i. zangwill

Victorian Challenge 2012 – Completion

Another challenge finished only with hours to spare! I had finished most of the books for this challenge long before but got stuck with the last book. Well, I have finished the challenge and am glad to have participated. 🙂

Completed Books: 1. The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

2. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. The Prestige (2006). (Movie set during the Victorian era)

4. In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis.

5. Bleak House. Charles Dickens.

6. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope.

Back To The Classics Challenge 2012 – Completion

I love the classics and I loved this challenge. It wasn’t hard but things could have been easier if I wasn’t so pressed for time in 2012. Thanks to  Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much for hosting it!

Completed Books: 1. A Classic Play – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare.

2. Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime  – Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare.

3. Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction – The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

4. Reread a classic of your choice – The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

5. Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language – Aslauga’s Knight. Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. 

6. Any 20th Century Classic – The Railway Children. Edith Nesbit.

7. Any 19th Century Classic – Bleak House. Charles Dickens

8. Classic Award Winner  The Plague. Albert Camus.

9. Classic Romance – Evelina. Fanny Burney.

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 – Completion

I participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 hosted at the Book Chick City. My participation level was TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels.

And I have completed my first challenge of 2012! I thought it would take me at least six months to finish 12 mystery & suspense books but I did it in five. So yay me! 🙂

So glad to have participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012! Thanks to everyone in Book Chick City for hosting this fabulous challenge!

Completed Books:

1. The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

2. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. At the Villa Rose. A.E.W. Mason.

4. Behind That Curtain. Earl Derr Biggers.

5. The Thirteen Problems. Agatha Christie.

6. The Body in the Library. Agatha Christie.

7. 4.50 from Paddington. Agatha Christie.

8.  In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis.

9. The After House. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

10. The Lodger. Marie Adelaide Belloc.

11. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie.

12. The Old Man in the Corner. Baroness Orczy.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill.

” ‘Nonsense!’ said Denzil. ‘What about Jessie–I mean Miss Dymond? There’s a combination for you. She always reminds me of Grace Darling. How is she, Tom?’

‘She’s dead!’ snapped Tom.”

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

When Mrs. Drabdump fails to wake up her tenant Arthur Constant after hours of frantically trying, she seeks the help of her neighbour, retired detective George Grodman. Her worst fears come true when Arthur is found in his room with his throat slit open. But with the windows securely closed and the only door locked, how could Arthur have died? Is it a simple case of suicide? Or can there be a more sinister explanation?

As an avid mystery reader, I am interested in the origins of the genre. Locked room mysteries hold a certain fascination for me.

The Big Bow Mystery  (1892) by Israel Zangwill is often considered to be the first ‘true’ locked room mystery ever written.

 Israel Zangwill (1864 – 1926) was a political activist and humorist. Though not primarily a mystery author, his  The Big Bow Mystery continues to be an influential work in the genre of crime fiction.

Zangwill was a humorist. His wit shines brightly in some of the dialogues of the story.  For example, when Mrs. Drabdump philosophises about love and breakfast,

…she bore the tea-pot downstairs with a mournful, almost poetic, consciousness, that soft-boiled eggs (like love) must grow cold.

There is another hilarious passage about how people fight over the possibility that a monkey (à la The Murders in the Rue Morgue) could have committed the crime.

The detectives in the book are all too human and not the usual crime solving machines that generally populate stories like this. They seem more interested in stroking their egos than solving anything. Both George Grodman and Edward Wimp are not likeable. I found this approach to be interesting.

The characters of Denzil Cantercot and Peter Crowl irritated me. Their conversations often seemed pointless to me.

The narrative is wordy and full of digressions. It is full of dull speeches on politics, the class system, the working man’s problem; etc. If all of this had something to do with the story I wouldn’t mind but they don’t. Israel Zangwill was a very politically conscious person and he was not really a mystery writer anyway so I do understand the reason behind such deviations. But just because I understand it doesn’t mean I like it.

The solution is simply bizarre. It is unique but at the same time it left me feeling kind of annoyed and disappointed.

The solution left me feeling unsatisfied and the wordiness does not help the book either. But I am glad I read The Big Bow Mystery as it occupies an important place in the origin of crime fiction. Overall, a so-so experience.

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