Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

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The Girl in the Mirror

January 9, 2018

Every time I try to explain my feelings about The Girl in the Mirror, I get stuck, so let’s start with the premise instead. This sequel to Elizabeth Jordan’s The Wings of Youth opens with Barbara Devon’s marriage and departure for a months-long honeymoon. That leaves her brother Laurie without a guardian (and now wealthy in his own right) for the first time in his life. And that shouldn’t be dangerous: he’s stopped drinking and gambling, and he has friends and a career. But the folks who are worried about him are right to be. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Peter Ruff and The Double Four

December 18, 2017

I’m not going to write about all my recent E. Phillips Oppenheim reads–I’ve read about twenty of his books over the past month and a half, and that’s too many. But the more I read, the better a handle I get on him, and I’m finding most of his short story characters really enjoyable.

The Double Four seems to have been published before Peter Ruff, but Peter Ruff comes first chronologically. (You can find the two volumes in one here. I thought it was going to be a third Peter Ruff book, and was disappointed.) Peter is a nice young master criminal who falls in love with a young woman without anything in particular to recommend her. He’s trying to settle into a dull, middle-class lifestyle (to correspond with hers) when the police catch up with him and he has to leave his identity behind and create a new one.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Some E. Phillips Oppenheim Stories

December 4, 2017

I’ve made the extremely belated discovery that E. Phillips Oppenheim’s short story collections are more fun than his novels. (With a few exceptions; you can pry The Great Impersonation from my cold, dead hands.) So, that’s mostly what I’ve been reading. Here’s a roundup of some of them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Perfume of Eros: a Fifth Avenue Incident

October 30, 2017

I kept stopping in the middle of Edgar Saltus’ The Perfume of Eros: A Fifth Avenue Incident and asking, “what is this?” I don’t know if I have an answer. The story is contrived. The characters are no more than moderately sympathetic. The point of view is cynical. The prose is kind of delightful.

Royal Loftus is a rich and attractive young man, who seems sort of interested in the beautiful Fanny Price. She definitely likes him, but she would like him to a) show more interest in her and b) stop trying to pick up other girls on the street. Instead, Loftus pays even less attention to Fanny and tricks Marie Durand, the girl she saw him with, into becoming his mistress. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tom Slade on the River

September 11, 2017

Tom Slade on the River is set a year after Tom Slade at Temple Camp, but it feels like the second half of the same book, and only partly because it resolves a mystery that was set up in Temple Camp.

The first section combines most of my favorite things about Tom Slade. When the scouts arrive at Temple Camp and find a clue indicating that someone is injured and stranded on a mountain, Tom is the only one who immediately decides to try to find him. Everyone else just kind of accepts that something awful is happening, but for Tom it’s a matter of course that he has to at least try to do something. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Rest Hollow Mystery

May 9, 2017

When reading a certain kind of novel, it can be helpful to know that there aren’t going to be that many people in it, and that some of the characters who have been referenced are either identical with each other, or will turn out to be related. A dark-haired young man is introduced, but not named. Then someone tells the story of a dark-haired young man who’s estranged from his family. You slot them into one pigeonhole in your head, and that reduces the chaos to the point where you can maintain a tenuous grip on what’s going on.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, The Rest Hollow Mystery is 100% the kind of book that calls for that technique. But there’s too much going on, and too many people involved, for it to work. The first batch of chapters left me completely disoriented, and the next batch introduced more characters than I had pigeonholes for. And then Rebecca Newman Porter threw in a truly excellent twist. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Room with the Tassels

May 2, 2017

Carolyn Wells’ mysteries are…not very good, in general. The solutions to the mysteries feel like cop-outs. Her detectives and their weird child assistants are entertaining, but because she only ever brings them in for about the last third of the book, they feel like intruders. She’s excessively fond of secret passages, but rarely gets any fun out of them. The characters are inconsistent and usually unappealing, too. Read the rest of this entry ?