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April 26th, 2011

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07:51 pm - Catching Up; Ed McBain; E-Books; Victorian Detectives

 Its been a while since I've posted here.

I know my posts are, at best, sporadic, but, having been fairly conscientious lately, I thought I'd explain the recent lack of posts to my steadfast readers, and give you some indication of what is, likely, forthcoming.

I recently reviewed 2 Ed McBain 57th Precinct novels, and greatly enjoyed them.

When I was told that these are best enjoyed if they are read in order, I thought I'd make a little project of that.  Having started with the 7th book in the series, Lady Killer, I went back to the first book of the series, Cop Hater.

I really enjoyed that, so I went on Amazon and bought the 2nd book, The Mugger, in paperback.

And I haven't gotten any further, for one simple reason.

Its in print, and, at 49, I'm finding that its more difficult into reading print books if I don't have ideal lighting situation.  

Instead, I've been doing a lot more reading via an ebook reader, which has the advantage that I can resize the type on the fly to a size that is comfortable, given the ambient lighting conditions wherever I am.  I was fortunate to be able to obtain the other two book in e-book editions, but I haven't found the 2nd book available, as yet, in that format.

So, I *am* planning to get back to the 87th Precinct -- with summer approaching, I might find a few lazy, well-lit afternoons to return to the squadroom of the 87th Precinct.

In the meantime, I have found a number of good Victorian/Edwardian detective stories, which I have been consuming with gusto:

Arthur Morrison came up from the lower classes, and wrote a number of works describing the lot of the poor. He became a regular writer for the Strand Magazine, so when Arthur Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, Morrison seized the opportunity to create his own detective, Martin Hewitt. Hewitt is, in some ways, the opposite of Sherlock Holmes: he's well fed instead of scrawny, he cooperates amiably with the police, instead of holding them in contempt. I also appreciate that the stories are a little more *gritty* than the Sherlock Holmes stories -- Hewitt is as likely to help middle-class people as gentry, (without the condescension that Holmes evidenced for the petite bourgeois), and clearly does his investigations as much for the money as the satisfaction -- in a couple stories, he holds off beginning an investigation until he's sure his fees will be met.

Here are a couple links to the first two volumes of short stories:



I've also read a couple volumes of Edgar Wallace's "J.G. Reeder". Reeder is an investigator for the Prosecutors office, who often gets to malefactors before the police because, as he states, he has the misfortune to "think like a criminal". So far, I've only read the first book -- I think there might be two or three more:


Finally, I just started reading the "Old Man in the Corner" by Baroness Orczy. He is a proto-typical "armchair detective", who mostly gathers his information about criminal cases from the newspapers, and shares his insights as to who *really* committed crimes which have puzzled the police with a young woman journalist who frequents his favorite cafe'. Rather an ambiguous figure, since he admits that he's unwilling to share his insights with the police if he is impressed with how *cleverly* the crime has been committed:


All of these are fun, intellectually stimulating, reads.

In the weeks to come, until I can get back to the 87th Precinct, I think I'll start reviewing, and maybe comparing, stories from these varying series.

In the meantime, check out those links, and good reading!

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 27th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
Arthur Morrison is a very unjustly neglected writer. All his detective stories are worth reading, not just the Martin Hewett stories.

I have a soft spot for The Old Man in the Corner as well.
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)

Arthur Morrison; TOMITC

I've read the first two volumes of the Martin Hewitt stories -- "Martin Hewitt, Investigator" and "The Chronicles of Martin Hewitt", and find him, in some ways, more appealing and realistic than Sherlock Holmes, truth be told. Curiously, though, the 3rd Martin Hewitt book, "The Adventures of Martin Hewitt" doesn't seem to be available in ebook format, although two later books featuring the character, are available.

I've read the first 2 or 3 Old Man in the Corner stories, and found them quite entertaining. It is interesting to note that the Old Man has absolutely no regard for bringing malefactors to justice -- his only interest seems to be in figuring out who did it, and *how* they did it.
[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)

Re: Arthur Morrison; TOMITC

I'd love to find a copy of Morrison's The Dorrington Deed-Box. I've read one of the Dorrington stories - he's a delightful scoundrel.

Oddly enough Morrison was better known in his lifetime for his non-crime fiction.
[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)

Re: Arthur Morrison; TOMITC

The entire Dorrington stories are readily available online

If they were available in a printable format I'd grab them, but I just can't read stuff on a screen. I suppose eventually I'll have to resort to the ebook thing but I'm resisting it as long as I can.

The good news is that The Dorrington Deed Box is also available iin book form I'm going to order my copy right now!

Edited at 2011-05-21 02:01 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:May 21st, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)

Re: Arthur Morrison; TOMITC

All of the links I provided have an option to download in .pdf format -- and the first two allow you to download in .txt format.


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