Triple Play: Vintage Mystery

Falling StarFalling Star by Patricia Moyes
Rating: ★★½
Series: Inspector Henry Tibbet #5
Publication Date: July 28, 1964
Genre: mystery
Pages: 255

Rich, aristocratic, and at the heart of swinging London, “Pudge” Coombe-Peters has everything except a decent nickname. And in fact, he has two special attributes: He owns the narration—the drawling, deliciously snobbish, all-but-impossibly irritating narration—of Falling Star, and he has a chum named Henry Tibbett, who comes in just awfully handy when people start dying on the set of the film that Pudge is producing.

Tibbett is especially welcome because, by the second death, it’s clear that we’re not dealing merely with murder but with Impossible Crime, the kind of fiendishly clever puzzle that is killingly hard to write and even more difficult to solve. The twisty plot and gorgeously retro setting on their own would make for a splendid read, but adding Pudge to the mix puts it over the top.

Project: halloween bingo

This is a series that I really like – so much that I am collecting them all in paperback. Unfortunately, though, this was quite a mediocre entry, in my opinion. There wasn’t nearly enough Henry Tibbets – he doesn’t show up until the 50% mark – and there was basically zero Emmy Tibbets, and she’s one of my favorite characters. The book specific characters were insufficient to carry it. The narrator was obnoxious. And, in addition, as I have discovered through reading this, as well as a couple of Ngaio Marsh mysteries (which were far superior to this one, but I digress), I just don’t really like “theater” settings for my golden/silver age mysteries. Meh.

Traitor's PurseTraitor's Purse by Margery Allingham
Rating: ★★½
Series: Albert Campion #11
Publication Date: March 2, 1941
Genre: mystery
Pages: 208

Celebrated amateur detective Albert Campion awakes in hospital accused of attacking a police officer and suffering from acute amnesia. All he can remember is that he was on a mission of vital importance to His Majesty’s government before his accident. On the run from the police and unable to recognise even his faithful servant or his beloved fiancee, Campion struggles desperately to put the pieces together while the very fate of England is at stake.

Project: halloween bingo

Oh, man, this book was such a bust for me because I unknowingly picked the “amnesia” book. I really dislike the amnesia trope under the best of circumstances. This was not the best of circumstances.

Rating/reviewing this book is a near impossible undertaking because I think that my decision to read it out of order and essentially in isolation was unwise. The only Campion mystery I have previously read is The Crime at Black Dudley, which barely includes him.

So, I went into this amnesia book in basically the same tabula rasa state as our sleuth, knowing none of the characters, knowing very little about Campion and, like Campion, I muddled around in confusion for some 200+ pages. I have no idea if this is a good book or not because I was so annoyed about my inability to understand what the hell was happening or who any of these people are. This was me:

So, this might be a great installment in the Campion canon (and, reading other reviews, I suspect that it is), but it not a great entry into the series. At all.

The Five Red FingersThe Five Red Fingers by Brian Flynn
Rating: ★★★½
Series: Anthony Bathurst #5
Publication Date: October 7, 1929
Genre: mystery
Pages: 210

“Hard luck to be murdered just after your horse has won the Derby! Don’t you think so, Doctor?”

Julius Maitland, the millionaire horse trainer is excited about his horse’s chance to win the Derby. His wife’s horse is also strongly fancied. In a neck and neck finish, Maitland’s horse takes the race, his wife’s in second.

In a national sensation, the winner is disqualified. A telephone call the day after the race summons the police to a house where Maitland’s murdered body is found – and he has been dead for at least two days. When Sir Austin Kemble, Commissioner of Police is asked to investigate, he immediately summons his friend Anthony Bathurst. But can Bathurst make sense of a case when the stakes are this high?

Project: halloween bingo

As you can see, my vintage mystery picks in September were not really successful. However, as part of my bingo game, I needed a book that related to sport or games, and this one was set in the world of horse racing, so it was just the ticket. I had already bought it along with a bunch of the Anthony Bathurst books earlier this year, so all the better.

I ended up really enjoying this DSP re-issue, which all takes place in the wild world of horse racing. There were definite shades of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, with a very unlikeable murder victim, and a satisfyingly twisty mystery. The solution was a bit preposterous, but that’s not uncommon with these GAD mysteries when authors are trying mightily to keep things fresh in the face of hundreds of this same very popular style of mystery being published every month.

Horse racing can be murder, y’all.

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