Past, present, and perhaps, future reading

What I Read This Past Week

When I left you last week, I planned to read Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert, which is part of the British Library Crime Classics series. I started it last Sunday and finished it on Wednesday.

At first, I thought Gilbert got too bogged down in legalese, but about 20 pages in, it picked up rather quickly…once a body of man was discovered stuffed in a deed box! From there, for the most part, it was rather enjoyable as a chief inspector and a member of the law firm try to discover who killed the man. I’ll admit I lost track at the end because of long work days, so I rated it four out of five stars on Goodreads, but it probably was closer to a 4.5 or even a five.

Here are some of my favorite passages:

“A friend in the enemy’s camp,” said the Assistant Commissioner. “It’s quite a good idea. Only for heaven’s sake don’t be like that mug in the detective story who confides all his best ideas to a friendly sort of character who turns out to be the murderer in Chapter Sixteen.”

Appropriately, the book had 16 chapters.

“Then, at the end of about seventy-five thousand words I shall collect you all into this room, and inaugurate a sort of verbal game of grandmother’s steps, creeping up behind each of the suspects in turn and saying Boo! to them in order to make them jump. At the end of which, when everybody is exhausted, including the reader, I shall produce a revolver, confess that I committed the crime, and shoot myself in front of you all.”

I’m not sure if there were 75,000 words, but it was a short novel so maybe…

Then there was this theme of describing how a crime is solved, which I thought was tied together nicely with another reference to it.

The other method is more laborious but just as certain. You weave a net. And you drag it across the pool, backwards and forwards. You won’t get everything at first, but if your mesh is fine enough and you drag deeply enough, everything must come up in the end.”

So the little wheels clicked and the spindles bobbed and curtsied, and the mesh was woven.

What I Plan To Read This Weekend

As for this weekend, my plan is to read yet another mystery, this time on this side of the Atlantic, with Trial by Fury, a John J. Malone mystery, by Craig Rice, pseudonym of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig. My friend John, a former neighbor, recommended the book.

Rice, who was described as “the Dorothy Parker of detective,” was the first mystery writer to be featured on the cover of Time, yet probably like John and me, you probably never heard of her. John recommended this book, the fifth in her Craig Malone mystery series based on a recommendation from the blog The Passing Tramp. While I normally try to read series in order, John assured me it was good as a standalone, plus the series of 14 books is about $120 on Amazon so I think I’m okay with buying just one and reading it out of series order.

What sold John on the series in part is the high-society couple Jake and Helene Justus who help Malone, a Chicago attorney, in the mysteries. John said the couple is comparable to Nick and Norah Charles in The Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett. Although I never have read the series (GASP), I do remember seeing one or two of the movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy when I was younger (no, not in the theater!). So I thought I’d give this one a try based on John’s recommendation. John rarely has steered me wrong in his recommendations. Last year, for example, he recommended The Uninvited by Dorothy Macaradle, which I enjoyed.

What I Might Read Soon

Also this past week, I picked up the series, The Murderbot Diaries series, by Martha Wells after seeing the entire series (so far) at the library where I work. I haven’t read science fiction in a few years, because while I want to like science fiction, I usually don’t. Blame years of growing up reading Isaac Asimov with most modern science fiction paling in comparison. However, I’m willing to give Wells a chance since I’ve heard a lot of praise for the series. My fingers are crossed.

Update 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2: I abandoned Trial by Fury because too many typos in the Kindle edition. I returned for a refund and instead read All Systems Red, which was excellent. I’m now on to the second one, Artificial Condition.

13 thoughts on “Past, present, and perhaps, future reading

  1. Yes, I imagine a body being stuffed into a deed box would accelerate the plot quite a bit! I am reading a Coben book right now, his latest, The Boy From the Woods. I have to tell you, it started off a little weird but it’s growing on me. Not really sure where the story is going yet.

    Today there seems to be a lot of work frenzy going on. A lot of back and forth communications about things that honestly, I don’t have much interest in yet have to pay attention to.


  2. I’m not much of a mystery reader but I love the cover of Smallbone Deceased so much I wish I could hang it on my wall. So cool.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the Murderbot Diaries! I’ve only read the first two. I’ve got the entire series, though, and I’m saving the rest for slumpy reading times.

    I just saw your mid-July post (I guess I must have missed that one). I’m glad your extended family is OK after their COVID experience. So far, we’ve only had one case in my extended family (sis-in-law in Denver) and it wasn’t spread amongst her close family members, thank goodness. A childhood friend’s mother just died of COVID, last week, though. Husband has now had 8 employees test positive but fortunately every single one of them is still working remotely. He’s been home for so long now that his car battery died! It’s weird but wonderful after 30+ years of constant travel.


  3. Too bad about all the typos in the book. I didn’t realize we could return books like that and get a refund, good to know!. Have a great week.


  4. I’ve seen Smallbone Deceased. I believe it was over at Books Please. Your review is lovely! I’m not into SF at all, but every once in a blue moon my husband will read a book and that’s his go-to.

    Hope you will have a wonderful week. Here’s my The Sunday Post


  5. Wonderful review of Smallbone Deceased. I want to read that book, and I can’t follow mysteries. I wonder what else is in that British Library Crime Classics series.

    My favorite sorts of reads are reads of books that no one has ever heard of. As soon as a book becomes a bestseller, something in the book dies for me. Though I’ve been surprised to find I love almost every classic I read, and many of those were bestsellers in their time and over time.

    I seem to read only one or two science fiction novels a year now. The last one I read was The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

    Any further thoughts from your wife on Breathe? There’s already quite a long waiting list for it at the library and the books haven’t even arrived there yet.


      1. I like it, it was fun. But I like SF in general…. If Martha Wells hits the spot, I would recommend Anne Leckie with her Imperial Radch trilogy afterwards… 🙂


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