Monday, July 26, 2021

Summerbooks: Death by knitting needle

We had some friends over last night for drinks and snacks--and mosquitoes. A couple of them were knitters. I couldn't contribute much to that part of the conversation except to say that, in the last two mysteries I read, the murder weapon was a knitting needle...

Patricia Moyes/Night Ferry To Death (1985)

Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett of Scotland Yard and his wife Emmy are able to slip away for a quick vacation to the Netherlands. They see the tulips, visit friends, have a nice dinner out. The last day of their vacation, there's a robbery at one of the major diamond dealers in Amsterdam.

But that's not Henry's concern, right?

Ha. On the ferry back one of the passengers is stabbed in a sleeping cabin with a knitting needle. The body is only discovered as the ship is docking in Harwich. The sleeping cabin requires a special ticket to enter and the purser said no one went in or out all night. So there's a limited number of suspects, though that includes Henry and Emmy.

But where is the knitting needle? And where are the diamonds? (Because of course they're involved.) 

There's a few more bodies along the way before Henry solves this one, and it includes another trip to the Netherlands to meet with the diamond merchant.

Pretty fun. But if I was Emmy Tibbett, I'd be terrified to go on vacation. A bunch of Patricia Moyes' mysteries begin when Henry and Emmy are traveling. 

Ngaio Marsh/Swing, Brother, Swing (1949)

This one starts with an amusing epistolary section to give us the exposition: Félicité has fallen in love with Carlos, an Argentine accordion player in a swing band. Her mother disapproves. Her stepfather, the eccentric Lord Pastern and Baggott is indifferent to the potential marriage; he just wants to sit in with the band. So Félicité's cousin Carlisle is summoned in an attempt to talk some sense into her. Another cousin Edward Manx, plus various swing band members are on the scene as well. Various romance possibilities are in the offing.

Lord P&B's musical debut occurs in a club. They've planned some stage business where our lordship will shoot Carlos in the middle of his hot solo. The gun is supposed to be loaded with blanks...but you know how that goes.

Or maybe you don't, because instead of an actual bullet replacing one of the blanks, the murderer has rigged up a projectile involving a knitting needle. Lord P&B duly kills Carlos, but did he mean to? Or did some other murderer tamper with the gun?

And, as it turned out, Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard and his wife Troy had hoped to slip away for a simple night out at a jazz club...

Alleyn, after the usual banter with Br'er Fox, his assistant, solves this. Of course. Still not sure why the gun was stuffed with a knitting needle rather than just putting a bullet back into it. 

Marsh is knowledgeable about and sympathetic toward performers, and is again here, though her life was more involved with theater than music. But her attitude toward the upper classes sometimes brings out the Marxist in me, and halfway through I was half-hoping one of the aristos had done it. But you can't always get what you want...

One of the last night's knitters asked, so were the murderers women? Now that would be telling...

Sunday, July 18, 2021

#ccspin: And the winner is...


That's Henryk Sienkiewicz' Quo Vadis for me. A good choice. I'd been half-following along the readalong earlier this year and had it in mind. Maybe I'll reread Petronius to get in the proper space. Hubert already is:

Because when life hands you a bowl of (local!) pie cherries... 😉

Did you get something good?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Classics Club Spin #27

Squeezing in just under the wire...

It's time for another Classics Club spin. I was off-grid for a few days there, and now I need to hurry up and figure out some spin possibilities. It's also a relatively quick turn-around spin, so I'm concentrating on short to medium-length books.

From my original Classics Club list:

I'm nearing the end of my first list and I won't pick the super long ones, but here are a few from my first Classics Club list:

1.) Willa Cather/The Lost Lady

2.) Willa Cather/One of Ours

3.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge

4.) Sir Walter Scott/Count Robert of Paris

5.) Honoré de Balzac/Cousin Bette

6.) Henryk Sienkewicz/Quo Vadis

7.) George Bernard Shaw/Major Barbara

Numbers 5, 6, 7 are already on my twenty books of summer list, so I'm expecting to read them soon anyway.

From a potential new Classics Club list:

I haven't made up a new list yet in earnest, but I've been thinking about things I might put on it. And anyway I'm tired of putting the same books THAT NEVER GET PICKED on spin lists. (I'm looking at you, Willa Cather.) So here are some new choices I've been considering. Some of these come from the list that Deb assembled after a discussion of classic non-fiction at the home blog a few months ago.

8.) John Ruskin/Unto This Last

9.) Thomas de Quincey/Recollections of the Lake Poets

10.) Dee Brown/Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

11.) Robert Pirsig/Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

12.) Konstantin Stanislavsky/My Life in Art

13.) Barbara Tuchman/A Distant Mirror

14.) Ernest Hemingway/A Moveable Feast

Some Other Oddballs...

Is Austen in August happening? A couple for that. (The Austen I most want to reread is Persuasion.) Since reading Alex Ross' Wagnerism, I've also been wanting to reread Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark. Mudpuddle lately has made want to read some classic American sea tales.

15.) J. E. Austen-Leigh/A Memoir of Jane Austen

16.) Jane Austen/Persuasion

17.) Willa Cather/The Song of the Lark

18.) Sholom Aleichem/In The Storm

19.) James Fenimore Cooper/Red Rover

20.) James Fenimore Cooper/The Pilot

Which look good to you? Which should I be sure not to miss?