Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


PATRICIA WALLACE – Deadly Grounds. Sydney Bryant #2. Zebra, paperback original; 1st printing, May 1989.

   I don’t remember the title of the first one, but this is [San Diego-based] PI Sydney Bryant’s second recorded adventure. She’s hired here by a neighbor, a 15-year-old schoolgirl who finds the body of a friend along a pathway of the private girls’ academy they both attended.

   Complicating the story is Sydney’s potentially torrid love affair with the policeman in charge. While Wallace’s easy writing style often seems to explain too much, as if telling the story to someone reading a mystery for the first time, she does know teenage girls.

PostScript: Well, she convinced me, at least. It’s really too badthat both the title and packaging make th book look to much like a run-of-the-mill horror novel, at least at first glance — and how much chance does a book get to find its proper audience, anyway?

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #13, June 1989

      The Sydney Bryant series —

Small Favors. Zebra 1988

            

Deadly Grounds. Zebra 1989
Blood Lies. Zebra 1991

            

Deadly Devotion. Zebra 1994

            

August Nights. Five Star, hardcover, 2002

IT IS PURELY MY OPINION
Reviews by L. J. Roberts


ASHLEY GARDNER – Death at Brighton Pavilion. Cpt. Gabriel Lacey #14. JA/AG Publishing, softcover, December 2019. Setting: Regency England.

First Sentence: I woke, or seemed to.

   Captain Gabriel Lacey’s old enemy, Colonel Hamilton Isherwood, has been murdered. Isherwood’s blood is on Lacey’s clothes and a cavalry saber is in Lacey’s hand, and there is a gap in his memory as to what happened. The one person who might know is Clement, a footman, and Isherwood’s son asks for Lacey’s help in identifying his father’s killer. While trying to put the pieces together, Gabriel learns of two Quakers who are missing and promises to make inquiries as to their whereabouts.

   There’s nothing like a good hook; an opening that captures your attention from the very beginning. Having the protagonist come to consciousness in the company of a dead body, a saber in this hand, and the victim’s blood on his clothes accomplishes that goal.

   It’s also nice that new readers need not worry about coming into the series with this 14th book. Gardner does a very good job of introducing each of the characters and establishing their relationships. She also incorporates the intimacy between Lacey and his wife Donata in a way that is lovely, romantic and a bit sexy, but never detailed.

   Gardner creates an excellent sense of place, inviting the reader into the environment in which the characters find themselves. Often, too, she provides bits of history and general information, such as that about Quakers, never overwhelming the story, but enhancing it.

   One likes to read of protagonists who have a strong moral and ethical base, who believe in doing what is just. Lacey is just such a character in spite of the urgings of others. At the same time, he is not perfect and does have a past, yet one of the best traits of Lacey is his humanity; his sense of responsibility. In other words, he is believable.

   Gardner creates an assumption and immediately dispels it carrying one along in the investigation. Her writing draws one back to her books due to her voice; her dialogue and the subtle humor incorporated which is offset by an excellent accounting of grieving– “That was the trouble with death. I too had been brought up to believe we should rejoice that the one we loved was with the lord, but somehow I never could. I could feel only emptiness, the lessening of myself for the absence of that person.”

   Death at Brighton Pavilion is a thoroughly enjoyable period mystery with plenty of twists, action, wonderful period details, and an ending that moves the series forward. As the author says– “Captain Lacey’s adventures continue…”

Rating: Good Plus.


      The Captain Gabriel Lacey series —

1. The Hanover Square Affair (2003)
2. A Regimental Murder (2004)
3. The Glass House (2004)
4. The Sudbury School Murders (2005)
5. A Body in Berkley Square (2005)
6. A Covent Garden Mystery (2006)
7. A Death in Norfolk (2011)
8. A Disappearance in Drury Lane (2013)
9. Murder in Grosvenor Square (2014)
10. The Thames River Murders (2015)
11. The Alexandria Affair (2016)
12. A Mystery at Carlton House (2017)
13. Murder in St. Giles (2018)
14. Death at Brighton Pavilion (2019)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

VERONICA STALLWOOD – Oxford Exit. Kate Ivory #2. Scribner, US, hardcover, 1995. Np US paperback edition. First published in the UK by Macmillan, 1994.

   Yet another author new to me. Stallwood was born in London and lives in Oxford, where she has worked at the Bodelian and Lincoln College libraries. The first book in this series is Death and the Oxford Box.

   Kate Ivory is a struggling romance novelist who has experience with computers and library cataloguing. She is called on by a friend to help investigate a possible series of thefts from the Oxford University Library System, and after agreeing is plugged into the system as a roving cataloger and consultant.

   Shady doings are afoot, all right, and Kate discovers that a young library assistant who was murdered in the recent past may have stumbled across them also, What seemed to be a relatively safe assignment now takes on a darker hue.

   Were this an American book, I’d call it a cozy, but given how I’ve defined those I think I’d be doing this an injustice. I like Stallwood’s prose, and I like her characters, an dI like the milieu. She tells her story by interleaving chapters told from the viewpoints of Kate and the anonymous murderer, and I thought she made unusually good use of the device.

   Secondary characters were also well done. It’s a type of book that British authors do exceptionally well, and Stallwood does this reputation no harm.

      

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #19, May 1995.

       The Kate Ivory series —

1. Death and the Oxford Box (1993)
2. Oxford Exit (1994)
3. Oxford Mourning (1995)
4. Oxford Fall (1996)
5. Oxford Knot (1998)
6. Oxford Blue (1998)
7. Oxford Shift (1999)
8. Oxford Shadows (2000)
9. Oxford Double (2001)
10. Oxford Proof (2002)
11. Oxford Remains (2004)
12. Oxford Letters (2005)
13. Oxford Menace (2008)
14. Oxford Ransom (2011)

MORAY DALTON – The Body in the Road. Hermann Glide #1. Sampson Low, UK, hardcover, 1931. Harper & Brothers, US, hardcover, 1930. Black Cat Detective #8, US, digest-sized paperback, 1944, Dean Street Press, UK, trade paperback, 2019; introduction by Curtis Evans.

   Moray Dalton was the working byline of Katherine Dalton Renoir, the British author of 29 mysteries published between 1924 and 1951. If you live in the US, you can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of her. Only three of her books have ever been published in the country, including this one (but how it happened to be published here a year before the British edition, I have no idea).

   It looks as though, however, if sales do well, that the folks at Dean Street Press are doing their best to be sure readers in this country can easily get their hands on them. Five were published last year and five more will be published in March. This is a totally unexpectedly bonanza for fans of obscure detective fiction from the Golden Age of Detection.

   I caution you, though, on the basis of this, the first of her work I’ve read, that any comparison to the contemporary authors of her time, those who are still well known today, are well in the favor of the latter. Dalton’s approach to both dialogue and storytelling are both rather unfocused and naive.

   The following excerpt comes from page four of the Dean Street edition. Two young women who have just met as musical performers at the same cafe, are talking:

   Linda laughed. “All right. I ought to be getting back to my diggings, anyway. I wish you shared them with me. There’s a bedroom to let on my floor. We’d have such fun.”

   “It would be jolly!” said the other [Vivian], wistfully.

   Vivian is living with n older woman who has acted as her guardian since she was young, and who has kept her under her very strict eye for all that time. It is no wonder she wishes to rebel, and finally she does, and in fact she decides to go into partnership with Linda on setting up a small tea shop together.

   Until, that is, the day they find the titular body in the road, that of a small dog that has been badly injured. They go off in opposite directions to obtain help, but Vivian is never to be seen again. And who is accused but Linda. Luckily for her, the new Lord Harringdon in the area has met her and has taken more than a liking to her.

   The case against Linda is flimsy, to say the least, but the local police are inexplicably set on their case against her. Lord Harringdon also investigates, but in his mind it is the strange doctor with stranger patients and medical staff that gets all of his attention. Finally, about 45 pages from the end, he hires Hermann Glide, a frail-looking private eye in London who resembles (at first appearance) “a monkey on a barrel organ.”

   Glide is not given many pages to do his work, and in fact we see very little of it, but he does his job, and as it turns out in the end, he did it perhaps a little too well. I’ll not say more about that, but it is one of the more interesting thing I can hint at in terms of the detective work that is done.

   Overall then, I’m glad I read this book, and I plan to read more of Moray Dalton’s work. As for you, though, unless you’re really a devout fan of old traditional detective novels, I’d recommend this on to you only if you’ve run out of other (and more solidly constructed) ones to read.


       The Hermann Glide series —

The Body in the Road (1930/31)
The Night of Fear (1931)
Death in the Cup (1932)

IT IS PURELY MY OPINION
Reviews by L. J. Roberts


DAVID ROSENFELT – Dachshund Through the Snow. Andy Carpenter #20. Minotaur Books, hardcover, October 2019.

First Sentence: It has been almost fourteen years since Kristen McNeil’s body was discovered.

   A tag on a Christmas charity wish tree leads attorney Andy Carpenter and his wife Laurie to a young boy wanting his father Noah Traynor to be brought home. The murder, for which Noah has been arrested, was a cold case until his DNA is identified on the victim’s body. In the meantime, K-9 officer Sergeant Corey Douglas is about to retire, but his dog, Simon, still has time left to work. Corey wants Andy to help him get Simon released to retire with him. Andy agrees to represent Simon on the basis of species discrimination.

   How refreshing it is when characters defy stereotype. Laurie, Andy’s wife, is the type of person one aspires to be; kind, generous, compassionate toward people. She is an ex-cop, and very capable of taking care of herself and Andy. Andy, on the other hand, is a lawyer who keeps trying to retire from the law and is passionate about dogs. As a self-described weakling, he depends upon Laurie and the indomitable Marcus to protect him. There are interludes of Andy at home with his family and friends, yet they avoid the over-sentimentality such interaction can bring about.

   Rosenfelt’s courtroom scenes are a pleasure to read. They are well presented and honest, even when the client is decidedly unusual. He creates an excellent analogy by likening a court case to a mountain climb such as Mt. Everest, and through it, introduces the rest of Andy’s quirky and memorable team.

   It is always tragic when someone young dies. It is appreciated when Rosenfelt acknowledges one of the great sorrows of such a death– ‘It also once again highlights the terrible loss that occurred when her best friend died; Kristen might have gone on to bring other people into the world or cure some disease or just do kind things for people that needed kindness.”

   The story includes alternative POVs, but only when needed to move the plot forward by characters other than the protagonist. Rosenfelt creates a plot which seems simple but grows into something more complicated and more dangerous as it progresses. Be aware; despite the cute dog on the cover, this is not a cozy. Rosenfelt does like his body count, but the scenes aren’t particularly gory. He is also very good at the unexpected, and very effective, plot twist, and a fun mention which lightens the situation.

   The dialogue is so well written, the courtroom exchanges come alive. Along with the on-going outside investigation, in which there is a very nice escalation of suspense, plot twist, and an excellent red herring, one feels the anticipation of awaiting the jury’s decision.

   Dachshund Through the Snow is a well-done legal mystery with plenty of twists and suspense. A very nice aftermath hints at the future of the series.

Rating: Very Good.


       The Andy Carpenter series —

1. Open and Shut (2002)
2. First Degree (2003)
3. Bury the Lead (2004)
4. Sudden Death (2005)
5. Dead Center (2006)
6. Play Dead (2007)
7. New Tricks (2009)
8. Dog Tags (2010)
9. One Dog Night (2011)
10. Leader of the Pack (2012)
11. Unleashed (2013)
12. Hounded (2014)
13. Who Let the Dog Out? (2015)
14. Outfoxed (2016)
15. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (2016)
16. Collared (2017)
17. Rescued (2018)
18. Deck the Hounds (2018)
19. Bark of Night (2019)
20. Dachshund Through the Snow (2019)
21. Muzzled (2020)
22. Silent Bite (2020)

MARY (THERESA ELEANOR) HIGGINS CLARK, author of some 50 plus crime and suspense novels died yesterday, January 31, 2020, at the age of 92. Her sales, in the millions of copies, must rank her as being among the greatest of any recent or current writer in the field.

   Theatrical films have been made of the following novels: A Stranger Is Watching (1982), Where Are the Children? (1986), Lucky Day (2002) , and All Around the Town (2002), and dozens more have been adapted into made-for-TV films.


   The following bibliography has been taken from the Fantastic Fiction website:

      The Alvirah and Willy series —

   [A lottery winner and her husband use their winnings to solve crimes.]

1. Weep No More, My Lady (1987)

2. The Lottery Winner (1994)
3. All Through The Night (1998)
4. Deck the Halls (2000) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
5. The Christmas Thief (2004) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
6. Santa Cruise (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
7. Dashing Through the Snow (2008) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
8. I’ll Walk Alone (2011)
9. The Lost Years (2012)
10. As Time Goes By (2016)
11. All By Myself Alone (2017)

      The Regan Reilly series (with Carol Higgins Clark)

   [Regan Reilly is a private investigator based in Los Angeles.]

Deck the Halls (2000)

The Christmas Collection (2006)
Santa Cruise (2006)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008)

      The “Under Suspicion” series

   [Laurie Moran is a producer on the television series ‘Under Suspicion’, a documentary program which investigates unsolved cold cases.]

1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)

2. The Cinderella Murder (2013) (with Alafair Burke)
3. All Dressed in White (2015) (with Alafair Burke)
4. The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016) (with Alafair Burke)
5. Every Breath you Take (2017) (with Alafair Burke)
6. You Don’t Own Me (2018) (with Alafair Burke)

       Other Novels —

Aspire to the Heavens (1960) aka Mount Vernon Love Story (non-criminous)
Where Are the Children? (1975)

A Stranger Is Watching (1978)
The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
A Cry in the Night (1982)
Stillwatch (1984)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
All Around the Town (1992)
I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
Remember Me (1994)
Pretend You Don’t See Her (1995)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
Silent Night (1995)
Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
You Belong to Me (1998)
We’ll Meet Again (1998)
Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
On the Street Where You Live (2000)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
The Second Time Around (2003)
Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
No Place Like Home (2005)
Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
I Heard That Song Before (2007)
Where Are You Now? (2008)
Just Take My Heart (2009)
The Shadow of Your Smile (2010)
Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (2013)
Inherit the Dead (2013) (with C J Box, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Santlofer and Lisa Unger)
The Melody Lingers on (2015)
I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018)
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry (2019)


   Seven issues of Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine were published sporadically between 1996 and 2000.

ALLEN K. YOUNG “Reflection on Murder.” Short story. Professor Posenby #2. First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1968. Presumably never reprinted.

   The tenth rule of Ronald Knox’s Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction says that “twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.” This second of several stories Alan K. Young wrote about retired poetry and code expert Professor Ponsby (no first name known) takes this rule head on and makes an excellent story out of it.

   It doesn’t in any way break the rule, since the fact that Tom and Barnaby Varden are twins is stated up front with no denying it. There is also no denying that one of them murdered their uncle, but which one? Almost no one can tell them apart, so eye witnesses to the fact that one was seen leaving the house at the time of murder are of no value.

   What’s more, the other brother was seen at a boxing match the next town over at the time of the murder, gives one of the two an unshakeable alibi. But which one was which?

   Totally sure that no jury would ever convict either one “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” they boastfully send the following poem to the harried police chief, who comes to Ponsby with it. I hope you can read it:

      

   I believe I have read another story with exactly the premise, but without the poem, and yet, if so, I do not remember where I read it or who wrote it. You may be able to figure it out — all the clues are there — but I am chagrined to say I didn’t. This is a puzzle story only, with only a cursory attempt at characterization, but as such it’s exceedingly well done. It’s like admiring a solidly constructed crossword puzzle at the end of the week in the New York Times. I enjoyed it immensely.

   It probably won’t ever happen, but Young wrote enough Ponsby stories to put together a very decent collection. I’d buy it!

NOTE: Alan K. Young’s papers regarding his short story writing are stored at Columbia University. A short desription of the collection says that the author “is a former junior-college English instructor, with a B. A. in English from Harvard and an M. A. in the same subject from the University of California.”


       The Professor Ponsonby series —

Letter from Mindoro (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Mar 1968
Reflection on Murder (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Oct 1968
The Secret of the Golden Tile (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1969
Ponsonby and the Shakespeare Sonnet (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Oct 1969
Ponsonby and the Dying Words (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Aug 1970
Ponsonby and the Classic Cipher (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Dec 1971
Child’s Play (vi) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jan 1972
Ponsonby and the Ransom Note (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1972
To See Death Coming (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Apr 1973
Truth Will Out (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1974
Incident on a Bus (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1975

     —

PostScript:   Since most you are not likely to ever read this story, I will give you a big hint as to the solution in Comment 1. Don’t read it until you’ve either given up or you want to know if the answer you’ve come up with is correct or not.

Added later: A full explanation is given in Comment #2.

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


REX BURNS – Blood Line. Gabe Wager #10. Walker, hardcover, 1995. No paperback edition.

   And yet another hardboiled writer moves down publishers’ economic row. Walker is picking up some good writers, and I hope it pays off for them. Buns’ stories of the Denver policeman have gotten a good bit of critical acclaim,but evidently not the requisite sales.

   Gabe Wager has a 13 year-old black male dead in what looks like a gang killing, and a young cousin a victim of what he’s afraid is the same disease. To add to his problems, a convicted felon that he shot in self-defense has filed a civil suit against him from prison. Life’s never simple in the big city, especially for a Hispanic cop.

   This seems to me to be of a piece with Burns’ earlier Wager books — a good solid police novel. He does a nice job of blending characterization with the procedural, and of working in the Denver background. Wager has become a well-developed character over the course of the series. Denver must be a lot different than Dallas, though, if a police sergeant could have even a close friendship that was common knowledge with a lady councilperson.

   I think Burns does about as good a job as anyone of writing “small” nitty-gritty police novels, and I’m glad that someone will still buy them.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #19, May 1995.


       The Gabe Wager series —

1. The Alvarez Journal (1975)
2. The Farnsworth Score (1977)
3. Speak for the Dead (1978)
4. Angle of Attack (1979)
5. The Avenging Angel (1983)
6. Strip Search (1984)
7. Ground Money (1986)
8. The Killing Zone (1988)
9. Endangered Species (1993)
10. Blood Line (1995)
11. The Leaning Land (1997)

CHARLES ALVERSON, who died several days ago (January 19th), had a relatively minor career in the world of crime fiction, but his two books about San Francisco-based PI Joe Goodey struck me as being very done, both solidly in the Raymond Chandler tradition. After reading the two of them, I was constantly on the lookout for the third, but alas, it never turned out to be.

   Quoting from his first book (*), here’s the first paragraph:

   I was stretching a tall gin and tonic at Aldo’s, the only bar I knew that hadn’t yet torn up my tab, when I looked up and discovered that my elbow room to the west had been annexed by an elderly gentleman in a three-piece suit.

   And from the second:

   “Don’t mistake me for a moralist, Rachel.You know better. I’m just an ex-cop scuffling after enough money to stay alive and operating. If some justice gets done in the process, that’s fine. It makes the client feel better about paying.”

   According to Wikipedia, after deciding perhaps that mystery writing wasn’t going to pay the bills, Alverson Alverson was managing editor of the British environmentalist magazine Vole, financed by Terry Jones of Monty Python, and was co-screenwriter of Terry Gilliam’s film Jabberwocky, and was co-developer of the story and co-writer (uncredited) of the first draft of the screenplay that became Brazil (1985).

(*) This quote and the one following are included in Dick Lochte’s long essay on Joe Goodey you can find on the Thrilling Detective website.


        The Joe Goodey series —

Goodey’s Last Stand. Houghton Mifflin, 1975

Not Sleeping, Just Dead. Houghton Mifflin, 1977


    Plus one crime-related standalone novel:

Fighting Back. Bobbs Merrill, 1973

   Noted TV journalist and news anchor JIM LEHRER died today at the age of 85. Of his many other accomplishments, which will most assuredly be included in the many obituaries appearing now online and again in tomorrow’s newspapers, he also wrote a good many works of crime fiction, most of which I seem to have missed knowing about for all these years.

   The first series of note are the light-hearted adventures of One-Eyed Mack, Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor, who solves mysteries in his spare time. Lehrer also wrote two books about Charles Avenue Henderson, a former CIA agent who wants nothing more to do but retire in peace and quiet, , but who finds that actually doing so is not as easy as he thought.


      The One-Eyed Mack series —

Kick the Can. Putnam 1988

Crown Oklahoma. Putnam 1989
The Sooner Spy. Putnam 1990
Lost and Found. Putnam 1991
Fine Lines. Random House 1994
Mack to the Rescue. University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.


    The Charlie Henderson series —

Blue Hearts. Random House 1993. ISBN 0-679-42216-1.

Purple Dots. Random House, 1998.


      Crime-related standalone novels include —

The Special Prisoner. Random House, 2000.
The Franklin Affair. Random House, 2003.
Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination. Random Houose, 2013.

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