OT: Brueghel. The Fascinating World of Flemish Art

Brueghel: The Fascinating World of Flemish Art is the sixth major exhibition organised by Arthemisia Spain on the main floor of Gaviria Palace, a versatile venue that has consolidated its reputation as a focal point of the Madrid art scene thanks to shows like ESCHER, Alphonse Mucha, 20th-Century Revolutionaries, Tamara de Lempicka: Queen of Art Deco, and Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man.

Exhibition Information:

  • Price: 14 € general | 12€ reduced | Free

  • Opening hours:
    From Monday to Thursday and Sunday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
    Friday and Saturday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm *Everyday last entry one hour before
  • Group visits: For further information on planning your group visits, contact reservas@palaciodegaviriamadrid.com.
  • Rucksacks, sports or travel bags, suitcases, briefcases, umbrellas, food, drink, animals, plants and objects such as racquets, ballons, etc., are not allowed into the room. Maximum bag size allowed inside the building is 40cm x 40cm. Items that do not fit in the lockers are not allowed. The staff do not guard any item of the visitor.
  • All children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • There is not available elevator to come into the exhibition´s room, only stairs. The access to the disabled is not possible. Sorry for the inconvenience.

1024px-Pieter_Bruegel_d._Ä._093Gaviria Palace will once again be a highlight of Madrid’s autumn art season with the landmark exhibition Brueghel: The Fascinating World of Flemish Art, a rare opportunity to view the output of a creative dynasty that marked the history of European art in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Organised by Arthemisia Spain and curated by Sergio Gaddi, the show will feature nearly one hundred iconic pieces by this family of painters, whose imagery is the reflection of an entire historical period. The exhibition comes to Spain after passing through Rome, Paris, Tel Aviv and several venues in Japan (Tokyo, Toyota, Sapporo, Hiroshima and Kōriyama), where it was very favourably received by local audiences.

With an ample selection of works by the eight most prominent members of this artistic family—Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Jan Brueghel the Younger, Jan Pieter Brueghel, Abraham Brueghel and Ambrosius Brueghel—the show also provides a more complete vision of the pictorial context of their time thanks to representative pieces by approximately twenty other artists, including Rubens, Bosch and David Teniers the Younger.

The exhibition begins with the renowned founder of the dynasty, Pieter Brueghel the Elder (ca. 1525–1569), whose oil paintings illustrate proverbs and popular sayings in a realistic, thoughtful, provocative, incisive way that is not always easy to interpret, producing an oeuvre rich in moral content. In his depictions of landscapes with peasant figures and scenes of country life, he constantly inquired into the condition of humanity and the world while sarcastically criticising human vices.

800px-Flemish_Fair_-_Pieter_Brueghel_the_YoungerAs most of Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s works were in private collections, where the public could not see them, his early fame was largely due to the efforts of his eldest son, Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1637), who ensured the dissemination of his father’s work by producing highly accurate copies of his paintings, such as Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap (1601).

Jan_Brueghel_the_Elder-Landscape_With_WindmillsThe second son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625), also followed in his progenitor’s footsteps, using the same technique and themes but interpreting them with greater freedom and focusing more on the representation of nature. His remarkable pictorial technique, which produced textures so rich and lifelike they almost seem touchable, earned him the nickname “Velvet Brueghel”.

The prestige of the Brueghel dynasty was enhanced by the addition of Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601–1678), son of Jan the Elder, who inherited his father’s workshop and joined the Guild of Saint Luke, one of the most respected associations of Flemish artists and craftsmen. Jan the Younger became very successful by selling the pictures inherited from his father, but he also completed those left unfinished and painted new compositions in a highly personal style. He had eleven children, five of whom became painters. The exhibition also presents the fascinating work of the heirs to this noble tradition, beginning with Jan Pieter Brueghel (1628–1664), who specialised in flower paintings, and continuing with Abraham Brueghel (1631–1697), painter of landscapes and still lifes with flowers and fruit.Brueghel_-_Coastal_Landscape

Other delightful surprises await visitors to Madrid’s Gaviria Palace, where they will have a chance to admire the Pair of Still Lifes with Flowers from 1660 and a series of four paintings depicting the Allegory of the Four Elements: Earth, Fire, Water and Air from 1645 by Ambrosius Brueghel (1617–1675), a little known and rarely studied artist.

(Source: Exhibition brochure)

Winter Landscape with (Skaters and) a Bird Trap (1565), by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Flemish Fair (1636), by Pieter Brueghel the Younger.

Landscape with Windmills (c. 1607) by Jan Brueghel the Elder

A Coastal Landscape with Fishermen with their Catch by a Ruined Tower (c. 1610 – 1620), by Jan Brueghel the Younger

My Book Notes: Maigret’s Childhood Friend, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #69) by Georges Simenon (tr. Shaun Whiteside)

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

Penguin Classics, 2019. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 4928 KB. Print Length: 177 pages. ASIN: B07MBRGYDR. ISBN: 978-0-241-30424-2. A pre-original version was published in the daily Le Figaro between 3 and 31 December (25 episodes).  First published in French as L’Ami d’enfance de Maigret by Presses de la Cité in 1968. The story was written between 18 and 24 June 1968 in Épalinges (Canton of Vaud), Switzerland. The first English translation came out as Maigret’s Boyhood Friend in 1970. Six subsequent editions followed through 2003, all with the same title. The translator for all was Eileen Ellenbogen. This translation by Shaun Whiteside was first published in 2019.

imageOpening sentence:The fly buzzed around his head three times before settling on the top left-hand corner of the page of the report he was annotating.’ Original version: “La mouche tourna trois fois autour de sa tête et vint se poser sur la page du rapport qu’il était en train d’annoter, tou en haut, dans le coin gauche.”)

Book description: A visit from a long-lost schoolmate who has fallen on hard times forces Maigret to unpick a seedy tangle of love affairs in Montmartre, and to confront the tragedy of a wasted life. This novel has been published in a previous translation as Maigret’s Boyhood Friend.

My take: Maigret’s Childhood Friend takes place during the month of June in Paris. The story unfolds within the course of approximately one week. It begins when Maigret receives the unexpected visit of a fellow pupil of his at the Lycée Banville in Moulins, Léon Florentin, who finds himself in an awkward situation that afternoon. That’s why he came to see him. It has occurred to him that Maigret would be the only person to understand him. He was sitting quietly in the living room after having had lunch with his girlfriend for four years, Joséphine Papet, but she prefers Josée, at her place in Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, when the doorbell rang. They weren’t expecting anybody and he hurried to hide himself in a wardrobe, something he had already done in other occasions. Though he is her lover, her friend and her confident, Josée has other lovers who come and see her regularly, without getting to know each other among them. In fact, neither of them, except Florentin, is aware of the existence of the others, and each one believes to be the only one to maintain her. Barely a quarter of an hour has passed when he heard a sound like a gunshot, but he didn’t get out of his hiding place until realising that the door to the apartment had opened and closed again. Coming out of the wardrobe he found Josée’s body, lying on the floor. There was no doubt she has been murdered. Florentin swears Maigret it was not him who murdered Josée. Maigret would like to believe him, but the circumstances suggest the opposite.  Besides, Florentin happens to be a pathological liar and cannot offer a coherent account why he waited so long to notify the murder, nor even of what he did in the mean time.

During the course of the investigation Maigret realises that neither Florentin, nor Madame Blanc, the concierge at Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, are telling the truth and that they hide something. Eventually, Maigret finds out who are Josée Papet’s other four lovers, though neither seem to have any motive for having murder her. Madame Blanc denies having seen anyone entering or leaving the house at the time the crime was committed. Despite the circumstances suggesting the opposite, Maigret wants to believe in Florentin innocence. After all, he was a former classmate, but he wonders whether this is not the reason why he has not yet proceed to formally charged him.

Maigret’s Childhood Friend is the 97th Simenon’s book in order of publication, and this novel makes the 69th in Penguin’s modern series of translations. Despite the amount of time gone by since the publication of the first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton in 1931, it is comforting to discover that Simenon has not lost a whit of his storytelling mastery. For my taste, Maigret’s Childhood Friend can easily be included among his best Maigrets, perhaps by its apparent simplicity. I have really enjoyed it very much. An excellent example of a late Maigret that I thoroughly recommend, though it might no be the best Maigret to begin reading if you are not yet familiar with the series. The story is nicely crafted and the resolution of the mystery turns out spotless, at the purest Maigret style.

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

Maigret’s Childhood Friend at Georges Simenon & Maigret International Dailyblog, The Budapest Times,

About the Author: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Shaun Whiteside (born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 1959) is a Northern Irish translator of French, Dutch, German, and Italian literature. He has translated many novels, including Manituana and Altai by Wu Ming, The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink, and Magdalene the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger, which won him the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation in 1997. He graduated with a First in Modern Languages at King’s College, Cambridge. After he finished his studies, he worked as a business journalist and television producer before translating full-time. As he said in a brief interview, “Did I always want to be a translator? I certainly wanted to do something that involved travel and languages, but even when my work in television took me to far-off places, I kept coming back to translation, first for fun, and eventually as a way of earning a living.” Whiteside is the former Chair of the Translators Association of the Society of Authors. He currently lives in London with his wife and son, where he sits on the PEN Writers in Translation committee, the editorial board of New Books in German, and the Advisory Panel of the British Centre for Literary Translation, where he regularly teaches at the summer school.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Maigret’s Childhood Friend 

Maigret of the Month: October, 2009

Tout Maigret

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret, de Georges Simenon

Primera frase: “La mosca giró tres veces alrededor de su cabeza y se detuvo en la página del informe que estaba anotando, hacia arriba, en la esquina izquierda”. (Versión original: “La mouche tourna trois fois autour de sa tête et vint se poser sur la page du rapport qu’il était en train d’annoter, tou en haut, dans le coin gauche.”)

Descripción del libro: Un antiguo condiscípulo de Maigret del instituto Banville, en Moulins, León Florentin, se presenta en la Policía Judicial para contarle al comisario que Josée, su amante, ha sido asesinada de un disparo ese mismo día, en su apartamento. Le cuenta que Josée mantenía relaciones con cuatro hombres que recibía regularmente en su casa, sin que ninguno de ellos sospechara la existencia de los otros, creyéndose los únicos amantes de Josée.

Mi opinión: El amigo de la infancia de Maigret tiene lugar durante el mes de junio en París. La historia se desarrolla en el transcurso de aproximadamente una semana. Comienza cuando Maigret recibe la inesperada visita de un compañero suyo en el Lycée Banville en Moulins, Léon Florentin, quien se encuentra en una situación incómoda esa tarde. Por eso vino a verlo. Se le ha ocurrido que Maigret sería la única persona que lo entendería. Estaba sentado en silencio en la sala de estar después de haber almorzado con su novia, Joséphine Papet, pero ella prefiere a Josée, en su casa en la Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, cuando sonó el timbre. No esperaban a nadie y él se apresuró a esconderse en un armario, algo que ya había hecho en otras ocasiones. Aunque él es su amante, su amigo y su confidente, Josée tiene otros amantes que vienen a verla regularmente, sin conocerse entre ellos. De hecho, ninguno de ellos, excepto Florentin, es consciente de la existencia de los demás, y cada uno cree que es el único que la mantiene. Apenas pasó un cuarto de hora cuando escuchó un sonido como un disparo, pero no salió de su escondite hasta que se dio cuenta de que la puerta del departamento se había abierto y cerrado nuevamente. Al salir del armario encontró el cuerpo de Josée, tendido en el suelo. No había duda de que había sido asesinada. Florentin le jura a Maigret que no fue él quien asesinó a Josée. A Maigret le gustaría creerle, pero las circunstancias sugieren lo contrario. Además, Florentin resulta ser un mentiroso patológico y no puede ofrecer una explicación coherente de por qué esperó tanto tiempo para notificar el asesinato, ni siquiera de lo que hizo mientras tanto.

Durante el curso de la investigación, Maigret se da cuenta de que ni Florentin, ni Madame Blanc, la conserje de la Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, están diciendo la verdad y que ocultan algo. Finalmente, Maigret descubre quiénes son los otros cuatro amantes de Josée Papet, aunque ninguno parece tener ningún motivo para haberla asesinado. Madame Blanc niega haber visto a alguien entrar o salir de la casa en el momento en que se cometió el crimen. A pesar de las circunstancias que sugieren lo contrario, Maigret quiere creer en la inocencia de Florentin. Después de todo, él era un ex compañero de clase, pero se pregunta si esta no es la razón por la que aún no ha procedido a acusarlo formalmente.

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret es el libro número 97 de Simenon en orden de publicación, y esta novela ocupa el puesto 69 en la serie moderna de traducciones de Penguin. A pesar del tiempo transcurrido desde la publicación de la primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton en 1931, es reconfortante descubrir que Simenon no ha perdido ni una pizca de su dominio de la narración. Para mi gusto, El amigo de la infancia de Maigret se puede incluir fácilmente entre sus mejores Maigrets, quizá por su sencillez aparente. Realmente lo he disfrutado mucho. Un excelente ejemplo de un Maigret tardío que recomiendo encarecidamente, aunque podría no ser el mejor Maigret para comenzar a leer si aún no está familiarizado con la serie. La historia está muy bien elaborada y la resolución del misterio resulta impecable, al más puro estilo Maigret.

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

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (1903-1989) fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas diarias. Su obra incluye casi 200 novelas, más de 150 relatos, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas baratas escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han realizado unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos protagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en el 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. En Gran Bretaña se hicieron dos series para la televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93). Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su capacidad creativa, y varias novelas de esos años se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varios relatos autobiográficos.

El amigo de la infancia de Maigret / Georges Simenon: traducción de Carmen Soler Blanch. – Barcelona: Luis de Caralt, 1969. – 160 p.; 18 cm. – (Las novelas de Maigret; 72)

My Book Notes: Elephants Can Remember, 1972 (Hercule Poirot #32) by Agatha Christie

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

HarperCollins Masterpiece Ed., 2010. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1455 KB. Print Length: 258 pages. ASIN: B0046A9MWC. eISBN: 9780007422319. First published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in November 1972 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. This was the last of Christie’s novels to feature her Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the recurring character Ariadne Oliver, although in terms of publication it was succeeded by Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, which had been written in the early 1940s. The novel is notable for its concentration on memory and oral testimony.

x298First sentence: Mrs Oliver looked at herself in the glass.

Synopsis: Hercule Poirot is determined to solve an old husband and wife double murder that is still an open verdict… Hercule Poirot stood on the cliff-top.For here, many years earlier, there had been a tragic accident – the broken body of a woman was discovered on the rocks at the foot of the cliff. This was followed by the grisly discovery of two more bodies – a husband and wife – shot dead. But who had killed whom? Was it a suicide pact? A crime of passion? Or cold-blooded murder? Poirot delves back into a crime committed 15 years earlier and discovers that, when there is a distinct lack of physical evidence, it’s just as well that ‘old sins leave long shadows.’

More about this story: This story is part of Agatha Christie’s murder in retrospect series, a collection of stories which look at a crime several years after the fact, piecing together testimonials and witness reports to finally uncover the truth. This time we see Mrs Oliver’s goddaughter, attempting to find out the truth about her deceased parents – who killed whom? It was adapted for Radio in 2006, with a full cast including John Moffatt reprising his role as Poirot and Julie McKenzie (better known for her portrayal of Miss Marple) took on the role of Mrs Oliver. In 2013 the story was adapted as part of the final series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and featured David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker in the lead roles.

My Take: At a literary luncheon, an impertinent woman addresses the well-known mystery writer Mrs Ariadne Oliver, to find out the truth of an occurrence happened some time ago that still remains to be clarified. The event in question refers to the death, under strange circumstances, of the marriage formed by  Margaret Ravenscroft and her husband, General Alistair Ravenscroft, whose corpses were found near their manor house in Overcliff. They were both shot by a revolver, which belonged to the husband, found among their bodies with only the fingerprints of them both. The subsequent judicial inquest was unable to determine who killed whom, and whether it was a suicide by mutual agreement or a case of jealousy. It turns out that Mrs Oliver is the godmother of the Ravenscrofts’ daughter, Celia, Desmond Burton-Cox fiancée, the only son of the impertinent woman. Mrs Oliver soon gets rid of Mrs Burton-Cox telling her that that is none of her business. However, intrigued by something  that took place some time ago, when she was not even in England at the time, she decides to consult the matter with a good friend, Monsieur Hercule Poirot.

Elephants Can Remember (1972), although published before Curtain: Poirot Last Case (1975), is in fact the last Poirot novel written by Agatha Christie and has the dubious ‘honour’ of having been considered one of the worst novels in Poirot canon. In fact Curtain was written in the early 1940s, during World War II and was the last of her books published during her life time. Moreover, Elephants was followed by Postern of Fate (1973). This last two Christie’s novels share the same consideration: both use to appear among Christie’s worst books. Rather than giving my opinion about this book I would like to quote first the views of two experts in this matter:

Even the finest longtime prolific mystery and crime writers in their later years may suffer waning inspiration and even capacity.  Elephants Can Remember (1972) and Postern of Fate (1973), the last two novels Agatha Christie wrote, are, in my view, quite dull and meandering (the latter, indeed, approaches incoherence).  When Christie produced these two books, she was in her eighties and had already written over sixty novels (Elephants and Postern were her sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth, respectively).  Christie had been writing mystery novels for over half a century, having produced her first one, The Mysteriousness Affair at Styles, in 1920. (Curtis Evans @ The Passing Tramp)

The book, it has to be said, is one of Christie’s worst, a rambling effort written at the end of her career when her powers were failing and her publishers were too much in awe of her to edit what she wrote with the necessary ruthlessness. I read it not long after its first publication in the early 70s, and was so disappointed that it’s one of the few Christies I’ve never bothered to reread.. (Martin Edwards @ ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

Poor me! What can I say? Suffice is to add that the story revolves around the fragility of memory when dealing with past events what, in my view, helps to explain the inconsistencies some reviewers find in the text, not being able to detail accurately dates and ages. Something that it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, since I find it fits well within the context of the story. Besides I found that Christie, at the time, had not lost her ability to craft some excellent dialogues. But having said that, I found the plot quite irregular and poorly developed. And certainly, the denouement is far from being satisfactory and turns out to be far too predictable. Undoubtedly, this is not a Christie novel at her very best. I can’t recommend it.

My rating: D ( I finished it, but it’s not quite my cup of tea)


About the Author: Agatha Christie, in full Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, née Miller, (born September 15, 1890, Torquay, Devon, England—died January 12, 1976, Wallingford, Oxfordshire), English detective novelist and playwright whose books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into some 100 languages. Educated at home by her mother, Christie began writing detective fiction while working as a nurse during World War I. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced Hercule Poirot, her eccentric and egotistic Belgian detective; Poirot reappeared in about 25 novels and many short stories before returning to Styles, where, in Curtain (1975), he died. The elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple, her other principal detective figure, first appeared in Murder at the Vicarage (1930). Christie’s first major recognition came with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), which was followed by some 75 novels that usually made best-seller lists and were serialized in popular magazines in England and the United States.Christie’s plays include The Mousetrap (1952), which set a world record for the longest continuous run at one theatre (8,862 performances—more than 21 years—at the Ambassadors Theatre, London) and then moved to another theatre, and Witness for the Prosecution (1953), which, like many of her works, was adapted into a successful film (1957). Other notable film adaptations include Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 and 2017) and Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Her works were also adapted for television. In 1926 Christie’s mother died, and her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, requested a divorce. In a move she never fully explained, Christie disappeared and, after several highly publicized days, was discovered registered in a hotel under the name of the woman her husband wished to marry. In 1930 Christie married the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan; thereafter she spent several months each year on expeditions in Iraq and Syria with him. She also wrote romantic nondetective novels, such as Absent in the Spring (1944), under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Her Autobiography (1977) appeared posthumously. She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1971. (Source: Britannica)

Elephants Can Remember has been reviewed, among others, at The Invisible Event, Books Please, Mysteries in Paradise, Joyfully Retired, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, gadetection, and The Grandest Game in the World.

Harper Collins UK publicity page

HarperCollins US publicity page

Home of Agatha Christie website

The official Agatha Christie website

Notes On Elephants Can Remember

Agatha Christie page at gadetection


Sound Cloud

Los elefantes pueden recordar, de Agatha Christie

Primera frase: La señora Oliver se miró en el espejo.

Sinopsis: Hércules Poirot contempla las rocas desde lo alto de un acantilado. Este fue, hace mucho tiempo, el escenario de un descubrimiento siniestro: los cuerpos sin vida del matrimonio Ravenscroft fueron hallados junto al arma del crimen, un revólver. ¿Quién mató a quién? ¿Fue un pacto suicida? ¿Un crimen pasional? ¿O un asesinato a sangre fría? Poirot indaga en el pasado y descubre que “los viejos pecados tienen largas sombras”. (Source: Editorial Planeta)

Más sobre esta historia: La novela forma parte de la serie de Agatha Christie en la que se investigan asesinatos en retrospectiva, una colección de relatos que analizan un crimen varios años después de que el hecho tuviera lugar, juntando testimonios e informes de testigos para finalmente descubrir la verdad. Esta vez nos encontramos con la ahijada de la señora Oliver, intentando descubrir la verdad sobre sus padres fallecidos, ¿quién mató a quién? Fue adaptada para la radio en el 2006, con un reparto completo que incluía a John Moffatt repitiendo su papel de Poirot y Julie McKenzie (más conocida por su interpretación de Miss Marple) asumió el papel de la Sra. Oliver. En el 2013, la historia se adaptó como parte de la últma serie Poirot, de Agatha Christie, y contó con David Suchet y Zoë Wanamaker en los papeles principales.

Mi opinión: Durante un almuerzo literario, una mujer impertinente se dirige a la conocida escritora de misterio, la Sra. Ariadne Oliver, para descubrir la verdad de un hecho ocurrido hace algún tiempo que aún no se ha aclarado. El suceso en cuestión se refiere a la muerte, en circunstancias extrañas, del matrimonio formado por Margaret Ravenscroft y su marido, el general Alistair Ravenscroft, cuyos cadáveres fueron encontrados cerca de su mansión en Overcliff. Ambos murieon por los disparos de un revólver, que pertenecía al esposo, encontrado entre sus cuerpos con solo las huellas digitales de ambos. La investigación judicial posterior no pudo determinar quién mató a quién y si fue un suicidio por mutuo acuerdo o un caso de celos. Resulta que la señora Oliver es la madrina de la hija de los Ravenscrofts, Celia, la prometida de Desmond Burton-Cox, el único hijo de la mujer impertinente. La Sra. Oliver pronto se deshace de la Sra. Burton-Cox diciéndole que eso no es asunto suyo, aunque intrigada por algo que sucedió hace algún tiempo, cuando ella ni siquiera estaba en Inglaterra en ese momento, decide consultar el asunto con un buen amigo, el señor Hércules Poirot.

Elephants Can Remember (1972), aunque publicada antes de Curtain: Poirot Last Case (1975), es de hecho la última novela de Poirot escrita por Agatha Christie y tiene el dudoso “honor” de haber sido considerada una de las peores novelas del canon de Poirot. De hecho, Curtain fue escrita a principios de la década de 1940, durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y fue el último de sus libros publicados en vida. Además, Elephants fue seguido por Postern of Fate (1973). Estas dos últimas novelas de Christie comparten la misma consideración: ambos suelen aparecer entre los peores libros de Christie. En lugar de dar mi opinión sobre este libro, me gustaría citar primero las opiniones de dos expertos en este asunto:

Incluso los mejores y más prolíficos escritores de crimen y misterio en sus últimos años pueden sufrir menoscabo en su inspiración e incluso en su capacidad. Elephants Can Remember (1972) y Postern of Fate (1973), las dos últimas novelas que escribió Agatha Christie, son, en mi opinión, bastante aburridas y prolijas (la última, de hecho, se acerca a la incoherencia). Cuando Christie redactó estos dos libros, tenía unos ochenta años y ya había escrito más de sesenta novelas (Elephants y Postern hacían su número sesenta y cinco y sesenta y seis, respectivamente). Christie había esrito novelas de misterio durante más de medio siglo, tras la publicación de su primera novela, The Mysteriousness Affair at Styles, en 1920. (Curtis Evans @ The Passing Tramp)

Hay que decir que el libro es uno de los peores de Christie, un esfuerzo farragoso escrito al final de su carrera cuando sus facultades estaban disminuyendo y sus editores la tenían en excesiva admiración como para publicar cualquier cosa que escribiera sin importarles gran cosa. Lo leí poco después de haber sido publicado por primera vez a principios de los años 70, y me decepcionó tanto que es uno de los pocos Christies que nunca me he molestado en volver a leer … (Martin Edwards @ ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’)

¡Pobre de mí! ¿Qué puedo decir? Es suficiente añadir que la historia gira en torno a la fragilidad de la memoria cuando se trata de sucesos pasados, lo que, en mi opinión, ayuda a explicar las inconsistencias que encuentran algunos comentaristas en el texto, al no poder detallar fechas y edades con precisión. Algo que no me molesta en lo más mínimo, ya que creo que encaja bien en el contexto de la historia. Además, descubrí que Christie, en ese momento, no había perdido su habilidad para elaborar algunos diálogos excelentes. Pero habiendo dicho eso, la trama me pareció bastante irregular y poco desarrollada. Y ciertamente, el desenlace está lejos de ser satisfactorio y resulta excesivamente predecible. Sin lugar a dudas, esta no es una novela de Christie en su mejor momento. No la puedo recomendar.

Mi valoración: D (Lo terminé, aunque no es santo de mi devoción)

Sobre el autor: Agatha Christie, de nombre completo Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, de soltera Miller (nacida el 15 de septiembre de 1890 en Torquay, Devon, Inglaterra; fallecida el 12 de enero de 1976 en Wallingford, Oxfordshire), fue una novelista y dramaturga inglesa cuyos libros han vendido más de 100 millones de ejemplares y han sido traducidas a unos 100 idiomas. Educada en casa por su madre, Christie comenzó a escribir novelas policiacas mientras trabajaba como enfermera durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Su primera novela, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), presentó a Hercule Poirot, su extravagante y ególatra detective belga; Poirot reapareció en unas 33 novelas y en varios relatos breves antes de regresar a Styles, donde, en Curtain (1975), muere. La anciana solterona Miss Jane Marple, otro de sus detectives protagonistas, apareció por primera vez en Murder at the Vicarage (1930). El primer reconocimiento importante de Christie fue en El asesinato de Roger Ackroyd (1926), al que siguieron unas 75 novelas que normalmente se encontraban entre las listas de novelas más vendidos y fueron publicadas también en revistas populares de Inglaterra y de los Estados Unidos. Las obras de teatro de Christie incluyen The Mousetrap (1952), que estableció un récord mundial a la obra teatral que ha estado en cartelera durante el periodo mas largo de tiempo (8.862 representaciones y más de 21 años en el Ambassadors Theatre de Londres) antes de trasladarse a otro teatro, y Witness for the Prosecution (1953), que, como muchas de sus novelas, se convirtió en una película de éxito (1957). Otras adaptaciones notables al cine incluyen Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film 1974 y 2017) y Death on the Nile (1937; film 1978). Sus obras también fueron adaptadas para la televisión. En 1926, la madre de Christie murió y su esposo, el coronel Archibald Christie, solicitó el divorcio. En un suceso que nunca explicó completamente, Christie desapareció y, después de varios días ampliamente difundidos por los medios, fue descubierta registrada en un hotel con el nombre de la mujer con la que su esposo deseaba casarse. En 1930 Christie se casó con el arqueólogo Sir Max Mallowan; a partir de entonces pasaba varios meses cada año con él en expediciones en Irak y Siria. También escribió novelas románticas, como Absent in the Spring (1944), bajo el seudónimo de Mary Westmacott. Su Autobiografía (1977) fue publicada a titulo postumo. En 1971 fue nombrada Dama del Imperio Británico. (Fuente: Britannica).

Moray Dalton (1881–1963)

Moray Dalton is the pen name of a renowned English author of the mid-20th century named Katherine Mary Deville Dalton Renoir. She was particularly famous for writing detective fiction, crime thriller, and mystery novels. The highlight of her writing career was the creation of the chief protagonist Inspector Hugh Collier. Author Dalton was born on May 06, 1881 in London and died on February 22, 1963, in Worthing, Sussex. Dalton had written more than 20 adventure thriller novels and was quite popular for her work. However, she is now included among the forgotten mystery writers, which is a sad reality. The last crime novel of Dalton’s career was published at the age of 70 in 1951. After that, she was promptly forgotten in spite of being a top-quality writer. When she was at the peak of her career, Dalton was included in the list of major English crime writers of her time. Her fans used to finish reading her novels in just 2 nights.

The first crime fiction book published by Dalton is the 1924 novel called The Kingsclere Mystery. She was 42 years old at that time. Before this, Dalton had released a contemporary novel in 1909 as well as a romantic novel in 1920. Both these books were well-received, but the genre of romance didn’t interest her much. She liked mystery stories that combined evocative settings, fleet narratives, and strong characterizations. It was unfortunate on the part of Dalton that she wrote crime novels of high literary quality, well before authors like Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, Anthony Gilbert, Ngaio March, ECR Lorac, etc., but did not receive the fanfare that these authors got. Author Dalton took a major step forward in her literary career with her 1929 and 1930 novels, One by One They Disappeared and The Body on the Road. These novels were the respective debuts of Dalton’s two main protagonists, Hugh Collier and Hermann Glide. She described Collier as an intelligent, young, and woman-shy inspector of the Scotland Yard and Hermann Glide as a percipient and persistent private detective and minor sleuth. These two characters featured in the same fictional world created by Dalton and appeared together in her 1931 mystery novel called The Night of Fear.

During the 1930s, Dalton and other prominent female authors were published by Sampson Low. But, the other authors moved on to join Collins Crime Club and achieved greater fame, while Dalton stayed back with Sampson Low, which is believed to have hampered Dalton’s career. Considering the decades-long absence of Dalton from the world of crime fiction, it is believed that she had sufficient means to live an independent life and maintain her comfort. She was considered a privileged English woman, whose writings were to please herself to a great extent, and that is why she never tried to push her career, unlike other popular female authors such as Gilbert and Lorac. Author Dalton was born to a Canadian father named Joseph Dixon Dalton and an English mother named Laura Black Dalton, and was their only child. During the 1890s, lived with her parents in Southampton’s Lottery Hall. In 1911, her parents relocated to Somerset’s Perth Villa. Later, the family resided in Littlehampton at the time of the Great War. As the family had to live in a small-spaced house, it indicated that the gold reserves of the family had greatly diminished.

In 1919, Dalton’s father died due to a flu pandemic, leaving a great impact on her. In order to kill her time, Dalton started writing memorial poems. During the 1910s, she wrote and published a few of her memorial and martial poems. Author Dalton was believed to have a great passion for Italy and its citizens. This can be understood from the fact that they feature prominently in her crime stories. Though most of Dalton’s stories take place in England, certain sequences are also set in Italy. During the first 4 decades, Dalton lived a rather isolated life. She stayed with her parents and was privately educated. It was only after her father’s death and the end of the war that Dalton started opening up. In 1921, she married Louis Jean Renoir, with whom she had a son. Shortly after, Louis left Dalton. After that, she stayed with her mother in Worthing until her mother passed away in 1945. Dalton left behind an estate worth one million US dollars, after her death in 1963.

The Hugh Collier series written by author Moray Dalton is comprised of a total of 14 books released between 1929 and 1951. The debut book of this series is entitled One By One They Disappeared. It features the primary characters in the form of Elbert Pakenham, Jehosaphat, Corinna Lacy, Gilbert Freyne, Hugh Collier, Edgar Mallory, Count Olivieri, Superintendent Trask, etc. The book opens by showing that Elbert Pakenham is a resident of New York City. He is among the 9 people who survived the Coptic’s sinking. Pakenham’s black cat named Jehosaphat is also among the survivors. After Pakenham’s nephew dies, he prepares his will and names all the survivors as joint beneficiaries. When the beneficiaries start dying one after the other under mysterious circumstances, a lot of eyebrows are raised. When Pakenham himself vanishes, Hugh Collier suspects foul play. He lays a trap to catch the culprit, which results in seriously wounding his best friend. When Collier is unable to narrow down the main culprit from among the list of major suspects, he decides to take the help of Pakenham’s cat Jehosaphat.

Another exciting instalment of this series is known as The Night of Fear. It was originally released in 1931 and was re-released recently in March 2019. The central characters of this novel include Hugh Darrow, Stallard, Hugh Collier, and others. Dalton has set the plot in England at the time of the Christmas holidays. Initially, it is mentioned that a Christmas gathering is organized in a country house on the eve of Christmas. Old and young join the gathering to enjoy the festival. The attendees decide to play hide & seek and turn off the lights. Suddenly, a cry for help is heard and when the lights come on, Hugh Darrow is found standing at the centre of the hall with blood on his hands. Hugh, who is blind, informs everyone that he stumbled upon a dead body at the place where he went to hide. It turns out that the victim is Stallard, a writer by profession. Once again, Hugh Collier is asked to investigate the murder mystery and find the culprit. He begins the investigation by adding everyone present at the gathering in the suspects’ list. (Source: Book Series In Order)

You can read more about Moray Dalton at The Passing Tramp Reissued: The Mysteries of Moray Dalton (Katherine Mary Deville Dalton Renoir, 1881-1963)

What this amounts to is that I’m looking forward to reading, before the year ends, One by One they Disappeared (1929) and The Body in the Road (1930), which were, respectively, the debut mysteries of her major sleuth, Hugh Collier, and her minor sleuth, Hermann Gilde. Stay tuned.

Hugh Collier Series:

One By One They Disappeared (1929)
The Night of Fear (1931)
The Belfry Murder (1933)
The Harvest of Tares (1933)
The Belgrave Manor Crime (1935)
The Mystery of the Kneeling Woman (1936)
The Strange Case of Harriet Hall (1936)
Death in the Dark (1938)
Death in the Forest (1939)
The Longbridge Murders (1945)
The Condamine Case (1947)
The Case Of The Dark Stranger (1948)
Inquest On Miriam (1949)
Death of a Spinster (1951)

Other Novels:

The Kingsclere Mystery (1924)
The Shadow On the Wall (1926)
The Black Wings (1927)
The Stretton Darknesse Mystery (1927)
The Body in the Road (1930)
Death in the Cup (1932)
The Wife of Baal (1932)
The Black Death (1934)
The Edge of Doom (1934)
The Case of Alan Copeland (1937)
The Price Of Silence (1939)
The Art School Murders (1943)
The Murder of Eve (1945)
Death At the Villa (1946)
The House of Fear (1951)

(Courtesy of Fantastic Fiction)

As far as I know there’s another book not listed above, Olive in Italy by Public Domain Books (first published 1909) available at Project Gutenberg.


Facsimile Dust Jacket, Harper & Brothers (USA) (1929) first printing


Facsimile Dust Jacket, Harper & Brothers (USA) (1930) first printing

My Book Notes: The Perfect Crime: The Big Bow Mystery (1891) by Israel Zangwill

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Collins Crime Club, 2015. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1351 KB. Print Length: 192 pages. ASIN: B00TO3RHV4. eISBN: 9780008137298. It was originally serialised in The Star newspaper in 1891, before being published  in book form in Great Britain by Henry & Co. 1892.  This new edition includes a brand new introduction by the Golden Age crime expert, Dr John Curran, 2015, author of Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks.

25394525._SY475_Product Description: Originally published as The Big Bow Mystery in 1891, and re-published by the Detective Club to coincide with a new film version called ‘The Perfect Crime’, Israel Zangwill’s novel invented the concept of the ‘locked room mystery’ and influenced almost every crime writer thereafter. ‘A man is murdered for no apparent reason. He has no enemies and there seemed to be no motive for anyone murdering him. No clues remained and the instrument with which the murder was committed could not be traced. The door of the room in which the body was discovered was locked and bolted on the inside, both windows were latched, and there was no trace of any intruder. The greatest detectives in the land were puzzled. Here indeed was the perfect crime, the work of a master mind. Can you solve the problem which baffled Scotland Yard for so long, until at last the missing link in the chain of evidence was revealed?’ This new edition includes a brand new introduction by the Golden Age crime expert, Dr John Curran, author of ‘Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks’.

From Wikipedia: The story served as the basis for three Hollywood film versions. The The Perfect Crime (1928) and The Crime Doctor (1934) were both set in the contemporary United States, while The Verdict (1946) returned the story to the late-Victorian London setting of the original novel.

My Take: It’s hard to add anything new when so much has already been said about the many good things this book provides. Enough is to say that the plot is pretty much straight forward. The story unfolds in London, the year, towards the end of the 19th century. The action begins when Mrs Drabdump, a widow who rents out rooms of her house, panics upon realising she has forgotten to wake up one of her lodgers at the agreed time. She can’t understand how come she has overslept, something had never happened to her before. The tenant, a gentleman by the name of Arthur Constant, wished to be waked up earlier than usual since he was committed to speak at an early meeting of discontented tram-men. After several unsuccessful attempts, Mr Constant does not respond to her calls. Moreover, the door to his room is inside closed. Fearing something wrong might have happened to him, Mrs Drabdump goes out to seek the help from a celebrated ex-detective, one George Grodman who fortunately lives only a few doors off. When Mr Grodman manages to knock down the door, the scene they find is frightening. Arthur Constant is found dead, lying on his bed, with his throat slit from one extreme to the other. The cut seems to have been made with a razor. However, the circumstances surrounding the case turn out being quite strange. It can be ruled out that the wound had been self-inflicted, there is no trace whatsoever of the murder weapon. Both the door as well as the windows are firmly locked inside and there is no outward exit. The case is truly puzzling. Furthermore the motive behind the murder is completely unknown. Nobody can even imagine who could have wish the death of a philanthropist like Constant who had devoted his life to help the working class. Inspector Edward Wimp  and Grodman himself, though they don’t get on well, will seek together the way to unravel this bewildering puzzle.

Other most experienced bloggers have already praised this stunning short novel, an important landmark in the development of detective fiction. It is astonishing to find out the plot didn’t stem from a previous idea, conversely, Zangwill developed the story as he was writing it and finished it in a fortnight. Besides being one of the earliest examples of an impossible crime, it is of interest as well for taking place in a working class neighbourhood, and for laying down one of the first definitions of “fair play”. For my taste, despite the multiple versions that we can find today of its main plot in films, tv series and novels, The Big Bow Mystery keeps entertaining the reader of our time, just as much as to the reader of its era. Even the refined sense of humour that we can find among its pages can, perhaps, be better understood nowadays than in those times. In a nutshell, a true classic that deserves a much broader audience.

My rating: A (I loved it)

What others have said:

From the introduction by John Curran: [The Big Bow Mystery] is more socially aware than many of its contemporaries. Two of the main characters are closely involved with the labour movement and a detail picture of the social conditions of London’s East End an its denizens is conveyed through the characters and their circumstances.

Will Thomas @ The Rap Sheet

The Big Bow Mystery …. wraps us in fog and sets us down in the mean streets of Jack the Ripper’s London, complete with a freshly cut throat. It offers humor and pathos, a whiff of Dickens, and a skillful locked-room mystery. If you haven’t read it yet, in my opinion, there is a serious hole in your mystery education! The only way to fill the void is to sleuth out this old classic and read it.

Mary Reed @ mystery file

If readers don’t mind Zangwill’s somewhat rambling and wordy style The Big Bow Mystery will be of interest. Published in the early 1890s, well before the beginning of the Golden Age, it is also said to be the earliest true example of the locked room mystery.

Wyatt James @ gadetection

All in all, this is a delightful mystery with a full complement of puzzle elements. One point not to be neglected is that it is also a novella – 100 pages or so – but still manages to pack in as much detail as a much longer detective novel such as is produced routinely these days would do. A model of concision, good plotting, and sufficient background and characterization to maintain interest at a high level.

Mike Grost @ gadetection

Zangwill’s use of multiple proposed solutions also anticipates such Golden Age books as Bentley’s Trent’s Last Case, Berkeley’s The Poisoned Chocolates Case, and Queen’s The Greek Coffin Mystery. The best part of Zangwill’s story is the first four chapters, which outline the mystery plot, together with the final chapter. Most of the other, later chapters, outline a blind alley in the investigation, and contain a great deal of off beat characterizations. This is a bit padded.

Les Blatt @ Classic Mysteries

It is a classic “impossible crime” puzzle, with clues quite fairly presented to the reader. The book is also a very funny satire on elements of British life in the later Victorian years. And if you are reluctant to buy the book, then be aware that it is out of copyright and available online free through Project Gutenberg Australia – though Amazon also has an inexpensive and nicely formatted Kindle version available if you prefer it.

Marta Marne de Leer sin prisa en Culturamas

The appeal of The Big Bow Mystery lies in two aspects: on the one hand, the well-known typical plot of a “locked-room mystery”, on the other hand, one of its main attractions is that we are facing a novel plagued of British humour all around. Incisive dialogues and superbly profiled characters, from their physical features to their names.

DavidPrestidge @Crime Fiction Lover

Why should today’s readers open and enjoy Big Bow Mystery? Firstly, because it is a beautifully crafted novel by a master wordsmith. It is not a long read by modern standards, but one in which every page, conversation and observation counts. Secondly, it is wickedly funny. Zangwill may not have been the first to use the humour of cruelty, nor will he be the last. However, in the trial scene – which takes up most of the second half of the book – he takes aim at almost every social convention and literary stereotype available to him, and his arrows find the target every time. Thirdly, and most importantly, he fools us. Well, he certainly fooled me. The clues are there, and I will not spoil your fun by telling you what they are, but suffice to say the book ends in explosive fashion.

Rich Wetswood @ Past Offences

The Big Bow Mystery is a light read and well worth the investment of a few hours, especially if you are a fan of Dickens’ funny bits.  I can do no better than quote Zangwill’s own review of the book in his introduction: “The Big Bow Mystery” seems to me an excellent murder story, as murder stories go, for, while as sensational as the most of them, it contains more humor and character creation than the best.”

John Harrison @ Countdown John’s Christie Journal

The main problem is a complete lack of detection:……. That is why I will be reading the locked room mysteries currently on my shelves in chronological order through the year. Having said all that there is still a pleasing final twist which made me smile. My conclusion is that there is more to like here than not, but that it is likely to appeal most to those with an interest in the development of the genre.

Publishers Weekly

The plot device has been used many times since, but Zangwill deserves credit for inventing it and enlisting it in an entertaining and timeless plot. With a sardonic style and vivid, Dickensian characterizations of Victoria-era London, Zangwill still appeals to contemporary readers.

About the Author: Israel Zangwill (February 14, 1864 – August 1, 1926) was a British-born Jewish writer and Zionist activist. Zangwill , the son of Latvian and Polish immigrants, was born in London, attended the Jews’ Free School and later the University of London, where he earned honors in French, English, and mental and moral science. Zangwill’s talent was recognized early: In 1881, his short story “Professor Grimmer” won a literary contest, and his career as a short story writer and novelist was launched. Zangwill published his first book, Motza Kleis (1882), anonymously. The work, which was later included in his most famous novel, Children of the Ghetto (1892), used Yiddish expressions to paint a portrait of London’s Jewish East End. It was in these years when he wrote and published his first and only mystery novel, to my knowledge, The Big Bow Mystery, the first novella-length locked-room puzzle. In the 1880s, Zangwill published under the name J. Freeman Bell and “Marshallik.” He wrote columns for Jewish periodicals as well as The Idler. With the publication of Children of the Ghetto, Zangwill became a literary celebrity. His other collections that specifically treat Jewish themes include Ghetto Tragedies (1893), Dreamers of the Ghetto (1898), and Ghetto Comedies (1907). At the turn of the century, Zangwill became actively involved in political movements such as Zionism and women’s suffrage. A member of the group the “wanderers of Kilburn,” he befriended other important Jewish intellectuals of his day, including Solomon Schechter and Solomon J. Solomon. He was a noted playwright, and his dramas from this period include The Melting Pot (1908). Zangwill also founded the Jewish Territorial Organization (the ITO), whose goal was to find and establish a Jewish homeland wherever possible. As part of the ITO, Zangwill helped engineer the Galveston Plan, which allowed 10,000 Jewish people to immigrate to the United States between 1907 and 1914. He ultimately broke with political Zionism and died in 1926. Several of Zangwill’s works are available from Project Gutenberg.

Read More:

HarperCollinsPublishers UK publicity page

HarperCollinsPublishers US publicity page

A Tongue-in-Cheek Assessment of The Big Bow Mystery by the Author Himself,” by Mike Gray (Ontos)


El gran misterio de Bow de Israel Zangwill

Descripción del producto: Originalmente publicada como The Big Bow Mystery en 1891, y reeditado por el Detective Club para coincidir con una nueva versión cinematográfica llamada ‘The Perfect Crime’, la novela de Israel Zangwill acuñó el concepto de ‘misterio del cuarto cerrado’ e influyó en casi todos los escritores de misterio a partir de entonces. “Un hombre es asesinado sin razón aparente. No tiene enemigos y no parece haber motivo alguno para que alguien lo asesinara. No dejaron pistas y no se pudo localizar el instrumento con el que se cometió el asesinato. La puerta de la habitación en la que se descubrió el cuerpo estaba cerrada y con el pestillo echado por dentro, las dos ventanas estaban atrancadas y no había rastro de intruso alguno. Los mejores detectives del país se encontraban perplejos. Efectivamente se trataba del crimen perfecto, obra de una mente privilegiada. ¿Puede usted resolver el problema que desconcertó a Scotland Yard durante tanto tiempo, hasta que finalmente se descubrió el eslabón perdido en la cadena de pruebas?” Esta nueva edición incluye una nueva introducción de especialista en misterios de la Edad de Oro, el Dr. John Curran, autor de Los cuadernos secretos de Agatha Christie.

Tomado de Wikipedia: La historia sirvió de base a tres versiones cinematográficas de Hollywood. The Perfect Crime (1928) y The Crime Doctor (1934) se ambientaron las dos en los Estados Unidos de la época en la que se rodaron, mientras que The Verdict (1946) volvió a situar la historia en el escenario londinense victoriano tardío de la novela original.

Mi opinión: Resulta difícil añadir algo nuevo cuando ya se ha dicho mucho sobre las muchas cosas buenas que ofrece este libro. Suficiente es decir que la trama es bastante sencilla. La historia se desarrolla en Londres, el año, hacia finales del siglo XIX. La acción comienza cuando la Sra. Drabdump, una viuda que alquila habitaciones en su casa, entra en pánico al darse cuenta de que ha olvidado despertar a uno de sus inquilinos a la hora acordada. No puede entender por qué se ha quedado dormida, algo que nunca le había pasado antes. El inquilino, un caballero llamado Arthur Constant, deseaba que lo despertaran antes de lo habitual ya que se había comprometido a hablar en una reunión de tranviarios descontentos a primera hora de la mañana. Tras varios intentos fallidos, el Sr. Constant no responde a sus llamadas. Además, la puerta de su habitación está cerrada por dentro. Temiendo que algo malo le haya sucedido, la Sra. Drabdump sale a buscar la ayuda de un ex detective célebre, un tal George Grodman que afortunadamente vive a solo unas puertas de distancia. Cuando Grodman logra derribar la puerta, la escena que encuentran es aterradora. Arthur Constant es encontrado muerto, acostado en su cama, con la garganta cortada de un extremo al otro. El corte parece haber sido hecho con una navaja de afeitar. Sin embargo, las circunstancias que rodean el caso resultan ser bastante extrañas. Se puede descartar que la herida haya sido autoinfligida, no hay rastro alguno del arma homicida. Tanto la puerta como las ventanas están firmemente cerradas por dentro y no hay salida hacia el exterior. El caso es realmente desconcertante. Además, el motivo detrás del asesinato es completamente desconocido. Nadie puede siquiera imaginar quién podría haber deseado la muerte de un filántropo como Constant que había dedicado su vida a ayudar a la clase trabajadora. El inspector Edward Wimp y el propio Grodman, aunque no se llevan bien, buscarán juntos la forma de resolver este desconcertante rompecabezas.

Otros bloggers más experimentados ya han elogiado esta impresionante novela corta, un hito importante en el desarrollo de la novela policiaca. Es sorprendente descubrir que la trama no surgió de una idea previa, por el contrario, Zangwill desarrolló la historia mientras la escribía y la terminó en quince días. Además de ser uno de los primeros ejemplos de un crimen imposible, también es interesante por tener lugar en un barrio de clase trabajadora y por establecer una de las primeras definiciones de “juego limpio”. Para mi gusto, a pesar de las múltiples versiones que podemos encontrar hoy de su trama principal en películas, series de televisión y novelas, The Big Bow Mystery sigue entreteniendo al lector de nuestro tiempo, tanto como al lector de su época. Incluso el refinado sentido del humor que podemos encontrar entre sus páginas puede, tal vez, ser mejor entendido hoy en día que en aquellos tiempos. En pocas palabras, un verdadero clásico que merece una audiencia mucho más amplia.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Lo que otros han dicho:

De la introducción de John Curran:
[The Big Bow Mystery] es más socialmente comprometida que muchas otras novelas de su tiempo. Dos de sus personajes principales participan activamente en el movimiento laboral y transmite una imagen detallada de las condiciones sociales del East End londinense y de sus habitantes a través de los personajes y de sus circunstancias.

Will Thomas @ The Rap Sheet

The Big Bow Mystery …. nos envuelve en la niebla y nos sitúa en las calles del Londres de Jack el Destripador, y se completa con una garganta recién cortada. Nos ofrece humor y patetismo, un cierto olor a Dickens y un inteligente misterio de cuarto cerrado. Si aún no lo ha leído, en mi opinión, ¡tiene una importante brecha en su formación como aficionado al género de misterio! La única forma de llenar este vacío es localizar este antiguo clásico y leerlo.

Mary Reed @ mystery file

Si a los lectores no les importa el estilo un tanto farragoso y prolijo de Zangwill, The Big Bow Mystery será de interés. Publicado a principios de la década de 1890, mucho antes del comienzo de la Edad de Oro, también se considera que es el primer ejemplo auténtico de un misterio de cuarto cerrado.

Wyatt James @ gadetection

Con todo, se trata de un misterio delicioso con un completo bagaje de elementos que conforman un rompecabezas. Un extremo que no debe descuidarse es que también es una novela breve, alrededor de 100 páginas, pero aún así se las arregla para incluir tantos detalles como una novela de detectives mucho más larga como las que se producen sistemáticamente en estos tiempos. Un modelo de concisión, sólida trama y con la caraterización y los antecedentes suficientes como para mantener el interés a un elevado nivel.

Mike Grost @ gadetection

El uso de Zangwill de múltiples soluciones propuestas también anticipa algunas novelas de la Edad de Oro del miseterio como Trent’s Last Case de Bentley,The Poisoned Chocolates Case de Berkeley y The Greek Coffin Mystery de Queen. La mejor parte de la novela de Zangwill la encontramos en los cuatro primeros capítulos, donde se describe el argumento del misterioso asesinato, junto con el capítulo final. La mayoría del resto de los capítulos muestran un callejón sin salida en la investigación y contienen una gran cantidad de caracterizaciones débiles que resultan algo trasnochadas.

Les Blatt @ Classic Mysteries

Es un enigma de “crime imposible” clásico, con pistas expuestas al lector de forma limpia. El libro también es una sátira muy divertida sobre elementos de la vida británica en los últimos años victorianos. Y si usted es reacio a comprar el libro, tenga en cuenta que los derechos de autor ya han caducado y está disponible gratis en Internet por medio de Proyecto Gutenberg Australia, aunque Amazon también tiene una versión económica en Kindle bien formateada, si lo prefiere.

Marta Marne de Leer sin prisa en Culturamas

El atractivo de El gran misterio de Bow reside en dos aspectos. Por un lado, la ya típica trama de “misterio de habitación cerrada”. Por otro lado, uno de los grandes atractivos de la novela es que estamos ante una novela plagada de humor británico por los cuatro costados. Diálogos incisivos y personajes magníficamente perfilados, desde sus características físicas a sus nombres.

DavidPrestidge @Crime Fiction Lover

¿Por qué los lectores de hoy día deberían comenzar a leer y disfrutar Big Bow Mystery? En primer lugar, porque es una novela perfectamente elaborada por un maestro de la palabra. No es una lectura larga para los criterios modernos, sino una en la que cada página, conversación y observación cuentan. En segundo lugar, es terriblemente divertida. Puede que Zangwill no haya sido el primero en usar el humor en hechos atroces, ni será el último. Sin embargo, en la escena del juicio, que ocupa la mayor parte de la segunda mitad del libro, apunta a casi todas las convenciones sociales y estereotipos literarios que tiene a su disposición, y sus dardos dan cada vez en la diana. En tercer lugar, y lo más importante, nos engaña. Bueno, ciertamente me engañó a mí. Las pistas están ahí, y no arruinaré su diversión al decirle cuáles son, pero basta con decir que el libro termina de forma explosiva.

Rich Wetswood @ Past Offences

The Big Bow Mystery es una lectura ligera y vale la pena invertir en ella unas pocas horas, especialmente si eres aficionado a los divertidos sketchs de Dickens. No puedo hacer nada mejor que citar la propia reseña de Zangwill del libro en su introducción: “The Big Bow Mystery” me parece un excelente cuento de asesinatos, conforme son los cuentos de asesinatos, ya que, aunque es tan sensacional como la mayoría de ellos, contiene más humor y caracterización de personajes que los mejores “.

John Harrison @ Countdown John’s Christie Journal

El principal problema es una completa falta de investigación: ……. Es por eso que leeré los misterios de cuarto cerrado actualmente en mis estanterías en orden cronológico a lo largo del año. Dicho esto, todavía tiene un agradable giro final que me hizo sonreír. Mi conclusión es que tiene más de lo que gusta que de lo que no, pero es probable que atraiga más a aquellos con un interés en la evolución del género.

Publishers Weekly

El artificio de la trama ha sido utilizado muchas veces desde entonces, pero Zangwill merece todo el crédito por inventarlo y emplearlo en una trama entretenida y eterna. Con un estilo sardónico y sugestivo, caracterizaciones dickensianas del Londres de la era victoriana, Zangwill todavía resulta atractivo a los lectores contemporáneos.

Sobre el autor: Israel Zangwill (14 de febrero de 1864 – 1 de agosto de 1926) fue un escritor judío y activista sionista nacido en Gran Bretaña. Zangwill, hijo de inmigrantes letones y polacos, nació en Londres, asistió a la escuela judía del East End londinense y más tarde a la Universidad de Londres, donde se graduó con honores en francés, inglés y ciencias morales y espirituales. El talento de Zangwill fue pronto reconocido: en 1881, su cuento “Profesor Grimmer” ganó un concurso literario, y lanzó su carrera como escritor de cuentos y novelista. Zangwill publicó su primer libro, Motza Kleis (1882), de forma anónima. La obra, que más tarde se incluyó en su novela más famosa, Children of the Ghetto (1892), utilizó expresiones yiddish para hacer un retrato del East End judío de Londres. Fue en estos años cuando escribió y publicó su primera y única novela de misterio, que yo sepa, The Big Bow Mystery, el primer enigma de cuarto cerrado con la extensión de una novela corta. En la década de 1880, Zangwill publicó bajo el nombre de J. Freeman Bell y “Marshallik”. Escribió columnas para periódicos judíos y The Idler. Con la publicación de Children of the Ghetto, Zangwill se convirtió en una celebridad literaria. El resto de sus colecciones que tratan específicamente temas judíos incluyen Ghetto Tragedies (1893), Dreamers of the Ghetto (1898) y Ghetto Comedies (1907). A principios de siglo, Zangwill se involucró activamente en movimientos políticos como el sionismo y el sufragio femenino. Miembro del grupo “los vagabundos de Kilburn”, se hizo amigo de otros intelectuales judíos importantes de su época, incluidos Solomon Schechter y Solomon J. Solomon. Fue un destacado dramaturgo, y sus obras de teatro de este período incluyen The Melting Pot (1908). Zangwill también fundó la Organización Territorial Judía (ITO), cuyo objetivo era encontrar y establecer una patria judía siempre que fuera posible. Como parte de la ITO, Zangwill ayudó a diseñar el Plan Galveston, que permitió a 10.000 judíos emigrar a los Estados Unidos entre 1907 y 1914. Finalmente rompió con el sionismo político y murió en 1926. Varias de las obras de Zangwill están disponibles en Project Gutenberg.

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