Fire in the Thatch – Book 7 of the 20BooksofSummer

I’ve actually fallen behind in my reviewing.   A thing that hasn’t happened before that I can recall.   When I finished The Golden Child, I went on to E.C.R. Lorac’s Fire in the Thatch.   A number of GAD blogs talked about Lorac and her works and her life and she sounded pretty good.   British Library Crime Classics has reprinted Fire in the Thatch which I read last week.   Set in 1944, a recovering Navy sailor and engineer comes to live in a run down tenant farm of a fine manor house owned by the St Cyres, father and daughter, good country gentry.   Also in the area is the daughter-in-law Judith who hates country life and her dubious friend, and his dubious friend, and a dubious lawyer.   There’s quite a lot about country life and a fair amount about how the war affects their lives.  The tenant, named Vaughan, mostly keeps to himself, but is surprisingly well-liked considering what a newcomer he is and how insular the country is supposed to be.   Sadly, he dies in a fire about five months after moving in. It appears to be an accident, but, of course, then there’d be no story.  Enter Scotland Yard.


I managed to read this pretty fast even though it felt slow with all the country detail.  There were few suspects and yet I didn’t guess.   And still I’m unsatisfied somehow.   Not as unsatisfied as I was reading it.   I was convinced she was going to cheat and bring in someone at the end we never met before.  I think the clueing is what is not very satisfactory.   But then the details of the story have faded rather quickly and I’m not sure.   I seem to recall it as one of those “I suspected X almost immediately because of their attitude,” which to me is not evidence.   I like evidence.   As far as I can tell any of several people could have done it, it just so happens that one of them did.   And [SPOILER ALERT} It makes no sense to me that the guilty party phones up and the victim actually apparently answers and still chooses to meet this total stranger.  The author should have made it a message as usual, not a direct phone call.   Makes no sense. [END SPOILER]

It was okay.   I’ll probably try another of hers, but can’t say it was better than so-so.

What I’m really thinking about at this point is Key to Rebecca.   Jewish girl spy is about to meet German Nazi spy and presumably have erotic adventures with him and his belly-dancing girlfriend.   Is there anything less erotic than erotic scenes you’re not into?   I liked the stuff with Vandam trying to track down Wolff – who I found out, not sure if I should have known before — is full German, adopted by an Egyptian man.   He is described as having dark hair and eyes though, I double-checked.   So, David Soul is still out.  And I liked reading about Wolff trying to get at the British secrets.  But then it’s not all that clever – a honey trap.   Anyway do I want to keep reading?   I kinda don’t.   I guess I see why this took the world by storm when it was published, although surely sexy stuff wasn’t new?   Bond came long before.   Maybe that’s not why.   Maybe I should keep reading and find out.   I’m only a third of the way through.   If there’s a lot of moderately sadistic menage a trois it could be a big waste of time.


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