Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Vintage Mysteries

Again I seem to be reading these two types of mysteries back to back--noblemen as detectives and noir crime novels. For this post, it's Margery Allingham's Sweet Danger and The High Window, another Raymond Chandler.

I have to admit I found the former really close to the edge of too dry in terms of wit and too subtle in terms of overall writing style. I think I had to restart it at least three times before I got into it. Perhaps that was due to the beginning that seemed a bit too much like Agatha Christie's later novels about all the mysterious forces and political currents which are trying to be spy novels but aren't really succeeding all that well. But after that, I enjoyed it much more. Campion is an interesting twist on the nobleman detective since he deliberately walks around with idiotic looks on his face to throw everyone off. I also enjoyed the mysterious kingdom of Averna and the hunt for the lost heirs--very fun

The High Window was sadder and somehow more unresolved than Farewell, My Lovely. Only some of the killers were brought to justice and not all the really evil characters got what was coming to them which was a bit disappointing. He made me laugh in the "reveal" scene because one of the "villains" made fun of the typical detective story: "Now you're going to tell me how it all happened and include some detail you've been holding back that makes it all clear."

I always end up hoping for Marlowe to have a relationship with the sweet girl in each story because I can see he cares for each of them and wants to protect them but I know in the back of my head that it won't happen. I read in the biographical notes that Chandler rewrote Double Indemnity for the screen based on someone else's writing. I wonder if he wrote part of Chinatown too because it definitely has that same noir LA feel. I realize that this is more a review of the mood of the novels than the plot but I can't help it. That's what sticks with me.
1. Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham
2. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
3. The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers
4. Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
5. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
6. something by Ellery Queen
7. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
8. Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh
9. Black Orchids by Rex Stout
10. The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout
11. The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
12. The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
13. The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy
14. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
15. The Lady in the Lake by Chandler
16. The Little Sister by Chandler

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