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 Seven Minutes: A case against censorship

The Seven Minutes is a novel about a novel. An Oakland, CA, bookstore owner sells a pre-release copy of The Seven Minutes to undercover cops who arrest him for selling pornography. Shortly thereafter, a college boy from a good family confesses to rape and murder. He claims reading the French-printed copy of the novel, which […]

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 […]

The Lone Star Ranger is too good for its ending

In his father’s day, a gun-fighter worried only about better gunfighters. Since then the Rangers have been organized to bring law and order to Texas. Buck Duane will be the last of his gun-fighting family. The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Gray Project Gutenberg eBook #1027. 1915 bestseller #9. My grade: B-. After killing a […]

Ordinary people, tempting plot tangles in The Devil’s Garden

The Devil’s Garden opens with postmaster Will Dale receiving notice that he’s been suspended for a trivial incident that the local MP used as an example of the officiousness of civil servants. Will’s wife, Mavis, and Will’s temporary replacement, Mr. Ridgett, suspect Will won’t present himself well at his suspension hearing. Will thinks Mavis frets […]

A Gentleman of Courage Has Few Other Good Points

James Oliver Curwood’s A Gentleman of Courage is the love story of two youngsters who are informally adopted by the residents of a community on an inlet off Lake Superior. The boy, Peter MacRae, is the son of a man wanted for murder. He sends Peter to a friend who owns the lumber mill at […]