[Manga Monday] Azumanga Daioh Omnibus ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Azumanga Daioh Omnibus
Series: Azumanga Daioh #1-4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 688
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Azumanga Daioh chronicles the everyday life in an unnamed Japanese high school of six girls and two of their teachers: child prodigy Chiyo Mihama and her struggle to fit in with girls five years older; reserved Sakaki and her obsession with the cute animals while certain ones seem to hate her; spacey Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga with a skewed perspective on the world; Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara’s aggravation at an annoying best friend; Tomo Takino, whose energy is rivaled only by her lack of sense; sporty Kagura and her one-sided athletics rivalry with Sakaki; their homeroom teacher Yukari Tanizaki; and her friend, physical education teacher Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa.

My Thoughts:

Ahhhh, this was good. This was a fantastic way to say goodby to Azuma’s style in both terms of art and storyline.

What stood out to me the most, as I noted in my previous 2014 review, is just how positive Azuma keeps everything. From Chiyo-chan’s worries about being a 10 year old amongs teenagers, to Sakaki’s secret love of animals to the teacher’s drinking habits, Azuma simply makes his stories light, comforting and fluffy. Just the thing to read when one is feeling sick.

If I could have read these in 4 separate volumes I would have preferred that, but even all at once at close to 700 pages it didn’t feel like it was “too much”. In all honesty, re-reading this allowed me to push off choosing another manga series to read for at least a month, hahahaa 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My REAL Promise To You

Mr Bojangles. THE Tap Dancer!

This first paragraph is going to be me tapdancing and covering all my bases so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelingz. Because I hold feelingz in as high regard as anyone. In fact, My middle names is Feelingz. Bookstooge Feelingz Kickyourassrightnowsosuckitscumbag. (yeah, makes filling out paperwork a real bear!) So, let the tapdancing begin. This post was not written with anyone but myself in mind. I am not applying this to post to anyone but myself. I am not applying this post to other bloggers or trying to tell anyone else how to run their blog. This post is to tell you how I run my blog. Period. Ok, stop the music Vincent, I’m done dancing.

Dr Phibes knows how to have a good time

I went Dotcom in January to get rid of the ads and the damned “native sponsored” posts by WordPress, posts inserted into free wordpress blogs that are just gigantic ads you can’t do anything about. I didn’t want anyone following me to be subjected to seeing such things on my site. So I paid and went to dotcom. Hopefully, now if you ever visit my site you will not see ads of any kind. That is why I went dotcom.

I did not go dotcom to make money in any way, shape or form. I am not a part of WordPress’s Adsense Program. I do not use affiliate links for any products I review. I do not have any sort of donation widget setup. I am not writing this to say that that makes me a “better” blogger than anybody else.

No it isn’t. Which is why I don’t pimp my blog

I blog because I have to write but I do not want to be an author. I’ll leave that tortured lifestyle to those that want it. Me, I just want to blab and have some fun with people. So my promise is that you’ll never be used by me to collect money for myself. That is what my job is for.

Blood & Fire (V-Wars #2) ★☆☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blood & Fire
Series: V-Wars #2
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 292
Words: 106.5K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that continue the look at vampires as they manifest throughout the world and how they and the humans of the world react.

My Thoughts:

A big fat sigh. Some more graphic sex, some more “vampires are just people” and some more of everything I complained about from the first book.

In many ways, it felt like the various authors were writing their own take on vampires without consulting the editor or having any master plan. One author presents them as soulless horrors who have lost all their humanity while another presents them as more human than the humans around them. It was a very mixed message.

Jonathan Maberry, the editor, has his own series called Joe Ledger, that’ll I’ll be checking out. I ran across a short story or two featuring Ledger that I enjoyed, so I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with that.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time #11) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Knife of Dreams
Series: The Wheel of Time #11
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 823
Words: 323.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Galad believes that Eamon Valda has murdered Morgase and, supported by Trom, Byar and Dain Bornhald, challenges him to Trial by Combat . Although Valda is a blademaster and fights well, Galad dupes him into becoming too confident and kills him. Galad is told that this makes him the new Lord Captain Commander and he decides to take the Whitecloaks out of Altara to ally with anyone who will fight the Seanchan and the Last Battle. Even Aes Sedai or Asha’man if need be. Rodel Ituralde attacks camps in Tarabon, as part of his plan to beat the Seanchan out of Arad Doman. Suroth learns of this and sends the majority of the raken in Altara and Amadicia after him. She learns that Semirhage has killed the Imperial family and plots to kill Tuon so that she can be Empress. Moridin calls a meeting of the Forsaken and instructs them to find the Seals on the Dark One’s prison and to kill Mat and Perrin if they can be found. Harine attends a meeting of Wavemistresses, with the new Mistress of the Ships, Zaida. They learn that the Amayar have committed mass suicide because of their belief that the Time of Illusion is coming to an end. Logain arrives to tell them they are required to use all of their ships to take food to Arad Doman as part of the Bargain.

Perrin meets with the Seanchan and learns that the Prophecies of the Dragon mention the Wolf King carrying a hammer. He tells them he wants to feed the Shaido forkroot tea to stop the women channeling. They agree to his plan and requisition some forkroot, using a letter from Suroth, stolen from Masema. Tam arrives with more men from the Two Rivers. Once the forkroot has been added to the water supply, he attacks with Two Rivers archers and they break the Shaido with the help of the Aes Sedai and other Seanchan he has being dealing with.

Faile learns that one of the other gai’shain has stolen the Shaido Oath Rod and is given it. Rolan tells her that the Mera’din are considering returning to the Waste and will free her if they do. He warns her to be careful and she hides the Oath Rod in town. She takes Galina to a burned out house. Galina takes the rod out with her and is able to cause the house to collapse, trapping Faile and her companions. Rolan rescues Faile and is taking her to safety when Perrin arrives and kills him. Aram is killed attacking Perrin, having been corrupted by Masema, who escapes with a small number of his followers. Sevanna is captured by the Seanchan, as are over two hundred Wise Ones. Galina is caught again by Therava and told never to try and escape again. Therava leads a group of Shaido back to the Aiel Waste to rebuild the Shaido clan.

Rand sees an image of Moridin in his head and concludes that he is aware of him. He talks with Logain and is told that more than half of the Black Tower is in Arad Doman and Illian. Rhuarc is trying to bring order to Bandar Eban. Loial gets married to Erith and learns that the Ogier are discussing opening the Book of Translation so they can leave the world, ready to return when the Wheel turns again. Trollocs attack and are killed, but it is close, with Logain and his Aes Sedai perhaps making the difference. Rand tells Loial that he needs him to find the Waygates that were in cities in order to seal them, but Haman volunteers instead. Verin leaves. Nynaeve sends Lan to Saldaea, from where he rides to Shienar with anyone who will join him. Nynaeve persuades some Malkieri to do so and has pigeons sent ahead to encourage others. Rand goes to Tear and learns that the rebels have agreed to terms as long as Darlin is named king. Rand reluctantly agrees. They go to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons and discover it is Semirhage in disguise when her illusion flickers. She attacks and Rand loses a hand but she is captured. She reveals that Rand is hearing Lews Therin’s voice and claims it is a madness, even more so for being real and that even Graendal could rarely save someone who heard a real voice.

Egwene is told that she will not be punished, just placed back in novice white. Beonin returns to the Tower and teaches Elaida and Tarna Traveling but is forbidden from teaching anyone else. Elaida is displeased with her for not holding the rebels back as much as she was instructed to. Egwene is defiant in the Tower, maintaining that she is the Amyrlin Seat. At first she is taught by Accepted, but after embarrassing too many of them, her lessons are switched to private lessons with Aes Sedai. She is sent for punishment several times a day for not using their titles and for trying to put ideas in their heads. The other novices and Accepted come to believe her and she begins to influence the Aes Sedai into seeing what a disaster Elaida is. She speaks with Mattin Stepaneos and makes him realize that Elaida has hid the truth about Rand from him. She encounters Beonin and instructs her to warn all the rebel spies that they were betrayed. After nine days, Elaida decides to have Egwene wait on her.

Elayne defends the wall in Caemlyn against sorties from Arymilla. She learns that many of the men thrown out of the White Lions by Gaebril because of loyalty to Morgase are supporting her. Reanne tells her that one of the sul’dam has admitted being able to channel and is now asking to be made damane. They learn that Aviendha has a Talent for identifying what ter’angreal do, but she is taken away by Wise Ones to continue her apprenticeship before she can finish aiding Elayne. Elayne has Mellar tracked and discovers that he visits two Black Aes Sedai. They learn that Reanne and several other Kinswomen have been murdered by saidar. She takes the Aes Sedai with her to arrest Falion and Marillin, but they are outnumbered as four other Black sisters are there. Asne uses a ter’angreal to disable her. They decide to capture Elayne and kill the Aes Sedai apart from Careane as she is one of them. Vandene kills Careane for killing Adeleas and she and Sareitha are killed. They flee, taking Elayne with them. Birgitte persuades the Windfinders to weave a gateway to outside the city walls. They rescue Elayne outside of Caemlyn, capturing five of the Black Aes Sedai and killing Asne. They are able to take men to hit the back of Arymilla’s attacking army, compressing them in the city streets and forcing them to yield. Those who can transfer allegiance to Elayne, do. The other six nobles (Abelle, Aemlyn, Arathelle, Ellorien, Luan and Pelivar) visit and, after talking, Luan and Abelle pledge to Elayne, giving her the support of enough Houses to be Queen of Andor. After this, the rest apart from Ellorien do so also.

Mat buys Tuon a horse and tries to find a way to escape. He asks Noal about Jain Farstrider and is told unconvincingly that he was a cousin. He encounters Joline slapping Bethamin and can feel the Power being used and so stops her; she slaps him, so he puts her over his lap and spanks her. He learns that Bethamin has channeled on her own. Joline and Edesina agree to teach her. Later, Seta also channels and they reluctantly agree to teach her as well. The Aes Sedai realize that he has a ter’angreal that stops channeling. Setalle shows great interest in it and he realizes that she used to be an Aes Sedai, something that she confirms. He talks with Aludra and they discuss canon-making. Leilwin/Egeanin and Domon marry. Tuon tells him that she suspects the Horn of Valere has been blown, putting him off his game plan. They meet a band of Tuatha’an heading for Seanchan lands in the belief that there is safety. Teslyn and Joline start pestering Tuon, telling her that she should stop the invasion. She places an a’dam around their necks, but Mat frees them again and instructs them to leave her alone. He learns from Moiraine’s letter to Thom that she is alive and captured and can be rescued through the Tower of Ghenjei, though it must be Mat, Thom and one more who try or the attempt will fail and even then it is not certain. He agrees to try, as does Noal. Olver is able to tell them how to get in, as Birgitte had told him. He takes Tuon to a hell and gambles until one of the other gamblers becomes suspicious, and so loses the next toss. On leaving, he is attacked by a group of swordsmen and kills them with his knives. He meets up with Talmanes, who has brought part of the Band, leaving Estean in control of the rest. Tuon is surprised at the affection his men have for him and that the discipline is not lax, and begins to see him in a new light, realizing that she doesn’t know him as well as she thought. He plans a series of attacks to divert the Seanchan and allow them to escape through passes in the mountains. The plan is going reasonably well, with the Seanchan commander believing Mat to have many more men than he has in truth, when Furyk Karede finds him. Mat tells him that he can have Tuon if he can get her safely back to Ebou Dar as he has realized that the Seanchan are trying to kill her. She says that she trusts Karede, so Mat agrees and she completes the marriage ceremony, as one part of the Foretelling she received from Lidya was that the man she would marry would carry her away and set her free. Karede leaves some of his own men as a diversion and they are attacked by ten thousand soldiers led by Elbar, all trying to kill Tuon, but the men are defeated by Mat, using a new model of crossbow, the Power, and fireworks. Tuon returns to Ebou Dar and strips Suroth of rank, naming her da’covale.

The rebel camp agrees not to free Egwene, on her orders. Romanda believes that there must be a way to put out all the older novices but is forced to reconsider when she learns of Sharina’s talent for the new Healing. Merise and Jahar arrive to offer to let the rebel Aes Sedai bond forty-seven Asha’man, explaining the significance of the number (fifty-one Aes Sedai bonded by Logain’s men, minus four Asha’man that have been bonded by Aes Sedai, equaling the number forty-seven to balance the two) and that saidin is clean. He tells them the story of a woman channeling saidin at Shadar Logoth and Romanda realizes it is probably Halima as she has remembered the connection between Anaiya, Kairen and Cabriana; she orders the arrest of Halima and Delana, but they have already fled.

Tsutama, the new head of the Red Ajah, tells Pevara to go ahead with the plan for Reds to bond Asha’man. Javindhra seems to be pleased at the chance to defy Elaida. Pevara meets with the other Sitters in the Black Ajah hunt and learns that news of Elaida’s disasters are filtering back, but are being kept to Sitters and Heads. The Black Ajah trail has gone cold as all known members have either been controlled or are out of the Tower. Tarna and Pevara, along with four other Reds, go to the Black Tower to ask to be allowed to bond Asha’man. Taim agrees with the words “let the lord of chaos rule”.

Throughout the world, ghosts and bubbles of evil become more common, food continues to spoil and buildings change, with corridors and rooms appearing, disappearing and moving as the Pattern weakens.

My Thoughts:

I don’t have much to say overall. This was an exciting addition to the series and if Jordan had been able to keep this tempo for the previous books, it would have done a lot to allay the cries of “nothing’s happening”. Sadly, it does prove that Jordan CHOSE to write the previous books as stultifyingly boring as he did, which just makes me as a reader feel bad.

This was the last book that Jordan wrote. It was published in 2005 and he died in 2007. I remember getting the news from (the as yet to be Mrs B) Miss Library and how devastated I was about it. I had been waiting for the next book to be published so had not read this one yet. When I heard that he’d died, I didn’t get around to reading this until 2012 when Brandon Sanderson wrapped things up with his trilogy.

This was a great example of how well Jordan could write, both in terms of complex plot and exciting battles and confrontations. It’s too bad his editor didn’t have enough guts to hold him to a higher standard for the previous books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May ’21 Roundup & Ramblings

Raw Data:

Books – 12

Pages – 2890

Words – 1009.5K

Average Rating – 3.13 Stars

The Bad:

Don’t Care

The Good:

Don’t Care

Movie:

Muppet Show Season 2. This was the light fluffiness that I really needed this month.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Personal:

What a bleeping month. I completely lost my writing mojo. It was so bad that I didn’t even want to comment on anyone’s posts. I simply coasted the whole month and let my past me, who did this month’s writing, bear the burden. So you know how I’m always talking about getting ahead, well, I completely blew that buffer (again). But this is EXACTLY why I do that. I still had posts going up but didn’t get any scheduled for June.

Work sucked the joy from my soul. I was looking forward to this 3day weekend the whole month. Not a good place to be.

And because I was really looking forward to the long weekend, what happens? I get sunburnt and sick. I slept most of Saturday away, didn’t go to church on Sunday and pretty much just recovered. It made reading anything hard to enjoy and forget about eating yummy foods, I was stuck with tea and hot soups. And I was so looking forward to chili cheese dogs too!

Plans for Next Month:

Write. I have the whole month planned out in regards to my book reviews and even the majority of my non-review posts. It’s all going to depend on how I feel. If I feel like writing, then I’ll catch up in no time. If I don’t feel like writing though, June is going to be VERY light on posts.

Alas, Po’ Yo’rick! I’d Knowed Hisself, Ho…

I began reading Henry V and was just not feeling it, I mean, at all! I was trying to figure out what was going on because I haven’t had a “mood” issue for reading for years now. I was poking around and realized that I’ve been reading this Complete Shakespeare collection for 3 years now.

I started this journey with All’s Well That Ends Well in February of ’18 and the latest was Henry IV, Part II last month. I think I am just in need of a break from Shakespeare. It would seem that 3 years is about the longest I can deal with one ongoing “series” before I need a break. Armed with this info, I am going to be putting Ol’ Shakes on ice til ’22 when I will resume this quest to read all of the Bard’s works.

I am keeping this collection on my kindle so I don’t forget about it but am changing it’s name to “Hiatus til 22” so I don’t accidentally start again. I want a real break to recharge my batteries. I am glad this was an easy to figure out problem and I’ll be keeping it in mind for some of the other long running series I am currently going through.

Keep it cool Ol’ Shakes 👉 😎 😎 👈

Menace of the Monster (British Library Science Fiction Classics) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Menace of the Monster
Series: British Library Science Fiction Classics
Editor: Mike Ashley
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 266
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:

From Isfdb.org

The War of the Worlds (abridgement) • (1920) • short story by H. G. Wells

The Cloud Men • (1911) • short fiction by Owen Oliver

The Dragon of St. Pauls • (1899) • short fiction by Reginald Bacchus and C. Ranger Gull

De Profundis • (1914) • short fiction by Coutts Brisbane

Dagon • (1919) • short story by H. P. Lovecraft

In Amundsen’s Tent • (1928) • novelette by John Martin Leahy

King Kong • (1933) • short story by Draycot M. Dell and Edgar Wallace

The Monster from Nowhere • (1939) • short story by Nelson S. Bond

Discord in Scarlet • [Space Beagle] • (1939) • novelette by A. E. van Vogt

Monster • (1950) • short story by John Christopher

Resident Physician • [Sector General] • (1961) • novelette by James White

Personal Monster • (1955) • short story by Idris Seabright

Alien Invasion • (1954) • short story by Marcia Kamien

The Witness • (1951) • novelette by Eric Frank Russell

My Thoughts:

I went into this knowing that Ashley was going to blab before each story. Thankfully, there was a LOT less sociocultural BS than in the previous book. He actually talked about the stories and authors as stories and authors instead of as representative of this or that modern idea. I didn’t want to stuff a sock down his throat and choke him to death so that was quite the improvement from last time 🙂

With that being said, the stories here weren’t quite as engaging, hence the 3.5star rating. The War of the Worlds abridgement was just too short. It did make me want to seek out the full version though, so that’s something. King Kong was a short story based on the screen play and man, did it feel like it. I’ll take Jackson’s Director’s Cut of the movie any day. I’d read several others of these throughout the years so that familiarity helped ease me along.

Overall, this series is exposing me to authors that have disappeared or fallen out of the knowledge of even the SF community and it is very interesting to read such things. I like the short story format, as I’m not getting bogged down because an author can’t shut the feth up. I didn’t even realize how much I am starting to hate modern authors because of their bleeding wordiness until I started reading more short stories and the distillation of an idea instead of an expansion of the idea. As much as I loved Sanderson when he started, I’m not sure I can read much more by him. And don’t get me started on jackasses like Gwynne who think they’re somebody and have the right to pen tomes as newbie authors.

To end, this one went MUCH better even while some of the stories weren’t as good. I hope things can stay at this level.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Currently Reading & Cover Love: Capital Murder

Capital Murder

Ahhhh, another Arcane Casebook story. I’d read these for the covers alone but thankfully Willis tells a good story too. I thought about saving this large version of the cover for my Cover Love section for next month’s Roundup but I couldn’t hold on that long. So here you go! 🙂

Storywise, Capital Murder seems to be chugging right along with all the previous installments.

The Man Who Forgot Christmas ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Man Who Forgot Christmas
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 83
Words: 22K



Synopsis:

Two men break out of prison. One of them, a thief, rightly belongs there. The other, falsely accused of murder, doesn’t. They hold up a coach and steal money from the man who setup the murderer. The thief is shot and they barely make it to a house. The daughter of the house falls in love with the murderer and the thief falls in love with her.

The local sheriff knows the murderer, as he helped arrest him. But he also knows the charges were false. The thief, in a paroxysm of anger and jealousy, sends an anonymous note to another sheriff claiming the murderer is the one who did the hold up and stole the money. The thief has a change of heart on Christmas day and goes out in a blaze of gunfire with the sheriffs, taking all the blame on his shoulders so his friend can live happily ever after with the girl.

My Thoughts:

I think it is safe to say that Max Brand has a thing for love triangles that are doomed before they even start. What sets these apart from the love triangles in modern urban fantasy is that these are not female wish fulfillment but the grim fulfillment of male dominance. Much like the Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Brand’s love triangles are not about lust and fuzzy feelings but duty and kickass men duking it out until only one is left standing. We’re talking pure, distilled testosterone folks.

The title is taken from the thief forgetting that the day he gives his life for his friend is Christmas Day. He gets a stocking and it has some things that he remembers from his childhood and makes him change his mind and thus the book ends the way it does. It was actually pretty schmaltzy and filled with “the spirit of Christmas”. I could almost hear the Muppets singing in the background, sigh. I’ve never understood why people write about generic “christmas” when the very name tells you the reason for its being.

I don’t know how far along I am in this “Works of Max Brand” collection but while it’s better than nothing, I can say that Max Brand is not a western author that I’ll seek out more of when I done. Where’s my Indians and Cowboys and the Wild West? I want scalps and outlaws and sixguns. While a few of Brands books have had those, like Crossroads, that doesn’t seem to be the majority. Oh, I just checked and I’m only 22% done with this collection. So Brand has a lot of space to improve my opinion of him.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Lord Peter Views the Body
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #5
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 235
Words: 94K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia
(click the Details arrow to see the synopses)

The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers

Members of London’s “Egotists’ Club” are telling stories of odd things that happened to them, when one of the member’s guests, a cinema actor named Varden, relates that he was invited to model for a wealthy sculptor, Eric Loder, and spent several months at Loder’s New York mansion. A few years later, after the war, Loder invited Varden back to New York, and Varden noticed that Loder’s mistress, Maria Moranno, had disappeared, though a life-size gilded sculpture of her now occupied the living room. One night, Varden was wakened by a “funny-looking man” wearing a monocle, who told him his life was in danger. For explanation, the man smashed the arm of the “statue” with a fireplace poker, and Varden saw a human arm bone beneath the gold plating. Varden fled the house immediately, though to this day he is not certain whether he really did narrowly escape death or whether someone played an elaborate practical joke on him.

Then the “funny-looking man” – Wimsey, also a member of the club – appears and explains the mystery: while Wimsey himself was a guest in Loder’s mansion, a small night-time accident led to him occupying a sofa in the living room, where he observed Loder entering a secret chamber. Entering the chamber himself, Wimsey found an apparatus for electroplating and diagrams drawn by Loder, revealing his plans to kill Varden and encase him in a gilded statue. After further investigation, Wimsey concluded that Loder killed Maria in jealousy, believing that she and Varden were lovers during his first stay in New York, and planned to kill Varden in the same fashion after he returned from his war service.

Wimsey goes on to relate that after Varden fled the house, Wimsey confronted Loder with a pistol in the secret workshop. Loder tried to outmaneuver Wimsey by shutting off the lights and then rushing him, but tripped and fell into the vat of cyanide to be used in the electroplating process, dying almost instantaneously. While Wimsey fumbled to turn the lights back on, he inadvertently switched on the current to the copper wire Loder was gripping, which transferred copper plating to his hands. Loder was found the next morning, and his death was ruled an accident, while Wimsey took Maria Moranno’s encased body to a local cemetery and gave it a Christian burial with the aid of a sympathetic priest.

The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question

Peter and Bunter are waiting in line at Saint-Lazare in Paris, when Peter overhears a conversation from a young woman in line that makes him curious, particularly when he notes that the woman and her companion are also taking the same train to Calais, and crossing the Channel to Dover. After patient investigation, Peter meets with his mother’s friend, the Dowager Countess of Medway, warning her that someone is planning a burglary during her granddaughter’s upcoming wedding. He believes he knows who the thief is, but cannot prove it unless the theft is allowed to take place.

Peter also alerts Charles Parker, who has men on guard during the wedding. A brief uproar arises when the bride’s famous diamond necklace, brought out of the family vault for the occasion, is reported stolen, but the thief and her accomplice are caught red-handed. Peter shocks the assembled wedding party by exposing the Dowager Countess’s French lady’s maid as a man in disguise, Jacques le Rouge, a.k.a. Jacques sans-Culotte, a notorious safecracker, burglar and female impersonator. Jacques admits defeat, asking Peter how he knew. Peter explains that while waiting in the line at Saint-Lazare, he overheard Jacques, while dressed as a woman, use the masculine article “un” instead of the feminine “une.” Jacques congratulates Peter for a mastery of the French language probably unique among all English people.

The Dowager Countess is initially outraged that Peter knowingly allowed her to be dressed, undressed, and assisted to bed by a man, but then laughs off the whole affair, reminiscing that she was a famous beauty in her youth, who attracted the attentions of many young men.

The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager’s Will

The disposal of a dead man’s fortune depends on his penchant for cross-word puzzles.

The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag

A high-speed chase and a lost bag converge with a gruesome discovery.

The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker

A lady pleads for Lord Peter’s help in retrieving a valuable necklace, and more importantly, a portrait with an indiscreet inscription.

The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention

Lord Peter, visiting friends in the country, sees a ghostly carriage, hears rumours of an odd will, and deduces that foul play is afoot.

The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran

Lord Peter deduces the whereabouts of a cleverly hidden murder weapon.

The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste

Lord Peter’s celebrated palate exposes two impostors seeking a secret formula.

The Learned Adventure of the Dragon’s Head

Viscount St. George appears as a boy as Lord Peter uses clues from a rare book to find a treasure.

The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach

Involving several Scotsmen, a digestive organ, and a handful of diamonds.

The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face

Prompted by a discussion with strangers on a train, Lord Peter investigates the murder of a man whose face was disfigured after death.

The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba

Lord Peter infiltrates a den of ruthless thieves; notable for unusual technology.

My Thoughts:

This was a good entry in the series. A selection of short stories worked perfectly for me and kept my attention without making me feel “Ok, get on with it already”.

Some stories worked better than others and the last one did NOT work for me. Faking his own death for 2 years just to catch a gang of high tech thieves seemed a bit ridiculous to me. And it made me realize how old he is. He was 37 at the time of his fake death. I also don’t understand why he’s still single. I seem to vaguely recollect that he’s married in later books but might be confusing him with his official detective partner Charles Parker. Either way, he’s not Batman/Bruce Wayne so he should be married. And that’s my final answer.

Other than those odd complaints, this was just what was needed. I really like collections of short stories if they are done well. None of this 800 page “world building” crap where the author destroys any chance of allowing the reader to use their imagination. None of this 800 pages of “character development” where the author makes the character more important than the story. Sayers tells a story using the titular character and she does it well. But they are the vehicles and the story is the point. I appreciate, so much, that approach to story telling. It is sadly lacking in today’s books and is probably one of the reasons I’m not drawn so much into modern SFF.

Going slightly off topic here. I don’t understand why authors like Sayers, and McKillip, aren’t mentioned more by those who want more women writers. They seem to be completely ignored by the very people I would have thought would be searching them out and bringing them to a new generation. Part of it, I suspect, is the style of writing. “Kids these days” just don’t want this sparse, utilitarian and yet excellent kind of writing. Heaven help us, they might have to use their imaginations! Maybe it’s a genre thing? Most of the mystery series that I’ve dipped my toes into have been penned by women but I don’t hear their names bandied about at all nowadays. Ok, I’m done blabbering.

The main reason this got a 3.5 instead of a 4 is because in one of the stories Wimsey is talking with someone who’s french and Sayers doesn’t translate it. She expects her readers to be able to read french. She obviously was NOT part of the Freedom Fries movement of the 00’s, otherwise she’d know better. To be honest though, I don’t feel like I really missed out on anything by not being able to read a couple of paragraphs.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.