Reading the Detectives discussion

The Worm of Death (Nigel Strangeways, #14)
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Nicholas Blake buddy reads > The Worm of Death- Nicholas Blake (Sep/Oct 2020)

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Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Welcome to our buddy read of The Worm of Death The Worm of Death by Nicholas Blake the fourteenth in the Nigel Strangeways series, published in 1961.

Several days after private detective and poet Nigel Strangeways dines with Dr Piers Loudon and his family, the doctor vanishes, only for his legless corpse to be fished out of the river Thames. When his family ask Nigel to protect their interests during the police investigation, it soon becomes apparent that each member of the deceased's family, from his adopted son to his daughter's unpleasant fiancée, had a strong motive for killing him.

As the winter fog swirls outside, Nigel must find his way through a maze of conflicting stories, missing diaries and red herrings.

Please do not post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


message 2: by Judy (last edited Sep 11, 2020 11:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
Thank you to Susan for setting up the threads for our new buddy reads - just opening them up as it's the weekend.

I'm about a third of the way through this one and it's definitely back to GA disfunctional families, with everyone having a motive! Not too sure what I think yet, but I'm pleased to see Clare returning.

Who else is reading this one?


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
I have finished this one. It was written in 1961 and I think you really get a sense of the 'Angry Young Man,' movement and of Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis) being a little grumpy about it.

I do often like a series which portrays something of the society it appears in and I got a good sense of that here. Also, of changing social attitudes, with Nigel and Clare not being married - that is covered at the beginning of the novel when they go to dinner, so hope is not any kind of a spoiler.


Sandy | 2553 comments Mod
I'm about half way in, agree it is more of its time than some of the other GA authors writing in the 60's. Evidently Nigel decided he could put up with Clare's sloppiness, or the housekeeper is their compromise.


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Yes, he had said he couldn't live with her; I'd forgotten that, Sandy.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
I'm still convinced he is pretty messy himself, after a mention in an earlier novel of him throwing cigarette ash all over someone's carpet!


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
And tipping tea everywhere :)


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
He seems to have switched to numerous cups of coffee, in this book - I've just come across a mention of him drinking 4 cups for breakfast.


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Not a man who does things by halves, obviously. Plus, rationing is over and all that.


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
I'm about 2/3 of the way through now and quite caught up in it - sadly I will have to tear myself away to work today, but hope to finish this evening.


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Good to hear you are enjoying it, Judy.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 322 comments Starting this today, I agree with Susan that the glimpses of society (and Blake’s take on them) are part of the attraction of this series so looking forward to the grumpiness :)


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Yes, there is a lot of grumpiness, Pamela :) I enjoy this series a lot too.


Sandy | 2553 comments Mod
Do we know if Clare, like Strangeway's wife, was based on a real person?


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Interesting question, Sandy. He married Jill Balcon in 1955, who was an actress, not a sculptor.


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
https://crimereads.com/nicholas-blake...

This is an interesting article about the novels, which suggests that Georgia was based on someone he knew at Oxford.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 322 comments That’s a great article. I must admit I miss Georgia.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 663 comments I am getting on with this, though Strangeways isn't a favourite of mine.

It reminded me of going to Greenwich with my mother, in the late 50s, for an appointment at St Alphege's Hospital. I assume it was an appointment for my mother, since I can't remember what it was about ... And visiting the Cutty Sark, and possibly the Greenwich Tunnel. I hadn't thought about it for decades!


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
Fantastic article - thank you for that, Susan.


message 20: by Ruth (last edited Sep 17, 2020 07:04AM) (new)

Ruth | 310 comments Great article. I found it interesting that he started writing crime novels because he was 'in dire need of one hundred pounds to repair his family’s cottage roof in Cheltenham'.

Do you think writing a novel would spring to mind these days as a way of earning extra cash in a hurry? I suppose it would depend what line of work you were already in to a certain extent but I wouldn't think it would be easy to earn money quickly from writing books now. Blogging or Youtubing perhaps?

A lot of the crime writers of that time didn't see it as their main occupation did they.


message 21: by Judy (last edited Sep 17, 2020 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8410 comments Mod
Haha I think you are right there, Ruth - I don't think it would be an easy way for most people to make cash. I suppose he could be sure of being published, as I think he was already known as a poet?


Susan | 9418 comments Mod
Yes, it was as though poetry was the worthwhile way to gain a reputation, and a few, hastily written detective stories, were a vulgar way of actually making a profit from publishing :) I suppose, as I am currently reading Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars Square Haunting Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade all of the women included say writing as 'work' then. Virginia Woolf started with book reviews, so I suppose the comparison to blogging, or Youtubing, is not so far off. They were influencers in their way, and of their day.


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