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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Mini reviews #10

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson. Ian Rankin considers this a detective novel -- and the best one ever written -- so it belongs here. I would call it a gothic novel, and rather old-fashioned for its time, although incredibly accessible. It's a beautifully crafted and blatantly important novel. We all know the story but, I think, 99% of readers will stay engaged from beginning to end.

The Bar on the Seine (1931) by Georges Simenon. An extremely enjoyable and astute novel which begins with a conversation between Maigret and a man he has captured, who is facing the death penalty. It's the kind of book you read quickly, forget quickly, and remember bit by bit.

Rogue Male (1939) by Geoffrey Household. My goodness, some men need to get over themselves.

And Then There Was No One (2009) by Gilbert Adair. Without a doubt, objectively and unquestionably, the best postmodern detective novel of all time. But don't just read this one -- read the whole Evadne Mount trilogy.

A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes (2011) edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco. This is a collection of short stories, focussing on the central Sherlock Holmes characters from a variety of LGBTQIA perspectives. The stories range in quality quite dramatically, and I think the best is Katie Raynes' 'The Kidnapping of Alice Braddon'.


  1. Definitely enjoying the mini reviews series. Always interesting to see how many I have read out of the list. Only two this time around I'm afraid though. Loved TSCODJAMH like you , but unlike you I really didn't enjoy Adair's book when I reviewed it. It may be that I don't get on with the levels of confusion postmodern works generate. Never read Household's novel but your comment is certainly entertaining and could probably apply to a number of fictional men in interwar mysteries. Unless of course your comment was referring to Household himself?

    1. Thanks, Kate! I see what you mean about Adair and will seek out your review. Did you start with The Act of Roger Murgatroyd or go straight into ATTWNO? The postmodern games kind of escalate over the course of the series. When the first one came out I was 17 and had never heard of post-modernism, but bought it on spec because it had a pretty cover and Agatha-ish title. I thought it was just a really funny and badly written novel, although the bad writing was actually good writing, if that makes sense. Then whenever a new one came out it would be my Christmas present to myself. When the third one came out, I was studying po-mo at uni, so enjoyed it doubly. Part of me wants to reread them all properly but part of me is scared that, if I do so, I'd find them tedious. As for Rogue Male, the comment was definitely on the hero and the genre more generally. The writing itself is beautiful in places, and I don't know anything about Household as a person. I enjoy some blokey fiction, but only when the hero takes himself with a pinch of salt.

    2. Yeah I did jump straight into ATTWNO, which might not have been the best idea.