Thursday, September 22, 2016

Forgotten Books: Three Vintage Mysteries written under Pseudonyms


I hadn't heard of mystery writer Leo Bruce (pseudonym of writer Rupert Croft-Cooke) till I read an extract of his at some blog (sorry can't recall the name). The passage was hilarious and made me keen to read his works, especially the one featuring Sergeant Beef, and so I started with the first one in the series: Case for Three Detectives. A locked room mystery in which the wife of the host is found dead in a room, the book is a spoof on three popular detectives: Lord Peter Wimsey appears as Sir Simon Plimsoll, Hercule Poirot as Monsieur Amer Picon, and Father Brown, under the name of Monsignor Smith. All three detectives come up with ingenious solutions to the murder but it is the level-headed Sergeant Beef who gets the right answer. I found the book entertaining and would love to read more of Bruce and Beef.

First Line: I cannot pretend that there was anything sinister in the atmosphere that evening.

First Published: 1936




A.G.Macdonell was a journalist and satirical novelist (best known for his work England, Their England) who also wrote crime novels under the pseudonym of Neil Gordon. His novel The Shakespeare Murders begins in an interesting manner. Young, suave, and none-too-scrupulous Peter Kerrigan sees a pickpocket pick the wallet of a shabby-looking man. Peter, coolly, steals the wallet but before returning it to its owner goes through the contents and finds a letter from the man's brother, John, which hints at getting a treasure worth a million pounds. Soon afterwards, Peter lands up at Marsh Manor where John had been working as a librarian and founds himself involved in murder, theft, and kidnapping. The book begins well but soon loses its plot.

First Line: One fine spring morning Peter Kerrigan was strolling casually along the Euston Road in the direction of King's Cross.

First Published: 1933




Mary Gervaise is the pseudonym of Joan Mary Wayne Brown, a prolific writer who wrote over 70 books. Ponies and Mysteries is the fourth in her Georgie series which sees Geogie and her friends staying with the Daneforths. Georgie sees the eldest of the Daneforth children, Rollo, acting suspiciously around a jade horse at an exhibition. When the item is stolen soon afterwards, Georgie suspects that Rollo is involved in the theft. Juvenile fiction.

First Published: 1953

Source: Purchased last year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Reading Challenges: 2 Old 1 New

Though, 2016 is almost three-quarters over, I am still signing up for challenges...

Carolyn @ RIEDEL FASCINATION  is hosting a brand new challenge called CELTIC COASTS in which we read literature pertaining to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Best of all, this is a challenge meant for discovering these places so there is no minimum requirement (though I guess you must read at least one book to qualify).

If you are interested, details can be found over here.


And now from the Celts to the Anglo-Saxons. The British Books Challenge is the one I have always finished. And though there might be only three months or so left, I intend to finish it successfully this year too. 12 books is all it takes.

Details over here.


Diversity on the Shelf is a challenge, I have always enjoyed doing. This year, I thought, it was not being hosted and rued the fact. But thankfully I was wrong. It is still being hosted albeit at a different blog. So I am signing up for shelf level 1 which means I'll be reading 1-6 books for the challenge.
 Here are the details if you too would like to sign-up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Krantiveer Bhagat Singh: 'Abhyudaya' aur 'Bhavishya' (Ed) Chaman Lal

One of the things that I invariably do while cleaning cupboards etc. is read the newspapers lining the shelves. Of course it tells you how tardy you have been in the cleaning (once I found the newspapers were years old and belonging to the era when newspapers in India were still b&w with no colour photos!!!!!!!!!!!!) but it is also fun going thru those past headlines and remembering events that one had forgotten. So going through this book which has selections from two newspapers: Abhyudhya and Bhavishya was wonderful though the editorials and reports and coverage of the trial of Bhagat Singh and his comrades made for some heart-wrenching reading, esp. the reports of the atrocities being committed by the police on the young men were too painful to read.

Professor Chaman Lal has done a yeoman's service to the nation by bringing out this book. Reading it is like stepping back into that era when young men and women were ready to lay down their lives for the nation, when freedom was a much cherished objective, and when publishers, editors, reporters were ready to suffer for what they thought was the right thing to do. Highly recommended.


First Line: 14 August, 1947 ko Hindostan naam ka mulk duniya ke nakshe se mit gaya aur uski jagah usi dharti par 'Pakistan' aur 'India' that is 'Bharat' (India, jise Bharat kehte hain) ke naam se chihit kiya gaya.

Editor: Chaman Lal

Pub Details: Allahabad: Lokbharti Prakashan, 2012

First Pub: 2012

Pages: 560

Source: CL [891.433 CH 357 KA]

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mystery Challenges

Things have been so haywire this year that I do not even know the challenges I have signed up for. So there I was thinking that I had signed up for two of my favourite challenges, only to realise that no, I haven't. Well, here I am, signing up for Vintage Mystery Cover Scavanger Hunt hosted
 @My Reader's Block and My Kind of Mystery @ Riedel Fascination. For the first one I aim to read 6 books in the Golden Age category while for the second I am opting for Secret Messages which means I'll be reading 5-10 mystery books.

If like me you have woken up late, follow the links above and join the challenges. Bev and Carolyn are fantastic hostesses. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016


We live in a time of terror where the war has come right to our doorstops. Thus, it was interesting to read this collection of essays which looks at the hydra of terror as a lived experience whether in its real or literary form. Divided into three parts, many of the essays in this book were engaging though a few made difficult reading. The essay on Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay in which the writer discusses the prisons as spaces of exception made for some gripping reading as did Peter Heeh's essay on the growth of the revolutionary movement in British Bengal.

First Line: Terror, postcolonial or otherwise, induces affect, as a number of essays in this book describe.

Pub. Details:  Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Pages: 395
Source: CL [820.9 B561 T]

Thursday, July 7, 2016

An A (so far) in The Reading Assignment Challenge

I am faring awfully bad at virtually all the reading challenges I have joined this year. But the one challenge that I am somehow managing to hang on to is The Reading Assignment challenge hosted by Michelle and Berls.

I have been able to read six preselected books in the first half of 2016, one for each month. Here are the books read:

1. Outlaws by Javier Cercas  (January)

2. Jaya: An Illustrated Re-Telling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Patnaik  (February)

3.  Understanding Bhagat Singh by Chaman Lal  (March)

4. Bhai and Bhabi of Bhagat Singh: A Biography of Bhagwati Charan Vohra and Durga Bhabi by Malwinderjit Singh Waraich   (April)

I enjoyed almost all the books though I am more delighted at the fact that till date I have been able to keep up with this challenge. Six down, six more to go....

Thursday, June 30, 2016


This is a lively and lucid look at the emerging discipline of Transnational history. A look at the way history is being researched seeing the manner in which the local also had connections with the beyond. No use of jargon is a major plus point. And I loved the author's cheeky sense of humour.

First Line: But not only is it true that no country can be understood without taking account of all the past; it is also true that we cannot select a stretch of land and say we will limit our study to this land; for local history can only be understood in the light of the history of the world.

Pub. Details: NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Pages: 193
Source: CL [954. S87T]