Forgotten Book: The Portrait Mystery

The Portrait Mystery by R. Austin Freeman, originally (c) 1918. Mystery short story collection featuring Dr. Throndyke. I read this collection in: The Complete Thorndyke, Volume II: Short Stories, (Part I), MX Publishing 2018 trade paper

This is the third set of stories in this omnibus volume, and it contains the two stories from this book that feature Dr. Throndye. Following those, the volume also includes what it calls “Apocryphal Material”.

Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke is a fictional detective in a long series of 21 novels and 40 short stories by British author R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943). Thorndyke was a ‘medical jurispractitioner’: both a medical doctor and a member of the bar. His solutions were based on collecting all possible data before looking at the protagonists and motives in the crimes. It is this method which gave rise to one of Freeman’s most ingenious inventions, the inverted detective story, where the criminal act is described first and the interest lies in Thorndyke’s subsequent unravelling of it.

The book I’m reading, The Complete Dr. Thorndyke, Volume II, Short Stories Part I, contains the two Thorndyke stories from The Great Portrait Mystery thusly:

Only 2 of the stories feature Dr. Thorndyke, so only those are included in this complete Dr. Thorndyke omnibus:

  • The Missing Mortgagee
  • Percival Bland’s Proxy

The Apocryphal Materials are

  • 31 New Inn (the original 1905 Thorndyke novella, which would be later expanded into the novel The Mystery of 31 New Inn, which is included in Volume I of this set of books.
  • The Dead Hand, later expanded into the novel The Shadow of the Wolf (1925)
  • The Art of the Detective Story, an opinion essay by the author

Since I plan to read these two novels, along with The Red Thumb Mark I chose not to read these novellas on which they are based.

As noted last week, I have received notice of the next three volumes, which will be published early in 2020, and have ordered them. I’m quite glad MX Publishing is doing these volumes.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 9 Comments

Current Reading: A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books 2018 hardcover, mystery novel.

The Plot:

Following the death of Mercy Carr’s fiancée Sgt. Martinez in Afghanistan, the retired military police officer, along with Elvis, Martinez’s bomb sniffing dog, the now retired pair have moved back to Vermont to recover from their physical and psychological wounds. During a hike in the woods, they find a recently abandoned baby. Seeking help, they meet Game Warden Troy Warner and Susie Bear, his Newfoundland retriever mix search & rescue dog. Searching the area, Elvis finds a shallow grave and the skull in it has a bullet hole.

The authorities find, nearby, a handmade belt buckle that might help identify the remains. The abandoned baby’s mother, Amy Walker, sneaks into the hospital and steals her baby, then turns up at Mercy’s house. Her home life with an abusive stepfather has kept her on the run while Adam, the artist and activist who’s the baby’s father, has forced them to live off the grid. Mercy wants to help Amy keep her baby, but when she finds the stepfather murdered, things look bad, especially in the eyes of arrogant State Police Detective Kai Harrington, who, unimpressed by Mercy or Troy Warner, warns them off the case. The bones that alerted Elvis are most likely those of local troublemaker Wayne Herbert, whose mother and brothers are still enmeshed in many illegal enterprises.

Determined to tackle Amy’s problems and the possibly related case of Herbert, Mercy puts herself and Elvis in danger as they continue to hunt for clues with the help of a reluctant Troy, Susie Bear, and Mercy’s grandmother, a well-loved veterinarian.

My Take:
I got this first novel from the library because it was recommended as being similar to the books of Julia Spencer-Fleming, which I have enjoyed. While there are some similarities, I didn’t find the character building or plotting quite as strong, perhaps typically in a first novel, and the lead character made many errors of poor judgement, causing problems for the investigation. There is a new book, Blind Search, the second in the series, which is just out. I assume it will be better, and I’ll try it.

Have you read this? What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 8 Comments

Commenting on Some Blogger Blogs

I’m sad to say some blogs using eBlogger / Blogspot are not allowing me to comment. So I will be reading those blogs, but am unable to comment on them.

For reasons unknown to me, some Blogger blogs no longer recognize me, though I have a Google account. Yesterday I spent 2 hours wrestling with this and thought I’d fixed it. This morning the problem is back. So sorry, I’m not going to spend hours a day trying to sort it out.

I have a comment below listing the blogs on which I can and cannot comment. Could this be a settings issue?

Posted in Books & Reading | 21 Comments

Forgotten Book: Campion at Christmas

Campion At Christmas: 4 holiday stories for your festive fireside reading by Margery Allingham, mystery short story collection, Kindle edition, Agora Books November 28, 2018, 63 pages.

The blurb from Amazon:

“Who better to spend a cozy Christmas with than ingenious and affable investigator, Albert Campion.

“Featuring two classic Campion mysteries and two special holiday tales (meaning Campion doesn’t appear in them), this short story collection from Queen of Crime, Margery Allingham, is the perfect Christmas treat for any Golden Age Crime enthusiast. Filled with traditional British charm, snow covered crime scenes, and just a touch of Christmas magic, these festive stories are perfect for the season.”

The stories in this collection:

  • ‘On Christmas Day in the Morning’ (1963)
  • ‘Happy Christmas’ (1962)
  • ‘The Case of the Man with the Sack (1973)
  • ‘Word in Season: A Story for Christmas’ (1965)

I enjoyed these, one of which, “The Case of the Man with the Sack”, I’d read before and is probably well known. I’m assuming I read it in another Christmas anthology.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 11 Comments

Current Reading: Illustration Number Sixty-Six

Illustration Issue No. Sixty-Six published by The Illustrated Press, Daniel Zimmer, editor & publisher

I subscribe to this excellent magazine, which is published four times a year.

Each issue is full of biographical information on the (usually) three artists featured, so it’s read, not browsed or leafed through. It’s always a delight when an issue arrives in the mail.

This issue features George Gross (on the cover), Warren Baumgartner and Paul Shipper.

 

Do you read any magazines?
What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Non-fiction | 14 Comments

Current Reading: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer, Minotaur Books, 2019 hardcover, mystery

In 1974 I bought, read, and enjoyed The Seven-Percent Solution by Meyer. There weren’t many Sherlock Holmes pastiches being written at the time, or at least not many in the public eye, so it was a real treat. Two years later, I read The West End Horror, Meyer’s second Holmes pastiche, and liked it also. So when I read that this book was coming, I was anticipating another fun, well-written book, and got in the very long line for it at the library.

Between 1976 and 2019, I’ve read very many Holmes pastiches, both novels and short stories. Most of them were well written, some really excellent. I like to believe my tastes have been developed, my appreciation of a good pastiche improved. Thus I’ve gotten somewhat more critical in that regard.

I dove into this book with high expectations, but I had not taken into account Meyer’s writing style, not anticipated his efforts to bring some aspects of the characters of Holmes and Watson up to date. I found some of that distracting, and I also felt the plot was drawn out beyond the book’s ability to carry it. This would have been better as a longish short story or novelette. Still, worth reading.

Have you read this book?
What are you reading?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery | 14 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and here’s hoping you all have much to be thankful for. We certainly do: family, friends, health, our home and garden, books, cats, quilting, being retired, and so much more.

Through the woods and over the bridge to Grandmother’s house they go.

Wednesday evening, our turkey will go into the brining solution to soak for 12 hours, then back into the ‘fridge until late tomorrow (Thursday) morning when it will be stuffed with the aromatics (apples, cinnamon, onions, sage and rosemary which will be discarded when it’s done) and eventually put into the oven.

With it, we’ll have stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry, green beans (steamed, not casserole), and pumpkin pie.

While all that’s going on, there’s NFL football on all day, starting at 9:30 am (!). I’ll watch the Bills game, and some of the others, but also help in the kitchen and get some reading done.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Posted in At Home in Portland | 9 Comments

Dragged Kicking and Screaming… PART 2

Yesterday, as you will remember, I told of moving into the current age of streaming with a DVR, Prime Video, Netflix Streaming and so forth. So, yippie and all that, yes? Well, no.

This morning I went into Netflix to print my queue before it goes away, as I moved from the DVD to the streaming plan, and then looked up some of the movies on streaming. None of the first 25 movies on the queue are available for streaming! Nor were the next fifty! All are DVD plan only! What the…?

I figured I’d flip on the TV and see what the full line of streaming shows was. When I fired up Netflix, I got a message from Xfinity (Comcast) saying Netflix streaming is included in my account, and all I had to do was set up a new – not my DVD – account. Wait, I already have streaming on my Netflix account. I don’t want two accounts! We called both Netflix, and after they couldn’t fix it because Comcast had put Netflix into a “package” which they do not support, we called Comcast who basically told us that’s just the way it is.

There wasn’t a lot on the streaming plan we wanted to see, but we DID want to see those movies. So this morning I went into Netflix (using the computer, of course) and cancelled the streaming account and reinstated the DVD account. Back to physical disks, no streaming. We do still get Amazon Prime and On Demand from Comcast, but of the three sources we’re already one down.

Nothing is ever easy, is it?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 5 Comments

Dragged Kicking and Screaming…

Yes, I have been accused of being a luddite (current usage), and the accusation may be justified. After all, I don’t do any “social media” except email and this blog, which these days hardly counts. Just ask anyone under 40.

Let’s consider that forty-two inch thing in the living room. On it, we watch sports, PBS Newshour, other programs on PBS such as Nova and Nature, occasionally Masterpiece and Father Brown.

These days, it impossible to avoid all the streaming discussion. This is streaming, that is streaming. Good grief. But I kept seeing things I’d be interested in watching, but…they were being streamed. So I called Comcast, since they’d told us our equipment was of need of an update, and we did it. We got a DVR. We set up streaming for Netflix and Amazon Prime. We subscribed to TCM, which used to be free, but is now part of one of those damned extra-cost packages. So I guess we’ve joined the twenty-first century. Sort of.

I’m not interested in signing up for a bunch of costly providers such a HULU, or Acorn, or any of the other many, many choices. But if the good stuff is there… What this mostly means just now is things that will be on late, or that we would have missed, we can now record and watch later. So, anything we should keep an eye out for?

Reading? What reading? Too busy setting up and playing with the new box. Looks like screen time will go up (probably accompanied by headaches), but in addition to all the money, that’s the price we have to pay. ** sigh **

How about you? What are you reading?

Posted in At Home in Portland | 17 Comments

Forgotten Book: The Singing Bone

The Singing Bone by R. Austin Freeman, originally (c) 1912 (published in the United States as The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke). Mystery short story collection featuring Dr. Throndyke. I read this collection in: The Complete Thorndyke, Volume II: Short Stories, (Part I), MX Publishing 2018 trade paper

This is the second collection of stories in this volume, and it contains the famous and oft-referred to inverted stories, which Freeman is credited as inventing.

Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke is a fictional detective in a long series of 21 novels and 40 short stories by British author R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943). Thorndyke was a ‘medical jurispractitioner’: both a medical doctor and a member of the bar. His solutions were based on collecting all possible data before looking at the protagonists and motives in the crimes. It is this method which gave rise to one of Freeman’s most ingenious inventions, the inverted detective story, where the criminal act is described first and the interest lies in Thorndyke’s subsequent unravelling of it.

The book I’m reading, The Complete Dr. Thorndyke, Volume II, Short Stories Part I, contains The Singing Bone thusly:

  • The Case of Oscar Brodski (the first inverted story)
  • A Case of Premeditation
  • The Echo of a Mutiny
  • A Wastrel’s Romance
  • The Old Lag

As before, I enjoyed these quite a bit. Though I find the inverted stories interesting for their form, I’m just as happy with the more straightforward stories in the previous collection (here).

I have received notice of the next three volumes, which will be published early in 2020, and have ordered them. I’m quite glad MX Publishing is doing these volumes.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 6 Comments