Friday, April 30, 2010

Middle Sister's April Reads

The Mill Mystery by Anna Katherine Green Early twentieth century mystery novel. The mystery itself is not very sophisticated, but the Gothic overtones and eerie setting are enjoyable. Although the ending is not satisfying to a modern reader, it may interesting to fans of the genre who are interested in the history of the development of the mystery, early American mysteries, or early female authors.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin An entertaining autobiography by one of America's founding fathers, this incomplete work provides a winsome view of Colonial times, including descriptions of Philadelphia that will make anyone familiar with the city chuckle. Franklin's famous philosphies can be read here as told by the man himself. Who knew Franklin was a vegetarian for several years?

The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert This cosy mystery series has Beatrix Potter as the main character and amateur detective. Albert has studied Potter's life, and accurately portrays her conflicts with her mother, her love of her farm, and other incidents that have been discussed in Potter biographies. The mysteries are simple, but the charm of village life in early twentieth century England is depicted well. This entry in the series relies too heavily on very frequent asides to the reader, which were used to greater effect (and with much less frequency) in earlier titles in the series. Hopefully, Albert will drop this in future titles. If you loved Beatrix Potter stories as a child and thought animals really should live in dens with libraries and tea pots, you'll enjoy this series.

Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh A reread by one my favorite authors. Roderick Alleyn is the perfect fictional detective--human enough to be real, distinguished enough to not be the run-of-the-mill Scotland Yard detective, and he's surrounded by interesting secondary characters, including Mr. (Brer) Fox and Agatha Troy, his artist wife. These mysteries rely on cunning and knowledge of human behavior, not the fancy tricks of modern technology, and so remain very enjoyable and not at all dated despite the lack of cell phones or computers for investigative tricks.

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