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Bookends: More Good Mysteries for the Road December 29, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: More Good Mysteries for the Road

By Dan Davidson

May 8, 2013

– 891 words –

 

Introducing the Toff

Introducing the Toff

By John Creasey

House of Stratus

186 pages

$14.25

Introducing the Toff

By John Creasey

Narrated By Roger May

House of Stratus

$20.00


Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins

John Creasey was one of the most prolific of the 20th century generation of British mystery writers. He produced some 600 books in a variety of genres during his career, knocking out several each year and doing so under his own name as well as under nearly a dozen pen names. I used to have 30 or 40 of his books, my focus having been on the Toff, the Baron, and Roger West

mysteries, as well as the slightly science fictionish Dr. Palfrey series. It’s been easily 35 years since I’ve read one and he disappeared from the stands for a while, but he seems to be making a comeback in e-books and audio books as well as in paper.

This is the first of the Toff series, and not a book I had ever read. The Toff (a word meaning a rich person, or “swell”) is the alter-ego of the Honourable Richard Rollison, who comes across as a sort of cross between Leslie Charteris’ Saint and Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey. The Saint was more of a loner and Wimsey not nearly so physical.

Rollison strikes fear into the hearts of the ungodly but has a good many

devoted friends on the wrong side of the tracks as well due to the ways in which he helps anyone that he feels could use a leg up.

He is drawn into this case when he is ambushed for no reason that he can think of while minding his own business on a narrow country lane. It turns out the bad guys wanted to hold him up just long enough to be able to get away from the scene of a murder they have committed just up the road a bit. They didn’t know who he was at the time. Their mistake.

From this accidental beginning, the Toff is drawn into a case that involves murder, drug smuggling and kidnapping and, at one point, requires him to pretend to be dead while recovering from injuries sustained in the chase.

This book is the first of 59, written between 1938 and 1978. Creasey actually died in 1973, but had so many books already finished, than his publishers had another three to seven years worth of posthumous releases (by J.J Marric, himself and Anthony Morton) to fill their lists after he was gone.

The book certainly shows its age in terms of style and social assumptions,

but it’s a great road book, and just about the right length for the drive from Dawson to Whitehorse.

 

Promised LandPromised Land

By Robert B. Parker

Dell

224 pages


$11.99

Promised Land

By Robert B. Parker

Narrated by Michael Prichard

Series: Spenser, Book 4

5 hours and 27 minutes

 

A promised land is what neither Harv nor Pam Shepherd have managed to find in their relationship after 20 decades of marriage and several small children. Trying to scramble to the top of the real estate heap has gotten


Spenser locates her, but decides not to tell Harv where she is other than that she is safe. This turns out to be a blunder as Pam and two loony friends who have overdosed on the Feminine Mystique and got it mixed up with the Black Panther movement (this is 1976, remember) decide to finance their 
Harv into trouble with a loan shark named King Powers, but that’s not why he hires Spenser. He hires her to find Pam, who has flitted off in order to find herself.

revolutionary dreams by robbing a ban so they can have money to buy guns.

In the event, one of the loonies kills am elderly bank guard and triggers the fun that begins. Meanwhile Harv is being visited by Hawk (his first appearance in the series), who is working the collection racket as Powers’ muscle. When Harv finally admits to Spenser that he is in over his head, Spenser is left in the unenviable position of trying to solve the problems of the two estranged spouses and perhaps get them back together for the sake of the kids.

It’s complicated.

This fourth book of the series is finally the one where Spenser leaves Brenda Loring’s charms aside and settles on Susan Silverman, who is still a high


Prichard seemed to get more into the narration of this book. There was less of the flat affect in his delivery than in the first three I listened to. Part of this is probably because Dr. Parker was writing a bit less like his literary heroes from the
Black Mask magazine days and finding his own style. He was getting to the point where he could enter his own promised land. He had become a full professor at this point and in just three more years his fifth novel would allow him to quite teaching and spend the rest of his life writing.school counselor at this point in her pre-doctorate life. Their relationship is a but shaky but intense, and Parker tries out his later habit of talking us right up to the bedroom door but (mostly) leaving them some privacy.

 

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