On a hot summer day in 1938, a beautiful actress is murdered on the grand Kent estate of Sir Jack Jessup, close friend of the Prince of Wales. An instant headline in the papers, the confession of a local troublemaker swiftly brings the case to a close, but in 1949, the reappearance of a jade necklace raises questions about the murder. Was the man convicted and executed the decade before truly guilty, or had he wrongly been sent to the gallows?
Inspector Madden is summoned out of retirement at the request of former Chief Inspector Angus Sinclair to re-open the case at Scotland Yard. Set in the aftermath of World War II, The Death of Kings is an atmospheric and captivating police procedural, and is a story of honor and justice that takes Madden through the idyllic English countryside, post-war streets of London, and into the criminal underworld of the Chinese Triads.
From the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services in January!
When a pleasant afternoon’s bicycling through Golden Gate Park with a friend ends with the revelation of threatening letters, followed by a gunshot in a mansion garden, Sabina Carpenter knows this is a case that demands her immediate and undivided attention.
The questions her partner John Quincannon has to unravel are not difficult: Wrixton, a wealthy banker, has met his extortionist's first demand, but the order to pay another $5,000 is too much to face. The banker’s real problem is something he doesn't want to reveal. That was fine with the detective, and when he was informed that some private letters were involved and Wrixton absolutely needed them back, there was nothing more Quincannon needed in the way of background. As with so many of San Francisco’s elite, the bedroom doors never seemed to stay shut.
That was the easy part; far more difficult was the matter of the dead courier, murdered most foully in a locked room within a locked room, creating a trail that will take John Quincannon through most of San Francisco’s less savory places and end with a riverboat trip that is anything but a relaxing cruise.
The Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel (popularly called the Ngaio) is a book prize presented annually in New Zealand to recognize excellence in crime fiction, mystery, and thriller writing.
Named after Dame Ngaio Marsh, one of the four Queens for Crime (Christie, Allingham and Sayers were the other three) of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction it was established in 2010 by Craig Sisterson!
2016 Winner of the Ngaio for Best Novel:
Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter a name that has been keeping readers on the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at the age of forty-nine, Jerry's crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes. Those close to him, including the nurses at the care home where he now lives, insist that it is all in his head, that his memory is being toyed with and manipulated by his unfortunate disease. But if that were true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?
Fifth in the Fredrika Bergman series a atmospheric mystery featuring an enigmatic killer rooted in folklore.
On a cold winter’s day, a pre-school teacher is shot to death in front of parents and children at the Jewish Congregation in Stockholm. Just a few hours later, two Jewish boys go missing on their way to tennis practice, and an unexpected blizzard destroys any trace of the perpetrator.
Investigative analyst Fredrika Bergman and police superintendent Alex Recht face their toughest challenge ever on the hunt for a killer as merciless as he is effective. As they struggle to pin down a lead, someone or something called the Paper Boy—a mysterious old Israeli legend of a nighttime killer—keeps popping up in the police investigation. But who was the Paper Boy really? And how could he have resurfaced in Stockholm?
It is up to Fredrika to track down the elusive murderer before he claims his next victim.
He watches the women from the shadows. He has an understanding with them; as long as they follow his rules, they are safe. But when they sin, he sentences them to death.
A woman is found dead in a cemetery, strangled and covered in plastic. Just a few days before her death, the victim had received a flower, an unintelligible note, and a photograph of herself. Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her colleagues on the Göteborg police force have neither clue nor motive to track in the case, and when similar murders follow, their search for the killer becomes increasingly desperate. Meanwhile, strange things have been going on at home for Irene: first the rose bush in her garden is mangled, then she receives a threatening package with no return address…
Golden Age Gals: Elizabeth Daly - Deadly Nightshade
First Published: New York, Farrar & Rinehart 1940. London, Hammond, 1948 My Edition: Felony & Mayhem 2013
Detective: Henry Gamadge
Summary: Gamadge has thought of Mitchell often over the last three month mainly ruminating on his unaccustomed role of practicing detective. An appointment which wasn’t at all disagreeable, but different from his established one as a consulting expert, who quietly terrorizes the forgers, con-men and counterfeits of the world. However with three confirmed cases and one suspected case of children being poisoned with nightshade plus the coincidental death of a state trooper, State Detective Mitchell (who we met in Unexpected Night) calling Gamadge in New York. Why? Mitchell would like Gamadge’s insights into this perplexing case since his methods and logic worked well before - plus Mitchell is calling in a favor. Both the unusual problem and Mitchell’s request propel Gamadge from his home in New York back up to Maine to see if can ferret out the culprit before anyone else gets hurt.
Review: Recently I was helping a customer in the shop and she was insistent that I read an author and I told her that while I had heard he was very good - his writing style wasn’t my cup of tea. The customer retreated for a moment and finally asked what books I did read and I told them Christie, Daly, Marsh, Rice, Alan Bradley and Rhys Bowen most recently. She asked what I really read, because those were just the books I read for work. I tried to break it to her kindly that I actually enjoyed reading these golden age greats - she made a face and was visibly unimpressed with my reading list.
While I don’t feel the need to defend my choice in books, her question did get me thinking - why? Why do I love them?
I have read mysteries my entire life in one form or another and I use to read much harder edged stuff but it left me wanting, but I didn’t really know why. A key indicator I think was the fact I didn’t read them as voraciously as I did urban fantasy, which I tore through with reckless abandon. For years I couldn’t walk through Elliot Bay Booksellers without having read the majority of their fantasy stock (not kidding). But this didn’t hold for their mystery section which was weird since I loved them. I now believe I know why…..
Murder is necessary - in the majority of mysteries you wouldn’t have a book without one. But there has been a shift in mysteries novels over the years. A shift which I have only really begun to appreciate since I started delving the depths of the golden age authors. Namely violence - language and sex have increased as well but that doesn’t bug me - but the graphic use/description of violence does. My imagination fills in the gruesomeness I read allowing it to flit easily from the page into my mind. Which in turn churns and chews on it trying to make sense of the senseless and the violent acts stick with me, longer than they probably should. I read for enjoyment and mysteries filled with violence - I find little pleasure in. Reality is gruesome enough, the news tells us so every night at six pm, I need little help imagining worst case scenarios.
Somewhere along the line mysteries begun to shift from cerebral murder mystery where the puzzle aspect takes precedent like in Poirot, Henry Gamadge or Albert Campion. Yes there is violence (without a body, they wouldn’t have much to do) but generally you are only reading about it after it happens - when the body or crime is discovered. Now there seems a need to describe the crime in detail while the perpetrator(s) are committing it - in many cases the bloodier the better.
This is why I enjoy books like Daly’s Deadly Nightshade. While the crime perpetrated in the book is against children it lacks in the violent detail department (really the crime is rather passive - poisoning - hey nightshade is in the title I am not spoiling anything). Henry Gamadge solves the crime through leaps in logic and common sense - following the rules of fair play. It simply is a splendid read and a fantastic puzzle to solve with Gamadge. Without any huge chucks of narrative devoted to the mind set of the killer, how the killer felt or the actual doing of the deed - which frankly I don’t really need to read. This whodunit method of story telling allows just a breath of space between the reader and the crime - which puts my mind at ease when I am reading because I know the writer will not violate this style.
I guess I need this bit of a buffer when I am reading - with urban fantasy it is the use of magic, mythical creatures or legendary places. In mysteries I evidently need time (historicals) or an unfashionable or old fashion you might say style of writing. I need the cerebral whodunit not the blood filled mysteries which are prevalent now. The more I read of the golden age greats the less favorably I look on the new modern style. Murder maybe necessary in mystery but the use of violence in the narrative is to easy.
An Odd Fact: Did you know that most people (or those of us who frequent the optometrist) have been “poisoned” by nightshade? Well, poisoned isn’t really the right word…perhaps “affected by” would be more accurate (but less salacious). How? Deadly nightshade or atropa belladonna (to use its formal name) is the key ingredient in the drops the eye doctor uses to dilate your eyes! Renaissance women used to use the juice of the nightshade plant to make their pupils larger - thus appearing more alluring/seductive/beautiful to the opposite sex. Even Poirot uses these drops in The Big Four in order to create the illusion he had a twin brother (making his eye color appear darker).
(picture from the NY Public Library Digital Archives of the Nightshade plant)
Now I wonder how on earth someone got the idea of sticking the juice of these deadly berries (since they’ve been used to kill husbands and wives for years) in their eyes to begin with! Seriously. Perhaps someone pulled a Hamlet and instead of pouring poison in an ear they splashed it into someone’s eyes and then noticed that - A. they didn’t die and B. they looked sexier. Or one of the many Inquisition type events tried something similar? Not a clue but I don’t think this knowledge comes from just innocent experimentation…
Second how on earth did these berry juice wielding women get anything done? These drops lasted around three days and made their vision very blurry and ultimately blind you if used habitually. But how on earth did these renaissance women go outside during the day? With their pupils dilated it meant extra light was hitting their rods and cones - it would have been awful. Seriously I went to the optometrist once on a sunny July day and thought - hey no problem I can walk home I waited an hour - I don’t need no stinking sunglasses. To this day I honestly am not sure how I navigated homewards without getting hit by a truck the sun was so blinding. I am not sure it would be brighter than if I was standing on its’ surface!
Perhaps these ladies only used belladonna (the other name for nightshade) in the winter months when days were shorter (and light weaker) or only went out at night (which would undercut the entire reason for using it to lure potential suitors with desire filled eyes - since who on earth but a half-man/half-owl could see them in the dim light - but anywhoo). Which once again leads me to the story of the most beautiful Christmas scenes I ever saw - which resulted from an eye doctor’s visit and going Christmas shopping directly afterwards (it was also at night so I didn’t try and burn my corneas out my eyes this time). The light refraction from all the glitter, tinsel, snow and ornaments is possibly one of my most beautiful memories. I do not have the vocabulary to describe the refraction of the light off these surfaces in a way to do it justice - just trust me Christmas time is the best time to have your eyes checked! The downside happened when I inspected my purchases the next day after my shopping adventure discovered I bought several items I didn’t mean to (because I thought they were something else) and/or purchasing cloths a size or two off because I couldn’t read the tag. But otherwise it was a complete success!?
In both these cases the drops put in my eyes rendered me useless! Any kind of fine detailed work was out and even daily chores proved challenging since doing things like measuring (for laundry or cooking) was difficult. Habit can overcome some obstacles - it is the only reason I got home on that July day - but not everything. I know the obvious suggestion would be only the upperclass used belladonna - and they had help - but this plant is so common anyone can use it and I don’t see the milling throng being left out of such a cheap beauty aid. So I guess what I am saying is I am once again in awe of what humans are willing to do in order to look attractive to one another.
When a mud marathon champion bites the dust, Meg Reed has to go the distance to make sure a killer comes clean…
Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank.
But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life…
Classic Hollywood. Silver Screen Style. Vintage Murder. A champagne cocktail of a mystery covered in movie magic stardust
December 1938. Lillian Frost has plunged head first into a world of boldfaced names and endless glamour as social secretary to movie-mad millionaire Addison Rice. Costume designer Edith Head is now in charge of Paramount Pictures’ wardrobe department, although her position is precarious: potential replacements are being auditioned on a regular basis. The two friends again become partners thanks to an international scandal: a real-life incident, a historical footnot long forgotten, in which the war clouds gathering over Europe cast a shadow on Hollywood.
At a swanky Manhattan dinner party the well-heeled guests speak ill of Adolf Hitler in front of a German maid with Nazi sympathies. The secrets she spills soon have all of New York society running for cover--and two of Paramount’s biggest stars, Jack Benny and George Burns, facing smuggling charges.
When an émigré composer seeking work at Paramount is found dead, Marlene Dietrich tells Edith she blames agents of the Reich. As Lillian and Edith unravel intrigue that extends from Paramount’s fabled Bronson Gate to FDR’s Oval Office, only one thing is certain: they’ll do it in style.
When the Queen of Crime takes a break from penning her own mysteries who does she read? Elizabeth Daly!
In one interview or another Christie stated that Elizabeth Daly was her favorite American mystery writer and unsurprisingly I agree with the great lady! Daly’s mysteries really are very fun to read. Why? Daly does a wonderful job of pairing a murder mystery with something vaguely absurd like a Victorian death mask (on steroids) with buttons or Byron’s poetry with a governess reappearing from her vacation on an astral plain. Plots which sound odd but when boiled down to their essence all have very rational means, motive and opportunity when ferreted out by the proper detective. The proper detective being the some what reluctant Henry Gamadge - who is sensible, down to earth and so charming that even Anthony Boucher stated Gamadge, “…is a man so well-bred as to make Lord Peter Wimsey seem a trifle coarse.” high praise indeed!
But one of the things which I love about this series, unlike so many of the mysteries of this period - the Gamadge mysteries should be read in order. Henry Gamadge collects people as he makes his way through life (as we all do) with each person growing as they make their way along the long road. Which makes stepping into each book feel like you are catching up with old friends - life happens between each book.
Plus each book ties some sort of biblio or paper based ephemera into the mystery one way or another - without ever falling into the theme trap. Since Gamadge is a documents expert and bibliophile, any kind of ink on paper falls within his set of skills. Each bit of paper Gamadge works with is essential to the mystery investigation and Daly never throws it in just for effect (which often happens in themed mysteries these days). Plus there is a bit of the absurd, humor and warmth to the writing - which makes me think that Daly liked writing about Gamadge and his exploits. Unlike so many mystery novelists (including Christie) who didn’t always like their creations. Plus the plotting and pacing in Daly’s mysteries are great and she plays by the rules!
"…I was born to perturb the orbits of others, myself remaining unsuspected and unseen"
From: Deadly Nightshade
This is one of the best descriptions of Henry Gamadge I have read so far…
(We feel like Steve Martin being excited about the new phone books…)
These are our fourth different style of shop mug. The manufacturers keep discontinuing our styles! Our first ones were big black mugs with red lettering and question marks. The second were the classic red diner mugs, with black printing. Then came the matte black mugs that we used as rewards for the Go Fund Me project. We could’ve ordered more of those but we wanted them to be unique to the fundraiser so we went with something different. The new ones are red with the shop name and the new shop logo (the one on our website) in black. These are meant to look distressed, sorta like old camp mugs. What you see is what you’re supposed to see and you can see them on our shop blog and, soon, on the website itself. Good for large cups of java, tea, soup or targetpractice!
Evan Smoak, the Nowhere Man, returns in the sequel to Fran's favorite Orphan X.
Spoken about only in whispers, it is said that when the Nowhere Man is reached by the truly desperate, he can and will do anything to save them.
Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man.
Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and trained as part of the Orphan program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man. But the new head of the Orphan program hasn’t forgotten about him and is using all of his assets—including the remaining Orphans—to track down and eliminate Smoak.
But this time, the attack comes from a different angle and Evan is caught unaware. Captured, drugged, and spirited off to a remote location, heavily guarded from all approaches. They think they have him trapped and helpless in a virtual cage but they don’t know who they’re dealing with—that they’ve trapped themselves inside that cage with one of the deadliest and most resourceful Orphans.
The newest installment in the Jane Ryland Series! Out this November!
When Boston reporter Jane Ryland reports a hit and run, she soon learns she saw more than a car crash—she witnessed the collapse of an alibi. Working on an expose of sexual assaults on college campuses for the station’s new documentary unit, Jane’s just convinced a date rape victim to reveal her heartbreaking experience on camera. However, a disturbing anonymous message—SAY NO MORE—has Jane really and truly scared.
Homicide detective Jake Brogan is on the hunt for the murderer of Avery Morgan, a hot-shot Hollywood screenwriter. Her year as a college guest lecturer just ended at the bottom of her swimming pool in the tight-knit and tight-lipped Boston community called The Reserve. As Jake chips his way through a code of silence as shatterproof as any street gang, he’ll learn that one newcomer to the neighborhood may have a secret of her own.
A young woman faces a life-changing decision—should she go public about her assault? Jane and Jake—now semi-secretly engaged and beginning to reveal their relationship to the world—are both on a quest for answers as they try to balance the consequences of the truth.
Golden Age Gals: Elizabeth Daly - Unexpected Night
First Published: New York, Farrar & Rinehart 1940 My Edition: Felony & Mayhem 2013
Detective: Henry Gamadge
Summary: Twenty minutes to twelve on June 25, 1939 finds Henry Gamadge playing bridge with the Barclay household while vacationing in Maine. The exact time is very important to some relatives of the Barclay’s who have just arrived for a brief visit before heading off to their hotel (the same one Gamadge is staying at). Among the new arrival’s number is Amberley Cowden, a very sick young man who in twenty minutes time will gain control over a very large inheritance. Amberley makes it past midnight without any problems. The next morning finds a much different situation when Amberley is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff….Was it foul play or a tragic accident due to his heart condition? This is what Gamadge needs to figure out!
Review: You know you’ve read to many golden age, locked room detective novels in a row when you start applying their slightly sinister logic to people in real life! Which is exactly what happened to me in the shop a few weeks back…
While working I witnessed one family member trying to persuade another not to purchase anymore books because “she’d spent enough money on books already” (like there is such a thing!). The absolute first thought which popped into my head at this statement was, “What? Is she trying to protect her inheritance?” (as the book buyer was just a touch older). My thought was absolute nonsense and I felt completely silly assigning such a motive to a real life event - but on the upside it did make me stop and laugh at myself!
The important take away here is the fact that this idea flitted through my head at all! Which (I think) is a tribute to how convincing Daly’s writing is (as I’d just finished one, well maybe three of her books in a row) - she makes you see and really understand the motivations of her characters. Why the “poor relations” in Unexpected Night were so keen to make sure Amberley made it to his landmark birthday and the very real tussle over the monetary legacy left when he died (I am not spoiling anything for you here, I promise). You understand why each of the suspects had a reason why Amberley dying at just the right moment could make or break them. She makes her motives feel ordinary, everyday to the point - my conclusion felt like a natural one to make. Which was demonstrated by my poor befuddled mind leaping to such an outrageous deduction while watching the book drama unfolding in the shop. Speculation on inheritance seemed to be logical conclusion on why someone shouldn’t be making a larger book purchase….right?
Plus Daly’s ability to create such a well thought out means and method to her mystery set a very enjoyable pace in Unexpected Night. I was never sure when a pertinent fact was going to crop up, so I felt compelled to read well into the night to make sure I wasn’t going to stop right before a crucial event! I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed another pure mystery series this much since I finished my last Marple on March 18, 2014!
"Mr. Ormville sat back in his chair and contemplated Gamadge with the air of one who has stroked the house cat, and had his thumb bitten."
Another great description of Henry Gamadge!
Cheating: Here is the thing if you are a serial cheater like me (i.e. reading the end of the book before you naturally get there), Daly’s style makes these books physically difficult to cheat on. Why? The last chapter or two may or may not actually pertain or contain the answer you are looking for! Her structure makes it difficult to easily suss out the singular name of who did it. Because while I like to know my sleuth makes it to the end and know if I guessed correctly on the culprit I don’t want every detail of the ending laid out for me! So I guess what I am saying is Daly keeps me honest, which is very difficult to do!