Category Archives: mysteries

Jo Walton, Ha’Penny: My Two Cents’ Worth

I didn’t love Jo Walton’s Farthing: in my brief review at GoodReads I admired the ingenuity of the premise and the “nice economy” of Walton’s development of her alternative history, but I thought the mystery itself wasn’t very interesting, and that it lined up too neatly with the predictions you would readily make about a crime […]

This Week In My Classes: What Makes a “Teachable” Novel?

This week I decided to call my own bluff. I spend a lot of time fretting about which books I assign in my Mystery and Detective Fiction course — because once you get past the few absolute “must haves” (something by Poe, some Sherlock Holmes, The Moonstone, something to represent the Golden Age, one of the […]

This Week In My Classes: Lots of Reading

It’s not so much that we are doing a lot of reading this week in particular, but that cumulatively by now, in both classes, we have done a lot of reading. I like this middle phase of term: the logistical confusion of the first couple of weeks is behind us, the frameworks for our class discussions […]

“Passion, plus craft”: Donald E. Westlake, The Getaway Car

I’m glad I didn’t take Levi Stahl’s advice. If I had, I would have walked away from The Getaway Car, which is “the first book by Donald E. Westlake [I've] ever held in [my] hands.” Not that it seems like bad advice to get my hands on some of Westlake’s actual novels — indeed, reading The […]

Sue Grafton: W is for Wasted [Time]

It’s actually a bit harsh to imply that reading W is for Wasted is a waste of time. Grafton is too good at her craft for that: the story is multifaceted and the elements unravel and then knit up together in a satisfying enough way. But it’s such a plodding book overall. First, Grafton seems to believe […]

“Aim at making everybody happy”: Ellis Peters, A Morbid Taste for Bones

“Aim, he thought, at making everybody happy, and if that’s within reach, why stir up any kind of unpleasantness?” Thanks to the generosity of a retired colleague who is pruning her book collection, I recently came into possession of not one, not two, but all twenty-one of Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael mysteries. This series has long […]

Zoë Ferraris, Finding Nouf

Finding Nouf was one of my choices at Hager Books on my recent trip to Vancouver. I didn’t have any specific recollection of having heard about it before, but it turns out that a couple of people I know (well, know virtually, anyway) reviewed it when it was newly out, so perhaps that’s why the title […]

Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act

The last time I wrote about Elizabeth George here, after reading 2008′s Careless in Red, I said that “I turned to these latest instalments [in her series] motivated far less by curiosity about the latest corpse than by the desire to know how things are going” with her main characters: Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, Simon and Deborah […]

A ‘Dark Love Letter to Iceland’: Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

I’ve gotten pretty cynical about book blurbs, but when I see a cover adorned with high praise from not one but two of the smartest readers I know, how can I resist the temptation to read it for myself? (In fact, it’s probably because I’d seen Steve’s and Sam’s reviews in the fall that the title […]

This Week In My Classes: Canons and Complications

My classes aren’t meeting at all today, thanks to the “weather bomb” we are currently enjoying. It is uncanny how many storms have come through on Wednesdays this winter! And it’s an unpleasant surprise to get a big one this late in the term. The bright side seems to be that it’s supposed to warm […]

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