Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook

I’d like a small pile of detectives on my bedside table, too. Just like Saxby Smart. He’s a detective who keeps other detectives nearby at night in case he needs them. Ah, no, I see now it’s books he’s got. Though I still quite like the idea of the detectives stacked up. As long as they can keep quiet.

Feeling vaguely Sherlocky today, after watching the Sherlock repeat on television on Sunday, so decided to tackle the detective handbook. I’ve not read any of Saxby’s own criminal adventures, but I suspect they are a lot of fun if this guide is anything to go by. It’s got everything. Or so it seems.

Most importantly it has a list of cons you can try, from phishing to dropping pigeons. Quite zoological. (I’d say, don’t try this at home. Just in case.)

Simon/Saxby explains the history of crime from body snatchers via the Lindbergh baby to Watergate. The difference between peelers and the FBI. Stuff on blood, and also why the butler did it.

The great names like Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie and hardboiled eggs all get a chapter. A DIY lesson in detecting, which I’m far too lazy to even contemplate, but would suit the younger reader.

Finally there is a guide to Saxby’s own bookshelves, with introductions to some of the best crime novels in existence. Not so necessary if you have a crime lover nearby who will initiate you to the ways of crime, but for everybody else this is an invaluable list.

Great to find such a humorous book which takes crime seriously. Apparently they have overcoats in Chicago. That’s good because I believe it gets cold there. But what does a mere dame know? Though I do wish he’d mentioned Knox’s Chinaman. Chinamen are amusing.

And there is information for those of you who need to know how to rob a grave. Which is not the same as snatching bodies, btw. One has come further than the other.

Is it safe to come out now?

Chris Priestley’s books and I have travelled together more than most. Each time I get sent one of his books I think to myself that it looks wonderful and I must read it. And so far I’ve just not managed it, but I hope Chris is pleased by the large number of trips we have made together.

When The Dead of Winter arrived I was book-free, which is very unusual, so I grabbed it and began reading it right there and then, just to make up for earlier near misses. It doesn’t say when it’s set, but has the feel of Victorian Gothic. It is wonderful. It’s also a little bit scary. Actually.

The recently orphaned Michael has to go and spend Christmas with his new guardian, who lives in a large – and possibly haunted – house near Ely. Possibly haunted? What am I saying? Of course the place is haunted. Very haunted. And Michael is a sensitive boy (not sure what age he is) who feels these things, so he is uncomfortable from the word go.

The plot is superficially quite obvious, and there are few surprises, until… Well, if I told you there would be nothing to worry about.

This is a nice and short book, written in the style of classic authors such as Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe. In my aspie-ness I have to mention that there are a couple of overlooked inconsistencies, although only one of them matters.

You know exactly where the story is going, and it seems to follow a standard recipe until the day th……….