Classic crime in the blogosphere: November 2013

The Lesser Antilles Case reviewed at Vintage pop Fictions this month - great cover!

The Lesser Antilles Case reviewed at Vintage Pop Fictions this month – great cover!

Plenty to choose from this month – see the stonking great list of links below – but I’ve chosen to highlight just a few: a mix of good and bad reviews, a bookish find, and a dash of toxicology at the end.

Moira at Clothes in Books looked at Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, unpublished until last year but retooled into Dead Man’s Folly (1956).

Apparently Christie wrote this long story, or novella, in 1954/55, prepared to donate the profits to a church near her holiday home at Greenway in Devon – she wanted to fund some stained glass windows. But, rather embarrassingly, no-one wanted to buy the story, because the length was unsuitable. So she wrote another piece – the much shorter Greenshaw’s Folly (note spelling difference), a Miss Marple story. That one sold, and the church got the windows.

Pretty Sinister Books tells the story of a real find – a vanishingly rare book, The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hearn.

Like most detective fiction fans I had never heard of Nicholas Olde or Rowland Hern. No surprise given the fact that Olde and the quirky Rowland Hern have both been overlooked (or shunned) by nearly all of the crime fiction historians and critics. Through sheer serendipity — that miracle that usually leads me to a treasure of a book — I was lucky enough to obtain a copy through the internet in the spring of 2005. Lucky, because as I later discovered, it is among one of the rarer books in mysterydom and sought after by collectors of impossible crime stories.

Theordora DuBois is not a writer I’ve heard of, and Curt at The Passing Tramp suggests a reason for that in his review of Death is Late to Lunch:

DuBois’ Anne McNeill is so hoity-toity that she makes England’s Crime Queens Christie, Sayers, Allingham and Marsh look like a band of Jacobins by comparison.  And since she narrates the book you have to put up with her all the time.  Her more likable medical researcher husband pops in and out of the novel (primarily to discover the murder means and finally collar the killer through some technical gizmo), but Anne we always have with us.

Keishon at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog highlights an interesting protagonist in a discussion of Charles Willeford’s The Cockfighter:

Frank Mansfield is a professional cockfighter. He’s made a name for himself in the sport. For the past 10 years he’s been obsessed with winning the title of Cockfighter of the Year at the Southern Conference Tournament in Georgia. It is the greatest achievement in one of the toughest sports in the world. To win the award means you’re the best damned cockfighter in the South and with the medal to prove it […] Frank takes a self-imposed oath of silence to help him reach his goal. He hasn’t said a word in three years.

Existential Ennui took a look at the early novels of thriller writer Ian Mackintosh, and found them, erm…

The bald fact of the matter is that A Slaying in September is really, really bad – hilariously, audaciously so – not just in terms of the tortured metaphors, or the cardboard cut-out characters, or the by turns hysterical and portentous dialogue – all of which abounds in abundance – but in the rubbish plotting too.

And finally to toxicology. Anne Harrison looks at the 30 killings by poison in Agatha Christie’s oeuvre.

In A Pocketful of Rye, marmalade is laced with taxine. Derived from the leaves of the English yew tree, taxine has a bitter taste. By disrupting microtubular function, it inhibits cell division. Death can be so rapid, however, that the common signs of a staggering gait, seizures, respiratory failure and heart failure may be missed. Most parts of the tree are toxic (save the aril surrounding the seeds, allowing distribution by birds without them being poisoned).

See also:

Beneath the Stains of Time


Bitter Tea and Mystery

The Broken Bullhorn

Clothes in Books

Col’s Criminal Library

The Consulting Detective

Crime Fiction Lover

Criminal Element

The Dusty Bookcase

Ela’s Book Blog

Existential Ennui

FictionFan’s Book Reviews

The Game’s Afoot

Anne Harrison’s Hub Pages

Invisible Ink

LA Magazine blog

Mysteries in Paradise

Mystery Scene

Only Detect

The Passing Tramp


Mrs Peabody Investigates

Peggy Ann’s Post

A Penguin a Week

Pretty Sinister Books

Reading Ellery Queen

Riding the High Country

At the Scene of the Crime

In Search of the Classic Mystery

Tipping my Fedora

Today in Literature

University World News

Vanished into Thin Air

Vintage Pop Fictions

Vulpes Libris

Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

You Book Me All Night Long

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Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in Classic crime round-up, Classic mystery book review, Information Received and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Classic crime in the blogosphere: November 2013

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Rich – I really do like these roundups of yours. Thanks for the effort. So much to choose from, too! Oh, and I love that blog title You Book Me All Night Long. Just on that score it’s worth checking out. 🙂


  2. Great roundup Rich, and not just because you featured my blog: like Margot, I really enjoy looking at your lists and following up on links and finding some new reviewers. Thank you!


  3. Colin says:

    Thanks very much for including me in that illustrious roundup!


  4. TracyK says:

    Thanks again for the mention. This is a wonderful summary of links. You have introduced me to several blogs I was not familiar with. My favorite find on this list is the article about Robert Barnard, one of my favorite authors.


  5. Thank you for the mention – I really enjoy this round-up although I find it totally sabotages my reading plans! 😉


  6. Fascinating roundup Rich, as always – and thanks for the inclusion


  7. Keishon says:

    Sorry I’m late. Thank you Rich for including my post and for taking the time to do this round up.


  8. John says:

    I just discovered these monthly round ups. Never knew about them and had to go back and look at all of them for 2013. I appreciate your inclusion of my posts. Thanks for this huge effort you make at the end of each month, Rich! You’ve pointed me to a few new blogs.


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