Archive for August, 2013


Outside Inn

August 30, 2013

Outside Inn, by Ethel M. Kelley, is alternately fun and vaguely off-putting, and while the plots had almost nothing in common it ended up reminding me quite a bit of Cinderella Jane. And half a dozen other things, in bits. Possibly because there are half a dozen premises shoehorned in, each of them perfectly nice by itself, but slightly less nice when squashed in with all the others.

So, Nancy Martin’s family is mostly dead but she’s got a group of close friends, and she’s about to open a restaurant. She’s studied every aspect of the food service business and she’s full of schemes for feeding good, nourishing, portion-controlled food to the masses at low prices. Her restaurant is a sort of philanthropic project and operates at a large deficit, and people end up using the word “eleemosynary” quite a bit, which annoys me. Read the rest of this entry ?


A Chain of Evidence

August 27, 2013

The time has probably come for me to face the facts: Carolyn Wells was not a good mystery novelist. I mean, nothing can take away from my love for Vicky Van, but it’s the exception, not the rule. The rule is a book where, when you’re told that a young woman has a domineering husband or relative, you know who the murder victim is going to be. The rule has a massively annoying narrator who is usually a lawyer, even more usually in love with the woman freed by the murder, and absolutely always an idiot.

A Chain of Evidence has perhaps the most stupid narrator of all, a lawyer named Otis Landon who has just moved into an apartment across the hall from the one occupied by Janet Pembroke, her bedridden uncle Robert, and their maid, Charlotte. Robert Pembroke is the inevitable murder victim, and he’s found stabbed in the back of the neck with a pin one morning. The catch is that the murder happened at night, after the security chain on the door was on, so no one should have been able to get in without breaking the chain. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Swimming Pool

August 26, 2013

So, obviously I don’t review things that are still under copyright very often, but and Open Road Media have put out a whole slew of Mary Roberts Rinehart mysteries as ebooks, and I know for a fact I’m not the only one who’s run out of Rineharts to read at Project Gutenberg.

Open Road very kindly sent me an ebook of The Swimming Pool for review, and it’s kind of great, in a very specific, Rinehart during the ’40s and ’50s kind of way. There’s a specific formula you don’t get in her earlier mysteries, where the heroine is the youngest daughter of an old family, usually one whose lifestyle has changed dramatically over the last few decades. She’s usually in her late twenties, and when a man shows up to investigate whatever the mystery is, he’s also her love interest. The closest public domain example I can think of is Where There’s a Will — which I’ve never reviewed, but which is kind of similar to When a Man Marries in tone, but slightly less awesome.

Anyway, considered on its own merits, The Swimming Pool is pretty good. The heroine is Lois Maynard, and yes, she’s in her late twenties, and she’s the youngest daughter of the family, and they’ve definitely seen better times. There’s even a domineering mother, although she’s dead by the time the story begins. Read the rest of this entry ?



August 2, 2013

It took me about a month to read Queed. I read it in bits, mostly during lunchtimes a couple of times a week. And there were days when I chose not to read it because the last bit seemed to signal bad things to come. But in the end, I liked it more for all the tension and discomfort. Henry Sydnor Harrison is so good, guys. Read the rest of this entry ?