Our friend and “First Thoughts” contributor Shmuel Ben-Gad has a suggestion for the summer reading of those of you who read mystery stories: Elizabeth Daly: One of the Last, and Best, of Golden Age Mystery Writers . Her novels, written in the 40s and 50s when she was in her 60s and 70s, he writes,

feature Henry Gamadge, a wealthy expert in manuscripts and rare books who does detective work as a sideline. He is highly cultivated though not handsome—he has blunt features and a scholarly stoop. He is a very good man, but he does not preach or parade his virtue. He eventually takes a younger, utterly charming wife, Clara. This couple represents WASP life at its most attractive.

. . . The series definitely has a tone, though—a civilized one.  The tales are told in an understated, elegant manner that eschews anything vulgar or meretricious. But the murders are not tame, and the plots are anything but boring. Sometimes they seem to veer into the supernatural, as with the novels of “impossible crime” master John Dickson Carr:

I’m somewhat curious about the logical connection conveyed by that “though” in “highly cultivated though not handsome.” It suggests that the highly cultivated generally are or ought to be handsome, which experience of such people doesn’t bear out.

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