The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (2017), by Martin Edwards

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British Library, 2017. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 500.0 KB. Print length: 357 pages. ASIN: B076KQ2BV5

story-of-classic-crime-in-100-books-martin-edwards-book-review-coverProduct details: The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate. This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library’s internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers.

My take: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books is a real gem that should have a privileged place on the bookshelves of any crime fiction aficionado. It tells the story of crime fiction during the first half of the twentieth century. As the author himself points out in his Introduction ‘the diversity of this much loved genre is breathtaking and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, I [Martin Edwards ] have chosen one hundred examples of books which highlight the achievements, and sometimes the limitations, of popular fiction of that era.’ It is therefore a reference book for all those who would like to initiate themselves in the reading of our favourite genre and for those enthusiasts, like myself, who wish to extend the scope of their knowledge. It also serves as a companion to the British Library’s series of Crime Classics. From the outset, Edwards wants to make it abundantly clear that ‘the main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment.’ And there is another reason. ‘Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate.’ For the purpose of this book, Edwards definition of ‘crime classic’ is a ‘novel or story collection published between 1901 and 1950. The British Library’s spans a slightly longer time frame but for the present purposes it makes sense to concentrate on the first half of the last century.’ And Edwards continues in the following terms: ‘My choice of books reflect a wish to present the genre’s development in an accessible, informative, and engaging way.’ For the purpose of a book of this characteristics, Edwards uses interchangeably the terms ‘detective stories’, ‘crime stories’ and ‘mysteries’ whose distinctions seems to him futile or even pedantic.  To conclude saying that he has not attempted to list the ‘best’ books of the period, nor is this even a selection of his own favourites. The clue of this book, as suggested in its title, is to tell a story. and he hopes that his references to scores of other books will encourage further investigations on the part of the readers. Regardless all the above, Edwards provides us the following attempt to define crime fiction:

A precise and truly satisfactory definition of the crime fiction genre continues to prove elusive, but it is safe to say that it encompasses stories in which the focus is not on the detective or on the process of detection but rather on the behaviour and psychology of the criminal.

From my side I would like to add that this book has helped me to eliminate some  misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudices that I had about some of the writers of this epoch and it has help me to discover a new world of authors and themes I was completely unaware of. It’s of interest to stress that quite a number of popular films of the time were based on some of these novels.

And, to conclude, a first paragraph I’m sure will whet your appetite:

‘It was not until several weeks after he had decided to murder his wife that Dr. Bickleigh took active steps in the matter. Murder is a serious business. The slightest mistake may be disastrous. Dr. Bickleigh had no intention of risking disaster.’ (Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles, 1931)

About the author: Martin Edwards, the current Chair of the CWA, has won the Edgar, Agatha, Macavity, and Poirot awards in the USA, and the CWA Short Story Dagger, CWA Margery Allingham Prize, and the H.R.F. Keating award in the UK. His latest Lake District Mystery is The Dungeon House. The series began with The Coffin Trail (shortlisted for the Theakston’s prize for best British crime novel) and includes The Arsenic Labyrinth(shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year award). He has written eight novels about Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin, starting with All the Lonely People; (shortlisted for the John Creasey Memorial Dagger); they are now available again as e-books.

The author of over 60 short stories, he has also edited 35 anthologies and published ten non-fiction books, including a study of crime scene investigation techniques and real life cases. A well-known critic and writer about the crime fiction genre, past and present, with The Golden Age of Murder exemplifying his knowledge of crime fiction and its authors in the 1920s and 1930s, Martin is President and Archivist of the world-famous Detection Club. He is also series consultant to British Library’s highly successful series of crime classics; his latest book is a companion to the series, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. Martin is currently also  Archivist of the Crime Writers’ Association and editor of its annual anthology. (Source: CWA)

My rating: Since this is not a work of fiction, I’m not going to give this book any rating, but needless to say that I strongly recommend it.

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books has been reviewed at Crime Time, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, crossexaminingcrime, crimepieces, Cleopatra Loves Books, Books to the Ceiling, Tipping my Fedora, Noah’s Archives, Euro Crime, Lesa’s Book Critiques, The Rap Sheet, FictionFan’s Book Reviews,  My Reader’s Block, and Pretty Sinister Books., among others.

British Library publicity page

Poisoned Pen publicity page

GUEST POST: Martin Edwards, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books 

Martin Edwards & the Best Crime Books

La historia de los clásicos del crimen en 100 libros (2017), de Martin Edwards

Detalles del producto: El principal propósito de las historias de detectives es entretener, pero las mejores arrojan luz sobre el comportamiento humano y muestran tanto ambición literaria como éxito. Incluso las historias de detectives más modestas, escritas por razones descaradamente comerciales, pueden darnos pistas sobre el pasado y darnos una idea de un mundo hace mucho tiempo desaparecido que, a pesar de todas sus imperfecciones, nos continúa fascinando. Este libro, escrito por el galardonado escritor de crímenes y presidente del Detection Club, Martin Edwards, sirve como acompañamiento de la aclamada serie de Crime Classics de la Biblioteca Británica. Historias durante mucho tiempo olvidadas reeditadas en la serie han ganado un nuevo público de devotos, con varios títulos entrando en las listas de los libros más vendidos, superando a algunos de los thrillers contemporáneos más reconocidos.

Mi opinión: La historia de los clásicos del crimen en 100 libros es una verdadera joya que debería tener un lugar privilegiado en las estanterías de cualquier aficionado a la novela criminal. Cuenta la historia de la novela criminal durante la primera mitad del siglo XX. Como el propio autor señala en su Introducción, “la diversidad de este género tan querido es impresionante y mucho mayor de lo que muchos críticos han sugerido. Para ilustrar esto, yo [Martin Edwards] he elegido cien ejemplos de libros que destacan los logros y, a veces, las limitaciones de la novela popular de esa época.” Es, por lo tanto, un libro de referencia para todos aquellos que deseen iniciarse en la lectura de nuestro género favorito y para aquellos entusiastas, como yo, que desean ampliar el campo de su conocimiento. También sirve para acompañar la serie de Crime Classics de la Biblioteca Británica. Desde el comienzo, Edwards quiere dejar muy claro que “el objetivo principal de las historias de detectives es entretener, pero las mejores arrojan luz sobre el comportamiento humano, y muestran  ambición y logros literarios.” Y hay otra razón. “Incluso las historias de detectives sin pretensiones, escritas por razones descaradamente comerciales, pueden proporcionarnos pistas sobre el pasado y darnos una idea de un mundo desaparecido hace mucho tiempo que, a pesar de todas sus imperfecciones, nos continúa fascinando.” Para los propósitos de este libro, la definición de Edwards de ‘crimen clásico’ es una “novela o colección de cuentos publicados entre 1901 y 1950. La Biblioteca Británica abarca un marco de tiempo ligeramente más amplio, pero para el propósito presente tiene sentido concentrarse en la primera mitad del siglo pasado.’ Y Edwards continúa en los siguientes términos: “Mi elección de libros refleja el deseo de presentar el desarrollo del género de una manera accesible, informativa y atractiva.” Para el propósito de un libro de estas características, Edwards usa indistintamente los términos “historias de detectives”, “historias  criminales” y “misterios” cuyas distinciones le parecen inútiles e incluso pedantes. Para concluir, dice que no ha intentado enumerar los “mejores” libros de la época, ni es una selección de sus favoritos. La clave de este libro, como se sugiere en su título, es contar una historia. y espera que sus referencias a decenas de libros aliente nuevas investigaciones por parte de los lectores. Independientemente de todo lo anterior, Edwards nos proporciona el siguiente intento de definir novela criminal:

Una definición precisa y verdaderamente satisfactoria del género de novela criminal sigue siendo difícil de conseguir, pero puede afirmarse con seguridad que abarca historias en las que el foco no está en el detective o en el proceso de detención, sino más bien en el comportamiento y en la psicología del criminal.

Por mi parte, me gustaría añadir que este libro me ha ayudado a eliminar algunos conceptos erróneos, estereotipos y prejuicios que tenía sobre algunos de los escritores de esta época y me ha descubierto un nuevo mundo de autores y temas que desconocía por completo. Es interesante destacar que un buen número de películas populares de la época se basaron en algunas de estas novelas.

Y, para concluir, un primer párrafo, que estoy seguro, despertará su apetito:

“No fue hasta algunas semanas después de haberse decidido a matar a su mujer que el Dr. Bickleigh adoptó las medidas necesaias al respecto. El asesinato es un asunto serio. El más mínimo error puede ser desastroso. El Dr. Bickleigh no tenía la intención de arriesgarse a un fracaso. “(Malice Aforethought, de Francis Iles, 1931)

Sobre el autor: Martin Edwards, actual presidente de la CWA, ha ganado los premios Edgar, Agatha, Macavity y Poirot en los Estados Unidos, y la CWA Short Story Dagger, la CWA Margery Allingham Prize, y el premio H.R.F. Keating en el Reino Unido. Su último misterio en el Lake District es The Dungeon House. La serie comenzó con The Coffin Trail (finalista al premio Theakston a la mejor novela negra británica) e incluye The Arsenic Labyrinth (finalista al premio Lakeland Book of the Year). Ha escrito ocho novelas sobre el abogado de Liverpool Harry Devlin, que empezó con All the Lonely People; (finalista al John Creasey Memorial Dagger); disponibles ahora de nuevo en formato electrónico.

Autor de más de 60 cuentos, también ha editado 35 antologías y ha publicado diez libros de no ficción, incluido un estudio de técnicas de investigación de escenarios criminales y de casos tomados de la vida real. Reconocido crítico y escritor sobre el pasado y el presente del género criminal, con La edad de oro del asesinato ilunstra sus conocimientos sobre novela criminal y sobre los autores de las  décadas de 1920 y 1930, Martin es presidente y encargado del archivo del mundialmente famoso Detection Club. También es el asesor de la exitosa serie de clásicos del crimen de la Biblioteca Británica  su último libro es un complemento de la serie: La historia de los clásicos del crimen en 100 libros. Martin es también en la actualidad encargado del archivo de la Crime Writers ‘Association y editor de su anuario. (Fuente: CWA)

Mi valoración: Dado que no es un trabajo de ficción, no le voy a dar ninguna valoración a este libro, pero no hace falta decir que lo recomiendo encarecidamente.


Review: Even the Dead, 2015 (Quirke #7) by Benjamin Black

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Penguin Books, 2016. Format: Paperback. 272 pages. First published by Viking, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-241-19735-6.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Synopsis: Pathologist Quirke works in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. The latest to join their ghostly ranks is a suicide. But something doesn’t add up. The victim has a suspicious head wound, and the only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. On the trail of the missing woman, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite – secret societies, High Church politics and corrupt politicians. It leads him to a long-buried conspiracy that involves his own family. But it’s too late to go back now…

My take: As a result of a car crash that took place at night, a car goes into flames and the young man that was driving it loses his life. The police believe that it is a clear case of suicide, but the post-mortem conducted by David Sinclair, temporarily in charge of the pathologist department at the Holy Family Hospital, casts some doubts. Sinclair, then, decides to consult with Dr Quirke who has been on sick leave for several months. This time Quirke drinking problems are not the main cause of his worries, but some hallucinations and occasional  blank episodes. Dr, Philbin, his neurologist, has given him his assurance that it is not related with any brain tumour in accordance with the X-ray tests conducted. His best guess is that Quirke’s momentary memory losses are probably caused by an old lesion on his temporal lobe

In any case, Quirke does concur with his assistant that the contusion on the skull of the young man’s body might suggest that he was unconscious when he embedded his car against the tree, which may imply that his death had been caused, in all likelihood, by a third person or persons. Without further delay, Quirke reports Inspector Hackett of his suspicions and thus the investigation begins.

The young man in question turned out to have been Leon Corless a bright civil servant with a promising career ahead. The only son of Sam Corless. a political activists of radical leftist ideas. Both father and son got along well, even though the son did not share his father’s political views. The investigation gets complicated when a young woman who happened to have been an eyewitnesses of the car accident, disappears without trace. And, once again, Quirke finds himself dragged into the dark underworld of Dublin’s ruling establishment, including some of the members in the upper echelons of the Church and the State.

After having read the first four books in the series following its chronological order and having watched the first three episodes broadcasted on TV so far, I was quite impatient to find out how the series would continue. This may explain why I have skipped the two previous instalments, though I’m looking forward to reading them shortly. In any case, this is to suggest that any potential readers of this book should read initially at least the first one in the series for a better understanding of this one.

There are two passages that, in my view, better describe the main topics addressed in this novel. To the question of why was Quirke following the trail of a young woman that in all likelihood do not wished to be found, he answers himself:

What drove him, he believed, was the absence of a past. When he looked back, when he tried to look back, to his earliest days, there was only a blank space. He didn’t know who he was, where he came from, who had fathered him, who his mother had been. He could almost see himself, a child standing alone in the midst of a vast, bare plain, with nothing behind him but darkness and storm. And so he was here, on the trail of another lost creature.

And later on, when Quirke asks Mal what it feels like at knowing that one has only a few months of life left? Mal replies:

‘It’s like discovering that all along you’ve been walking on a tightrope, and suddenly the end of the rope is in sight. You want to get off, but you can’t stop or retrace your steps, you just have to go on, until you can’t go on any further. Simple as that.’

That said, it should be noted that even if there’s a crime and an investigation, I don’t consider this book to be a detective fiction, not even a crime fiction story, in a narrowed sense of the term, and it would be better described as a noir story. The plot itself doesn’t play a significant role, and the action is clearly character driven. As the rest of the books in the series, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this book mainly for Black/Banville ability to reconstruct and capture the dark atmosphere of Dublin in the 50s.

If you allow me the pedantry, there is a reference. in the synopsis, to ‘High Church’ which, in my opinion, is incorrect. The term ‘High Church’ should refer to the part of the Anglican Church that is most similar to the Roman Catholic Church in its beliefs and practices, and this is not the meaning given in the synopsis.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fifteen novels, including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. In 2013 he was awarded the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature, and in 2014 the Quirke novels were adapted into a major BBC TV series. Even the Dead is the seventh book in the acclaimed Quirke series. Banville used the pseudonym Benjamin Black for his crime series about a Dublin pathologist in the 1950s: Christine Falls (2006), The Silver Swan (2007), Elegy for April (2010), A Death in Summer (2011), Vengeance (2012), Holy Orders (2013), and Even the Dead (2015). Other Benjamin Black books include The Black-Eyed Blonde (2014), which features Raymond Chandler’s fictional private detective Philip Marlowe, and the historical crime novel Wolf on a String (2017). Banville also wrote such nonfiction works as Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir (2016).

Even the Dead has been reviewed at Crime Thriller Girl, Crime Time, FictionFan’s Book Reviews, Seeing the World Through Books, and at CrimeBookJunkie, among others.

Penguin UK publicity page

Macmillan publishers US publicity page

Benjamin Black official website 

Q&A with Benjamin Black 

audiobook sample

Las sombras de Quirke (Quirke 7), de Benjamin Black

Sinopsis: El patólogo Quirke trabaja en el depósito de cadáveres de la ciudad velando a los muertos de Dublín. El último en incorporarse a sus fantasmales hileras es un suicida. Pero algo no cuadra. La víctima tiene una herida sospechosa en la cabeza, y el único testigo se ha desvanecido, todo rastro de ella eliminado. Tras la pista de la mujer desaparecida, Quirke se ve atrapado en el tenebroso mundo de las élites de Dublín: sociedades secretas, intrigas de las altas jerarquías eclesiásticas y políticos corruptos. Lo que le conduce hasta una conspiración oculta desde hace tiempo que implica a su propia familia. Pero ya es demasiado tarde para volver atrás ahora …

Mi opinión: Como resultado de un accidente automovilístico ocurrido durante la noche, un automóvil se incendia y el joven que lo conducía pierde la vida. La policía cree que es un caso claro de suicidio, pero la autopsia realizada por David Sinclair, que está temporalmente a cargo del departamento de patología del Holy Family Hospital, arroja algunas dudas. Sinclair, entonces, decide consultar con el Dr. Quirke, que ha estado de baja por enfermedad durante varios meses. Esta vez, los problemas de bebida de Quirke no son la causa principal de sus preocupaciones, sino algunas alucinaciones y episodios en blanco ocasionales. El Dr. Philbin, su neurólogo, le ha asegurado que no está relacionado con ningún tumor cerebral de acuerdo con las pruebas de rayos X realizadas. Su mejor suposición es que las pérdidas momentáneas de memoria de Quirke probablemente sean causadas por una vieja lesión en su lóbulo temporal.

En cualquier caso, Quirke coincide con su asistente en que la contusión en el cráneo del cuerpo del joven podría sugerir que estaba inconsciente cuando incrustó su auto contra el árbol, lo que puede implicar que su muerte fue causada, con toda probabilidad, por una tercera persona o personas. Sin más demora, Quirke informa al inspector Hackett de sus sospechas y así comienza la investigación.

El joven en cuestión resultó ser Leon Corless, un brillante funcionario con una prometedora carrera por delante. El único hijo de Sam Corless. un activista político de ideas izquierdistas radicales. Tanto el padre como el hijo se llevaban bien, aunque el hijo no compartía las opiniones políticas de su padre. La investigación se complica cuando una joven que resultó ser testigo presencial del accidente automovilístico desaparece sin dejar rastro. Y, una vez más, Quirke se ve arrastrado al oscuro submundo de la élite gobernante de Dublín, incluidos algunos de los miembros en las más altas esferas de la Iglesia y del Estado.

Hay dos pasajes que, en mi opinión, mejor describen los principales temas tratados en esta novela. A la pregunta de por qué Quirke seguía el rastro de una mujer joven que con toda probabilidad no deseaba ser encontrada, se responde a sí mismo:

Lo que lo impulsaba, creía él, era la ausencia de pasado. Cuando miraba hacia atrás, cuando trataba de mirar atrás, a sus primeros días, solo había un espacio en blanco. No sabía quién era, de dónde venía, quién lo había engendrado, quién había sido su madre. Casi podía verse a sí mismo, un niño solo parado en medio de una vasta llanura desnuda, con nada tras ´´el excepto oscuridad y confusión. Y  así era como se encontraba él aquí, tras el rastro de otra criatura perdida.

Y más tarde, cuando Quirke le pregunta a Mal qué siente al saber que a uno le quedan solo unos pocos meses de vida. Mal le responde:

“Es como descubrir que todo el tiempo has estado caminando sobre una cuerda floja, y de repente el final de la cuerda está a la vista. Deseas bajarte, pero no te puedes detener ni regresar sobre tus pasos, simplemente tienes que continuar, hasta que no puedas seguir más. Así de simple.”

Dicho esto, cabe señalar que incluso si hay un crimen y una investigación, no considero que este libro sea una novela de detectives, ni siquiera que sea una ficción criminal, en un sentido restringido del término, y sería mejor describirlo como una novela negra (noir). La trama en sí no juega un papel importante, y la acción está claramente dirigida por los personajes. Como el resto de los libros de la serie, he disfrutado mucho leyendo esta novela sobre todo por la capacidad de Black / Banville de reconstruir y capturar la atmósfera sombría de Dublín en los años 50.

Si me permiten la pedantería, hay una referencia. en la sinopsis, a ‘High Church’ que, en mi opinión, es incorrecta. El término ‘High Church’ debe referirse a la parte de la Iglesia Anglicana que es más similar a la Iglesia Católica Romana en sus creencias y prácticas, y este no es el significado dado en la sinopsis.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Benjamin Black es el seudónimo del aclamado autor John Banville, nacido en Wexford, Irlanda, en 1945. Es autor de más de veinte novelas, entre ellas The Sea, que ganó el Man Booker Prize en el 2005. En el 2013 fue galardonado con el Premio PEN de Irlanda por sus Excelentes Logros en la Literatura Irlandesa. En el año 2007 apareció su primer libro bajo el seudónimo de Benjamin Black: El secreto de Christine. Serie que escribe con una prosa más ligera y directa, pero igual de exquisita y que cosechó gran éxito de público y crítica, con títulos como El otro nombre de Laura (2008), En busca de April (2011), Muerte en verano (2012), Venganza (2013) Órdenes sagradas (2013) y Las sombras de Quirke (2015)-

Las sombras de Quirke ha estado reseñada en Calibre.38, entre otros.

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Peter Temple in Memoriam

41z9X0EdiOL._UX250_It is with sad regret I heard today from Kerrie Smith (Mysteries in Paradise) that Peter Temple, the first crime writer to win Australia’s most significant literary award, the Miles Franklin, has died. He was 71.Temple died at home in Ballarat on Thursday. He had had cancer for the past six months, having dealt with a bout of the disease several years ago. He is survived by his wife Anita and his son Nicholas. (Source: The Age)

From Amazon: Peter Temple is the author of nine novels, including four books in the Jack Irish series. He has won the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction five times, and his widely acclaimed novels have been published in over twenty countries. “The Broken Shore” won the UK’s prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger for the best crime novel of 2007 and was made into an ABC telemovie in 2014. Truth won the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award, the first time a crime writer has won an award of this caliber anywhere in the world. Temple’s first two novels “Bad Debts” and “Black Tide” have been made into films with Guy Pearce starring as Jack Irish.

He will be sorely missed. I would like to express my condolences to his family and friends.

So far I have read and reviewed at A Crime is Afoot: Dead Point, The Broken Shore, and Bad Debts.

On My Radar: Jock Serong

Jock Serong’s debut novel Quota won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. The Rules of Backyard Cricket is nominated for a 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Award and was shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. On the Java Ridge is his third novel.  Jock writes feature articles in the surfing media and for a wide variety of publications. He lives in Port Fairy, Victoria. He is married with four children, who in turn are raising a black dog, a rabbit and an unknown number of guinea pigs. (Source: text publishing and Goodreads).

I’ve just downloaded onto my Kindle The Rules of Backyard Cricket and I also have on my wish-list On the Java Ridge.

30271762Book description: It starts in a suburban backyard with Darren Keefe and his older brother, sons of a fierce and gutsy single mother. The endless glow of summer, the bottomless fury of contest. All the love and hatred in two small bodies poured into the rules of a made-up game. Darren has two big talents: cricket and trouble. No surprise that he becomes an Australian sporting star of the bad-boy variety—one of those men who’s always got away with things and just keeps getting. Until the day we meet him, middle aged, in the boot of a car. Gagged, cable-tied, a bullet in his knee. Everything pointing towards a shallow grave. {The Text Publishing Company (17 de julio de 2017)}

34626867Book description: Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller—and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian. [Text Publishing (31 de julio de 2017)]

See the links below to Bernadette’s reviews at Fair Dinkum Crime:


ON THE JAVA RIDGE by Jock Serong

In memory of Bernadette Bean blogger extraordinaire.

Review: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, 1940 (Hercule Poirot # 19) by Agatha Christie

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HarperCollinsPublishers, 2010. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1063 KB. Print Length: 256 pages. First published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club in November 1940, and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1941 under the title of The Patriotic Murders, then as An Overdose of Death in 1953, before sharing the same title as the UK version, One, Two, Buckle my Shoe. ASIN: B0046RE5GI. eISBN: 978-0-00-742263-0.

descargaAbout the book: A dentist lies murdered at his Harley Street practice… The dentist was found with a blackened hole below his right temple. A pistol lay on the floor near his outflung right hand. Later, one of his patients was found dead from a lethal dose of local anaesthetic. A clear case of murder and suicide. But why would a dentist commit a crime in the middle of a busy day of appointments? A shoe buckle holds the key to the mystery. Now in the words of the rhyme can Poirot pick up the sticks and lay them straight?

More about this book: In the life of Hercule Poirot, not even a dental appointment can occur without a murder, this time, the very dentist Poirot was hoping to see. But while the police are calling it suicide, Poirot knows better and soon it’s not only the dentist who appears to have been murdered. Part of Agatha Christie’s nursery rhyme series, the title is derived from a rhyme of the same name, each line forming clues through Poirot’s investigation. Written during one of Christie’s most prolific periods (particularly for Poirot’s cases) this is among her most political novels. The characters express their political views throughout, but despite Poirot’s own opinions he never lets this colour his perception of a suspect. The story was adapted for TV as part of Agatha Christie’s Poirot in 1992, David Suchet in the eponymous role. This episode was considered darker than the previous ones, particularly in this series, lacking the comic touches of Hastings and Japp. It was also dramatised by BBC Radio 4 in 2004, starring John Moffatt as Poirot.

My take: Shortly after Poirot’s visit to his dentist, Dr. Morley at 58 Queen Charlotte Street, he receives a call from Chief Inspector Japp. Japp informs him that Dr. Morley has been found dead in his practise. Everything suggests that the dentist committed suicide, even though he did not seem to have any motive that could explain why he did it. Also, if he was killed, who would have wanted to see him dead? He seemed to be a quiet and harmless fellow. But when one of the his last patients that same day, certain Mr. Amberiotis, is found dead as a result of an overdose of adrenaline and novocaine. Japp believes to have found the perfect explanation for it. In Japp’s view, Morley made a fatal mistake, injecting Mr Amberiotis an excessive dose of anaesthetics by mistake and, realizing what he had done, could not cope with the consequences and shot himself. But this explanation does not fully satisfy Poirot, since it leaves many questions unanswered.

Though, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe was published in 1940, it was probably written before the outbreak of the Second World War, which explains both the absence of an explicit reference to the war as well as the bleak tone that it is present between its lines in anticipation of the tragedy that lies ahead.  It also helps to explain that this is one of Christie’s most decidedly political novels. The story also outlines the different ideologies that were present at that time, namely the totalitarianisms be they of the right or the left.  It is also worth noting that the novel addresses an interesting moral dilemma. And I should not forget to highlight that the plot is well crafted and the story is quite entertaining. Even though, in my view, the story has some minor flaws, this is no obstacle whatsoever that may prevent me from including One, Two, Buckle My Shoe  among my favourite in the series. I would like to conclude quoting Curtis Evans who writes in his blog The Passing Tramp: ‘As for One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, I plead a bit of bias here. The awesomely involved murder scheme and Poirot’s investigation of it reminds me of the complex plots designed by such so-called “Humdrum” detective novelists as John Street and Freeman Wills Crofts. If the plot’s the thing, this one has lots of it! And the ending provides an interesting rumination on the imperatives of justice, (a subject that arose the previous year in And Then There Were None)’.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature. (Source: Wikipedia).

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise, Vintage Pop Fictions, and Mystery File, among others.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

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Agatha Christie Official Website 

Notes On One, Two Buckle My Shoe


Agatha Christie and Nursery Rhymes

La muerte visita al dentista, de Agatha Christie

Sobre el libro: Un dentista yace asesinado en su despacho de Harley Street. El dentista fue encontrado con una brecha ennegrecida debajo de su sien derecha. Una pistola yacía en el suelo cerca de su mano derecha. Más tarde, uno de sus pacientes aparece muerto por una dosis letal de anestesia local. Un claro caso de asesinato y suicidio. Pero, ¿por qué un dentista cometería un delito en medio de un ajetreado día de citas? La hebilla de un zapato tiene la clave del misterio. Ahora, en palabras de la canción, ¿podrá Poirot recoger todos los palos y ponerlos derechos?

Más sobre este libro: En la vida de Hercule Poirot, ni siquiera se puede tener una cita con el dentista sin un asesinato, esta vez, el mismo dentista que Poirot esperaba ver. Pero mientras la policía lo califica de suicidio, Poirot sabe más que nadie, y pronto no es solo el dentista el que parece haber sido asesinado. Como parte de la serie de canciones infantiles de Agatha Christie, el título se deriva de una canción con el mismo nombre, cada estrofa va formanda las pistas por las que transcurre la investigación de Poirot. Escrito durante uno de los períodos más prolíficos de Christie (por lo que se refiere a los casos de Poirot en particular) esta es una de sus novelas con más contenido político. Los personajes expresan sus puntos de vista políticos, pero a pesar de las propias opiniones de Poirot, nunca deja que esto influya en su percepción del sospechoso. La historia fue adaptada para TV como parte de la serie Agatha Christie’s Poirot en 1992, David Suchet en el papel del mismo nombre. Este episodio fue considerado más sórdido que los anteriores, particularmente en esta serie, al faltarle los toques cómicos de Hastings y Japp. También fue dramatizado por la BBC Radio 4 en 2004, protagonizada por John Moffatt como Poirot.

Mi opinión: Poco después de la visita de Poirot a su dentista, el Dr. Morley en el 58 de Queen Charlotte Street, recibe una llamada del inspector jefe Japp. Japp le informa que el Dr. Morley ha sido encontrado muerto en su despacho. Todo sugiere que el dentista se suicidó, a pesar de que no parecía tener ningún motivo que pudiera explicar por qué lo hizo. Además, si fue asesinado, ¿quién hubiera querido verlo muerto? Parecía ser un tipo tranquilo e inofensivo. Pero cuando uno de sus últimos pacientes ese mismo día, cierto Sr. Amberiotis, es encontrado muerto como resultado de una sobredosis de adrenalina y novocaína. Japp cree haber encontrado la explicación perfecta para ello. En opinión de Japp, Morley cometió un error fatal al inyectarle a Amberiotis una dosis excesiva de anestésicos por error y, al darse cuenta de lo que había hecho, no pudo hacer frente a las consecuencias y se pegó un tiro. Pero esta explicación no satisface completamente a Poirot, ya que deja muchas preguntas sin respuesta.

Aunque La muerte visita al dentista se publicó en 1940, probablemente fue escrita antes del estallido de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, lo que explica tanto la ausencia de una referencia explícita a la guerra como el tono sombrío que está presente entre sus líneas en previsión de la tragedia que se avecina. También ayuda a explicar que esta sea una de las novelas más decididamente políticas de Christie. La historia también describe las diferentes ideologías que estaban presentes en ese momento, a saber, los totalitarismos ya sean de derechas o de izquierdas. También vale la pena señalar que la novela aborda un interesante dilema moral. Y no debería olvidar destacar que la trama está bien elaborada y la historia es bastante entretenida. Aunque, desde mi punto de vista, la historia tiene algunos defectos menores, este no es obstáculo alguno que me impida incluir La muerte visita al dentista entre mis favoritos de la serie. Me gustaría concluir citando a Curtis Evans, quien escribe en su blog The Passing Tramp: ‘En cuanto a La muerte visita al dentista, me declaro algo parcial aquí. El asombrosamente enrevesado plan para cometer el asesinato y la investigación de Poirot sobre él me recuerdan a las complejas tramas diseñadas por los llamados novelistas de historias de detectives “Humdrum” como John Street y Freeman Wills Crofts. Si el argumento es la cuestión, ¡esta novela tiene mucho! Y el final proporciona una interesante reflexión sobre las exigencias de la justicia (un tema que surgió el año anterior en Diez negritos, o eventualmente, Y no quedó ninguno)’. (Mi traducción libre)

Mi valoración; A + (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, DBE (Torquay, 15 de septiembre de 1890-Wallingford, 12 de enero de 1976), más conocida como Agatha Christie, fue una escritora y dramaturga británica especializada en el género policial, por cuyo trabajo tuvo reconocimiento internacional.​ A lo largo de su carrera, publicó 66 novelas policiacas, 14 relatos breves y seis novelas rosas —bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott—, además de algunas incursiones en el mundo del teatro con obras como La ratonera o Testigo de cargo. (Fuente: Wikipedia)