I’m working on finishing my library books because I get weirdly stressed by return dates and not knowing whether I can renew them when the time comes or whether someone will jump in and reserve them. Just one of the minor stresses of the reading life… a first world problem, I know.
Dead Man’s Quarry (1930) by Ianthe Jerrold
“The murderer was also riding a bicycle… why, if we can trace it, we shall have the murderer ” On a cycling holiday in idyllic Herefordshire countryside, Nora and her friends make a gruesome discovery – the body of their missing comrade at the bottom of a quarry.
I really enjoyed Jerrold’s There May Be Danger (1948) so I wanted to read more by the author. Dead Man’s Quarry is a much earlier book, and I believe it shows. While the story was charming and quite reminded me of an adventure that the Famous Five might go on, the actual investigation of the death was extremely convoluted and drawn out longer than need be.
I am apparently also not a fan of police investigations that focus on cyclists or on identifying bicycles as much of the hunt for the missing bike reminded me of Sayers’ Five Red Herrings, which just really annoyed me for it’s glacial pace.
The solution was not all that surprising when it was finally revealed and I would not really have liked the book much had it not been for a few snippets of wisdom brought in by Jerrold that really hit home with me.
One was when one of the investigators took another to task for trying to make the facts of the case fit their bias. I thought this was such a great statement to read in a book published in 1930.
The other reason I liked the book was that I really liked the characters. They all seemed very young but very able. It was nice to see bright young people actually trying to right wrongs rather than complain about them or trying to drop out from society.
I thought the characters were refreshing and worth the read, even if the story as a whole was just average.
The Body in the Library (1942) by Agatha Christie
Re-read. This was also this month’s book for the Appointment with Agatha group and I really wanted to re-read this one (for the n-th time) as I love this book.
It’s where we really get to know the Bantrys, and see Old Marple at the height of her powers … way before she becomes an avenging fury.
I love Christie and perhaps finishing Lucy Worsley’s excellent biography has added to my craving to re-read some of her books, but to be fair, I could re-read her books at any time.
Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman (2022) by Lucy Worsley
I hope to write a more coherent review o the book a bit later, but so far this is the best biography of Christie I have come across. I was sceptical when I first picked up the book, but now I want a copy of it on my physical Christie shelves.
Worsley did an outstanding job researching her subject and presenting the information in the context of the time, or rather times, that Christie lived in.
I had concerns that that Worsley’s book would be a version of her TV programmes, which I have always felt were a bit … tepid and shallow … or dare I say … dumbed down.
It took no time at all to find that the book was nothing like this at all.
Excellent research presented with insights from various angles to present a balance of views before suggesting Worsley’s own conclusion.
And while she hit on some of the points that Thompson’s biography did also (Agatha’s love life), Worsley did not focus on it and steered way clear of writing it up with a sensationalist angle.
I really, REALLY appreciated that.
Other reviews posted this week:
The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works – William Shakespeare (see The Will’s World Project)
The Breaking Point – Daphne Du Maurier
Rebel Writers: Seven Women Who Changed Their World – Celia Brayfield