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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 2 (May 1, 1935)



“The Griffith Case,” by John Bentley (Eldon Press, London), is one of the most intricate detective stories I have read. The series of events prior and subsequent to the murder of Marcus Griffith, a wealthy money-lender, are of a vastly complicated character. A solution if imminent, the suspect has made his confession, when an additional murder, that of the dead moneylender's butler is perpetrated. The whole structure of built-up evidence falls to pieces. The all discerning mind of a super-Sherlock Holmes, in the person of Sir Richard Herriwell, a noted antiquarian, carries through to an amazing denouement. Price, 7/-.

In these days of chain stores and mass production when everyone is looking for a lot for a little money, the Century Omnibus books being produced by Hutchinson and Co., London, come as a veritable god-send. These huge volumes of over 1,000 pages each retail at 6/-. They cover a range to suit all tastes, and, best of all are of a high literary standard at the same time appealing to the average reader. As they contain no rubbish, they are a sound permanent literary investment. This month I will deal with two of the series.

“A Century of Humour” is edited by P. G. Wodehouse. With one of our greatest living humorists as the selector, the feast of fun is difficult to improve upon. The humorous short story has always been a speciality of mine—candidly I am rather conceited in my knowledge and sense of judgment. Therefore I went through this book critically and if it is any consolation to Mr. Wodehouse I can find no fault in his selection. All the great humorists of the past century are there—E. V. Lucas, W. W. Jacobs, Barry Pain, H. G. Wells, A. P. Herbert, G. K. Chesterton, Wyndham Lewis—all the happy brothers of laughter. It is a glorious feast of fun.

Now it is an excellent idea to place alongside this book on your reading table another Century omnibus, the “Book of Strange Stories.” While you are still shaking with mirth because of a story in the other volume read one of these weird “Strange Stories” and you achieve one of those wonderful contrasts that, after all, make life so interesting. Strange stories are neither humorous nor creepy—they are just strange. They provoke serious reflection on the weird results of authors' imaginations. Famous authors represented in this collection include George Meredith, Thomas Burke, Oscar Wilde, Somerset Maugham, Sheila Kaye-Smith, Algernon Blackwood and De Maupessant. The stories have been selected by “The Evening Standard.” (My copies from Whitcombe and Tombs.)

“Earth's Quality,” by Winifred Birkett (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), is published with glowing appreciations from such well-known critics as Mary Gilmore and Elliott Napier. The latter describes the novel as “undoubtedly one of the best and most effectively written Australian novels that has yet appeared.” It remains for this humble scribe to agree with the judgments of these high authorities. This book will appeal particularly to New Zealand readers. As Mary Gilmore observes, the outstanding thing about the novel is the knowledge the authoress shows “of the land and the things of the land.” The story is engrossing, and the character sketches are artistically done.

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