Month: March 2017

March 2017 Leisure Reading

btgry7bkcMy leisure reading last month:

The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid, 2016 (Lennox #5), by Craig Russell (B)

Night at the Crossroads, 1931 (Inspector Maigret #6) by Georges Simenon. Trans: Linda Coverdale (B)

The Executioner Weeps (1956) by Frédéric Dard (Trans: David Coward) (A)

Dumb Witness, 1937 (Hercule Poirot #14) by Agatha Christie (B)

The Golden Age of Murder (2015) by Martin Edwards (A+)

Mystery of Mr. Jessop (1937) by E. R. Punshon (Bobby Owen series #8) (B)

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Review: Mystery of Mr. Jessop (1937) by E. R. Punshon (Bobby Owen series #8)

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

Dean Street Press, 2015. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1009 KB. Print Length: 328 pages. Mystery of Mr. Jessop was first published in 1937 by Victor Gollancz. It is  the eight of the Bobby Owen mysteries, a series eventually including thirty-five novels. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans. ASIN: B00ZO3QE8K. eISBN: 978 1 910570 38 8.

This is my second entry to Crimes of the Century over at Past Offences. The year under consideration this month is #1937.

512fpDKBp6L.SX316Book Description: Who killed Mr. Jessop? Who stole the Fellows necklace? Who attacked Hilda May? The web of suspicion encompasses a dealer in ‘hot goods’, respected jewellers, a millionaire, an ex-pugilist, a playboy, members of the nobility, a hard-boiled moll and a girl who could not forget her past. All the clues are there, as the indefatigable Bobby Owen works his way through a real peasouper of a London mystery and pierces the fog – displaying not only magnificent analytical powers but and admirable courage in the face of danger. Mystery of Mr. Jessop is the eighth of E.R. Punshon’s acclaimed Bobby Owen mysteries, first published in 1937 and part of a series which eventually spanned thirty-five novels.

My take: I’m in the habit, when Rich at Past Offences announces the year chosen for his meme Crimes of the Century, of checking the  personal selection of Curt Evans of his 150 Favorite Golden Age British Detective Novels here and, if possible, select any of them. For this reason I picked to read this month Mystery of Mr. Jessop, the eighth book in the Bobby Owen Mystery Series by E. R. Pushon, of whom I’ve read already Ten Star Clues, you can see my review here, and The Conqueror Inn, here. And although the latest isn’t among the books selected by Curt Evans, I really enjoyed it much more. Regarding the novel before us now, I have mixed feelings. The story is plot-driven and centres around the disappearance of a fabulous diamond necklace which belongs to an American film actress called Fay Fellows. For my taste the story begins to lose interest after the first chapters to improve significantly in the final chapters. The reader will find out that all the clues are at sight, though hidden in some way by an excessively entangled plot. Anyhow the solution to the puzzle is quite clever but, for some reason, its reading did not manage to hook me. However, I look forward to reading more books in the series. And as Martin Edwards says:

‘I would not, myself, rate this one too highly, but Bobby is on good form in books such as Information Received, Death of a Beauty Queen, and Diabolic Candelabra . And there’s another title, recently published by Dean Street Press, which has some fascinating features and which I’ll be covering here before long. ‘

My rating: B (I really liked it)

About the author: E. R. (Ernest Robertson) Punshon (1872-1956) is one of the most shamefully neglected writers of detective fiction. His ability to construct labyrinthine plots that keep the reader fascinated but not confused is rivalled only by John Dickson Carr, with whom he shares a powerful imagination, a gift of conveying atmosphere and setting, and a most ingeniously fertile mind, adept at devising clues and situations. Yet his work is not only exemplary detective fiction, but studies of character, of the catalyst that drives an ordinary human being to commit the ultimate crime. In their emphasis on bizarre psychology, fantastic (but logical and convincing) plots, and the ability of the past to influence the present (whether it be in the form of past crimes or literary or artistic treasures), his work resembles a combination of H C Bailey, Gladys Mitchell, G K Chesterton and Michael Innes. Inspector Carter and Sergeant Bell are the detectives in five early books, but his principal detective is Bobby Owen, who rises from the rank of police constable (in Information Received, 1933) to Commander of Scotland Yard by the later books (Six Were Present, 1956). The new set of E. R. Punshon “Bobby Owen” detective novel reissues are available now from Dean Street Press. You can find more info at Dean Street Press’s website.The new editions feature  introductions by Curtis Evans, a leading scholar of Golden Age books, which are worth reading by their own merit.

Mystery of Mr. Jessop has been reviewed at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ and In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel among others.

Dean Street Press publicity page

E.R. Punshon at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’

E. R. Punshon, Bobby Owen, and Art

El misterio de Mr. Jessop de E. R. Punshon

Descripción del libro: ¡Quién mató al señor Jessop? ¿Quién robó el collar de la Fellows? ¿Quién atacó a Hilda May? La red de sospechas abarca a un comerciante de artículos robados, respetables joyeros, un millonario, un antiguo boxeador, un playboy, miembros de la nobleza, una experimentada fulana y una chica que no podía olvidar su pasado. Todas las pistas están ahí, mientras el infatigable Bobby Owen se abre camino a través de la densa niebla de un verdadero misterio londinense para atravesarla, mostrando no sólo sus magníficas facultades de análisis sino un valor admirable ante el peligro. El misterio de Mr. Jessop es el octavo de los aclamados misterios de Bobby Owen de E.R. Punshon, publicado por primera vez en 1937 y parte de una serie que finalmente llegó a comprender treinta y cinco novelas.

Mi opinión: Tengo por costumbre, cuando Rich en Past Offences anuncia el año elegido para su meme Crimes of the Century, comprobar la selección personal de Curt Evans de sus 150 novelas británicas de detectives favoritas de la Edad de Oro aquí y, si es posible, seleccionar alguna de ellas. Por esta razón escogí leer este mes El misterio de Mr. Jessop, el octavo libro de la serie de misterio protagonizado por Bobby Owen de ER Pushon, de quien he leído ya Ten Star Clues, puedes ver mi reseña aquí, y The Conqueror Inn, aquí. Y aunque el último no está entre los libros seleccionados por Curt Evans, realmente lo disfruté mucho más. Respecto a la novela que tenemos ante nosotros, tengo sentimientos encontrados. La historia está impulsada por la y se centra alrededor de la desaparición de un fabuloso collar de diamantes que pertenece a una actriz de cine estadounidense llamada Fay Fellows. Para mi gusto la historia comienza a perder interés tras los primeros capítulos para mejorar significativamente en los capítulos finales. El lector descubrirá que todas las pistas están a la vista, aunque ocultas de alguna manera por una trama demasiado enmarañada. De todos modos la solución al rompecabezas es bastante inteligente pero, por alguna razón, su lectura no logró engancharme. Sin embargo, espero leer más libros en la serie. Y como dice Martin Edwards:

“Yo no le daría una calificación demasiado alta a este libro demasiado, pero Bobby está en buena forma en libros tales como como Information Received, Death of a Beauty Queen, y en Diabolic Candelabra . Y hay otro título, recientemente publicado por Dean Street Press, que tiene algunas características fascinantes y que voy a comentar aquí dentro de poco.”

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre el autor: E. R. (Ernest Robertson) Punshon (1872-1956) es uno de los escritores más injustamente relegados al olvido de novelas policíacas. Su habilidad para construir tramas intrincadas que mantienen al lector fascinado pero no confundido rivaliza sólo con John Dickson Carr, con quien comparte una poderosa imaginación, un don de transmitir la atmósfera y el escenario en donde se desarrolla la acción, y una mente ingeniosamente fértil, preparada para idear pistas y situaciones. Sin embargo, sus obras no sólo son un buen ejemplo de novelas policíacas, sino auténticos estudios de personajes, del catalizador que impulsa a un ser humano común a cometer el crimen definitivo. Por su insistencia en una psicología excéntrica, fantásticas (pero lógicas y convincentes) tramas, y en la capacidad del pasado para influir en el presente (ya sea en forma de crímenes pasados ​​o de tesoros literarios o artísticos), sus trabajos parecen ser a una combinación de HC Bailey, Gladys Mitchell, GK Chesterton y Michael Innes. El inspector Carter y el sargento Bell son los detectives en sus cinco primeros libros, pero su detective principal es Bobby Owen, que asciende desde el rango de simple policía (en Information Received, 1933) al de comandante de Scotland Yard en libros posteriores (Six Were Present, 1956). Nuevas reediciones de los misterios de Bobby Owen de E. R. Punshon  están siendo publicadas ahora por Dean Street Press. Puede encontrar más información en la web de Dean Street Press. Estas nuevas ediciones cuentan con introducciones de Curtis Evans, un destacado estudiosos de la novelas de detectives  de la Edad de Oro, que vale la pena leer por méritos propios.

The Petrona Award 2017 Shortlist Has Been Announced

TPAlogoThe Petrona Award 2017 shortlist has been finally disclosed. You can see all the details at Euro Crime and at The Petrona Award blog site, clicking on the blog’s titles. Congratulations to all the nominees. I’m proud to have spotted 4 out of the 6 candidates. See my previous post at A First Glance to the Petrona Award 2017 Eligible Titles. So far I’ve read two of the books in the final list, Gunnar Staalesen – Where Roses Never Die tr. Don Bartlett (M, Norway) Orenda (My review is here) and Leif GW Persson – The Dying Detective tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Doubleday (though I read it in Spanish and my review is here). I do have Kati Hiekkapelto – The Exiled  tr. David Hackston (F, Finland) on my TBR list and I’m planning to read it soon and, weather permitting, the other three should follow suit, hopefully on time before the announcement of the winning title at the Gala Dinner on 20 May during the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 18-21 May 2017. Stay tuned.

As a side note it’s worth to highlight that Orenda Books has positioned three of its titles on the shortlist, and that Neil Smith is the translator of two of the books. My congratulation is also extended to Karen Sullivan and Neil Smith. Good job!

I’m quite convinced that, the members of the jury, have had it very difficult in view of the excellent quality of this year candidates.

Read more at:

Petrona Award Shortlist Announced at Crime Time.

Introducing Karen Sullivan, Publisher at Orenda Books

OT: Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – It’s All Going to Pot

A Postscript on The Golden Age of Murder

It may seem that The Golden Age of Murder finish with a light pessimistic touch, when reading on page 409:

‘Books in the Golden Age style continued to be written, and enjoyed, and several new writers of talent emerged. The dominant crime novelists, however, belonged to a generation preoccupied by the challenges of life in the Atomic Era. Traditional mysteries were perceived as past their sell-by date, and people who did not care to read them were nevertheless happy to make sweeping generalizations about them which contributed to the crude stereotyping of Golden Age that persists in this day.’ 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Enough is to read the last chapter under the significant title: Murder Goes On Forever. Moreover, Martin Edwards has an article, available on his website, in response to the following question Why is the Golden Age fashionable again? And his answer is obviously yes. Among the different factors that justify his position, I find particularly interesting to emphasize that:

‘The present day has more in common with that period than some people acknowledge, and it may be that the similarities are among the factors which have sparked the Golden Age renaissance. It’s sometimes said today that trust in politics has never been lower. Well, it was exceptionally low in the Golden Age, I can assure you. Unpleasant politicians were forever getting their come-uppance.

A few titles illustrate my point:

Death in the House by Anthony Berkeley
Murder of an MP! by Robert Gore-Browne.
Death of the Home Secretary by Alan Thomas.
The Prime Minister is Dead by Helen Simpson.

And there were plenty more in the same vein.

Similarly, in these days of LIBOR-rigging, and the fiasco of the collapse of British Home Stores, it’s instructive to note how many Golden Age stories feature villainous financiers. The book which became the catalyst for the Golden Age, Trent’s Last Case by E.C. Bentley, opens with an excoriating denunciation of the money man, Sigsbee Manderson.

Slimy old Sigsbee is, of course, a super-typical Golden Age murder victim. Someone who, like an unscrupulous politician, or a dastardly blackmailer, or a rich and miserly old uncle, supplied a long list of suspects with motives for murder.

We can see, by reading Golden Age mysteries, that for all the differences between the between-the-wars society and ours, many themes are common, because they are enduring. Above all, of course, crime fiction deals with the eternal realities of human nature at moments of intense pressure.’

To conclude announcing the publication of his next book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (Poisoned Pen Press, 1 August 2017) by Martin Edwards.

51BBz Jrd8L.SX316Book description: This book tells the story of crime fiction published during the first half of the twentieth century. The diversity of this much-loved genre is breathtaking, and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, the leading expert on classic crime discusses one hundred books ranging from The Hound of the Baskervilles to Strangers on a Train which highlight the entertaining plots, the literary achievements, and the social significance of vintage crime fiction. This book serves as a companion to the acclaimed British Library Crime Classics series but it tells a very diverse story. It presents the development of crime fiction-from Sherlock Holmes to the end of the golden age-in an accessible, informative and engaging style.

Readers who enjoy classic crime will make fascinating discoveries and learn about forgotten gems as well as bestselling authors. Even the most widely read connoisseurs will find books (and trivia) with which they are unfamiliar-as well as unexpected choices to debate. Classic crime is a richly varied and deeply pleasurable genre that is enjoying a world-wide renaissance as dozens of neglected novels and stories are resurrected for modern readers to enjoy. The overriding aim of this book is to provide a launch point that enables readers to embark on their own voyages of discovery. (Source: Poisoned Pen Press)