Monday, June 22, 2020


Title: The Mystery of Banshee Towers (The Five Find-Outers #15)
Author: Enid Blyton
Publisher: Mammoth
Pages: 180
My GoodReads Rating: 

The last and only Five Find-Outers book by Enid Blyton I read was when I was 10. Back then, I’d been quite impressed with the book, even more so than her Famous Five and Secret Seven series of books, which tended to display a certain sameness after a while. But I hadn’t managed to lay my hands on the other books in the series. We just didn’t have access to many books then. Very soon I moved on to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and left Blyton behind.

Recently La Niña picked up some books from the Five Find-Outers series at the library, and I decided to read it soon after she had finished, for old times’ sake. The first one I picked up was The Mystery of Banshee Towers. The characters are siblings Bets and Pip, siblings Larry and Daisy, and only child Fatty. Fatty is one of those people who always found themselves in the middle of something thrilling.

There were some good messages that the book enforced. The importance of being well-mannered, warning readers about how a hot temper led you into doing silly, rash things you were sorry for afterwards – and then it was probably too late. The book also said that describing someone as a friend is about the best thing anyone can say about anyone else.

In later years, we read critique about Blyton being racist, but back then we just didn’t latch on to that. We hadn’t assumed a racist mindset as a result of reading the books and so we vociferously defended the long-dead Blyton when this accusation was hurled at her. But the truth is we simply weren’t paying attention. 

We were so naïve then. We let ourselves get carried away by this enormously exciting world, where kids were left on their own, allowed to have exciting adventures without having to account for every moment of their day to their parents. And then there were the picnic baskets with scones, profiteroles and things like that, foods that we just couldn’t put a mental image to, but they excited us all the same.

The mystery of course was rather tame, looked at from an adult standpoint, although the child-me found it great, and La Niña was duly impressed.

In this book, we have Ern, nephew of Mr Goon, or Clear Orf, as the kids call him. Ern’s family has the measles and so he and his dog, Bingo, have been sent to his uncle’s house. Offended by his uncle’s ill-treatment of him and Bingo, Ern leaves his uncle’s house and moves into Fatty’s workroom. This is how he becomes a temporary member of the Five Find-Outers.

Clearly something isn’t right about the place. Also, the banshee wails every Thursday and the owner insists that it is real. Then Ern learns that a red boat painted in one of the paintings has been painted over. The investigation into the missing boat catapults them into yet another adventure.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020


Title: More Murder Most Cozy
Editor: Cynthia Manson
Authors: PD James, Agatha Christie, Christianna Brand, Melba Marlett, Henry T Parry, John H Dircks, Ruth Rendell and Elizabeth Goudge
Publisher: Signet
Pages: 260
My GoodReads Rating: 

I picked this one up because of Agatha Christie, PD James and Ruth Rendell. I found two new authors worth reading, Henry T Parry and John H Dirckx.

The Boxdale Inheritance by PD James: A canon is unwilling to accept a large inheritance until he can be sure that the step-grandmother that bequeathed it to him did not acquire it through unlawful means.

The Man on The Roof by Christianna Brand: A mean duke is found killed, but the inspector isn’t convinced it is suicide even though the dead man had a history of always threatening to commit suicide.

In this story, it is a woman who upstages the intelligent inspector, as is a trend in cozy mysteries.

The Second Mrs Porter by Melba Marlett: A woman admitted to a hospital believes that the real Mrs Porter is dead and that she has been forced to take her place.

I found the plot this book rather clever at the beginning, but it ended so vaguely that I lost all interest.

The Paintbox Houses by Ruth Rendell: I enjoy her writing, particularly the Wexford series. Her descriptions were a treat and so they were here. But the story itself felt flat as it reached its conclusion.

The Mahogany Wardrobe by John H Dirckx: This was one of the best stories in this book.

The Plumpoint Ladies by Henry T Parry: This one started out very slow, and I almost gave up reading it. But it simmered nicely and really turned up the intensity around the halfway mark.

White Wings by Elizabeth Goudge: Two rich elderly sisters who come upon hard times, and have pity on a vagrant, only to find their precious possessions being stolen from them.

Sanctuary by Agatha Christie: A dying man drags himself into the sanctuary of a church, and says one word, Sanctuary, to the pastor’s wife. She turns out to be the niece of Miss Marple, and she uses her own common sense, along with her aunt’s wonderful deduction skills to learn the truth about the murderer.

All in all, this was quite a good collection and lived up to the promise of being a most cozy read.


Title: Mrs McGinty's Dead
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 240
My GoodReads Rating: 

I’ve always considered Hercule Poirot’s lines to be worthy of compilation into a separate book of their own. They have so much charm.

In this book, we are back with the great Belgian detective. The Cast of Characters section informs those who have never had the pleasure of meeting Poirot that there are only two things in life he took seriously: the study of crime and his stomach.

When Poirot first comes to know of the murder of the widow, Mrs McGinty, an elderly small-time charwoman, he thinks it had not been an interesting murder.

Mrs McGinty had been cleaning at the homes of nearly all the large houses in the village. The weapon used to bash her head in is never found, but the 30 pounds that she had hidden beneath the floorboards in her house leads the police to suspect her paying guest, James Bentley who is sentenced to death.

But the superintendent is unconvinced of Bentley’s guilt, even though all clues point that way. He requests Poirot to take on the case, and either confirm or disprove Bentley’s guilt.

When he first makes the claim that he is closing in on the culprit, it appears to be an egotistical claim. But then we see how he closes in on the culprit. Drawing them all out together for the final denouement, he begins by suspecting them all one by one, and they are all certainly worthy of suspicion. In true Christie style, everyone has something to hide.

I like the way we find ourselves suspecting every character but the right one. How Christie makes the real killer hide in plain sight.

One line from the book that stood out for me:

Authors were shy, unsociable creatures, atoning for their lack of social aptitude by inventing their own companions and conversations.


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