Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: Reader, I Buried Them and other stories by Peter Lovesey


I was interested in this book from the first time I heard of it, and then I saw it featured at Rick Robinson's blog, Tip the Wink. Rick kindly offered to send me his copy and now I have read ten stories in the book. Only eight stories left to read.

This is such a great cover: the cat, the books stacked up, the skull on the window ledge, the old-fashioned lamp and the teacup on the desk. 

These are the stories I have read:

“And the Band Played On” 

This story particularly resonated with me. The Strawberry Blonde with James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, and Olivia de Havilland is a favorite film in our household; the song "The Band Played On" is featured in that film. The lyrics begin with "Casey would waltz with a strawberry blonde and the band played on." In this story, the narrator's grandfather has moved in with his family and constantly sings this song. We learn that the grandfather was in prison for murder, which initially gives the narrator nightmares. The story is told effectively and has a very nice ending.

“Sweet and Low” 

In this story, all the bee hives have been stolen from a farm. The background information about bees and bee hives was as interesting to me as the solving of the mystery. 

“Lady Luck” 

A burglar wins a vacation to Marrakesh. He thinks he is very lucky but it turns out to be the opposite for him.

“Reader, I Buried Them” 

I liked this story the best (so far), maybe because I always like a story set in a monastery. I like to read about the way the monasteries are run and how the members of  the community relate to each other. When the Father Superior plans to relocate the group to a new, smaller location, Brother Jeffrey (who is the narrator of this  story) is very upset to leave his beautiful wild flower garden that he maintains. Shortly after that the Father Superior dies of stomach problems. Is it food poisoning or a virus? As with most of these stories, there is an unexpected twist ending. I liked the way it was handled.

“Angela’s Alterations” 

This is a very clever story about a newly married couple having problems with the husband's teenage son and the woman who helps them solve this problem. Or so it seems. This one is a bit different; the resolution is more complicated and interesting. More of the story is hidden from the reader, and the ending is sort of open, so the reader has to decide exactly what happened.

“The Bitter Truth”

A darker story about a man writing an obituary for a well-known toxicologist. Very good.


A clever story. A moderately successful novelist is hired to ghostwrite a story for a young female celebrity with a very rich husband. The ending took me by surprise.

"The Homicidal Hat"

This story was about a hat contest at the Malice Domestic conference. Cuthbert Murphy plans a very creative and complex hat for his wife Adelina. Another clever story with a twist. And lots of mystery titles and authors were mentioned.

"Oracle of the Dead"

Set on the Greek island of Corfu. A couple encounter problems on their honeymoon. I liked this story the least, so far.


Formidophobia: the fear of scarecrows. Tells the story of a man who has had a fear of scarecrows since he was eight years old. He thinks he knows what happened to cause his fear, but only later in life does he learn the full truth. 

Peter Lovesey has written a very good Foreward for this book. One of the stories included is Lovesey's first published short story, "The Bathtub" (1973), which was noticed by Ruth Rendell at that time. Three of the stories were first published in this book (2022).  The rest of the stories are mostly from 2008 - 2017, published in mystery magazines or anthologies. There is also a checklist of Lovesey's novels, anthologies, and short stories.


pattinase (abbott) said...

You would probably like the Louise Penny set in a monastery: THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is you haven't read it.
I have only read on Lovesey, I think.

Todd Mason said...

It does seem as if that title would be the most necessary nod to Austen...has it really not been employed before?

I like the scrap of Lovesey I've read. Kind of Rick to pass it on.

Jerry House said...

I went through a Peter Lovesey phase a few years ago, reading all but one of his novels (strangely, one not mentioned in this book's bibliography) that had been published at the time. Recently, I decided it was time to get back on the Lovesey bandwagon and catch up on his writing; I have this collection on my bedside table.

Cath said...

I think I looked into this collection when you mentioned it before but it was pretty expensive. I'll keep checking because things change. I love the sound of it though.

Ben Boulden said...

I really enjoyed Reader, I Buried Them. A great review, too.

Rick Robinson said...

Excellent review!

George said...

I've read a number of Lovesey novels and short stories. Always entertaining and satisfying!

TracyK said...

Patti, I have read The Beautiful Mystery, and I did enjoy it a lot. Also the Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. In fact, immediately after reading this story I read a Cadfael mystery.

I have read the first three books in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series, and a few of his earlier novels which were mostly historical fiction.

TracyK said...

Todd, I thought that was in Jane Eyre. I am sure that it has been used a lot, although I could not find many examples at Goodreads.

It was very kind of Rick to pass it on to me. He has sent me several short story collections that I have enjoyed.

TracyK said...

Jerry, I cannot remember which of Lovesey's earlier books I have read, but I still have a few of them and hope to reread them. I think you will enjoy these stories.

TracyK said...

Cath, these stories will be worth the wait in my opinion. And you probably won't run out of books to read while you wait.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Ben. I find reviewing short stories a challenge, sometimes. I checked and saw that you have a new blog, Dark City Underground. I will be going back to check out some of your posts.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Rick, and thanks very much for sending the book. It has been a pleasure to read.

I don't know if I told you that I had ordered a copy of The Music Box Murders. I got my copy today, I will read it in the next couple of months for sure, maybe sooner.

TracyK said...

George, I have read the first three books in Lovesey's Peter Diamond series. I don't know why I haven't read more in the series, because I liked them all, especially the 2nd one. And I have the next four in my TBR shelves and boxes. There is always too many books to read to keep up with them all.

Margot Kinberg said...

I really like Peter Lovesey's novels, Tracy, but I've not yet read his short stories. This sounds like a good collection to try them out.

TracyK said...

Margot, I think these short stories would be just the type you would like. Lovesey has written so many novels, I will never catch up with them.

Katrina said...

I haven't read anything by Lovesey, but I've often seen his books in secondhand bookshops in the past, so I'll now give him a go. Thanks.

TracyK said...

Katrina, I definitely recommend trying his books. Everything I have read by Lovesey is good and he has been writing for a long time. I would recommend reading his Peter Diamond series in order, or at least the first 2 or 3, but otherwise I don't know if order matters.

Todd Mason said...

Tracy, of course you are correct...somehow I took the notion that it sounded Austenesque and let that corrupt the human ROM!

TracyK said...

Todd, I know all about the failings of the human ROM, being a few decades older than you.

Rick Robinson said...

I saw the good news on eye improvements, good!

TracyK said...

Rick, We were very happy to visit the doctor after four weeks and get the news that the macular hole is closed. The gas bubble is still there, Glen still has vision distortion, but things should get better gradually. Such a relief.

CLM said...

I love the cover! I have never read anything by this author.

Glad to see the good news about your husband. I am sure you will still worry but I hope you can both dial it down a notch.

TracyK said...

Constance, it is a wonderful cover. Peter Lovesey has been writing for a long time and his earlier fiction was historical mysteries. More recent fiction is mostly contemporary police procedurals, I think. I have read some of each.

We are very happy that we have good news from the retina specialist and his vision should get better over time. It is hard not to be impatient though.