The Secret Woman: Implausible diversion

Victoria Holt’s The Secret Woman is an old-fashioned mystery story arising from the Victorian aristocrats’ need for a male heir carry on the line. The leading lady is Anna Brett, a orphan in the care of an eccentric maiden aunt who buys but rarely sells antique furniture in an English seaport dominated by the Crediton […]

The Crystal Cave: Dark and dull

The Crystal Cave is Mary Stewart’s hallucinogenic tale of Merlin, the shadowy figure of Arthurian legends and post-Roman history. Myrddin Emrys, later to become known as Merlin, is the bastard son of the daughter of the King of South Wales by an man whom the daughter refuses to name. When the story opens, Merlin is […]

Testimony of Two Men, one his own worst enemy

Taylor Caldwell begins Testimony of Two Men where more usual novels would have ended: Dr. Jonathan Ferrier has been acquitted of the murder-by-botched-abortion of his young wife, Mavis. Unable to live among people who doubted his innocence, Jon has sold his practice to young Robert Morgan, who, of candidates Jon interviewed, seemed least likely to […]

A Small Town in Germany is a keeper, not a thriller

A Small Town in Germany is a complex, Cold War era mystery that totters on the edge of a thriller. In Germany, “an amorphous Movement* of popular resentments, popular protest and occasional violence” threatens Britain’s desperate attempt to gain admittance to the Common Market. As if that weren’t enough, Leo Harting, a Second Secretary at […]

The Eighth Day: A simple story made complicated

The Eighth Day begins with murder of Breckenridge Lansing in his yard as he and his friend John Ashley are engaged in their customary Sunday afternoon rifle practice. Tried and convicted for the murder, Ashley was rescued from execution by six silent, disguised men and never heard from again. The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder […]

Twilight Sleep will jolt you awake

Until chapter 32, Twilight Sleep is an amusing, satirical tale of an well-heeled family in New York City in the roaring twenties. Pauline Munford fills her life with activities to improve herself and her world — a world from which she keeps herself well insulated. Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton D. Appleton, 1927. 373 pp. […]

The Red Planet turns light on heroism

The Red Planet is a memoir narrated by Duncan Meredyth, a widowed Boer War veteran living in a small English country village in 1914. Duncan is cared for my his ex-sergeant who was disfigured in the same shell blast that took Duncan’s legs. The Red Planet by William J. Locke 1917 bestseller #3. Project Gutenberg […]