20 Books of Summer 2016! Follow Up and August Reading Round Up

I’ve read so far in August:

Where Roses Never Die, 2012 by Gunnar Staalesen (tra. Don Bartlett) (A+)

Vertigo (1954) by Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejac (Trans. by Geoffrey Sainsbury) (A)

Maigret and the Old Lady, 1950 (Inspector Maigret #33) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Ros Schwartz (A)

The Cornish Coast Murder (1935) by John Bude (B)

Three Act Tragedy, 1935 (Hercule Poirot #9) by Agatha Christie (B)

The Wicked Go To Hell by Frédéric Dard, 1956 (trans. David Coward) (A)

The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) by Ellery Queen (B)

OT: The Museo del Prado extends "Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition"

20160830_173955-1The Museo del Prado and Fundación BBVA wish to offer visitors every opportunity to visit “Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition,” a unique event at which they can enter the imagination of one of the most fascinating and universal painters of all time. In this respect, more than 428.527 visitors have already enjoyed the exhibition. The show will therefore remain open until next 25 September, featuring special opening hours, given that, over the last two weekends, visitors can enjoy the exhibition up until midnight.

In order to facilitate the purchase of tickets and avoid queues as time passes are required, we recommend visitors to purchase their tickets in advance by selecting the date and time of entry. These passes are available at both the ticket office and via the Internet (www.museodelprado.es).

Begoña and I have had the opportunity to visit the exhibition this midday.

Find below the promotional video of the exhibition

OT: Crying Time – Willie Nelson & Norah Jones

I wonder why I like so much Norah Jones?

By the way, she’s the daughter of Ravi Shankar. 

Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me
I can see that far away look in your eyes
I can tell by the way you hold me darlin’ Oooh
That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time

Now they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder (fonder)
And that tears are only rain to make love grow
Well my love for you could never grow no stronger (stronger)
If I lived to be a hundred years old

Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me
I can see that far away look in your eyes
I can tell by the way you hold me darlin’. Yeah now
That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time

Now you say you’ve found someone that you love better (better)
That’s the way it’s happened every time before
And as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow (‘morrow)
Cryin’ time will start when you walk out the door

Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me
I can see that far away look in your eyes
I can tell by the way you hold me darlin’. Alright now
That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time
(That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time)

Review: Three Act Tragedy, 1935 (Hercule Poirot #9) by Agatha Christie

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

HarperCollins, 2010. Format : Kindle edition. File size: 602 KB, Print length: 275 pages. First published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in January 1935.  ASIN: B004APA51K.  ISBN: 978 0 00 752750 2. .

51boHFDxG6L._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_Synopsis: At an apparently respectable dinner party, a vicar is the first to die… Thirteen guests arrived at dinner at the actor’s house. It was to be a particularly unlucky evening for the mild-mannered Reverend Stephen Babbington, who choked on his cocktail, went into convulsions and died. But when his martini glass was sent for chemical analysis, there was no trace of poison – just as Poirot had predicted. Even more troubling for the great detective, there was absolutely no motive.

More about this story: The novel’s first true publication was the serialisation in the Saturday Evening Post in six instalments from 9 June to 14 July 1934 under the title Murder in Three Acts. This novel is one of two to differ significantly in American editions (the other being The Moving Finger), both hardcover and paperback. The American edition of Three Act Tragedy changes the motive of the killer, but not so significantly as to require adjustment in other chapters of the novel. The events of this story are referenced to by Colonel Johnson in Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and by Poirot himself in The ABC Murders when he tells Hastings what’s been happening since they last met. He, Poirot, was almost “exterminated” by a murderer who was “not so much enterprising as careless”. There are also a couple of references to other Christie cases by the characters themselves. Poirot references his only professional failure (as a policeman in Belgium) hinting at The Chocolate Box and Satterthwaite starts to tell Sir Charles Cartwright the story of At the Bells and Motley when Sir Charles typically interrupts to recount his own tale.

My take: Three Act Tragedy is an excellent example of Agatha Christie’s innovative efforts, and of her fondness for theatre, as reflected in the book’s title. Accordingly, the story is divided in three parts as corresponds to any theatrical performance. In the first act, Hercules Poirot attends a dinner organised by the celebrated actor Sir Charles Cartwright at his home in Cornwall. Among the invitees are Dr. Bartholomew Strange, Lady Mary Lytton Gore and her daughter Hermione “Egg”, Captain Dacres and his wife Cynthia, Muriel Wills, Oliver Manders, Mr Satterthwaite, and the Reverend and Mrs Babbington. A cocktail is served before dinner and Reverend Babbigton, drops dead after having drink a sip. His death seems due to natural causes. No one can suspect that there might be someone who wanted him dead, and the possibility of a suicide is entirely discarded. Poirot appears to be satisfied with that explanation against some dissenting voices from other invited guests among which we can find Sir Charles himself. In the second act the action moves to Monte Carlo where Mr Satterthwaite, reads about the circumstances of Dr. Bartholomew Strange death, on a two-days-old Daily Mail. Such circumstances are quite similar to the ones that surrounded the death of Reverend Babbigton. Except that, on this occasion, instead of a cocktail, the drink was Porto.  Mr Satterthwaite discusses this fact with Sir Charles who was also in Monte Carlo. And Sir Charles shows him another newspaper clipping in which are detailed the names of the guests present on this occasion. Coincidentally  a number of them had been at Sir Charles dinner party, as well. Later on, in another newspaper, they learned that the late Dr Bartholomew Strange died from nicotine poisoning. No doubt this is another case for M Hercules Poirot who, coincidentally, is also in Monte Carlo at that time.  And all three decide to return to England. After all it seems that Sir Charles Cartwright was right and Poirot was wrong regarding the death of Reverend Babbington.

Around this book there are several circumstances worth mentioning. Three Act Tragedy was first published in the US under the title Murder in Three Acts in 1934: However the killer, without any significant adjustment in the plotline, had a different motivation. Today however, the 1935 UK edition is recognised as the standard. Besides, Three Act Tragedy became the first of Agatha Christie’s books which sold 10,000 copies in its first year (source: 75 Facts About Christie). I would also like to add, from my side that it contains several recurring elements in Christie’s novels, like for example the odd name of one her female characters, and the reference to a nursery rhyme, to mention but a few. 

All in all, I’m of the opinion that this novel has been overvalued to some extent. Although I found it entertaining and ingenious, the motives for the crimes have failed to convince me, as to include Three Act Tragedy among the best Poirot’s.  

My rating: B (I really liked it)

You can read other reviews of Three Act Tragedy at  Mysteries in Paradise, Joyfully Retired, and Books Please, among others.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

Harper Collins US publicity page

Agatha Christie Official Website

Notes On Three Act Tragedy


Tragedia en tres actos de Agatha Christie

Sinopsis: Durante una cena aparentemente respetable, un párroco es el primero en morir … Trece invitados llegan a cenar en la casa de un actor. Iba a ser una noche particularmente de mala suerte para el afable reverendo Stephen Babbington, que se atragantó con su cóctel, empezó a sufrir convulsiones y murió. Pero cuando el vaso de martini fue enviado para su análisis químico, no había rastro de veneno, tal  y como  había pronosticado Poirot.  Más preocupante aún para el gran detective, era que no existía ningún motivo en absoluto.

Más sobre esta historia: La primera vez que se publicó esta novela fué en el Saturday Evening Post en seis entregas del 9 de junio a la 14 de de julio de 1934 bajo el título Asesinato en tres actos. Esta novela es una de las dos que difieren significativamente en su edición norteamericana (la otra es El caso de los anónimos, título original The Moving Finger), tanto en tapa dura como en rústica. La edición norteamericana de Tragedia en tres actos modifica el móvil del asesino, pero no de forma tan significativa como para necesitar ajustar otros capítulos de la novela. A los acontecimientos de esta historia hace referencia el  Coronel Johnson en Navidades trágicas y el propio Poirot en Los crímenes de la guía de ferrocarriles, cuando le cuenta a Hastings lo que le ha ocurrido desde que se encontraron por última vez. Él, Poirot, fue casi “aniquilado” por un asesino que no fué “tan innovador como descuidado”. También se hace referenica a otro par de casos de Christie por los propios personajes. Poirot se refiere también a su único fracaso profesional (como policía en Bélgica) haciendo alusión a La caja de bombones (en Primeros casos de Poirot) y Satterthwaite empieza a contarle a Sir Charles Cartwright la historia de Bells and  Motley (en El enigmático señor Quin) cuando Sir Charles le interrumpe como es habitual para contarle su propia historia.

Mi opinión: Tragedia en tres actos es un excelente ejemplo de los intentos innovadores de Agatha Christie, y de su afición por el teatro, como se refleja en el título del libro. En consecuencia, la historia se divide en tres partes como corresponde a cualquier representación teatral. En el primer acto, Hércules Poirot asiste a una cena organizada por el famoso actor Sir Charles Cartwright en su casa de Cornualles. Entre los invitados están el Dr. Strange, lady Mary Lytton Gore y su hija Hermione “Egg”, el capitán Dacres y su esposa Cynthia, Muriel Wills, Oliver Manders, Satterthwaite, y el reverendo y la señora Babbington. Un cóctel se sirve antes de la cena y el reverendo Babbigton, cae muerto después de beber un sorbo. Su muerte parece deberse a causas naturales. Nadie puede sospechar que pudiera exitir alguien que quisiera verlo muerto y la posibilidad de un suicidio se descarta por completo. Poirot parece estar satisfecho con esa explicación en contra de algunas voces discrepantes de otros invitados entre los que podemos encontrar al propio Sir Charles. En el segundo acto la acción se traslada a Monte Carlo, donde Satterthwaite, lee sobre las circunstancias de la muerte del Dr. Bartholomew Strange, en un Daily Mail de hace dos días. Tales circunstancias son bastante similares a las que rodearon la muerte del reverendo Babbigton. Excepto que, en esta ocasión, en lugar de un cóctel, la bebida fué un Oporto. Satterthwaite discute este hecho con Sir Charles que también estaba en Monte Carlo. Y Sir Charles le muestra otro recorte de periódico en el que se detallan los nombres de los invitados presentes en esta ocasión. Coincidentemente un número de ellos había estado en la cena de Sir Charles, también. Más adelante, en otro diario, se enteraron de que el difunto Dr. Strange murió envenenado por nicotina. Sin duda, este es otro caso para M Hércules Poirot que, casualmente, también se encuentra en Monte Carlo en ese momento. Y los tres deciden regresar a Inglaterra. Después de todo, parece que Sir Charles Cartwright estaba en lo cierto y Poirot estaba equivocado con respecto a la muerte del reverendo Babbington.

Alrededor de este libro existen varias circunstancias dignas de mención. Tragedia en tres actos se publicó por primera vez en los EE.UU. bajo el título de Asesinato en tres actos en el 1934: Sin embargo, el asesino, sin ningún ajuste significativo en la trama, tenía una motivación diferente. Hoy, sin embargo, la edición del Reino Unido de 1935 está reconocida como la  oficial. Además, Tragedia en tres actos se convirtió en el primero de los libros de Agatha Christie que vendió 10.000 copias en su primer año (fuente: 75 Datos sobre Christie). También me gustaría añadir, por mi parte que contiene varios elementos recurrentes en las novelas de Christie, como por ejemplo el extraño nombre de uno de sus personajes femeninos, y la referencia a una canción infantil, por mencionar sólo algunos.

Con todo, soy de la opinión de que esta novela ha estado sobrevalorada en cierta medida. Aunque me pareció entretenida e ingeniosa, los motivos de los crímenes no han logrado convencerme, como para incluir Tragedia en tres actos entre las mejores de Poirot.

Mi valoración:  B (Me gustó mucho)

Review: The Cornish Coast Murder (1935) by John Bude

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

The British Library Publishing Division, 2014. Format: Kindle. File Size: 1753 KB. Print Length: 286 pages. With an introduction by Martin Edwards.  ASIN: B00IJYGJHM. ISBN: 978 1 910633 12 0.

cornishcoastmurderSynopsis: The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – but heaven forbid that the shadow of any real crime should ever fall across his seaside parish. But the vicar’s peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen with a bullet through his head. The local police inspector is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Suspicion seems to fall on Tregarthan’s niece, Ruth – but surely that young woman lacks the motive to shoot her uncle dead in cold blood? Luckily for Inspector Bigswell, the Reverend Dodd is on hand, and ready to put his keen understanding of the criminal mind to the test. This classic mystery novel of the golden age of British crime fiction is set against the vividly described backdrop of a fishing village on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. It is now republished for the first time since the 1930s, with a new introduction by Martin Edwards.

From the introduction (by Martin Edwards): `The appearance of this British Library edition of The Cornish Coast Murder will be welcomed not only by collectors who have despaired of ever possessing a copy of their own, but also by crime fiction readers generally. Few will be familiar with Bude’s name and work, but the pleasure given by this lively and well-crafted story is likely to tempt many to explore his later work as well. They will not be disappointed.`

My take: The action takes place in Boscawen, a fictional village close to the Cornish coast. The story revolves around the murder of Julian Tregarthan, a magistrate found dead from a gunshot at his home. Initially the local police inspector, Bigswell, takes up the case. The deceased magistrate was opposed to the sentimental relationship that Ronald Hardy, a young writer who lives in a neighbouring cottage, maintains with his niece Ruth. The first indications point to her as the most obvious suspect. Apparently, she had had a strong argument with her uncle shortly before the likely time of his death and, heatedly, she left the house in spite of the bad weather. She claims she went to see Ronald but, unable to find him, she returned home where she found what happened to her uncle. Now, Ronald has gone missing which seriously compromises him, and becomes the main suspect. To complicate matters further, a third suspect arises. However, the evidence is not always conclusive and, on some occasions, it’s conflicting. But for Reverend Dodd, Vicar of St. Michael’s-on-the-Cliff,  the two young lovers are clearly innocents. He himself, a detective fiction enthusiast, decides to take matters into his own hands.

I must admit I’ve enjoyed this book very much, a delightful and light reading very appropriate for a peaceful summer day. The story, maybe a bit irrelevant, is quite entertaining and is well-told. As set out in the Introduction, The Cornish Coast Murder provides some clues that can help us explain the reason why, Bude’s books, have become increasingly recognised nowadays:  ‘His writing style is relaxed and rather more polished than one would expect from a first-time novelist, and he pays more attention to characterisation and setting than many of his contemporaries’. And, as Martin Edwards ends up saying, although his works are not up to par with Sayers’ literary style or with Agatha Christie’s concerning the complexity of the plot, certainly they don’t deserve the oblivion in which they fell for some time. If, at some stage, I feel the need to alternate a ‘cosy mystery’, with other books that may have a darkest or bleakest tone, I have no doubt that I’ll read another book by John Bude. I would not wish to overlook the fact that this book can be considered a police procedural in its initial stage. I really enjoyed the way the Vicar analysed the path of the bullets. 

My rating: B (I really liked it).

About the author: John Bude was the pseudonym of Ernest Elmore (1901–1957), an author of the golden age of crime fiction. Elmore was a co-founder of the Crime Writers’ Association, and worked in the theatre as a producer and director. Writing as John Bude, Elmore published thirty crime novels, with Inspector William Meredith appearing in most of them. The first two, both of which were published in 1935, were The Lake District Murder and The Cornish Coast Murder, followed the next year by The Sussex Downs Murder. These three have since been reprinted by the British Library. Fellow British crime author Martin Edwards commented: ‘Bude writes both readably and entertainingly. His work may not have been stunning enough to belong with the greats, but there is a smoothness and accomplishment about even his first mystery, The Cornish Coast Murder, which you don’t find in many début mysteries.’

Other reviews:

This is a pleasant mystery and competently written, although the way the author re-visits and refreshes the reader’s mind as to the clues that have been discovered is slightly clunky and can feel a little repetitive at times. But that was the way back then, and crime fiction has come on in leaps and bounds (Crime Squad).

It all makes for a very entertaining mystery, a fairly quick and enjoyable read. The new edition from the British Library Crime Classics includes a new introduction by mystery writer Martin Edwards, who notes that Bude paid more attention to his characters and his settings than many of his contemporaries did. It is good to have Bude’s work brought back into print. (Classic Mysteries)

Despite the fact that it was published in 1935, this is a delightful find for those who love cozies, …. A question that the Reverend Dodd asks himself early on is whether the methods he uses to solve the puzzles in the detective fiction would work as well if he were confronted by the real thing. And then he has the opportunity to assist Inspector Bigswell in the solving of a real life murder, and he knows he will never feel the same about crime fiction. (Mysteries in Paradise)

For a debut mystery novel this is admirable work though not without a few faults. …Nevertheless the writing is straightforward, the characters are believable and appealing and there are enough puzzles to keep the reader both engaged and mystified. Reverend Dodd would have made for a nice series character, but Bude chose not to develop him further. (Pretty Sinister Books).

It’s very well written, with the Reverend Dodd in particular coming across as a very charming lead (although points off for all of the “if this was a mystery novel instead of being real” bits, a personal bugbear.) Bigswell is a little bland to be honest, but the book ticks along at a steady rate and it’s nice to have a detective who shares his thoughts with the reader – we solve it as he solves it. I’ve seen some people claim that it’s not a solvable mystery, but there is one clue – admittedly, only one clue – to the murderer but it’s more of an issue that the killer is… better not say, as it’ll be a spoiler. Put it this way, if you’re guessing, there’s a good reason why you won’t guess this one. (In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel).

British Library Crime Classics publicity page


Asesinato en la costa de Cornualles de John Bude

Sinopsis: El Reverendo Dodd, párroco de la tranquila localidad de Boscawen en Cornualles, pasa las tardes leyendo novelas policíacas junto a la chimenea, pero no quiera Dios que la sombra de ningún crimen auténtico caiga nunca sobre su parroquia junto al mar. Pero la paz del párroco se rompe una noche de tormenta cuando Julio Tregarthan, un reservado y mal humorado magistrado, es encontrado en su casa de Boscawen con una bala en la cabeza. El inspector de la policía local está desconcertado ante la ausencia total de pistas. Las sospechas parecen caer sobre la sobrina de Tregarthan, Ruth, pero acaso no carece la joven de motivo alguno para matar a su tío de un disparo a sangre fría? Por suerte para el inspector Bigswell, el reverendo Dodd está presente y listo para poner a prueba su profundo conocimiento de la mente criminal. Esta clásica novela de misterio de la edad de oro de la novela británica de detectives tiene como escenario un pueblo de pescadores en la costa atlántica de Cornualles graficamente descrito. Ahora se publica de nuevo por primera vez desde los años 1930, con una nueva introducción de Martin Edwards.

De la introducción (por Martin Edwards): ‘”La aparición de esta edición de la British Library de Asesinato en la costa de Cornualles será bien recibida no sólo por los coleccionistas que hayan perdido la esperanza de poseer alguna vez una copia propia, sino también por los lectores de novelas de destectives en general. Pocos estarán familiarizados con el nombre y la obra de Bude, pero el placer que proporciona esta entretenida y bien elaborada historia  es probable que tiente a muchos a explorar también su obra posterior. No se verán decepcionados”.

Mi opinión: La acción tiene lugar en Boscawen, un pueblo ficticio cerca de la costa de Cornualles. La historia gira en torno al asesinato de Julian Tregarthan, un juez encontrado muerto de un disparo en su casa. Inicialmente, el inspector de la policía local, Bigswell, se hace cargo del caso. El magistrado fallecido se oponía a la relación sentimental que Ronald Hardy, un joven escritor que vive en una casa vecina, mantiene con su sobrina Ruth. Los primeros indicios apuntan a ella como el más obvio sospechoso. Al parecer, ella había tenido una fuerte discusión con su tío, poco antes de la hora probable de su muerte y, acaloradamente, salió de la casa a pesar del mal tiempo. Ella dice que fue a ver a Ronald, pero, incapaz de encontrarlo, regresó a su casa, donde se encontró con lo que le pasó a su tío. Ahora, Ronald ha desaparecido lo que le compromete seriamente, y se convierte en el principal sospechoso. Para complicar más las cosas, surge un tercer sospechoso. Sin embargo, las pruebas no son siempre concluyentes y, en algunas ocasiones, son contradictorias. Pero para el reverendo Dodd, párroco de St. Michael’s-en-el-acantilado, los dos jóvenes amantes son claramente inocentes. Él mismo, un entusiasta de la novela policíaca, decide tomar el asunto en sus propias manos. .

Debo admitir que me ha gustado mucho este libro, una deliciosa y ligera lectura muy apropiada para un día tranquilo de verano. La historia, tal vez un poco irrelevante, es bastante entretenida y está bien contada. Como se indica en la introducción, Asesinato en la costa de Cornualles nos ofrece algunas pistas que pueden ayudar a explicar la razón por la cual, los libros de Bude,  han vuelto a estar cada vez más reconocidos hoy en día: “Su estilo de escritura es relajado y bastante más pulido de lo que cabría esperar de un principiante, y presta más atención que muchos de sus contemporáneos a la caracterización y a la ambientación “. Y, como Martin Edwards termina diciendo, aunque sus obras no están a la par con el estilo literario de Sayers o con Agatha Christie en cuanto a la complejidad de la trama, lo cierto es que no merecen el olvido en el que cayeron durante algún tiempo. Si, en algún momento, siento la necesidad de alternar un “cosy mystery”, con otros libros que pueden tener un tono más oscuro o más sombrío, no tengo ninguna duda de que voy a leer otro libro de John Bude. No me gustaría pasar por alto el hecho de que este libro puede considerarse como un procedimiento policial  en sus inicios. Me gustó mucho la forma en que el párroco analizó la trayectoria de las balas.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho).

Sobre el autor: John Bude era el seudónimo de Ernest Elmore (1901-1957), un autor de la Edad de Oro de la novela de detectives. Elmore fué uno de los fundadores de la Asociación de Escritores de Ficción Criminal, y trabajó en el teatro como productor y director. Como John Bude, Elmore publicó treinta novelas de detectives,en su mayoría protagonizadas por el inspector William Meredith. Las dos primeras, ambas publicadas en 1935, fueron Asesinato en el Distrito de los Lagos y Asesinato en la costa de Cornualles, seguidas de Asesinato en Sussex Downs al año siguiente. Las tres se han vuelto a reeditar por primera vez desde entonces  por la Biblioteca Británica. El escritor británico de novelas de ficción criminal Martin Edwards ha observado que “Bude escribe tanto de manera legible como entretenida. Su trabajo puede no ser lo suficientemente impactante como  para pertenecer a los grandes, pero hay en él una fluidez y una habilidad incluso en su primer misterio, Asesinato en la costa de Cornualles, que no se encuentra en muchos primeros  misterios.”

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