The dangerous temptations of literature

I was in the mood for some classical crime and as I had none unread I went for a reread of Dorothy Sayers’ Strong Poison. The mystery was of course still good, I find that Sayers’ novels work well also on a reread, but what struck me particularly this time was the sweet omelette eaten in one of the scenes. A sweet omelette with jam, is that really a thing? All the omelettes I have had up to now have been salt and savoury.

This called for an experiment. Unfortunately the description in the book was not really a enough for a recipe, so I picked the easiest one I could find online instead. In it 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 table spoon of flour was beaten together in a cup, fried in butter and served directly with berries or jam. Definitely tasty!

I am sure the more advanced recipes I found would have made it even better, but it was good enough to convince me that sweet omelettes are a thing, and that they make for a very nice snack. Thank you Dorothy Sayers!

Earlier temptations: Maple syrup candy

Crime novels for Easter

Photo of a yellow tulip

As I mentioned in my previous post Norway has an excellent tradition of reading crime novels during Easter and, as I have read little but cosy crime lately, I thought I should do my part to support the tradition by highlighting my favourite recent reads. All from the excellent British Library Crime Classics series.

Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac was the first crime novel I read this year, thanks to a recommendation by Kaggsy. The mystery itself is good but fairly standard, the real treat is instead the atmosphere of war time London. First published in 1945 it must have been written during or directly after WW2 and it really shows.

Having read this one I immediately got the two other novels by E.C.R. Lorac currently in print, Bats in the Belfry (1937) and Fire in the Thatch (1946). They were both good mysteries, especially Fire in the Thatch, but they lacked that special setting that made Murder by Matchlight stand out.

The Division Bell Mystery, first published in 1932, is set in the British parliament. It was written by the Labour politician Ellen Wilkinson, who give us an inside view on the life in parliament, together with a neat locked-room mystery. Although the mystery was rather standard the inside-view of the political life in the 1930s was not, and I really enjoyed it. This one was also recommended by Kaggsy, who clearly have great taste in crime novels.

My third new BLCC favourite, Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert, is set in a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy during late WW2, a setting the author knew from personal experience. Many of the characters are rather flat and easy to mix-up and the mystery is fine but nothing special, however the setting is unique and claustrophobic. Although I may not have cared too much about who the murderer was, I really wanted to know who would escape and how. All in all it was probably the most thrilling BLCC I have read, and offered an interesting glimpse of life in a POW camp. Really recommended!

What all three books had in common was that they offered something more than just a decent mystery. They showed me glimpses of interesting worlds I can never visit, war time London, the British parliament during the 1930s, a POW-camp in Italy, all places that the authors knew well (I guess, I haven’t confirmed whether or not Lorac was in London during WW2). Only books can bring me to those places.


Which British Library Crime Classics should I read during Easter?

HookEaster time is the time to read crime novels in Norway (pĂ„skekrim) and as I pretend to be a well-integrated foreigner I will of course join in. I’m really looking forward to it too as I have a major work-deadline right before Easter which is currently eating most of my reading and blogging time.

However, I need some help, I don’t know what to read. I love classic crime so I’m thinking a nice pile of 3-4 British Library Crime Classics or similar would be perfect but I don’t know which ones to choose. Anyone have any favourites to recommend? I like both the classic locked room mysteries and the more adventurous varieties. I would love to have some great cosy reads to look forward to while I work…

Classics fatigue

GullFinishing La Vita Nuova I suddenly felt that I had read too many heavy classics during 2018. That is demonstrably not true, my reading statistics tells me that out of the eleven books I’ve read this year only La Vita Nuova was a challenging read and five were children’s books but apparently that was enough.

However, it was clearly time for a change of pace and as light page-turners do not linger unread long on my bookshelves what I found was an Agatha Christie where I had conveniently forgotten who the murderer was. Cat Among The Pigeons takes place at a private girls school and involve a coup in a fictional country, missing jewels and secret agents. It is technically a Poirot novel but Poirot only plays a very peripheral role in it. I really enjoy the Christie stories that edge into adventure stories territory. They may be even less realistic than her standard crime novels but they are usually a lot of fun.

Agatha Christie x 3

The secret adversary: This one is a wild and improbable story full of secret agents. More importantly it is the first book to feature Tommy and Tuppence which I find to be some of Christie’s best characters. Great fun!

The Pale Horse: The creepiest Christie I’ve read so far and one of her best. Neither Poirot nor miss Marple makes an appearance which is a good thing, not because I don’t like those characters, I do, but because it is harder to guess where the novel is going when they are absent.

Towards zero: This one is more of a standard Christie mystery but a very good one. Once again without Poirot or miss Marple.

I count Cat Among The Pigeons, published in 1959, as my classic crime story for the Back to the classics reading challenge.