I've read all the Crispin novels the library has to offer, and I need to remember that. I keep borrowing them thinking that I haven't, but I have. I have I have I have. And this one is the one with the pig's head - to help me remember. Not that they're not pleasant, it's just such a downer to think you have a virgin book and instead be left with... hang on, that was a bad metaphore getting worse. Forget it.
TGOTM has a cover proclaiming it to be "his first novel for over twenty years" and "well worth waiting for". It was published in -77, and must have been eagerly anticipated by his fans. Crispin has a very special (I was going to put "very unique", which would have been ironic as that is precisely the type of phrase that a Crispin book would take the piss out of, as something is either unique or not, right? so I changed my mind) style, very funny and literary, as the reviewers sometimes put it. For example:
[...]"Gobbo!" the Major rapped out in an army voice. "Answer the question, please!"
Luckily Gobbo had never been in the forces, so this worked. "Ur," he said. The current had reversed course, and he was coming back inshore again. "Ur. Ur, ur." All at once a spasm of energy seized him. "Er never," he began recapitulating, doppio movimento, accelerando. "Er never killed en. And I'll tell 'ee fer why. Cuz," he coda-ed triumphantly, allegro assai, "I wer talkin' to en."
I think this is hilarious. This is in the very beginning, and I giggled so hard I decided that the book had to be re-read. It's a good start, and we're thrown right in to the story, in which Gervase Fen, our professor and hero, has borrowed a cottage in a small village to get underway with his book on 20th century novelists. The murders interfere. They are actually incredibly gruesome, with decapitated and mutilated bodies, but they are covered with a sheet of Wodehouse-esque humour (I'm not claiming the humour is Wodehouse-esque. The Swedish library review on the inside cover is. I've never read Wodehouse, always been something unappealing about it to my mind. And now I want to even less, because I suspect the more Wodehouse in this Crispin, the less fun for me. It deteriorates into separate humouristic episodes that barely hang together. It's like reading one of those authors who is obviously desperate for his/her book to be filmed, and has the entire dialogue written in funny one-liners).
Let's see, what other notes did I make... From this book I learnt the names of the cow's four stomachs in English! Rumen, honeycomb, manyplies and abomasum. How odd are they??? I had some other potential quotes, but cannot be arsed. Must move on.
Michael Innes: The Ampersand Papers and Appleby's Answer
I randomly chose two Innes books too. They have in common some incredibly ignorant and hilariously funny (therefore) nobility, FYI. The Ampersand Papers is about possibly valuable literary manuscripts being stored in a delapidated castle tower for a lark, and Appleby's Answer is about a lady writer of detective fiction who provides a madman with a plot for murder - or not. I like Innes style, they are funny, literary (again, ha ha), and make you feel a bit smart, even though they aren't really a difficult read. The latter book also, possibly, contains a veiled P.D. James, as he writes about a woman who is considered the queen of detective fiction and used to work at the Foreign Office. A-ha, as Piglet tried to say.
Carter Dickson: The Ten Teacups
Carter Dickson is the same fella as John Dickson Carr, the master of the locked-room mystery. This is one such mystery, and a good one, if one knows about cricket pitching. He helpfully provides you with notes on where the clues to the solution where during the dénouement, which I find endearing.
Jeffrey Deaver: The Cold Moon
I was sort of watching the film version of The Bone Collector on the telly while I was reading this, and I was struck by how simple the film was compared to a Deaver novel, which will contain subplots in scores and red herrings in large quantities. In this one a serial killer appears called the Watchmaker - but of course all is not that simple, and I really don't want to say too much, as the transition from classic serial killer novel to a different kind of thriller is quite surprising and should be read if you enjoy this sort of thing.
But I will say this: it was OBVIOUS all along that Sachs wasn't going to quit cophood. God.