Friday 11 November 2022

NetGalley November - Jumping Jenny

As this is going to be a mix of NetGalley November and me reading books from smaller, indie publishers, this month's reading is going to be a mixed back. So, what a good place to start with a crime story from the British Library Crime Classic (yes, the British Library has publishing arm and the Crime Classic collection publishes a crime story from the Golden Age of Crime that hasn't been in print for years. They are forgotten stories). 

Title and Author: Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley
Publisher: British Library
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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First published in 1933, we are invited to a fancy dress party where everyone is dressed up as famous murderers and their victims. One person attending the party is famous author and detective, Roger Sharingham who is delighted at the level of detail the hosts have thrown at the party. The host constructed a gallows that have three dolls hanging from them - two jumping Jacks and one jumping Jenny. And the party would be fun - if it wasn't for the host's sister-in-law who must be in the centre of attention and being a horrid person. 

So when she is found hanging in the gallows instead of jumping Jenny, it looks like she committed suicide. But when Roger realises that it can't be, he decides to meddle with the scene, fearing that this key detail will implicate his friend...
During my blog break of October, I went on holiday and read Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley (which I devoured) and then Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (not what I was expecting), but this got me into wanting to read Golden Age of Crime stories. I have a few on my kindle, waiting for me (and I am planning to read them over Christmas, I think), but I saw this randomly on NetGalley, I had to give it a go as I thought this would be a cool Halloweeny read. 

This is an easy, entertaining read, and I did enjoy the humour within this. It's witty and, at times, quite dark and there are twists to keep you on your toes. Plus, this is (apparently) one of the first "inverted" crime novels of the Golden Age - in which the reader knows who the killer is before the detective, and that was nice to see (though the final few pages kinda ruin this for me - some readers like the final pages, other not so much).

But - of course there's a but - I did get quite annoyed with the main character, Roger Sharingham. After the discovery of the "suicide", he goes back to the scene and realises that it's murder because a chair is in the wrong place. He then moves the chair and, in doing so, tampers with the scene and, because of that, digs himself into a hole and won't stop digging. 

Plus, all the characters in this aren't likeable (yes, even our lead who manipulates everyone around him to make their version of events fit his idea of what happened). They all aren't not nice people. 

Also, the level of misogyny in this was something - same with mental health and talk about domestic violence. Am glad that, at the start of this book, we had a note of publisher telling us that there were going things that the publisher didn't endorse.

This reads like I didn't enjoy myself with this. I did, but I was expecting me, if I'm being honest with you. But I did have fun as I am planning to read more from the British Library Crime Classic collection 9I have a few titles on my radar that have caught my attention). Not sure this was the best Anthony Berkeley to start with, as everyone seems to be saying The Poisoned Chocolate Case is his best work so going to investigate that, but this got me in the mood for Halloween - even though the book is set in April... 

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