Chapter by Chapter – A Request For Help

You can blame JJ over at The Invisible Event for this idea. He recently announced that he was going to do a chapter by chapter review of Fog Of Doubt by Christianna Brand. Brad at Ah Sweet Mystery then decided to do a similar thing with The Red Widow Murders by Carter Dickson. Now, this isn’t a new thing but I’ve never been one to let a bandwagon casually sail past without jumping on it so I thought I’d give it a go myself. Brad intimated in his post that this was something that would be difficult in this neck of the woods given the Spoiler Free And Proud motto – in fact, he referred to my spoiler free nature as making me the most prolific tease in the blogosphere. So of course this just made me more determined to try it – without spoiling the book of course.

But which book to try? Well, that’s where you come in, dear reader.

I decided to apply a few conditions to my choice of book, mainly due to the fact that while I intend to keep it spoiler free, I might edge closer to the line than I normally do so it has to be:

  • Golden Age;
  • readily available or ultra obscure;
  • something I haven’t read yet;
  • with a reasonable number of chapters – 10 to 20;
  • a whodunit – not inverted nonsense here.

I’m off work next week so that seems to be the ideal time to do it, as I want to write my thoughts down after every chapter, so I need to get thinking about which book to try. The candidates are:

  • The Demoniacs by John Dickson Carr
  • The Case Of The Green Felt Hat by Christopher Bush
  • Death At The Bar by Ngaio Marsh
  • The Venner Crime by John Rhode
  • Fear and Trembling by Brian Flynn

No Christie, I’m afraid, as the few I haven’t read are thrillers more than mysteries. So take your pick – which of these should I put under the microscope – or do you have a better suggestion?






  1. My only thought on the well known or obscure issue is that if it is a well-known book then it’ll be saver going closer to the edge as you call it, as it is well known and equally because a lot of people will have read it they’ll be able to check their own impressions of book against your own. That said do you really want to inflict a Marsh on yourself? lol Scales of Justice of her is one of rare books where she gets the mystery/investigation element right (IMO), but not sure if you’ve read it or not. As to other suggestions I’m not sure what to suggest really as I’m not sure how well read you are of the more well known writers aside from Christie. Won’t be silly enough to suggest Sayers, but what about Crispin or Blake? Going to be interesting to see how all you three tackle this same task.


  2. I’d like to say Death at the Bar but being a Ngaio Marsh, you probably wouldn’t like it and I probably would. My vote goes to The Case of the Green Felt Hat by Christopher Bush, because I like the title.


  3. Kate and Jo, thank you. I knew that I’d meant to include another author but forgot who between thinking of the post and writing it. So let’s add in Swan Song as I’ve never read that one.


  4. I also would vote for Bush although I like the suggestion to pick a Crispin instead. So much of his work depends on the language that even if you skirt so far to the edge of spoiler that you tumble over, the branches of his writing will catch and save you because knowing what happens won’t spoil the reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Christie is my girl, and if I was in a position where I had choices among her books I would choose her! But each and every one of her novels is ingrained in my memory. That said, you are the go-to guy for John Rhode, and nobody but you champions Brian Flynn in the blogosphere. I think it would be fascinating to read a fanboy’s chapter-by-chapter experience of one of his favorite authors. Therefore, it has to be Rhode or Flynn – case closed!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Right, I will put in the first vote for the Carr because of the purely selfish reason that I am making my way through his works presently and can play along.


  7. The Demoniacs is more about the history than the mystery. You’ll probably enjoy the overall story and learn more than you ever thought you wanted to know about powdered wigs and duels. Mystery-wise though, it makes Fire, Burn look like The Judas Window in comparison. I’d love to see your thoughts on the book, but I get the sense that you’re looking to do this experiment with more of a traditional mystery.


  8. Another vote for Death at the Bar here – I enjoyed it a lot and I would be interested in seeing a chapter-by-chapter review of it. Even if you pick another book for your first, I hope you’ll keep it in mind for a follow-up.

    I rather hope you won’t pick The Demoniacs – it’s one of Carr’s weakest mysteries.


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