Month: December 2015

December Reading Round-Up

In December I read and reviewed at A Crime is Afoot:

  • The Burning Room (Orion, 2014) by Michael Connelly (A)
  • Snowblind (Orenda Books, 2015) translated by Quentin Bates, 2015. First published in Icelandic as Snjóblinda, 2010 by Ragnar Jonasson (A+)
  • The False Burton Combs (Les Editions de Londres, 2013) First published in the Black Mask Magazine in December 1922 by Carroll John Daly (Not rated)
  • We Shall Inherit the Wind (Orenda Books, 2015) translated by Don Bartlett. Originally published as Vi skal arve vinden in 2010 by Gunnar Staalesen (A+)
  • Ten Star Clues (Dean Street Press, 2015) First published in 1941 by E. R. Punshon (B)
  • The Case of the Constant Suicides (Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989) First published in 1941 by John Dickson Carr (A+)

Currently reading Mildred Pierce by James M Cain, another 1941 book, but my review will not be ready to be included on time in Rich Westlake’s 1941 roundup at Past Offences.

For the year, if I counted correctly, I read and reviewed a total of 59 books.

Some of books on top of my TBR pile:

  • No Other Darkness, by Sarah Hilary
  • The Caveman, by Jørn Lier Horst
  • Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton
  • The Defence, by Steve Cavanagh
  • After the Crash, by Michel Bussi
  • The Missing and the Dead, by Stuart MacBride
  • A Death in Summer (Picador, 2012) First published 2011 by Benjamin Black
  • The Dying Place (Avon, 2014) by Luca Veste
  • The Diggers Rest Hotel (Penguin Aus, 2010) by Geoffrey McGeachin
  • Shadow of the Rock (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012) by Thomas Mogford
  • The City of Strangers (Avon, 2013) by Michael Russell
  • The Front Seat Passenger by Pascal Garnier
  • L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential and White Jazz) by James Ellroy
  • The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul E. Hardisty

Review: The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989. Format: Paperback. A hardcover edition of this book was published in 1941 by Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN: 0-06-081016-5. 234 pages.   

d6b7d6a887b4209597a34365277444341587343 The Case of the Constant Suicides, first published in 1941, is a detective story by John Dickson Carr. Like much of Dickson Carr’s work, this novel is a locked-room mystery, in addition to being a whodunit. Unlike most of the other Doctor Gideon Fell novels, this story has a very high humorous tone, reminiscent of the Henry Merrivale works. (Source: Wikipedia)

Two distant cousins meet face to face for the first time on a train bound to Scotland. Alan Campbell is a professor of History at Highgate University College and Kathryn Campbell is member of the department of history at the Harpenden College for Women. In all likelihood, there has been some sort of mistake, since they have the same surname. There’s only one compartment booked for a Campbell, without any further indication. Therefore, they have to share it until reaching Glasgow. The purpose of their trip is to attend a sort of ‘family conference’ at the Castle of Shira in Inveraray, summoned following the death of old Angus Campbell a week ago. It is worth to note that, in Scotland, a castle can be almost anything and Shira, despite its name, is rather a slatternly-looking stone building with a high tower. But the question is now if Angus Campbell jumped from the window at the top of the tower where he had his bedroom, or if he was murdered. The fact that Angus had several life insurances that will not be honoured if he committed suicide makes things more complicated, specifically when we know that the door of his bedroom was locked from the inside. For this reason Doctor Gideon Fell is called to help in the investigation. As the story progresses, other suicides will arise that will be investigated in relation to the first case in order to determine if it was a murder, a homicide or an accident.

I am offering this 1941 masterpiece as my second entry in Rich Westlake’s meme, Crimes of the Century, at his blog Past Offences. I would like to suggest a visit to his site to see what other participants have read and shared. For my side I can only add I’ve very much enjoyed what has been my first encounter with the work of John Dickson Carr, it certainly won’t be the last of his books that I have the intention to read. Unfortunately they are not easily available and one have to find them in second-hand bookstores. The Case of the Constant Suicides is a good example of a locked-room mystery, that combines pretty well an interesting story with a clever resolution and I’m sure that it will delight all those who may be interested in reading it. A good test of the quality of this book is that as soon as I finished it, I felt the desire to re-read it. I strongly recommend it.

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

John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was one of the greatest writers of the so-called “Golden Age” of mystery fiction, writing complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. He was clearly influenced by the works of Gaston Leroux, the Father Brown stories of G. K. Chesterton, and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. He was a master of the locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery, ‘The Hollow Man’ (1935), is usually considered to be Carr’s masterpiece, and was selected in a 1981 survey of experts, organized by Edward D. Hoch, as the best locked-room mystery of all time.  There can be little doubt that Carr was, and still remains the single most important author in the Locked Room and Impossible Crime sub-genre! (Source: The Locked Room Mystery)

The Case of the Constant Suicides has been reviewed at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel and at crossexaminingcrime.

To start off in the world of Carr I’ll suggest a visit to John Dickson Carr top 10 poll at Tipping My Fedora, here.

El caso de los suicidios constantes de John Dickson Carr

519IuXKZ6iL._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_ El caso de los suicidios constantes, publicada inicialmente en 1941, es una historia de detectives de John Dickson Carr. Al igual que gran parte de la obra de Dickson Carr, esta novela es un misterio de habitación cerrada, además de ser un “whodunit”. A diferencia de la mayor parte del resto de las novelas portagonizadas por el doctor Gedeón Fell, esta historia tiene un tono humorístico muy elevado, que recuerda a las obras de Henry Merrivale. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Dos primos lejanos se encuentran cara a cara por primera vez en un tren con destino a Escocia. Alan Campbell es profesor de Historia en el University College de Highgate y Kathryn Campbell es miembro del departamento de historia en la universidad de mujeres en Harpenden. Con toda probabilidad, se ha producido algún tipo de error, ya que tienen el mismo apellido. Sólo hay un compartimento reservado a nombre de Campbell, sin ninguna indicación más. Por lo tanto, tienen que compartirlo hasta llegar a Glasgow. El propósito de su viaje es asistir a una especie de “reunión familiar” en el Castillo de Shira en Inveraray, convocado tras la muerte del viejo Angus Campbell hace una semana. Vale la pena señalar que, en Escocia, un castillo puede ser casi cualquier cosa y Shira, a pesar de su nombre, es más bien un edificio de piedra de aspecto desaliñado con una alta torre. Pero la pregunta es ahora si Angus Campbell saltó por la ventana en la parte superior de la torre donde él tenía su dormitorio, o si fue asesinado. El hecho de que Angus tuviera varios seguros de vida que no serán pagados ​​si se suicidó hace las cosas más complicadas, especialmente cuando sabemos que la puerta de su habitación estaba cerrada por dentro. Por esta razón el doctor Gedeón Fell es llamado para asistir en la investigación. A medida que la historia avanza, surgirán otros suicidios que serán investigados en relación con el primer caso con el fin de determinar si se trataba de un asesinato, un homicidio o un accidente.

Ofrezco esta obra maestra de 1941 como mi segunda entrada en el meme de Rich Westlake, Crimes of the Century, en su blog Past Offences. Me gustaría sugerir una visita a su sitio para ver lo que otros participantes han leído y compartido. Por mi parte sólo puedo añadir que he disfrutado mucho de lo que ha sido mi primer encuentro con la obra de John Dickson Carr, sin duda no será el último de sus libros que tengo la intención de leer. Por desgracia, no son fáciles de conseguir y uno tiene que encontrarlos en librerías de segunda mano. El caso de los suicidios constantes es un buen ejemplo de un misterio de habitación cerrada, que combina muy bien una historia interesante con una resolución inteligente y estoy seguro que hará las delicias de todos aquellos que puedan estar interesados ​​en leerlo. Una buena prueba de la calidad de este libro es que tan pronto como lo terminé, sentí el deseo de volver a leerlo. Lo recomiendo encarecidamente.

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

John Dickson Carr (1906-1977) fue uno de los más importantes escritores de la llamada “Edad de Oro” de la novela de misterio, relatos de escritura compleja e impulsados por un buen argumento en el que el enigma es de suma importancia. Estaba claramente influenciado por la obra de Gaston Leroux, por las historias del Padre Brown de GK Chesterton y por las aventuras de Sherlock Holmes de Conan Doyle. Fue un maestro del misterio de habitación cerrada, en la que un detective resuelve crímenes aparentemente imposibles. El misterio del Dr, Fell, El hombre hueco (1935), está generalmente considerado como la obra maestra de Carr, y fue seleccionado en una encuesta de expertos, organizada por Edward D. Hoch en 1981, como el mejor misterio de habitación cerrada de todos los tiempos . No cabe duda de que Carr ha sido, y continúa siendo, el autor más importante en el subgénero de misterio de habitación cerrada y delitos imposibles. (Mi traducción libre)

OT: From Navafría Mountain Pass to Nevero Peak

From Navafría mountain pass (1773 m), in the village of Lozoya (Madrid), to Nevero Peak (2209 m) there is a route of about 7.5 km. round trip which apparently doesn’t involve much difficulty but with snow, wind, and fog can become a risky experience. I did the route this morning with my hiking group to finish the year.

Further information: Sierra de Guadarrama  

DSCN9919

DSCN9933

DSDN0006

DSDN0009

DSDN0022

DSDN0032

DSDN0041

DSDN0038

DSDN0077

OT: Pico Maccario Barbera D’Asti Mia 2012

  • 20151224_144521 Winery: Pico Maccario, the winery was founded in 1997 in Mombaruzzo, Piedmont with 70 hectares of vineyards in one piece of property in the heart of the Barbera d’Asti DOCG appellation. From the beginning, brothers Pico and Vitaliano Maccario have chosen modern methods to manage their vineyards and produce wine, due in equal parts to their personal taste and young age of their winery. The rose has always been a symbol of the winery. 4500 rose plants of the same cloned variety have the duel function of marking the start of each vineyard row, and – a traditional use – of signalling vine-threatening diseases before they get the chance to do damage. The presence of these thousands of rosebushes creates a beautiful walking experience between the rows of Pico Maccario.
  • Phone: n/a
  • Winemaker: n/a
  • Website: www.cantinapicomaccario.com
  • Brand: Mia 
  • DOCG: Barbera d’Asti is one of the most famous wines from the Piedmont region of north-western Italy. It became a DOC in 1970 and was upgraded to its DOCG classification in 2008, adding to Piedmont’s already impressive standing at this highest level of Italian wine classification.
  • Type: Young Red Wine 
  • Vintage: 2012 
  • Alcohol: 11.5%
  • Grape Variety: 100% Barbera
  • Vineyards: Pico Maccario, a dedicated Barbera specialist, is found on the hills of Mombaruzzo in the Asti DOCG at an average altitude of 180 meters. Comprising one single, contiguous parcel, their vineyard covers 70 hectares and is the largest solely-owned vineyard in Piedmont. Within the 70 hectares, there are some 315,000 vines capped at the end of each row by one of the approximately 4,500 red rose bushes on the property. It is no surprise that the rose is part of the winery’s emblem. Out of the 70 hectares, 55 are planted to Barbera.
  • Soil Type: Clay.
  • Bottle Size: 0.75
  • Price: It was a present at my favourite Italian restaurant in Madrid.
  • My wine rating: 87 /100 (A wine of good quality) NEW!
  • Review: Ten Star Clues by E.R. Punshon

    Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

    Dean Street Press, 2015. Format: Kindle. File Size: 862 KB. Print Length: 224 pages. First published in 1941 by Victor Gollancz. ASIN: B017BWPLMG ISBN: 978 1 910570 95 1.

    81l4skbuxil-_sl1500_Originally published in 1941, Ten Star Clues is the fifteenth novel in the Bobby Owen mystery series. The series covers 35 titles published between 1933 and 1956. Most of the books were out-of-print, until Dean Street Press has began to re-publish the series. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans where we can read:

    ‘The tale of the alleged lost heir who has returned home to claim his patrimony in the face of strenuous denials of his identity has proven a perennial popular one in English crime fiction. Probably the most well known example of the plot today is found in Josephine Tey’s much-admired suspense novel Brat Farrar (1949), although with The Traveller Returns (1945) (in the US, She Came Back), the popular Golden Age crime writer Patricia Wentworth preceded Tey into print by four years with a feminine variation on the theme. However E. R. Punshon anticipated both women on the subject with his fifteenth Bobby Owen detective novel, Ten Star Clues (1941), a classic British stately home mystery wherein Bobby, in his first investigation carried out entirely in the Midlands county of Wychshire in his capacity as detective-inspector and private secretary to Chief Constable Glynne, tries his best to solve the baffling problem of which Wych is Wych. Confused? Read on!’

    Regular readers of A Crime is Afoot may have realised I’ve started to develop a certain taste for mystery novels of the Golden Age. In this recent journey, I count with the invaluable help of some bloggers and Curtis Evans is one of them. His blog The Passing Tramp is well worth a visit. Consequently, it shouldn’t come as surprise to have chosen Ten Star Clues by E.R Punshon as my contribution in Rich Westlake’s 1941 roundup at his Past Offences site. The book, a traditional puzzle, is highly entertaining and I’ve very much enjoyed its reading. The story is very well crafted and offers an interesting picture of England in the early stages of WWII. In all likelihood it won’t be the last Pushon’s book that I’m going to read. More specifically I’m looking forward to reading Diabolic Candelabra, as soon as it becomes available.

    My rating: B (I really liked it)

    Ernest Robertson Punshon was born in London in 1872. At the age of fourteen he started life in an office. His employers soon informed him that he would never make a really satisfactory clerk, and he, agreeing, spent the next few years wandering about Canada and the United States, endeavouring without great success to earn a living in any occupation that offered. Returning home by way of working a passage on a cattle boat, he began to write. He contributed to many magazines and periodicals, wrote plays, and published nearly fifty novels, among which his detective stories proved the most popular and enduring. He enjoyed some literary success in the 1930s and 1940s. He also wrote under the pseudonym Robertson Halket. Today, he is remembered, in the main, as the creator of Police Constable Bobby Owen, the protagonist of many of Punshon’s novels. He reviewed many of Agatha Christie’s novels for The Guardian on their first publication. He died in 1956. (Sources: Amazon and Wikipedia)

    In December 2015, Dean Street Press has reissued the eleventh to the fifteenth instalment in his Bobby Owen mystery series:  Comes a Stranger (1938), Suspects-Nine (1939), Murder Abroad (1939), Four Strange Women (1940) and Ten Star Clues (1941). According to Curtis Evans, ‘Collectively these books constitute … the single best group of Punshon mysteries, published when the author was at the apex of his popularity in England.’ (Source: The Passing Tramp). A list of E. R. Pushon books is here.

    Ten Star Clues has been reviewed at Mysteries in Paradise (Kerrie) and by Curtis Evans here.

    Dean Street Press

    Fantastic Fiction 

    E. R. Punshon, Bobby Owen, and Art

    Ten Star Clues de E.R Punshon

    Publicado originalmente en 1941, Ten Star Clues es la novela decimoquinta de la serie de misterio protagonizada por Bobby Owen. La serie abarca 35 títulos publicados entre 1933 y 1956. La mayoría de los libros estaban agotados, hasta que Dean Street Press ha comenzado a reeditar la serie. Esta nueva edición cuenta con una introducción por el historiador de novelas de misterio Curtis Evans, donde podemos leer:

    ‘La historia del presunto heredero perdido que ha regresado a casa para reclamar su patrimonio frente a los denodados rechazos de su identidad ha resultado estar permanentemente generalizada en la novela de misterio inglesa. Probablemente el ejemplo más conocido del argumento hoy en dìa se encuentra en la muy admirada novela de misterio de Josephine Tey Brat Farrar (1949), aunque con The Traveller Returns (1945) (en los EE.UU., She Came Back), la popular escritora de novela de misterio del Siglo de Oro Patricia Wentworth se adelantó cuatro años en la imprenta al libro de Tey con una variante femenina del tema. Sin embargo E. R. Punshon se anticipó a las dos señoras en el tema con su decimoquinta novela del detective Bobby Owen, Ten Star Clues (1941), un clásico misterio de casa solariega británica en el que Bobby, en su primera investigación llevada a cabo en su totalidad en el condado de Wychshire en los Midlands en calidad de detective-inspector y secretario privado de jefe de policía Glynne, hace todo lo posible para resolver el problema desconcertante de quién de los Wych es Wych. ¿Confuso? Siga leyendo!’

    Los lectores habituales de A Crime is Afoot pueden haberse dado cuenta de que he empezado a desarrollar un cierto gusto por las novelas de misterio de la Edad de Oro. En esta reciente andadura, cuento con la inestimable ayuda de algunos blogeros y Curtis Evans es uno de ellos. Su blog The Passing Tramp bien merece una visita. En consecuencia, no debería ser una sorpresa haber elegido Ten Star Clues de E. R. Punshon como mi contribución al resumen sobre el 1941 de Rich Westlake en su portal Past Offences . El libro, un enigma tradicional, es muy entretenido y he disfrutado mucho con su lectura. La historia está muy bien elaborada y ofrece un cuadro interesante de Inglaterra en las primeras etapas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Con toda probabilidad no será el último libro de Pushon que voy a leer. Más específicamente estoy deseando leer Diabolic Candelabra, tan pronto como esté disponible.

    Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

    Ernest Robertson Punshon nació en Londres en 1872. A la edad de catorce años comenzó a trabajar en una oficina. Sus patrones pronto le informaron que él nunca llegaría a ser un ofcinista realmente aceptable, y él, en concordancia, pasó los siguientes años deambulando por Canadá y los Estados Unidos, tratando sin éxito de ganarse la vida en cualquier ocupación que le ofrecían. Al regresar a casa pagándose el pasaje trabajando en un barco de ganado, comenzó a escribir. Colaboró con muchas revistas y publicaciones periódicas, escribió obras de teatro, y publicó cerca de cincuenta novelas, entre las que sus novelas policíacas resultaron ser las más conocidas y duraderas. Disfrutó de un cierto éxito literario en los años 1930 y 1940. También escribió bajo el seudónimo de Robertson Halket. Hoy en día, se le recuerda, en su mayoría, como el creador del agente de policía Bobby Owen, el protagonista de muchas de las novelas de Punshon. Reseñó muchas de las novelas de Agatha Christie para The Guardian cuando se publicaron por primera vez. Falleció en 1956. (Fuente: Amazon y Wikipedia)

    En diciembre de 2015, Dean Street Press ha reeditado de la undécima a la décimoquinta entrega de su serie de misterio protagonizada por Bobby Owen: Comes a Stranger (1938), Suspects-Nine (1939), Murder Abroad (1939), Four Strange Women (1940) y Ten Star Clues (1941). Según Curtis Evans, “Conjuntamente estos libros constituyen … el mejor grupo de misterios de Punshon, publicados cuando el autor estaba en la cumbre de su fama en Inglaterra.” (Fuente: The Passing Tramp). La lista de libros de E. R. Pushon pueden encontrarla aquí.