The Tuesday Night Bloggers are a group of crime fiction fans who choose a different topic each month, then write a weekly post on it. Our current theme is 'A is for April, A is for Anything'. We can take the A any way we want to, so look out for some varied blogposts.
And of course please join in if you would like to – one-offs and casuals always welcome.
This month I am collecting the links, so just let me know (in the comments below or on Facebook) if you have anything to add.
This week's links:
Kate over at Cross-Examining Crime looked at A for Alibis
And Brad at Ah Sweet Mystery did An Anatomy of an Adaptation
As ever, Bev at My Reader’s Block did the splendid logo.
We tend to go for Golden Age books, but after all there are no rules this month – A is for Anything. So I have chosen to write about a book by Catherine Aird, who is Anyway generally Agreed to be very much in the tradition of the Golden Age.
His Burial Too by Catherine Aird
She was framed by the classical lines of the Georgian doorway. She stood quite still as she regarded the three policemen. There was something a little unexpected about her appearance—almost foreign. It took Sloan a moment or two to pin down what it was—and then it came to him. It was her clothes. It was high summer in England and this girl was wearing dark brown. Not a floral silk pattern, not a cheerful cotton, nor even a pastel linen such as his own wife, Margaret, was wearing today. But dark brown. It was a simple, utterly plain dress, unadorned save for a solitary string of beads. He was surprised to note that the whole effect was strangely cool-looking on such a hot day. There was the faintest touch of auburn in the colouring of her hair which was replicated in the brown of the dress.
A purist might have said that her mouth was rather too big to be perfect but …
Sloan wasn’t a purist.
He was a policeman.
commentary: I picked up this one on the recommendation of my friend Sergio, over at Tipping my Fedora: he reviewed it last year and got my interest going.
It has a crackerjack setup: a body is buried under a massive marble statue, which has fallen on the victim inside a church tower in such a way that no-one can get in or out. It’s absurdly over-the-top, and completely unbelievable, but terrific fun – and the solution is completely unbelievable too so there’s a certain symmetry there.
The thought of this ridiculous plot has been entertaining me ever since I began reading - and the book as a whole is very entertaining. The giant marble statue
“…was a weeping widow and ten children all mourning the father. You know the sort of thing, sir… This one’s called the Fitton Bequest. A memorial to remember Mr Fitton by …”
“I should have thought myself,” remarked Leeyes, “that ten children were …"
“The workmen moved it into the church tower last week,” went on Sloan hastily.It takes a while to move the lump, so the body can’t be identified for a while, though the doctor does his best to reach some conclusions, and there is a local man gone missing…
As Sergio points out, there are far too many red herrings – something seems frightfully important and full of meaning, and then suddenly we find out that there was a simple, irrelevant explanation. Meanwhile there is much stress on the Italian ways of the young woman above – who has just come back from the country - her connections, the contrast with English ways: but all that is left hanging at the end.
The choppy style – short sentences as at the end of the extract above – gets wearing. But Aird has a light touch, with some funny running jokes such as the very stupid assistant to our own Inspector Sloane, and the bad driving of the doctor:
The Dean of Calleford, a blameless man whose faith was seemingly as firm as that of anyone in the diocese, had once tried to get out of Dr Dabbe’s moving car, wishing he had led a better life the while.There’s a character called George Osborne, and a reference to ‘going into the hush’ as a slang term for going into the countryside – a usage I cannot find anywhere else.
Catherine Aird offers a very enjoyable 70s take on a Golden Age mystery: her settings are pleasantly of their time, but the conventions very much of earlier crime stories. And they are guaranteed entertainment, and short. I am getting to like Inspector Sloane a lot.
I do recommend Sergio’s blogpost on the book.
For more Catherine Aird books, click on the label below.
The picture is from the Clover Vintage Tumbler.