This post is related to Kerrie’s meme at Mysteries in Paradise.
July was a slow reading month for me. However, it marked the 25% point in my challenge to read the top 100 crime novels according to the CWA’s 1990 list.
- Pierre Magnan: Death in the Truffle Wood
- P. D. James: Devices and Desires
- Dorothy L. Sayers: Strong Poison
Pierre Magnan, who died earlier this year, was the master of ‘Provencal Gothic’, and Death in the Truffle Wood shows why. His ‘unremarkable’ series cop Laviolette investigates the disappearance of a number of hippies from the town of Banon and uncovers a bubbling pot au feu of sexual obsession, avarice, witchcraft and truffles. Laviolette is an engaging protagonist, but the real heroine of the piece is the lovingly described truffle-hunting sow Roseline. Five stars.
Strong Poison is a Lord Peter Wimsey novel with Wimsey at his least annoying and a strong cast of supporting characters including the courageous and resourceful Misses Climpson and Murchison. Wimsey is investigating a case with a strong personal interest for him – he has resolved to marry the condemned murderess Harriet Vane and needs to prove her innocence. Curiously for its 1930 publication date, the murderer is revealed early on: the book is 10% whodunit, 80% whydunit and 10% howdunit. Five stars.
Devices and Desires is a P. D. James Adam Dalgliesh novel from the late 80s, with the usual timelessly genteel and grammatical cast of suspects. The Whistler is a serial killer plying his trade on a Norfolk peninsula dominated by an enormous nuclear power station. The remote setting and the lovingly crafted characters make this a memorable book, but I felt it was over-long and that Dalgliesh himself was essentially superfluous. Four stars.
I gave both Magnan and Sayers five stars, but I’m going to choose Magnan as my pick of the month. Sayers doesn’t need the help…