Monday, August 6, 2007

Double the Mystery, Double the Fun (The Door, Death in Holy Orders)

The Door by Mary Roberts Rinehard

I read The Door as one of my Summer Mystery Challenge selections. In was published in the late forties, and the edition I read was an omnibus I bookmooched that includes two other novels. This was my first experience with Rinehard, and I'm not sure whether I like her or not. It's definitely a cozy mystery-the reader is presented with a close circle of people, and must try to figure out who did it. The narrator was quite fun-a single, older woman who enjoys her independence and wealth. :) However, the entire novel was written as the narrator remembering events. This would have been fine, except the woman kept foreshadowing, almost the level of spoilers, which drove me insane. This was my only complaint with the book, but it is a large one. I'm willing to give Rinehard another chance, because she's great at characterization, and the plot would have been very enjoyable without all of the foreshadowing. Hopefully her other books are written in a different style!

Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James
This was a book on CD, which I don't normally discuss. However, this one was exceptionally good, and it has made me want to being collecting more P.D. James. This was my first novel of hers. It's set in a seminary-college (I'm Catholic, so I don't really know what the Church of England calls it) perched on the edge of the bleak, stormy sea. It's also an Inspector Dalgleish (sp?) book; the Inspector enjoys writing poetry and is generally quite introspective. I'm worried about discussing the plot at all, because the book unfolds slowly, so much of the action doesn't begin until about half way through. Suffice it to say, there is a string of murders that must be solved. Don't expect any Agatha Christie plots here-the killer becomes pretty obvious at least 3 CDs before s/he is arrested. Nevertheless, James creates stunningly human characters, who all seem ready to step off the page. She also evokes scenery very well; I felt like I was on a rocky British beach sometimes. It was a pleasure to listen to this book, and I plan to hunt down some more James very soon. If you enjoy mysteries, but don't mind a slower-moving, character-centric book, this one will hit the spot!

5 comments:

iliana said...

I've only read one P.D. James, her first Dagliesh (sp?) book and quite liked it. I keep meaning to read more by her but just haven't gotten around to them yet. I'm interested in the Mary Roberts Rinehard book you mentioned as I'm curious about the books written in the golden age of mysteries.

Heather said...

"Death in Holy Orders" sounds quite interesting. It's also one of the rare books in the genre whose name doesn't seem hopelessly generic and ultimately kind of meaningless. ;)

Eva said...

Iliana, if you want the Rinehard book, I'll bookmooch it to you. I don't think it's in publication any more. Of course, I'm sure you have a lot of books already on your tbr-just thought I'd offer!

Heather, the the title is what attracted me! And the cover is cool looking as well.

poodlerat said...

The Rinehard book sounds annoying---I loathe foreshadowing 99% of the time. Actually the only time I liked it, the event turned out not to be what the foreshadowing had led the reader to expect, while the menace it imparted mirrored the menace the narrator felt at being tossed, with very little preparation, into an unknown culture.

I've never read any P.D. James, but The Children of Men is on the syllabus for one of my English courses this year. Your praise of her characters has made me excited to read it!

Eva said...

Poodlerat, what book used foreshadowing well? Now I want to run out and read it! I hope that the James lives up to your expectations; I've never read Children of Men. Is it what that movie was based on?