Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018, The Classic Club

The Lodger – Marie Belloc Lowndes

Classic
5*s

Talk about setting the scene! We first meet Mr and Mrs Bunting fretting over their lack of money. These respectable ex-servants now run a boarding house, the only problem is, they have no boarders. Money is tight and many of their prized possessions have been sold, or pawned, although Mrs Bunting would never lower herself to enter a pawnbrokers shop. The pair are hungry and down to their last pennies.

The boarding house is on the Marylebone Road in a very foggy London circa 1913 but it has been furnished nicely. It is just before Christmas when the couple decide to put the light on in the hallway and a stranger, with little luggage knocks at the door.

Mr Sleuth is just the sort of lodger the couple want in Mrs Bunting’s opinion. She judges him to be a gentleman, and so although he is a bit fussy about keeping his rooms locked, oh and only wants Mrs Bunting to serve his food, and he’s a vegetarian, but he’s paying a handsome sum for the privilege which means Mr Bunting can go back to buy the daily paper and his tobacco.

Those daily papers are filled with stories of murders, bodies found with a note from ‘The Avenger’ Mrs Bunting is seriously unimpressed with everyone’s, well mainly Mr Bunting’s, salacious interest in the case, something only increased by their young friend, Joe who is serving with the Metropolitan Police and not at all adverse to giving titbits out about the investigation. But even with the intrepid Joe playing his part the bodies keep on mounting. With the arrival of Mr Bunting’s teenage daughter Daisy who Joe has taken a shine to, Mrs Bunting begins to suspect their lodger of being The Avenger. She doesn’t know what to do as I suspect she is secretly in agreement of doing away with those fond of drink which seem to be the main victims. That said she doesn’t want to be an accessory after the fact and of course, as the papers say, this could be Jack the Ripper.

This slow burning novel is mesmerising. Even this level-headed reader some one hundred years into the future couldn’t help but be drawn into Mrs Bunting’s mounting apprehension and horror. This middle-aged woman is a fascinating character, even more so than Mr Sleuth with his Bible reading and odd habit of prowling the streets in the fog doesn’t quite compete. She is one of those women of a certain age who seem to relish having no enjoyment in life and looking down on those who do. The only pleasure she seems to approve of is Mr Bunting’s chair, bought as a treat for him to sit in after a hard day’s work. Her attitude to young Daisy is so cutting at times that it seems that Daisy is quite unlike modern teenagers who I’m sure would, in the main react in any other way other than helping Mrs Bunting sweetly with her chores, which is what this lovely girl does. It’s not as though she doesn’t have a spark to her personality which is shown by a visit Joe takes her on to the Black Museum, although sadly for the pair Mr Bunting gate-crashed this romantic trip.

As a classic piece of crime fiction with a psychological bent, this has to be up there with the best and so I urge you to take a trip through the foggy streets of London to revel in the descriptive and yet modern feel to the writing. There on those streets or perhaps upstairs in the boarding house, you will find out the truth of the matter!

The Lodger is number 31 on The Classics Club list and the fifth of my fifty choices that I’ve read and reviewed.

 

First Published UK: 1913
Publisher: The Crime & Mystery Club; UK
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Classic Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Books I have read

Now You See Me – S.J. Bolton

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

This is the first outing by S. J. Bolton’s of Lacey Flint and it is amazing. A serial murderer is on the loose in London and the crimes may be linked to Jack the Ripper. Lacey returns to her car one night and finds a body against her car, straight away it is clear that this book is not for the squeamish.

Given the killer’s apparent interest in Lacey she is moved from a witness to one who ends up working closely with Mark Joesbury on the case. Lacey is strong, determined and clearly has not had an easy life, there is the undeniable tension between her and Joesbury which remains just that, no endless soliloquies on longing for him but as the reader I want to know how the relationship will develop.

This book really does have it all, the atmospheric descriptions of London, plausible and gripping writing, the feeling that something even more awful than you have just read is about to happen and a particularly likable, yet believable, character in our protagonist Lacey Flint. A perfect mystery story which I found defeated my reasoning with its twists and turns. I had already read so can recommend the second book Dead Scared and  the third, Like This, For Ever is due April 2013 is on my wishlist in anticipation.

3rd March 2013

If Snow Hadn't FallenIf Snow Hadn’t Fallen by S.J. Bolton

Having read Now You See Me and Dead Scared the wrong way round I initially thought that this book followed Dead Scared due to the fact it was set in December 2012. This was wrong, it should be read after Now You See Me.

This is a perfect short story with a huge amount happening in a matter of 85 pages. It is rare for me to read a short story without feeling in some way cheated, SJ Bolton however produces the goods.

In the park near Lacey Flint’s house a muslim doctor is set alight. Lacey appears to be the only witness to the incident but couldn’t identify those responsible due to the masks they wore. This is a shocking story yet SJ Bolton still manages to layer the tale to give it real depth and some twists and turns in this short perfect tale.

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