Speedy Death (1929) by Gladys Mitchell

Book Review by George S: Speedy Death was Gladys Mitchell’s first detective novel. It introduces Mrs Bradley, her psychoanalyst detective, who would go on to solve another sixty-two mysteries. Philip Larkin was a big fan; he called her ‘the great Gladys’, and wrote that she ‘stood splendidly apart from her crime-club confrères in total originality’.

A Deed without a Name by Dorothy Bowers (1940)

I’m not sure if Dorothy Bowers quite counts as a Queen of Crime (our topic for this month), though I would like to think so. Her novels were highly thought of at the time, but she didn’t remain popular in the way that Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham did. A reviewer in the … Continue reading

Lieutenant Hornblower (1952) by C.S. Forester

Book review by Sylvia D. Lieutenant Hornblower was published by Michael Joseph in 1952 but I read the 1957 Great Pan paperback edition which has a very dramatic front cover. The film, Captain Horatio Hornblower, starring Gregory Peck, came out in 1951. Lieutenant Hornblower is one of the later novels which fills in the story … Continue reading

Westwood by Stella Gibbons

Most people only know Stella Gibbons for writing Cold Comfort Farm, her first novel. But she went on to write more than 20 novels and Westwood, published in 1946 was believed to be Gibbons’ own personal favourite. Set in wartime London, Westwood is a coming of age story. It is the story of Margaret Steggles, … Continue reading

C S Forester’s Hornblower and the Atropos (1953)

Review by Val H: Boy’s Own Plus.  That’s Hornblower and the Atropos: an exploration of leadership within an exciting swashbuckler. The action takes place after the Battle of Trafalgar.  The Royal Navy’s Horatio Hornblower is recently promoted to captain, taking command of the King’s smallest ship, HMS Atropos (like Hornblower, an interesting name: Atropos was one … Continue reading

The Happy Return (1937) by C. S. Forester

Review by George S. The Happy Return was the first of Forester’s Hornblower novels to be published, though later books would fill in the hero’s earlier career. The book’s beginning plunges us straight into the action, with Captain Hornblower arriving in South America to begin a risky mission.

Cloudless May (1943) by Storm Jameson

Review by Sylvia D For our women writers and World Wars One and Two session I read Storm Jameson’s Cloudless May (Macmillan, 1943 and still in print) which is a political and psychological exploration of the fall of France in the Second World War. The writing reveals a considerable knowledge of French landscape, culture and … Continue reading