Posts Tagged ‘nyc’


The Cinema Murder

February 7, 2012

Consider this your warning. I am going to give away the ending of this book. And that’s probably a bad thing, because the big twist ending is kind of the point of The Cinema Murder, and I’ve yet to decide out whether there’s any other reason to read it. I actually did guess the surprise ending pretty early on, but I ignored my instincts and trusted E. Phillips Oppenheim to do it right, as he has done on other occasions.

That was a mistake.

In retrospect, of course, I realize I was meant to sympathize with impoverished art teacher Philip Romilly. And when he showed up to visit his girlfriend, Beatrice, and realized that since he’d last seen her she’d become his cousin Douglas’ mistress, I did. It’s just that when he murdered Douglas and dumped his body in a canal, I stopped. Read the rest of this entry ?


Our Square

January 15, 2012

In his two books of “Our Square” stories, Our Square and the People in it and From a Bench in Our Square, Samuel Hopkins Adams veers dangerously close to Eleanor Hallowell Abbott territory: everyone is named things like Cyrus the Gaunt, the Bonnie Lassie, the Little Red Doctor, or the Weeping Scion, and more than half the stories are adorable romances between peculiar young men and beautiful, wealthy young women, cookie cutter-like in their similarity. And if he never gets quite as twee as Abbott, he also doesn’t have her touch with hysteria.

But that’s not to say that the stories aren’t a lot of fun. Barring a few missteps and a dead dog, they are. Read the rest of this entry ?


Top 10 Underappreciated Children’s Books, 3/3

June 4, 2011

Part 1/3

Part 2/3

These are the top three, and I’ve put them in an order, but it’s not an important order. These are some of my favorite books, and I love them too much to be able to judge which I love the most. I have no idea how I managed to write anything about them, or why I thought I could in the first place. If you asked me about any of these three books in person, I would gape like a fish and flail a little bit. This is not speculation; it is a thing I’ve done.

A note on illustrations: All three of these books have illustrations that are inextricably bound up with the experience of reading the books. These aren’t after-the-fact illustrations: Ruth Gannett’s were done by her stepmother. Russell Hoban’s were done by his wife. Jean Merrill gave Ronni Solbert a cameo in the book. So if you decide to go looking for any of these books (do!), make sure you get the original illustrations. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Girl at Central, etc.

May 16, 2011

You know those mystery novels that are preoccupied with time and alibis and maps, where you’re constantly being asked whether a suspect could have made it from one place to another in however much time? And how it’s more like a word problem in a high school math textbook than a story, and you keep having to flip back to the map in the front of the book, and every time you do that you lose the thread of what’s going on, and the characters are like puzzle pieces, and it just never really works, even when Dorothy Sayers does it?

I’m exaggerating, but I do get really irritated when mystery novels give too much space to maps and alibis and such, because so often authors focus on those things to the exclusion of the characters. I’m okay with train schedules and clocks, I just want the people in the book to be the most important thing about the book. I get that that’s hard, but one cannot live by plot alone.

Geraldine Bonner, however, doesn’t seem to have a problem keeping her people and her plots balanced. I’m very much indebted to Cathlin for recommending her, because this is the first time a mystery author has made me like flipping back to the map in front of the book (and by flipping back to the map in the front of the book, I mean saving the image of the map from the ebook and having it open in a different window). Also, the narrator reminded me of Nancy from In the Bishop’s Carriage, and that’s always a plus. Read the rest of this entry ?


Christmas Stories: Life and Sylvia

December 14, 2010

Life and Sylvia, by Josephine Balestier, wins the award for Most Condescending Christmas Story Ever. It looks like a children’s book, and it sounds like a children’s book, but I haven’t been able to figure out what the appeal is meant to be for kids. All the jokes are aimed at adults. All of them. And they’re all of the “isn’t it cute that kids don’t know anything” variety. Read the rest of this entry ?


Janet, or, The Christmas Stockings

December 13, 2010

I am so angry at Louise Elise Gibbons that, when I finished Janet, or, The Christmas Stockings, I took a few moments to fantasize about finding out where she was buried, digging her up, punching her corpse in the face, and then somehow making her watch a dog drown. And I know that sounds horrible, but honestly, it’s a lot less morbid than the content of this story. Read the rest of this entry ?


Christmas Stories: Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Chistmas

December 18, 2009

Rupert Hughes, author and (I assume) illustrator of Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Christmas, has restored my faith in Christmas stories. It is heartwarming! It has lovely illustrations! It has the Unity of Christmastimes!

It also has a kind of  self-consciously uneducated narration that I didn’t exactly love, but I forgive it.

Most Christmas stories are set in, or centered around, particular homes — preferably old and/or cosy ones — but Colonel Crockett is about the people who can’t be home for Christmas: actors on the road, businessmen in the middle of big deals, families living out of hotels. People like the couple in A Versailles Christmas-tide, or the young men in The Romance of a Christmas Card in the years before they return home. Read the rest of this entry ?