Bats in the Belfry was not an easy book for me to get into. After I took the book on a plane trip to London, I made some progress but only got a serious hint of Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, with a note of Golden Age snark, and an aftertaste of some xenophobia.
I hoped that this would turn out to be just a first impression and that there was more to it than meets the eye. I just could not figure out why someone would decide to volunteer to keep an eye on a total stranger just because that person is a total stranger who’s ruffled another character’s feathers…especially as there did not seem to be any reasons for it.
Also, I had no idea how this related to the deceased. At all. The only thing I did understand about the stranger that apparently must be kept an eye on was:
1. That he reminds one of the characters of a “dago”.
2. That he went to a pub.
3. That one of the characters doesn’t like the look of him
The setup of this book was damned silly but one of the women characters was quite snarky, so I read on.
Alas, this story did not turn a corner and did not end up a favourite book.
Elizabeth’s eyes grew as round as saucers; with her hat in her hand, and her red curls rumpled up like a baby’s, she looked as angelic as a modern young woman could look, with her lips pursed like a Raphael cherub.
“A corpse, in the Belfry? But Bobbie, who corpsed him?”
“I don’t know, bambina, and the cops don’t know either. Old Neil rang me up just now, simply bleating… I know, the blighter!”
A light of comprehension dawned in his eyes.
“That blinking Macdonald told Neil R. not to let me know anything. Confound him! He’ll be trying to tie the beastly unknown round my neck, like an albatross. He took my finger-prints, and now he’ll say he found ’em plastered all over the Belfry, and run me in for doing an anonymous murder. I always said the chap looked too much like Cassius, lean and hungry, and all that.”
The characters were bumbling idiots, including the Scotland Yard Inspector.
Talking about Scotland Yard, this is new New Scotland Yard…which I happened to stroll by on my trip to London. And, yes, I rather liked that the surveillance camera photo-bombed the shot.
I just started another Lorac (Murder by Matchlight) and I keep thinking that one can really tell that she wrote several books per year. It’s all very formulaic (but so far I’m enjoying Matchlight more than I did Bats in the Belfry. It’s set mid-WWII and I quite like how she incorporated the unique circumstances into the plot and that makes it stand out a bit even if the rest is very murder-solving by numbers)
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I have Murder by Matchlight, too! I’ll need some space between Bats and Matchlight, tho. Let me know if you enjoy Matchlight until the end. So far, it sounds promising.
I’ve finished it and my opinion remains the same: formulaic in a way but I liked that it’s a story that only works during WWII since it’s not a setting that’s too common. So overall I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece but I definitely didn’t feel like I wasted my time reading it.