10 Books I Forgot I Had

I am sure I am not the only one who manages to forget what books they own but have yet to read. My excuse this time around is that I have been moving house, so for quite some time my books have predominantly been in storage, including a huge chunk of my TBR pile. So now that I am slowly beginning to unpack the boxes, I am coming across a number of books which make me think “Oh I didn’t know I had that one” and I thought it might be fun to share some of the books I have uncovered so far.

Book No. 1: Sexton Blake Investigates… Crime at Christmas by Gwyn Evans (Plus The Pengarth Castle Series by Edwy Searles Brooks).

This seems to be a kind of Christmas annual, put together in 1974, yet the original materials come from 1925-1928. More material is included in the omnibus, than listed above, such as the Sexton Blake story, ‘The Mystery of Mrs Bardell’s Xmas Pudding’. Original artwork and adverts also appear, and The U. J. Detective Supplement segments seem to have a non-fiction, but crime and policing focus. Given it is not long until Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at this one soon, although I am not sure how I will review it, given the volume of fiction it contains.

Book No. 2: Blow-Down (1940) by Lawrence G. Blochman

A war-time mystery, which was recommended to me by Xavier Lechard. My copy is only a hardback which lacks a dustjacket, so I thought I would include an image of the Dell Mapback edition. Looking at the various covers, high wind speed seems to be a common trope, as does having a woman in peril.

Book No. 3: The Black Pigeon (1929) by Anne Austin

I read another of Austin’s books, The Avenging Parrot (1930), last year in preparation for my talk at the Agatha Christie festival about the role of animals in crime fiction. The Black Pigeon was reprinted by the Resurrected Press a decade ago and this is the synopsis they provided for it:

There were plenty of reasons for “Handsome Harry” Borden to be murdered. After all, he had cost numerous investors their life savings with questionable securities. And he had left his wife for a string of actresses and dancers, only to shed each in turn for a new flame. And the office boy that he had bullied. Not to mention the jealous boyfriend of his secretary to whom he had made unwanted advances. So there were plenty of suspects when he was found dead of a gunshot wound in his office. The question is, which of them actually committed the crime?

Book No. 4: Who is Simon Warwick? (1978) by Patricia Moyes

It has been four years since I have read anything by this author, but I now have a few of her titles in my TBR pile, so in the coming months I am hoping to return to her work. If you have read it, would you say it was one of her stronger efforts?

Book No. 5: Madama Midas (1888) by Fergus Hume

Whilst I am aware of Hume’s most well-known story, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), I have yet to read anything by him. Goodreads sums up Madame Midas thus:

Madame Midas — that is what they call Mrs. Villiers, living in the Australian mining town of Ballarat. She once possessed enormous wealth, built up over the years by her loving father — and then learned the least pleasant of lessons, marrying an Englishman whose true colors were soon unfurled at every nearby gambling and drinking establishment. But having left him behind, and establishing herself in Ballarat, she has found herself possessed of enough acumen to make a success of herself, and to earn to respect of all. Now into her world arrive two strangers — a pair of Frenchmen who have made a desperate escape from prison on a tiny boat upon the sea, and who hope to find fortune and a new life on this rugged coast. The society of Ballarat may witness budding romance — perhaps . . . and murder, most certainly.

Nineteenth century mysteries, due to different stylistic and plotting priorities can sometimes be disappointing for me from a plot point of view but the blurb for this story sounds appealing and its setting sounds like an unusual one. I have read several classic crime novels with Australian settings, and it has been interesting seeing how they differ to British set ones.

Book No. 6: Ask for Me Tomorrow (1976) by Margaret Millar

To date I have only read three novels by this writer and not any for three years, so like Moyes, perhaps they are another author I need to return to in the coming year. Random House have the following blurb for this title:

Having heard that her first husband, B.J. Lockwood, had amassed a fortune in Mexico, and with her second husband now a helpless invalid and dying, Gilda Decker hires Tom Aragon to go to Mexico to search for Lockwood. The stated reason: Gilda wants her share of Lockwood’s money — he owes her. But as Aragon questions those who knew Lockwood, he finds the man’s past shrouded in mystery; and as the young lawyer gets closer and closer to the truth, people start dying, one by one.

I think it is the final sentence which makes this story sound intriguing, and it also seems to lift the novel out of the more conventional ruts that suspense driven fiction can fall into.

Book No. 7: Death of an Old Sinner (1957) by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

Davis is an author I tried pre-blog, but she then very much fell off my radar. Lack of availability was possibility a factor in this. However, I now have two books by her to read, the other being A Gentleman Called (1958). In writing this post, I have been looking up the various titles online to find out more about them and through this I discovered one facet of these two novels, which appeals to me in particular, namely that the cases involve a crime solving Scottish housekeeper. Online research also showed that this author seems to have some titles available on Kindle and Audible.

Book No. 8: They Rang up the Police (1939) by Joanna Cannan

I was shocked by how long it has been since I have read anything by Cannan. 5 years! Where does all the time go? When there are so many classic crime authors to read it feels hard, to me at any rate, to keep up with trying new-to-me writers, as well as returning to ones I have tried before. Cannan has perhaps been a casualty of my misbalancing of these two reading demands. What about you? Do you favour finding new authors to read? Or do you prioritise working through a favourite author’s catalogue? And what about re-reading? Yet another tranche of books to be fitted into a hectic reading schedule! Goodreads supplies the following summary for Cannan’s book:

When murder strikes in the quiet English countryside only Inspector Guy Northeast of Scotland Yard sees the vital clue. When Delia Cathcart and Major Willoughby disappear from their quiet English village one Saturday morning in July 1937, it looks like a simple case of a frustrated spinster running off for a bit of fun with a straying husband. But as the hours turn into days, Inspector Guy Northeast begins to suspect that she may have been the victim of foul play. On the surface, Delia appeared to be a quite ordinary middle-aged Englishwoman content to spend her evenings with her sisters and mother and her days with her beloved horses. But Delia led a secret life — and Guy turns up more than one person who would like to see Delia dead. Except Delia wasn’t the only person with a secret…

Good Reads also mentions that this book was never published in the USA until its recent reprint. Moreover, they include a comment made by Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig who felt that Inspector Northeast ‘marks a departure from the norm of the thirties.’ It will be interesting to see how he does so.

Book No. 9: The Case of the Lame Canary (1937) by Erle Stanley Gardner

My copy is just the Green Penguin edition, but I thought the cover shown above looked more fun. I have a handful of Gardner titles to read including: The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat (1935), The Case of the Haunted Husband (1941), The Case of the Dubious Bridegroom (1949), The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse (1947) and The Case of the Curious Bride (1934). But I selected the canary title as my ninth book for this post, as it is the one I didn’t recall owning. Gardner is a writer I have got into the more I have read of him, and I did read quite a few by him in preparation for my Agatha Christie Festival talk. As this title shows, Gardner certainly liked the quirkiness an animal can bring to a mystery plot.

Book No. 10: The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933) by John Dickson Carr

This is one of the remaining Gideon Fell titles I have to read by this author. Carr’s earliest books demonstrate more than a nod to the gothic, so it will be interesting to see if it is in evidence in this story. I am a bit behind my fellow bloggers who seem to have read this mystery a while ago and I can’t use the excuse of it being hard to find, as it was reprinted by the American Mystery Classics imprint. So I will just have to be late to the party. Here’s hoping it is a good one! The Popular Library edition shown above is not my own, but again it was the cover I found to be the most striking when looking for an image online.

Over to You

Looking at your TBR pile(s)/shelves/bookcases/rooms/castles/mountains, what books have you forgotten you had?

15 comments

  1. I have a spreadsheet so I never forget and a planned reading order, though that is subject to change. Having read Borrowed Brunette and not been that impressed, Lame Canary is what got me into Perry Mason. And I do hope you enjoy Madame Midas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I had to guess who out of our reading group would not forget their books, I think I would have chosen you lol Spreadsheet does sound very sensible. When my books are not in boxes I have a TBR shelf which makes it easier to keep a track of what I have to read. I have a short list of titles on my desk, which are the books I will read from next, but I have a horrible habit of adding more books so some books can stay on the short list pile for a while. This year, perhaps due to reduced reading time, I have become more of a mood reader. Not sure if this is a good thing or not. Glad to hear Lame Canary is one of Gardner’s good ones.

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  2. I have read the Moyes book, ‘Who is Simon Warwick?’ but can’t say I was impressed. It was a long time ago, but I remember finding it dull and gimmicky. I would be tempted by the Margaret Millar one, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, have a spreadsheet….but….there are so many unread books on there that I do manage to forget that I have some of them. And then, of course, there’s also the problem of “where on earth did I put it?!” when I do want to read something that’s been languishing on the list for a long time. I have a fairly visual memory and usually can remember where things are in the stacks–but occasionally the memory misfires.

    I also have the Moyes, Cannan, and Carr books somewhere out there on the TBR mount range.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a very small shelf for fiction, and I often go there to evaluate what I want to keep and read, so no surprise. Most of my books are Orthodox spirituality.
    Great list you have here, I need to check a few.
    I listened to The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, but ended up being quite disappointed, though I usually enjoy older mysteries

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I scanned over the name “Lawrence G. Blochman” here, the first thing that occurred to me was that it might be one of Lawrence Block’s pen names. But since he would have been about 2 years old in 1940, probably not! (:v>

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d like to register a strong disagreement about “Who is Simon Warwick?”, which I enjoyed very much. Unfortunately it’s a book that’s hard to say much about without spoilers…

    Liked by 1 person

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