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Readingomnivore Reviews

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by readingomnivore, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Eighth Milkmaid" is a short story from Roger Riccard's holiday anthology SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, published in digital and print formats in 2018. The collection is said to have been developed from Dr. Watson's notes on Holmes's cases, left in a trunk to Riccard's grandmother Mrs. Ruby Hudson.

    Watson and Holmes spend the second Christmastide of their association in Aylssbury as house guests of Holmes's former history professor Christopher Nicholls, semi-retired and now primarily a dairy farmer near Lower Hartwell. Their host and household are congenial, with Holmes's curiosity aroused by the presence of a ten-year-old orphaned housemaid taken on by Professor Nicholls's Italian housekeeper Mrs. Ricciardo. Tina is referred to as "the eighth milkmaid" because she personally tends to milking for use by the household. Holmes uses his personal knowledge as well as powers of observation and deduction to discern Tina's origins.

    Again, a light, pleasing read in full celebration of the spirit of Christmas. (A)
     
  2. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Ninth Ladyship at the Dance" is one of Roger Riccard's holiday short stories in his 2018 anthology SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. The collection is available in both print and digital formats. Using notes on unpublished cases of Sherlock Holmes found in a trunk left to his grandmother Mrs. Ruby Hudson, Riccard developed the twelve stories.

    In gratitude for their successful handling of his case, the Duke of Cunningham invites Holmes and Watson to attend, each with a guest, his lavish Christmas Eve ball. in honor of Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Henry of Battenburg. Watson, of course, will escort his wife, the former Mary Morstan, and they speculate on who will be Holmes's "date." Holmes mysteriously tells Watson to bring his medical bag to the ball, that it may be needed. Who knows? Holmes may have to thwart a dastardly plot.

    The theme fits in with the tension between Germany and Great Britain around the time of the unification of Germany, and the plot is a skillful blend of political and personal motives. It's unconventional, but not so outré as to be unbelievable. Mrs. Hudson as the "ninth Ladyship" is a nice touch. (A-)
     
  3. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Tenth Lord Leaping" is one of the Christmastime short stories in Roger Riccard's anthology SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. It was published in digital and print formats in 2018. The stories grew from case notes left by Dr. Watson in a trunk bequeathed to Riccard's grandmother Mrs. Ruby Hudson.

    Angelina, Countess Dunbar. consults Holmes and Watson about her son's strange behavior and subsequent disappearance. For five months, on the last day of each month, she observed the tenth Earl alone, leaping about frantically in his library, offering no explanation; now, following the November 30 episode, he's disappeared. Does the problem involve the impending divorce between his friend since Cambridge Lord Forecastle and his wife Colleen, in which he's apt to be named as corespondent? Or is more going on?

    "The Tenth Lord Leaping" is one of the weaker stories in the anthology, longer than necessary, with little characterization of Arthur, Lord Dunbar, the leading character after Holmes and Watson. The subplot on Holmes's injuries is tangential. and Lord Forecastle's activities are not foreshadowed. The only significance of the holiday season is in the title of the story. Not bad, but nothing memorable. (C)
     
  4. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Eleven Pipe Problem" is the penultimate story in Roger Riccard's hollday collection SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, published in print and digital format in 2018. Riccard developed the stories from notes on Holmes's cases, left by Dr. Watson to Riccard's grandmother Mrs. Ruby Hudson.

    Holmes and Watson are summoned to Edinburgh by Chief Constable Ewan Gibson, who'd known Holmes since school. Edinburgh has suffered a series of burglaries in which small items of valuable jewelry have been stolen while their owners have been absent attending some public function--a funeral, military parades, or holiday observances. Newspapers are increasingly critical of the disrespect shown by the criminals and by the incompetence shown by the police. With robberies over a long period of time and little physical evidence, can Holmes solve the case?

    The title is a play on words as well as fitting in with the holiday motif of the collection, but the story could easily have occurred at any time of the year. It seems somewhat unlikely that a locksmith would keep for weeks the locks replaced from the Venus Arms, site of one of the robberies, or that guest rooms (even in a castle) would not be entered for weeks, for footprints to be preserved. Still, not bad, just improbable. (C)
     
  5. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Twelfth Drumming" is the final story in Roger Riccard's holiday collection, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, published in 2018 in print and digital formats. Dr. Watson left a trunk of notes on unpublished Sherlock Holmes' cases to Riccard's grandmother Mrs. Ruby Hudson, which Riccard developed for the anthology.

    At the time of the winter solstice, young solicitor John Smith approaches Holmes at breakfast with an unusual commission for a client. In a letter entrusted to Smith, Sir James Piersall asks that Holmes find his killer. He'd suffered two potentially fatal accidents in a week, then someone had shot at in in the woods behind his home. Having no faith in the police, he ask that Homes and Watson uncover his murderer. The night before, on the final stroke of midnight, Sir James was shot to death. The police were not called, the scene was preserved, and appeared to be no physical evidence. But Holmes explains all.

    In reading "The Twelfth Drumming" it's important to remember Holmes's famous dictum about eliminating the impossible and what remains, however improbable, must be the truth. The story reveals the extent to which men may go to maintain honor, as well as a human side to Holmes in his dealing with Sr James's son. (A-)
     
  6. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    AN UNEXPECTED MERRY GENTLEMAN is Anngela Schroeder's 2018 holiday novella variant on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is available in print and digital formats.

    The major change in AN UNEXPECTED MERRY GENTLEMAN is to have Charles Bingley and the Darcy siblings spend Christmas at Netherfield. Seeking as much to avoid Elizabeth Bennet as to "save" Bingley, Darcy has assured Charles that Jane shows no partiality to him. However, Edward Gardiner, a business associate of Bingley's father, discovers embezzlement threatening Bingley's firm and, as a result, the Gardiners are invited to spend Christmas at Netherfield. With the Matlocks in Ireland and roads north to Derbyshire dangerous to travel, Fitzwilliam and Georgiana, assured that Bingley's aunt Mrs. Sophia Taylor will be their hostess, agree to come. Bingley soon visits Longbourn, and the easy relations between the houses quickly lead to reassessment of characters and of feelings all around, in Elizabeth especially.

    Christmas is more plot device to set up the house party than a necessity in the plot. The events could have occurred at any season. Gardiner daughters Victoria and Emily are charming additions that give Darcy a chance to show his softer side, while Mrs. Taylor is an observant, sensible advisor for Elizabeth. There's no opposition to either pair of lovers since Caroline is not in Hertfordshire, and Wickham's role is minor. The most exciting external action is a snowball fight.

    A few things bothered me. Mrs. Younge's name was spelled Young. Darcy refers to being educated at Eaton. Eton, surely? The third is more problematical. A party walking in the woods near Longbourn meet a racket of turkeys. The collective noun is correct, but it's unlikely that they would encounter turkeys. Wild turkeys are indigenous to North and Central America, and attempts to introduce them into England as game birds during the nineteenth century were largely unsuccessful. Domesticated turkeys were valuable and unlikely to be allowed to roam free, accessible to predators like foxes, badgers, and poachers.

    A quick read most appropriate for the holiday in front of a cozy fire. (A-)
     
  7. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Forfeit" is Caitlin Williams's short story introducing YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES, published in 2018 in digital format.

    Passing through Hertfordshire, Darcy performs a brief errand for Charles Bingley and, when snow makes the roads impassible, is forced to accept hospitality at Longbourn for the holiday. The house is packed with Bennets and the Gardiners, but Elizabeth is depressed over Jane's grieving over Bingley's departure and Charlotte's impending marriage to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth resents Darcy's presence, though his interaction with her family and the Gardner children, along with his accurate assessment of George Wickham's change in behavior toward Mary King when he learns of her inheritance, change her feelings toward Darcy.

    A solid little story, not much external action and minimal angst. Editing is good except for use of "sledge" and "sleigh" interchangeably. They are distinctly different horse-drawn vehicles for use on snow-covered ground. Warm, soft glow all around. (A-)
     
  8. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    The second short story in YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES is Joana Starnes's "And Evermore Be Merry." The anthology was published in digital format in 2018.

    "And Evermore Be Merry" is a short slice of life account from Georgiana Darcy Vernon's point of view, catching up on the families from Pride and Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth have four daughters and an infant son, Georgiana and husband Henry Vernon are expecting their first child. with the Pemberley house party including all the Bennet sisters (except Lydia and Wickham), Colonel Fitzwilliam and his family, the Gardiners and their nearly-grown up children, the Hursts and Caroline Bingley, and the de Bourghs. Not much happens, but a good time was had by all, including Lady Catherine who could complain about young Georgy Darcy's choice of Christmas song.

    Charming story, memorable only for insight into the Darcys' relationship and Georgiana's courtship and marriage. (A-)
     
  9. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Wishing Ball" is Amy D'Orazio's short story included in YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES published in digital format in 2018.

    "The Wishing Ball" is adapts Darcy and Elizabeth to modern day. It begins with Georgiana Darcy's purchasing a holiday ornament, a wishing ball, that mysteriously is monogramed with Darcy's initials. It contains a wish apparently written in his hand, "I wish it would happen for me." That night Darcy logs into his Facebook account to discover a series of posted pictures of himself with a beautiful wife and growing family. Both Bingley and Richard Fitzwilliam deny the joke.Months later, accompanying Bingley to examine a home purchase in the Orlando, Florida, area, he meets Elizabeth Bennet, celebrating friend Charlotte's bachelorette weekend. Who can doubt what follows?

    I'm whimsy challenged, and the idea of Darcy with a Facebook account (even if Bingley set it up) is too much. I can't suspend that much disbelief. (D)
     
  10. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "By a Lady" is Lona Manning's holiday short story in YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES, published in digital format in 2018.

    Accepting Lady Catherine's olive branch, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Bennet Darcy and their young children William and baby Catherine are spending Christmas at Rosings. En route to Hunsford, Elizabeth shops at a local bookshop, making a large selection of books she plans to use to further her acquaintance with Anne de Bourgh. Elizabeth worries if Anne had expected marriage to Darcy, and she's concerned by the isolated, physically and mentally stupefying lifestyle dictated by Lady Catherine. Progress is slow, but Anne and Elizabeth bond over books, so that Anne reveals her deepest, darkest secret.

    Anne's "secret" is heavily foreshadowed, so the climax of the plot should not come as a surprise. The title, of course, refers to Austen's own nom de plume. Otherwise, a nice slice of daily life among characters faithful to the originals. Even with" peace on earth, good will to men," neither Lady Catherine nor Mr. Collins is much changed. (A-)
     
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    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "Homespun for the Holidays" is J. Marie Croft's short story included in the YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES published in digital format in 2018.

    "Homespun for the Holidays" refers to the gift-cum-charity shop operated by Elizabeth Bennet and her family outside the village of Meryton, New York. To placate his sister on Christmas Eve before flying home to England for Christmas with the Fitzwilliams, Fitzwilliam Darcy stops by the store to pick up a sweater Georgiana saw on-line. He is stranded by closed roads and forced to spend the holiday with the Bennets and their guests. Darcy's Scrooge-like attitude soon changes to enjoyment and love.

    Darcy's self-centered arrogance and sense of entitlement at the beginning of the story is distasteful, and his incompetence at small details of ordinary life (he can't keep a wood fire going) is pitiful. Elizabeth is unattractively pert. I have trouble visualizing Lydia and Kitty googling Darcy to find out how rich he is. Sorry, the modern setting just doesn't work for me. (F)
     
  12. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "The Season for Friendly Meetings" is Anngela Shroeder's holiday short story included in the YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES, published in digital format in 2018.

    Jane, depressed over the departure of Charles Bingley from Netherfield, and Elizabeth, condemned by her mother for refusing Mr. Collins, join Mrs. Long and her nieces for Christmas in Yorkshire. There, at a ball, they become acquainted with Colonel Fitzwilliam and learn the true story of Darcy and Wickham. A new beginning between Elizabeth and Darcy, as well as between Jane and Bingley, comes about. End of story.

    It's pleasant enough, no great angst or excitement. But it adds nothing of note to the canon. Why bother? (D)
     
  13. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    "Mistletoe Mismanagement" is Elizabeth Adams's holiday short story in YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES, published in digital edition in 2018.

    Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy have been married a month and are entertaining a house party for the first time, as the Fitzwilliam family (except Lady Catherine who hasn't forgiven Darcy for marrying against her plans) come to Pemberley for Christmas. Elizabeth is a bit nervous, feeling that Colonel Fitzwilliam is her only supporter in the family, and Darcy is much jealous of the easy friendship between his wife and his cousin. Elizabeth is determined to assist the Colonel in getting to know a neighboring young lady who'd make him a good wife, and both Darcy and Elizabeth are determined that the Colonel's older brother Viscount Lisle and his wife will not carry on clandestine relationships under their roof.

    This story presents an interesting sidelight on the sexual shenanigans that often accompanied Regency marriages, especially at house parties where "musical beds" often seemed the norm. I love the irony in Elizabeth and Darcy planning for a quiet Christmas the next year---with only the Bennets! (B)
     
  14. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    A DEADLY GAME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE SCOTT PETERSON INVESTIGATION is Catherine Crier's account of the disappearance of eight-months-pregnant Lacy Peterson on Christmas Eve, 2002, the subsequent investigation, and the trial for murder for her husband Scott Peterson, currently on death row in California. The book was originally printed in 2095, then revised and rereleased in digital format in 2012.

    I was vaguely aware of the Peterson case when it it was going on, but I did not follow it in any detail. When Scott Peterson's sister appeared recently on Dr. Phil, touting a new book and asking support for her brother's appeal his conviction or first degree murder of Laci and second degree murder of their unborn son Connor, alleging the Modesto Police rushed to judgment and inadequately investigated alternative suspects, I was curious enough to read Crier's account. Because the disappearance occurred on Christmas Eve, A DEADLY GAME fits my seasonal reading theme.

    I was not disappointed with A DEADLY GAME. Crier's writing style is accessible, making it easy to keep track of the extensive cast of characters. She lays out the progress and results of the investigation in detail, producing an intriguing juxtaposition of what Scott was doing, what he told others including his family he was doing, and what the police were uncovering. She follows a common sense approach to Peterson, making no attempt at deep psychological explanation of his personality beyond his all-consuming narcissism. In the worlds of my people, Peterson "would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than to stand on the ground and tell the truth," and he couldn't stop talking. On December 9, he told girlfriend Amber Frey that 2002 would be his first holiday since "losing" his wife; Laci was still alive. 'The irony is that he told her this before she went to the police and began wearing a wire, then was stupid / careless / arrogant enough to repeat it when she was. 'Nuff said on premeditation and innocence.

    A DEADLY GAME is horrifying in its depiction of how easily ordinary people are taken in by narcissists. (A)
     
  15. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    AND WHO CAN BE IN DOUBT OF WHAT FOLLOWED? is an anthology of Alexa Adams's brief continuations of Jane Austen's six completed novels. They were published in digital format in 2013.

    Each sequel uses Austen's hints at the end of each novel about subsequent action as a starting point to develop the major characters' reactions to the achieved romances, though the sequel to Mansfield Park focuses on Henry and Maria rather than Fanny and Edmund. Adams makes little addition to Austen's reported actions, and her presentation of character is consistent with Austen's originals. Editing is good. Each is a quick, comfortable read, though none add much that Austen readers may not have inferred on their own. (A)
     
  16. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    THE CHOIR DIRECTOR WORE OUT is the fifteenth book in Mark Schweizer's Liturgical Mystery series set in St. Germaine, North Carolina. It was published in print and digital formats in 2018.

    Little ha changed in St. Germane as Hayden Konig goes about his duties as Chief of Police and as part-time choir director and organist for St. Barnabas's Episcopal Church. He and wife Meg are fully occupied with seven-month-old daughter Isabella. St. Barnabas's search for a priest ends with Bishop Varley's appointment of Father Gaston "Gassy" Mudyduck (known for his best-selling detective stories featuring a priest) who means Konig's next murder case to be the basis for a new novel. Things get strange when Ruthy Haggarty, dying of ovarian cancer, is found dead, nude in bed, with her body anointed with strange oils. Goldie Fawn Birtwhistle begins receiving anonymous threatening notes about her sinful behavior. Jim Pigeon is found in the woods, dead of a massive heart attack interrupted in progress by a rifle bullet to the chest. Later on, Noylene Fabergé Dupont McTavish is drugged and publicly hanged as a witch at the Renaissance Fair. What on earth is going on?

    THE CHOIR DIRECTOR WORE OUT in the final book in a series that I've enjoyed over the years. Characterization is above average, sense of place is strong, and humor abounds. Each book contain at least one episode, often during services at St. Barnabas's, that is worth the price of the book. The baptism of young Dillan Theodore Lowell, complete with drone videotaping and the Bishop knocked unconscious with his own crozer by an acolyte channeling Lord of the Rings, fits.

    I am disappointed in the plot. Its crimes are disparate, separated in time and causation, with little foreshadowing of the killer's identity and motives. Worse, Konig does not solve the crime until ten years later, and then by accident. It's hard to believe that he misses the essential clue since it involves his beloved Remington typewriter that had belonged to Raymond Chandler. The plot ends with a whimper, not a bang, with Konig set to retire on Christmas Eve from both St. Barnabas's and the STPD.

    THE CHOIR DIRECTOR WORE OUT (B). The Liturgical Mystery series (A-)
     
  17. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    LOVE, LETTERS AND LIES is Renata McMann and Summer Hanford's 2018 variant on Jane Austen'sPride and Prejudice. It is available in digital format.

    When Elizabeth Bennet foils Caroline Bingley's attempt to compromise Fitzwilliam Darcy into marriage, her fury leads her to lock Darcy and Elizabeth together in the deserted library. If she can't marry Darcy herself, she'll revenge herself by forcing Darcy and Elizabeth into a marriage unwelcome to both. But they escape. A second attempt to compromise Darcy ends when Darcy's valet ousts her from Darcy's bed, into which she'd slipped. Acutely aware of his responsibility as a gentleman if Elizabeth's reputation is compromised, Darcy makes the situation known to Mr. Bennet and gives Elizabeth a note acknowledging his indebtedness to her. All except Caroline hope to keep the episode secret. She, along with Mr. Collins's meddling, reveals the scandal to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, causing the forced marriage and a long period of pain and confusion until Darcy and Elizabeth sort their feelings.

    Most characters except Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy are reasonably faithful to the originals. Elizabeth and Darcy are bot naive in their belief that they can contain the scandal behind their wedding, and both take an inordinate time to recognize and acknowledge their feelings. Much of their angst is self-inflicted. Georgiana's willingness to believe Caroline is unexplained. Anne de Bourgh serves as deus ex machina through much of the story; neither her dealings with Lady Catherine nor her marriage seem probable.

    Plot changes include not only the compromise / forced marriage scenario but also Wickham and Caroline's fates, Mary and Lydia Bennet's marriages, and a wife for Colonel Fitzwilliam. The epilogue is unnecessarily drawn out. Shifting focus between characters impedes the flow of action.

    Editing problems include Spell Check in lieu of proofreading ("dower"-"dour"; soup "tureen"-"terrine"; "lie"-"lsy"). Plural and possessive spelling of family names is often incorrect. (B)
     
  18. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    THE CASE OF THE FAMISHED PARSON is one of George Bellairs's mystery series featuring Inspector Tom Littlejohn. Published in the United Kingdom in 1949, it was reissued in digital format in 2016.

    Inspector and Mrs. Littlejohn are on holiday at the Cape Mervin Hotel when fellow-guest James Macintosh, the Bishop of Greyne, is found dead of a massive head injury at Bolton's Hole, a cove overlooked by the golf course, a natural water hazard. littlejohn is econded by Scotland Yard to lead the investigation. The Bishop's family background is strange, and he's involved in psychological research that leads him to starve himself, but no one knows of any personal enemies. Then someone wounds Littlejohn and shoots to death Harry Keant, who found the bishop's body. What's going on in Port Mervin?

    Sense of place is the strongest element of THE CASE OF THE FAMISHED PARSON, making it easy to visualize the action. The plot focuses away from the genuine motive, with little foreshadowing of what is going on or who's involved. The conclusion depends too much on the cliched device of the criminal's boating to the next intended victim. Littlejohn explains few of the details that put him onto the killer's trail and motive. Characters, including Littlejohn, are minimally developed.

    THE CASE OF THE FAMISHED PARSON reads like standard Golden Age mystery. It has not aged well. (C)
     
  19. readingomnivore

    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    A CONTRARY WIND is Lona Manning's novel-length variation on Jane Austen's Manssfield Park, set in the year following October 1808. It was published in digital format in 2017.

    A CONTRARY WIND contains two major story lines, each of which merits development as a separate novel. One is a sequel to the canonical story of Fanny, the Bertrams, and the Crawfords, incorporating major changes in both Fanny and Edmund that produce a much different outcome. The other picks up on Austen's vague reference to Sir Thomas's involvement in the slave trade via his ownership of a sugar plantation in Antigua to introduce characters, bring in William Price as a developed character, and provide an alternative romantic interest.

    The story lines are both well-done, but using both makes for a l-o-n-g read, one in which rapid shifts between many characters make for choppy reading when coupled with slice of life detail. To lend verisimilitude, Manning refers to the Sucklings (Emma)and to the Bennets (Pride and Predudice;).

    I dislike several of Manning's character changes. Making Tom Bertram and Yates homosexuals is gratuitous. Her Edmund is more self-deluding than Austen's about the Crawfords, deliberately overriding the evidence of his eyes to believe Mary. To be fair, he does not know the full story behind Henry and Maria's liaison or behind Fanny's clandestine departure from Mansfield Park, but he trusts Mary totally, acting in haste when caution is needed. Fanny comes to agree with Aunt Norris that her humility and piety are the products of ingratitude and inverted snobbery. Manning's view of the relationship between Henry and Fanny is totally un-Austen. Her combination of passivity and precipitate action is inconsistent.

    Still, A CONTRARY WIND is not a bad read, especially since adaptations of Mansfield Park are few. (B+)
     
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    readingomnivore Well-Known Member

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    DEATH OF AN OLD GIRL is the first book in Elizabeth Lemarchand's Pollard and Toye mystery series. Originally published in 1967, it is available in digital format.

    When snooping, interfering Beatrice Baynes is found dead at the General Meeting of the Old Meldonian Society, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Pollard and Detective Sergeant Toye of Scotland Yard are eeconded to the Lindridge Constabulary to solve the murder. It's not a simple case: numbers of returning students roamed the campus with normal routines disrupted; Beatrice had been an unpleasant nuisance to the school, especially its new Head Helen Renshaw, new art teacher Ann Cartmell, and her own goddaughter Madge Thornton. Beatrice's ne'er-do-well nephew George had attempted to see her that night. What had she been doing in the school's art studio anyway? And who needed her dead?

    DEATH OF AN OLD GIRL is similar to many crime novels of its era, still somewhat tied to the puzzle plots of the Golden Age with many time tables, but moving toward a more modern detective. The action hangs together logically, though an experienced reader may well discern the killer and motive ahead of Pollard and Toye. Having the case explained in a suicide letter by the killer is less satisfactory. Sense of place is adequate but capable of fuller development.

    Pollard and Toye are attractive protagonists. Pollard is relatively young, moderately ambitious, married to sympathetic Jane, herself an art lecturer who provides the clue essential to identifying the motive. Details of Pollard's married life characterize him effectively without overwhelming the mystery. He's fair and professional, enough different from Toye to make for an interesting relationship.

    DEATH OF AN OLD GIRL is a solid beginning to a series I will follow. (B+)
     

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