Sunday, November 19, 2006

Autumn Leaves

It's been several months since I posted. I have to admit that trying to keep up with my weekly blogging duties on The Good Girls Kill For Money Club and the Cozy Chicks blog hasn't left a lot of time for my thoughts on books and films here at Girl Detective.

Truth be told, I haven't had a lot of time for reading, but that doesn't stop me from my intention of owning every vintage paperback in the world. I was a tiny bit disappointed with the pickings at Bouchercon this year--more and more the booksellers seem to focus on the latest book of the authors still alive and in attendance OR really expensive editions of Chandler and Hammett.

I did manage to score a few battered paperbacks for a reasonable amount. Reading copy quality, but since I do fully intend to read them, I can live with a few crinkles and watermarks. ON THE BOOKS!!! Not me.

So here are my finds du jour:

MURDERED: ONE BY ONE by Francis Beeding. No date. It says it is a Wartime book, and I'm certain they don't mean Iraq.

"The murder of Valerie Beauchamp, writer of romances, sets in motion a vicious cycle of horror as, one by one, the legatees under her strange will meet violent deaths in this exciting Beeding baffler!"

Even way back then romance writers were not getting any respect from mystery writers.

The New York Herald Tribune blurb reads "speed, complications and general readability," and delivers a "whopping surprise" in the last chapter.

Now that is not easy to do: deliver a whopping surprise in the last chapter, I mean. Especially to experienced mystery readers.

First line: "Valerie Beauchamp, alias Vera Brown--but the alias was carefully concealed from her numerous public--sat back in her chair and tapped her front teeth with the end of her fountain pen."

See? No respect.

One thing I know about Beeding: he (she?) was the author of THE HOUSE OF DR. EDWARDES, which was the basis of the movie SUSPICION, you know, with a very young and vulnerable-looking Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman (who even with bad hair and glasses looked impossibly gorgeous). I always wanted to read that, so this should be interesting.

By the way, it looks like the HOUSE OF DR EDWARDES is available as an ebook all over the net these days.

THE VOICE OF THE CORPSE by Max Murray. Bantam. 1948.

"DEAD OR ALIVE: she talked too much!"

I work with women like that.

"Angela Pewsey collected other peoples lives. She gathered them up in bits and snatches, from scraps of conversation, stolen letters, spying moments."

Ah. A blackmailer. One of the most satisfying victims in crime fiction. I do love it when blackmailers get knocked off. There's something so low about someone trading in other people's secrets.

First line: "Even in death there was something arty and crafty about Angela."

She gets knocked off singing a folk song--which many would say was poetic justice.

And your favorite motive for murder is--?

Murray was an Australian writer and this was his first novel. During WWII he was a scriptwriter and editor for the BBC. Looks like his last novel was 1957.

DEATH IS A LOVELY LADY by Ruth Fenisong. Popular Library, 1944. (Originally published under the title JENNY KISSED ME--not very mystery-sounding, that.)

"A novel with a startling different approach, filled with smart talk, cutting satire and a sound mystery puzzle."

Hmm. Dissing the genre as a sales tactic. Interesting.

"Gwen Mattice combined lush allure with a realistic capacity for getting what she wanted. But despite her many lovers she never lost sight of the great love of her life--herself!"

Okay, we hate her. Kill her.

First line: "This was the room of Gwen Mattice."

Okay, that's not enough.

"The careless testimony of scattered objects--a handbag, a slipper, a corsage ribbon, a reddened cigarette stub, a belt--was not needed to prove it."

Okay, she's messy. Kill her.

DEATH DOWN EAST by Eleanor Blake. Penguin, 1945.

No info whatsoever, I liked the title and the cover. (See, now you know why publishers don't let authors make these important decisions.) And it's set in Maine, which I also like.

First line: It was pretty awful sitting there in front of the fireplace and just waiting."

All of these have good opening lines, and I'm looking forward to the day I actually have an hour or two to read one!

What are you reading these days?


Tori Lennox said...

You always manage to find the most entertaining-sounding books!

Karen MacInerney said...

Diana, life does get in the way, doesn't it? (And blogging tends to get in the way of actually writing books, doesn't it?)

I enjoy what you find time to post, but given the choice between blogging and bookwriting, the latter's got to take the top spot.

Come to think of it, showering's up there, too. As are eating and sleeping. Hmm.

Well, we fit it all in when we can. Right?

girldetective said...

Tori, if only I had time to READ those entertaining books. I'm wondering if I could bribe you to guest blog on The Saint novels?

girldetective said...

Hey, Karen, you're right. It's ultimately about prioritizing. I think blogging is important to me right now because I'm not doing a lot of "live and in person" events; it's my main source of promotion.

And every bit helps.

But, as you point out, if you don't make time to write the books, what exactly are you promoting?