March 30, 2021
It’s been just over two years (what a two years though!) since I last posted my only-other-so-far Cocktail Talk from Cyril Hare, the early-to-mid-last-century English writer and judge – be sure to read that When the Wind Blows Cocktail Talk to discover his real name! – who was known for his subtle humor, classic stylings, and draw-you-in-mysteries. I just picked up, as I slowly find more and more of his work, Untimely Death, which starts on a vacation to Exmoor, and picks up his sometimes-used Inspector Mallett (retired here) along the way. There evocative landscape and character description, a murder (‘natch) that isn’t solved until the last chapter, twists, turns, and memorable characters. You’ll like it! Especially if you like sherry (and surely you must), as it’s a book that should be sherry accompanied – both when reading the below quote, and the rest of the book.
“I’ve been having a chat with the Detective Inspector,” he said. “Luckily we’re on fairly good terms.” He filled three glasses with sherry and handed them round. “Inquest’s on Thursday, it seems. At Polton. Your very good healths, sir and madam.”
The sherry was of a quality to command Pettigrew’s respect, but for the moment his mind was on lower things.
“What else did he tell you?” he asked.
–Cyril Hare, Untimely Death
March 19, 2019
I recently discovered Cyril Hare, the English mystery author and judge (his real name was Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, too, which is quite a mouthful), and have now read a couple of his books, and (like many of the best English authors of his time) they tend to be well-plotted, not-overwrought in any kind of distracting way, and full of characters written perfectly, as well as providing an insight into English small towns and such. When the Wind Blows
(which some consider the highest Hare) is a good place to start if the above entices you, or if you like orchestras, as it takes place around an orchestra in a mid-sized English town. Also, there’s whiskey (as the below shows us), and a few folks happy to take a tipple even if this takes place in the lean post-WW II years.
“I have never been able to understand,” said MacWilliam, looking meditatively at the glass in his hand, “why, in these days of shortages and rationing, it should be considered perfectly proper for guests to bring with them morsels of tea and sugar and disgusting little packets of margarine for the benefit of their hosts, while it is taken for granted that they should be supplied ad libitum with substances far more precious – if you will forgive my mentioning it – a great deal more expensive. Now I don’t much care for tea and hardly take any sugar, but I do – as you may conceivably have observed – drink an appreciable quantity of whisky of an evening. I repeat, therefore, I have left two bottles for you in the hall.”
–Cyril Hare, When the Wind Blows