Stephanie McCarthy

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on November 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Some of my favorite mysteries have epigrams.  Long latin phrases from Sayers or short and pithy bon mots from M.C. Beaton.  I’ve considered adding epigrams to my WIP but think it might be a bit of hubris (not to mention filler).  I suppose if I felt passionately about every one of them it might be worthwhile, but I can see spending all that time and then having awesome agent say, get rid of ’em.


SO, what do you think?  Do epigrams add value to books?  Do you even read them or skip right to the text?


A Cup of Tey

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

One of the classic writers from the Golden Era who is frequently overlooked (along w/ Ngaio Marsh), is Josephine Tey.   I recently revisited Ms. Tey and was delighted as ever.  Miss Pym Disposes is exquisite, as tidy and cozy as a cup of tea and plate of cucumber sandwiches.  I couldn’t help but think of Barbara Pym as the protagonist (although it was written prior to Ms. Pym’s debut, I believe) and that just added to the fun.  The dialogue is tight and fast and the students presented are utterly believable in a total girl school kind of way.  I enjoyed the psychology of the book, put me in mind of Gaudy Night on a small scale.


Now that I’m into short stories, I need to find my copy of Murder for Christmas.  I love Nero Wolfe dressing up as Santa although the premise is a bit implausible.


What do you think, short stories or novel???  Do we still have time to read the whole thing?

The Sirens Sang of Murder

In Book Reviews on November 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Have I mentioned my author-crush on Sarah Caudwell???  It intensifies everytime I re-visit her work which has been happening a lot lately. (I go through cycles on books, I think maybe it’s some variation of seasonal affective disorder).  Anyway, back to Caudwell, just finished TSSOM again and am impressed by her wit and humour.  She’s such an inspiration and over the holidays it’s good to have a laugh 🙂


Are there any books you read to get you in the Christmas spirit??? Or to maintain your sanity at such a hectic time of year???

Gaudy Night

In Book Reviews on November 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I just read a rapturous review of Gaudy Night on a blogsite and felt compelled to join in the exaltation.


Gaudy Night is one of my favorite books on the planet.


It’s witty, subtle, sweet, acid, interesting, and romantic.  Sir Peter Wimsey is one of the most interesting protagonists in literature and Harriet Vane only slightly less so.  The representations of Oxford in the 30’s are so vivid I can almost smell the crisp air, feel the crunch of the leaves and see the punts. It reminds me of college and bonfires, the exciting possibilities of academia… the world laid open in front of you like candy in a shop.

Gaudy is everything I want all my books to be but sooooo few are.  It’s ruined me in a way since the standards Sayers sets are almost impossible for any writer to attain.  Believe me, I’ve read A LOT of mysteries.  Tons, like all readers I’m always looking for that one book… you know the one.  The one that sets the tone for all of your Amazon searches and library visits.  As a reader and a writer, I believe I have an obligation to make recommendations based on experience and can urge every person reading this (hi, mom), to go out and get a copy of Gaudy Night, posthaste (LOVE saying posthaste; can’t say it at home, get the you-crazy look).


Agatha Raisin

In Book Reviews on November 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Okay, so just finished Busy Body by M.C. Beaton.  Well… the plot was thin, the ending implausible and some of the dialogue was just not good.


But I liked it.

And I’ll read more.



Because if you create a character as good as Agatha Raisin I really don’t care how good the rest of your book is.   She can carry anything on those reportedly “good legs.”  And she carried this one, too.  She’s remarkably human… irritating, manipulative, transparent.  She’s also shrewd, smart and unafraid to take a risk.

Are there any characters you’ve come across that are greater than their parts? What is it about them that is so captivating?


In Uncategorized on November 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Just read that the new Sherlock won’t come out until next summer!!!


Thorns and thistles!!!


Benedict Cumberbatch is just brilliant and I have a mom-crush on Dr. Watson (i.e., crush while covered in baby puke and poopy).

Sarah Caudwell

In Fun Stuff on November 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I just discovered some un-read Caudwell on-line!!!! REJOICE!  She’s such an inspiration to me. I write b/c she can’t anymore.  (Am reminded of scene from The Importance of Being Earnest where the young lady (Cecily?) says she brought her diary w/ her so she had something sensational to read on the train). Gold.


But, I digress.  Here ’tis.

I wish it was a full book, but the possibility always exists there might still be something tucked away somewhere, right?  At least that’s what I tell myself 🙂


What deceased author’s new work would you most want to read?

Slightly Used

In Book Reviews on November 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Just finished Cards on the Table.  It was good but I didn’t like the way Christie manipulated the reader.  It kept going back to the psychology of the card players and the fact that only one of them could have committed the crime and then Poirot saying, mon ami, it could only have been ______________ and then the person switched every time.  At the end I felt a bit used.

I did like the fact that, as an author, you can manipulate both the psychology of your characters as well as your reader.  But you can also go too far.

Have you ever felt badly used by an author?  What was the book?

Agatha Christie

In Book Reviews on November 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I just finished Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (a little early I know, but my other choice was a book on international intrigue and I just couldn’t face it… both too early and too late in the day).  HPC was a quaint little country house murder, very much up my alley.  I won’t spoil the ending in case you haven’t read it, but it did have a twist albeit one I thought rather shabby.  I also thought the rubber clue a little … far-fetched.  Nonetheless, it did the job I wanted it to do and I kept turning the pages until the end.  Christie’s best character (besides Poirot) was Mrs. Lydia who came across almost as Christie herself (that is, as I believe Christie might’ve viewed herself).  All in all, very enjoyable and 5 stars.