Cfar1′s #CBR4 Review #11 of Edmund Crispin’s Love Lies Bleeding
Robert Bruce Montgomery was an English composer and author of nine detective novels and 2 short story collections. He was considered one of the last of the classic English mystery novelists. He was a great fan of John Dickson Carr and his detective, who was a fellow and English Professor at the fictional St. Christopher’s college located near Oxford, is modeled after Carr’s Dr. Gideon Fell. Dr. Gervase Fen is in physically different from Fell, but mentally and personality-wise they are similar. Published under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin, Love Lies Bleeding is my first sampling of this author. I found two of his books in a local used book store. This is the 5th of the books featuring Dr. Fen and was originally published in 1948. My version was a Felony & Mayhem reprint from 2007. The other book I bought was the first of the series, but I wasn’t paying attention and scooped this one up on Monday to read while waiting on my foster son at the eye doctor and dentist. This is supposed to be one of the weaker books, but I enjoyed it. Montgomery mixes a bit more more humor into his writing than Carr does. He tends to be very fond of dropping literary and musical references into the mix. Dr. Fen is the sort of character that is fun on paper, but would probably drive a person homicidal in real life.
The premise is that Dr. Fen is invited to be a key speaker at a “speech day” at a boy’s boarding school. He is a friend of the headmaster and agrees. Apparently this day is part of a weekend where the parents visit, awards are given and events produced. One of the events is a play that involves students from a local girl’s school. A 16-year-old girl is behaving oddly and parents and staff are afraid she has been, if not assaulted, in some other way messed with. Then she disappears, supposedly run away with an unknown man, although the girl’s school headmistress doesn’t believe it. Poison is missing from the chemistry lab. This all happens before Dr. Fen arrives. Then night after he arrives two professors are shot, one on and the other off campus within a short time of each other. Later another murder is uncovered. Are they connected? The local police are out of their depth, but not the good doctor. The solution of the murders, theft and kidnapping was actually too improbably to even suspend belief. There were just too many details that had to have happened exactly right for at least two of the crimes to have occurred. On the other had, the colorful characters, humor and just the literary, almost musical quality to the prose made it worth the purchase price and time spent reading it. I also have to like an author who can create a character like Mr. Merrythought, a somewhat homicidal old possible bloodhound, who hangs around the campus terrorizing everyone.
narfna’s #CBR4 Review #58: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
THE CASUAL VACANCY, A READING JOURNAL
BEFORE, 9/20/12: Confession time, you guys: I haven’t been that excited for the new Rowling, although you’d think I would be, the way I’ve behaved over her previous novels (hint: like a fuckin’ lunatic, yo). Since I first discovered Harry Potter in October of 1999, I have yet to find any story that touches me the way(s) HP does, for whatever reason. Not that my love of HP has instilled in me ridiculously high expectations or anything, EXCEPT THAT IT TOTALLY HAS.
I would tell you that I’ve re-read those books more times than I can count, except that would be a lie because I HAVE counted, and I’m just not telling you because, frankly, it’s obscene. But no matter how many times I re-read them, they still make my heart beat fast, make me laugh, make me cry, and make me scream obscenities and want to throw things across the room (Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, and specifically Dolores Umbridge, is responsible for the first recorded incidence of Ashley-on-book-violence). They make me feel FEELINGS, and in only the best ways. And every time I pick them up again, they never fail to make feel like I’m discovering magic for the first time all over again — you know, like Madonna in “Like a Virgin,” except with books instead of sex.
The last time a favorite author of mine came out with a new book, I was crushingly disappointed by it. Alice Sebold followed up her ethereal and haunting The Lovely Bones with the absolutely god-awful The Almost Moon. I hated that book as much as I loved her first one, and I loved her first one a lot. So maybe it’s my brain’s way of protecting me against disappointment, this not caring. I pre-ordered The Casual Vacancy like a good fan, like a good little bibliophile, but deep down where it counts, I felt nothing, and it feels awful. I feel dead inside, like someone who is allergic to ice cream or cookies or something equally as awesome.
BEFORE REDUX, 9/24/12: It’s three days before the release date, and I have been trolling the internet for every last scrap of information I can find about this book. This has led me to two conclusions: 1) I still fucking love Jo Rowling — I want to be her BFF, and I’m so happy she’s still putting her words out into the universe; and 2) I have let my fear that I am going to hate this book consume me. I’m absolutely petrified. I have to stop thinking about this now. Read more…