Showing posts with label Classic Mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classic Mysteries. Show all posts

Sunday, November 19, 2023

A Relaxed Reading Update of the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time

Anyway, two two-way ways to support the channel... Books mentioned in the video are (Amazon affiliate link): 1. The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart 2. The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake 3. The Firm by John Grisham *** Though it's to be fully determined after I finish my own project (currently in the works); I am an affiliate with and welcome you to check out the site via my affiliate link above ***


Thursday, November 9, 2023

CHOP IT UP: They Shoot Horses, Don't They by

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) follows the story of an aspiring movie director named Robert. It also follows an aspiring actress (film extra) named Gloria. The story begins with Robert on trial for Gloria's murder, the circumstances of which revert back to when the two met each other outside of Paramount Studios. At the studio gates, both appeared hoping to run into someone who would give them access to their dreams and desires (though Gloria is trying to catch a bus up out of there). 

Nevertheless, where Robert is still ambitious and hopeful, Gloria is the exact opposite. She is overtly pessimistic, depressed, and downright bitter. Regardless, as an increased effort to be seen by the big wigs of Hollywood, the two enter a dancehall marathon. Surely "Hollywood" would be in the audience looking for new talent, right? Well, more or less. Within this dancehall marathon the story spirals, resulting in Gloria's murder by Robert. And it's her murder that doubles as the answer to the book title's question: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

I actually enjoyed the book. But not for the reason many might think. Yes, the book hosts subtle (and some cases, not so...) racial overtones, bigotry, sexism, and a host of other issues that cropped up from this book written in the 1930s. Most of that is to be expected for an American noir piece of its time. However, I think what might make many readers wince is the insistence of the character of Gloria's desire to be dead. 

And, yet, with her every utterance and aggressive behavior on display, I found her both fascinatingly relatable and—quite frankly—funny. She had a lot of gall because she spoke truth to other characters. She was just so abrasive. So pessimistic. So, what I've gathered that hit home to me: TIRED OF EVERYTHING. Or, as exemplified by the metaphor of the dancehall marathon, she was tired of spending her life in circles trying to find a way out. 

Meanwhile, Gloria saw through how many of the other characters laid into their facades, such as the two older ladies who interrupted the marathon to preach about the morality of the contestants. According to Gloria, in regards to these ladies' daughters (she assumed they had daughters):
…”That’s generally what happens to daughters of reformers,” Gloria said. “Sooner or later they all get laid and most of ‘em don’t know enough to keep from getting knocked up. You drive ‘em away from home with your goddam lectures on purity and decency, and you’re too busy meddling around to teach ‘em the facts of life—“
That was one of many examples of Gloria.

Anyway, love her or hate her. She was a character.

In the end, Gloria ruined Robert's life. But did she, really? The two had a choice. Gloria could have chosen to keep living. And Robert did not have to kill Gloria to set her free of her suffering. And, one could say, of his suffering from her insufferable presences and thirst for her own death as a release. In the end, Gloria won. As she corrupted and ruined his life and got the death that she wanted.

The funny thing about such final thoughts is that--like the dancehall marathon--the reader could go in circles about it. Still, I understood Gloria. I got it. She was hurt. Broken. Bitter. Tired. And just wanted out. It's depressing.

As someone who absolutely loved the character of Gloria, what can I say? Other than I feel like her sometimes myself. The shit just made sense, Gloria. It made sense. (And I'm leaving this on a fun note.)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Almost at the End of the Amelia Peabody Experience

So I'm writing this post while listening to Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes." The song is befitting my mood–seeing as I'm trying to decide if I want to read the final Amelia Peabody mystery, Tomb of the Golden Bird. Because once this book is read, this will be the end of my journey reading Elizabeth Peters’ famous Victoria-era Egyptologist series. It’s been nine years since I cracked open the first book, The Crocodile on the Sandbank; 20 books later, my adventures with Peabody and crew are ending.

It's more complicated than not, but Peters took many liberties in adjusting the timeframe in the series. The final two publication releases, A River in the Sky and The Paint Queen, officially close the series out at twenty books. However, per the precise timeline, the final book is Tomb of the Golden Bird. I corrected the order from books sixteen forward. Now I've landed at the series' end and in proper sequence.

The problem is that, while I’ve decided to finally finish this series THIS year (I want to move on to reading Peters’ Vicky Bliss series next), I’m feeling some type of way about taking on the final book as it lies here in my hands.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Somebody said: “Birthday, Coupons, and Credit Card Reward Points.”

And I said: “Buy them STORES OUT!”

Recent acquisitions to slightly satiate my appreciation for reading (and buying books). I've been in a particular cozy kick lately. Or, in fact, desire to get back into reading cozies. It seems I haven't read a few in a hot minute. Heck, I didn't even pick up the Mrs. Jeffries series by Emily Brightwell last year. And, double heck, I didn't read cozies through December. I'm feeling those pangs. Additionally, having finished reading The Wheel of Time in November, I spent about a month and a half recovering from that experience. Now, I craze some more high fantasy goodness. Luckily, Tanya Huff and Mercedes Lackey have been somewhat handling that deal. Nonetheless, these are the books I spent the weekend doing what I love best (digging underneath stacks) acquiring…

1.  Black No More by George S. Schuyler

2. The Complete Smoke Trilogy by Tanya Huff

3. Pride, Prejudice, and Peril by Katie Oliver (kind of curious, but scared of this one)

4. Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past by Traci Wilton (finally decided to give this series another try)

5.  Body and Soul Food by Abby Collette (this lady just KEEPS series going)

6.  The Chuckling Fingers by Mabel Seeley (the 1941 publication date and woman in a trench coat took command)

7. Dead in the Scrub by B.J. Oliphant (an elderly woman rancher solving mysteries sounds like my tea)

8. The Princeton Murders by Ann Waldron

9. He Died with His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond (the title alone provides the kick to this British 1980s PI adventure)

Now… the heavy part is finding time to read them. Oh, well!

Friday, June 25, 2021

An ex-CEO "Sponsored" Me Some Christie Kicks

Sooooooo. As many readers here know, this blog acts as a reading journal of sorts. I document bits and pieces of life and this and that and books and bric à brac. Therefore, quite frequently, a story relating to a purchase pops up. Or, in this case, a Christie Kicks book haul "sponsored" by a retiring CEO. Here is what I was blessed with this week. The CEO of the company I work for has retired, right? He is the owner and all that jazz. So, he has gotten to where he wants to give his chair over to someone else. Cool, stuff? Now, the really cool stuff is that he has given his employees $100 times however many years they have worked for the company. In my case, I'm in my fifth year. You can do the math. So, what can a book lover do with a bonus check a week before payday (besides knock out some bills early) …?

Go invest in these leather-bound Barnes & Noble Agatha Christie collection books–that is what.

Listen, I was playing no games today. I finally read The Murder on the Orient Express; I am 25-pages from the end of And Then There Were None.  Needless to see, a particular hunger to study Christie's techniques have sat in. Besides, I have been doing super well in completing coursework toward finally finishing my degree program. No, for real.  I have busted my tail these past two weeks just so I could have the weekend free to read and not work on writing papers.

Heck, I deserved this treat. So, I took it.  In the famous words of Pattie Labelle circa the Be Yourself album of 1989: I can’t complain…

THANKS, Mr. ex-CEO, man. We will talk about the raise with the new guy. But in the meantime, I like this kind of stuff.

BOOKS! It's what's for dinner. MYSTERY BOOKS! It’s the delicious poison on the steak.

Bon Appetit, homie!

A Quick Rundown of my Christie Kicks Feelings

 Day ONE

What’s going on with me attempting to read Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles?  I’m 28 pages into the book and find myself uninterested.  Two things are occurring to me:

1. Given that Christie pretty much created every mystery trope, the reading is feeling rote (see what I did there).  I don't think it's necessarily the book, per se.  But the mood generated from the experience feels rote–I guess that's the word for it.  Here I was attempting to officially take on a Christie novel.  Yet, I've read so many mysteries and am so late to her that I'm bored with the template presented here.  I already know what is about to happen in Styles, not necessarily who will do it.  This leads me to my other problem…

2. Christie's characters are flat.  Now I experienced this realization before when attempting to read her first Miss Marple book before abandoning it.  Nevertheless, I thought I would get over this in Christie's first Hercule Poirot book.  Nah, man.  These characters are flat, 2D, and uninteresting.  Another problem I have, which is usual with me with any type of book, is the lack of illustrations behind characters, scenes, settings, everything.  There is no color here.  Just automatons are doing their master's bidding.  Heck, my reading of the first two Sherlock Holmes novels came close, but at least Holmes and Watson had character.  That's it, Christie's characters lack character... well… let’s just say dept.

So what shall I do next?  Mmmmmm.  I think I’m going to give myself more pages.



So, I managed to scoot up closer to the table and read up to fifty pages and found my interest in the book drastically improved.  Between the first 28 pages until now, the actual death has occurred and what an exciting scene it provided.  All the bells and whistles that tickle my mystery-loving fancy are on full display.  I am now on board.  I am now interested.  The death scene and Poirot's character/personality finally taking stage broke from the initial stale taste the book was giving me.  I am still not engaged with Christie's light writing style; as matter-of-fact, her style makes me hungry for some more of P. D. James's work.  I kept glancing at one of my shelves, wondering would it be appropriate to plug in another Adam Dalgleish book after The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  P. D. James is undoubtedly an evolution of Christie with both her literary style and emphasis on characters.  I stress characters.  James does character.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Friday Book Purchases...

As I write this, I am ready to crash. I spent all of Saturday and the majority of today (Sunday) writing and beating down a course paper and journal.  My plan was to make a lasagna today, but I was so tired of writing and rewriting this paper that I just ordered a pizza, all else be darned. I'm so tired that my joints hurt! And I was only using my brain (or what's left of it) and my fingers. It goes to show the mind-body connection is real. But the second I post this, I'm back to reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  It's my first Sherlock Holmes reading ever.  I can honestly say it is good, especially the second half.

Nevertheless, Fridays are my jam.  Off days always usual are.  However, if God blesses you to have Fridays off... well... don't waste it!

Got paid. Bookstores to curve my mental health in a positive direction.

And just because I like the atmosphere and hoarding books, I went to Barnes & Noble (what else is new, homie?).

Anyway, before the weekend is up, here is what I picked up Friday. A bit of old with a mystery classic/pioneer force in The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  Previously, I had a children's book version of the book and have since decided I needed the whole enchilada experience.

Secondly, I grabbed a new release I've had on my watchlist since last year in Dead Dead Girls by NeKesha Afia.  Who, by the way, is a black woman debuting her Harlem Renaissance-themed mystery here. This is perfect because I'm always in the bookstore looking at newly released early 20th century era mysteries, but the ones that are released never look interesting.  The covers are always some woman looking over a horizon with a big ole wide-brim hat on and an evening gown making them ALL.LOOK.LIKE.THE.SAME.BOOK! Go look for yourself and tell me I'm lying!

Anyway, I was NOT going to walk out without NeKesha Afia having my support. I buy the book. The store replaces the book. Keep the cycle going, people. Now the real question is, when will I catch up with my backlog with all that I have purchased recently.

Well, I'm off.

Tired. Drained.  And still have to go to work tonight.  But I just came to put you all up on some game–book hoarding wise. Six courses left before graduation.  The good news is that I'm ahead, so I have Monday all to myself to make tea and read (and leftover pizza so I don't have to worry about what to eat). Wish me well, and take care yourself, chile.

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