Vintage Whodunits

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
–Groucho Marx


Margery Allingham:
Flowers for the Judge (1936). Great characterization, as always.
Coroner’s Pidgin (1945). Liked it a little better this time around.
More Work for the Undertaker (1949).
Hide My Eyes 


Agatha Christie. Dead Man’s Folly (1956).

Edmund Crispin. The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944).
“{The passengers} thin out and disappear into the warren of relics, memorials, churches, colleges, libraries, hotels, pubs, tailors and bookshops which is Oxford . . .” (11).

Arthur Conan Doyle. The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927).

Georgette Heyer. Penhallow (1942).

Miss Anna Dean. A Woman of Consequence (2010).

Alan Bradley:
A Red Herring Without Mustard (2011).  
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (2012).

Frances Brody. Murder in the Afternoon (2011). Abandoned, halfway, from boredom.


Jill Paton Walsh. The Attenbury Emeralds (2010).

Carola Dunn. Damsel in Distress (1997). {yawn}

Agatha Christie:
Sad Cypress (1940)
Towards Zero
Crooked House

Margery Allingham. Coroner’s Pidgin (1945)
Though it has an interesting during-WWII setting and serves to fill the gap between early and late Albert Campion, I think this is not Allingham at her best. I found the plot too thready and difficult to follow, making the denouement less satisfying. 

Margery Allingham. Mystery Mile (1930)

Georgette Heyer:
Footsteps in the Dark (1939)
No Wind of Blame (1939)
A Blunt Instrument (1938)
Behold, Here’s Poison (1936)
They Found Him Dead (1937)
Envious Casca (1941) Her best puzzle “whodunit” in my opinion.
As Dorothy Sayers once said, “Miss Heyer’s characters and dialogue are an abiding delight to me…”

Dorothy Sayers:
Gaudy Night (1936)
Busman’s Honeymoon (1937)
I’ve been meaning to re-re-reread these (esp. the first) since moving to the city where they are set. They’re just that good. Why don’t I have any book reviews on Dorothy Sayers? Firstly, I have only been reviewing new reads. Secondly, I feel so unworthy.

Alan Bradley. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (2010)

Margery Allingham. The China Governess (1962)

Anna Katharine Green. The Leavenworth Case (1878)

Ngaio Marsh:
Surfeit of Lampreys (1941)
The Nursing Home Murder (1935)
Artists in Crime (1938)


Alan Bradley. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009)

Margery Allingham. Sweet Danger. (1933)

A. A. Milne. The Red House Mystery (1922)

Georgette Heyer:
Why Shoot a Butler? (1933)
Death in the Stocks
Heyer’s name surprised me on the bindings of mystery novels. Can the queen of cheesy Regency romance write vintage murder? She can. These two novels are light classic whodunits worth a bathtub read anytime.

Ngaio Marsh:
Vintage Murder (1937)
Death in a White Tie (1938)
Died in the Wool (1945)
Final Curtain (1947)
Swing, Brother, Swing (1949)
Clutch of Constables (1968)
When in Rome (1970)
Tied Up in Tinsel (1972)
I found Ngaio Marsh, “the finest writer in the English language of the pure, classical puzzle whodunit,” as the book jackets say. She’s another great from the best era of English mystery fiction (1900-1960) and I’ve enjoyed her books enough so far to regret not having read her sooner.

Josephine Tey:
The Man in the Queue (1929)
The Expensive Halo (1931)
To Love and Be Wise (1950)
The Singing Sands (1953)


1 Response to Vintage Whodunits

  1. Dana says:

    Hi Betsy,
    You might like Charles Finch’s series, begining with A Beautiful Blue Death

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