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On a murder spree

OK, my binge reading of tacky romance is over for now and I am going into a new direction (for a while).

Apart from finishing my first book for the Romanian Writers Challenge, which I am going to put high on my priority list now, I am starting to read my way through the list of British Library Crime Classics. You can find a list here at Goodreads (not sure though whether it is complete).

I discovered “The Cornish Coast Murder” yesterday on Amazon and found it sounded great (plus, I love the cover, unfortunately the cover is irrelevant on an old Kindle). Two amateur sleuths (vicar and doctor – does it get any better than this), murder at a lonely house on top of the cliffs while a storm is brewing, a Cornish village with a Bobby who is probably riding around on a bike – isn’t it super? For some reason I find detective novels with vicars always very charming; one that I love and that comes to mind immediately is “The Nine Tailors” even though there, of course, the vicar is not the sleuth.

Anyway, British Library Crime Classics: There are a bunch of them available on Kindle Unlimited, so I will start with these.

Have you read any books from that list of classics? Which would you recommend? Do you have any favourites? 

Article

Meet me in the garden

Meet Me in the GardenMeet Me in the Garden by Rosa Sophia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an unusual story. Not only because of the topic which dealt with past lives and people meeting again after centuries, but also because the story had a dreamlike quality. Dreamlike in the sense that people’s character changed from one minute to the next in the eyes of Amalie, which I found strange as I could not see Amalie’s reasoning.

On one page she was kissing and let Artie fondle her (even though she wanted to say no she never actually did say it) and a little later she “always thought” he was a dark and brooding alcoholic (where the alcoholic idea came from I have no idea. There was NO indication previously). On one page he was sneering and sounding mean and spiteful and a few minutes later she thought he looked lonely and hurt. He was more or less stalking her and sent notes threatening Ian, but Amalie defended him as only being persistent and kept making excuses, even though she felt uncomfortable. Really odd! Not to mention Ian changing from boyfriend with almost angelic patience to verbally abusive drinker back to supportive lover.

Somehow I didn’t understand what was going on. No, that’s wrong. I understood what was going on but didn’t understand the why. At one point one of the supporting characters said that being with your soulmate does not necessarily mean everything is going smooth. Well, being with an alcoholic who insults me when talking to his friends and accepting that simply hoping this phase will pass, then considering drinking myself (if you can’t beat them, join them) is not only not smooth in my book, but rather disastrous. Why did she stay with him?

I can’t say that I liked either Amalie or Ian very much. She was a doormat, and he a jealous drinker. When Amalie met Artie (who sounded perfectly ok to me until all of a sudden he turned out to be a crazy stalker who then disappeared without a trace) she didn’t tell Ian about him – and that was before there was anything going on between them – because Ian would not tolerate that. I cannot understand, let alone support, such a concept. As a woman I cannot have male friends? This is wrong on a number of levels. What sort of relationship between Amalie and Ian is this?

All these misgivings on my part and the underlying theme of a common past history that I could not relate to made this a mystical story that might have made sense in itself, but was way too outré for me.

View all my reviews

I received a copy of Meet me in the garden from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Article

Button holed by Kylie Logan

Button Holed (Button Box Mystery, #1)Button Holed by Kylie Logan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The mystery was not too bad (even though some solutions were really far-fetched). For example, if you were an actress who was more than eager to marry a prince and who even lied to get to that point, would you postpone your wedding simply because you did not find the right buttons? Not very likely!

The heroine must be the most boring conversation partner ever. To give you an idea here are a few quotes:

“I was a button dealer. Buttons were, are, and will always be the only thing I know how to talk about.”

“I didn’t want to come across as a boring nerd, so I refused to talk about buttons, and that was the only subject I was comfortable talking about.”

“You forget, buttons are my business. I think they are the most interesting things in all the world.”

Give me a break! This is even worse than the cookie cutter series where life and death revolves around cookie cutters – and that is bad enough already.

As far as buttons go, however, this is all you will be getting. Even though the heroine is the country’s top button experts she astonishingly shares very little of her knowledge. She sells them, she organizes them, she picks them up, that’s about it.

Disappointing!

View all my reviews

Article

Book tour: Mr. Monk helps himself by Hy Conrad

Cover Mr. Monk helps himself by Hy Conrad 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Various cases keep Monk and Natalie busy and Monk has to make quite an effort to solve a case.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like characters out of the ordinary, like clowns, dislike clowns, are self-help junkies.


My thoughts: 

I am a complete Monk newbie. I had vaguely heard of him before, but have never seen an episode of the TV series or even knew any details about him. So when I had the chance to read Mr Monk helps himself it was a first encounter. The synopsis sounded good, especially as I am, well, not a self help junkie, but I do enjoy reading the occasional self help book.

Now, after finishing this book, I will put Monk on my Lovefilm (the European equivalent of Netflix) queue and wait for the next book in a hopefully long series.

Hy Conrad introduces the reader to Monk in a way that it is not too tedious for Monk fans and at the same time a good introduction for novices. The story is told in the first person by Natalie Teeger, Monk’s assistant, a woman I immediately liked. She is down to earth, sensible and straightforward, has Monk and his idiosyncrasies somewhat under control (if you can call it that), and has non of those typical heroine attitudes that make me instantly dislike most of them.

The story focuses on mainly two cases, which are totally different from each other. The one is an obvious murder case which leads to an even bigger, unsolved case from years ago. The other starts out as no case at all and only Natalie’s determination turns it into one. I liked how they both developed and how they displayed Monk’s many and manifold phobias. Throw a little bit of romance in – even though romance might be too extreme a word here – and the story is sold to me.

As for the solution of the second case I am not 100% sure I was convinced that it would work that way. I don’t want to give away anything, but somehow I found the solution slightly forced, but then again, who knows, maybe it is all a matter of crowd control.

This was a great read that kept me interested from page one. Whether you have known Monk for a long time or have never heard of him before, you will enjoy this.


Movie tip

Monk TV-series


Product info and buy link :

Title Mr. Monk helps himself
Author Hy Conrad
Publisher New American Library
ISBN 9780451240934
I got this book from the publisher for the blog tour
Buy link Buy Mr. Monk helps himself
More info Hy Conrad’s website

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Virtual author book tours

Thank you to Teddy for organizing this blog tour. More information on the book and the tour schedule can be found here.

Article

Oscar Wilde and the dead man’s smile by Gyles Brandreth

inanutshell 

I read it in:  English

I liked it:    Yes


Oscar Wilde And The Dead Man's SmileOscar Wilde And The Dead Man’s Smile by Gyles Brandreth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another very entertaining book in the series. I loved the theater atmosphere in Paris and Oscar’s excursion to the US.

There are several great scenes which allude to Oscar Wilde’s later life (or death) like his visit to Reading gaol, his statement that he hopes his children will never feel the need to change their family name or the talk about Molière’s grave.

Favourite quote:

“Isn’t Molière buried at Père Lachaise?” I said.

“Oh, now he is, yes, beneath a mighty monument. Now, pilgrims come to kiss his tomb.” My friend chuckled softly and took a sip of wine. “There is no logic to hypocrisy.”

This is a delightful mystery with interesting characters and an intriguing plot.

View all my reviews


Product info and buy link :

Title Oscar Wilde and the dead man’s smile
Author Gyles Brandreth
Publisher John Murray Publishers
ISBN 9780719569906
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Oscar Wilde and the dead man’s smile
More Info The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Oscar Wilde and the ring of death by Gyles Brandreth

 inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it: Yes

Oscar Wilde and the Ring of DeathOscar Wilde and the Ring of Death by Gyles Brandreth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good sequel to the candlelight murders. I particularly enjoyed that there are more “celebrities” turning up in this one, for example Bram Stoker and Walter Sickert, who at one point was a suspect for being Jack the Ripper (Particia Cornwell maintains that theory still today).

Again the book is full of quotes and bonmots either by Oscar Wilde or by the author who did a great job “faking” them.

A very enjoyable read.

View all my reviews


Product info and buy link :

Title Oscar Wilde and the ring of death
Author Gyles Brandreth
Publisher John Murray Publishers
ISBN 9780719569609
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Oscar Wilde and the ring of death
More info The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

 Cover The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Insurance investigator tries to prove a murder (or three)

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Absolutely. I loved it.

For people who: old fashioned like detective novels, modern detective novels, epistolary novels


My thoughts:

The Notting Hill Mystery is said to be the first detective novel (published 1862-1863), even though some claim otherwise. Whether it is or not is irrelevant. I was so mesmerized by it I couldn’t put it down. Even though the crime and the perpetrator are clear from the start the suspense comes from finding out how the murderer did it and how the detective finds evidence. Not that we ever accompany the detective on his investigations, the whole book is a presentation of evidence in the form of floor plans, letters, statements and testimonials from witnesses and I can only begin to imagine how much time and effort it cost poor Henderson to track down people and get them to cooperate. There are dubious circus managers, insurance clerks, maids fired for petty theft, there is no end to the list of people who have something to contribute.

Things that nowadays take 5 minutes to find out with the help of an email to Australia, must have taken months then, but Henderson perseveres. A word of caution: In order to go with the flow and accept the solution to the mystery you need to be open to rather esoteric (or mumbo jumbo, depending on your point of view) topics,  but, really, the story is so well told and from so many different perspectives that it hardly matters whether you believe in animal magnetism or not.

Baron R** deserves a place among the top fiends in detective fiction.  He achieves the results he wants in such a casual way that people who do his bidding actually do not even realize this and rather think he wanted them to do the opposite. Very admirable, when you come to think of it. Even at the end of the book it is more than questionable whether his crimes can ever be proven and whether he can be prosecuted (let alone convicted). It is obvious he did it, but nailing him down is another matter. Brilliant!

Right from the start The Notting Hill Mystery reminded me of another favourite detective novel by Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace which came much later (1930) called “The documents in the case”. In that book the whole case is presented in the form of documents (letters, witness reports etc.) without any detective work as we know it going on.

Absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend it.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Notting Hill Mystery
Author Charles Warren Adams
Publisher The British Library Publishing Division
ISBN 9780712358590
I got this book from John
Buy link Buy The Notting Hill Mystery
More info Read about The Notting Hill Mystery in The Guardian
And some more info Find The Notting Hilly Mystery at the Internet Archive (Links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article)

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley

Cover Spackled and spooked by Jennie Bentley In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Renovating a haunted house can be dangerous.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, quite.

For people who: like cozy mysteries, renovating, lovely settings


My thoughts: 

I don’t know what exactly is going on but in all the cozies I read lately there seem to be long lost kids involved. Kids given up for adoption or kids that lost their whole family in a killing disappear for 20 years and then turn up again incognito. Must be some sort of trend maybe?

Anyway, this mystery is pretty good. I liked the DIY theme and I learned a lot about US houses. Never knew what a ranch house was or a crawlspace. John tells me that a crawlspace is the perfect hiding spot for bodies (and in fact has been used by many serial killers). This book takes advantage of that comfortable disposal location.

The main characters are all quite interesting and/or likeable; there is the usual chief of police, the bitchy ex, the successful entrepreneur, the nerd, everyone you expect in a small town. On top of that there is a ghost haunting the house, always a plus.  Somehow that “spooked” part was rather small, as the ghost seemed to have disappeared after the discovery of the body (maybe scared of the dead?) and only re-appeared at the end in a rather weak explanation.

Speaking of the ghost, the book title as well as the synopsis on the cover totally exaggerated the whole haunting issue. It says for example that the ghost “is not happy with the alterations” implying it acts like some sort of poltergeist toppling over projects and what not, when in reality it does nothing of the sort.   I don’t know why publishers feel the necessity to make the books sound more dramatic than they are. I am not reading a cozy for the drama anyway.

All that being said, this is a nice and comfy cozy with a satisfying resolution; I would like to read more of that series.

Oh, one more thing: All those themed cozies  have an appendix with a few recipes, tips, patterns, whatever is related to the theme. OK, in the case of a coffeehouse mystery I see why a coffee recipe might be of interest for the reader to do next time s/he goes into the kitchen. I might even use a knitting pattern (if I am really desperate). However, nobody, really nobody would look for home renovating inspiration or instructions in a cozy mystery! So why bother? Sometimes those publishers take it a bit too far.


Product info and buy link :

Title Spackled and spooked
Author Jennie Bentley
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 9780425229132
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Spackled and spooked

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

Cover Knit one, kill two by Maggie Sefton

 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Niece inherits murdered aunt’s cottage and learns how to knit in the yarn shop next door. As a side activity she tracks down her aunt’s killer.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love very cozy mysteries, rather uneventful plots and nice people.


My thoughts: 

This is another really lovely start to a themed mystery series that won’t get your heart rate up at all, but will rather entertain you pleasantly.

Kelly finds her aunt’s killer while at the same time gets her work done via home office, learns how to knit, socializes with tons of new people. The reader wonders how any of the people in the shop get their (house-)work done. They seem to hang out around a big table and knit all day, in between working a little at a cafè, as a realtor or a programmer. Rather unrealistic, but what the heck!

The snooping around is done in a rather moderate way. A confrontation with the murderer that in other books often occurs with no precautions taken and then results in the impending death of the sleuth who is rescued only by a whisker happens here very reasonably with backup and no danger whatsoever. This book won’t have you at the edge of your seat, but leave you happily satisfied and content – and isn’t that the purpose of a cozy? Loved it!


Product info and buy link :

Title Knit one, kill two
Author Maggie Sefton
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425203590
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Knit one, kill two

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

 Cover A crafty killing by Lorraine Bartlett

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Young widow gets thrown into the artsy business world and needs to find her way around. Snooping around included.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cozies with moderate sleuthing, crafts, antique malls and the like


My thoughts: 

I got this book from Birgit without knowing anything about this series. The crafty/artsy theme appealed to me and I quite liked the atmosphere and the setting. Even though some things didn’t add up or made sense to me, for example, why would a run down artisans’ alley which was completely neglected be crucial for the survival of a Victorian square with lovely specialty shops is a mystery to me. Why shoppers would head for the dark, uninviting artists’ place and then – as a second thought – visit the pretty shops was never explained.

The sleuth, even though not 100% my kind of girl (how often can you say “swell” in one paragraph?), was bearable and not too nosy. Her sleuthing and snooping was also quite moderate, she had her work cut out already with getting that shack back up to par. Quite nice after being around all those uber busybodies who put their noses into everybody else’s business 24/7.

I am definitely curious about what is going to happen to Artisans’ Alley now that Katie is in charge. My remodeling/remaking nature is coming through and I want to see it transformed into a place where I would like to shop as well. The sequels are a must read for me for that reason alone.


Product info and buy link :

Title A crafty killing
Author Lorraine Bartlett
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425239858
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy A crafty killing

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle

inanutshell 

I read it in:  English

I liked it:       No

Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mystery, #2)Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Didn’t like this one. The constant thoughts of the killer got on my nerves. "Genius", give me a break!
Quinn comes in for some reason or other looking like hell, swamped with cases and Clare has nothing better to do than to educate him on the fabulous blend of coffee she is going to offer him once she has ground the beans to perfection. Please! You can take the theme a bit too far!

View all my reviews

 


Product info and buy link :

Title Through the Grinder
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Penguin USA
ISBN 9780425197141
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy Through the Grinder

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle

 Cover Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle

Very short synopsis:

Finally Matt is getting married and will soon be out of the house. However, someone seems to be on the warpath and wants to kill bridezilla.


inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it:    Rather

For people who like: cozy mysteries, coffee

I must admit that I am jumping around a bit in this series. The last book that I read was no. 2 (Through the Grinder) and it was extremely disappointing. I got so annoyed with it in fact that I dnf’ed it. This one was much better again.

I am happy to say that Cleo Coyle has finally gotten the name of Jackson Pollock right. This was a huge bugbear for me, but eventually the man got his proper name.

Then again there is always room for more error…listen to this:

“…Saloma Sunrise.”

“Saloma?” Nunzio smiled. “My little hometown?”

“And Ovid’s, too, right?”

He nodded, clearly happy that I’d done my research.

I am afraid, not. Ovid’s birthplace is called Sulmona nowadays, and was then called Sulmo. Saloma is – according to my research which took me all of 30 seconds-  a community in Kentucky. A bit out of the way as far as Ovid is concerned. I don’t know why this author never gets the facts straight. Research, yeah, right.

Back to the story. It was quite nice, with tons of suspects, not too many corpses and a Clare as meddling as ever. In the end Breanna turned out to be human after all and with Matt  out of the house Clare finally has the flat to herself and Mike. All is well.


Product info and buy link :

Title Espresso Shot
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 9780425230763
I got this book from Birgit at the Book Garden
Buy link Buy Espresso Shot

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

 Cover The Chinese orange mystery by Ellery Queen

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Ellery Queens once more helps his father to solve a baffling mystery.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: love whodunnits, locked room mysteries


My thoughts: 

I always liked Ellery Queen mysteries. They are the perfect whodunnits with a clever detective, a father/police officer sidekick and a nice atmosphere. The plots are always elaborate and puzzling.

This one is no exception. A body is found in an anteroom and the murderer has left curious clues behind. The dead man has all his clothes on backwards, all furniture, clocks, paintings are turned to the wall, even the fruit bowl is turned upside down. All people involved seem to have a past or a secret to cover up or – at the very least – an obnoxious attitude. 

As usual, Ellery solves the mystery in his own style and leaves everybody speechless. I completely failed the challenge to the reader that you will find in every Ellery Queen mystery. It tells the reader that now he has all the clues and he should be able to figure it out. I didn’t. This mystery is so tied to the time it is set in that no modern reader would deduct the solution from what he knows. Times have changed and what was common and obvious back then is now so extraordinary that it would not come to mind immediately. Once explained it makes sense, though.

A very quick and enjoyable mystery. If you like whodunnits you will love this.

Beware! Spoilers follow:

There are various  things I want to mention for people who don’t mind spoilers. If you do, do not read on!

The story first doesn’t appear to be a locked room mystery, however, when we get the solution it turns out to have been one all along. Unusual!

How the murderer was supposed to have done the crime is unfeasible. Yes, Ellery explains the how and that is plausible, but there was just not the opportunity. The situation is almost a little bit like in Agatha Christie’s “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” where the murderer is the narrator. Here the story is not told from the killer’s point of view but we accompany him during the hour in which the murder takes place and there is just no evidence that he had time to commit the crime. He works in his office and during that time four people come in to talk to him. Are we to believe that he is supposed to have gone next door, bludgeon a man, discover something unexpected, think of a ruse to cover that up, execute it (which includes rearranging all the furniture) and then process with his original complicated plan of bolting the door inside from the outside? Um, no!

The title of the book, by the way, is a MacGuffin. All the time Ellery goes on about the tangerines, aka Chinese oranges, which were available in the anteroom and of which one was eaten, either by the victim or murderer. In reality the tangerines are of no importance at all, the orange refers to something completely different.

Still, a very good mystery and baffling to the extreme.


Movie tip

The Mandarin Mystery (downloadable for free as it is in the public domain). However, I would only watch it for scientific reasons, it is absolute bollocks and does not resemble the book in the least. I am not kidding.


Product info and buy link :

Title The Chinese Orange Mystery
Author Ellery Queen
Publisher Open Road Media
ISBN ASIN: B00B1MSILY
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy The Chinese Orange Mystery from various sources

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This BBC production is so far (and I think my opinion won’t change anytime soon) my favourite version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Not sure about the “terrifying new adaption” bit on the cover but – terrifying or not – it was just brilliant.

Richard Roxburgh is a great Sherlock Holmes, a lot grittier than the previous bunch, but what totally made the film for me was Dr. Watson. I loved loved him. He is played by Ian Hart, a name I was not familiar with until I checked and noticed that he played Professor Quirrell in the first Harry Potter movie.

Holmes was as smart as ever, but not nearly as showing off and capricious as we have known him so far. There is no famous deduction scene where he conjures Dr. Mortimer’s whole life and personality from a bloody walking stick and – now that I come to think of it – Mortimer hasn’t even got a dog. They changed a lot of other things as well: there is a séance with Dr. Mortimer’s wife – no doubt an homage to the Basil Rathbone version -, the convict has a violent meeting with Sir Henry in the kitchen and there is a merry Christmas party at Baskerville Hall.

Watson does an autopsy and is generally more able and involved than in earlier movies. He isn’t the usual bumbling idiot, but tough and focused. The relationship between him and Holmes was a bit different, at times he was quite pissed off at Holmes, in the end Holmes lost his trust, and in general their interaction seemed a bit cooler than normally, but I liked that.
I immediately checked whether there is another movie with Ian Hart as Watson and there is one, “Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking” – unfortunately not with Richard Roxburgh, but with Rupert Everett as Holmes. Hm, maybe not a bad choice. I will definitely have to watch that one, even though there are no evil dogs involved.

Speaking of the dog. The Baskerville dog here is a true computer generated creature from hell, quite different from the usual Great Dane or whatever it is they are using. And the accompanying villain is a great one as well, superbly played by Richard E. Grant.

If you like Baskerville movies and are not a complete stickler for 100% adaptations you just have to watch it. And if you are, you should have a look as well, it might change your mind.

______

I have read on Amazon that the German edition is an abridged one with a few scenes missing. What a shame! But after watching it I ordered a DVD from the UK to get the full monty.

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb

Article

In my mailbox

 

Some nice books this week.

I bought (and broke my buying ban)

For review

  • The Chinese orange mystery by Ellery Queen
    I remember I read Ellery Queen mysteries already as a child. There were some child editions – I vaguely remember a boy named Milo and a black dog – which were very entertaining . Later on I read a few adult mysteries and really liked them. So when Open Road offered this one for review, I grabbed it.

 Cover Oscar Wilde and the ring of death by Gyles BrandrethCover Oscar Wilde and the dead man's smile by Gyles BrandrethCover The Chinese orange mystery by Ellery Queen

What was in YOUR mailbox recently? 

Article

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth

Cover Oscar Wilde and the candlelight murders by Gyles Brandreth

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis: Oscar Wilde as Sherlock Holmes.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like cozy/historical mysteries, Oscar Wilde


My thoughts: 

I like Oscar Wilde and I like historical mysteries, so “Oscar Wilde and the candlelight murders” was an obvious choice for me. I was not disappointed.

The story is told from Robert Sherard’s first person point of view. He was a close friend of Oscar Wilde’s and his first biographer, but a rather dull Watson to Wilde’s Sherlock Holmes. The comparison to the Sherlock Holmes suggests itself naturally because Wilde displays extraordinary powers of deduction, a bit too extraordinary for my taste, he might give Holmes a run for his money. On top of that Arthur Conan Doyle is a key figure as a friend of Oscar Wilde and – according to this book – based the character of Mycroft Holmes on him. Be that as it may, Wilde and Sherard are the typical sleuth/sidekick pair with Wilde being quite in the know while Sherard has no clue as to what is going on.

Oscar Wilde is shown as a character with a lot of facets, amiable, the perfect gentleman with impeccable manners, a bit of sloth like, but at the same time extremely moody and unpredictable. His homosexuality is only hinted at by making him "worship" pretty young boys a bit too much to be just a lover of aesthetics. Sherard seems oblivious to this or chooses to ignore it. Strange, because towards the end he becomes outraged when he witnesses some "musical" activities ("musical" being the euphemism used at the time).

The mystery is quite puzzling, even though the reader gets an inkling rather early of who might be involved. It develops very slowly, the investigations are taking place over a long period of time and are not really the main focus of the book. The book lives from the atmosphere and the characters, most of all Oscar Wilde himself. You will find a lot of very familiar quotes interspersed throughout the book and and some that COULD be by Wilde but are Gyles Brandreth’s own.

The end is in the nice and cozy Poirot manner. Everybody is gathered in a room and the sleuth presents the solution, gives his reasoning to a stunned audience and presents the murderer.

This is a lovely, super quick and entertaining read and I am looking forward to the next books in the series already. If you are not familiar with Oscar Wilde at all it might be helpful if you read a little about and/or by him first, but even without this knowledge, cozy mystery lovers will enjoy this book a lot.


Product info and buy link :

Title Oscar Wilde and the candlelight murders
Author Gyles Brandreth
Publisher John Murray Publishers
ISBN 9780719569302
I got this book from a friend
Buy link Buy Oscar Wilde and the candlelight murders
More info The Oscar Wilde murder mysteries

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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On what grounds by Cleo Coyle

Cover On what grounds by Cleo Coyle

Very short synopsis:

First mystery at the Village Blend. With the police discarding the case as an accident, Clare sets out to find the killer.


inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it: Yes. I have already read a few later books in the series so I knew what to expect. It is a nice start to the series that clears up a few situations that were not explained later on anymore. Cozy atmosphere and likeable main characters. If you don’t mind the usual overload of the “theme” (i.e. “There is a bludgeoned body in the basement? Nothing a gourmet latte couldn’t fix.”), this is a very pleasant mystery.

For people who like: cozy mysteries & coffee.


Product info and buy link :

Title On what grounds
Author Cleo Coyle
Publisher Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN 9780425192139
I got this book from Birgit from The Book Garden
Buy link Buy On what grounds

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse (1983–cartoon)

Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville curse

I got this version to watch together with my kids. Apart from the rather frightful appearance of the dog at some points it is perfectly suitable for the whole family and rather fun to watch.

The quality of the animation, sound and general appearance is a little outdated, but this does not lessen the enjoyment. The plot is very true to the original story even though some scenes seemed a bit cut short to me. The length is only 75 minutes, so I suppose they had to leave out some dialogue. Quite acceptable, considering that in some other versions that I watched the dialogue goes on endlessly about inconsequentialities. In spite of these cuts a few things were explained that were not mentioned in other movies, like for example how Holmes tracked Stapleton’s past and found out about his marriage. My boys followed it easily and It was perfect and spooky/cosy entertainment.

I watched it dubbed in German, so can’t comment on the original voices, but Holmes’ voice is Peter O’Toole which should give a bit of additional flair to the whole experience.

Side note: I read one very unfavourable user comment about this cartoon on imdb, but that reviewer claims that the Basil Rathbone version is “excellent” – which says it all.

Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse on imdb.

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This is a Hammer Production which is evident in the scenery, cast and melodramatic plot. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you like the ambience and general feel of those 50s and 60s B-movies.

Apart from the opening scene for which the outdoor scenes have been actually filmed outdoors (footage from another movie that came in handy?) everything is filmed in the studio. The impression that those buildings, moors and paths have been used in many other films is not completely absurd. John, who does know the odd Hammer movie, swears that he has seen the same buildings in “The Devil-Ship Pirates”, and the path along the moors bears a striking resemblance to a walkway in Frankenstein. Oh, well, it all adds to the flair.

The choice of contract actors made it necessary to change the characters in the movie quite a bit. Amiable Dr Mortimer is now a condescending, lord-y prick who looks like he could play Rasputin at the drop of a hat and probably did. Naturalist Stapleton is a middle aged farmer with a webbed hand (the natural conclusion we have to draw here: webbed hand -> disfigurement -> evil), and the lamblike Beryl Stapleton is now a wild barefooted gypsy girl in an Esmeralda-like outfit who is running away through the heather whenever someone tries to speak to her. Mr Frankland now is a muddle-headed bishop who likes his sherry early and who also stands in for the entomologist part which is obviously not suitable for Stapleton in this constellation. 
All in all this is quite an eclectic cast even if it has little to do with the original.

Also it seems that the usual Hammer props had to come into play. A Hammer  film without huge spiders? I think not. What is easier to have one of the bishop’s/entomologist’s  tarantulas stolen and placed into Sir Henry’s boot at his London hotel?  As a consequence we get to enjoy a scene where the tarantula marches up Sir Henry’s sleeve, whose face is distorted with fear (a rare sight in Christopher Lee – see above cover), until Holmes rescues him with his stick and a fast move.

Every scene is underlined with a dramatic musical score that indicates impending doom every second. That is, except for the kissing scenes  which had a romantic undertone. Needless to say the kissing was quite arbitrary and came out of nowhere. Then again, running away from a man, stumbling in the moor (naturally, without sturdy shoes) and kissing one’s rescuer 30 seconds later is a sure method to induce love and passion.

This movie is not suitable to educate anyone on Sherlock Holmes but it is definitely entertaining in an involuntary way.

The Hound of the Baskervilles at imdb.

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

hound3

This movie is strange. I have no idea how a script writer can „adapt“ a book in a way that makes the story completely illogical and totally haphazard. Assuming that the audience doesn’t know the book, they must leave the cinema (or sofa) baffled in regards to how Sherlock Holmes found the culprit or even what exactly happened.

The whole movie was a sequence of unrelated scenes that did not build upon each other in any way. One especially strange example is the séance that takes place in Stapleton’s house (one of those changes to the original story that made no sense at all) with Mrs. Mortimer trying to call the dead Sir Baskerville. The suspense is at its (modest) peak, when suddenly we hear howling outside and Beryl Stapleton calls out in fright. The séance is being interrupted and literally that very second everybody gets up and leaves for home.

There are other changes to the story that are completely unnecessary or even nonsensical. At the beginning we have the famous scene where Holmes displays his deduction skills to his buffoon sidekick Dr. Watson by describing Dr. Mortimer from examining at his walking stick. Country doctor, walks on foot, has a dog. When Holmes later asks Dr. Mortimer about the dog the doctor answers he used to have a dog but it is dead. What does this mean? Why is the dog dead? Could the production not afford a live dog? Why not say the dog is at home with Dr. Mortimer’s wife? Or was it a false clue that is supposed to make us think that maybe the dog marks are from the evil hound and Dr. Mortimer is the culprit?

Another especially intriguing change is the relationship between Stapleton and his sister. When Holmes hears that Sir Henry Baskerville is going to marry Beryl in two days (Sir Henry moves fast) he makes a peculiar face as if to say “Beryl is marrying Baskerville? How can that be? She is already married!”. Somehow the script writer must have changed his ideas about that plot point because as it turns out later Beryl in fact IS Stapleton’s sister and the funny look on Holmes face was never explained.

At the end there is a poisoning scene where Holmes saves Sir Henry’s life which also leaves a lot to be desired. The timing is all wrong (Stapleton handing a poisoned medicine to Sir Henry equals the time that Holmes takes to walk across the moor at night) and Holmes deducts that a murder is going to take place out of nothing, NOTHING.

This is a travesty of the original story and only serves as a entertaining piece for an evening when you want to laugh yourself silly over the inaccuracies, illogicality and ridiculousness of the story. Not suitable for Conan Doyle fans and sticklers (like me).

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Reasons I watched this movie: I like the story. It is part of my Baskerville movie marathon.

Jeremy Brett plays Sherlock Holmes in a number of stories. It’s a whole series with most of the episodes about an hour long and a few full movie length. One of them is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

This version sticks closer to the book in many areas (for example there is no loud and obnoxious Lyons, Dr. Mortimer is of a more suitable age etc.), but then again it gives away the culprit at the very beginning. Whereas in the Ian Richardson version you see him but don’t necessarily recognize him as Stapleton (I assume you have read the book and don’t mind that spoiler), here you see him clearly from the start. I find that odd. Where is the mystery? True we don’t know the motive of the murderer, but we know who he is! What sort of detective story is it when the audience knows who the killer is from the start? That might be ok for a Lieutenant Columbo, but not for a Sherlock Holmes.

As for Holmes: I think that Jeremy Brett might be the better Holmes as far as his character is described in the book. He plays Holmes as eccentric and moody, sometimes overly excited, sometimes quiet, sometimes full of action and then again not. But exactly that bipolar behaviour got on my nerves, I very much prefer Ian Richardson who plays the part a bit toned down.

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb

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DNF: Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson

Cover Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson

Elena recommended Kate Atkinson to me and I can see why she did. Kate Atkinson is a writer who conjures up an atmosphere with a few well chosen sentences and her stories are cleverly built. Unfortunately, I neither particularly enjoyed the way she writes, nor did I like the atmosphere.

Even though I got used to the elliptical writing style after a while I never got into it. I like it in a title (I wasn’t aware that the title of the book reflected the writing style THAT much), but not in a 400 page book. (Find the book’s beginnings here).

As for the story, I am a novice to Kate Atkinson and have not read the previous Jackson Brodie books. Maybe I should have started with the first book in order to understand better what was going on with him, but to me he seemed to be a whiner who mostly thought of and felt sorry about his previous relationships and who didn’t like himself very much. I probably could have lived with him, but the story is full of characters who all have so many problems and who are so full of self loathing that it was depressing.
A child spending some time with a corpse (this is my deduction, I didn’t get to the revelation of that particular thread), a dead child, a woman in a coma, a spinster who buys a child, an old demented woman, a number of old, and possible corrupt policemen, an adoption officer with a secret, the list is endless. Give me a break!

I am sure that somewhere towards the end all the various storylines – and there were many with time jumps back and forth continuously – came together in this cunning way where you go, "ah, now I see why this was said there and then, and what was the meaning of this and that 200 pages earlier" but I didn’t make it that far. When Jackson Brodie woke up next to a woman whose name he didn’t remember and had to sneak out of her house I was finished with the book. Sorry, but I do want to enjoy reading and not dread what might come next.

However, if you enjoy a real downer of a book, I recommend this one.

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Reasons I watched this movie: I love the story and decided to watch a series of Hound of the Baskervilles films.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes stories and for a good reason. It is full of suspense, there is an eerie dog, an American heir, the British upper class, the moor, a smart detective and plenty of fog. What else can a mystery reader ask for?

Ian Richardson is a wonderful Sherlock Holmes, he is exactly how I imagine him, and I really like his sidekick Watson in this movie, too. He has a wonderful scene in the village pub when Watson is asked by Lestrade why he came here and answers that he is here “for the sailing”. Splendid!

The rest of the cast is equally brilliant. With Denholm Elliott as Dr. Mortimer (slightly too old, but who cares), Martin Shaw as Sir Henry Baskerville and Brian Blessed as Lyons you can’t go wrong. A lot of the plot was changed for this movie which is somewhat annoying (especially because some of the changes  make not much sense to me), but it is more dramatic and exciting as the book, so I suppose I can forgive the changes; they make for a cosy popcorn & movie night on the sofa.

Watch a scene (beware of the glowing dog!)

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb

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Book beginnings on Friday

Boog beginnings on Friday

Cover Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson

 

I haven’t done a book beginning post in a long time. But I started reading an interesting book by an author that is new to me and in a genre that I am not very accustomed to. So good reasons to share its beginning.

The book is “Started early, took my dog” by Kate Atkinson, a writer who was recommended to me by Elena from Books and Reviews. I am not 100% certain I like the style which is evident already in the first few lines.

1975: 9 April

Leeds: “Motorway City of the Seventies”. A proud slogan. No irony intended. Gaslight still flickering on some streets. Life in a northern town.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to Rose City Reader!

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In my mailbox

 

This week is exciting because I finally got a book that was recommended to me by a fellow blogger whose taste in mysteries is QUITE different from mine. Plus, I am planning to– hoping for – dreaming about getting back into crochet.

I swapped

Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson
Elena will be so pleased (with herself) that I got this. I love the cover and the title, we will see how the rest goes. 

For review

Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters Around the World by Judith Durant. One skein is do-able, right?

Cover Started early, took my dog by Kate AtkinsonCover Crochet One-skein Wonders by Judith Durant

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?