Foxes Unearthed, Lucy Jones
Wonder Cruise, Ursula Bloom
The White Cottage Mystery , Margery Allingham
The Fashion in Shrouds , Margery Allingham
The China Governess , Margery Allingham
Hide My Eyes , Margery Allingham
The Mind Readers , Margery Allingham
The Tiger in the Smoke , Margery Allingham
Lone Pine London, Malcolm Saville
Who Pays the Piper? An Ernest Lamb Mystery, Patricia Wentworth
Love, Nina, Nina Stibbe.
White Boots, Noel Streatfeild
The Art of Love aka The Villa on the Riviera, Elizabeth Edmondson
West End Girls, Jenny Colgan
Started: The Countenance Divine, Michael Hughes
The next batch of Patricia Wentworth reissues from Dean Street Press will be out on 6th June. They very kindly sent me Who Pays the Piper? and as coughingbear had recommended Inspector Lamb, I looked forward to reading the book. I wasn’t disappointed. The first sentence is: “I always get what I want”, said Lucas Dale. What he doesn’t want is to be murdered, which is what happens to him fairly soon after these fatal words. He’s a nasty man, who’s blackmailing a lovely girl into marrying him although she’s engaged to someone else. Susan (said lovely girl) and her fiancé behave like a pair of chumps. They are the chief suspects and seem determined to make themselves look guilty. It reminded me of one of those school stories where girls get themselves into terrible trouble rather than sneak. Fortunately Inspector Lamb and Sergeant Abbott are intelligent coppers who don’t leap to obvious conclusions. Since the solution to the mystery depends crucially on timing and just about everyone involved is lying, the chaps have their work cut out and even a second murder to solve. Good fun.
I put a shorter review of Foxes Unearthed on Amazon to please the publisher and someone with not enough to do tried to use it to start a row about fox hunting. The commenter hadn’t read the book and assumed that, just because the author had once written for The Telegraph, she must support hunting. This annoyed me rather and put me off reviewing on Amazon.
After Allingham’s foggy, smoky London, I was in the mood for more and picked Lone Pine London, published in 1957. It features Jon, my favourite Lone Piner. He and Penny are staying with the Mortons in their new London home. In the first chapter Jon goes to watch Spurs play. Thick fog develops, buses stop running, Jon is lost and pretty miserable and keeps seeing a man who looks familiar. Of course the man is a villain and it’s another adventure for the Lone Piners. It’s very atmospheric; Saville was good at that. Another good London book of his is Two Fair Plaits.
Re-reading inspired by television programmes.
I’ve been watching Love, Nina on Friday evenings. The first episode annoyed me because everyone except the children seemed to be muttering and mumbling. It wasn’t a question of volume, just lack of clear speaking. The second episode was much better in that respect. The series really suffers from leaving out Alan Bennett as a character. He’s been replaced by a miserable bloke called Malcolm, who is no substitute. This is the third time I’ve read Love, Nina; I must like it!
White Boots I re-read after watching The Making of an Ice Princess. There was a frightful, selfishly ambitious mother in the programme, as bad as any character Streatfeild ever invented. I have to admit that White Boots is a silly book yet there I was, reading it again.
I’ve yet to read a book by Elizabeth Edmondson that I haven’t loved. In The Art of Love she investigates identity again when artist Polly suddenly finds out she’s not who she thought she was. Edmondson wrote such sympathetic characters that you’re drawn into her books. In contrast West End Girls, which I found lying around just when I wanted an easy read, is full of ghastly people! Entertaining but not really for me.
I’m trying to read the much cried-up The Countenance Divine, which won’t be out for a couple of months. It’s very clever but hard work. Should authors expect you to have to work hard as a reader? I’ll decide when (if) I eventually finish it.