • 43. The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie [K]
  • 42. The Spirit Murder Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • MAY
  • 41. The Ginger Cat Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 40. The Pleasure Cruise Mystery - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 39. The Polo Ground Murder - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • APRIL
  • 38. The Outsider - Jason Dean [K]
  • 37. The Hunter's Oath - Jason Dean [K]
  • 36. Missing or Murdered - Robin Forsythe [K]
  • 35. The Beetle - Richard Marsh [K]
  • MARCH
  • 34. A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell 1) - Deanna Raybourn [K]
  • 33. The Chimera Vector - Nathan M. Farrugia [K]
  • 32. An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer [K]
  • 31. Mr Bazalgette's Agent - Leonard Merrick
  • 30. Don't Tell - Karen Rose [K]
  • 29. Say Goodbye - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 28. Gone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 27. The Killing Hour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 26. The Next Accident - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 25. The Third Victim - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • FEBRUARY
  • 24. The Perfect Husband - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 23. Find Her - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 22. Fear Nothing - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 21. Catch Me - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 20. Love You More - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 19. Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 18. The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 17. Hide - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 16. Alone - Lisa Gardner [K]
  • 15. The Humans - Matt Haig [K]
  • 14. Utopian Man - Lisa Lang
  • 13. Love Insurance - Earl Derr Biggers [K]
  • JANUARY
  • 12. The Ignition Effect - Viv Ronnebeck [K]
  • 11. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin [K]
  • 10. Dangerous & Unseemly - K. B. Owen [K]
  • 9. In Bitter Chill - Sarah Ward [K[
  • 8. Half a Crown - Jo Walton [K]
  • 7. Ha'penny - Jo Walton [K]
  • 6. Hilda Wade: A Woman with Tenacity of Purpose - Grant Allen [K]
  • 5. The Case of William Smith - Patricia Wentworth [K; rr]
  • 4. Blue Murder - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 3. Bleeding Hooks - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 2. Knock, Murderer, Knock! - Harriet Rutland [K]
  • 1. Ten Star Clues [Bobby Owen 15] - E. R. Punshon [K]