Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mystery and crime fiction book haul and current reading list: Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe, The Black Dahlia, and more

So I realized a few weeks back that I didn't have much in the way of mystery and crime fiction. A bit ironic considering the theme of this blog. I really did think I had some, but it's mostly thrillers and spy fiction. Fortunately, Goodwill exists and I was able to pick up a few books to bolster my inadequate collection. Before that, I headed to the local library to pick some books up, just to quench my thirst until I could get more of my own.

First up, the haul:

(via Cover Browser)
A murder in a crowded theater leaves a pack of suspects, but only one clue.

Despite the dismal Broadway season, Gunplay continues to draw crowds. A gangland spectacle, it’s packed to the gills with action, explosions, and gunfire. In fact, Gunplay is so loud that no one notices the killing of Monte Field. In a sold-out theater, Field is found dead partway through the second act, surrounded by empty seats. The police hold the crowd and call for the one man who can untangle this daring murder: Inspector Richard Queen.

With the help of his son Ellery, a bibliophile and novelist whose imagination can solve any crime, the Inspector attacks this seemingly impenetrable mystery. Anyone in the theater could have killed the unscrupulous lawyer, and several had the motive. Only Ellery Queen, in his debut novel, can decipher the clue of the dead man’s missing top hat.

(via Amazon)
There Was An Old Woman:

Cornelia Potts was a wicked old witch of a woman with many millions of dollars, a henpecked husband, and six miserable children, and every life she touched turned to sheer hell. But no one objected until death came to the vast, grotesque Potts mansion and began claiming its inhabitants one by one. That was when Ellery Queen was invited to sup on this devilish brew of diabolical murder and baffling mystery - in a case that made the most horrific crimes in his entire career seem like innocent fairy tales.

The Origin of Evil:

Ellery Queen was sunbathing, au naturel, in the doorway of his Hollywood bedroom when the pretty young girl appeared. She was small and slender, but three dimensional where it counted. But this vision of loveliness beckoned Ellery into eerie nightmare adventure when she put him on the scent of a case where the only murder weapon appeared to be a dead dog.

(Via Cover Browser)
The murders began with a note:
Dear Walt:
You know who I am. You do not know that you know.
You shall.
I write this to let you know that I know who you really are.
I know the skill of your hands. I know the quality of your obedience. I know where you come from and what you are doing.
I know what you think. 1 know what you want.
I know your great destiny.
I like you.
This was the overture to the murders. The note came to Walt, for many years handyman for the four miniature castles that made up York Square.
Robert York was in the flesh what York Square was in stone-punctilious, outmoded, predictable. Not all the Yorks were like that, of course. Myra, younger than Robert, had a secret unmentioned by the other Yorks, as anyone who got close enough to see the gentle unfocused eyes became uneasily aware.
Emily York was younger than Myra and looked older. Compelled like her cousins, by their uncle's eccentric will, to live in a castle, Emily recorded a permanent protest against such trumpery by taking as her own the smallest of the maids' rooms and decorating it with all the elaboration of a Trappist cell.
And then there was Percival York, playboy, gambler, drunkard, gentleman, man of many personalities-a totally unpredictable character.
These were the people whose lives were threatened by "Y"-until "Y" was finally checkmated by Ellery Queen, called into the York case when it baffled the police.

(via gdprice)
Sheila, exotic young international leader of haute couture,is found murdered in her Park Avenue penthouse. Two floors down, the distinguished middle-aged millionaire—Ashton McKell—is hauled off to jail. Next to go, Lutecia, his shy patrician wife. And then—Dane, their handsome, sensitive son. Together, a triangle of murder suspects. Ellery Queen, immobilized, can trick the police into becoming his 'legmen' if he discovers The Fourth Side of the Triangle.

(via The Literary Amnesiac)
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia-driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches-into a region of total madness.

(via neroandarchie)

When it was all over, Wolfe had a bullet in the arm-and the killer had one in the heart.

But before the shoot-out in the fat detective’s office, Wolfe and Archie had to break the mystery of a “Rubber Band” that stretched across forty years and five thousand miles-a mystery made up of a lynching, multiple murder, blackmail, and one of Nero Wolfe’s most dangerous-and lovely-clients!

Library checkouts:

(via Amazon)

The fer-de-lance is among the most deadly snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, his partner, Archie Goodwin, suspects it means Wolfe is getting close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. But this is a case with more twists than an angry rattler...and if Wolfe doesn’t handle it with extreme care, he’ll be the next one struck by a killer with poison in his heart.

The League of Frightened Men:

Paul Chapin’s Harvard cronies never forgave themselves for the hazing prank that left their friend a cripple. Yet they believed that Paul himself had forgiven them—until a class reunion ends in death and a series of poems promising more of the same. Now this league of frightened men is desperate for Nero Wolfe’s help. But can even the great detective outwit a killer smart enough to commit an unseen murder…in plain sight?

(via Amazon)
A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

I also checked out There Was An Old Woman, so I'll be skipping that particular copy. Plan wise, I'm currently reading Fer-De-Lance and after that, I'll move on to maybe Cuckoo's Calling or The Roman Hat Mystery. After that, a short break from mysteries before I move onto the rest.

Any of these books look good to you? Have you read any of them before?

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