Barnes_DurbridgeThis is a celebration of the work of Francis (Henry) Durbridge, the British mystery author who for decades kept tens of millions of fans in suspense with his cliffhanging thrillers for radio, TV, the stage and in print. He made his breakthrough on BBC Radio in 1938 with the creation of crime writer and amateur sleuth Paul Temple. Together with his journalist wife, always referred to as ‘Steve’ after her print nom de guerre but whose real name was actually Louise, they were featured in some 20 serials over a period of three decades. But Durbridge was remarkably prolific and one of the charms of this very thorough volume is the light it shines on the vast amount he produced besides the classic Temple adventures.

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1222 by Anne Holt

HOLT_1222Like most readers (one presumes) I usually try to read a series in the right order, but … After hearing so many good things about Anne Holt’s work I happily picked this one up, unaware that although it was the first to be translated, it was actually the eighth and perhaps final volume in the series featuring Oslo cop Hanne Wilhelmsen. It does give away the big twist at the end of the previous book, and the identity of the murderer, but since you can’t even get it in English yet, so be it! We start with a bang as a commuter train smashes into the side of a tunnel …

I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in Friday's Forgotten Book, Norway | Tagged , | 45 Comments

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 | 44 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 , , | 37 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