Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm wary of the whitewashed adultation granted Coco Chanel. Yes, she was a great creative innovator of the twentieth century, but her Second World War was a dirty one. This looks intriguing (there is a review here).

Hal Vaughan (2011)
Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent

Monday, September 26, 2011

{review} kitchen essays

Agnes Jekyll Kitchen Essays (1922)

I'm a bit puzzled about this book. It offers a nostalgic glimpse into an age of gracious living that has most certainly passed. It is beautifully written, with some quite wonderful turns of phrase. The writer was a bit of a celeb. at the time she wrote these newspaper columns for The Times (anonymously). It is, as one expects from a Persephone production, quite beautiful in the hands.

OK, maybe I've already answered my puzzled feeling about why this book is significant enough to reissue. Or have I? I quite liked it and I can definitely now characterise desirable food of the early 1920s as being jellied, aspic-ed and/or passed through a "hair-sieve". Couldn't anyone eat solids?! What, dodgy post-war false teeth or something? [I'm joking]
What female intelligence can decipher rapidly those hieroglyphic sheets when presented in restaurants and unerringly select the "spécialité de la maison," or the most acceptable "plat du Jour"? She will vacillate between the super-strange and the ultra-commonplace, or losing her head, will select the cheapest of the mysteries proffered, or else plunge recklessly for something expensive and out of season.
Apart from this stunning piece of misogyny (I'm reading it tongue-in-cheek, as I can't believe Agnes Jekyll would vacillate about anything), a couple of things offered themselves to me for thought. First, we are on the cusp of an era where the servant problem becomes a big problem for the type of households who would read these newspaper columns. A fair whack of these dishes (and the scenarios for which they are intended - shooting parties; dances) require staff.
"Never hesitate to do a kind action," said a cynical friend once in the writer's privileged hearing. "The burden of it almost invariably falls on some one else, whilst you get all the credit." The truth of this dictum, once heard, will often recur to the mind when promising, shall we say soup, or jelly, to some sick friend; for it is the cook who will make the offering, the boy who will carry it to its destination.
Second, I have a mental image of the cook sitting in dread awaiting the mistress's latest crazy idea taken from The Times, which requires production of something exotic and 'new' ("Italians are fond of sweets, but unimaginative in their preparation") in the absence of what we would consider such an essential as refrigeration (I keep thinking of the Provincial Lady's problems with cooks here!). One cannot wonder about the inevitability of the following:
...similar experience may befall many of us, particularly at busy holiday times of the year, when cooks, whose mothers so often specialize in sudden and disastrous illnesses, may leave us to face problems we have never really envisaged before…
You can consider this my Third point: the number of shapes and moulds and ices makes my blood run cold at the thought of the difficulties presented by their production and storage. I enjoyed this book for its writing ("For the Unpunctual, try a savoury dish of Papprika [sic]") and for purely nostalgic purposes (never, ever, ever will I make calves' foot jelly), but never does an era seem to far removed from our own when the kitchen is the subject.
Salted almonds are expensive, and by many thought indigestible; they can be understudied by a packet of the American cereal Puffed Wheat. A few spoonfuls of this, crisped hot in the oven and lying invitingly on small mother-o'-pearl shells, or in some such decorative and labour-saving receptacles before each guest, will comfort the shy, stem the torrent of the fluent-obvious, and generally promote a flow of that pleasant conversation...
Rating: 6/10.

Things that intrigued me enough to google: "centrifugal sugar", "Cerebos" salt, "peptonized cocoa", and when "Pyrex" was invented.

If you liked this... I guess someone'll look back at Jamie Oliver in 90 years and laugh their heads off. If I feel like a spot of witty food-writing I turn to M. F. K. Fisher.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

{review} cheerful weather for the wedding

Julia Strachey Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (1932 [Persephone 2002])

And yet it hadn't been love, but some depressing kind of swindle after all, it seemed.
Wow, this is a miserable little book. But it is also utterly mesmerisingly wonderful, especially if, like me, you like your modernism in small jewel-like doses. The story covers a scant day in the life of Dolly Thatcham, who is to marry the Hon. Owen Bigham, a groom very much on his dignity. As the preparations for the wedding unfold, and the wedding party rub up against each other in the cramped space of the Thatcham house, silences are broken and secrets revealed. Dolly's life falls slowly and gently and irreversibly to pieces as her domineering and socially manipulative mother struggles to hold the wedding party together.
Dolly finished washing, arranged her black hair with the rust-red strips in it neatly. She dipped something that looked like a limp orange 'Captain' biscuit into a pink bowl on the dressing-table, and afterwards dabbed and smeared it all over her reproachful-looking face, leaving the skin covered over evenly with a light corn-coloured powder.
The whole toilet was carried out as a performing elephant might make its toilet sitting up in a circus ring, -- languidly, clumsily, as though her arms were made of iron.
Dolly knew, as she looked round at the long wedding-veil stretching away forever, and at the women, too, so busy all around her, that something remarkable and upsetting in her life was steadily going forward.
She was aware of this; but it was as if she were reading about it in a book from the circulating library, instead of herself living through it.
A couple of things really stood out for me in this book, and I assume that they can pretty much all be read symbolically if it is your bent to crawl about under the surface of this novella. The most obvious is the descriptions of the flowers in the house with their jewel-like colours and powerful, masking scents and arrangements. Colours and marks seem highly charged as well, perhaps to the point of over-kill, as in the bride's soiled white slippers and an unfortunate incident with an ink-well. Then there are the mirrors, perhaps part of the distortions of truth which will come out as the story progresses? I can see that the overload of symbolism might be overwhelming for some readers, but I thought its suffocating relentlessness totally suited the evocation of the bride's sense of despair at her inability to halt disaster. And then there's all the talking, talking, talking but no one ever saying what they really mean until it is far too late.

Persephone end-paper, 'Butterflies' by Madeleine Lawrence.
Rating: 10/10.

If you liked this... the only book I've read recently which can match this one for sheer misery is May Sinclair's The Life and Death of Harriett Frean.

Monday, September 19, 2011

{review} simon serrailler

Susan Hill - The 'Simon Serrailler' series:
And, still to read: The Betrayal of Trust (2011).

For a long time there was a silence so complete, so absolute, that he did not know if he could ever breach it, ever utter again, ever be able to say another word to her for the rest of his life. The silence was a distance and a time span as well as the absence of sound. It was a space he did not think he had the nerve or the skill through which to travel. 
This is one of the most curious series of police procedurals that I've read. They are completely addictive. This is less because of their crime element (in general, it was pretty easy to pick the villain) but because they are more like a family saga with an overlay of a traditional mystery. In broader terms they are also like reading about the life and crimes of a particular type of English urban society.

The books are very quirky: the hero is not only an unlikely policeman, but also a person to whom one warms only diffidently. Every time one gets fond of a character, this is almost a sure sign that they will either become minimalised in the narrative or disappear (by means fair or foul) entirely. One is kept on one's toes the whole time in this series hoping that one's current interest doesn't suffer authorial assassination!

Hill is good on making one think about how her characters suffer: she is good, one might say, at grasping the human element in crime, whether the perspective be that of the criminals, their victims, or - most touchingly portrayed of all - the victims' families and those left behind ("Regret was part of the fabric of her life": Pure in Heart). The settings possess an urban edginess: Hill likes to peel the layers off society to reveal the grim situation - the "fetid world" (Shadows) faced by the urban poor in a seemingly pretty and affluent English cathedral town.  

Of course you have to suspend belief that so many colourful crimes could occur in one place; of course policeman surely don't act like that; it is a measure of the quality of Hill's writing that you begin to not care about these things and to lose yourself in her story-telling. The writing is excellent. I am in considerable awe of a writer who can maintain high standards throughout a series. On the whole I think #1, The Various Haunts of Men, will remain my favourite, just because it was so astonishingly rule-breaking in its approach to the crime novel. That feeling of shock lingers a very long time. I am greatly looking forward to reading the next one (The Betrayal of Trust) soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

{weekend words}

I looked at her in some surprise. Seeing the Garnet week in, week out, always calm and unruffled and efficient we scarcely thought of her as a woman but rather as one of ourselves. I don't suppose she was a day more than twenty-five or twenty-six, but she was so self-assured that I imagine it made her seem older than she really was. And when she took off the hideous horn-rimmed spectacles she invariably wore in the office, she was really not bad-looking.
Valentine Williams (1932)
The Gold Comfit Box (A Clubfoot Story)
(Available for free at manybooks)

This is one of my favourite stereotypes:
the plain secretary who removes her glasses 
and becomes a dazzling adventuress.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

{review} what maisie knew

Henry James What Maisie Knew (1897)

What Maisie Knew (Penguin Classics) What Maisie Knew (Oxford World's Classics)

I've always wanted to know what it was that Maisie knew.

Maisie is a child caught in the middle of her parents' vicious divorce:
"Poor little monkey!" she at last exclaimed; and the words were an epitaph for the tomb of Maisie's childhood. She was abandoned to her fate. What was clear to any spectator was that the only link binding her to either parent was this lamentable fact of her being a ready vessel for bitterness, a deep little porcelain cup in which biting acids could be mixed. They had wanted her not for any good they could do her, but for the harm they could, with her unconscious aid, do each other.
Her parents are ordered to share her care, with Maisie to spend six months of the year with each parent. Her parents play every aspect of Maisie's life off against each other, leaving her in a constant state of instability, and with the impression that neither of her parents care much for anyone but themselves. Whenever Maisie thinks that she has found someone with whom to build a stable home ("But it was like being perched on a prancing horse, and she made a movement to hold on to something" [Oh dear, unwitting stable/horse pun there, sorry]), she is almost immediately torn from her temporary peace of mind by one or other of her selfish parents. the carriage, her mother, all kisses, ribbons, eyes, arms, strange sounds and sweet smells, said to her: "And did your beastly papa, my precious angel, send any message to your own loving mamma?" Then it was that she found the words spoken by her beastly papa to be, after all, in her little bewildered ears, from which, at her mother's appeal, they passed, in her clear shrill voice, straight to her little innocent lips. "He said I was to tell you, from him," she faithfully reported, "that you're a nasty horrid pig!" 

Her "periodical uprootings", in which she is parted from her beloved governesses who provide the only constants in her life, are described in terms of brutal dentistry: "Embedded in Mrs. Wix's nature as her tooth had been socketed in her gum, the operation of extracting her would really have been a case for chloroform."

Maisie soon learns to be silent and to observe. Gaining a reputation for dullness serves to protect her from her parents' desire to use her to hurt each other. But her parents also take on new partners - and then new lovers too - and Maisie is forced to establish her own footing with these new step-parents and hangers-on. The world inhabited by the adults is one of gross immorality, where the individual lives to please only him- or herself. (I assume that there is also some sort of Biblical force in the idea of what Maisie 'knows'.)

When Maisie's step-parents - her mother's new husband the charming Sir Claude and her father's beautiful new wife, who was also Maisie's governess - fall for each other they too manipulate the proximity of Maisie to further their relationship. Maisie again becomes "a jolly good pretext... for their game" in which the two people she thought she could trust will again betray her. 

What Maisie Knew is filled with so many instances of heartbreaking cruelty towards its observant but silent young protagonist. Maisie's mother enjoys 'scenes':
"It must be either one thing or the other; if he takes you, you know, he takes you. I've struck my last blow for you; I can follow you no longer from pillar to post. I must live for myself at last, while there's still a handful left of me. I'm very, very ill; I'm very, very tired; I'm very, very determined. There you have it. Make the most of it. Your frock's too filthy; but I came to sacrifice myself." Maisie looked at the peccant places; there were moments when it was a relief to her to drop her eyes even on anything so sordid.
"Peccant places": it is phrases like that which bring me back to Henry James, despite his sentences making my head hurt.

The reader becomes aware that while all of the adult characters in the book claim to be making sacrifices and doing everything in their power for Maisie, it is clear that all are motivated by self-interest, even Maisie's hero the lovely Sir Claude. As Sir Claude's paramour - and Maisie's old governess/stepmother - notes of his actions, he is now,
"Free, first, to divorce his own fiend."
The benefit that, these last days, she had felt she owed a certain person left Maisie a moment so ill-prepared for recognising this lurid label that she hesitated long enough to risk: "Mamma?"
"She isn't your mamma any longer," Mrs. Beale returned. "Sir Claude has paid her money to cease to be." Then as if remembering how little, to the child, a pecuniary transaction must represent: "She lets him off supporting her if he'll let her off supporting you." Mrs. Beale appeared, however, to have done injustice to her daughter's financial grasp.
"And support me himself?" Maisie asked.
"Take the whole bother and burden of you and never let her hear of you again. It's a regular signed contract."
"Why that's lovely of her!" Maisie cried.
"It's not so lovely, my dear, but that he'll get his divorce."
And there is, of course, the final betrayal, with Maisie a poor second to her friend Sir Claude's new love. But Maisie 'knows' a lot by now about life's betrayals and chooses to leave the lovers and make her own way with the only person who has never willingly abandoned her - the old, faithful governess Mrs Wix:
"I didn't look back, did you?"
"Yes. He wasn't there," said Maisie.
"Not on the balcony?"
Maisie waited a moment; then "He wasn't there" she simply said again.
Mrs. Wix also was silent a while. "He went to HER," she finally observed.
"Oh I know!" the child replied.
Mrs. Wix gave a sidelong look. She still had room for wonder at what Maisie knew. 
Poor Maisie, who knows full well that her guardian and erstwhile friend Sir Claude is so wrapped up in his lover that he cannot even afford his child a farewell wave.

Favourite lines: when Maisie is letter-writing, she is described as answering "with an enthusiasm controlled only by orthographical doubts"! On a rare occasion when she pleases her mother, Maisie is wrenched into a hug: "The next moment she was on her mother's breast, where, amid a wilderness of trinkets, she felt as if she had suddenly been thrust, with a smash of glass, into a jeweller's shop-front, but only to be as suddenly ejected..."

Almost everyone in this book was quite unlikeable, but it seemed to work, somehow. I really enjoyed What Maisie Knew - though I suspect that "enjoyed" is a bit perky-sounding for a book filled with so much misery and destruction. The writing saves this from being sheer melodrama.

Rating: 7/10

If you liked this... I wondered if Maisie would grow up into a Jamesian or a Hodgson Burnett type of heroine?

Monday, September 12, 2011

{misc.} helluo librorum

This popped into my Oxford English Dictionary word of the day last week, and is well worth quoting in full: 

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌhɛljʊəʊ lᵻˈbrɔːrəm/, U.S. /ˌhɛljuoʊ ləˈbrɔ(ə)rəm/ 

Etymology: < post-classical Latin helluo librorum (in some medieval MSS of Cicero) < classical Latin helluō HELLUO n. + librōrum, genitive plural of liber book (see library n.1). In early editions of Cicero De Finibus 3. 7, it is said that Cato ‘quasi helluo librorum‥videatur’ (‘appeared like a glutton for books’); the modern reading, restored from MS evidence by Jan Gruter in his edition of 1618, is ‘quasi helluari libris‥videatur’ (‘appeared as if to devour books’). 

Now rare. 

An insatiable reader, a bookworm. 

1635 S. BIRCKBEK Protestants Evid. xii. 4  One of these brothers was called Comestor‥, as it were booke-eater, because he was such a Helluo librorum, a devourer of bookes. 
1738 Relig. of Nature Delineated (ed. 6) Pref. p. ix,  He was of Opinion too That a man might easily read too much: And he considered the Helluo Librorum and the True Scholar as two very different Characters.
1841 U.S. Democratic Rev. Sept. 299 We would not style him exactly a helluo librorum, but rather a sort of antiquarian epicure of letters. 
1942 E. K. Chambers Sheaf of Stud. 153  He [sc. Coleridge] does not mention the Bodleian, but it would be odd if such a helluo librorum did not see it. 
I think it is time that this one got reused again. It be a great book blog name, except someone's beaten us to it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

{weekend words}

"Let’s all step back and take a deep breath," I said, though I was the only person in the room who was breathing.
Charlaine Harris (2009)
Dead And Gone 
(Sookie Stackhouse 9)

Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

Monday, September 5, 2011

{review} lisa st aubin de terán

Lisa St Aubin de Terán The Slow Train to Milan (1983)
Lisa St Aubin de Terán Off The Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict (1989)

The Slow Train to Milan   Off the Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict

It's nearly ten years now since I left Italy, and three full years since I left the Andes, but strangers still come up to me sometimes in Paris, or London, or Caracas. And they say,
'You were one of the four, weren't you?'
And I know what they mean, and sometimes I nod, and sometimes I don't any more, but inside, I always think, 'We weren't really four, there were five of us: César, Otto, Elías and me, and the slow train to Milan.' And the slow train was the slide rule of our existence, often our raison d'être. Our exile was aimless without it. I wonder if we would have survived the waiting, the tension and the failure, but for the luxury of moving on. (The Slow Train to Milan)
To say that Lisa St Aubin de Terán has led an interesting life is somewhat of an understatement. She has run away from home in London at age 16 to marry an exiled Venezualan aristocrat who turned out to be a violent schizophrenic who basically imprisoned her and her baby on a sugar plantation in the Andes; she lived on the run with a group of dissidents who funded their activities by robbing banks; she devoted a decade to restoring a villa in Tuscany; she spent a lot of time wearing ball-gowns from bygone eras as day-wear and travelling with trunks; and she has spent, it seems, a lifetime on trains. (source)

From her life on the rails she has produced a memoir and what might be termed an "autobiographical fiction" (thank you Wikipedia). Both are well worth reading in their own right/s, but together I thought they rounded each other out delightfully.

Terán writes beautifully and she has a real eye - and affection - for the countryside, especially that of Italy from Tuscany northwards. She also had a wonderful eye for characterisation, as in her description of her [fictional] husband-to-be César. One assumes that anyone but a romantic 16 year old would run a mile from him. For example, when the narrator wants to go away without him we read,
I couldn't tell if César minded or not, he seemed quite emotionless. He said that he would be all right anyway because he had the washing to do. He had just discovered the automatic washing-machine, and it was giving him endless pleasure. He often stood over my mother while she did the weekly wash, and sometimes he would ask if he could have a go. He himself had a habit of changing his clothes from head to foot twice a day and then having everything laundered at a proper laundry.
The narrator's [fictional] mother is also delightfully evoked. At the young couple's wedding,
...we discovered that we had no ring.
'Never mind,' César said, 'one day you shall have lovely rings.'
But it seemed that we specifically needed one then and there. Luckily my mother came to the rescue. She said that she had a stock of wedding rings in her bag that she carried round for sentimental reasons.
'If I were you,' she said, pointing to a platinum and white-gold one, 'I would have that one. Andrew gave it to me in 1947, and it was easily my best marriage.'
The Slow Train to Milan is a wonderfully crazy novel that you think (and sometimes hope) is too unlikely to have any basis in reality. When one turns to Off the Rails: Memoirs of a Train Addict, the source of the novel is obvious. There is much to love about Off the Rails, one of the quirkiest memoirs I have read, but if I had to narrow down two highlights they would be, first, that this book, while it covers train journeys in other countries too, is primarily a love-letter to northern Italy. The descriptions of the Italian places and people are filled with such affection: "I... had Italianitis, that strange, chronic, often acute, and sometimes fatal disease that ties the victim to a love of Italy."

Second, I was very taken by how Terán interpreted her affair with rail travel as a sort of cathartic response to the troubles in her life (and there are many troubles):
Now I found myself in a phase of manic restlessness in which I used the railways like an emergency extension of my own nervous system. For this, I chose the line from Bologna to Brindisi, travelling backwards and forwards, occasionally taking a day of so off in Brindisi, for the best part of three weeks. The two-year-old Alexander travelled with me, with his monosyllabic vocabulary, his teddy bear, his luggage, and his own, younger, passion for trains.
Looking back, that time that I spent literally on the rails may appear to be the nearest I ever came to going off them.
I found these two books very appealing. In part this may be because my own love affair with Italy began, back in 1992, with two months travelling the country on trains (I think that if I'd read Terán back then I'd have never left home!). But, mostly, I think Terán's appeal lies in her beautiful writing and the honesty with which she presents her many ill-fated adventures.
Travelling is like flirting with life. It's like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.' (Off the Rails)
Rating: 8/10.

If you liked these... for some reason I keep thinking about Jan Morris, another writer who brings such love to the journey.

Oxford  Venice

Saturday, September 3, 2011

{weekend words}

Valancy wakened early, in the lifeless, hopeless hour just preceding dawn. She had not slept very well. One does not sleep well, sometimes, when one is twenty-nine on the morrow, and unmarried, in a community and connection where the unmarried are simply those who have failed to get a man.
L. M. Montgomery (1926)

The Blue Castle (Voyageur Classics) 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

{review} the turn of the screw

Henry James The Turn of the Screw (1898)

The Turn of the Screw  The Turn of The Screw and Other Short Novels (Signet Classics)  The Turn of the Screw: (RED edition) (Penguin Classics)

An unknown man in a lonely place is a permitted object of fear to a young woman privately bred...
Seriously, I'd forgotten the scariness contained within The Turn of the Screw and I beg you not to follow my example and reread it alone in an old dark house at night...

I keep persevering with Henry James although his sentence structure MAKES MY HEAD HURT. In an effort to work myself into a Jamesian mood, I picked up this novella again, after many years, and was reminded both why I want to persevere with James and why I find it so hard to do so.

Why I want to persevere: this novella is so spooky and most of the time you have no idea if it's because things are happening in the novella or things are happening in your head. It's a perfect mixture of obliquity of characterisation, not-quite-enough-information, and unreliable narrating, working to make the reader doubt every word on the page, then doubt herself for doubting.

Coupled with this is the classic set-up of an apparently innocent young woman sent into the country by a handsome but aloof employer to a spooky old castellated mansion to mind some freaky children (with "false little lovely eyes") with only the assistance of a seemingly loyal house-keeper. Oh, and the young woman is but the latest in a series of staff who've departed under mysterious circumstances. And there's plenty of candlelight...   
The apparition had reached the landing halfway up and was therefore on the spot nearest the window, where at sight of me, it stopped short and fixed me exactly as it had fixed me from the tower and from the garden. He knew me as well as I knew him; and so, in the cold, faint twilight, with a glimmer in the high glass and another on the polish of the oak stair below, we faced each other in our common intensity. He was absolutely, on this occasion, a living, detestable, dangerous presence. But that was not the wonder of wonders; I reserve this distinction for quite another circumstance: the circumstance that dread had unmistakably quitted me and that there was nothing in me there that didn't meet and measure him. I had plenty of anguish after that extraordinary moment, but I had, thank God, no terror. And he knew I had not—I found myself at the end of an instant magnificently aware of this. I felt, in a fierce rigor of confidence, that if I stood my ground a minute I should cease—for the time, at least—to have him to reckon with; and during the minute, accordingly, the thing was as human and hideous as a real interview: hideous just because it WAS human, as human as to have met alone, in the small hours, in a sleeping house, some enemy, some adventurer, some criminal. It was the dead silence of our long gaze at such close quarters that gave the whole horror, huge as it was, its only note of the unnatural. If I had met a murderer in such a place and at such an hour, we still at least would have spoken. Something would have passed, in life, between us; if nothing had passed, one of us would have moved. The moment was so prolonged that it would have taken but little more to make me doubt if even I were in life. I can't express what followed it save by saying that the silence itself—which was indeed in a manner an attestation of my strength—became the element into which I saw the figure disappear; in which I definitely saw it turn as I might have seen the low wretch to which it had once belonged turn on receipt of an order, and pass, with my eyes on the villainous back that no hunch could have more disfigured, straight down the staircase and into the darkness in which the next bend was lost.
Why I'm not so sure: as I would suggest is illustrated by the above passage, James' sentences are such hard work. My God, would it have killed him to shorten a clause or two?

Rating: 10/10

If you liked this... hard-core gothic, I think, rather than more James. Maybe some Poe?

The Portable Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin Classics)  The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings: Poems, Tales, Essays, and Reviews (Penguin Classics)  The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin English Library)

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  • 103. The Man who Wasn't There - Anthony Gilbert
  • 102. Murder by Experts - Anthony Gilbert
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  • 98. Cargo of Eagles - Margery Allingham & Philip Youngman Carter
  • 97. The Mind Readers - Margery Allingham
  • 96. The China Governess - Margery Allingham
  • 95. Hide My Eyes - Margery Allingham
  • 94. The Beckoning Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 93. The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
  • 92. More Work for the Undertaker - Margery Allingham
  • 91. Coroner's Pidgin - Margery Allingham
  • 90. Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham
  • 89. The Fashion in Shrouds - Margery Allingham
  • 88. The Case of the Late Pig - Margery Allingham
  • 87. Dancers in Mourning - Margery Allingham
  • 86. Flowers for the Judge - Margery Allingham
  • 85. Death of a Ghost - Margery Allingham
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
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