There Was a Crooked Man

2321738by Clifford Witting

The tall, distinguished gentleman in the bowler hat who drove from London down to Frenstead in eastern Downshire one evening in October must have had some compelling reason for seeking out old Charlie Kendrick, woodworker and handyman, in his lonely wooden shack on the summit of Painswick Hill. Before the night was out, Crooked Charlie had died suddenly and violently, and it was a crooked mile that Detective Inspector Peter Bradfield had to cover step by step before he ferreted out the secret of the man in the bowler hat and unmasked a murderer of peculiar ruthlessness and cunning.

I read a review on a Clifford Witting book over at Pretty Sinister several years ago. I immediately bought this book and just got around to reading it! I enjoyed it. A good solid mystery with fun, solid characters. There was quite a bit of dialect written into the conversations. Things like…

“I’ve had it. For what a me-an’-you she laid on! Roast beef and everything that goes with it, then –”

“No, I didna – and ye wanna get mair out o’me, for I have felt ye all I ken.”

And one character, Mr. Earp, rattled on so with fancy words and prose that half the time I didn’t know what he was yammerin’ on about. The young barmaid, Shirley, didn’t either and she thought he was trying to make her feel inferior. A little silly, but it added a bit of fun to the story.

I think I’d like to try a few more of Witting’s books. Read this nice little write up on Witting over at Gadetection.

This book counts for Bev’s Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt – Silver Era – A Green Object (a green scarf around his neck!). That makes 5 books in the Silver Era for me!

The Yellow Brick Road

by Elizabeth Cadell. First published in 1960. This little book reminded so much of Mary Stewart!

Back cover…
Jody Hern was a girl noted for her good sense as well as her charm. Yet, awakening one day from a bad fall, Jody was left with a lingering sense of fear and the vision of an impossible scene…
   She was ready to put it aside as the hallucination her fiancé Charles insisted it was when, one day, her “hallucination” appeared at the door – in the form of a very real, rugged Naval officer!
   From London’s West End to the windswept lawns of a boys’ school in Sussex, Jody Hern untangles the bizarre mystery and the secret of her heart as well.

in the front cover…
If she had really fallen down those stairs, how could she have gotten a bump on the back of her head? And what had happened to make her feel that she had seen a man – a man leading a goat down a fashionable London street on which, she was certain, she had never walked?

In her determined search for the solution to a frightening puzzle, Jody Hern finds the true meaning of love.

An engaging little mystery and light romance. It kept me interested and turning pages. I enjoyed the characters and the fun, clever mystery!

 

Georgetown, South Carolina

fullsizeoutput_432Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina, founded in 1729 and becoming an official port of entry in 1732. Indigo was once the money making crop in this town and when the need for it declined they switched to rice. The swampy, low-lying land next to tidal rivers made it the perfect environment to grow rice. By 1840 half the total rice crop from the US came from Georgetown and the port exported more rice than any other port in the world. The local variety, Carolina Gold, was in high demand worldwide. Had it not been for the large African slave population’s knowledge in rice growing this would not have been possible. They have a wonderful Rice Museum there that is well worth the time if you ever get there.

We stopped in the Maritime Museum too. It’s free and full of interesting
things, Like the Planter, a side-wheeled steamer constructed in Charleston in 1860. During the Civil War she was part of both the Confederate and Federal Navy and Army. She became famous as a war prize vessel on May 13, 1862 when she was commandeered in the middle of the night in Charleston harbor by the ship’s pilot, Robert Smalls and her enslaved crew and their families. They turned her over to the Union blockading fleet! She was lost at sea on IMG_20170425_130425_553May 24, 1876, attempting to rescue another vessel.IMG_20170425_130455_125 Robert Smalls, the ship’s pilot, went on to become a member of the Unites States House of Representatives from 1875-1887.

Another great site in Georgetown is the Kaminski House Museum. A fine example of an old antebellum home built around 1750-60. Their not sure of the exact time, but it was given to the owners daughter in 1769. We didn’t go on the tour, just wandered around outside. It sits right on the river. Lovely, peaceful piece of property. Although the paper mill that is right up the river from it now smells something terrible! I found a wonderful virtual tour of the house on their website so you can take a tour right now if you want!
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Another wonderful treat in Georgetown is the Browns Ferry Vessel.  A small colonial merchants vessel estimated, from the age of artifacts found aboard it, to have sank about 1730-40. The vessel is probably older than that judging by some patching done at the seams near the butt. It was discovered by sport divers in 1971 in the Black River near Browns Ferry Landing. The vessel was recovered by the Marine Research Division of the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina (boy that’s a mouth full!) in 1976. It was taken to Columbia, SC and immersed in a tank of polyethylene glycol for conservation and in 1992 it was transported to Georgetown and placed on the third floor of the Prevost Gallery (the old hardware store) for reconstruction and is on display there now. The vessel is made of pine, oak, and cypress and about 50ft. long. It was a flat bottom boat with two masts and could be sailed, rowed or poled. It was carrying a cargo of ten thousand bricks when it sank. A maritime expert at the time considered its value to be the most important single nautical discovery in the United States to date. Its discovery establishes primary evidence for American shipbuilding nearly fifty years earlier than previous discoveries. Here are a few pictures I took of it. They had to completely remove the roof of the old hardware store to get it into the building on the third! Look here for pictures of items found on it.

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It’s a lovely old downtown to roam around with nice shops and restaurants and lovely old buildings. Here are some shots around town. Starting with the old hardware store that houses the Browns Ferry Vessel and shelves of their old record books and the original cash register that had a cash drawer that opened towards the customer!

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If your ever in Myrtle Beach make a day to spend in Georgetown. It’s not far south from Myrtle Beach.

The Train by Georges Simenon

Back of the book:
Restored to print for the first time in more than forty years, this masterpiece of psychological suspense tells the tale of Marcel Feron – a poor man who, against all odds, had made a ‘normal’ life in a bucolic French village in the Ardennes. But one spring day in 1940, the German army invades France, and he must abandon his home and confront the fate that he has secretly awaited.
Separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter in the chaos of flight, he joins a freight car of refugees hurtling southward ahead of the pursuing Nazis. There, he meets Anna, a sad-looking, dark-haired girl, whose accent is ‘neither Belgian nor German,’ and who ‘seemed foreign to everything around her.’
As the mystery of Anna’s identity is gradually revealed, Marcel leaps from the heights of an exhilarating freedom to the depths of a terrifying responsibility – one that will lead him to a blood chilling choice.
When it first appeared in English in 1964, British novelist and critic Brigid Trophy declared The Train to be ‘the novel his admirers had been expecting all along from Simenon.’ Until The Train, she wrote, the dazzlingly prolific novelist had been ‘a master without a masterpiece.’

A fascinating little book. A very intimate look into the life of one man when war was just starting and the psychological effect that has on him and those around him. I found it to be honest and probably true. It’s told in the first person, years later as he is recording his story for posterity’s sake. Hard to put down, read it in one day. I wasn’t even aware Simenon had written stand-alone novels aside from Maigret. This one was my very first Simenon book. Now I’m looking forward to digging into one of the Maigret books I have here now!

New York Times said “There is no false note, not one word or sigh or smile which strikes me as anything but unavoidable. This is not a writer’s romancing story of a little man caught in the war; it is the unknown history of many little men in that vast war.”

My copy is a Neversink Library edition by Melville House Publishing. It’s a lovely slim edition that feels so good in your hands. I’ve never heard of Neversink. This is what is in the front of the book…

The Neversink Library
I was by no means the only reader of books on board the Neversink. Several other sailors were diligent readers, though their studies did not lie in the way of belles-lettres. Their favorite authors were such as you may find at the book-stalls around Fulton Market; they were slightly physiological in their nature. My book experiences on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful, and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there; those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend to little, but abound in much.
~Herman Melville, White Jacket

‘The Neversink Library champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, under appreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored.’
Check it out HERE.

Library Sale!

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What a haul I made this year! 84 books! I can see volunteering to help with this each year is going to be a problem 😉

A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Sparks
The Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler
The Legacy by Neil Shute
Fillets of Plaice by Gerald Durrell
The Cheap Detective by Robert Grossbach
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
The Death of an Irish Lover by Bartholomew Gill
Two by Ruth Rendell:
Wolf to the Slaughter, One Across Two Down
Northbridge Rectory by Angela Thirkell
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
Excellent Woman by Barbara Pym
Under the Lake by Stuart Woods
Get Real by Donald E. Westlake
Pearls Before Swine by Margery Allingham
Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh
The Family Vault by Charlotte Macleod
Three by Minette Walters:
The Dark Room, Disordered Minds, The Ice House
Five by M.R.D. Meek:
The Split Second, A Loose Connection, Hang the Consequences, In Remembrance of Rose, A Worm of Doubt
Death, Bones and Stately Homes by Valerie Malmont
Four by Denise Mina:
Exile, Slip of the Knife, Resolution, The Red Road
Three by CS Thompson (an author from Bristol TN. just up the road from me)
Why Bristol? Murder at Bristol Motor Speedway, Why Him?, and Why Natasha
Two Agatha Christie‘s: Sad Cypress and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Two Graham Greene‘s: Travels with My Aunt and The Captain and the Enemy
Seven Elizabeth Cadell‘s: Return Match, The Round Dozen, Brimstone in the Garden, Honey for Tea, Game in Diamonds, Crystal Clear, Money to Burn
The Little Minister by James M. Barrie
Adventures in Two Worlds by AJ Cronin
Two Mary Stewart‘s: The Moon Spinners and My Brother Michael
Three by Dorothy Simpson: The Night She Died, Suspicious Death, and Dead and Gone
Black Widower by Patricia Moyes
Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumor Godden
Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Spencers Mountain by Earl Hammer Jr.(the book The Waltons TV series is based on)
Under the Wide & Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Faithful Place by Tana French
Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The Train by George Simenon
Don’t Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford
Two Mary Roberts Rinehart‘s: K and The Window at the White Cat
The Double Image by Helen MacInnes
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
by Rosamond Lehmann: Invitation to the Waltz and Weather in the Street
The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty
The Morgesons by Elizabeth Stoddard
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
The Governess by HRF Keating
Final Account by Peter Robinson
Gently in the Sun by Alan Hunter
What is Mine by Anne Holt
Two by Lee Smith: The Devils Dream and Fair and Tender Ladies
Two by Ruth Moore: Lizzie and Caroline, Speak to the Wind
Two by George Harmon Coxe: Focus on Murder, Suddenly a Widow
The Man Who Lost his Wife by Julian Symons
and two for my grandkids: James Patterson’s Maximum Ride (an anime book) and Plants VS Zombies by Paul Tobin (a graphic book)

Three books came in the mail in the last week too…
The Mystery at Orchard House by Joan Coggin (Rue Morgue Press book)
So Pretty a Problem by Frances Duncan
She Shall Have Murder by Delano Ames
and another Frances Duncan, In at the Death, is winging its way here now.

I did sort through and take one bag of books to donate to the sale so that gave me a little room. I had to reorganize my shelves and I sense a trip to IKEA when we go home to Pennsylvania this summer for another Billy bookcase!

I still think Bossman is lucky. I could collect diamonds or designer clothes and shoes instead of old books for 50 cents or $1!

Coffin Road by Peter May

iuA man stands bewildered on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris. He cannot remember who he is. The only clue to his identity is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road. He does not know where this search will take him.

A detective from Lewis sits aboard a boat, filled with doubt. DS George Gunn knows that a bludgeoned corpse has been discovered on a remote rock twenty miles offshore. He does not know if he has what it takes to uncover how and why.

A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her scientist father’s suicide. Two years on, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would willfully abandon her. She doesn’t yet know his secret.

Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth – and the realization that ignorance can kill us.

Another great book by Peter May. Great tension, atmosphere and character. Except for the teenage girl. It was a little unbelievable for me and the relationship didn’t come across as that close somehow to me either. But, the book is still an excellent read. Hard to put down. I’m curious if you’ve read it what you thought of the teenager part, don’t want to give away anything here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The whole mystery is wrapped up in bees and what’s killing them. Lots of interesting stuff in this one, folks! Although this is a stand-alone book DS Gunn from the Lewis Trilogy is the main law enforcement character in this one. Fin and Marsaili are mentioned once too. It was nice revisiting the characters. A nice touch!

Here’s a nice article about this book in The Scotsman if your interested!