The New Year holiday finds Lord Peter and Bunter traveling to the fen country to stay with friends of his lordship. On the way, the Daimler has a misuThe New Year holiday finds Lord Peter and Bunter traveling to the fen country to stay with friends of his lordship. On the way, the Daimler has a misunderstanding with a narrow, hump-backed bridge and the pair find themselves nose down in a ditch. They make for Fenchurch St. Paul and soon become acquainted with most of the main characters in the upcoming mystery. A bout of influenza has also arrived in Fenchurch St. Paul and the Rector finds himself one man short for the bell-ringing scheduled to bring in the New Year. Fortunately, Lord Peter has rung a bell or two in his time and he gallantly offers to fill the gap. This gives him the opportunity to befriend and exchange gossip with most of the central actors.
A couple of months later finds a grave being opened to bury Sir Henry Thorpe with his wife (who had succumbed to the 'flu over New Year's). The gravediggers are surprised to find an unexpected corpse--the body of an unknown man, with features disfigured, and no coffin. The Rector decides to call in Lord Peter and he assists Inspector Blundell in the unraveling of the this very complicated case. Who is the man in the grave? How and when did he get there? Does it have anything do with the emeralds that were stolen at Sir Henry's wedding many years ago?
When I took off for a three-hour trip to visit my parents last weekend, I took along Lord Peter Wimsey, Mr. Bunter and the rest of the folks that we meet at Fenchurch St. Paul. Or rather the remarkable talents of Ian Carmichael who brought them all to life. I thoroughly enjoyed Carmichael as Wimsey in the visual adaptations and only wish that things had worked out when the project was first broached so Carmichael could have played him when younger. Ideally, of course, they would have started at the beginning and been able to go all the way through to Busman's Honeymoon (if only those dratted rights could be wrestled away from MGM). Carmichael did a splendid job voicing the multitude of male characters--from Wimsey and Bunter to the Rector and all the bell-ringers to Cranton, the jewel thief. The female voices were bit tougher for him, but he still managed to produce distinctive tones for Mrs. Venables, Hilary Thorpe, and the others. Since the story is so very familiar to me (I can't tell you how many times I've read it), I was able to lose myself in the storytelling and the miles just flew by on my journey there and back. A thoroughly enjoyable audio novel--with a story from one of the Queens of crime.
The Warsaw Anagrams (2009) by Richard Zimler is a heartbreaking historical thriller set in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. The story is told byThe Warsaw Anagrams (2009) by Richard Zimler is a heartbreaking historical thriller set in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. The story is told by Erik Cohen, an elderly psychiatrist, who leaves a Nazi intern camp only to discover that he is no longer alive. He is an ibbur--a spirit--and no one can see him until he makes his way back to the Ghetto. There he finds Heniek Corben, a visionary man and the only person who can see this spectre from the camp, to whom he must tell his tale. The story begins in the Ghetto, so it is fitting that it can only be told where it began. Cohen's story centers on his young nephew, Adam. Cohen, like all other Jews in Warsaw, has been forced to relocate to the Ghetto--an area surrounded by barbed wire to keep them separated from Christians. He moves in with his niece and her son and must learn to adjust to living in cramped quarters in close proximity with a young boy. Adam teaches his great-uncle much as Erik learns to love and protect his nephew and overcome his selfishness. But Adam is also savvy to the ways of the underground and risks much to bring back forbidden supplies from "The Other Side" (as life beyond the Ghetto walls is know). One night, Adam does not return home and his mutilated body is found the next morning on the barbed wire. It becomes Erik's mission to find out who did this to Adam--why was he killed and why his right leg cut off?
Erik's investigation leads him to the murders of other Jewish children--all left on the barbed wire with various parts removed and never the same parts. There are rumors that someone is taking the parts to build a golem, but Erik doesn't believe in superstition and isn't even sure he believes in God anymore. What kind of God would allow children to be brutalized like this? Erik is sure there is a darker, more horribly realistic motive behind the killing and he won't rest until he discovers it.
Generally speaking, I don't do well with books that involve violence of any sort directed towards children. Even when I know it's not real, I just can't do it--I never could and even more so once I became a mother. But this book is so very well done and the focus is so much on Erik's investigation of the murders rather than on the details of the murders themselves, that I could enjoy it. Zimler creates a very moving and intriguing story in the midst of the overall horror of the Nazis' atrocities. He also creates a sense of hope in the midst of hopelessness by focusing on the simple, everyday activities of the Jewish people within the Ghetto--from the children going secretly to school and forming a choir to the small kindnesses that neighbors extend to one another to the few Polish Christians who risk punishment by providing what they can for the Jews they know behind the barbed wire. It is an absorbing and heart-breaking story and well worth your time whether you are looking for a World War II setting or a mystery thriller.