All that said, I've turned off anonymous comments for this blog. It's only the spammers that seem to use it and they're getting be a real nuisance once again. If it turns out to have some kind of consequence I hadn't considered then I'll turn it on again but in the meantime it's off I'm afraid.
Anyway, for this post I'm doing two shorter reviews of vintage crime books. First up, Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is my second book for the Vintage Crime Challenge which is being hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block and covers the category for 'A book set in England'. It's also my 5th. book for Bev's Mount TBR challenge.
I think I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is one of the best crime books I've ever read. It's long, 444 pages, and that's quite lengthy for a crime yarn, especially a vintage one as far as I know. But it just didn't seem that long while I was reading, it fair galloped along plot-wise, a real page-turner. I loved how complicated it was. I didn't always follow the cipher stuff towards the end but that's OK, I like to be mentally stretched and it told me a lot about such things which is always good. It was also hugely funny. The dialogue is very witty and really just a joy... huge fun to read what is quite a serious crime book but to find it doesn't take itself *too* seriously. I felt Dorothy Sayers knew the SW coast rather well. The atmosphere of a sleepy coastal village in that area - I'm guessing Devon but am not positive - was spot on as were the accents and attitudes of the locals ie: being suspicious of strangers. Most of all what I loved about this book was the two main characters, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Their relationship is a joy and the constant proposals of marriage from Wimsey, hilarious. All in all this was just such a brilliant read. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it doesn't make my top ten at the end of the year.
Next up, Lock 14 by Georges Simenon:
I seem to be on a bit of a Maigret kick at the moment. These vintage crime stories are little gems and ideal fodder for the Vintage Crime challenge. This one covers the category - 'A mystery that involves water'. Anyway, this was a very enjoyable crime yarn. Beautiful atmosphere of the canal, the people who live and work on it and the conditions they worked under in France in the 1930s. The mystery was as complicated as the previous Maigret book I read, The Yellow Dog, with lots of unknown information which the reader is slowly drip-fed. I loved the image of Maigret on his bike pedalling away for forty miles to try and catch up with a barge. I don't know why I was so amused by that but I was.
One thing you do need to remember about these books (both of the ones reviewed here in fact) is that they are set in the 1930s and as such, times were different and much less pc than we are today. Thus people get called names that we wouldn't perhaps consider acceptable now. It worries some people I know, but for me it's written history and although I might blanch a bit it's not a problem. I would never want the books updated to be more pc in any way shape or form.
I have to say that I'm thoroughly enjoying the reading challenges I'm doing this year and if I continue the way I've begun am hoping to end the year having done quite well with them. Fingers crossed.