Archive for April, 2010


The Circular Staircase

April 29, 2010

I decided after my second Mary Roberts Rinehart book that I was a fan, and The Circular Staircase is, I think, my fifth. It might be the first one I read about, though, because Rinehart is remembered primarily as the originator of the Had-I-But-Known school of mystery fiction, and The Circular Staircase is the prime example.

Had-I-But-Known mysteries are the ones with first person narrators who are constantly saying things like “I would never have gone if I knew then what I know now,” and “this would prove to be important later” and other irritating things along the same lines — things that are apt to make readers who are caught up in the story…un-catch. Please, someone, give me a better way to phrase that. Anyway, it’s a style I wouldn’t want to encounter in the hands of any author with less of a sense of humor than Rinehart. She mostly makes it work, but I don’t think many others could. Read the rest of this entry ?


He Fell in Love with His Wife

April 26, 2010

For some reason I’ve always had a thing for stories where people get married for practical reasons and end up falling in love with each other. So when I came across Edward Payson Roe’s He Fell in Love with His Wife, I had to read it. It’s a pretty silly title, though, and I expected the book to be just like that: melodramatic and silly. But it wasn’t. Actually, I think it might be pretty good. Read the rest of this entry ?


Belles and Ringers

April 23, 2010

A funny thing happened to me early this year: I read about twenty Nero Wolfe mysteries in a row, and then was completely unable to finish a book for more than two months. There were other contributing factors–a very busy time at work, the fact that I’ve been muddling through Montcalm and Wolfe on and off for most of that time, etc., but it was kind of terrifying.

Hawley Smart’s Belles and Ringers was, honestly, not a great book to come back with. It’s not a great book at all. It’s so pleased with itself, for one thing. And it’s got very little to be pleased about, for another. Read the rest of this entry ?