Adventures in Pet Sitting!

The last months of summer are usually a whirlwind of getting out of town. For some of us that means finding a pet sitter. Maybe it’s a friendly neighbor or a local boarder or maybe it’s you! This August I hung out for two weeks with two adorable cat brothers who act more like dogs than cats! They sneaked into grocery bags and even brought a bat in the house (thank goodness for vaccinations)! My other gig is in a few weeks with two older pups…and I’m starting to wonder what adventures they will bring! Have you had any adventures in pet sitting?

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement

“Clement’s assured cozy debut introduces an appealing heroine, 32-year-old Dixie Hemingway, who’s given up her stressful job as a sheriff’s deputy in Sarasota, Fla., to become a professional pet sitter. When Dixie calls early one morning on her latest client, a silver-blue Abyssinian named Ghost, she finds a dead man face down in the cat bowl. Continue reading “Adventures in Pet Sitting!”

Mystery Challenge: Cozy Mysteries

~by Lori T.

Are you reading along with the Mystery Challenge? Grab your choice of a hot beverage, a warm throw, a good snack, and a cozy mystery. Cozy Mysteries are for people that prefer a mystery without graphic descriptions of  blood and violence. These type of mysteries are books where the main character or someone close to them discovers the victim and proceeds to solve the crime before the police.

English Cottage Mysteries:

What do a retired English woman, an American transplant, and a missing cousin have in common? They are a few of characters found in the English Cottage Cozy subgenre.

Agatha Raisin, recently retired to the Cotswolds, makes her sleuthing debut in Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton. Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton, on the other hand, stars a recently bereaved transplant from Boston, who inherits a haunted cottage in Cornwall. And Jenn McKinlay moves the mystery to London, with a missing cousin, in Cloche and Dagger.

Click here to find Agatha Raisin and The Quiche of Death in the SPL catalogClick here to find Aunt Dimity’s Death in the SPL catalogClick here to find Cloche and Dagger in the SPL catalogClick here to find Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder in the SPL catalogClick here to find A Spoonful of Murder in the SPL catalog Continue reading “Mystery Challenge: Cozy Mysteries”

Crime: Is Dorothy L. Sayers still worth reading?

Dorothy L. Sayers in her college days.“Is Dorothy L. Sayers still worth reading?” Well I’ve been reading her lately (in anticipation of the Taproot Theatre’s upcoming production of Gaudy Night), and my unsurprising answer is yes, but why? After all, her hero – Edwardian aristocrat Lord Peter Wimsey – seems at first blush to be just the kind of plummy, pompous plutocrat that we’ve lost all taste for. Although Sayers’ works are drenched in the sort of stylish tweedy Englishness that enthralls Downton Abbey fans, they have not one jot of the latter’s sympathy to the plight of those below stairs, siding firmly and unselfconsciously with the snobs. Wimsey’s man Bunter (one of the great butlers) makes Jeeves look like an anarchist, so well does he know his place. Continue reading “Crime: Is Dorothy L. Sayers still worth reading?”

An Alphabet of Crime: Margery Allingham

I made a couple of New Year’s resolutions involving crime this year: to start up a regular weekly crime column here in ShelfTalk, and to alphabetically read my way through the mystery section at the Central Library, two authors/letters each month. My colleague Linda has done this twice, up to the letter G anyway, and so I can’t resist the attempt to get beyond Sue Grafton; this post kicks off both those resolutions.

A is for Allingham.

Margery Allingham in the 1950sI read two of Allingham’s Albert Campion books; they were very different. The first –  Mystery Mile (1930) – was just the sort of classic whodunnut I’d expected: a large cast, charming eccentrics, and a nice puzzle plot in the Christie tradition. Campion seems here to be, if not exactly Bertie Wooster at least somewhere in his genus: the sort of silly harmless twit who typically rounds out the crowd in attendance as a murder is discovered at the Country House. Of course this blandness is all a blind for Campion’s astute sleuthing, and the fact that he’s also a noble masquerading as a commoner (Campion is not his real name) seems to harken back to the Gentlemen heroes of Sapper and his ilk, as the enigmatic villainy of Simister faintly suggests the likes of Fantômas. Fine, fun, and quite good for fans of Golden Age mysteries and latter day cozies.

The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) is a different animal altogether, more akin to Greene’s Brighton Rock or Kersh’s Night and the City than Sayers or Christie, and the sort of crime novel I’d unreservedly suggest to readers ranging from those who enjoy the traditional mysteries of Ngaio MarshDorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey or Edumund Crispin, to fans of contemporary British crime such as P.D. James, to anyone who enjoys a masterfully told suspenseful novel exploring good and evil in equal measure. The opening gambit is perfectly haunting, as a war widow soon to remarry is confronted with evidence of her dead husband’s phantom presence in the foggy streets of London, aka “The Smoke.” This evocative spookiness reminded me instantly of Elizabeth Bowen’s uncanny short story, The Demon Lover, or Charles Williams’ classic wartime ghost story, All Hallow’s Eve – a wartorn London haunted by the ghosts of the countless dead.

Tiger in the Smoke, by Margery AllinghamThe villain of the piece, the aptly named Jack Havoc, is a ruthless serial killer with a highly developed sense of amorality who cruises the murky depths like a shark or, erm, well, a tiger. No, I haven’t just given away the whole plot(s), for this isn’t that kind of crime novel. His foil is the widow’s ecclesiastical landlord (and Campion’s uncle) the Canon Avril, who follows the righteous path as effortlessly as Havoc embraces darkness, and whose presence as an unequivocal force for good keeps the novel poised between the bready reassurance of fair play mystery, and the disconcerting shadows of noir. And Campion? He plays his important role largely from the sidelines, so much so that the 1956 film of the book cut the character altogether – try that with Poirot.

However you want to classify it, it is easily one of the best crime novels I’ve ever read. Mesmerizing, in fact. I’d love to read more Margery Allingham, but now I’m on the B’s (…let’s see, I’ve actually read and loved a lot of these – Box, Block, Burke, Bruen… maybe something classic. hmm…)