Classic Pleasures: The Gardening Catalogue

It was Agatha Christie who first introduced me to the gardening catalogue. Being Agatha Christie, she naturally made it a harbinger of sudden and mysterious death (you’ll have to read The Thirteen Problems to find out how).

Of course, gardening catalogues were nothing new in 1932, when the book came out. The first ever was, according to Wikipedia, produced by an Englishman in 1667, back when Charles II was ruling Britain, Louis “l’etat c’est moi” XIV ruling France, and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (son of Mumtaz Mahal, as in Taj Mahal) ruling the Indian subcontinent.

Sweerts florilegium
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Worst Beta Reader Ever

One of my favourite fictional detectives in my youth was Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. Being mixed-race, he has one foot in the Aboriginal world and one in the white world, without ever fully belonging in either. It was something I related to as a TCK (although I’m not mixed-race – unless you count English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish as mixed race – just mixed-up).

RabbitProofFence.JPG
Boundary riding on the Rabbit-Proof Fence, 1920s. Note camels.

The author of the “Bony” novels was Arthur Upfield, and in the late 1920s, while working as a boundary rider on the Rabbit-Proof Fence, he thought he’d try writing a mystery where the detective is hampered by the absence of a body. (The victim’s body, that is. Incorporeal detectives, as far as I know, didn’t come along until some four decades later, with Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).)

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