Thank You!

I started writing this blog on 1 April 2009, then under the name The Game is Afoot, in blogger and mainly in Spanish. Since then many things have happened that are almost impossible to summarise. However, I would like to take advantage of this anniversary to thank those who read it, either regularly or sporadically, for their support. I hope to continue writing A Crime is Afoot for many more years, and I trust that my future book notes will add something to a mere enumeration or compilation of my readings.

All best

José Ignacio

What I Read in March 2022

65008f6e49ef3b216212c897c45bf40bFor reasons I will not mention in this context, my production this month has been reduced to a few titles, some of which I read the previous month.

Jumping Jenny, 1933 (Roger Sheringham Cases #9) by Anthony Berkeley

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, 1927 by Arthur Conan Doyle

Overture to Death, 1939 (Roderick Alleyn #8) by Ngaio Marsh

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933) by Vincent Starrett

The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories (s.s. collected 2020) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Hunt in the Dark, (s.s collected 2021) by Q. Patrick

What I Read in February 2022

65008f6e49ef3b216212c897c45bf40b

‘The Avenging Chance’, 1928 s.s. by Anthony Berkeley

The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Revisited and updated on 13/02/2022), 1929 (Roger Sheringham Cases #5) by Anthony Berkeley

Elusion Aforethought: The Life and Writing of Anthony Berkeley Cox (1996) by Malcolm J. Turnbull

The Wintringham Mystery: Cicely Disappears, 1927 by Anthony Berkeley

Overture to Death, 1939 (Roderick Alleyn #8) by Ngaio Marsh (my post will be ready soon)

Jumping Jenny, 1933 (Roger Sheringham Cases # 9) by Anthony Berkeley (my post will be ready soon)

Currently reading: The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories (s.s. collected 2020) by Freeman Wills Crofts

What I Read in January 2022

65008f6e49ef3b216212c897c45bf40b

The Forbidden House (1932) by Michel Herbert & Eugene Wyl (translated by John Pugmire)

The Cases of Lieutenant Timothy Trant (2019), by Q. Patrick (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler)

These Names Make Clues, 1937 (Robert MacDonald #12) by E. C. R. Lorac

Murder in the Basement, 1932 (Roger Sheringham Cases #8) by Anthony Berkeley

Unnatural Death, 1927 (Lord Peter Wimsey #3) by Dorothy L Sayers

The D’Arblay Mystery, 1926 (Dr Thorndyke Mysteries #13) by R. Austin Freeman (my post will be ready soon)

Overture to Death, 1939 (Roderick Alleyn #8) by Ngaio Marsh (my post will be ready soon)

Currently reading: The 9.50 Up Express and Other Stories (s.s. collected 2020) by Freeman Wills Crofts

The little world of Mayhem Parva

In his classic study of British detective fiction, Snobbery with Violence: English Crime Stories and Their Audience (1971), Colin Watson (1920 – 1983) coined the term Mayhem Parva. He actually subtitled chapter 13 in his book: “The little world of Mayhem Parva”. The question is what did he mean by Mayhem Parva?

Several online dictionaries have defined the term Mayhem Parva as: “The archetypical sleepy English village that is the setting for many works of detective fiction.” And they go on to say that “its earliest use is found in Colin Watson in 1971. From mayhem + classical Latin parva, feminine singular of parvus little, after English village names with this as second element (e.g. Ash Parva, Shropshire, Ashby Parva, Leicestershire, etc.)

More specifically, Colin Watson writes: “The setting for the crime stories by what we might call the Mayhem Parva school would be a cross between a village and commuters’ dormitory in the South of England, self-contained and largely self-sufficient. It would have a well-attended church, an inn with reasonable accommodation for itinerant detective-inspectors, a village institute, library and shop — including a chemist’s where weed killer and hair dye might conveniently be bought. The district would be rural, but not uncompromisingly so — there would be a good bus service for the keeping of suspicious appointments in the nearby town, for instance — but its general character would be sufficiently picturesque to chime with the English suburb dweller’s sadly uninformed hankering after retirement to `the country’.”

There is no doubt that the term had a derogatory tone in its inception, but I would like to think that now, that the term is widely established, it may have lost that pejorative sense it originally had, to become a purely descriptive term. Would you agree, or am I totally wrong?

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