Friday, November 13, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling - Friday the 13th of November

Time for another round of Bookshelf Traveling in Insane Times which was created by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness and is currently hosted by Katrina at Pining for the West.   This is another shelf in my living room and it reveals a mixture of mysteries and lighthearted English fiction.  It is one of five tall bookcases and I need a stool to reach the top shelf.  Maybe that is why some of these are unread!

Mary Elgin (1917-1965) was a British writer of just three books that are known but is considered the closest thing to Mary Stewart. Her books are contemporary gothics with humor and charm, set in the Scottish Highlands.  In Highland Masquerade (1965), teenaged Aillie Rannoch put a curse on the man who drove her father to suicide, and then fled her Highland home - swearing never to return.  Ten years later, driven by disturbing memories of the past, Aillie returns to Glenshael disguised as a dowdy secretary, seeking revenge.  If you come across an Elgin paperback at a used bookstore, grab it!
I own four of the six books by Rennie Airth about a Scotland Yard Detective Inspector, John Madden, who developed shell-shock as result of his WWI service and, in the first book, River of Darkness (1999), is having a hard time readjusting to life after the war.  The characters and descriptions of the countryside are particularly well done and occasional flashbacks are convincing.  This series is not unlike the more prolific Charles Todd’s books about Inspector Ian Rutledge.  

Next is Death of a Radcliffe Roommate by Victoria Silver (1986), sequel to Death of a Harvard Freshman, a book my sister and I loved. When I worked at Bantam, I had the opportunity to tell the legendary mystery editor Kate Miciak how much my sister and I loved these sarcastic and funny mysteries that conveyed so vivid a sense of Harvard the author had to be an alum.   She told me the author was a man but I don’t think she told me his name.  
A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar (1978) is a variation of the Tam Lin legend by about a woman stolen away from her sleeping husband and newborn son by the sadistic Erl King.  I have not read this yet.  I am not a huge fantasy fan but there are certain themes I like and Tam Lin is one of them.  Ipcar was a very under-the-radar American artist/author from Maine who wrote and illustrated more than 30 children's books, although this is the only one I have heard of.

Someone who knew I like books about books recommended Jumping to Conclusions by Christina Jones (1999) about a woman who opens a bookshop.  It’s part of a chick lit series set in a small town where everyone is obsessed with horse racing except the heroine.  I became such a fan of the author that for ages I ordered each new book from the UK.  Alas, in recent years she has gone to town with weird characters and magical realism (I suppose) which I don’t care for but her early books are very enjoyable light reading. 


Katrina said...

I haven't heard of any of these authors, I feel I'm learning a lot. I definitely should have heard of Elgin, I suspect that her books might be easier to find on the internet as I don't recall seeing any in secondhand bookshops.

CLM said...

I think you would like Mary Elgin's books. They have different titles in the UK (I got excited once thinking there were other books I hadn't read) but the National Library of Scotland has some. Do they do InterLibrary Loan or is it just for in-person research? I remember walking by but did not try to go in.

CLM said...
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TracyK said...

The Rennie Airth books are the only ones on this shelf that I am familiar with. I read the first three in the series, but I liked them more for the historic settings than for the story.

Katrina said...

I've had a look at the Edinburgh library catalogue and they don't have any of her books! The Library of Scotland site seems to be frozen, I don't think it's open at the moment. I'll ask my friendly secondhand bookseller in St Andrews to look out for her books. There's only one of her books online, I might go for it but it looks fairly tatty.