Saturday Savings with MiddleSisterReviews

More funny mysteries — for free!

And discounts on a classic, plus a funny film memoir

I have read and enjoyed some books in all of these mystery series, though not the ones that are offered free today.  Please remember to verify the price before purchase, as they are always subject to change without notice.

List price, $4.99 (USD)
List price, $4.99 (USD)

Murder on Opening Night:  When Myrtle Clover and her friend Miles attend a play in their small town, there’s a full house on opening night. It’s clear to Myrtle that one of the actresses is a stage hog who loves stealing the spotlight. Nandina Marshall certainly does upstage everyone—when her murder forces an unexpected intermission. Can Myrtle and Miles discover who was behind her final curtain call….before murder makes an encore?

Add Audible for only $1.99!  And, thanks JoJoPNW for pointing out that others in this series are free today as well:

Progressive Dinner Deadly, which I have read and recommend:Progressive

To the residents of the sleepy town of Bradley, North Carolina, hardworking Jill Caulfield seemed beyond reproach. She volunteered at the women’s shelter, worked at the church preschool, cleaned houses for extra money, and actually enjoyed yard work. And she was nothing less than a saint to cheerfully put up with her unemployed, skirt-chasing, boozer of a husband. When intrepid octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover caught Jill, her new housekeeper, peering into her medicine cabinet, she should have been upset. But discovering that Jill wasn’t such a squeaky-clean goody-goody made her vastly more interesting in Myrtle’s eyes. Myrtle would have happily continued figuring out what made Jill Caulfield tick. If Jill hadn’t foolishly gone and gotten herself murdered, that is.  Add Audible for $1.99.

dyeingA Dyeing Shame:  Some beauty secrets are more dangerous than others. When Beauty Box beautician Tammy Smith is discovered with a pair of hair shears in her back, there are suspects and secrets aplenty in her small Southern town. Octogenarian Myrtle Clover, bored by bingo and bridge, is intrigued by the crime…and her neighbors’ secrets. But discovering, and blabbing, secrets got Tammy killed and Myrtle soon learns her sleuthing isn’t just dangerous…it’s deadly.

A Body in the Backyard:  Extreme gardening often involves gnomes andbody in the backyard planted bodies. It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes. Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Frances and Richard Lockridge‘s Mr. and Mrs. North mysteries are classics — and a series I regret not encountering long, long ago.  I’m making up for what I’ve missed whenever I find these on sale, and Mysterious Press is offering the fifth in the series today for $1.99:

Discounted to $1.99 (USD)
Discounted to $1.99 (USD)

Hanged for a Sheep:  Mrs. North must protect her aunt from being poisoned—whether she likes it or not. Pamela North has never worried about making sense. When she has a thought, she expresses it, and if no one in the room knows what she’s talking about, it’s no trouble to her. While Mrs. North’s unique style of thought can make her a challenging conversational partner, it also makes her one of the finest amateur sleuths in New York City. But no matter how sharp her wit, she can’t pin down Aunt Flora. An indomitable old woman, shaped like a snowman and just as icy, Flora is convinced that someone is trying to slip her arsenic, and she’ll be very cross if her niece can’t stop the culprit before he succeeds.

Aunt Flora stubbornly refuses to let Pamela call in the police, until a suspicious dead body forces them to ask the opinion of Lt. William Weigand. It’s a screwy mystery, and that means it’s perfect for Mrs. North.

Hanged for a Sheep is the 5th book in the Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.

Also today, Geraldine Evans is offering a boxed set of the first four mysteries in her comic and almost-cosy series of 17 (so far!) mysteries featuring a pair of British detectives, Rafferty and Llewellyn:

DEAD BEFORE MORNING:  British Detective Joe Rafferty and his partner,

List price, $4.99 (USD)
List price, $4.99 (USD)

Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn in a murder mystery involving the killing of a young woman bludgeoned beyond recognition, with no ID and found in a secure place to which she supposedly had no admission. Who is she? How has she gained access? And who was responsible for her murder? These are just a few of the questions the detective duo must answer in this first novel in the cozy mystery series. With difficulties besetting them on all sides, including their own superintendent and a media that has decided to adopt the case of the ‘Faceless Lady’ as their own personal crusade for justice, newly promoted Inspector Rafferty has something to prove.

DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN:  British Detectives Joe Rafferty and his partner, Dafyd Llewellyn, in their second murder mystery investigation, set out to discover who killed Barbara Longman, a woman with no known enemies. But when it soon becomes apparent that the murder has been committed by someone who must have known the victim well, the police investigation shifts to the victim’s family, the wealthy and influential Shores. Rafferty suspects that Charles Shore, not a man known to forgive failure, will use his influence to damage Rafferty’s career should he fail to find the murderer.

DEATH LINE:  Third novel in the Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series, Death Line sees the detective duo trying to solve the murder mystery of the famed “seer,” Jasper Moon, with his own crystal ball. Gradually it becomes clear that Jasper Moon was a man of many parts, not all of them appeared very savoury. Moon was a wealthy man, but seems to have written no will; certainly, Detectives Rafferty and Llewellyn can’t find it. In a case involving as many twists and turns as a snake avoiding capture, the detectives must take their murder investigation back through the years to the victim’s youth to answer that question: ‘Who did it?’ And Rafferty fears that after such a long time, the evidence their murder inquiry needs will no longer be there to find.

THE HANGING TREE:  Fourth novel in the Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series. This murder mystery involves the detective pair in the case of the vanishing hanged man. But when the hanged man turns up in Dedman Woods for a second time, the British detectives are able to confirm that he is a man many had reason to hate. Because Maurice Smith, charged years earlier with four child rapes, had escaped on a legal technicality. Detective Rafferty feels ambivalent about the case from the start. Not sure his desire to solve it is strong enough, he has to fight the feeling that natural justice, in winning out against the judicial sort, has right on its side. The punishment has, in his book, fitted the crime. As the usual police procedure continues towards an unwanted conclusion, Rafferty, caught between the law and his own sense of morality, feels this is an investigation that could cause him to demand his own resignation as a detective.

Discounted to $3.99 (USD)
Discounted to $3.99 (USD)

Also today, film fans — and anyone who enjoys a quick wit — may want to take advantage of a discount on the previously out-of-print autobiography of George Sanders, Memoirs of a Professional Cad. I’ve read only a small portion, but that’s only because I’ve had too many demands on my reading time to go further.  I don’t often read celebrity biographies, much less autobiographies, but I’m convinced Sanders could write about nothing at all and I’d still want to read it.  He really has a way with words, and, to my mind, this is a bargain at the discounted price of $3.99 (USD).

Description:  What might we dare to expect from an actor’s autobiography, even one from a star as personable as George Sanders? In the case of Memoirs of A Professional Cad, we possibly get more than we deserve. George Sanders undoubtedly led a colourful, glamorous and even action-packed life, spanning the peak years of Hollywood’s golden age. But the greatest joy of his memoirs is how funny they are, and how penetrating their author’s wit. Endlessly quotable, every chapter shows that the sardonic charm and intelligence he lent to the silver screen were not merely implied.

George’s early childhood was spent in Tsarist Russia, before he was obliged to flee with his family to England on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He survived two English boarding schools before seeking adventure in Chile and Argentina where he sold cigarettes and kept a pet ostrich in his apartment. We can only be grateful that George was eventually asked to leave South America following a duel of honour (very nearly to the death), and was forced to take up acting for a living instead.

Memoirs of A Professional Cad has much to say about Hollywood and the stars George Sanders worked with and befriended, not to mention the irrepressible Tsa Tsa Gabor who became his wife. But at heart it is less a conventional autobiography, and more a Machiavellian guide to life, and the art of living, from a man who knew a thing or two on the subject. So we are invited to share George’s thought-provoking views on women, friendship, the pros and cons of therapy, ageing, possessions, and the necessity of contrasts (Sanders’s maxim: “the more extreme the contrast, the fuller the life”).

Previously out of print for many decades, Memoirs of A Professional Cad stands today as one of the classic Hollywood memoirs, from one of its most original, enduring and inimitable stars. This edition also features a new afterword by George Sanders’s niece, Ulla Watson.

Highly recommending: The Red House Mystery

A.A. Milne’s classic locked-room mystery is was free today Friday, from Mysterious Press

Red House MysteryA hot, drowsy afternoon at Red House, home of wealthy Mark Ablett. Downstairs the servants are resting. Outside the secretary is reading. Then the peace is shattered by a piercing cry for help and a gunshot. Minutes later, Robert Ablett’s body is found in a locked room with no possible means of entry or exit.

A.A. Milne’s classic manor house mystery is one of my all-time favorites, as much a delight to read today as when I first found it on my grandmother’s bookshelves. I know it by heart, yet I still enjoy reading every word of it.

The Mysterious Press edition of The Red House Mystery is free today on Amazon.com, as well as from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Indiebound and Kobo, in an optimized for e-reader version.  It’s still a bargain at its list price of $0.99 (USD).  (My apologies to any who missed out!)

Milne, of course, is best known for his Winnie-the-Pooh stories — which I adore — but he was an avid mystery reader and I think he wrote one of the best ever, beginning with the dedication to his father, John Vine Milne. In many respects, it is a typical Golden Age mystery. The setting is an English manor house, the home of an unusual snob and the cousin who acts as his secretary, land agent, business advisor and companion. The snob, Mark Ablett, is fond of house parties — but prefers guests who cannot repay his hospitality — and the house is full when his previously unknown brother arrives unexpectedly from Australia, only to be found murdered behind a locked door in Mark’s office.

All typical . . . yet not at all typical with Milne’s witty writing, pleasing plotting, and a (mostly) charming cast of characters. If you haven’t read it, here’s an exceptional opportunity. If you have only a print edition or the public domain digital edition, here’s an excellent opportunity to upgrade to a properly formatted edition.  Enjoy!

From the publisher: Mark Ablett is not really a snob—not the worst kind of snob, at least. He simply prefers artists to everyone else, and the discussion of his own creative abilities to any other talk whatsoever. His vanities are easily forgiven especially since he is generous with his money—inherited not from his clergyman father but from a neighborhood spinster who took a liking to him—and he is always willing to play the host at the Red House, his delightful country estate.

One lazy summer morning, as his guests enjoy breakfast before a round of golf, Mark opens a surprising letter. His brother Robert, the black sheep of the family, gone some fifteen years now, is back from Australia and plans to call at the Red House that very afternoon. It is the first that Mark’s friends and servants have heard of a brother, but that shock is nothing compared to what happens next: After being shown into an empty office to wait for the master of the house, Robert is shot dead. Mark is nowhere to be found, not unlike the pistol that fired the fatal bullet. It is up to Tony Gillingham, man of leisure, and his young friend Bill Beverley to assume the roles of Sherlock and Watson and solve a crime so clever that Alexander Woollcott pronounced it “one of the three best mystery stories of all time.”

Beloved children’s author A.A. Milne was a great fan of detective stories. MilneHis first and last attempt at the genre is an absolute delight—one of the most original and charming novels of the Golden Age of crime fiction.

Murder Comes First

A discounted deal from Mysterious Press . . .

Murder Comes First, the 15th of 26 novels in the Mr. and Mrs. North series from Frances and Richard Lockridge, is now available in an e-book edition — and is discounted to $1.99 now $7.99, from $9.99, for a limited time. (Sorry to those who missed out!)

Murder Comes FirstI grew up on Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, but the Lockridge books were not often found in my childhood home and I have many yet to read . . . including this one.  Some readers prefer to read all series in order, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t need to read these in order to enjoy them.  I grab them when they’re discounted, as the list prices are fairly expensive as ebooks go, and read them as I can.

Synopsis:  When an old widow is murdered, Mr. and Mrs. North work to prove a trio of aunts innocent of the crime.  Jerry and Pamela North have tangled with countless murderers, blackmailers, and thieves, but nothing could prepare them for a weekend with Pamela’s aunts. Thelma, Lucinda, and Pennina sweep into town like hurricanes, and take no notice of the destruction they cause. No amount of martinis can soothe Pamela and Jerry’s rattled nerves, and when the martinis stop working, the Norths are in trouble.
 
The aunts are in town to see their old friend Grace Logan, a widow whose temperament is as cold as iced gin. But while sipping tea, Grace does something terribly out of character. She seizes up, gasps for air, and dies. When the trio of aunts is implicated in her poisoning, it falls to the Norths to clear their names—and get them out of Manhattan forever.

About the Authors:  Frances and Richard Lockridge were some of the most popular names in mystery during the 1940s and 1950s. Having written numerous novels and stories, the husband-and-wife team was most famous for their Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries. What started in 1936 as a series of stories written for the New Yorker turned into 26 novels, including adaptions for Broadway, film, television, and radio. The Lockridges continued writing together until Frances’s death in 1963, after which Richard discontinued the Mr. and Mrs. North series and wrote other works until his own death in 1982.