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The Strange Countess

January 17, 2020

What is there to say about an Edgar Wallace thriller, really? They’re all good in the way his books are good and bad in the way his books are bad.

The Strange Countess¬†focuses on Lois Margaritta Reddle, who is about to leave the lawyer’s office where she works to become secretary to the Countess of Moron. She also has a young man who follows her around–she assumes he’s angling for an introduction–and a mother in prison, although she doesn’t know that until a few chapters in. Someone keeps making attempts on Lois’ life, and the countess and her friend Chauncey Praye are definitely up to no good. The young man turns out to be a detective, who’s interest in Lois isn’t romantic–at first. Then there’s the countess’ son Selwyn, who isn’t as stupid as people think, and Lois’ roommate Lizzy Smith. They remind me a bit of Dolph and Hannah in Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion.

What else do you need to know? Someone shoots a couple of dogs, but offstage, so to speak.

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The Shuttle

January 13, 2020

I’ve been meaning to read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Shuttle for years, but somehow never managed to get there until I got a very compelling email about it from RQ reader Franziska. Yes, I knew it was about an American heiress marrying a titled Englishman, but did I know it featured a competent young woman restoring a crumbling estate, or an abusive husband being defied and punished? I couldn’t have, or I would have read it ages ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Year in Books 2019, slightly belated

January 7, 2020

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The Billiard Room Mystery

January 6, 2020

Hi there. My New Year’s resolution is to update regularly again. We’ll see how it goes.Image result for brian flynn the billiard room mystery

Maybe starting with a bad book will make things easier? The Billiard Room, by Brian Flynn, is very bad. It feels like it was written by an alien whose only knowledge of human society was gleaned from other second rate country house mystery novels. Apparently it’s the first of a long series. I wonder if Flynn got any better, but I’m not curious enough to try to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Seven Conundrums

August 19, 2019

I’ve been reading a lot of E. Phillips Oppenheim lately. This is a thing that happens to me sometimes. It’s kind of like getting a cold.

I’m afraid of running out of Oppenheim short stories at some point, so I’ve mostly been reading ones I’ve already read. One of those is The Seven Conundrums, a series of seven stories–and an intro–about three young entertainers working for a mysterious epicure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Polly and Eleanor

April 14, 2019

So, I don’t know if the whole Polly and Eleanor series is going to happen for me, this time around. It’s partly that I’ve been reading too slowly and I’ve lost momentum, and partly that my attention is on other things. But also Polly and Eleanor is, you know, not very good–and in frustrating ways. Read the rest of this entry »

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12th Blogiversary/Polly of Pebbly Pit

March 4, 2019

I read the first five books in Lillian Elizabeth Roy’s Polly Brewster series in 2007, right around when I started this blog. I had to stop there, because the sixth book wasn’t out of copyright yet, but since then, when I’ve thought about the public domain expanding in 2019, I’ve thought, “Oh, then I’ll be able to read the next Polly and Eleanor book.” 2019 felt really far away in 2007, but it’s finally here, so it feels appropriate to celebrate this blogiversary by revisiting this series.

This is making it sound like these books are really great, and if I recall correctly, they’re not. Polly of Pebbly Pit certainly isn’t, but it’s not bad, either–it’s just a decent girls’ series book for people who like girls’ series books, with an emphasis on sensible parenting and some mean-spirited comic relief. Read the rest of this entry »