November 2021 Wrap Up


For reasons irrelevant in this context, I only finished reading three books last month, but there are more to come, stay tuned.

The Body in the Silo, 1933 (Miles Bredon #3) by Ronald Knox

Sunset Over Soho, 1943 (Mrs Bradley #16) by Gladys Mithchell

Unravelled Knots: The Teahouse Detective (s. s.), 1925 by Baroness Orczy

OT: Casa de Campo Park


Covering 1535,52 hectares, this wonderful natural space to the west of the city is Madrid’s largest public park. Its history dates back to the mid-16th century when King Philip II decided to move his court to Madrid. He created an estate that extended from the Royal Palace to El Pardo hunting ground, acquiring farms and fields in the area. Used exclusive by the royal family for centuries, in the 1930s it was finally opened to the public.

King Ferdinand VI declared it a Royal Forest, and King Charles III chose to devote some of it to agricultural use and livestock farming. But with the arrival of the Second Spanish Republic, the new government ceded ownership of the property to Madrid City Council on 1 May 1931, and it has been public property ever since. During the Civil War it suffered damage like many other sites in the city, but it also saw the construction of military structures that are still visible today.

Casa de Campo, which in Spanish means “country house”, may be an urban park but you’ll be forgiven for thinking you are in a forest. In it you’ll find a variety of flora and fauna as well as a great range of attractions: from the Parque de Atracciones amusement park, the recently renovated lake which is lined with restaurants and bars and the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium to the Cable Car (which connects Casa de Campo and Oeste Park, on the other side of the River Manzanares), conference centres, the Madrid Arena Multipurpose venue, and Venta del Batán (the place where bulls are traditionally held during the days before the bullfights at Las Ventas Bullring).

The park is very popular with sports enthusiasts, who flock to it at the weekends to run, cycle, play football or tennis or go for a swim – it’s outdoor public pool is one of Madrileños’ favourites spots in summer. The park also hosts athletics competitions, like the annual triathlon. (Source: Madrid Official tourism website)

See my previous posts here and here.

OT: Giorgio Morandi. Infinite Resonance

giorgio_morandi_-_self_portrait_1924_pinacoteca_brera_milanFrom 24 September to 9 January, the Recoletos Hall at the Mapfre Foundation is organising a retrospective of the work of the Italian painter, Giorgio Morandi, one of the most significant artists in the history of 20th century art, along with an exhibition of work by modern artists who knew how to interpret his work.

Morandi. Infinite Resonance is a retrospective exhibition of Giorgio Morandi’s work (Bologna, 1890-1964), one of the most significant and unclassifiable artists in the history of twentieth century art. The Italian painter barely travelled outside Italy and spent almost his entire life in his home and studio on Via Fondazza on Bologna. Here he engaged in creating work in which everyday objects, flowers and landscapes became the protagonists, with the intention of producing, as noted by Ardengo Soffici, “a harmonious composition of colours, shapes and volumes that exclusively obeyed the rules of unity, like the beauty of consensus.”

The exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Morandi’s output in seven sections that address all the themes the artist loved, primarily still lifes, landscapes, and vases of flowers. The earlier part of the exhibition features the paintings Self-Portrait and Bathers, two of the few examples of human representation in his work. In addition, throughout the exhibition visitors will find a selection of works by other contemporary artists who managed to establish a dialogue with the language of the Italian artist in different media (mainly photography, painting, sculpture and ceramics). Notable among these artists are Tony Cragg, Tacita Dean, Joel Meyerowitz, Luigi Ontani, Rachel Whiteread, Edmund de Waal, Alfredo Alcaín and Gerardo Rueda, to name but a few.

Exhibition organized by Fundación MAPFRE and Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera.(Source and additional information at Fundación Mapfre)

Image Credits: Self Portrait is an oil on canvas painting created by Giorgio Morandi in 1924. It lives at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Italy. The image is in the public domain.

My Book Notes: Unravelled Knots: The Teahouse Detective (s. s.), 1925 by Baroness Orczy

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Pushkin Press, 2019. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: ‎ 1158 KB. Print Length: 273 pages. ASIN: B07YP23TD4. ISBN: 978-1-78227-589-3. Unravelled Knots contains thirteen short stories about the Teahouse Detective, Orzy’s armchair detective who solves crimes for his own entertainment. These stories were first collected in book form and published as Unravelled Knots by T. Hutchinson & Co in 1925.

Another classic collection of mysteries from the Golden Age of British crime writing, by the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel

getimage-183-295x452Description: It has been twenty years since Polly Burton last saw the Teahouse Detective, but one foggy afternoon she stumbles into a Fleet Street café and chances upon the cantankerous sleuth again. The years have not softened his manner, nor dulled his appetite for unravelling the most tortuous of conspiracies, shedding light on mysteries that have confounded the finest minds of the police.

How did Prince Orsoff disappear from his railway carriage in-between stations? How could the Ingres masterpiece be seen in two places at once? And what is the truth behind the story of the blood-stained tunic that exonerated its owner?

From the comfort of his seat by the fire, the Teahouse Detective sets his brilliant mind to work once more.

My Take: Unravelled Knots is the third and last collection of thirteen short stories featuring Baroness Orczy’s Teahouse Detective, following those in The Old Man in the Corner (1908) and in The Case of Miss Elliott (1905). Seven of these stories originally appeared in the London Magazine (1923 – 1924) and five in Hutchinson’s Magazine (1924 – 1925). They were collected in book form in 1925, published as Unravelled Knots by T. Hutchinson & Co.

As we read in the first of the stories, twenty years have passed since Polly Burton saw the Man in the Corner for the last time. By chance, one day, she walks into the Fleet Street teashop again and sees him sitting by the fire, fidgeting with his piece of string. In this manner they renew their former talks. The stories in Unravelled Knots are: “The Mystery of the Khaki Tunic”; “The Mystery of the Ingres Masterpiece”; “The Mystery of the Pearl Necklace”; “The Mystery of the Russian Prince”; “The Mysterious Tragedy in Bishop’s Road”; “The Mystery of the Dog’s Tooth Cliff”; “The Tytherton Case”; “The Mystery of Brudenell Court”; “The Mystery of the White Carnation”; “The Mystery of the Montmartre Hat”; “The Miser of Maida Vale”; “The Fulton Gardens Mystery”; and “A Moorland Tragedy”.

I’m not going to expand more on these stories. Suffice is to say that they follow a similar pattern, but unlike the previous tales, I found them pretty dull and lacking the freshness and novelty that were present in the former ones. I was able to finish reading the book, but actually none of the stories interested me much.

Unravelled Knots has been reviewed, among others, by Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, and Rekha Rao at The Book Decoder.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. T. Hutchinson & Co, UK, 1925)

About the Author: Baroness Orczy (1865 – 1947) was a Hungarian-born British author, best known for the Scarlet Pimpernel novels. Her Teahouse Detective, who features in Unravelled Knots, was one of the first fictional sleuths created in response to the Sherlock Holmes stories’ huge success. Initially serialised in magazines, the stories in theses collections were first published in book form in 1905 and have since been adapted for radio, television and film. All three collections of Teahouse Detective mysteries are available from Pushkin Vertigo: The Old Man in the Corner (1908), The Case of Miss Elliot (1905) and Unravelled Knots. Besides I’ve read “The Glasgow Mystery” (1902), the 13th short story not included in the 1908 collection ​The Old Man In The Corner.

Other detective stories by Baroness Orczy: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (1910); The Man in Grey (1918); Castles in the Air (1921); and Skin O’ My Tooth (1928).

Pushkin Press publicity page

Unravelled Knots LibriVox

Baroness Orczy at gadetection

Baroness Orczy by Mike Grost

Baroness Orczy (1865-1947) – Emma Magdalena Rosalia Maria Josefa Barbara Orczy

The Golden Age: Baroness Orczy (1865-1947)  by Carol Westron

Unravelled Knots, de la baronesa Orczy

Otra colección clásica de misterios de la Edad de Oro de la escritura policiaca británica, por la autora de The Scarlet Pimpernel

Descripción: Han pasado veinte años desde la última vez que Polly Burton vio al detective de la casa de té, pero una tarde de niebla tropieza con un café de Fleet Street y se encuentra de nuevo con el viejo cascarrabias. Los años no han suavizado sus modales, ni han apagado su apetito por desentrañar la más tortuosa de las conspiraciones, arrojando luz sobre misterios que han confundido a las mejores mentes de la policía.

¿Cómo desapareció el príncipe Orsoff de su vagón de tren entre estaciones? ¿Cómo puede verse la obra maestra de Ingres en dos lugares a la vez ¿Y cuál es la verdad detrás de la historia de la túnica manchada de sangre que exoneró a su dueño?

Desde la comodidad de su asiento junto al fuego, el detective de la casa de té pone su brillante mente a trabajar una vez mas.

Mi opinión: Unravelled Knots es la tercera y última colección de trece cuentos protagonizados por el detective de la casa de té de la baronesa Orczy, que sigue a los de The Old Man in the Corner (1908) y The Case of Miss Elliott (1905). Siete de estos relatos aparecieron originalmente en el London Magazine (1923 – 1924) y cinco en el Hutchinson’s Magazine (1924 – 1925). Fueron recopilados en forma de libro en 1925, publicados como Unravelled Knots por T. Hutchinson & Co.

Como podemos leer en el primero de los relatos, han pasado veinte años desde que Polly Burton vio al Hombre del Rincón por última vez. Por casualidad, un día, vuelve a entrar en la casa de té de Fleet Street y lo ve sentado junto al fuego, jugueteando con su trozo de cuerda. De esta manera renuevan sus conversaciones anteriores. Las historias de Unravelled Knots son: “The Mystery of the Khaki Tunic”; “The Mystery of the Ingres Masterpiece”; “The Mystery of the Pearl Necklace”; “The Mystery of the Russian Prince”; “The Mysterious Tragedy in Bishop’s Road”; “The Mystery of the Dog’s Tooth Cliff”; “The Tytherton Case”; “The Mystery of Brudenell Court”; “The Mystery of the White Carnation”; “The Mystery of the Montmartre Hat”; “The Miser of Maida Vale”; “The Fulton Gardens Mystery”; y “A Moorland Tragedy”.

No voy a ampliar más estos relatos. Basta decir que siguen un patrón similar, pero a diferencia de los cuentos anteriores, los encontré bastante aburridos y carentes de la frescura y novedad que estaban presentes en los anteriores. Pude terminar de leer el libro, pero en realidad ninguna de las historias me interesó mucho.

Sobre el autor: La baronesa Orczy (1865 – 1947) fue una autora británica nacida en Hungría, más conocida por sus novelas sobre La Pimpinela Escarlata. Su detective de la casa de té que aparece en Unraveled Knots, fue uno de los primeros detectives de ficción creados en respuesta al gran éxito de las historias de Sherlock Holmes. Inicialmente serializadas en revistas, los relatos de estas colecciones se publicaron por primera vez en forma de libro en 1905 y desde entonces se han adaptado para la radio, la televisión y el cine. Las tres colecciones de misterio del detective de la casa de té están disponibles por Pushkin Vertigo: The The Old Man in the Corner (1908), The Case of Miss Elliot (1905) y Unraveled Knots (1925). Además, he leído “The Glasgow Mystery” (1902), el decimotercer relato no incluido en la colección de 1908 The Old Man In The Corner.

Otros relatos policiacos de la baronesa Orzy: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (1910); The Man in Grey [El hombre gris](1918); Castles in the Air [Castillos en el aire] (1921); y Skin O’ My Tooth (1928).

My Book Notes: Sunset Over Soho, 1943 (Mrs Bradley #16) by Gladys Mitchell

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Thomas & Mercer, 2013. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1737 KB. Print Length: 192 pages. ASIN: B00H4K5CCU. eISBN: 978-1-4778-6885-0. First published in Great Britain by Michael Joseph Ltd. London in 1943.

21839108Book Summary: It’s the height of the Second World War, and Mrs. Bradley is working overtime as a doctor at a rest shelter for air raid casualties and displaced persons. With all the present mortality around them, the staff hardly needs another dead body, yet they find one in the form of a two-year old corpse, packed into a makeshift coffin and clothed in a now tattered dressing gown. The dead man’s identity and appearance in the shelter are a mystery; the coffin/crate wasn’t noticed in the basement room on the previous day. Mrs. Bradley realizes that the story really begins in the days before the war, and confides her tale to Detective Inspector Pirberry.

David Harben, a young novelist and acquaintance of Mrs. Bradley, spends his summers writing and boating along England’s waterways. One dark night a tap at the porthole window reveals a visitor to David’s tub: a beautiful woman whose first words to David are “I’ve killed him.” The boat is moored on the river near some houses, and upon the woman’s request that David investigate, the writer enters the house and discovers the dead man on the floor. David returns to the boat, hours pass, and when they next visit the house, the body has disappeared. The mysterious woman then leaves David by taking his boat, and when David reclaims it down river, the woman is nowhere to be found. That’s when the attempts on David’s life begin.

While David ponders these events, two Dominican nuns and their collection of five orphaned boys enter his life. Mrs. Bradley takes this extended family into her home, but during another investigation of the dead man’s house, David disappears. The rivers and the sea recur throughout this story, and Mrs. Bradley collects such clues as a secretive sailing flag, a talkative parrot, a water-filled cellar, sinister Spaniards, and stories of naval heroics and alluring water-nymphs, clues which help her make sense of this tangled plot. (Summary taken from The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site, copyright 2021 by Jason Half, published with the express consent of the author).

My Take: I have little else to add to Jason Half’s excellent summary and I thank him for his deference. From my side it would have been almost impossible to make a brief description of the plot being a novel with a non-linear structure. I’m not quite sure it could be considered a detective story, strictly speaking, even though there’s a crime and some kind of investigation around it. In any case, I enjoyed its reading, despite its difficulties. I would personally not recommend it to those who, for the first time,  would like to get acquaintance with a Gladys Mitchell novel. I must admit that, at times, I found myself lost amidst so many adventures and vicissitudes, and that thanks to the fact that I read it in Kindle format, I was able to easily access the meaning of some words that I found somehow difficult to understand. All in all, although I won’t include Sunset Over Soho to be among Mitchell’s best works, it is in my view an experimental novel, modern, stylish and even bold regarding its conception and development. For that it’s worth reading but I don’t think it will suit everyone’s taste.

Sunset Over Soho has been reviewed, among others, by Jason Half at The Stone House, Bill Bibliomane at Books, Reading, and Me: a bibliomane blog, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books, and Neil at Reading 1900 – 1950.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC. Michael Joseph (UK) 1943)

About the Author: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell, known as Gladys Mitchell, was born in the village of Cowley, Oxford on 19 April 1901. She was educated at Rothschild School in Brentford, The Green School in Isleworth and at Goldsmiths and University Colleges in London. For many years Miss Mitchell taught History and English, swimming, and games. She retired from this work in 1950 but became so bored without the constant stimulus and irritation of teaching that she accepted a post at the Matthew Arnold School in Staines, where she taught English and history, wrote the annual school play, and coached hurdling  until her retirement in 1961 to Corfe Mullen in Dorset, where she lived until her death on 27 July 1983, aged 82. Her first crime novel featuring Mrs Bradley was published in 1929, and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the detective heroine of a further sixty six crime novels. She was a member of the Detection Club, the P.E.N., the Middlesex Education Society, and the British Olympic Association. Her father’s family are Scots, and a Scottish influence has appeared in some of her books. She also wrote a number of children’s books and several books under the pseudonyms Malcolm Torrie and Stephen Hockaby. She was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award in 1976.

“It is worth noting that Gladys Mitchell’s books published before 1950 are generally more varied and arguably more successful than her later books. Beginning in the 1950s, narrative style and plotlines level out, producing mysteries that are readable but often not noteworthy. There are some successful later books, but most of the author’s very best can be found in the first two decades of her publishing career.” (Jason Half)

Selected bibliography: Speedy Death (1929), The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929), The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Dead Men’s Morris (1936), Come Away, Death (1937), St Peter’s Finger (1938), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), Laurels Are Poison (1942), Sunset Over Soho (1943), The Rising of the Moon (1945), Death and the Maiden (1947), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), Groaning Spinney (1950), The Echoing Strangers (1952), The Twenty-Third Man (1957), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), and The Greenstone Griffins (1983).

The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site

Gladys Mitchell

Artistic Difference: What makes GLADYS MITCHELL special?

Mary Jean DeMarr on Gladys Mitchell (1989)

Gladys Mitchell at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Gladys Mitchell Obituary

Binge-reading Gladys Mitchell: game over

Sunset Over Soho, de Gladys Mitchell

Resumen del libro: Estamos en el apogeo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y la Sra. Bradley trabaja horas extras como médico en un refugio que sirve de descanso a las víctimas de los ataques aéreos y a personas desplazadas. Con toda la mortalidad presente a su alrededor, el personal apenas necesita otro fallecido, sin embargo, encuentran uno en forma de cadáver de hace dos años, empaquetado en un ataúd improvisado y vestido con una bata ahora andrajosa. La identidad y la forma de aparecer en el refugio son un misterio; el ataúd o caja no estaba en el sótano el día anterior. La Sra. Bradley se da cuenta de que la historia realmente comienza en los días previos a la guerra y confía su historia al inspector detective Pirberry.

David Harben, un joven novelista, conocido de la señora Bradley, pasa los veranos escribiendo y navegando por las vias navegables de Inglaterra. Una noche oscura, un golpe en el cristal del ojo de buey delata la presencia de un visitante en la chalana de David: una mujer hermosa cuyas primeras palabras a David son “Lo he matado”. El bote está amarrado en el río cerca de algunas casas y, a petición de la mujer de que David investigue, el escritor entra en la casa y descubre al hombre muerto en el suelo. David regresa al bote, pasan las horas y cuando regresa a la casa, el cadaver ha desaparecido. La misteriosa mujer luego deja a David llevándose su bote, y cuando David lo recupera río abajo, la mujer ha desaparecido. En este punto se inician los atentados contra la vida de David.

Mientras David reflexiona sobre estos hechos, dos monjas dominicas y su colección de cinco niños huérfanos entran en su vida. La Sra. Bradley acoge a esta extensa familia en su casa, pero durante otra inspección en la casa del difunto, David desaparece. Los ríos y el mar se repiten a lo largo de esta historia, y la Sra. Bradley recopila pistas como una bandera de navegación secreta, un loro parlanchín, un sótano lleno de agua, españoles siniestros e historias de heroísmos navales y ninfas seductoras, pistas que le ayudan a ella a entender esta trama enmarañada. (Resumen tomado de The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site, copyright 2021 de Jason Half, publicado con el consentimiento expreso del autor).

Mi opinión: Tengo poco más que agregar al excelente resumen de Jason Half y le agradezco su deferencia. Por mi parte hubiera sido casi imposible hacer una breve descripción de la trama al tratarse de una novela con una estructura no lineal. No estoy muy seguro de que pueda considerarse una historia de detectives, estrictamente hablando, a pesar de que hay un crimen y algún tipo de investigación en torno a él. En cualquier caso, disfruté de su lectura, a pesar de sus dificultades. Personalmente, no lo recomendaría a quienes, por primera vez, quisieran familiarizarse con una novela de Gladys Mitchell. Debo admitir que, por momentos, me encontré perdido en medio de tantas aventuras y vicisitudes, y que gracias a que lo leí en formato Kindle pude acceder fácilmente al significado de algunas palabras que de alguna manera encontré difíciles de entender. Con todo, aunque no incluiré Sunset Over Soho entre las mejores obras de Mitchell, en mi opinión es una novela experimental, moderna, elegante y hasta atrevida en cuanto a su concepción y desarrollo. Por eso vale la pena leerla pero no creo que sea para todos los gustos.

Acerca del autor: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell, conocida como Gladys Mitchell, nació en el pueblo de Cowley, Oxford el 19 de abril de 1901. Se educó en la escuela Rothschild de Brentford, The Green School en Isleworth y en el Goldsmiths y el University Colleges de Londres. Durante muchos años, la señorita Mitchell enseñó historia e inglés, natación y juegos. Se retiró de este trabajo en 1950, pero se aburrió tanto sin el estímulo constante y la irritación de la enseñanza que aceptó un puesto en la Escuela Matthew Arnold en Staines, donde enseñó inglés e historia, escribió la obra de teatro anual de la escuela y fue entrenadora de carreras de vallas hasta su jubilación definitiva en 1961 en Corfe Mullen, Dorset, donde vivió hasta su muerte el 27 de julio de 1983, a los 82 años. Su primera novela policíaca protagonizada por la señora Bradley se publicó en 1929 y presentó a los lectores a Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, la heroína detective de otra sesenta y seis novelas policiacas. Fue miembro del Detection Club, del P.E.N., de la Sociedad de Educación de Middlesex y de la Asociación Olímpica Británica. La familia de su padre era escocesa y en algunos de sus libros aparece su influencia escocesa. También escribió un cierto número de cuentos para niños y varios libros con los seudónimos de Malcolm Torrie y Stephen Hockaby. Recibió el premio Silver Dagger de la Crime Writers ‘Association en 1976.

“Vale la pena destacar que los libros de Gladys Mitchell publicados antes de 1950 son generalmente más variados y posiblemente de más éxito que sus libros posteriores. A partir de la década de 1950, el estilo narrativo y las tramas se nivelan, produciendo misterios que son interesantes pero a menudo no son dignos de mención. Tiene algunos libros posteriores de éxito, pero la mayoría de los mejores de esta autora se encuentran en las dos primeras décadas de su  trayectoria profesional”. (Jason Half)

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