Mystery Challenge: Historical Mysteries

~by Jen B.

If you love a good historical murder mystery, you’ll be ready for sleuths to do their own leg work and be adept at deciphering psychological clues. Although they lack modern technology and forensics, these stories, set over 50 years ago, showcase the bygone talents of great minds. A few time periods provide more fodder for heinous crimes than others. For instance, the Victorian age, during which Jack the Ripper roamed East London and Sherlock Holmes gained prominence as a consulting detective of keen intellect and masterful puzzle-solving skills. The Middle Ages and early Renaissance (5th to the 15th centuries) are also periods of intrigue tapped by many authors and loved by readers – times of religious strife, plagues, brutal living conditions and truly horrible weather. Puzzlers set just after World War I and during the Roaring Twenties are also popular with readers.

Click here to find The Face of a Stranger in the SPL catalogClick here to find The Cater Street Hangman in the SPL catalog   Click here to find The Yard in the SPL catalogClick here to find Some Danger Involved in the SPL catalog
Continue reading “Mystery Challenge: Historical Mysteries”

Americans in Paris

Oscar Wilde said that good Americans go to Paris when they die, but for many the ville lumière was a regular destination in life, and for some, the one place where they felt free to live realized, adult lives.  Herewith, a few titles by and about notable American lovers of Paris:

Paris was Yesterday by Janet Flanner

This is a lovely collection of the Paris Letters which were published in Harold Ross’s New Yorker during the 1920’s and the 1930’s.  Ross told her to report not what she thought about Paris and France, but what the French thought-and so she did.  Wonderful vignettes of people like Carlo Ponzi the con man, Marlene Dietrich, Colette, and Coco Chanel, make that distant era come alive. 

 Paris in the Fifties by Stanley Karnow

A treasure from a Time Magazine writer who spent many years in France after the second world war.  Karnow met and married a Frenchwoman, learned fluent French, interviewed or met or quarreled with everybody who was anybody in the 1950’s.  Unexpected dividend: a detailed portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Another, the discussion of the rise of the House of Dior. Still another, a close account of the Sartre-de Beauvoir-Camus matrix, followed by eager French-like sports figures. 

Being Geniuses together, 1920-1930 by Robert McAlmon 

A classic self-serving memoir of Paris, with preface and afterword as correctives by Kay Boyle. McAlmon although unproductive as a writer, edited a literary journal published with his wife’s money and a series of short novels, the Contact editions, but he knew Continue reading “Americans in Paris”

Book review: Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood

phryne2.jpgI’ve never encountered a detective quite like Phryne (rhymes with “briny”) Fisher before – but now I’m totally smitten. Divinely elegant and stylish, this smart, confident woman turned her back on 1928 aristocracy to live independently in Australia. In one of my favorites, Murder in Montparnasse, Phryne steps in to help her friends Bert and Cec when their buddies start dying under under suspicious circumstances. She suspects that the men – and perhaps Phryne herself – unknowingly witnessed a crime in Paris ten years earlier during World War I.  Even though I was attracted to the Art Deco cover art in this series, I resisted these books for a solid year. I finally realized my reluctance is connected not to the story or the character, but to the embarrassing fact that I had absolutely no idea how to pronounce “Phryne.” Continue reading “Book review: Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood”