THE IVORY DAGGER (1950) by Patricia Wentworth

Wentworth_Ivory-Dagger_bantamI may not be a particular fan of cosies (or even ‘cozies’) but for decades Wentworth was a truly ubiquitous figure – so it’s about time Fedora posted a review of one of her mysteries. Doris Amy Elles (1878-1961) as Wentworth wrote nearly three dozen whodunits featuring Miss Maud Silver, a retired  schoolteacher turned professional sleuth. Dagger is, by my reckoning (see below) the 18th in the series and features a peculiar scenario in which a woman apparently stabs her fiancée while sleepwalking after an overdose of Walter Scott’s fiction! But did she actually do it?

I offer the following reviews as part of Bev’s 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, England, Friday's Forgotten Book, Patricia Wentworth | 34 Comments



“You wouldn’t have a brother called Luigi van Brux?
“Are you a relation of Girth Brux, the hairless grappler, aka ‘the Belgian Bollard’?”
“You wouldn’t be related to the van Bruxes of Bruxelles, by any chance?”
“The very same.”

Following on from The Bald Bowelero, which I previously profiled here, now comes the next volume in the continuing misadventures of Jewish Irish shamus, Ira Retru Grade. Here comes the blurb:

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Posted in 'In praise of ...', Ira Retru Grade, Jim Ballantyne | 8 Comments

THE QUIET AMERICAN (1955) by Graham Greene

Greene_Thee-Quiet-American_bantamGraham Greene differentiated his thrillers like A Gun For Sale (1934) from more mainstream efforts by labelling them ‘entertainments’ though the line often blurred, as with Brighton Rock (1938). After the War he stopped making the distinction, benefitting his work as a whole as he was able to incorporate the dramatic tools used in his crime stories and screenplays to great effect in such major late works as The Honorary Consul (1973) and his prescient and still under-regarded political mystery, The Quiet American. I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; Rich Westwood’s celebration of 1955 at Past Offences; and Patti’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme at Pattinase. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Five Star review, Graham Greene, Vietnam | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

THE RINGER (1929) by Edgar Wallace

Wallace_The-Ringer_panLike Somerset Maugham, the hugely popular novelist and short story writer Edgar Wallace was for a time even more successful as a playwright, starting with his 1927 smash, The Ringer, adapted from his novel, The Gaunt Stranger. It was so successful in fact that Wallace reworked the novel to match the stage version and re-issued it under the new title. This revised edition is the most easily available today and remains the best-known iteration of the story – not least as it was also used for many film versions of the book and play.

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Edgar Wallace, England, Friday's Forgotten Book, Germany | Tagged , | 43 Comments

Friday’s Forgotten Books – 20 February 2015

friday's forgotten booksIn Patti Abbott’s absence, while she finishes going over the proofs of her latest book, I am corralling today’s FFB – there will be updates throughout the day so please send me your links if I’ve missed you off the list below – and thanks in advance for your great contributions to the meme, which next week will be back at its usual Pattinase home.

My own brief contribution this week is a return to one of my favourite writers, ironist and postmodernist supreme Gilbert Adair, who made his first engagement with the mystery genre with his phantasmagoric 1992 short novel, The Death of the Author 

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Posted in Friday's Forgotten Book, Gilbert Adair | 38 Comments

CLEAN BREAK (1955) by Lionel White

White_The-Killing_lizardI’d not read anything by Lionel White (1905-1985) before but was really looking forward to it, being a huge fan of the movie adaptation. This story of a racecourse heist that (of course) goes wrong was filmed very shortly after its publication. Released in 1956 as The Killing, it stars Sterling Hayden and was directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by Jim Thompson. It has tended to overshadow the original book quite a bit (and has often been re-printed under the movie title), which is a real shame …

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Rich Westwood’s celebration of all things 1955 over at his Past Offences blog.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, California, Jim Thompson, Lionel White, New York | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Portrait of Alison (1956)

Potrait-of-Alison_DVDAlso known as Postmark for Danger, this  is a typically engaging thriller by Francis Durbridge (1912-1998), for many the heir to Edgar Wallace thriller crown. He first came to prominence with his hugely popular Paul Temple serials for BBC radio. He then moved even more successfully into television and wrote several novels and stage plays too. Over a period of forty years he was so popular, in the UK and on the Continent (Germany and Italy especially), as to constitute almost a genre all on his own, one in which innocent men and women have to prove their innocence of murder by unmasking the leader of a gang of smugglers! We begin with a car driving over a cliff in Italy …

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Posted in Film Noir, Francis Durbridge, Italy, London, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 38 Comments