Friday, July 31, 2015

Life After Life: Kate Atkinson

Summary from Goodreads:
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. 
I love the way that Kate Atkinson tells a story, especially the unusual way she structures her plots. Up to now I have only read her mystery novels featuring  Jackson Brodie. Those are not your normal mystery story.

But Life After Life has an even more unusual structure. Ursula, the heroine, lives her life over and over. Sort of like the plot of the film Groundhog Day, but not. At the beginning, it is a challenge for her to even get out of childhood. One mishap after another and the next time she comes back, that one is averted. Sometimes.

Even though I am a fan of this author, I did not know whether I would enjoy this type of novel, and it was a very long book, over 500 pages. But I finally gave in, and I was one of the lucky ones who really enjoyed the story. From what I have seen on Goodreads, there are a lot of readers who love this book and also a goodly number who are repelled by it, or at least think it is bland and insulting. I was happy to fall in the first category.

When I was a child and first learned about reincarnation, I thought that would a nightmare scenario. I did not then, and I would not now, want to relive my childhood or anyone's childhood, whether or not I am aware that it is happening again and again. So I was surprised to enjoy this book so much. I just went along for the ride and was entertained the whole time.

Where I got lost (or disoriented) was in the later parts of the book where larger parts of her life are skipped. Even as I realized this was inevitable, since the book would have been twice as long otherwise, I wanted to know more details. I enjoyed following the members of her family throughout the book and noting the twists and turns the relationships take along the way.

Because Ursula is born in 1910 and the book continues to some point in the 1960s, parts of both World Wars are covered. Through Ursula we experience the Blitz and Germany under Hitler. But what I liked most was the view of roles that women played and how the various lives illustrated the limited opportunities open to them.

The novel had me thinking about the different person we can end up as depending on the choices we make or the choices that are made for us or even the accidental events of our lives. I do like it when an author makes me think and consider.

I know that I will read this book again. Even now I try to remember some of the various lives and how they turned out... or ended. I want to go through all the stages again. And that is one proof for me that it is a very good book.

See other reviews at Clothes in Books and In So Many Words.


Publisher:   Back Bay Books, 2014. (Orig. pub. 2013)
Length:      525 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      UK
Genre:        Historical fiction
Source:      I purchased my copy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Peril at End House: Agatha Christie

Description from the back of my paperback edition:
End House was most appropriately named. Its young mistress nearly met her end… three times in three days. It was the fourth near-fatal “accident”, witnessed by Hercule Poirot, that convinced Miss Buckley that someone was trying to kill her. But who, and why? Now the celebrated crime-solver is dedicating himself to crime prevention. That is, until an unexpected—and successful—murder attempt carries Poirot’s investigation to the bitter end…

Captain Arthur Hastings is companion and friend to Poirot in some of the earlier novels. In this one he is also the chronicler of the tale. Poirot and Hastings are staying at a Cornish resort, the Majestic Hotel. Hastings describes the area:
No seaside town in the south of England is, I think, as attractive as St. Loo.  It is well named the Queen of Watering Places and reminds one forcibly of the Riviera. The Cornish coast is to my mind every bit as fascinating as that of the south of France.
In one of my earlier reviews of a novel featuring Poirot, I said: "I find the Poirot character to be smug and irritating..." At this point, having read several more, I no longer feel that way. He is much more charming in this one.

I enjoyed this one especially because Arthur Hastings was narrating it. I loved some of the scenes between Hastings and Poirot. Poirot says, in response to a question about his retirement:
To step from your pinnacle at the zenith of your fame – what could be a grander gesture? They say of me: “That is Hercule Poirot! – The great – the unique! – There was never any one like him, there never will be!” Eh bien – I am satisfied. I ask no more. I am modest.
Hastings thinks:
I should not myself have used the word modest. It seemed to me that my little friend’s egotism had certainly not declined with his years.
Inspector Japp shows up late in the book to help with the investigation. In my  recent rereads of Christie's novels, I have not read many books with Inspector Japp, so that was a pleasant surprise.

This is the sixth novel featuring Hercule Poirot that I have read since I started blogging. It is probably the one I have enjoyed the least, and I think it was mostly that it seemed such an obvious ending and left me less satisfied. However, even though I felt that the culprit was obvious almost from the beginning, the motivation behind the crimes was well hidden (from me, at least), although there were definitely clues.

Yet that is just a minor quibble; the book was still entertaining. Sometimes I wonder if what is obvious to an experienced mystery reader would be obvious to someone who is new to mysteries. And it also depends on what one is looking for in a mystery.

Robert Barnard says in A Talent to Deceive: "Some creaking in the machinery, and rather a lot of melodrama and improbabilities, prevent this from being one of the very best of the classic specimens."

See other reviews at: Mysteries in Paradise, The Game's Afoot, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, and Letters from a Hill Farm.


Publisher:  Berkley Books, 1991. Orig. pub. 1932.
Length:     182 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Hercule Poirot, #7
Setting:     UK, Cornish coast
Genre:      Mystery
Source:    Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, Sept. 2007.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Ways of the World: Robert Goddard

Paris of 1919 is full of spies and intrigue. Following World War I, a peace treaty is being negotiated, and Sir Henry Maxted is present as an adviser to the British deputation. While there he falls off a building to his death; the authorities and the politicians are anxious to call his death accidental, and the proximity to a possible mistress in Paris makes the event embarrassing to his family.

Sir Henry's two sons go to Paris to claim the body. The elder brother, now Sir Ashley, wants to accept things at face value and get back home. James “Max” Maxted, recently released from his assignment as a pilot in the  Royal Flying Corps, has a feeling that the truth is being covered up and feels a duty to follow up on his intuition.  He and his friend, mechanic Sam Twentyman, had planned to run an air field back in the UK but he feels he must put those plans on hold.

The remainder of the book follows Max's adventures in Paris as he looks into his father's involvement in the peace talks and the machinations and double-dealing going on among representatives of various nations. Sam Twentyman joins him in Paris and gets a job as a mechanic for the British delegation to help out behind the scenes.

The plot seemed to wander at times and there were a lot of names and nationalities to keep track. Usually this doesn't bother me, but some of the relationships never became clear to me. At times, the story seemed too melodramatic. On the other hand, I like that Max was not willing to toe the family line and hide the true facts of his father's death (which will not be clear without some digging into the facts). I liked the division in the family, with the elder brother's wife, Lydia, trying to influence events in her favor and Max's mother rooting for him.

The book has a definite cliffhanger ending. Since the book has been marketed as the first part of a trilogy, that did not surprise me. In this case, although the ending was abrupt, it was the ending I expected and it did not bother me. I feel like I have enough closure with this book that I could read on to the next book or not, and the reading experience would still be satisfactory. Other readers have complained strongly about this aspect of the story, so I feel I should include a warning.

In summary, I found this to be a light, entertaining espionage story, fine if you don't mind family drama and a bit of romance included. Of course I enjoyed the setting in time and place and the connection to World War I. This type of historical mystery is a favorite type of read for me. This is the first book by Robert Goddard I have read. I expect to follow up on book 2 in the trilogy eventually, and I have three other books by this author to read.

As far as I can tell, only this first book in the trilogy has been published in the US; the second and third books have been published in the UK.


Publisher:   Mysterious Press, 2015 (orig. pub. 2013)
Length:      416 pages
Format:      e-book
Series:       James Maxted, #1
Setting:      Paris, France (primarily)
Genre:        Thriller, Espionage
Source:      Provided by the publisher for review via NetGalley

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Johnny Under Ground: Patricia Moyes

Patricia Moyes wrote nineteen mysteries starring Inspector Henry Tibbett between 1959 and 1993. Inspector Tibbett and his wife Emmy were a well-known fictional sleuthing couple at that time, and many readers still enjoy the books. I read most of the books during that time period, and loved them all. Rereading this book was a joy.

If I remember correctly, most of the mysteries in this series do not start out as normal police investigations. Often they originate during or from some event in the Tibbett's lives.  They may be on vacation and a murder occurs, that type of thing. That is not always true, however, as in Murder a la Mode (covered here and here by Moira at Clothes in Books).

In this mystery, Johnny Under Ground, Emmy Tibbett plays a much larger part than usual. The mystery revolves around an event in her past. Emmy attends the reunion of officers, RAF and WAAF, who served at Dymfield. She was just nineteen when she was stationed there, and had a crush on one of the RAF officers, who later died tragically. After the reunion, Emmy is asked to help write a history of Dymfield. Her partner in the writing project dies, possibly a suicide but maybe not. It is assumed that someone is trying to keep a secret from the past buried. Henry, of course, is concerned for Emmy's safety and gets involved in the investigation.

This book is one of my favorite of the series because of the the focus on Britain during World War II and how the war affected peoples lives. The book was published in 1965 and looks back at a time twenty years earlier.

The review of Johnny Under Ground at In Reference to Murder gives some of Patricia Moyes' background, including her work during the war as a flight officer in the WAAF. Obviously Moyes used her experiences in writing this book. At Rue Morgue Press, there is an article with even more information about her life, written by Katherine Hall Page.


Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co., 1987. Orig. pub. 1965.
Length:     253 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Inspector Henry Tibbett, #6
Setting:     UK
Genre:      Mystery
Source:    I purchased my copy. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Concrete Angel: Patricia Abbott

I found this book challenging to read; the subject matter was chilling. Because this story and its subject matter are outside of my normal reading, I can only hope that I can do it justice in a review.  I cannot compare it to other books of the same type because I haven't read many.

The story is told mostly in first person by Christine, daughter of Eve Moran. She tells the story of her mother, her mother's illness and evil behavior, and her own life as a result of being used by her mother for most of her childhood. The events are set in and around Philadelphia in the 1960s and 1970s. I have never been to the state of Pennsylvania, but I did live through those decades and the depiction of the time period seemed very authentic to me.

In the opening chapters, Eve kills a man and insists on treating it as an accident; and then proceeds to let Christine, at twelve years of age, take the blame. From that point on, Christine relates the background of Eve's problems, how her parents met and married, and how Eve's mental problems and behavior mold Christine's life.  Thus this book has elements of crime fiction, but it is primarily a character study and the study of a very dysfunctional family.

Eve Moran is an example of an unlikable person who is interesting. To put it simply, without going into all the possible background for Eve's problems, she is narcissistic and has as extreme need to acquire objects and hoard them. At times I had sympathy for her plight because she does not know (or allow herself to see) that her behavior is evil and hurtful, and when she gets medical treatment, no one treats her problems in any helpful way.

Christine is an intelligent child in an impossible situation, often protecting her mother from discovery. The older she gets,the more she comes to understand that her situation and her relationship with her mother are abnormal, but it seems impossible to pull away from her influence.

About a third of the way through the book, I stopped for the night and went to bed. Thoughts of the book were swirling in my mind and sleep was difficult; it was like I had to process it before I could go further. But at no time did that deter my desire to continue reading the story; it was almost addictive and I did not want to stop reading. Eve's adventures, though extremely unpalatable, were fascinating. And I continued to have hopes that there would a positive resolution for Christine.

One of the best things about this book is the description of the abuse that Christine receives from Eve. It is not physical, and often not even verbal. Eve uses her daughter in any way she can to achieve her aims and very rarely has any consideration for Eve's well-being or her needs growing up. It is very chilling to hear the story from the victim's point of view. I think it important for people to realize that not all child abuse is physical and that it has lasting effects.

It is almost as uncomfortable to read about the people in Christine's life who turn a blind eye to what is happening to her. Her father, who for the most part participates in her life only marginally; her mother's mother, who tries to help in her own way; her father's parents, who don't realize the extent of the situation and don't really want to know; and various other adults in her life.

I recommend this book highly. I found it an excellent read, and I look forward to more from Patti. She is the author of many published short stories, several of which I have read and enjoyed. Also check out this article and interview by J. Kingston Pierce at Kirkus Reviews.

Check out other reviews and interviews at Patti's blog, Pattinase.


Publisher:   Polis Books, June 2015
Length:      309 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      Philadelphia, PA
Genre:        Psychological suspense
Source:      I purchased my copy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Book of 1987: The Skeleton in the Grass by Robert Barnard

It is 1936 and Sarah Causeley has been hired as a governess for the Hallams, who have three grown children and one "afterthought," six-year-old Chloe. The family, with their open and affectionate behavior, is a new experience for Sarah, whose parents showed little emotion and were not supportive in her desire to explore the world beyond their village.

We see the events of 1936 through Sarah's eyes, but also via the educated and well-read Hallams, and the villagers. The King is spending time with a divorced woman. Civil war is breaking out in Spain. One of the Hallam sons goes to Spain to take part in the fighting. And during all of this, because the Hallams are pacifists, malicious pranks are carried out on the grounds of Hallam House. The last prank results in a death and the Hallams are the logical suspects. From that time on, life at Hallam House is less idyllic.

This is my submission for the Crimes of the Century meme at Past Offences, and the year for this month is 1987. However, since this novel is historical fiction, set mainly in 1936 and occasionally a decade or two later, I learned more about the 1930s than 1987.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a quiet story and is really more about the times and the people than a mystery, but that type of novel appeals to me. I did like how the culprit was revealed in the end. Publisher's Weekly said: "Remarkably inventive British author Barnard recreates England in the mid-1930s in this spellbinding mystery."

Some have compared this book to another of Barnard's novels, Out of the Blackout, a story about a man who grew up in London but was evacuated to the country during the 1940s. His parents never came to pick him up after the Blitz ended, and, as an adult, he has strange memories of his childhood in London. I have read that book and liked it but honestly cannot remember how it compares to this one.

I have been a fan of Robert Barnard for years. I like his standalone books and his series books, and fortunately I still have many unread. At the Gregory & Co. website, there is a remembrance written by Martin Edwards.

Two other very good reviews are at Letters from a Hill Farm and Mystery*File.


Publisher:   Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987
Length:      199 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      UK, 1936
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Positive Vetting" by Stephen Murray

I am behind on my short story reading and also on my posts for the Deal Me In Challenge. Every other week I draw one card from a deck to randomly pick from a group of short shories. This has been a very successful experiment to see if I will grow to appreciate short stories. This is the 13th story I have read out of my planned 26 stories for the challenge. (My list of short stories for the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge is here. Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts the challenge.)

"Positive Vetting" is another great story from 1st CULPRIT: A Crime Writer's Annual, edited by Liza Cody and Michael Z. Lewin. And this time I was introduced to an author that is totally new to me: Stephen Murray.

This story is set in London and features a narrator telling about a murder he investigated back in 1944. The story is as much about how the war affected those involved, whether on the home front or in the fighting, as it is about the murder. A fine story with some twists and turns along the way.

Stephen Murray is the author of six crime fiction novels featuring Chief Inspector Alec Stainton, published between 1987 and 1994. Other than that, I don't know that much about him. Martin Edwards at Do You Write Under Your Own Name? is a fan. There are two posts at his blog featuring Murray: Susan Moody and Stephen Murray and Forgotten Book - Death and Transfiguration.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Susannah Screaming: Carolyn Weston

Casey Kellog and Al Krug are two homicide detectives working for the Santa Monica Police Department. Kellog is young and has a college education; Krug is older, cranky, and curmudgeonly... and very resistant to new ideas.  Their partnership has its ups and downs. Their latest case involves a hit-and-run death and centers around two witnesses to the crime, whose testimony does not agree. Paul Rees, new to town, was doing his laundry in an all-night laundromat; Susannah Roche is an actress and a free spirit.

This book was published in 1975 and was the second in a three book series about Kellog and Krug. The first book, Poor, Poor Ophelia, was published in 1972 and a new TV series, The Streets of San Francisco, was based on that book. The pilot for the series came out in 1972 also.

I always enjoy a police procedural, but this story also includes a closer look at the witnesses and how the crime affects their lives. That same scenario is also often used in The Streets of San Francisco episodes. We have watched episodes from the first two seasons of that show over the last two years, so I have seen a lot of them.

Kellog is an idealistic policeman. His parents wanted him to be a lawyer, but he feels his job is important. On the other hand, it is not glamorous.

Kellogg is waiting in the squad room, dealing with paperwork:
The clock on the squad-room wall said eleven-thirty. He yawned to cover his unconscious groan. Another hour to go yet, at least, before he could possibly finish typing the day’s reports. They never told you at the Academy how much time you’d spend parked in front of typewriters. How many hours you’d waste waiting for developments. Or how many girls you’d lose because of the damned waiting.
The depiction of Santa Monica in the 70's felt realistic. Some reviewers noted that the story was dated. It does reflect the time it was written in, and I find that charming, not irritating. Of course I was around in the 70's, and maybe that is the difference. I often read books from previous decades to learn (or remember) what those times were like. Or to hear about them from a different perspective or point of view.

All in all, this book was a pleasant read and I will be following up with the other two in the series. Brash Books is releasing new editions of all three books.

Other resources:


Publisher:   Brash Books, 2015 (orig. pub. Jan. 1, 1975)
Length:      224 pages
Format:      e-book
Series:       Casey Kellog and Al Krug, #2
Setting:      Santa Monica, California
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      Provided by the publisher for review via NetGalley

Monday, July 6, 2015

New (to me) Authors: April through June 2015

Today I am joining in on the meme for the best new-to-me crime fiction authors at Mysteries in Paradise. This meme runs at the end of each quarter. Check out other posts for this quarter.

This quarter I have read books by seven authors that I have never read before.

White Heat
by M. J. McGrath
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
Tainted by Ross Pennie
The Case of the Dotty Dowager by Cathy Ace
The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard
See Also Murder by Larry D. Sweazy
Susannah Screaming by Carolyn Weston

I have reviewed all of these book except for The Ways of the World and Susannah Screaming. I will be reviewing both books soon.

Robert Goddard has written over twenty mystery thrillers. They cover various periods in history. Per the author's website: "What they all have in common is the infinite capacity for intrigue and conspiracy in human nature - and the lengths to which some at least will go to combat them."

Publisher's Weekly describes The Ways of the World:
The Paris peace talks of 1919 provide the backdrop for Edgar-winner Goddard’s enjoyable first in a trilogy featuring James “Max” Maxted, “late of the Royal Flying Corps.” When Max’s father, aging diplomat Henry Maxted, is found dead outside his mistress’s Montparnasse apartment building, the police and some members of the British delegation maintain Henry simply fell from the roof or jumped. Yet the doggedly curious Max and his sidekick—former plane mechanic Sam Twentyman—spot a pattern of suspicious circumstances indicating otherwise.
Per Brash Books, Carolyn Weston is the author of the three, ground-breaking police procedurals that became the hit TV series The Streets of San Francisco. Susannah Screaming was the second book in that series. As a fan of the TV show starring Karl Malden and Michael Douglas, I was eager to give the books a try. Brash Books is releasing new editions of all three books.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Reading in June and Pick of the Month

In June, I read a total of nine books. My usual reading is crime fiction but this month I included a fantasy novel, The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I had never read anything by Le Guin, and I will be finishing the rest of the Earthsea Trilogy and looking for other books by this author.

I also read a non-fiction book covering an area I always enjoy reading about: grammar and words. The book is Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Connor. I agree with other reviews, the subtitle is silly. The book is not written for grammarphobes, which would be those afraid of grammar. Reactions on Goodreads were mixed, but I found it enjoyable. I especially liked the sections dealing with similar words and which is correct to use in various situations. Words, spelling and grammar are not usually a problem for me, but I did learn things from this book. Two years ago I read Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by the same author. That one was superior; it talked a lot about how word usage changes over time.

Crime fiction books I read this month:

Hope by Len Deighton
The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard
Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham
Johnny Under Ground by Patricia Moyes
See Also Murder by Larry D. Sweazy
Susannah Screaming by Carolyn Weston
Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

It is hard to pick a favorite this month. There were no duds in the group, and several were very, very good. But I will go for a book by one of my favorite authors: Hope by Len Deighton. That book is the eighth in a nine book series about Bernard Samson. I have loved every book in the series.

The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise. Bloggers link to summary posts for the month, and identify a crime fiction best read of the month. Check out the link here to see the other bloggers picks.

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Fourth of July Picnic" by Rex Stout

Since Christmas of last year, I have been reading through Rex Stout's And Four To Go, a collection of four novellas featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. All but one of the novellas is set around a holiday, so I have featured each one on the associated holiday. Today we have a Fourth of July story.

One of Nero Wolfe's eccentricities is that he will do almost anything to avoid leaving his home. In most cases he is an armchair detective, and never has any desire to visit the scene of the crime. Yet his antipathy for leaving home goes beyond that. He doesn't like to travel by any means of transportation and won't be driven by anyone but Archie. There are always exceptions, of course. I usually enjoy the stories and novels that take Wolfe out of his normal setting.

In this novella, Wolfe has been hounded into speaking at a Fourth of July picnic for the United Restaurant Workers of America (URWA). In return, one of the representatives of that group will stop hounding Fritz, Wolfe's cook, to join the group. During the speeches, one of the important members of the group is killed. It turns out only a few people (those giving speeches, including Wolfe) could be responsible. The denouement is not up to Stout's usual standards, but the shenanigans that take place up to that point are fun.

Even I, a big Nero Wolfe, was not overly impressed with this novella. It does not have the same charm as the other two from And Four To Go that I read in the last few months. Many of the regular recurring characters did not appear, including Fritz. But it was still entertaining enough for me.

The other two novellas were "Easter Parade" and "Christmas Party". Click on the link for reviews.

This brings me to the last novella in And Four To Go: "Murder is No Joke." I will be reading that one soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Double Indemnity: James M. Cain

This is a very short book; in my edition, just 115 pages. The story is told from the point of view of Walter Huff, an insurance salesman, and he reveals everything about himself, not prettifying the picture of his plotting and conniving to commit a crime.

Walter visits the home of a man, Mr. Nirdlander,  who has purchased car insurance from him. His policy is up for renewal and Walter wants to get that moving. From the beginning the narrator implies that something bad has happened. He talks about the references to the "blood red drapes" in the newspaper accounts. And then we meet Phyllis, Nirdlander's wife. And Walter soon gets the sense that she is going to be trouble for him.

Later he comes back to visit:
Three days later she called and left word I was to come at three-thirty. She let me in herself. She didn't have on the blue pajamas this time. She had on a white sailor suit, with a blouse that pulled tight over her hips, and white shoes and stockings. I wasn't the only one that knew about that shape. She knew about it herself, plenty. We went in the living room, and a tray was on the table. "Belle is off today, and I'm making myself some tea. Will you join me?"
Walter is very smart in some ways, but dumb enough to let Phyllis lead him into crime. In hindsight he sees where he could have made better decisions, but at the time he actively and willingly colludes with her.  It is chilling to share this experience with Walter.

Along the way, we get a pretty interesting look at the way insurance salesmen and insurance companies worked in the 1930's.

And all of this in 115 pages. Amazing.

The story is very bleak; there is no expectation of a happy ending. I thought I would not like this story of depravity and greed, but I was wrong. I would not say I empathized or sympathized with Walter, but I did not find him or his story horrifying either. The book was much more enjoyable that I expected it to be. I plan to read The Postman Always Rings Twice (Cain's first book) and Mildred Pierce.

We have the movie adaptation of this book and my husband assures me that it is very good. I am looking forward to watching it soon.

See other reviews at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, The Game's Afoot, Vintage Pulp Fictions, and Scott D. Parker.


Publisher:   Vintage Crime / Black Lizard, 1992 (orig. pub. 1936)
Length:      115 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      Los Angeles area
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy.