1958, #2 Mrs Norris, housekeeper to James Jarvis, Lawyer, and Inspector Tully NYC PD; nominated for Edgar Best Novel 1959. Someone is murdering little...more1958, #2 Mrs Norris, housekeeper to James Jarvis, Lawyer, and Inspector Tully NYC PD; nominated for Edgar Best Novel 1959. Someone is murdering little-old-ladies-with-money as well as playing games; nice Mrs. Norris finds herself on both sides of the case. Cosy police procedural - four stars.
When Inspector Tully gets handed a Bluebeard/serial killer sort of case He’s quite happy - it’s a thorny problem and he loves those. But he also loves the calm-speaking, quick-witted Mrs. Norris, and regrets not being able to see her much over the ensuing month. But Mrs. Norris has “other interests” to keep her busy: a peculiarly entertaining, winsome older gentleman client of her employer who seems to turn up at the apartment quite (and increasingly) frequently. And she does a spot of genteel detection for her boss as well.
She’s a clever, kind woman and loathe to suspect the cherubic, super-joyful Mr. Adkins of any double-dealing or “womanizing” but, alas, it appears he’s mixed up in a nasty paternity suit. As the story unfolds, Mrs. Norris’s experiences with Mr. Adkins, Lawyer Jarvis’s development of the case, and Inspector Tully’s serial killer case all start to blend together.
Not a true had-I-but-known thriller, for all the clues are quite visible all along the way, and there’s little ambiguity in the suspicions raised and just where the story is going. Plus a goodly portion of the story follows the police as they work the serial killer case. Ms. Davis is a very sure-footed plotter, with suble touches here’n’there, a nicely calibrated sense of humor (dry), a decent enough pace (switching easily and clearly amiong the three viewpoints) and some truly remarkable - and excellently portrayed - characters.
Overall this is a comfortable, entertaining read and yet not too predictable. Ms. Davis's touch is smooth and sure, and her way with words is quite precise and beautifully evocative - the characters seem to live upon the page still, even after sixty years.
Ms. Davis, although not now as well-remembered as some of her contemporaries (Eberhart, Christie, Millar, Marsh, Allingham etc) was very popular during her career, winning one Edgar Award and being nominated five more times, and also was a Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America. She wrote two mystery series: three books in the Mrs. Norris series in the 1950s, and four books in the Julie Hayes (wannabe reporter) in the late 1970s. She also wrote over a dozen other crime novels and numerous short stories. She was one of the Founders of Sisters In Crime. (less)
1943, #6 Mr&Mrs North, Captain Bill Weigand NYC Police Currently-chic author literally dies (or is that “literary-ly”...) while on-stage during a b...more1943, #6 Mr&Mrs North, Captain Bill Weigand NYC Police Currently-chic author literally dies (or is that “literary-ly”...) while on-stage during a book tour. [cosy police procedural, not quite as sharp as the earlier books - almost three stars]
Author Victor Sproul is currently extremely popular - having lived in Paris for the last fifteen years, he was well-placed to write about its literary scene once he’d made it to NYC after the Nazis invaded France. Nostalgia about “Paris in the 20s” sold well then, as it does now, and Mr. North’s publishing business is likely to reap huge profits from Sproul’s new book. Lined up for a big book tour, he is set to open with an exclusive - and expensive - first lecture for the literary elite of NYC circa 1942.
But the obnoxious Mr. Sproul dies on-stage before he can open his mouth. And that’s not a bad thing, according to his contemporaries and acquaintances (he didn’t have friends). He was going to announce a coming tell-all book that many of them are quite happy will now never be written. Called to the scene, Captain Bill Weigand meets up with his good friends The Norths and sets police procedure in motion.
Despite the hoary chestnut of the murder device (somebody on-stage gets murdered while in full view of a large audience), much of the plot is very good, and the look at early-in-the-war Home Front in ritzy NYC is entertaining. The characters are well-drawn and the red herrings are mostly good ones. But the balance of this novel is somewhat off, leaning unfortunately towards the “Cute!!!” and lame attempts at topicality. References to the war are superficial at best, apparently only thrown in for “color”, and the cuteness/sweetness factor nearly overwhelms the plot.
Although the main plot thread is an old one - and still frequently used - it can be fun in the right hands. But the Lockridges don’t clearly set up a timeline nor the working out of finding about the timeline of Sproul’s death; it’s all rather murkily presented. And the inclusion of an Oriental “comic spy”-type is, at best, annoying; at worst, extremely intrusive, as he becomes a big part of Pam North’s fem-jep sequence at the end which is, by now, at book #6, becoming boring and does not work here; plus it is far too similar to the endings of the previous books without, alas, their humorous snappy tone or the excellent pacing of several of those books. And one major flaw (yes, there’s more...) so badly bothered me I nearly gave up completely, a very rare thing for me when it concerns “this type of book”:
The Cuteness Factor (sigggh). Exemplified in a completely extraneous plot device that appears to have been included to show how young’n’hip and “with-it” the authors were (well, for 1942 anyway). This includes a very long-winded, repetitious one-note running joke about the Norths’ young nieces (16 & 14) who have come to The Big Bad City for a visit and get themselves “involved” with far too many young servicemen who are “at liberty”... A little of this sort of thing may have been fun, but there’s far too much of it plus - my main quibble - it adds absolutely nothing to the plot! And considerably slows down and deadens the atmosphere whenever they appear. Plus I hate “Cute!!” - YMMV.
So. The pacing is off, too much extraneous stuff/filler, a good deal of repetition of elements from earlier books, far less humor than earlier, and a very old plot. Sounds like a complete disaster, right? Well, not quite. The plot, though old, is very nicely worked-out. The red herrings are well-constructed and decently paced. The humorous bits (except for The Nieces) are good, if not as good as they were in earlier books. And the characters are still excellently drawn - of the suspects, that is. The Regulars (Pam, Jerry, Bill, Dorian, Mullins) aren’t fleshed out much, the nieces not at all. And the Lockridges do get to take some lovely digs at the publishing business and its promotional techniques, becoming quite savagely funny in spots, particularly about a booking agent for the lectures. It’s well-done and provides a nice window into the past. And that’s the best thing about this overall- it’s a fairly good look at a time and attitudes and behaviors that are now long gone, in a rarefied strata of NYC intelligentsia. And it appears that the publishing world hasn’t changed much in some respects...
As the library didn’t have a copy of either #4 (DEATH ON THE AISLE) or #5 (HANGED FOR A SHEEP), both from 1942, while saving up to buy copies I moved on to this sixth-in series (a very long series btw - 26 books, some with Heimrich and most with Weigand, and the numbering of the books is a bit mixed up; they frequently published two books in the same year and this seems to have confused some list-makers). Unfortunately, in the intervening year or so since #3 the tone and approach of their writing appears to have changed markedly - and not for the better IMO. Hope it’s just a quick aberration; will of course let you know (grin). Looks as though the next in series I can easily obtain will be #10 MURDER WITHIN MURDER, 1946. (less)
Absolutely superb drawings (this guy *really knows/loves cats!), excellent format and production values, and a very entertaining - and funny - story,...moreAbsolutely superb drawings (this guy *really knows/loves cats!), excellent format and production values, and a very entertaining - and funny - story, with just a tiny touch of edginess at times. . Not sure how this would fare with littler kids, but suspect the 6-and-up mught get a bit of a laugh from it; the darker meanings would escape the younger ones while the rest of us olders enjoy the complex themes. Survival by tooth and claw...! Scary when basic but this is far from basic - lots of subtle touches. Plus the universe he creates is wonderfully welcoming overall. Good Stuff! (less)
Well-produced, clearly arranged book, with tons of good info re. types of sock yarn and various uses and/or substitutions. Enjoyed that (beginning) pa...moreWell-produced, clearly arranged book, with tons of good info re. types of sock yarn and various uses and/or substitutions. Enjoyed that (beginning) part very much. Patterns weren't very interesting to me, though - interesting color choices in a couple pf designs, but over-all mainlu basic sorts of things albeit using mainly small amounts of various colored yarns that provided a bit of punch.
BOTTOM LINE: good, not great pattern book for those of us who enjoy working with the lovely varieties of sock yarns now available. (less)
Another decent book from Debbie Bliss. I know there are many who simply *adore* her work, but much of the time I find her to be just a smidge "too cut...moreAnother decent book from Debbie Bliss. I know there are many who simply *adore* her work, but much of the time I find her to be just a smidge "too cute!" for my tastes.
Lots of "cosy home" sorts of things in the book, and text is well-written and presented. superb production values and lovely pictures, and a nice amount of basic information made this fairly enjoyable to peruse, but I won't be buying a copy any time ssoon. Nothing new or particularly interesting, but a good mix of designs, including an old favorite I love - a garter stitch one-piece baby sweater worked with short rows to give it shaping. Ought to make up beautifully and easily, and I firmly intend to try it soonish...
Note: the Ravelry page with that pattern info gives rather different dimensions of the pattern when compared with the book, although it references the book as source. It shows sport yarn rather than baby yarn, #4 needles rather than #3, and so is likely to work up much larger, not the Zero to 9 months sizes of the original pattern. You're going to have to swatch if you make this. (less)
Sumptuous book, filled with extremely complex intarsia patterns but oh-so-beautiful!
All charted, these sometimes whimsical, often over-the-top design...moreSumptuous book, filled with extremely complex intarsia patterns but oh-so-beautiful!
All charted, these sometimes whimsical, often over-the-top designs made me smile - and wish I could use charted patterns! (poor vision plus limited patience would equal a frustrated mess, unfortunately).
She not only uses big, bold colors, but big, bold elements in her designs - these are quite far afield from Fair Isle indeed! But in their way nearly as beautiful. There is some repetition of motifs in the designs, but the book is filled with charted patterns plus the instructions as to how to adapt them all for your personal use - a wonderful addition to an already fine book.
*I originally wrote: Jenny Kee is a designer to watch IMO. Now, if only she'd use flowery motifs for her next project...!* - should have checked copyright first!!! geesh.
This is from 1988, and her other pattern book (WINTER KNITS) is from 1989. Makes me wonder what she's been up to lately...! (less)
I'm quite adverse to the use of "Chic!!" and "Retro!!" in clothing patterns/books etc, and this is a simply dreadful example...moreOh,dear. WHERE to begin??
I'm quite adverse to the use of "Chic!!" and "Retro!!" in clothing patterns/books etc, and this is a simply dreadful example of just why. I suspect the authors/editors thought the use of the catchphrases "geek" and "retro" would sell this - and if you brlieve those words, more fool you! The write-up for the book on the GR page only continues the theme. Filled with those catchphrases (plus "Cute!!" and "Cosy!") it ought to warn you to Be Warned!! Sugar High Approaching!!"
Now, if that IS your sort of thing, well, fine. But "cosy" AND "chic" togther? Different sensibilities IMO. Anyway, enough rant; on to the book itself.
This thin, extremely tightly bound book is impossible to use while actually crocheting - the pages simply do not stay down so you can read the patern while working. Heck, it's even quite difficult to read the first time through because it's so tightly bound together! Filled with 30-ish models attempting to look fifteen, set in cutely coy poses that made me grit my teeth, I'd have forgiven een that if the patterns were interesting, or fun, or there were new construction techniques - something interesting! But, alas, no.
The patterns themselves were mostly quite ugly - when they weren't downright unwearable - no, not even by an actual extremely skinny fifteen year old. The sizes were quite small, so most pre-teens might fit, but nobody else. And the only way you will get a fashion-conscious pre-teen - female - into anything other than the cover pattern will be as a Duty Wear of a present from Grandma. And while there are a couple of patterns for males here, they're completely unusable - no pre-teen boy would be caught dead in them, probably not even for Grandma, unless on penalty of death and never at school.
I attempted to like this, I truly did. I quite liked the pattern on the cover but, alas, it's the only one in the book that truly approaches both "retro" and "chic" - and that second is only a maybe. Once a trend/design idea filters down to crochet pattern books, you can bet it's been "out" among kids for AGES - maybe six months, even...(less)
Three stars plus, actually - a pretty useful book.
With good instructions, excellent production values (spiral bound, yay!!), and some decent-to-good...moreThree stars plus, actually - a pretty useful book.
With good instructions, excellent production values (spiral bound, yay!!), and some decent-to-good patterns in extremely generous sizes, this *ought* to have rated higher, but many of the patterns use bulky yarn and/or extremely large hooks, resulting in unfortunately lumpy garments. But I tend to dislike the use of bulky yarns and large needles or hooks anyway (Pet Peeve) so YMMV. (less)