Although it’s more than half way through the month of May (although you’d not be able to tell that by the weather we’ve been having in the North East!), I’m only now starting to settle into this month’s ‘classic British Crime Fiction’ theme.
Instead, I’ve been battling alongside Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, at the end of the Wars of the Roses in the 1470s and ’80s. Phillipa Gregory’s excellent The White Queen has absorbed me.
And the small matter of planning, preparing and producing my son’s London-themed 7th birthday party last week has gobbled up much potential reading time.
I now have time to look at my bookshelves again and indulge in the great pleasure of piling up the next books to read.
Following on from The White Queen, I naturally seguewayed into Josephine Tey’s ‘classic’ The Daughter of Time, reappraising the character of Richard III.
I love detective fiction, prefering the ‘cosy’ British sort rather than the rather overblown, somewhat sensationalist recent offerings from over the Atlantic. Despite being constructed around murder, these novelists don’t dwell on the more gory aspects of it. I like the puzzle aspect, although rarely deduce the murderer before the detective reveals it.
The detectives or sleuths are also appealing characters. All misfits, with unusual characteristics or an unexpected context, they hold the novel together; guiding us through the maze, introducing us to suspects and interrogating them within our earshot, uncovering the corpse (and their relationships), and then neatly wrapping up the puzzle by the end.
And they’re often short. (the novels not the detectives)
Perhaps this ‘genre’ is comparable to a good game of Cluedo which can be enjoyed over a few enjoyable, solitary hours.
And so, awaiting me is: an almost complete collection of Agatha Christies, a good stock of Patricia Wentworth, all of GK Chesterton (on Kindle), some Margery Allingham and Dorothy L Sayers, one Frances Iles. Of the contemporary reworkings I have a few Carola Dunns (Daisy Darymple adventures), Alan Hunters (George Gently) and Jaqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs).
I also succumbed to a few paperback offers which were too good to miss: a large selection of Gladys Mitchell, Josephine Tey and Edmund Crispin. I also have the complete Anna Katherine Greene on my Kindle (although I know she’s not British).
Anyone got any other suggestions or recommendations?
Just how much murder, sleuthing and ‘cosy’ detecting will I realistically be able to fit into the next fortnight? Charge your cup (of tea); off we go….