Nautical naughtiness – Classic crime in the blogosphere, January 2014

Ahoy there!

In honour of The False Inspector Dew, my book of the year so far, and a crime novel I whole-heartedly recommend in my soon-to-be-written-up review, I have decided to give this month’s pick of the blogs a nautical theme. Avast, my hearties.

Too Much of WaterOff the starboard bow (I’ll stop now), Bev at My Reader’s Block looked at Bruce Hamilton’s Too Much of Water (1958) set on a small cabin ship sailing from Liverpool to the West Indies.

Holidaying conductor Edgar Cantrell investigates the deaths of several fellow passengers – who seem to be connected only by the fact that they were very annoying.

Hamilton gives us a near-four-star story. The characters are interesting and somewhat comic at times. Cantrell makes for a nice, male version of the middle-aged busybody getting himself drawn into a bit of amateur detective work.

Vintage Pop Fictions looked at another kind of boat – an underwater one. In Horse Under Water (1963) Len Deighton’s nameless spy is sent to investigate a sunken German U-Boat off the Portuguese coast. He soon finds his job is not as straight-forward as it seemed.

This is spy fiction of a very different kind from James Bond. There’s relatively little action and when acts of violence do occur they come unexpectedly. That’s not to say that it’s dull. There’s plenty of tension and plenty of suspense as the plot twists and turns. There’s danger, but it’s a brooding menacing kind of danger, it’s danger that can take the characters (and the book’s readers) off their guard.

SpyshipStaying under the sea, Sergio at Tipping My Fedora looked at Tom Keene and Brian Haynes’ Spyship (1980), a book which has a real ring of truth about it.

The premise is based on the true case of the Gaul trawler, which sank in February 1974 off the north coast of Norway, which the authors investigated for a TV news magazine show. Attempts to find the wreckage failed, leading to several conspiracy theories that would not be truly resolved for another thirty years.

One last shipwreck. The blogger at My Bookish Friends is reading 100 books recommended by friends (not a bad idea, actually). Inexplicably, one of her friends recommended the famously poor The Floating Admiral, a 1923 collaboration by the Detection Club (Sayers, Chesterton, Christie etc.). A book so bad I gave it back to the charity shop. A short but pithy review concludes:

By the eighth or ninth, painstakingly pedantic, solution I found myself envying the corpse.

The Body Missed the BoatAnd finally, Curt over at the Passing Tramp almost tied in to the nautical mystery theme, but unfortunately, The Body Missed the Boat.

Jack Iams’ 1947 mystery stays ashore in French Equatorial Africa.

Boat could have been alternately titled The Gorilla Box Murder, for it details the fallout when the American consul in Brazzaville is found dead from poison in a box that was supposed to contain a gorilla, Mama Bu-Bu, consigned for shipment to the United States.

Anchors aweigh for next month’s reading…

See also some non-nautical reading.

Annabel’s House of Books

Alex in Leeds

AQ’s Reviews

How Good a Detective Are You

At Beneath the Stains if Time: ‘How Good a Detective Are You? (1934) is a compilation of one-page detective stories, challenging the reader to figure out how Professor Fordney logically reached his conclusions… The solution to each story is printed, upside down, on the backside of the page.’

Beneath the Stains of Time

Bitter Tea and Mystery

My Bookish Friends

The Broken Bullhorn

Christie in a Year

Classic Mysteries

Clothes in Books

Col’s Criminal Library

  • Gregory McDonald’s Fletch (1975)

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

The Consulting Detective


  • Raymond Chandler’s Payback (1958)

The Dusty Bookcase

Ela’s Book Blog

Existential Ennui

FictionFan’s Book Reviews

Finding Time to Write

A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook


I Love a Mystery

Ms Wordopolis Reads

The Skeleton in the ClockMy Reader’s Block

The Retro Review

My Top Five Female Detectives in Fiction

Mysteries in Paradise

Only Detect

Open Holmes

The Passing Tramp

A Penguin a Week

The Poisoned Martini

Pretty Sinister Books


Reading Ellery Queen

At the Scene of the Crime

In Search of the Classic Mystery

The Telegraph

Tipping my Fedora

Vanished into Thin Air

Vintage Pop Fictions

Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

You Book Me All Night Long

Creative Commons License
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.
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10 Responses to Nautical naughtiness – Classic crime in the blogosphere, January 2014

  1. That is one mighty roundup Rich – thanks for the inclusion and all the (literal) pointers 🙂


  2. Thanks for the inclusion too, Rich – an impressive collation of reviews.


  3. nessoh says:

    Wonderful list, thanks for including my little review 🙂


  4. Margot Kinberg says:

    Thank you, Rich, both for the hard work in putting together this summing-up and for including my post.


  5. TracyK says:

    Nice theme. Your plug for The False Inspector Dew makes me want to read it again. Another interesting set of links and I appreciate you including mine. Thanks.


  6. Your roundup gets better each month, such a great resource. And thanks for including me…


  7. FictionFan says:

    Thanks for the link and for the roundup. Every month it reminds me there’s no chance we’ll all run out of reading material any time soon…


  8. John says:

    Wow, that’s a lotta links! You really get around the blogosphere, Rick. Some blogs I never knew of I need to check out. Thanks for the hard work and including so many of my posts. I’m putting you on my blogroll — long overdue — so I won’t miss your monthly reports.


  9. curtis evans says:

    Wow, I’m just barely keeping up with John! Thanks for doing all this, I know how long it takes just to do links and then you write it all up in such an interesting way.


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