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Quick Reviews [Aug. 28th, 2017|07:52 pm]
De Horror Vacui
The Clocks By Agatha Christie:

This is a 1964 attempt by Agatha Christie to, once again, get Poirot into a spy novel. But unlike the unsatisfactory The Big Four, this book uses another Agatha Christie trick that saves the day. Hercule Poirot isn't the protagonist. He shows up in three chapters, to solve the case (and certainly not just to sell novels), and the novel focuses on hsi fine young friend, Colin Lamb. Really, not something to recommend.

Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers:

In these books Dorothy Sayers has not one, but two, Mary Sues for your reading pleasure. Obviously, the first Mary Sue is Lord Peter Death Wimsey, her extra-aristocratic super-sleuth. And the second is his love interest, Harriet Vane. The first book is the Harriet Vane cycle is loosely based on Dorothy Sayers' own scandalous affair with a foreign detective fiction writer. Only in this case, "her" lover was murdered, "she" was prosecuted, and Lord Peter has to save the day. And, it turns out to be a good read.

Usually, Dorothy Sayers' average work is better and deeper than Agatha Christie's, but not so Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night. Have His Carcase is on par with an Agatha Christie novel, but Gaudy Night is insufferable. It is long, boring, and nothing much happens. In the former, Harriet Vane stumbles upon a dead body, and she and Peter Wimsey need to solve the convoluted case. It's very readable. In the latter, the mystery is that someone is sending nasty notes to and playing practical jokes on the members of a fictional Oxford women's college (similar to the one Sayers went to). It gets so bad that one of the undergraduates tries to kill herself. That's how mean the practical joker is. It is a little like The Clocks in that the story focuses on Harriet Vane and Lord Wimsey only shows up now and again. To solve the case.

There's a reason why Tolkien, who liked Sayers' earlier work, hated Gaudy Night, and it's because it is bad.

Finally, Busman's Honeymoon saves the series by again being a good outing. In this case, Lord Peter buys a nice country cottage to live in with his new bride, Harriet Vane. They go there as a honeymoon, and someone has been kind enough to give them the best wedding present: a dead body in the cellar. It starts with a long, tense sequence filled with humor before the body is found, and the investigators only half-heartedly do their investigation for obvious reasons. Only the ending is spoiled by several chapters discussing how Peter Wimsey acts after he solves a case, which are dull.

Other books, 2017:
32. The Clocks, Agatha Christie
31. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Eric H. Cline
30. Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, John S. Bell
29. Hickory Dickory Dock, Agatha Christie
28. Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy Sayers
27. Quantum Mechanics and the Particles of Nature, Anthony Sudbery
26. Sleeping Beauties in Theoretical Physics: 26 Surprising Insights, Thanu Padmanabhan
25. Dead Man's Folly, Agatha Christie
24. The Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie
23. Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, Steven Strogatz
22. The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy, Jesse Walker
21. Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology
20. Evil Under the Sun, Agatha Christie
19. Think Java: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, Allen B. Downey and Chris Mayfield
18. Combined Action Platoons in the Vietnam War: Unique Counterinsurgency Capability for the Contemporary Operating Environment
17. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
16. Abstract Algebra and Famous Impossibilities, Arthur Jones, Sidney A. Morris, and Kenneth R. Pearson
15. Symmetry Principles and Magnetic Symmetry in Solid State Physics, S. J. Joshua
14. Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms, Hynes and Doty, eds.
13. The Mexican War 1846-1848, Douglas V. Meed
12. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
11. Energy for Animal Life, R. McNeill Alexander
10. The Texas War of Independence 1835-36: From Outbreak to the Alamo to San Jacinto
9. Lord Edgeware Dies, Agatha Christie
8. Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference, David Halpern
7. The Mathematical Mechanic: Using Physical Reasoning to Solve Problems, Mark Levi
6. Have His Carcase, Dorothy Sayers
5. Procedural Content Generation in Games, Noor Shaker, Julian Togelius, an Mark J. Nelson
4. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Ian Shaw
3. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why, Richard E. Nisbett
2. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
1. The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alistair Smith