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Posts Tagged ‘mystery novels’

No one can face a crisis unless they are suitably clad.

Louise Cray, fictional character from the mystery novel Madam, Will You Talk? By Mary Stewart.

I enjoy a good mystery and I recently discovered a new-to-me mystery author, Mary Stewart (1916-2014). Apparently her books were categorized Mystery/Romance back in the day, but don’t let the romance part put you off. There is just a touch of romance; the focus is the independent female protagonist and the mystery she is there to solve, not to mention all the adventures she has along the way.

Madam, Will You Talk? was published in 1955 and I recently happened upon a BBC radio dramatized version. Click here to listen.

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51tGfYjaB2L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_She looked overdressed and dangerously hot, but sunstroke or suffocation had not yet finished her off … I still thought she would be better off without so many tunics. Perhaps in a fine mansion with marble veneers, fountains, garden courtyards deep in shade, a leisured young lady might keep cool, even swaddled in embroidered finery with jet and amber bangles from her elbow to her wrist. If she ran out in a hurry she would instantly regret it. The heat haze would melt her. Those light robes would stick to all the lines of her slim figure. 

Marcus Didius Falco, fictional character of the mystery novel, The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis.

I’m a fan of mystery novels, but good ones are hard to come by. A few years ago I listened to a BBC Radio 4 dramatization (starring Anton Lesser) of one of the Marcus Didius Falco series, which take place in Ancient Rome. When I recently had the opportunity to read The Silver Pigs, the first in the series published in 1989, I was hooked. Well-written for starters, and full of historical detail. Ms. Davis certainly did her research. She says that she had trouble getting published at first. Editors didn’t think a mystery set in Ancient Rome would be of interest. Ha! Now her books are often used in high schools as supplemental reading.

There are around 21 books in the series. Plenty to read while we all stay home to avoid COVID-19.

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an-expert-in-murderShe was tall, with attractive silver blonde hair which refused to be contained in its entirety by a plait, and she wore a suit which was sober only in its coloring; no part of the outfit had escaped little finishing-off touches and Penrose, who had never realized that black could be so expressive, searched in vain for a square inch of plain material; even the gloves on the table were attached to velvet flowers, while the hat, which was too big to go anywhere else but on the floor beside its keeper, was the most creative mourning attire that he had ever seen. What was most remarkable, though, was that Alice Simmons carried it off with a dignity and composure which few people achieved with straight lines and understated simplicity.

– From the novel An Expert in Murder: A Josephine Tey Mystery, by Nicola Upson.

I enjoy mysteries but good ones are very hard to find.  Ms. Upson, a former journalist, has written a series based on the real 1930s mystery writer Josephine Tey. Pretty well written and full of period details.

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