After finishing Georgette Heyer’s contemporary mystery, “Envious Casca” I wasn’t quite ready to leave her world of crime among the debt-ridden upperclass. Her voice and style is addictive when she’s good. Her characters are well drawn and her dialogue is terrific. So, anyway, I picked up “A Blunt Instrument” which was published in 1938 and features Inspector Hannasyde and was immediately drawn in by the scene and the dialogue. This is Hannasyde’s fourth appearance in the series since his debut in “Death in the Stocks”published in 1935. Also he gets some assistance from Sergeant Hemingway (he has his own series starting with “No Wind of Blame.”) Continue reading
Georgette Heyer (1902 to 1974) wrote only 12 mysteries in her lifetime. She’s more well-known for her Regency Romances. She published ENVIOUS CASCA in 1941. It is a locked room mystery that’s delightfully snarky and witty. It’s a comedic mystery and it features Inspector Hemingway in his second appearance since being introduced in NO WIND OF BLAME in 1939. The mystery in ENVIOUS CASCA was unoriginal but it was entertaining nonetheless because of the characters.
The story takes place at the country manor belonging to Nathaniel Herriard. He’s a rich bachelor who works in trade and is described as tyrannical and hot-tempered. His brother Joseph gets the family together for Christmas. The mood is anything but festive. The guests are composed of relatives, a playwright and a business partner. They are about the most disagreeable bunch of guests you can get together in one place. Continue reading
For the next month, I will be reading British mysteries published during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction which is defined as works published roughly between the two World Wars of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The hallmarks of these books included the style of writing, order being restored, clever detection methods and an honorable detective. Graphic violence and social commentary were kept to a minimum.*
First up is Strong Poison: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery featuring Harriet Vane (1930). This mystery was written by Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 to 1957) who was an renowned English novelist best known for her detective stories. She was also a scholar and a playwright. Strong Poison is Lord Peter Wimsey’s sixth outing since he was introduced in Whose Body? in 1923. The story is set during the late 1920’s. The Peter Wimsey mysteries are still popular today with most if not all of her books still in print and digitized.
She is lovely, smart, and talented—and only Lord Peter can save her from the gallows
One of the first things to share about this book is the humor, which came from the story’s quirky characters. Also the murder mystery is quite clever even though the result wasn’t all that surprising. Lord Peter Wimsey is a charming fellow. He’s described as a gentleman amateur sleuth and is the archetype of the British detective. In Strong Poison, he falls in love with a woman accused of murder.
This is my entry to Rich Westwood’s 1939 challenge hosted at Past Offences. The challenge is for readers to review a mystery, story or film that first appeared in 1939. The Big Sleep fits that criteria and provided the incentive I needed to finish reading it.
Raymond Chandler (1888 to 1959) is an author I have tried reading many times within the last two years. Chandler’s work is highly regarded and he is cited as being the first writer to set the standard in hardboiled detective fiction. The Big Sleep (1939) introduces his iconic detective Philip Marlowe who works and lives in West Hollywood. The opening paragraph gives the reader a clear picture of the character narrating this 234-page story:
I was wearing my powder-blue suit , with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief , black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars. Chandler, Raymond; Amsel Movie Tie-In Cover, Richard (2002-06-11). The Big Sleep: A Novel (Philip Marlowe) (Kindle Locations 17-19). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Continue reading