Category Archives: Mysteries

The Case of the Famished Parson

George Bellairs: a bank manager, a talented crime author, part time journalist and Francophile. His detective stories, written in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, combine wicked crimes and classic police procedurals, set in small British communities.  Best known for his Detective Littlejohn stories, he is celebrated as one of Britain’s crime classic greats.

I always like to start a new mystery series at the beginning and read the books in order, but this time I decided to start with the book George Bellairs published in my birth year, 1949. The Case of the Famished Parson is somewhere in the middle of the Inspector Littlejohn series. I immediately liked this detective — Inspector Littlejohn is an older but very talented detective. His methods are more traditional than his newer counterparts, but he is very dedicated to his work, even when he is on bedrest recuperating from a gunshot would to the leg!

…from the publisher:

Dr. James Macintosh, the Bishop of Greyle, is a mysterious man; for a long time, nobody even seems to know his last name. But things suddenly take a turn for the worse when his body is found completely emaciated and battered having being pushed face-first off the edge of a cliff…

Inspector Littlejohn faces an incredibly peculiar case and must figure out how to explain the savage murder of a gentle Bishop? Perhaps he know too much about the secretive citizens of Cape Marvin, the seaside resort and the place of his murder.  Or did it have something to do with the strange family he had left behind in Medhope?

Above all, why was the Bishop’s body so undernourished that death by violence won out by only a few days over death by starvation?

I liked George Bellairs’ writing style and can easily see why he is considered “as one of Britain’s crime classic greats.”  I enjoyed meeting this new-to-me detective and was involved with the search for answers all the way through the book. It’s a series I would like to continue, but will go back and start with the first book.

I read this book for both my R.I.P-XIV challenge and my year long celebration of turning Seventy!

 

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good is a series of five stories by the Swedish crime writer, Helene Tursten.

…from the Publisher

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and… no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures–or misadventures–this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?

I laughed all the way through this fun little book. Maud is amazingly fit and mentally acute at age 88, and she has no problem taking care of Problems in a unique and lethal way!

 

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge. Highly recommend it!

 

This book also qualifies for my personal challenge:  “Wanderlust” — an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from Sweden.

The Religious Body

 

The mystery author, Catherine Aird, first came to my attention when I worked at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s. TKE is known for its wonderful mystery section, and I loved becoming familiar with the stock and reading as many of those books as time and money allowed me. I don’t know why, but I did not read any Catherine Aird at that time, although I sold many of her books. So when I was planning my reading for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge I decided to read the first book in her series and see how I liked it.

Her first book, The Religious Body, was about the murder of a nun inside the convent. Was the murderer one of the other nuns or had someone gained access to this highly secluded and protected place? Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby were called in to investigate this mysterious death.

I liked the detectives and enjoyed this mystery and Catherine Aird’s writing, so I definitely will be continuing on with this series.

 

 

 

I read this book for the R.I.P.-XIV reading challenge.

 

 

Christmas in Absaroka County

Christmas in Absaroka County is a collection of short stories by Craig Johnson. He has added some novellas and short story collections to his Walt Longmire  mystery series, and they are a lot of fun to read.

from the publisher…

I am very fond of the character of Walt Longmire and am enjoying slowly reading through this mystery series. The extra glimpses of Walt that we see in these short “in-between” books give us a deeper understanding of the character and just add a lot of interest and fun to whole experience of this series.

 

I read this book for the R.I.P.-XIV reading challenge.

The Little Sister

“I used to like this town,” I said, just to be saying something and not to be thinking too hard. “A long time ago. There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line. Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful.

~ The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler

Author Raymond Chandler…  and author Dashiell Hammett ten years earlier…  and Hollywood films of their books starring Humphrey Bogart playing their main characters, Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade… All this equals Los Angeles noir at it’s finest.

One of the books I chose to read for R.I.P-XIV was The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler. It had been a long time since I read any of Chandler’s books so I was fascinated by the hard, cynical, burned-out private detective character of Philip Marlowe. And I was equally fascinated by Raymond Chandler’s writing style and creative way of telling this story. It’s no wonder that Hollywood loved and still loves these types of stories. When reading them, they’re hard to put down. And Raymond Chandler was one of the best and someone who inspired many writers to follow in his footsteps.

from the publisher:

In noir master Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister, a movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend and a pair of siblings with a shared secret lure private eye Philip Marlowe into the less than glamorous and more than a little dangerous world of Hollywood fame. Chandler’s first foray into the industry that dominates the company town that is Los Angeles.

 

A fun read, The Little Sister is the fifth book in Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series. It was published in 1949, so I am also including it on my list of books read for my year-long celebration of turning Seventy years old!

It’s fun to think that The Little Sister and I are the same age!

I read this book for both my R.I.P-XIV challenge and my year long celebration of turning Seventy!

An Agatha Christie Film Festival

…photo I took at The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake CIty.

I wish there was an actual go-to-the-movies “Agatha Christie Film Festival” in town, but since there isn’t, we are having our own right here at home. As part of the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV reading celebration of mysteries and all things spooky in September and October, the hubby and I will be watching as many old movies of Agatha Christie stories as possible. My parents used to love the old Agatha Christie movies, starring Margaret Rutherford, and would take our whole family to the movies every time one would come to town. So of course I am including some of those in this film festival, along with the TV series of Miss Marple and of Poirot. We are definitely going to enjoy our evening TV times for the next two months!

I invite you to check back every once in a while to visit my page for keeping track of the books I read and the movies I watch for this fun reading challenge.  Click here or on the little RIP-XIV symbol on my sidebar to see my growing list.

 

Watching these old films is part of my “PERIL on the SCREEN” in the Readers Imbibing Peril XIV.

It’s Time for R.I.P. XIV

It’s THAT time of year again! Time for the annual Readers Imbibing Peril book challenge celebrating all things spooky and mysterious! This is the 14th year for this Fall festival of fun reading, and I’m so excited to participate again.

Here’s how it works:

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

The goals are simple.  

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

There are different ways to participate by choosing which “PERIL” you want.  You can choose PERIL the First;  PERIL the Second;  PERIL the Third;  PERIL of the Short Story;  PERIL on the Screen;  PERIL of the Review.   Click here to see the descriptions of each of these PERILS.

MY PLAN:

This year, I am choosing both PERIL the First, and PERIL on the Screen. That means I will be reading a minimum of 4 books and watching some movies. Because I love this genre, I have an endless list of books on my bookshelves that will fit nicely for the PERIL I have chosen. And my husband and I love a good film festival, so for my PERIL on the Screen, we will be watching as many Agatha Christie movies/TV series as we can.

So check back here from time to time in September and October to see what I have added to my list of books read and movies watched!

Have fun everybody!

BOOKS I READ and MOVIES I WATCHED FOR THIS CHALLENGE:

PERIL the FIRST:

  1. The Lost One, by Mary Stewart
  2. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  3. Christmas in Absaroka County, by Craig Johnson
  4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Religious Body, by Catherine Aird
  6. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  7. The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  8. The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier
  9. .

PERIL on the SCREEN:

  1. 4:50 From Paddington, (1987) starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Hubby and I watched it as a welcome to the beginning of my R.I.P.-XIV Peril on the Screen. It was very good and quite true to the book. I love Joan Hickson as Miss Marple!
  2. Murder at the Gallop, (1963) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. When I was growing up, my parents took us to see all the old Agatha Christie movies that came to town. I remember Margaret Rutherford from way back when!
  3. The Mirror Crack’d, (1980) starring Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. I liked Angela Lansbury in this film, and it was fun to see so many Hollywood greats in the cast — Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin. However, it was so Hollywood-ish that it put me off a bit. Definitely not my favorite Agatha Christie movie!
  4. Murder Most Foul, (1964) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Another fun mystery with a lot of humor.

…Arthur Rackham

The Month of May

Dear friends,
I must start this post with an apology for disappearing into silence on this blog. April and May have been a particularly busy time for me as well as an emotional time. (We call May our “tender-hearted month” in my family.) Unfortunately, once I get off track with my posting, I find it hard to get “back in the groove” again. But I have continued with my reading, even being able to read on the porch again when time has allowed, and I am here now to say HI and to reflect on my May reading.

May has been a completely enjoyable reading month. I’ve squeezed in as much reading as I can in between multiple trips to Washington State helping our daughter move and get settled into her new home; helping my husband with his shed building project in our backyard (I’ve always been his construction assistant); trips to the State Legislature with my Moms Demand Action group; and my continuing efforts to get the yard and garden in shape (it still feels like a wilderness area!). I’ve read mostly mysteries, and all have been very enjoyable. I am also half-way through the audiobook of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and am almost finished reading Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October which I wanted to read before Hubby and I watch the movie again (one of our favorites). I also downloaded the audiobook version (free) of the Mueller Report and am very slowly making my way through it. I feel it is a very important work to read, no matter how long it takes me.

Busy, busy time…and as my friend, Les (Coastal Horizons) said, “Who knew retirement would be so busy!”

Here are the covers of my completed May reads.

 

Stuck in a Book Friday

There’s a lot going on around me today…in particular, construction workers in our backyard…but I can’t do anything but sit here and read. I’m completely stuck in a book at the moment. The Brutal Telling, by Louise Penny, has captured me and I can’t do anything else until I finish it. I do love it when that happens! (And husband is overseeing those construction workers.)

A Muscle We Don’t Use Enough

Dorothy Gilman, author of the Mrs. Pollifax series

“I love to laugh personally, and I love to hear people laugh. I don’t think we laugh enough. I consider it a muscle we don’t use enough because we’re all under pressures, tremendous pressures, and we forget how to laugh. It’s a habit that one should watch and take care of just like another muscle.”
~ Rosalind Russell

I love this quote from Rosalind Russell, who starred in the 1971 movie version of the book, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman. The Mrs. Pollifax series is certainly one that exercises that laughter muscle! I’ve listened to the first two books in the series on audiobook, narrated by the wonderful Barbara Rosenblat, and they were delightfully fun. This is a series I read and enjoyed many years ago, but now that I found the audiobooks on Audible, I’m starting over! This is a time that we particularly need to exercise that laughter muscle!

from the publisher:

Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown, married children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent.

She takes on a “job” in Mexico City. The assignment doesn’t sound dangerous at first, but then, as often happens, something goes wrong. Now our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroiled in quite a hot Cold War—and her country’s enemies find themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.

So, stories about a “little old widow lady” who becomes a spy is a fun premise for a mystery series. Mrs. Pollifax gets herself involved in many different predicaments, but always manages to succeed with her mission with help from the friends she makes along the way. The friendships are wonderful, and her attitude about life is refreshing. It’s also refreshing to read a series that entertains in such a positive way.