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A Safety Match

May 16, 2018

A Safety Match is like if Ian Hay deliberately set out to write a fun he/she fell in love with his/her wife/husband book minus all of the really knotty emotional scenes, and mostly succeeded. In fact, I’m not sure it’s not on purpose. Skipping past Daphne’s early married life seems like a spoilsport move, but I can see him legitimately not finding that interesting. Skipping past most of her estrangement from her husband…well, I can see me not finding that all that interesting. But when Jack Carr’s secretary sends Daphne home and Hay excises only the part of the conversation that convinces her, I began to get annoyed. He does give us the reconciliation scene, but by then everything is a foregone conclusion, so it’s not that exciting. Actually, nothing is that exciting. There are few surprises in this book. Hay knows all the beats this romance plot is supposed to hit, and he hits them.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Old Valentines

May 11, 2018

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The Starling

May 7, 2018

For someone I think of primarily as an author of fluff, Juliet Wilbor Tompkins writes an awful lot about people who, out of fear (Dr. Ellen) or selfishness (Diantha, Pleasures and Palaces) stifle the growth of others, usually family members. But usually it’s a subplot, and in The Starling it’s the entire book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trying to find a book…

April 19, 2018

…About which I remember very little.

There was a girl who designed spoons. I think there were other girls (who possibly lived in the same building with her) with other artistic endeavors. I’m pretty sure it took place in London. Does that ring any bells for anyone?

ETA: After some strategic googling, I found it: Helen Vardon’s Confession, one of R. Austin Freeman’s Doctor Thorndyke mysteries. The part I remembered is not central to the plot, and the main storyline is amping up my anxiety, so I may not finish it.

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The Man Who Fell Through the Earth

April 3, 2018

The Man Who Fell Through the Earth might be the cheatiest of Carolyn Wells’ mysteries — even cheatier than the one where everyone insists there’s no secret passage and then there’s a secret passage. But I liked it. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Mark of Cain

March 30, 2018

A funny thing about Carolyn Wells — one of many funny things about Carolyn Wells — is that, brilliant as her detectives are, their assistants are smarter. Fleming Stone and Pennington Wise may make clever deductions, but it’s always Fibsy and Zizi with the big breakthroughs — and Stone and Wise with most of the credit. And yet there’s so much trust between Penny Wise and Zizi, and between Stone and Fibsy, that I’m not mad about it. The Mark of Cain is Fibsy’s origin story, something I never thought to want, but am happy to have. And while Fibsy deserves much of the credit in this one, too, I’ve never been so happy to see Fleming Stone. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Deep Lake Mystery

March 26, 2018

Today is the 66th anniversary of Carolyn Wells’ death. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading a lot of Wells’ books lately. And taking notes.

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Carolyn Wells’ mystery novels are best appreciated when you set your standards low. Expect uncomfortable family relationships, people falling in love at first sight, and a solution to the mystery that makes you feel like Wells might be cheating. That way you can appreciate Wells’ moments of charm, and good-naturedly roll your eyes through the rest of the book, instead of throwing it at a wall. The Deep Lake Mystery has all those expected elements, and enough charm to resign me to the more than averagely crazy ending. Read the rest of this entry »