|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on August 9, 2020 at 4:30 PM|
I did find Billingsgate Shoal to be propulsive, and once it got going, difficult to put down. From an outset where Doc Adams is simply being curious about why a mysterious boat crew is hiding their actions, he ultimately turns up a conspiracy that involves treasure, assumed identity, boats with secret compartments (and with bodies inside) and multiple previous murders. As mentioned in the first installment, Doc’s (and Rick Boyer’s) unusually high knowledge of boats leads ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on April 27, 2020 at 12:40 AM|
In the first installment of my review of William Bayer’s Peregrine, I have noted some of its bonkers elements, some of which are so ridiculous (the protagonist, Detective Frank Janek, releases tension by repairing accordions) that I wondered if the book was meant as a spoof. The villain, who is our POV for about half the time, also appears to have no motive, though he eventually acquires one. His motive seems to be chaos, or perhaps to feed into and thus reveal the toxicity of ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on December 28, 2019 at 1:30 PM|
As implied in my spoilerless introduction to Whip Hand, Dick Francis’ second Edgar-winning novel is a little light on mystery. We meet the main villain by chapter eight. There is some mild residual suspense in the secondary plots, and there is one big reveal where we learn that the Chief Steward, who had hired Sid to look into one of the mysteries, is himself the guilty party and responsible for a second set of thugs who beat Sid up. I had to reread several chapters in depth t...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on October 16, 2019 at 10:30 PM|
I mentioned in the previous posting that there is another blog covering the Edgars, at criminalelement.com. These are published weekly with a changing series of authors, and so far are spoiler-free. As noted, the authors have sometimes been able to dig up some facts about the authors and books that I did not succeed at finding. I was curious if we tended to agree on our judgment of the winners, so I read three of the reviews of books I have already covered, two that I judged great (Beat...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on July 17, 2019 at 11:50 AM|
So, the major twist in The Eye of the Needle is very well done. Faber, the Nazi assassin, is busy following his orders (the orders he received from the colleague he then murdered) to gather intelligence about an alarming Allied troop buildup in Kent and environs. What he discovers to his astonishment is that the military buildup is fake, mostly featuring plywood cutouts of planes designed to fool Nazi spy planes flying overhead. The region in question is convenient to the nearest pa...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on April 19, 2019 at 4:45 PM|
I hereby pose a philosophical question about well-plotted mysteries. If on your first read you were bowled over by the fiendishness of the plotting, but thinking back can’t reconstruct the machinery of the plot, is it really fiendishly constructed? Nobody really knows their own memory, but it sure seems to me that I have a good memory for some plots. I never had to re-read Murder on the Orient Express or The Hound of the Baskervilles to remind myself what was going on, ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on January 12, 2019 at 5:15 PM|
Hopscotch did not have much in the way of sudden plot twists that I needed to avoid spoiling. Instead, for the middle installment I will look further into the remarkable fact that Walter Matthau starred in two adaptations of Edgar award winning novels and ask whether he is unique in this (at least so far).
First, some sad news – the author of the Edgar Winner I’m currently discussing passed away between installments. Brian Garfield died at 79 on December 29 of last ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on November 4, 2018 at 10:05 PM|
Though the Edgars are awarded by the Mystery Writers of America, not all of the Edgar Winners for Best Novel feature a mystery, and Peter’s Pence is possibly the least mysterious we have yet encountered. I don’t mean by this that there was a mystery that was easily figured out, but that the focus was on suspense and Cleary did not really attempt to create any hidden perpetrators or at least a central enigma that the hero must figure out. The Light of Day strikes me...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on October 4, 2018 at 9:05 PM|
The spoilers this time will not only be a spoiler for Dance Hall of the Dead, but also for The Moonstone, by Willkie Collins, at least to the extent that an important element of the former reminded me of an important element of the latter. So if you haven’t read The Moonstone yet (often considered the first recognizable modern mystery novel ever), go read it and then come back.
Speaking of one thing reminding me of another, friends of mine had recommended for...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on July 31, 2018 at 10:10 PM|
As I said, I found the Lingala Code to be a pretty convincing blend of a spy thriller and a murder mystery, which isn’t easy, because the stakes of the spy situation can tend to swamp the stakes of the murder. In the action-packed final chapters, Michel finds himself in a race to not only prevent an attack on the embassy and an overthrow of his Congolese allies, but to prevent the escape of two traitors whom he has discovered are behind the murder.
The mystery itself had w...Read Full Post »