Crossed Skis (1952) – Carol Carnac

Stifled by grey post-WW2 London, Bridget Manners and a group of her friends (and friends of friends) escape to the beautiful ski slopes of Lech in Austria. Their bliss is only slightly disrupted by a few odd incidents.Meanwhile, back in London, Mrs Stein's house has burned down - and sadly, one of her tenants seems to have perished from the blaze. A chance observation - the print of a ski pole - links the case to a daring bank robbery from a few months…

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Death on the Cherwell (1935) – Mavis Doriel Hay

Four undergraduates of the female-only Persephone College, Oxford University, meet on the roof of the boathouse one cold January day to form the Lode League. Its purpose of cursing the hated Bursar of their college, Miss Denning, becomes a bit awkward when the League spot her drowned body drifting downstream in her canoe. The League decides to protect their friends from any accusations by investigating. Death on the Cherwell was another of my holiday reads. I hadn't intended to get it, but Blackwell's Bookshop…

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The Moving Toyshop (1946) – Edmund Crispin

Poet Richard Cadogan is having a bit of a mid-life crisis, and decides that the best remedy is a trip to Oxford, where he studied at University. He gets the adventure he seeks and more after finding a dead body in an abandoned toyshop and being knocked out. On waking up to find the body missing, he then manages to lose the toyshop as well. Luckily, he knows who to turn to in a bizzare criminal situation: Gervase Fen, the eccentric Oxford don whose…

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Murder’s a Swine (1943) – Nap Lombard

One night early in the Second World War, Agnes Kinghof finds a body outside her block of flats, and her neighbour is disturbed by the appearance of a pig's head at her top-floor window. A mysterious person calling themself the "Pig-sticker" claims credit for both, and what's worse, the killer appears to be living within the block of flats. Agnes and her husband Andrew decide it would be a lot of fun to investigate, and they have to face down a prank war, cursed…

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The Red House Mystery (1922) – A.A. Milne

Anthony Gillingham is the ultimate dilettante. He uses his considerable allowance as a safety net while exploring all aspects of life in London, taking on many jobs in the quest for new experiences. When he decides to drop in on a friend staying at The Red House, he arrives just in time to find the corpse of the owner's wastrel brother from Australia, Robert. The owner, Mark Ablett, has also vanished from the scene, with his cousin Matthew Cayley left to manage the house…

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Goodnight Irene (2018) – James Scott Byrnside

It's 1927, and Chicago private detective Rowan Manory is struggling both financially and emotionally after a routine case goes horribly wrong. So when he recieves a request from former Chicago gangster and bootlegger Robert Lasciva, the offer is too good to pass up… plus Manory has some more personal reasons for taking the case. But when Manory and his assistant Walter Williams travel to the moonshiner's Mississipi mansion, they find it atop an isolated ridge as a near-biblical flood rages around it. The guests…

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Suddenly at His Residence (1946) – Christianna Brand

Sir Richard March "invites" his grandchildren back to his mansion Swanswater, where he lives with his second wife, Bella. At this time every year the family must gather to perform a memorial ritual on the anniversary of his first wife Serafita's death. But this year, with bombs falling in London and Kent, and an affair in the offing between cousins, Sir Richard retreats to the lodge house for the night threatening to cut his grandchildren out of the will. The next morning, he is…

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Miss Pym Disposes (1946) – Josephine Tey

The unexpected success of her pop-psychology book has made former French teacher Lucy Pym London's latest literary celebrity. When she receives a lecture invitation from her old friend Henrietta - now headmistress of Leys Physical Training College - Miss Pym eagerly accepts. She expects to stay for just a single night - but after the students win her over, she extends her stay - for just a few days… then a few weeks.At first, life in the college seems idyllic (especially for Lucy Pym,…

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Christie For Christmas! The Thirteen Problems

It's Christmas! Well, it was Christmas. Reviews are like Christmas cards - better late than never. I hope that all of you have a great New Year.I thought it was high time to cover an Agatha Christie on this blog - and given I love short stories, this was the first thing I turned to. I should mention that, between Poirot and Miss Marple, my favourite is the spinster sleuth of St. Mary Mead. These thirteen stories mark the debut of Miss Marple, before…

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Death on the Riviera – John Bude (1952)

Detective-Inspector Meredith and Sergeant Strang are heading to the French Riviera to assist in breaking up a currency counterfeiting ring, and bring at least one of its members back to England with them. Along with their French colleagues Blampignon and Gibaud, they quickly pick up a trail that leads to the Villa Paloma, where rich widow Nesta Hedderwick lives with her niece Dilys, her companion Miss Pillgrew, the gigolo-esque Tony, his friend Kitty, and the artist Paul Latour. They're soon joined by Bill Dillon,…

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Fear For Miss Betony – Dorothy Bowers (1941)

Former governess Emma Betony is interrupted in her attempt to join a retirement community for gentlewomen by a letter from one of her former charges, Grace Aram. Miss Betony used to regale Grace with exotic tales of her aunt, Mary Shagreen, which provided a bright spot in her childhood. Grace now runs a small school which has been evacuated to a former nursing home in the countryside - though two of the patients still live on the site. Grace begs Miss Betony for help;…

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Mr. Splitfoot – Helen McCloy (1968)

Fifteen year old Lucinda's parents Francis and Folly are hosting a dinner party at their mansion high in the Catskill Mountains; the invited guests are Francis' literary agent David Crowe and his wife Serena, and the head of the publishing house Bradford Alcott and his wife Ginevra. Resentful of the adults - particularly her stepmother Folly - Lucinda plots with her friend Vanya to scare them with a supernatural manifestation of "Mr Splitfoot". But things don't quite go to plan. First, Dr. Basil Willing…

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The Honjin Murders – Seishi Yokomizo (1947 trans. 2019 Louise Heal Kawai)

The wedding between Kenzo, the eldest son of the proud Ichiyanagi family, and Katsuko, the daughter of a fruit farmer made good, goes ahead despite the objections of Kenzo's family. But the silence of a snow-filled night is broken by screams, and the wild strumming of a koto. When the relatives investigate the annex where the newlyweds are staying, they find it locked. Outside, in the snow, lies a katana but no footprints. Inside lie the bodies of the couple, "soaked in the crimson…

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John Dickson Carr: A Critical Study (1990) – S. T. Joshi

Books are wonderful - so what could be better than a book? A book about books, of course!After I saw John Dickson Carr: A Critical Study book mentioned both in Douglas Greene's biography of Carr and on Tangled Yarns, I felt I had to check it out.Douglas Greene described it as "filled with insights about Carr's writing and attitudes", and I have to say, it met my expectations! There are some great insights here, and it's extremely quotable. Only on one occasion did I…

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Castle Skull (1931) – John Dickson Carr

Castle Skull was once owned by the monstrous magician Maleger, and then, on Maleger's mysterious death, by the famed actor Myron Alison. A peaceful night at Myron's home across the river is disturbed by the sound of screams. The house-guests look up to see a burning body dancing on the battlements of the castle - as Myron spends his final moments in agony. Summoned by financier Jérôme D'Aunay to investigate, Henri Bencolin and Jeff Marle soon find themselves in collaboration - or perhaps in…

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The Postscript Murders (2020) – Elly Griffiths

As a Golden Age of Detection fanatic, me reviewing a modern crime novel is a bit like a velociraptor reviewing an iPhone. But Elly Griffiths' The Postscript Murders has a stronger than usual connection to the Golden Age.The story starts with the death of Peggy Smith, ninety-year-old resident of the Seaview Apartments in Shoreham on Sea. Her carer, Natalka, thinks she was murdered, and through force of personality manages to convince DS Harbinder Kaur, Peggy's neighbour Edwin, and the owner of a local cafe,…

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Untimely Death (1958) – Cyril Hare

In last week's The Turquoise Shop, the first body had been found shortly before the book begins. In Untimely Death (first published as He Should Have Died Hereafter), you could say the first corpse turned up decades before. The first half of the book takes place entirely in the Exmoor area, where the Francis and Eleanor Pettigrew have decided to stay for their holiday. For Francis, the location holds many vivid memories of time spent there in childhood. We are allowed time to get…

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The Turquoise Shop (1941) – Frances Crane

Frances Crane is a new author to me. She lived for a time in Taos, New Mexico, an artist colony managed by Mabel Dodge Luhan, which hosted many eminent artists and writers. The setting for this book - and perhaps some of its characters - are based on her time in Taos. After writing this, Crane went on to write 25 more books in the series, featuring the narrator and detective from this book. By anyone's estimation, that's a successful detective fiction career -…

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The Short Career of Montague Egg (1933-1939) – Dorothy L. Sayers

In addition to Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers also had a much less well-known regular detective. Unlike Lord Peter, Montague Egg is a working man; a "commercial traveller" for Messrs. Plummet and Rose, Wine Merchants. Though still mingling with the well-off due to his job, Egg exists in a very different mileu to Wimsey. Less butlers, spying, and dressing up as a wizard, and more suspicious travellers, awful pub dinners, and money-saving train dodges. The down-to-earth nature of the stories leads to them…

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The Lost Gallows (1931) – John Dickson Carr

A limousine joyrides through the fogbound streets of London with a corpse at the wheel. The shadow of a gallows is seen on an unknown street. Nezam al Moulk receives threatening packages delivered directly to his room even though no one could have entered.Ten years ago a duel was fought in Paris - and now the mysterious hangman Jack Ketch wants revenge. Will he drag his victims to Ruination Street, or can Henri Bencolin stop him before it's too late? Henri Bencolin and Jeff…

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