Month: January 2020

My Book Notes: Death of Jezebel, 1948 (Inspector Cockrill #4) by Christianna Brand

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MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, 2013. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 809 KB. Print Length: 208 pages. ASIN: B00BERBMSW. ISBN: 978-1-4532-9048-4. First published in the US by Dodd, Mead, in 1948; and in the UK, by The Bodley Head, in 1949.

brand-deathjezebelSynopsis: At a medieval pageant, Inspector Cockrill investigates a dramatic death. Ever since she drove her best friend’s fiancé to kill himself, Isabel Drew has been nicknamed Jezebel. She is domineering, arrogant, vain—and beautiful enough to get away with it. She is starring as a princess in a medieval pageant when her past catches up to her. On tiny slips of paper, threats appear, promising death to Isabel and those around her. Fearing she may be attacked, she invites the brilliant Inspector Cockrill to keep her safe after the performance. But her precautions come too late. During the first show, Isabel falls from her tower and is dead before she hits the ground. She was strangled, and the room she fell from was locked from the inside—a crime too daring to be possible. But Inspector Cockrill saw it all, and unraveling the impossible is his specialty.

My Take: During the celebration of a medieval pageant, Isabel Drew –an arrogant actress who used to treat everyone around her with
contempt, falls to the ground from the top of a tower, in view of the whole audience. What it may seem initially an unfortunate accident, soon it becomes murder. She was already death before hitting herself against the stage floor. In fact she’s been strangled. A few days ago, three of the participants in the medieval carrousel, Isabel Drew, Earl Anderson and Perpetua [Peppi] Kirk, had all received anonymous notes warning them they were going to be murdered. Coincidentally, Inspector Cockrill from North Kent finds himself in London attending a police conference. Peppi Kirk herself concerned about the threat received, had invited him to see the medieval carrousel as a measure of protection. Detective Inspector Charlesworth from Scotland Yard takes charge of the investigation. If I’m not mistaken, this will be the first and maybe only time Detective Inspector Charlesworth [Death in High Heels (1941) and The Rose in Darkness (1979)] and Inspector Cockrill feature together in one same novel.

‘This is not a detective novel,’ said Cockrill. ‘In real life the police don’t “reconstruct the crime” so as to confront the criminal. These writer people never get their police procedure right.’ ‘It would be so deadly dull if they did,’ said Charlesworth. ‘I suppose they reckon that their job is to entertain and not to worry too much about what could or would or couldn’t or wouldn’t have happened… After all , their books are just fun to read–not treatises on the law. However the idea of putting our lot through their paces tonight is not so much to unearth the criminal as to eliminate the impossible…’

Death of Jezebel contains one of the finest examples of an impossible crime I’ve encountered myself to date. The plot is superbly crafted, the story is extremely witty and the mystery has a brilliant solution. It also offers us a number of possible alternative solutions before reaching its final conclusion. J.F. Norris, rightly stated in 2009 that:

Brand was one of the few women mystery writers who tried her hand at multiple versions of a detective fiction convention usually more successfully handled by male writers – the locked room or impossible crime.  In her small output of only 11 detective novels four of them qualify as impossible crime mysteries and I believe there are at least two short stories with impossible crime elements.  Two of those impossible crime mysteries have been noted by a few discerning critics as landmarks of this subgenre.  Death of Jezebel easily belongs in any Top 25 list of locked room and impossible detective novels.

And Pietro De Palma who blogs at Death Can Read in his review on Goodreads:  

One of the nicest and impressive locked rooms that I have read ever.
A hypnotic locked room. A theater, a parade of horses, a whore, a vengeance, the justice who should be a knight, another rider who will not know until the end if he was empty or full armor, a crime without explanation, and a crime of which nothing is known until the end. A prequel that imagines revenge for the death of a young, summarized in three pages. A real masterpiece of one of the most skilled writers, the golden age of mystery.
A real masterpiece.

In a nutshell, an excellent book I highly recommend.

Death of Jezebel has been reviewed, among others, at The Invisible Event, Clothes in Books, The Grandest Game in the World, gadetection, At the Scene of the Crime, Death Can Read, Vanished Into Thin Air, Beneath the Stains of Time, and Classic Mysteries,

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

About the Author: Christianna Brand (17 December 1907 – 11 March 1988) was a British crime writer and children’s author. Born Mary Christianna Milne (1907) in British Malaya she spent most of her childhood in England and India. She had a number of different occupations, including model, dancer, shop assistant and governess. Brand also wrote under the pseudonyms Mary Ann Ashe, Annabel Jones, Mary Brand, Mary Roland, and China Thompson. Christianna Brand served as chair of the Crime Writers’ Association from 1972 to 1973.Her first novel, Death in High Heels, was written while Brand was working as a salesgirl, the idea stemming from her fantasies about doing away with an annoying co-worker. In 1941, one of her best-loved characters, Inspector Cockrill of the Kent County Police, made his debut in the book Heads You Lose. The character would go on to appear in seven of her novels. Green for Danger is Brand’s most famous novel. The whodunit, set in a World War II hospital, was adapted for film by Eagle-Lion Films in 1946, starring Alastair Sim as the Inspector. She dropped the series in the late 1950s and concentrated on various genres as well as short stories. She was nominated three times for Edgar Awards: for the short stories “Poison in the Cup” (EQMM, Feb. 1969) and “Twist for Twist” (EQMM, May 1967) and for a nonfiction work about a Scottish murder case, Heaven Knows Who (1960). She is the author of the children’s series Nurse Matilda, which Emma Thompson adapted to film as Nanny McPhee (2005). Her Inspector Cockrill short stories and a previously unpublished Cockrill stage play were collected as The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill’s Casebook, edited by Tony Medawar (2002). (Source: Wikipedia)

Inspector Cockrill Series: Heads You Lose (1941); Green for Danger (1944); Suddenly at His Residence (1946); Death of Jezebel (1949); Fog of Doubt (1952); Tour de Force (1955); The Three-Cornered Halo (1957); and The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill’s Casebook (2002) a short-stories collection

Mysterious Press publicity page

Open Road integrated media publicity page

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Death of Jezebel by Christianna Brand – Martin Edwards

Christianna Brand at The British Police Detective

Brand, Christianna at gadetection

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, John Lane, The Bodley Head (UK), 1949)

La muerte de Jezebel (Original title: Death of Jezzbel) de Christianna Brand

Sinopsis: En una cabalgata medieval, el inspector Cockrill investiga una trágica muerte. Desde que empujó al prometido de su mejor amiga a suicidarse, Isabel Drew ha sido apodada Jezebel. Ella es dominante, arrogante, vanidosa y lo suficientemente hermosa como para salirse con la suya. Ella está protagonizando una cabalgata medieval como una princesa cuando su pasado termina por alcanzarla. En pequeños trozos de papel aparecen amenazas prometiendo la muerte de Isabel y de aquellos que la rodean. Temiendo que pueda ser atacada, invita al brillante inspector Cockrill a mantenerla a salvo después de la actuación. Pero sus precauciones llegan demasiado tarde. Durante el primer espectáculo, Isabel cae de su torre y está muerta antes de tocar el suelo. La estrangularon y la habitación desde la que cayó estaba cerrada por dentro, un crimen demasiado audaz para ser posible. Pero el inspector Cockrill lo vio todo, y resolver lo imposible es su especialidad.

Mi opinión: Durante la celebración de una cabalgata medieval, Isabel Drew, una actriz arrogante que solía tratar a todos a su alrededor con
desprecio, cae al suelo desde lo alto de una torre, a la vista de todo el público. Lo que puede parecer inicialmente un desafortunado accidente, pronto se convierte en asesinato. Ella ya estaba muerta antes de golpearse contra el piso del escenario. De hecho, ha sido estrangulada. Hace unos días, tres de los participantes en el carrusel medieval, Isabel Drew, Earl Anderson y Perpetua [Peppi] Kirk, habían recibido notas anónimas advirtiéndoles que iban a ser asesinados. Casualmente, el inspector Cockrill del norte de Kent se encuentra en Londres asistiendo a una conferencia policial. La propia Peppi Kirk, preocupada por la amenaza recibida, lo había invitado a ver el carrusel medieval como medida de protección. El inspector detective Charlesworth de Scotland Yard se hace cargo de la investigación. Si no me equivoco, esta será la primera y tal vez la única vez que el inspector detective Charlesworth [Death in High Heels (1941) y The Rose in Darkness (1979)] y el inspector Cockrill aparecen juntos en una misma novela.

“Esta no es una novela de detectives”, dijo Cockrill. “En la vida real, la policía no ‘reconstruye el crimen’ para hacer frente al criminal.” “Estos escritores nunca aciertan con su procedimiento policial.” “Sería tremendamente aburrido si lo hicieran”, dijo Charlesworth. ‘Supongo que creen que su trabajo es entretener y no preocuparse demasiado por lo que podría o no hubiera podido haber sucedido… Después de todo, sus libros son solo una lectura divertida, no tratados sobre la ley. Sin embargo, la idea de poner a prueba a nuestro grupo esta noche no ha sido tanto para encontrar al criminal como para eliminar lo imposible …”

La muerte de Jezebel contiene uno de los mejores ejemplos de un crimen imposible que me he encontrado hasta la fecha. La trama está magníficamente elaborada, la historia es extremadamente ingeniosa y el misterio tiene una solución brillante. También nos ofrece una serie de posibles soluciones alternativas antes de llegar a la conclusión final. J.F. Norris, declaró acertadamente en 2009 que:

Brand fue una de las pocas escritoras de misterio que probó suerte en múltiples versiones de una convención de la novela de detectives, generalmente manejada con más éxito por escritores masculinos: el cuarto cerrado o crimen imposible. En su pequeña producción de solo 11 novelas de detectives, cuatro de ellas se pueden calificar como misterios de crimen imposible y creo que tiene al menos dos relatos breves con elementos de crimen imposible. Dos de estos misterios de crímenes imposibles han sido destacados por algunos críticos exigentes como referencias de este subgénero. Death of Jezebel pertenece fácilmente a cualquier lista de las 25 mejores novelas de cuarto cerrado o de crimen imposible.

Y Pietro De Palma, que escribe en Death Can Read, en su reseña en Goodreads:

Uno de los mejores y más impresionantes misterios de cuarto cerrado que he leído.
Una hipnotizador misterio de cuarto cerrado. Un teatro, un desfile de caballos, una prostituta, una venganza, la justicia que debería ser un caballero, otro jinete a caballo con armadura que no llegaremos a saber hasta el final si estaba vacía o completa, un crimen sin explicación y un crimen del que nada se conoce hasta el final. Una precuela que imagina la venganza por la muerte de un joven, resumida en tres páginas. Una verdadera obra maestra de uno de los escritores más cualificados de la edad de oro del misterio.
Una verdadera obra maestra.

En pocas palabras, un excelente libro que recomiendo encarecidamente.

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

Sobre el autor: Christianna Brand (17 de diciembre de 1907 – 11 de marzo de 1988) fue una escritora británica de obras policíacas e infantiles. Nacida en 1907 en la Malasia británica como Mary Christianna Milne, paso la mayor parte de su niñez en Inglaterra y en la India. Tuvo varias ocupaciones diferentes, incluyendo modelo, bailarina, dependiente de tienda e institutriz.​ Brand también escribió bajo los seudónimos Mary Ann Ashe, Annabel Jones, Mary Roland, y China Thomson. Christianna Brand fue presidenta de la Crime Writer’s Association (Asociación de escritores policíacos) en 1972 y 1973. Su primera novela, Death in High Heels, la escribió mientras trabajaba como vendedora, surgiendo su idea de sus fantasías de eliminar a un molesto compañero de trabajo. El Inspector Cockrill de la Policía de Condado de Kent, apareció por primera vez en el libro Heads you lose en 1941, siendo uno de sus más apreciados personajes. Este personaje aparecería posteriormente en otras siete de sus novelas. La novela más famosa de Brand es Green for Danger. Esta obra, del tipo whodunit, se desarrolla en un hospital de la Segunda Guerra mundial, fue adaptada al cine por Eagle-Lion Films en 1946, protagonizada por Alastair Sim como el Inspector. Brand interrumpió la serie al final de los años 1950s y se concentró en otros varios géneros y relatos breves. Fue candidata en tres ocasiones a los Premios Edgar: por el relato corto “Poison in the Cup” (EQMM, feb. 1969), por “Twist for Twist” (EQMM, mayo 1967) y por una obra no de ficción sobre un caso de un asesinato escocés, Heavens Knows Who (1960). Brand es también la autora de la serie de cuentos para niños Matilda la enfermera, adaptada al cine por Emma Thompson en la película Nanny McPhee (2005). Sus cuentos con el Inspector Cockrill y una obra de teatro anteriormente inédita se reunieron en la obra The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill’s Casebook, editada por Tony Medawar (2002).

Serie del inspector Cockrill: Heads you loose (1941); Green for danger (1944) (Publicada en España en 2017 por Ediciones Siruela, con el título La muerte espera en Herons Park, traducción de Raquel G. Rojas.);
Suddendly at His Residence
o The Crooked Wreath (en los Estados Unidos) (1946);
Death of Jezebel
(1948);
London Particular
o Fog of Doubt (en los Estados Unidos) (1952);
Tour de force
(1955);
The Three Cornered Halo
(1957); y la colección de relatos: The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Cockrill’s Casebook (2002), antología póstuma.

My Book Notes: Hag’s Nook, 1933 (Dr Gideon Fell #1) by John Dickson Carr

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Polygon (An Imprint of Birlinn Limited), 2019. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 549 KB. Print Length: 192 pages. ASIN: B07S213BDD eISBN: 978-1-78885-206-7. First published in 1933 by Hamish Hamilton in the UK and by Harper in the US. Hag’s Nook, is the first of the 23 John Dickson Carr books featuring Dr Gideon Fell.

9781846974946-600x923Plot Summary: “Martin Starberth stands to inherit his family’s estate provided he can fulfill a certain condition. Part of the estate is an old prison where the Starberths had been wardens for generations. From a balcony off the Governor’s Room, Starberth wardens watched countless men be hanged from the Hag’s Nook gallows, their lifeless bodies dropping to a deep well below. A cholera epidemic wiped out the prison population decades earlier but a curse seems to have settled upon the Starberth family with several heirs meeting their death via a broken neck. To inherit the estate, each prospective heir must spend the night of his 25th birthday locked in that warden’s room, hopefully escaping the curse. But when Martin’s body is found battered, his neck broken, beneath the balcony, it seems that the curse has once again claimed a victim. Dr. Gideon Fell, a splendid figure in his slouch cap and cape, supported by two canes, suspects murder instead, even though he and several others had the room under observation at the time of the death.”–P. [4] of cover. (Source: Rue Morgue Press)

My take: Tad Rampole, a young American just out of college, is touring Europe under close parental supervision. At Professor Melson’s suggestion, he is on his way to visit Dr Gideon Fell at his house in Yew Cottage, Chatterham, Lincolnshire, some hundred and twenty-odd miles from London. On the railway platform, the young American has a chance encounter with Dorothy Starberth. He becomes fascinated by her and hopes to see her again soon in Chatterham, where she is also heading.

In the train, Dr Fell is waiting him at the restaurant-car. Bob Melson wrote him about Rampole and Dr Fell recognises the young American as soon as he sees him coming in. Dr Fell introduces him to Mr Payne, Chatterham’s legal adviser, the first one to mention young Martin Starberth, Dorothy’s brother, in relation to ‘his little hour in the Hag’s Nook’ and ‘prison superstition’, in believing erroneously that Rampole is a friend of the Starberths. Intrigued by these words, once Mr Payne is gone, the young American dares to ask Dr Fell whether he would mind telling him what he meant by ‘an hour at the Hag’s Nook and all the rest.’

It turns out that, for about two hundred years, the Starberths have owned the land on which Chatterham prison was built, and they still own it. Two generations of the Starberths were governors there. Nowadays Chatterham is no longer a prison and is pretty much in ruins. It fell into disuse following a cholera epidemic in 1837. In those times, prisons were hellish places, and Chatterham was built around the Hag’s Nook, were it was customary to hang those accused of witchcraft and other ordinary crimes. An old family ritual has set that first-born males of the Starberth family must spend one hour in the evening of his twenty-fifth birthday completely alone in the Governor’s Room at Chatterham prison and open the safe, whose content only they will get to know. Moreover, according to an old family curse, the heads of the Starberth household die breaking their neck. Needless to say the young American becomes fascinated by this old legend.

Against this background, it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, that Martin Starberth, the night of his vigil, would fell himself out of  the window of the Governor’s Room, and died breaking his neck. Even when Dr Fell and some other people were monitoring the window at that time. Window that could be seen from Yew Cottage. The local constabulary, unable to find a rational explanation, leaves the investigation of the case in the hands of Dr Fell, who seems to be the only one to believe that Martin Starberth has been murdered. Will Dr Fell be able to find a rational explanation and identify the culprit?

Hag’s Nook marks the debut of Dr Gideon Fell in one of the most well-known detective series by John Dickson Carr, that will be followed by twenty three more mystery books. Published when the author was twenty-six years old, it comes as no surprise his style is closer to his first novels featuring Henri Bencolin than to his subsequent books in the series. In any case the novel turns out to be stunning regarding the creation of the atmosphere wherein the story unfolds and the pace at which the action progress. Besides, as it has been well noted by my fellow blogger Xavier Lechard, the description of the English countryside in the opening chapter is superb. 

There is something spectral about the deep and drowsy beauty of the English countryside; in the lush dark grass, the evergreens, the grey church spire, and the meandering white road. To an American, who remembers his own brisk concrete highways clogged with red filling-stations and the fumes of traffic, it is particularly pleasant. It suggests a place where people really can walk without seeming incongruous, even in the middle of the road. Tad Rampole watched the sun through the latticed windows, and the dull red berries glistening in the yew tree, with a feeling which can haunt the traveller only in the British Isles.

Unquestionably, this is a gothic mystery, with many elements in common with horror stories and a very powerful prose that has impressed me favourably, coming from such a young writer. Old myths and legends fit well within the story, and even when the solution is quite unexpected, it is perfectly credible, despite the fantastic elements described in the story. Though this has not been my first encounter with this series (my note on The Case of the Constant Suicides is here), I expect not to wait any longer without reading more John Dickson Carr / Carter Dickson books, now that I’ve finally gain access to them. All in all a highly interesting mystery I’ve very much enjoyed, that I strongly recommend.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Hag’s Nook has been reviewed, among others, at Bedford Bookshelf, shotsmag, In so many words, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’ The Reader is Warned, Only Detect, The Grandest Game in the World, gadetection, Classic Mysteries, The Green Capsule, and Tipping My Fedora.

About the Author: John Dickson Carr (November 30, 1906 – February 27, 1977) was an American author of detective stories, who also published under the pen names Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn. Carr is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of so-called “Golden Age” mysteries, complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. He was influenced in this regard by the works of Gaston Leroux and by the Father Brown stories of G. K. Chesterton. He was a master of the locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr Fell mystery The Hollow Man (1935), usually considered Carr’s masterpiece, was selected in 1981 as the best locked-room mystery of all time by a panel of 17 mystery authors and reviewers. He was also a pioneer of the historical mystery. A resident of England for a number of years, Carr is often grouped among “British-style” mystery writers. Most (but not all) of his novels had English settings, especially country villages and estates, and English characters. His two best-known fictional detectives were English. The son of Wooda Nicholas Carr, a U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, Carr graduated from The Hill School in Pottstown in 1925 and Haverford College in 1929. In the early 1930s, he moved to England, where he married an Englishwoman. He began his mystery-writing career there, returning to the United States as an internationally known author in 1948. In 1950, his biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought Carr the first of his two Special Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America; the second came in 1970, in recognition of his 40-year career as a mystery writer. He was also presented the MWA’s Grand Master award in 1963. Carr was one of only two Americans ever admitted to the British Detection Club. In early spring 1963, while living in Mamaroneck, New York, Carr suffered a stroke, which paralyzed his left side. He continued to write using one hand, and for several years contributed a regular column of mystery and detective book reviews, “The Jury Box”, to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Carr eventually moved to Greenville, South Carolina, and he died there of lung cancer in 1977. (Source: Wikipedia)

Dr Gideon Fell series (Novels): Hag’s Nook (1933); The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933); The Eight of Swords (1934); The Blind Barber (1934); Death-Watch (1935); The Hollow Man aka The Three Coffins (1935); The Arabian Nights Murder (1936); To Wake the Dead (1938); The Crooked Hinge (1938); The Black Spectacles aka The Problem of the Green Capsule (1939); The Problem of the Wire Cage (1939); The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940); The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941); Death Turns the Tables (1941); Till Death Do Us Part (1944); He Who Whispers (1946); The Sleeping Sphinx (1947); Below Suspicion (1949); The Dead Man’s Knock (1958); In Spite of Thunder (1960); The House at Satan’s Elbow (1965); Panic in Box C (1966); and Dark of the Moon (1968). (Short Stories): Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories (1947); The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); and Fell and Foul Play (1991).

Birlinn publicity page 

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

John Dickson Carr at gadetection 

John Dickson Carr Begins At the Villa Rose

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket Harper & Brothers (USA) (1933) first printing)

El rincón de la bruja (Original title: Hag’s Nook), de John Dickson Carr

Resumen del argumento: “Martin Starberth tiene derecho a heredar el patrimonio de su familia siempre que cumpla con una determinada condición. Parte de la herencia es una antigua prisión donde los Starberth han sido guardianes durante generaciones. Desde un balcón de la habitación del gobernador, los guardias de Starberth observaban como innumerables hombres eran colgados del patíbulo del rincón de la bruja (Hag’s Nook), y cómo sus cuerpos sin vida caían a un pozo profundo. Una epidemia de cólera aniquiló a la población de la prisión décadas atrás, pero una maldición parece haberse asentado en la familia Starberth y varios de sus herederos encontraron la muerte fracturándose el cuello. Para heredar la finca cada futuro heredero debe pasar la noche de su 25 cumpleaños encerrado en la habitación del gobernador, a la espera de escaparse de la maldición. Pero cuando aparece el cuerpo de Martin maltrecho, con su cuello roto, debajo del balcón, parece que una vez mas la maldición se ha cobrado una víctima. El Dr. Gideon Fell, una figura indescriptible con su gorra inclinada y su capa, sosteniéndose con dos bastones, sospecha que se trata de un asesinato, a pesar de que tanto él  como algunos otros tenían la habitación bajo observación en el momento de la muerte.”- P. [4] de la tapa. (Fuente: Rue Morgue Press)

Mi opinión: Tad Rampole, un joven estadounidense recién salido de la universidad, está recorriendo Europa bajo la estrecha supervisión de sus padres. A sugerencia del profesor Melson, se dirige a visitar al Dr. Gideon Fell en su casa en Yew Cottage, Chatterham, Lincolnshire, a unas ciento veinte millas de Londres. En la plataforma del ferrocarril, el joven estadounidense tiene un encuentro casual con Dorothy Starberth. Él queda fascinado por ella y espera volver a verla pronto en Chatterham, a donde ella también se dirige.

En el tren, el Dr. Fell lo está esperando en el vagón restaurante. Bob Melson le escribió sobre Rampole y el Dr. Fell reconoce al joven estadounidense tan pronto como lo ve entrar. El Dr. Fell le presenta al Sr. Payne, el asesor legal de Chatterham, el primero en mencionar al joven Martin Starberth, el hermano de Dorothy, en relación con ‘ su pequeña hora en el rincón de la bruja y la “superstición de la prisión”, al creer erróneamente que Rampole es amigo de los Starberth. Intrigado por estas palabras, una vez que el Sr. Payne se ha ido, el joven estadounidense se atreve a preguntarle al Dr. Fell si le importaría decirle lo que quiso decir con “una hora en el rincón de la bruja y todo lo demás”.

Resulta que, durante unos doscientos años, los Starberth han sido dueños de la tierra en la que se construyó la prisión de Chatterham, y aún la poseen. Dos generaciones de los Starberths fueron gobernadores allí. Hoy en día Chatterham ya no es una prisión y está prácticamente en ruinas. Cayó en desuso después de una epidemia de cólera en 1837. En aquellos tiempos, las cárceles eran lugares infernales, y Chatterham se construyó alrededor del rincón de la bruja, donde era costumbre colgar a los acusados ​​de brujería y otros delitos comunes. Un antiguo ritual familiar ha establecido que los varones primogénitos de la familia Starberth deben pasar una hora en la noche de su vigésimo quinto cumpleaños completamente solos en la Sala del Gobernador en la prisión de Chatterham y abrir la caja fuerte, cuyo contenido solo ellos conocerán. Además, según una vieja maldición familiar, los jefes de la familia Starberth mueren rompiéndose el cuello. No hace falta decir que el joven estadounidense queda fascinado por esta vieja leyenda.

En este contexto, a nadie le sorprende que Martin Starberth, la noche de su vigilia, se cayera por la ventana de la habitación del gobernador y muriera rompiéndose el cuello. Incluso cuando el Dr. Fell y otras personas vigilaban la ventana en ese momento. Ventana que se podía ver desde Yew Cottage. La policía local, incapaz de encontrar una explicación racional, deja la investigación del caso en manos del Dr. Fell, quien parece ser el único que cree que Martin Starberth ha sido asesinado. ¿Podrá el Dr. Fell encontrar una explicación racional e identificar al culpable?

Hag’s Nook marca el debut del Dr. Gideon Fell en una de las series de detectives más conocidas de John Dickson Carr, a la que seguirán otros veintitrés libros de misterio. Publicado cuando el autor tenía veintiséis años, no sorprende que su estilo esté más cerca de sus primeras novelas con Henri Bencolin que de sus libros posteriores en la serie. En cualquier caso, la novela resulta sorprendente con respecto a la creación de la atmósfera en la que se desarrolla la historia y el ritmo al que avanza la acción. Además, como ha sido bien señalado por mi compañero blogero Xavier Lechard, la descripción de la campiña inglesa en el capítulo inicial es excelente.

Hay algo fantasmal en la belleza profunda y tranquila de la campiña inglesa; en la frondosa hierba oscura, los árboles de hoja perenne, la torre gris de la iglesia y el serpenteante camino blanco. Para un estadounidense, que recuerda sus propias carreteras rápidas de hormigón abarrotadas de estaciones de servicio rojas y con los gases del tráfico, es particularmente agradable. Sugiere un lugar donde la gente realmente puede pasear sin parecer incongruente, incluso en el medio del camino. Tad Rampole observó el sol a través de las ventanas enrejadas y el rojo apagado de las bayas que brillaban en el tejo, con una emoción que puede obsesionar al viajero solo en las Islas Británicas.

Sin lugar a dudas, este es un misterio gótico, con muchos elementos en común con las historias de terror y una prosa muy poderosa que me ha impresionado favorablemente, viniendo de un escritor tan joven. Los viejos mitos y leyendas encajan bien en la historia, e incluso cuando la solución es bastante inesperada, es perfectamente creíble, a pesar de los elementos fantásticos descritos en la historia. Aunque este no ha sido mi primer encuentro con esta serie (mi nota sobre El caso de los suicidios constantes está aquí), espero no dejar pasar el tiempo sin leer más libros de John Dickson Carr / Carter Dickson, ahora que finalmente tengo acceso a ellos En resumen, es un misterio muy interesante que disfruté muchísimo y que recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: John Dickson Carr (30 de noviembre de 1906 – 27 de febrero de 1977) fue un escritor estadounidense de historias de detectives. A lo largo de su carrera utilizó los seudónimos Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson y Roger Fairbairn, además de su propio nombre. Carr está generalmente considerado como uno de los mejores escritores de la llamada “época dorada” de la novela de misterio, historias de enigmas, complejas y impulsadas por la trama en las que el rompecabezas es primordial. Fue influenciado a este respecto por las obras de Gaston Leroux y por las historias del Padre Brown de G. K. Chesterton. Era un maestro del misterio de habitación cerrada, en el que el crimen se ha cometido en un recinto cerrado o de acceso imposible. El misterio del Dr. Fell El hombre hueco (1935), cuyo título original es The Hollow Man, generalmente considerado la obra maestra de Carr, fue seleccionado en 1981 como el mejor misterio de cuarto cerrado de todos los tiempos por un panel de 17 autores y críticos de misterio. También fue un pionero del misterio histórico. Residente en Inglaterra durante varios años, Carr a menudo se incluye entre los escritores de misterio “al estilo británico”. La mayoría (pero no todas) de sus novelas se desarrollan en escenarios ingleses, especialmente aldeas en el campo, fincas, y personajes ingleses. Sus dos detectives de ficción más conocidos eran ingleses. Hijo de Wooda Nicholas Carr, un congresista estadounidense de Pensilvania, Carr se graduó de The Hill School en Pottstown en 1925 y en Haverford College en 1929. A principios de la década de 1930, se trasladó a Inglaterra, donde se casó con una inglesa. Comenzó su carrera de escritor de misterio allí, regresando a los Estados Unidos como un autor internacionalmente conocido en 1948. En 1950, su biografía de Sir Arthur Conan Doyle le llevó a ganar el primero de sus dos Special Edgar Awards de los Mystery Writers of America; el segundo le llegó en 1970, en reconocimiento a sus 40 años de carrera como escritor de misterio. También recibió el premio Gran Maestro del MWA en 1963. Carr fue uno de los dos únicos estadounidenses admitidos en el British Detection Club. A principios de la primavera de 1963, mientras vivía en Mamaroneck, Nueva York, Carr sufrió un derrame cerebral que le paralizó el lado izquierdo. Continuó escribiendo con una mano, y durante varios años contribuyó con una columna regular de reseñas de libros de misterio y de detectives, “The Jury Box”, en el Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Carr finalmente se trasladó a Greenville, Carolina del Sur, y murió allí de cáncer de pulmón en 1977. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Novelas de la serie del Dr. Gideon Fell: Nido de brujas / El rincón de la bruja (Hag’s Nook, 1932); El sombrerero loco (The Mad Hatter Mystery, 1933); El ocho de espadas (The Eight of Swords, 1934); El barbero ciego (The Blind Barber, 1934); El reloj de la muerte (Death-Watch, 1935); El hombre hueco (The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man, 1935); El crimen de las mil y una noches (The Arabian Nights Murder, 1936); Noche de brujas (The Crooked Hinge, 1938); El brazalete romano / Despertar al muerto (To Wake the Dead, 1938); Las gafas negras / Los anteojos negros / Los espejuelos oscuros (The Black Spectacles / The Problem of the Green Capsule, 1939); La jaula mortal (The Problem of the Wire Cage, 1939); The Man Who Could Not Shudder, 1940; El caso de los suicidios constantes / Los suicidios constantes (The Case of the Constant Suicides, 1941); La sede de la soberbia (Death Turns the Tables / The Seat of the Scornful, 1941); Hasta que la muerte nos separe (‘Til Death Do Us Part, 1944);  El que susurra (He Who Whispers, 1946); La esfinge durmiente (The Sleeping Sphinx, 1947); Oscura sospecha (Below Suspicion, 1949); La llamada del muerto (The Dead Man’s Knock, 1958); Pese al trueno (In Spite of Thunder, 1960); La casa de El Codo de Satán / El codo de Satanás (The House at Satan’s Elbow, 1965); La muerte acude al teatro (Panic in Box C, 1966); y Oscuridad en la luna (Dark of the Moon, 1967).

OT: Goya Drawings – Only my strength of will remains

Majo keeping time by clappingThis major exhibition in the Prado Museum, which can be visited up to 16 February 2020, is the result of the work undertaken for the creation of a new catalogue raisonné of Goya’s drawings, made possible through the collaborative agreement signed by the Fundación Botín and the Museo del Prado in 2014.

For the first time and in a unique and unrepeatable occasion, the exhibition brings together more than 300 of Goya’s drawings from both the Prado’s own holdings and from private and public collections world-wide. The result is a chronological survey of the artist’s work that includes drawings from every period of his career, from the Italian Sketchbook to those created in Bordeaux. In addition, the exhibition offers a modern perspective on the ideas that recur throughout Goya’s work, revealing the ongoing relevance and modernity of his thinking.

Co-organised by the Fundación Botín and jointly curated by José Manuel Matilla, Chief Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museo Nacional del Prado, and Manuela Mena, Chief Curator of 18th-century Painting and Goya at the Prado until January 2019, the exhibition is on display in Rooms A and B of the Jerónimos Building until 16 February 2020.

On 19 November 1819 the new museum opened its doors to the public, at that date still a royal museum and comprising works from the exceptional collections of painting and sculpture assembled by Spain’s monarchs over more than 300 years. While Goya was still living in Madrid, three of his paintings – the two equestrian portraits of Charles IV and María Luisa de Parma and the Horseman with a Pike – were already hanging in the room that led into the Museum’s central gallery. Over the succeeding years the Museum would assemble the finest collection of Goya’s work, comprising around 150 paintings, 500 drawings, all the artist’s print series and a unique body of documentation in the form of his letters to his friend Martín Zapater.

This exhibition, which is the result of the remarkable richness of the Museo del Prado’s collections and of the work undertaken to prepare a new catalogue raisonné of Goya’s drawings in collaboration with the Fundación Botin, aims to reveal the different aspects that determine the meaning of the artist’s sketchbooks and print series.

Read more at Prado Museum Website

Majo keeping time by clapping Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
Copyright ©Museo Nacional del Prado.
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2019 A Year in Retrospect (update 11/01/2020)

First and foremost Happy New Year to you all.

2019 was a year of major discoveries at A Crime is Afoot. I finished reading all Agatha Christie books featuring Hercule Poirot with a couple of minor exceptions, namely Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly [2014] and Black Coffee [1998], although there maybe some controversy whether they should be included among Agatha Christie’s books. After all, Black Coffee was adapted from Agatha Christie’s play of the same title, novelised by Charles Osborne and published in 1998. And Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly, although written by Agatha Christie in 1954, was ultimately never published in its original form and, instead, it became the basis for one of her favourite novels, Dead Man’s Folly.

Besides, I’m happy to report a number of new to me authors which I’m convinced I shall read again in a not so distant future. Like, in no particular order, Molly Thynne, Cyril Hare, Michael Gilbert, Anthony Boucher, Christianna Brand, Paul Halter, and Brian Flynn. Without forgetting to mention some Japanese authors and, above all, the list of books published by Locked Room International, here

It would be unfair not to mention some books/authors which I have left out this year due to lack of time. Like for example, The Other End of the Line, 2019 (Inspector Montalbano #24) by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli; This Poison Will Remain, 2019 (Commissaire Adamsberg #9) by Fred Vargas, translated by Siân Reynolds; Metropolis, 2019 (Bernie Gunther #14) by Philip Kerr. (2019); The Night Fire, 2019 (Renee Ballard #2 and Harry Bosch #) by Michael Connelly; Wolves at the Door, 2019 (Varg Veum #22) by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett; A Long Night in Paris, 2019 by Dov Alfon, translated by Daniella Zamir; El último barco (Inspector Leo Caldas #3) de Domingo Villar. (2019); The Lost Man, 2018 by Jane Harper; and Gallows Court, 2018 by Martin Edwards.

And last, but not least, if you wonder which book I’ll be reading first in 2020, I imagine you already know if you have read my latest posts, it can be no other but John Dickson Carr’s Hag’s Nook, 1933.

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Hag’s Nook by John Dickson Carr, Harper & Brothers (USA), 1933)

Without further ado, below you may find the list of books I read on 2019.

  1. Cat Among the Pigeons, 1959 (Hercule Poirot #28) by Agatha Christie (B)
  2. Maigret Enjoys Himself, 1957 (Inspector Maigret #50) by Georges Simenon (tr. David Watson) (A+)
  3. A Maigret Christmas and other stories by Georges Simenon (tr. David Coward) (A)
  4. Maigret’s Patience, 1965 (Inspector Maigret #64) by Georges Simenon (tr. David Watson) (A+)
  5. Poirot’s Early Cases, 1974 (Hercule Poirot s.s. collection) by Agatha Christie (B)
  6. Murder in the Mews, 1937 (Hercule Poirot s.s. collection) by Agatha Christie (B)
  7. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, 1960 (A Hercule Poirot Story) by Agatha Christie (B)
  8. The Second Gong, 1932 (A Hercule Poirot Story) by Agatha Christie (B)
  9. Poirot and the Regatta Mystery, 1936 (A Hercule Poirot Story) by Agatha Christie (C)
  10. Yellow Iris, 1937 (A Hercule Poirot Story) by Agatha Christie (B)
  11. Poirot Investigates, 1924 (Hercule Poirot s.s. collection) by Agatha Christie (B)
  12. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées, 1960 (Hercule Poirot s.s.) by Agatha Christie (B)
  13. Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, 1991 (Agatha Christie s.s. Collection) (D)
  14. Poirot Investigates, 1924 (Hercule Poirot s.s. collection) by Agatha Christie (B)
  15. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées, 1960 (Hercule Poirot s.s.) by Agatha Christie (B)
  16. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making – Includes Two Unpublished Poirot Stories (2009) by John Curran Since it is not a work of fiction, I will not rate it but I strongly recommend it.
  17. The Labours of Hercules, 1947 (Hercule Poirot s.s.) by Agatha Christie (B)
  18. The Capture of Cerberus & The Incident of the Dog’s Ball (Hercule Poirot s.s.) by Agatha Christie (audiobook) (B)
  19. Artists in Crime, 1938 (Inspector Alleyn #6) by Ngaio Marsh (A+)
  20. The Crime at the ‘Noah’s Ark’, 1931 by Molly Thynne (B)
  21. El clavo (1853) de Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
  22. La berlina de Prim (2012) de Ian Gibson (A)
  23. La muerte y la brújula (1942) de Jorge Luis Borges (A+)
  24. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction (2003) Edited by Martin Priestman
  25. The Wrong Shape, 1911 (s.s.) by Gilbert K. Chesterton (A)
  26. Maigret Hesitates, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #67) by Georges Simenon (tr. Howard Curtis) (A+)
  27. Big Sister, 2016 (Varg Veum # 19) by Gunnar Staalesen (tr. Don Bartlett) (A+)
  28. Maigret’s Pickpocket, 1967 (Inspector Maigret #66) by Georges Simenon (tr. Siân Reynolds) (B)
  29. Game of Mirrors (Inspector Montalbano #18 ) by Andrea Camilleri (tr. Stephen Sartarelli) (A)
  30. El complot mongol, 1969 de Rafael Bernal (A+)
  31. Maigret in Vichy, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #68) by Georges Simenon (tr. Ros Schwartz) (B)
  32. The Clocks, 1963 (Hercule Poirot #29) by Agatha Christie (B)
  33. Tenant for Death, 1937 (Inspector Mallet #1) by Cyril Hare (A)
  34. Smallbone Deceased, 1950 by Michael Gilbert (A)
  35. Trial and Error, 1937 by Anthony Berkeley (A)
  36. The Moving Toyshop, 1946 (Gervase Fen Mystery #3) by Edmund Crispin (A)
  37. The Overnight Kidnapper, 2014 (An Inspector Montalbano Mystery Book 23) by Andrea Camilleri (trans: Stephen Sartarelli) (A)
  38. Dark Sacred Night, 2018 (Ballard Series #2 and Harry Bosh Series #21) by Michael Connelly (A+)
  39. A Pinch of Snuff, 1978 (Dalziel & Pascoe #5) by Reginald Hill (B)
  40. Verdict of Twelve, 1940 by Raymond Postgate (A)
  41. Third Girl, 1966 (Hercule Poirot #30) by Agatha Christie (C)
  42. Cold Hearts, 2013 (Varg Veum #16) by Gunnar Staalesen (tr. Don Bartlett) (A+)
  43. The Perfect Murder Case, 1929 (Ludovic Travers #2) by Christopher Bush (A)
  44. ”El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan”, 1941 de Jorge Luis Borges (A+)
  45. “Hombre de la esquina rosada” un cuento de 1935 de Jorge Luis Borges (A+)
  46. “Historia de Rosendo Juárez” un cuento de 1970 de Jorge Luis Borges (A+)
  47. “Abenjacán el Bojarí, muerto en su laberinto” un cuento de 1951 de Jorge Luis Borges (A+)
  48. The Murders In The Rue Morgue And Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe (A+)
  49. ”The Oblong Box” (1844), a short story by Edgar Allan Poe (A+)
  50. Tragedy at Law, 1942 (Francis Pettigrew #1 & Inspector Mallet #4) by Cyril Hare (A)
  51. “Arson Plus” (1923) a short story by Dashiell Hammett
  52. The Case of the Crumpled Knave (1939) by Anthony Boucher (B)
  53. Green for Danger, 1944 (Inspector Cockrill #2) by Christianna Brand (A+)
  54. Murder in the Maze, 1927 (Sir Clinton Driffield Mystery book #1) by J. J. Connington (A)
  55. Hallowe’en Party, 1969 (Hercule Poirot #31) by Agatha Christie (A)
  56. Inspector French’s Greatest Case, 1924 (Inspector French #1) by Freeman Wills Crofts (B)
  57. Bats in the Belfry, 1937 (Robert MacDonald #13) by E. R. C. Lorac (B)
  58. The Cask, 1920 by Freeman Wills Crofts (B)
  59. The Moai Island Puzzle, 1989 by Alice Arisugawa (Trans. Ho-Ling Wong) (A)
  60. Rintarō Norizuki “The Lure of the Green Door” s.s. 1991 (Trans. Ho-Ling Wong)
  61. Sōji Shimada “The Locked House of Pythagoras” s.s. 1999 (Trans. Yuko Shimada and John Pugmire)
  62. Edogawa Rampo “The Stalker in the Attic” s.s. 1925 (Trans: Seth Jacobowitz)
  63. El clan Inugami (1951) de Seishi Yokomizo (Tra. Olga Marín Sierra) (A+)
  64. The Seventh Hypothesis (Dr Twist #6), 1991 by Paul Halter (trans. John Pugmire) (A+)
  65. Clouds of Witness, 1926 (Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery # 2) by Dorothy L. Sayers (C)
  66. The Perfect Crime: The Big Bow Mystery (1891) by Israel Zangwill (A)
  67. Elephants Can Remember, 1972 (Hercule Poirot #32) by Agatha Christie (D)
  68. Maigret’s Childhood Friend, 1968 (Inspector Maigret #69) by Georges Simenon (tr. Shaun Whiteside) (A+)
  69. “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (1892) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (A)
  70. Murder in the Mill-Race: A Devon Mystery,1952 (Robert MacDonald # 37) by E.C.R. Lorac (A)
  71. The Mystery Of The Peacock’s Eye (1928) by Brian Flynn (A)
  72. Curtain. Poirot Last Case, 1975 (Hercule Poirot #33) by Agatha Christie (A+)

My Ten Favourite Poirot Novels

I can’t even recall now when I decided to read all Agatha Christie’s books featuring Hercule Poirot, but by the end of last year I managed to finished my challenge. Now, if you are wondering which one are my ten favourite  novels –in publication order, here you go:

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was first published in June 1926 in the United Kingdom by William Collins, Sons and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company on 19 June 1926. The third novel to feature Hercule Poirot as the lead detective. The story is narrated by Dr Sheppard the doctor at King’s Abbot who plays Captain Hastings role as Poirot’s assistant. Hastings is now living in Argentina with his wife. The book ends with a then-unprecedented plot twist. My rating A+

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Murder on the Orient Express was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 1 January 1934. In the United States, it was published on 28 February 1934, under the title of Murder in the Calais Coach, by Dodd, Mead and Company.  One of the best Poirot’s mysteries, superbly written and with excellent characterization. A highly entertaining read. My rating A+

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The A.B.C. Murders was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 6 January 1936. The US edition was published by Dodd, Mead and Company on 14 February of the same year. The  This case is going to be without doubt one of Poirot’s biggest challenges, as he himself recognises. My rating A+

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Death on the Nile was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 1 November 1937 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company the following year. Death on the Nile is in all likelihood one of the best and most famous Agatha Christie novels, owing in a great extent to an excellent film adaptation. In my view the story is perfectly constructed and the denouement is extremely satisfactory on all counts. I have particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the plot and its sense of time and place. Certainly a masterpiece and a highly satisfactory read. My rating A+

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Appointment With Death was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 2 May 1938 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed’ is perhaps one of Christie’s best opening lines, if not the best. I am rather inclined to believe that Appointment with Death may rank among Christie’s best novels for the same reasons than those outlined by E.R. Punshon in his review of 27 May 1938, mainly the ingenuity of plot and construction, the unexpectedness of dénouement, subtlety of characterisation, and a fascinating environment. My rating A+

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Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 19 December 1938 (although the first edition is copyright dated 1939). It was published in US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1939 under the title of Murder for Christmas. A paperback edition in the US by Avon books in 1947 changed the title again to A Holiday for Murder. A fairly standard mystery novel by Agatha Christie that, for reasons I fail to understand, is rarely included among her very best despite being, in my view, an excellent example of a locked room mystery, or rather an impossible crime as I like to call them. My rating A+

709

Five Little Pigs was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in May 1942 under the title of Murder in Retrospect and in UK by the Collins Crime Club in January 1943 although some sources state that publication occurred in November 1942. Even despite a minor flaw as the one suggested by The Puzzle Doctor in his review at In Search of a Classic Mystery Novel. Frankly I don’t see the reason to explain that particular detail after the time elapsed. In any case I fully agree with Martin Edwards when he wrote that ‘Five Little Pigs is an impressive book, with more effective characterisation than in much of her {Agatha Christie] work.’ I will certainly have to review my preliminary list of Christie’s best Poirot novels to find a place for this book in particular. My rating A+

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The Hollow was first published in the United States by Dodd, Mead & co. in 1946 and in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club in November of the same year. A paperback edition in the US by Dell Books in 1954 changed the title to Murder after Hours. The Hollow is a rather peculiar Hercule Poirot mystery. It was written after a lapse of more than four years since his previous appearance in Five Little Pigs and, in this instalment, Poirot’s character doesn’t show up until well into the novel. In fact it does seem that he only plays a secondary role in the plot. Moreover it is widely accepted that Christie, who often admitted to have gotten tired of her character, particularly disliked his presence in this book, and she excluded him completely in a subsequent theatrical adaptation of the story. But anyway I enjoyed reading this book mainly due to the in-depth psychology of its characters and a well constructed plot. My rating A+

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After the Funeral was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in March 1953 under the title of Funerals are Fatal and in UK by the Collins Crime Club on 18 May of the same year under Christie’s original title. A 1963 UK paperback issued by Fontana Books changed the title to Murder at the Gallop to tie in with the film version. The story, narrated at a nice pace, turns out being highly entertaining, with characters properly drawn and a rather unexpected denouement. The story has a perfect structure and that, as usual, Agatha Christie has the talent to misdirect her readers’ attention, with red herrings, while, at the same time, playing fair by providing all the necessary information to solve the case. It’s also worth mentioning the story gathers the social an economic changes that were ongoing in England in the post-war period. My rating: A+

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Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case was first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in September 1975 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year. A golden brooch to a magnificent series. At the end of the Kindle version there is an interesting essay by Sir Charles Osborne in which he discusses the decision taken to finally publish the novel, and the impact that it had on the Christie reading public. My rating: A+