Tag Archives: vintage mysteries

My January Christie: Three Act Tragedy

Three Act TragedyThree Act Tragedy
by Agatha Christie
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Hercule Poirot #12
Publication Date: June 1, 1934
Genre: mystery
Pages: 272
ReRead?: Yes
Project: appointment with agatha

Sir Charles Cartwright should have known better than to allow thirteen guests to sit down for dinner. For at the end of the evening one of them is dead—choked by a cocktail that contained no trace of poison.

Predictable, says Hercule Poirot, the great detective. But entirely unpredictable is that he can find absolutely no motive for murder.

This has never been a favorite Christie – I think I’ve only read it once or twice previously. But, my reread continues apace, so here we are, 15 months in.

I think that I liked this book more this time around. The last (and possibly only) time I read it, I was deep into a Christie binge, and I remember that I read this on the heels of The A.B.C. Murders. That is one of Christie’s most brilliant books, so this book fared rather badly by comparison. In addition that book and this book have a clue that is somewhat similar, which meant that, while I did not figure out whodunit, I did figure out a foundational aspect as to why the murders were committed. That negative comparison was, I think at this point, unjustified.

Because this book was thoroughly enjoyable this time around, and Christie buried the perpetrator with such a deft hand that, even recalling who it was, I was somewhat awed by her plotting. In addition, the first time I read it, I had not yet been introduced to Mr. Satterthwaite, who is ubiquitous in her Harley Quin stories, so re-meeting him in this one added a lot to my delight. And Egg Lytton-Gore and Oliver Manders, both, turned out to be memorable and likeable characters, although the relationship between Egg and Sir Charles, a man 30 years her senior, gave me the heebs. What a creeper – I have a husband who is about Sir Charles’s age, and the idea of him creeping on a girl our daughter’s age makes me feel all yucky inside. Pass the brain bleach, please.

Next month, Death in the Clouds. This is a book that I remember being very meh about, so we’ll see how it turns out. I have a run of Poirot’s, because March’s book is the absolutely terrific The A.B.C. Murders. In fact, it isn’t until October, with Murder is Easy, that I’ll be a reading that doesn’t have Poirot in it at all.

Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly

Nothing Can Rescue MeNothing Can Rescue Me
by Elizabeth Daly
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Henry Gamadge #5
Publication Date: December 15, 1943
Genre: mystery
Pages: 201
Project: a century of women

In mid-1943, and up to his elbows in war work, Henry Gamadge is longing for a quiet weekend. But when a half-forgotten classmate requests assistance, Gamadge is unable to refuse the tug of an old school tie. The problem, says Sylvanus, concerns his Aunt Florence—a giddy socialite terrified of Nazi bombs. Florence has moved her extensive household of hangers-on to the family mansion in upstate New York. But menace seems to have followed them, in the form of threatening messages inserted into the manuscript of Florence’s painfully bad novel in progress. Several members of the household are convinced the messages are emanating from Another World, but the politely pragmatic Gamadge suspects a culprit closer to home.

I stumbled across these Henry Gamadge mystery reissues by Elizabeth Daly on Goodreads, and when I started researching them, I realized that my local library has most, if not all, of the series available for digital checkout. I just picked one sort of randomly – about half of them were available and the other half had holds, so I just went with one that I could download immediately.

I really enjoyed this book – it reminded me a bit of a Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver mystery. The set up of the mystery is basically that Henry Gamadge, who is apparently known as a bit of an amateur sleuth, runs into an old friend while he is out at his club. When they begin catching up, the friend, Sylvanus, convinces him that there is a mystery afoot that he needs some help with. Henry agrees to accompany him to Underhill, a country house in upstate New York, to see what he can find out.

Once Henry arrives, he is immediately concerned about the safety of Aunt Florence, whose death will benefit quite a large number of the young people living in her house. It feels very Poirot-like, all of the mutterings about what appear at first blush to be pranks being much more serious than that (see, e.g., Hickory Dickory Dock). There is a lot of activity around Aunt Florence’s Will, and which of her young hangers-on will be receiving legacies, and which will not.

The solution itself is convoluted, but still clever. There’s a lot of fairly skilled misdirection, although I had some pretty good inklings about whodunit, she did a good job concealing the motive.

It’s always fantastic to find a new vintage mystery series to enjoy, and when the series is also available from my local library for free, that is extra-fantastic. I will definitely be reading more from Elizabeth Daly.

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
Project: halloween bingo

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.

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
Project: halloween bingo

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.

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
Project: halloween bingo

“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?

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.

Halloween Bingo: Vintage Mysteries

This is a newish square for 2021. There was a suggestion from fellow blogger and long-standing HB player, Themis-Athena for a Golden Age Mystery square, or a Queens of Crime square, to focus on Agatha Christie & some of her contemporaries. Vintage mysteries is a journey(wo)man square that can take on all of the roles above. In order to qualify, the mystery must have been published prior to 1975. 

I read so much vintage mystery that I have endless possibilities for this square:

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie is the Appointment with Agatha group read for the month of September, and Lord Edgware Dies is the group read for October, so either of those can stand in here.

In addition, I’ve been really into the Inspector Littlejohn mysteries recently, which are available through the Kindle Unlimited library, or possibly a Maigret. My library has what appears to be a complete collection of the new Penguin translations available as kindle books for online checkout. I have been reading one or two of these a month in no particular order. I also have a near complete collection of the 87th Precinct mysteries, by Ed McBain – I’m up to Give the Boys a Great Big Hand, first published in 1960.

While this is a new square, I have read a number of vintage mysteries in years past for other squares, including:


  • Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton (Genre: Mystery)
  • Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie (Pumpkin)
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux (Locked Room Mystery)


  • Behold, Here’s Poison by Georgette Heyer (Cozy Mystery)
  • Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie (Terrifying Women)
  • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (Terror in a Small Town)
  • Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (Murder Most Foul)
  • The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich (Classic Noir)


  • The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Terrifying Women)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (13)
  • Penhallow by Georgette Heyer (Country House Mystery)


  • The Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Dark Academia)
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe (Classic Horror)
  • The Hollow by Agatha Christie (Country House Mystery)


  • Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie (Country House Mystery)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (International Woman of Mystery)(yes, I apparently have read this TWICE for Halloween Bingo)
  • The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr (Grave or Graveyard)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (wildcard)
  • Corpse at the Carnival by George Bellairs (Creepy Carnivals)

If you didn’t already know, I am a huge Agatha Christie fan. Not only does she figure prominently in all of my past Halloween bingos (as she will again, I’m sure), but she is without question the author I have read the most throughout my life as a reader.