Benn, James R. The First Wave.

NY: Soho Press, 2007.

Billy Boyle was a young Boston cop, just promoted to detective, when the Pearl Harbor attack catapulted him into the army. He’s also (supposedly) a distant cousin of Gen. Eisenhower, and his intention in the first book of this entertaining series was to use that connection to land a nice, safe spot on the security detail at the War Department — but instead, he found himself at Uncle Ike’s headquarters in London, dodging air raids.

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Marsh, Ngaio. Surfeit of Lampreys.

London: Collins, 1941.

In the Golden Age of British mystery writing, the Big Three were Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Ngaio Marsh. I’ve always enjoyed Sayers, though I’ve equally found Christie nearly unreadable. But it baffles me that readers today who (like my wife) own all the works of the first two in paperback reprints and reread them regularly often haven’t even heard of Marsh,

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Heyer, Georgette. Lady of Quality.

NY: Dutton, 1972.

The lady of the title is Miss Annis Wychwood, now approaching the age of thirty, still a spinster, and not displeased about it. She possesses considerable independent means and had moved out of her brother’s country estate some years before and into her own townhouse in Bath before strained sibling relations were pushed beyond the point of retrieval. She’s an excellent manager, has a wide circle of good friends, and is not encumbered by the fact that she’s also extremely beautiful.

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Sambrook, Pamela. The Country House Servant.

Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1999.

While this is generally a very interesting and informative volume, the reader who picks it up based on the title alone may become annoyed. Sambrook notes in the Introduction that because of the size of the subject, she has limited herself to those three categories of servants who were mostly concerned with cleaning the country house and its contents — the footman, the housemaid, and especially the laundrymaid.

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Published in: on 23 February 2012 at 10:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Heyer, Georgette. Frederica.

London: Bodley Head, 1965.

This is one of Heyer’s later Regency romances and the plotting is somewhat more sophisticated than in many of her early works. It’s also one of her funniest books.

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Published in: on 21 February 2012 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Benn, James R. Billy Boyle.

NY: Soho Press, 2006.

It’s always nice to discover a successful new mystery novelist, especially when the setting is also unusual. The title character here is a Boston Irish cop who is in his early twenties when the U.S. is swept into the War by the attack at Pearl Harbor, having just made detective a few days before.

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Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Warrior’s Apprentice.

NY: Baen Books, 1986.

I’ve been aware of the “Miles Vorkosigan” series for some time — it has an avid fan following — but I somehow never got around to reading any of them until now. At that, I had a difficult time finding a copy of this first novel in the saga and had finally to get it through Inter-Library Loan.

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Heyer, Georgette. Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle.

NY: Putnam, 1957.

Among other works, Georgette Heyer wrote nearly three dozen “Regency romances.” They have various things in common — a romance (naturally), humor, and an especially well-researched milieu — but they’re not all alike. Far from it.

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Heyer, Georgette. The Corinthian.

NY: Dutton, 1966. (Originally published as Beau Wyndham, 1941.)

Though she has since had many copiers, Heyer was the inventor of the “Regency romance” and over a long career she rang all the changes on the theme. Some of her novels set in England in the very early 19th century were sweetly romantic, some were coming-of-age mini-epics, some were even more or less serious explorations of the lack of freedom, to say nothing of life options, facing a young woman of good breeding in those days. This one, though, is a flat-out romp, the sort of thing that would have made a terrific Hollywood script back in the 1930s.

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Block, Lawrence. The Burglar in the Closet.

NY: HarperCollins, 1978.

This is the second novel in the series about Bernie Rhodenbarr, gentleman burglar. The first book was pretty good, and the later installments are quite good, the author having developed the character and his circumstances in more thorough detail, but this sophomore effort is really pretty weak.

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Published in: on 11 February 2012 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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