Publisher and Publication Date: Pegasus Crime. 2014. Genre: Nonfiction. Pages: 312. Format: Hardcover. Source: Self-purchase. Audience: Readers of the history of murder in Great Britain. Readers of British detective murder mysteries. Rating: Good to very good.
The Art of the English Murder is less about the act of murders, and more about the English crowds and fans these murders created as well as their legacies. Beginning with Thomas DeQuincey (1785-1859) in late Georgian London. His use of Laudanum and its contributing factor to his essay, On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, began a sensationalist view of murder for its readers. The Art of the English Murder is a brief historical record of several murders that happened during the 19th century. Some of them influenced writers. For example, Charles Dickens and Alfred Hitchcock. The murders in the early 19th century brought about a central Metropolitan Police force in London, instead of individual parish police. The murders recorded in this book are the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, Estrel Murder, William Corder and the Red Barn Murder, Bermondsey Murder, the Road Hill House Murder case, and the murders done by Jack the Ripper. There are chapters devoted to the impact of the murders on writers. There are chapters devoted to screenwriters and film. The final chapters are the mystery writers, specifically the women who made a name for themselves: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. There is also information on the history of the Penny Dreadful serial stories and the Wax Museum.
I enjoyed reading this book, but I’d hoped for more. My hopes were that the book would go into more detail about the murder cases-including the detective work on those cases. I love to read true crime books. This book is brief about the murders. It is extensive about the impact on people who have a morbid sense of excitement about viewing the murdered bodies, etc. I don’t want to see the bodies who are carved up and oozing. I do enjoy reading about the crimes and how the murders are solved. However, The Art of the English Murder is a good book. A solid narrative nonfiction account.
What I love (and learned):
1. The introduction gave me the reason for this book and the direction of it. 2. I didn’t know the history of police and detectives in London until reading this book. 3. The perspective of how citizens viewed dead bodies is explained as not out of the ordinary for that time. I didn’t know this. 4. I feel the book is thorough in the impact on writers, screenwriters, films, and magazines. 5. Medical students used to dig up dead bodies to do research. I didn’t know this either! 6. Lucy Worsley is a charming, personable, knowledgeable, and engaging person. Whether she is speaking in a documentary or has written a book: both are engaging and entertaining!
Publisher and Publication Date: Mortal Coil Books. April 18, 2021. Genre: Historical fiction. Pages: The paperback has 298 pages. Format: E-book. Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review. Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of World War II and Holocaust stories. Rating: Okay to good.
Andre and Mireille Albert are husband and wife. They own a bakery. They have a young son named Frederic. The name of their bakery is PatisserieSaint-Lery. They live in the town of Saint-Lery d-Espoir’s place de villle in Occupied France. On October 19, 1943, Mireille became missing. Andre found his son. He found a strange, young woman hiding, but his wife is gone. Andre doesn’t know what has happened? He doesn’t know what to do about his wife’s absence? He doesn’t know what to do about this new woman? Andre is shocked and fearful. He is aghast at what to do? The story is a daily journal of this time period in the life of the Albert family and the new woman whose name is Emilie. The story is a mystery. For most of the story, the reader does not know what is going on in this family. Andre and Mireille are a couple who are in partnership as husband and wife, as parents, and in their bakery. They are also a couple who are in love with one another. They are a close couple with a long history.
I have mixed feelings about this story. There are things I like about the story and things I dislike.
What I like: 1. The setting is in a small town in France. 2. I like the time period: World War II. 3. I like the married couple who are in love with one another. I like the long history they have. They are a respected and admired couple in town. 4. I understand the form of the story. I understand the plot. 5. This story is inspired by a true story.
What I dislike: 1. Andre is a loving husband and father. He is a respectable person. However, he is distraught through most of the story. And he is distracted. And he is at times frozen with the inability to make a decision. His behavior causes an annoyance and angst in me. I wish he had been a take charge person. I wish he’d been aggressive earlier in the story about a well-formed decision and carrying it out. I understand his character as the despondent husband, but I wanted more from him. 2. The story is filled with what if questions. What if a spouse goes missing, and a new character similar to the one missing shows up? What if both female characters are in trouble? What if feelings develop with the new character? What if this new person and the rest of the family bond? What happens if the missing person returns? The story is based on what ifs. What if is the foundation of the story. But it is that question that keeps me reading…that pulls me in. 3. The story does not have a satisfying or solid closure. I think that I know what happens but it ends loosely. 4. I’d like more of Mireille’s story. Her voice is in the first chapter. Emilie finally tells me her story. What about Frederic? I understand he is a child, but I’d like to have an area in the book where he narrates. His testimony is important. 5. For me there is something missing in this story. Yes, one of the characters is missing, but there is something else missing. Is it possible that the tone of the story: a frantic atmosphere of what ifs dominate the story so much that I am not pulled into the individual characters heartaches, fears, and ultimate decisions? Another words: the tone of the story rules.
“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight, To me did seem Appareled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it hath been of yore;- Turn wheresoe’er I may, By night or day, The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”
Ode. Intimations of Immortality. Stanza 1.
William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
From Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett. Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1955. Page 408.
Publisher and Publication Date: DK, Penguin Random House. 2018 is the first American edition. Genre: Nonfiction. Biographies of writers. Pages: 360. Format: Hardcover. 8 by 10 1/2. Source: Public library. Audience: Readers who want to read about the lives and works of writers. Rating: Excellent.
At this link, you will see several pages from the inside of the book. DK.
Writers is a delicious hardcover, large book to pour over.
Beginning with Dante Alighieri and ends with Arundhati Roy.
Six chapters in total. “Chapter 1 is Pre-19th Century.” “Chapter 2 is Early 19th Century.” “Chapter 3 is Late 19th Century.” “Chapter 4 is Early 20th Century.” “Chapter 5 is Mid-20th Century.” “Chapter 6 is Writing Today.”
Overall I love this book. I poured over it and devoured each page.
Several of the writers I’d not heard of before because they are from countries that I’d not read fictional works (at least very little.) For example, Mo Yan, Chinese. He was awarded the Noble Prize in Literature in 2012.
Writers is a compiling of writers from all over the world and through the centuries. It is an eclectic group. I like this. I appreciate this. However, the compiling is organized not by who I would chose. For example, J. R. R. Tolkien is given only a snippet and located in the Directory section. I am shocked! I’d like to see him given six pages. Not a mere snippet. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. It gave me an education on a broad range of writers that I had been unfamiliar.
And, one more thing I am disappointed about: C. S. Lewis is not mentioned.
What I love:
1. Visually appealing with illustrations on most pages. 2. Some of the writers are given four to six pages for a write-up. Most have two pages. 3. I enjoyed reading about their early life, writing journey, personal lives, and other experiences in life. For example, their journalism work during wars or travel adventures. I also enjoyed reading about those writers who were friends. They encouraged one another. A few had disagreements and went their separate ways. 4. Several, if not most of the women writers, were trail blazers. I admire their tenacity and perseverance. 5. Small personal stories are shared. For example, a writer friend came to visit Charles Dickens in his home. He overstayed and Dickens became impatient. The guest became embarrassed. 6. I love the desks and writing spaces that are included. 7. I love reading about the impact of writings that led to other writings which led to screen adaptions.