Last Update 10/17/17

Annaís Book by Ruth Rendell, Onyx, 1993 

A diary from 1905 has a missing page that coincides with the time of an unsolved murder. Eighty years later, a descendant of the writer of that diary decides to solve the mystery, which will also reveal the truth about her auntís parentage. There is a conventional murder mystery mixed into this quite long story of an unusual family and the woman who dominated it. Once again I found the pace slow and some parts were tedious. Rendell was, I think, a frustrated mainstream novelist who grudgingly added crime elements to many of her novels so that her fans would not think she was going astray. 10/17/17

Date with Death by Elizabeth Linington, Popular Library, 1966

Another police procedural. This time the main case is the double murder of a young couple who seemed to have no real enemies. The police track down everyone with a potential grudge, but everyone has an alibi or is in some other fashion exonerated. The end was not entirely satisfactory, involving a sudden discovery and leap of logic. There is a subplot about a practical joker that is quite amusing however. 10/16/17

Death on Demand by Jim Kelly, Severn House, 2015 

This is a decent Shaw and Valentine murder mystery, but not up to the author's usual standards. An elderly woman in a nursing home is murdered on her hundredth birthday, which leads the two detectives to investigate other deaths of aged people. A disturbing pattern emerges. This story is intertwined with the potential danger of a clash between two groups of protestors in the area, and ultimately the two cases will be linked. The puzzle isnít all that interesting and I had a pretty good idea what was going on by midway through the book. 10/13/17

The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell, Crown, 1993 

Although I thought this was a bit too long, itís an interesting quasi-suspense novel about a young girl who has been hidden away by her murderous mother until she is seventeen. The mother is finally arrested after her fourth murder and the daughter runs off with a drifter named Sean. Sean genuinely likes the girl and eventually asks her to marry him. One might well expect that the twist at the end would be for the girl to kill Sean, but itís a much quieter finale. Nicely done characters and the plot is entertaining even though it holds few surprises. 10/12/17

Murder in the Tomb by Lucian Austin Osgood, Coachwhip, 2016 (originally published in 1937) 

This somewhat awkward locked room mystery was the only novel published by the author, apparently by a vanity press, although two more were announced. It involves an avaricious collector of antiquities who has essentially stolen three priceless artifacts, two of which were owned by murderous cultists who want their property back. There's also a man to whom he owes a great deal of money and other candidates when he is killed in the exhibit room he calls the tomb. The prose is so bad that there is no atmosphere at all, and the puzzle is only mildly interesting. 10/11/17

The Case of the Six Coffins by Robert J. Hogan, Altus, 2016 (originally published in 1935) 

Wu Fang was a pale imitation of Dr. Fu Manchu. In this opening volume, he plots to steal a new kind of poison gas that could easily destroy entire cities. He is opposed by a disgraced secret service man and a newspaper reporter, who travel with him on a cruise ship from Europe to North America.  There is also a beautiful young woman partly under Wu Fang's control, who has to be rescued. The plot only advances because both the good guys and the villain make a series of very stupid mistakes.  10/8/17

King Solomonís Carpet by Ruth Rendell, Onyx, 1991 

The Barbara Vine novels by Ruth Rendell tended to be longer and slower than those under her real name, but this time the pace is just too sedate given the subject matter. A group of people are brought together in a one-time school house turned into a kind of free boarding hotel where seduction, jealousy, and other emotions reach their climax when one of the boarders turns out to be planning to bomb the London Underground. I struggled to finish this one. 10/8/17

Death on Delivery by John Brandon, Ramble House, 2016 (originally published in 1937)

Inspector McCarthy is called in when a collector of antique jewelry is murdered during a robbery. There are two rival gangs involved, so a second murder follows close on the heels of the first as they struggle over the loot. This basic plot is expanded Ė actually bloated Ė to the point where I struggled to stay interested. This was the first of the four Brandon novels I have read to actually bore me. It is repetitive, wordy, and there really isn't any mystery involved and there's not a whole lot of suspense either. 104/17

No Evil Angel by Elizabeth Linington, Harper & Row, 1964 

Sergeant Maddox returns for his second case, actually a plethora of cases some of which turn out to be interrelated. The individual cases involve a runaway teenager, a serial shooter, a missing elderly woman, and the murder of a young man by barbiturates. The clues are all uncovered by routine police work and not by coincidence and they are not classic mystery puzzles in structure. Linington was one of the first women to use this format repeatedly and well. 10/4/17

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