Monday 3 January 2011

New Year tomes

Well I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year's, whatever you got up to. Myself, I watched 2011 come in on the TV, wondering whether I was alone in thinking that the annual fireworks display in front of the London Eye has gone from impressive to overwhelming - there are only so many times the screen can go bright white before you start thinking "all right, that's enough now". After 10 minutes and no sign of it letting up I switched off, sang along to the version of Auld Lang Syne on my iPod then listened to Tommy Kinsman & His Orchestra playing the Gay Gordons (it was a decades-old tradition in our family to dance to it on New Year's Eve - somehow I've wound up with the record but not enough room and no-one to dance with!).

Since money is tight at the moment I've generally eschewed the sales - only popping out on Thursday to take advantage of them in the purchase of a new electric razor to replace my old one that just happened to pack up on Christmas Eve. I also bought two pairs of Oxford shoes - one brown pair and one black - in the Clarks sale, only to find on getting them home that my blasted feet had hoodwinked me. I can take any size between a 9 and a 10 (my shoes consist of one pair of 9s, one 9½ and one 10!) depending on the style of the shoe. I'd picked up Nines because that's what I was wearing at the time and I thought they were the same but when I arrived home and compared them they were actually identical in style to my Tens and consequently just a smidgen too tight (although they felt OK in the shop - proof that trying shoes on one at a time in a retail environment is not conducive to good decision-making!). So there you have it ladies - we chaps have trouble with our shoes sometimes too!

I took them back the next day and ended up getting a refund as they'd sold out of 10s (blast it), so to quell my disappointment I gave into temptation and went into my local branch of The Works bookshop. In the past I've snapped up some real bargains in there and although I didn't need (or have the space for!) any more books I didn't think it would hurt to have a look. I ended up coming out £10 lighter and 6 books heavier! They were doing 3 for £5 on end-of-stock fiction paperbacks and, as always seems to be the way, I found five that appealed to me. Eventually I found a sixth to make up the offer, and here they are:

For some reason despite being a fan of period crime fiction I've always seemed to restrict myself to Agatha Christie's Poirot series, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books and collections of lurid American pulp fiction from the '20s and '30s, but to my shame I have never read any of Dorothy L. Sayers' wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries (I have seen a few episodes of both the brilliant 1970s series, starring the late Ian Carmichael, and the later '80s adaptation with Edward Petherbridge. I must try and watch some more, preferably the ones with Carmichael). I can put that to rights now as there were copies of two stories - Clouds Of Witness and Whose Body?

Georgette Heyer is another contemporary of Christie and Sayers who I have just recently come across - I picked up a copy of one of her crime novels, Why Shoot a Butler?, in a charity shop a few months ago. It's been a very atmospheric story with a great period feel, so I expect more of the same from Footsteps in the Dark.

It was then that I caught sight of two more books, which I'd never heard of before but which looked intriguing. They're part of The Daisy Dalrymple Series of mysteries by the modern author Carola Dunn and feature the characters of 1920s writer Daisy Dalrymple and her fiance police inspector Alec Fletcher. From what little I've seen, they would appear to be rather in the Tommy & Tuppence mold, I think. Despite being by a current author the books are written in a jolly Twenties style, with lots of period charm, settings, the use of 1920s slang etc. I was strangely both attracted and put off by the covers; a nagging doubt assailed me that - female author, female lead character, Twenties-style artwork on the cover but perhaps slightly feminine - I began to wonder if this was period "chick-lit". I needn't have worried though; the blurb on the back reassured me and it passed my interesting read test - if the first paragraph/page grabs me and makes me want to keep on reading, it's usually a winner.

Now casting about for a sixth book I came across another series - the Jim Stringer - Steam Detective set of six stories. With things starting to spiral out of control and 3 for £5 already now 6 for £10 and threatening to become 9 for £15 or worse I weighed up which of the series sounded the best and settled on The Lost Luggage Porter. Set in 1906, railway detective Jim Stringer investigates two murders on a York-bound train.

So another pile of books is added to my collection and jolly good they sound too. Considering their cover values combined came to over £45 I think a tenner turned out to be an absolute bargain! It'll be a treat to read some new authors for a change; my reading list has been far too narrow of late. Now it's just a matter of finding some space in the bookcase...


  1. Oh, I'm so envious of your tomes!! great finds!

  2. I love that bookshop, I popped in there myself today however I resisted temptation. For a change. They often have old fashioned crime books, love it! x

  3. Have you tried Margery allinghams Albert Campion series? they are all quite different from each other, some crime some adventures ome downright spooky, all well written.

  4. Funnily enough Margery Allingham's Campion series is another set of mysteries that I have seen on TV (I actually have the Peter Davison adaptations on DVD) but have never had the opportunity to read in book form. I must rectify that as soon as I get the chance.

    That's also the case with the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe stories. Gosh, more books! I might have to prevail upon my local library so as to spare my bookshelves!

  5. Oooh, note to self must read Dorothy L Sayers and Georgette Heyer (to my shame, I always thought that the latter was like Barbara Cartland, but you're the third blogger I read that recommends her).

  6. I have the set of Georgette Heyer's mysteries under the bed in the 'to read' pile. Let us know what you think of the Daisy Dalrymple, I haven't read any myself but they have some in my book club and i was thinking about getting them (and adding them to the 'to read' pile under the bed!)

    I was also going to suggest Margery Allingham's Campion books. I also like Ngaio Marsh, have you read any of her Roderick Allyen books?

  7. Check you out with your book haul! I do love a good rummage around The Works - and you have pointed me in the right direction for some new reads (like my "to be rest" mountain is not hight enough as it is)
    Tough luck on the shoes - have you checked on line with Clarks? They will deliver to store free of charge :)

  8. Loo,
    Georgette Heyer also apparently wrote Regency-period romance stories (I won't be reading any of those, before you ask! ;-)), which is maybe where you got the Barbara Cartland idea from?

    Miss Magpie,
    I certainly will report back on the Daisy Dalrymple series, plus make a concerted effort to get hold of some Campion (and Alleyn) stories.

    I know, I'm a terrible bibliophile - my bookshelves are already 2 rows deep! Re: the shoes; the staff were very helpful - they checked the online stock while I was there, but alas! no size 10s anywhere! :-(

  9. Oh snap! I bought both the Dorothy.L.Sayer books and the Carola Dunn 'Dead in the water' from the 'Works' just before xmas (great minds and all that!) Have Just started on 'Dead in the Water' and so far so good!


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