Reading the Detectives discussion

The Smiler With the Knife (Nigel Strangeways, #5)
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Nicholas Blake buddy reads > The Smiler With the Knife - Nicholas Blake

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Susan | 10692 comments Mod
Published in 1939, this is very much a novel about the coming war. It follows, "The Beast Must Die," and is followed by my favourite Blake novel, "Malice in Wonderland."

Detective Nigel Strangeways, and his explorer wife Georgia have taken a cottage in the countryside. They are slowly beginning to adjust to a more relaxed way of life when Georgia finds a mysterious locket in their garden and unwittingly sets the couple on a collision course with a power-hungry movement aimed at overthrowing the government.

It will take all of Nigel's brilliance and Georgia's bravery if they are to infiltrate the order and unmask the conspirators.

This novel feature Georgia as the main character and is more a spy/thriller than a crime novel.

Please refrain from posting spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 403 comments I'm just starting this one today. In the last few weeks I read the first in the series A Question of Proof and really liked it, so I'm looking forward to this.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9525 comments Mod
I’ve started this one and am enjoying it a lot so far - Nigel and Georgia are a great couple, nice to have a married couple who are devoted without being too sugary!

The plot seems quite. similar to several other thrillers I’ve read set around this period at the outbreak of war.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
It reminded me a little of Above Suspicion.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
Must have been difficult for authors to write really inspiring novels with the threat of invasion very real. It must have occurred to them that, were the Germans to cross the Channel, their names may have appeared on a list somewhere...


Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
I haven't started yet, and won't for a few days, but I looked at my copy from the library and it is a first edition, 1939, in very good condition. May just mean it's not popular. I'll treat it gently.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
That's quite special, Sandy. It deserves being read :)


Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
I've read quite a bit by now and hope to finish it tonight. Although I remember the plots of two earlier books, I don't remember much about Nigel, and this book isn't developing his character. However, Georgia should stick in my mind.


message 9: by Sandy (last edited Jun 20, 2018 05:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
Follow-up to my first edition post: the author's name on the spine is Day-Lewis, C while Nicholas Blake is listed on the title page. Very bland cover, perhaps made for libraries. I wonder how they file it?


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
Georgia is interesting for a reason that I won't go into now, as we read on. If we keep going in the series, as we plan to, we will get toMinute for Murder which was based on Day-Lewis's war work. Interesting, the work he did was similar to that by George Orwell, which inspired, "1984." I give no spoilers, but I suspect it will surprise some of you.

I am particularly pleased we are going to read, "Malice in Wonderland," which I think is a fascinating period piece, as it is set in a very early holiday camp.


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9525 comments Mod
What is the cover picture on that 1939 edition, Sandy? Interesting that it has Day-Lewis on the spine. Did the library file it under B or D?!


message 12: by Sandy (last edited Jun 22, 2018 10:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
It was a request so I don't know how it was filed. It would be confusing either way. And it is just a solid color hardback. There may have been a paper cover once but not any more. I speculate it is a library edition as there is nothing to spark interest, but I don't think it said so. I've returned it but may look for the isbn.

The isbn did not help, it pulled up a paperback with the cover we have (man with globe). The library site had pbk after the isbn. The site lists: Harper & Row 1978, c1939 1st ed

So, I'm confused!


message 13: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9525 comments Mod
Thanks for the reply, Sandy - I just searched for the first edition and I think this was probably the original dustjacket image:

https://www.bookedupac.com/pages/book...


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9525 comments Mod
There seem to be a lot of different covers - I like this Hogarth Crime one which shows Georgia:

https://bit.ly/2twfl07


message 15: by Sandy (last edited Jun 22, 2018 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
Georgia deserves to be on the cover, she does all the work. And I was glad to get the part of the book that explains the cover we are using.


Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
Since I don't really remember Nigel and I skipped the first two books in the series, I plan to read at least the first soon. The second is harder to come by; available in a multi-book set by special request from the library. Better than the books marked 'in library use only'.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 403 comments I liked the first one better than either this or The Beast Must Die, Sandy. It's a more traditional mystery. I like Blake's writing style and I've now ordered Thou Shell of Death: A Nigel Strangeways Mystery from the library.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9525 comments Mod
I really liked Thou Shell of Death - this is a great series.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
It is one of my favourite GA series. I am glad we are continuing this one :)


Sandy | 3069 comments Mod
I've finished the first book and I can't say I remember Nigel any better. Probably he is just too much of a type and I have too many series going. I was reminded of Campion.

I enjoy Blake's writing style very much: his twists of phrase are unique (maybe the poet coming to the front).

Now to seek out the second book.


message 21: by Gardener0126 (new)

Gardener0126 | 6 comments I have read a number of the Nigel Strangeways series and this one has been my least favorite so far. I had a hard time finishing the book, but I can’t really give a reason. Maybe it’s the political conspiracy angle that just didn’t appeal to me. And yet, it was a very real concern at that time, so I can see that it would be well received when it was published.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
I would agree, Gardener. Not one of my favourites either and it does have a real sense of propaganda about it. I like Georgia, but I missed Nigel in this one...


message 23: by Gardener0126 (new)

Gardener0126 | 6 comments Sandy wrote: "I've finished the first book and I can't say I remember Nigel any better. Probably he is just too much of a type and I have too many series going. I was reminded of Campion.

I enjoy Blake's writi..."


You know, I can see where Nigel reminds you of Campion, particularly in this book that highlights Georgia. Although Amanda never takes a starring role in the Campion stories like Georgia does in this one, she does play a strong supportive role in some of them. In both series there are similarities in the types of women that they are, just as Strangeways and Campion have a number of similarities.


Susan | 10692 comments Mod
As I have yet to find any place in my heart for Campion, I fail to see many similarities. However, Nigel has not yet really come alive as a character, in his own right. Oddly, I think Minute for Murder is the novel where we get to see more of him. I won't give spoilers, but Georgia features less in later books and this is the only novel where she is the central character.


message 25: by Gardener0126 (new)

Gardener0126 | 6 comments Susan wrote: "As I have yet to find any place in my heart for Campion, I fail to see many similarities. However, Nigel has not yet really come alive as a character, in his own right. Oddly, I think [book:Minute ..."

I’ve read several of the Strangeways books, but I will admit the similarities are very superficial, having more to do with their deductive abilities than their actual personalities. It also seems to me that both sleuths married married women who were perhaps a bit stronger and more independent that was usual for the time. Lord Peter and his Harriet come to my mind here to.


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