24in48 – January 26-27, 2019

Just a quick post to sign up for the latest 24in48 Readathon which you may deduce, if you’re not familiar, consists of reading 24 hours out of 48 starting at 12:01 AM the 26th in your timezone.   This means, of course, it’s already started in Europe and Asia and everywhere else three hours east of here.  Odds are I won’t get much reading done, if any, tonight, but will try to fill up as much of the next two days as I can.


Should be fun, I hope you’ll join us!


1/26/19 11:42 – Kind of a late start.  Read for about an hour last night.  Will try to focus on this for a bit.

16:16 – Read about 3 hours.   Reading Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham.  Got evening plans so, not a lot more will happen.  Which makes it almost certain that I will not acheive 24 in 48.   Anyone for 24 in 72?


12:56 –  So, I think I managed 5 hours yesterday.   Not great.  Might do the same again.  But still that’ll probably be 7 or 8 more hours than usual and so worth doing.

Close Quarters

Close Quarters by Michael Gilbert was written, or at least started in the Golden Age, but then the war came and the book wasn’t published until 1947.  The title is a play on words as the setting of the crimes is a cathedral close in Melchester.  Not sure if this is the same as Hardy’s Melchester.  Certainly the author’s erudite enough to be making that reference, so let’s assume he did.  The book starts off with the Dean of the Cathedral calling in his nephew, a Scotland Yard man named Pollock, to unofficially investigate some poison pen letters all aimed at an elderly verger called Appledown.  Soon the pen is traded in for a blunt instrument and Chief Inspector Hazlerigg joins Pollock in an official capacity to investigate.

Gilbert is quite an enjoyable writer.  I turned to this book by a slightly roundabout route.  I was reading JJ’s post defending Elephants Can Remember, which I happen to agree with.  Not great work by any stretch, but not so bad either.  Much better than the abysmal television version in which they tried to improve it only to make a complete hash of it.  Anyway, reading this post revealed to me that Noah Stewart had died and I had somehow missed this news in December.  I didn’t know Noah, but I had ‘met’ him virtually last fall when I read his Birlstone Gambit post and proceeded to read the books he spoiled in that post, before reading the post.   I don’t know how it took me five years to find his blog, but it’s a great pity that it did.   So, I started looking at some older posts and found one on Michael Gilbert which sounded good.   In looking up Michael Gilbert on Amazon, I realized I already had the first one.   I must’ve read someone else on it and maybe I’ll find them later.  So, I probably have two people to thank for nudging me to Michael Gilbert.  He wrote a variety of books, but Noah liked even the types he didn’t usually like, so I’m hoping to have a similar experience.  The first one is a good start.  There’s a bit at the end which is coyly never revealed which makes me think he just couldn’t think of a good answer, but it’s a minor quibble.


All in all an enjoyable book and I plan to read more Michael Gilbert.  More police procedural than many, it’s still a closed circle of suspects.  (Close-d circle!  Ha!)  For the Calendar of Crime challenge, this book takes place in September.  Apparently a very hot September.  Gilbert’s a good, solid writer and I look forward to reading more of him and my sympathy to all Noah’s friends and family.   He seemed like a fun and interesting guy.

Murder for Christmas (1931)

This is the first book I’ve started and finished in 2019.  Written by Francis Duncan and republished in 2015, the publisher did not know who he was until his kids came forward and revealed he was a man named William Underhill.  I had been wanting to read a Christmas mystery and this was a pretty good choice.  It’s the first Mordecai Tremaine novel.  Mordecai is a helpful amateur who loves romance stories.  He doesn’t have much time for them during his visit to the home of Benedict Grame.  Benedict is so enthusiastic about Christmas he dresses up as Santa and puts presents on the tree for everyone.  He does this after everyone goes to bed, so the point of dressing up escapes me, but that’s what he does.  Then shortly after midnight, the whole house is awakened by screaming.  Father Christmas lies shot beneath the tree and all the presents except one are gone!   The victim is not Benedict Grame, however.  Someone else has been dressing up as old St. Nick, but why?  And why take the presents?  And who was that mysterious stranger hanging around the house?

An interesting situation and a rather macabre Christmas.  Mordecai meets the police inspector assigned to the case who fortunately happens to know all about him and so he is encouraged to help.   It’s a strange group as no one is actually related and several of them are rather disagreeable.  I found the interviews a bit frustrating as no one seemed to ask a direct question and they settled for very evasive answers.  I got to the end feeling like almost no clues had been revealed.  Certainly not enough for me to guess what was going on.  So, I wouldn’t call it fair play and how the murder was committed seems impossible to me, but still I enjoyed reading it and will probably read some more.  This is probably owing to the character of Tremaine who is not without charm despite keeping too many conclusions to himself.


I am hereby signing up for Bev’s latest challenge – Calendar of Crime.  And this will be my book for December.   Each month has different requirements and you don’t have to read the book that fits those requirements in that particular month.   They also don’t have to be Golden Age, although this one is.  Head to Bev’s blog and sign up, too!  It’ll be fun.

Well, I’ll try.   The post a link thing is no longer working for me.    So, I tried to leave a comment.   If people weren’t such obnoxious jerks, we wouldn’t have these problems.

The Penguin Pool Murder (1931)

I’ve heard of this book for a long time, or maybe I’d heard of the movie.   I’m not sure.   At any rate, this is the first Hildegarde Withers book which were made into movies, so they must have been fairly popular.  I started this last year, so it doesn’t count for any challenges this year, but I wanted to finish it, which I did about a week ago and already the details are faded.   Miss Withers is a school teacher who has brought her class to the aquarium in New York City and lost her hatpin.    The kids hunt for the hatpin and the penguins start fussing strangely.   Then a dead body falls in the pool.   Miss Withers claims she could tell it was dead when it hit the water.   Not for any solid reason that I could tell.   In the way of many a golden age mystery, the sharp amateur is taken on by the police and they investigate together.   Inspector Piper seems fairly cranky.   Actually, so does Miss Withers.   They spar occasionally.   At one point she dumps him to investigate on her own, but that doesn’t last long.

It’s pretty much a police procedural with an amateur along for fun.   It goes along fairly well until Piper allows the victim’s wife’s new boyfriend/protector/lawyer to do whatever he likes as well.    My suspension of disbelief crashed to the ground as this lawyer is allowed to talk to a witness without any police presence and they just apparently count on him to share whatever he learns.   This same lawyer gets to interview the witness before Piper can get there in the morning.   This is ridiculous.   Maybe they get better.   A lot of people make mistakes their first book, right?


I would like to see the movie, too.