Last Update 10/14/19

Death on Doomsday by Elizabeth Lemarchand, Bantam, 1971 

A dead body is found in the priestís hole in a rambling house open to public tours. He was obviously there to burglarize the place, but who killed him and why? And why are various residents of the house uneasy, even those who clearly could not have committed the crime? Inspector Pollard works his way through an entire flock of red herrings and uncovers a smaller but still substantial flock of coincidences to solve two separate crimes that converge unexpectedly. 10/14/19

Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare, Perennial, 1980 (originally published in 1942)

A traveling judge is subjected to a series of escalating pranks, and his wife is convinced that someone is actually trying to murder him. He is preoccupied with a more mundane problem. His careless driving mangled the hand of a prominent pianist and he is facing a ruinous settlement. I had trouble finishing this one. The prose plods at times, and since I didnít much like the judge, I didnít care if he died. Only the life takes on much character. And despite the blurbs, I didnít find it remotely suspenseful. 10/11/19

Prelude to Peril by Jerry Sohl, Rinehart, 1957 

This was the authorís only traditional mystery novel. A reporter is assigned to accompany a pair of married pianists on a countrywide tour, but he quickly picks up on tensions among the entourage. Several murder attempts are made, followed by an extended chase sequence and the solution. The book is entirely too talky, and there is very little suspense. The mystery has no particularly interesting elements and the solution was fairly obvious.  10/9/19

The Plot Against Roger Rider by Julian Symons, Penguin, 1973  

Roger Rider is a shady businessman with an unfaithful wife. When he invites a handful of people for a vacation in Spain, he has an ulterior motive, and so do most of them. A surprise visitor has a suspicious fatal accident, after which two of the others including Rider disappear. Did he run for it or has he been murdered? The author keeps us guessing and throws in some surprise twists. I didnít guess any of the solution, and was sufficiently puzzled that I read the entire book in one sitting. Symons is so far proving to be consistently excellent and Iím tracking down his other books. 10/9/19

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler, Bantam, 1963  

This excellent novel of a heist from a Turkish museum is one of my all time favorites, and it inspired the impressive movie, Topkapi. A small time crook is caught between a band of ingenious thieves and Turkish intelligence when the latter find weapons concealed inside the car he has been hired to drive to Istanbul, and pressure him into becoming their agent. The movie spends a great deal of time on the heist itself, but it only consumes a few pages in the novel. The protagonist is easily the most interesting character Ambler ever created, and he later returned for another but quite inferior adventure. 10/7/19

The Corpse by Carter Brown, Signet, 1958  

Signet added explicit sex scenes to some of the Carter Brown books, over the authorís objection, and Iím pretty sure this is one of them A couple of short scenes are out of character and verge on the pornographic. The plot involves Al Wheeler, who is at a night club when someone is shot almost on stage. More bodies turn up along with a self righteous newspaper owner, a sexy singer, a nymphomaniac, and a trio of jazz musicians who may be distributing drugs. Surprisingly dull. 10/6/19

A Louse for the Hangman by Leo Bruce, Isha Books, 1958    

This was the only Leo Bruce I hadnít read. For some reason, the only edition available is this one, which is awful. Ink bleeding on almost every page, white spots in the middle of the text, words and phrases left out, and even bits and pieces of text from some other book superimposed and in a different font. Carolus Deene is on the case when a manís secretary is murdered, apparently having been mistaken for his employer in the darkness. Or is that really what happened? The family is odd, the circumstances are odd, and even Deeneís friend Gorringer is clearly lying about what has happened. About average for the series. 10/2/19