#457: Black Beadle (1939) by E.C.R. Lorac

Black Beadlestar filledstar filledstarsstarsstars
It comes to us all in the end: the moment that a prolific, tantalisingly-just-about-available author we’ve been low-key enjoying without ever really loving suddenly turns in an utter duffer of a book.  It happened with the last Lorac I read — Slippery Staircase (1938) — and while Black Beadle (1939) doesn’t quite plow the same ignominious farrow, it’s not exactly leaps and bounds better.  And yet Edith Rivett’s take on the standard GAD milieu is so atypical that while she’ll miss the mark on a few occasions, I don’t believe she’ll have written anything without any merit whatsoever.  This is still a substandard effort, but with enough wrinkles to warrant attention.

Continue reading

#426: Slippery Staircase (1938) by E.C.R. Lorac

Slippery Staircasestar filledstar filledstarsstarsstars
I have thus far seen E.C.R. Lorac’s Chief Inspector Macdonald investigate a handful of rather unusual crimes — a man dropping dead in his garden, a body appearing in a car during a London Particular, and maybe a murder following a “How would you commit a murder?” game — but this is by far the most unusual: an old lady falling down the communal stairwell outside her top floor flat.  Footprint evidence shows no-one could have been near her at the time and, but for the equally unsuspicious death of her sister in virtually the exact same manner a few months previously, there is no reason to suspect foul play.

Continue reading

#379: Bats in the Belfry (1937) by E.C.R. Lorac

Bats in the Belfrystar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
If you seek evidence of my tendency to over-commit where GAD is concerned, look no further than my reading and reviewing two E.C.R. Lorac titles and then buying a further, ahem, six before actually getting round to reading any more.  For all her perceived failings — not as rigorous as Christie, not as refined as Sayers, not as dull as Marsh — I’ve found my first few books by Edith Caroline Rivett to distinguish themselves in her approaching fairly standard setups with an air of trying to do something a little uncommon.  We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are putting a different tread on the tyres.

Continue reading

#355: Change a Letter, Alter the Plot

Paws

If you’ve been paying attention, especially to my comments left both here and elsewhere, you’ll be aware that my typing is rather famously variable.  90% of the time I’m good, but that other 10% — man, some errors there are.  Writing something recently, I made reference to the novel Five Little Pugs by Agatha Christie and then — catching myself in time to correct it — I had a thought…

Continue reading

#330: Highs & Lows – Five Reading Highlights of 2017

good

January, month of rebirth and self-recrimination.  For every resolution to improve there must be some frank assessment of what debilitated you in the first place, and so the month can take on a curiously Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect for some.  So my Tuesday posts for this month will be a mixture of what is good and bad in my reading, and where better to start than a celebration of the previous 12 months?

Continue reading

#279: The Devil and the C.I.D. (1938) by E.C.R. Lorac

51w0ewg0t4l-sx316My first foray into the work of E.C.R. Lorac was long on character and setting but short on plot.  This time there’s plenty of everything to go around, and I’m now very intrigued by what else Edith Caroline Rivett may have cooked up in the realms of GAD writing — am I right in saying that it was mentioned at the Bodies from the Library conference that one of her books will be a future British Library Crime Classic?  On this evidence, and trusting those fine folk to continue their habit of making generally good selections, that could be something worth anticipating.  She’s not quite Agatha Christie yet, but if you’d read only Destination Unknown and Third Girl then even Agatha Christie wouldn’t be Agatha Christie…

Continue reading