Wednesday, May 6, 2020


I've been missing Michael Dirda's book reviews at The Washington Post. He's back. It turns out that "The world was too much with me. I felt old and depleted and tired..." and so he took some time off and read:
First I dug into a stack of Golden Age detective novels, all from the early to mid-1920s. I began with Freeman Wills Crofts’s early police procedural, The Cask, in which a beautiful young woman’s body is discovered inside a barrel used for packing statuary. Crofts’s style is plain and factual, but surprisingly effective, as we see alibis established and then, gradually, inexorably, dismantled. Except for a thrilling chapter toward the end, the novel is restfully cerebral rather than visceral or dramatic. I recommend it.

The Cask proved so tonic that I immediately followed it up with Philip MacDonald’s breezy, locked-study whodunit The Rasp, A.E.W. Mason’s The House of the Arrow (whose Inspector Hanaud may have influenced the creation of Hercule Poirot) and Edgar Wallace’s updated version of a Victorian sensation novel, The Green Archer. For further criminous diversion, I spent one evening enjoying the hit film Knives Out, while noting the flaws in its intricate plot.
I've read, and own, The Cask and The Rasp and recently watched Knives Out (streaming), which I recommend to fans of Golden Age mysteries. The illustration is the cover of my favorite Philip MacDonald, who, by the way, was a grandson of George MacDonald.

When the world was too much with me, here’s what I read for some R&R - The Washington Post

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