This first book, The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers, qualifies for two of the challenges I'm doing this year. Firstly, I read it for Bev's Vintage Mystery challenge and it covers the category, 'A Book with Number in the Title'. Secondly it also qualifies for her Mount TBR challenge and is my book eight for that.
I just thought this was absolutely brilliant. I don't know enough about Lord Peter Wimsey (having only read three of the books so far) to judge properly but it seemed to me that he was more serious in this book than in the others. Less of a twit, if that makes sense. I don't know why that should be and of course it could just be that my impression is wrong. Whatever, this really was a terrific read, very full of detail about bell-ringing, very much a picture of village life before the war I suspect, and spot-on with its setting and atmosphere of The Fens. I haven't been there in the winter but can well imagine it would feel that isolated and insular. The writing is spectacularly good, this is one of the big surprises I've had about Sayers and her books: her writing is every bit as superb as any classic author you care to name. I'm so glad I still have a number of these Peter Wimsey books left to read and feel I ought to slow down a bit or I'll end up gobbling them all up at once!
Next up, Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart. I read this one for the My Kind of Mystery challenge which is being hosted by Carolyn at Riedel Fascination. It also qualifies for Bev's Mount TBR challenge and is my book nine for that.
This is one of those books that comes into the 'OK' category. I didn't dislike it, but neither did I love it. To be honest I found it a wee bit dated, very much of its time period which is the mid-1970s, and at that time it seems some authors were still writing about 'naice gels' getting themselves into a spot of bother. It was well written, no doubt about that, and the mystery - what the cryptic message was all about, whether her cousins are Bryony's friends or enemies, and the identity of the voice in her head - was quite fun and enjoyable. I have a feeling Mary Stewart wrote better books than this, in fact I know she has as I've read her Merlin trilogy and loved them. I have several more to try and suspect I may find them a bit more to my taste than this.
Lastly, Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout. This one was also read for Bev's Vintage Mystery challenge and covers the category 'A book with an amateur detective'.
Fer-de-Lance is the first book about Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie. Wolfe is a very big man who never goes out and is deeply into the growing of orchids and the eating of good food. He's the brains behind the outfit and Archie, the story's narrator, really just follows instructions. It's an odd basis for a series of books with the main crime solver solving the crime by mental deduction and never going out to visit crime scenes; if he wants to question a suspect they have to be brought to him. This was another book that I neither loved nor hated. I can't say that any of the characters appealed to me that strongly and I never felt that involved in the plot, but am not sure why. I think possibly that when it comes to 1930s crime yarns I prefer British to American. It *was* all quite clever however and as it's a first book I'm happy give the series another chance and read more. It could be I'll like subsequent books more than this and I have several on my eReader to try.