Monday, July 21, 2014

Mysteries of the Past

The Big Read book #99 finished:  Green Treasury: A Journey through the World's Great Nature Writing edited by Edwin Way Teale (1952), and book #100 (!!!! WOOHOO!!!): Fairs' Point by Melissa Scott (4th in a fantasy series).

Currently Reading:
Hill Country Harvest by Hal Borland, about life on his Connecticut farm
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

Having run out of new fiction to read, I decided to revisit a few mystery series that I first read several decades ago and have since mostly forgotten, so they will all seem new again -- or at least, that's the theory.

First up is Ngaio Marsh and her series featuring Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard.  As a firm believer in beginning at the beginning, I'm starting my Mysteries of the Past re-reads with #1 -- A Man Lay Dead, written in 1934.  

Typical of "Golden Age" British crime novels, the setting is an upper-crust country manor, where a house-party murder mystery game goes horribly awry when a real victim turns up.  So far it is fairly dry, standard fare -- lots of talking to the suspects and witnesses, searching out clues, looking for discrepancies and lies.  I think when I first read Marsh, I was in my "classic British crime/puzzle mystery" phase, where the emphasis is on analyzing the clues, with the reader trying to figure out "whodunnit" along with the detective. 

I also plan to revisit Martha Grimes' Richard Jury series (also a police detective) and Nicholas Blake's Nigel Strangeways series (amateur sleuth), both British, and James McClure's police series set in South Africa.  I gave up on the Grimes series when her writing started going downhill, but I hear good things about her more recent entries and am curious about those newer novels.  But my memory of the earlier ones is foggy, so I'll start back at the beginning.

I wish I'd kept all these books -- alas, they got the boot during one of my regular book purges many years ago.  Nowadays I try hard not to dump books I've read -- eventually I will have forgotten them and then hey, hours and hours of re-reading to look forward to!  


  1. I picked up a couple of Martha Grimes books at the last book sale. I don't think I've read them before but I don't really remember and I can't remember the titles, but you are more than welcome to borrow them when you come to visit. I will try to write down the titles this week and let you know what they are. I love those books, although sometimes I think the titles are the most inspired part - LOL.

    1. I'd be looking for earlier titles in the series -- who knows if I'll make it all the way through. Thanks for checking the titles!