More Mysteries (and just more)

Campion (Margery Allingham)
I got three more of Margery Allingham’s Campion books last month; I’ve been semi keeping up with the reissues of these from Felony and Mayhem press. I heard of Campion mainly because of the tv version, which starred Peter Davison (aka Doctor #5). The books are good enough; I don’t like them as well as Christie, but they’re easily as good or better than Marsh, though the characterization is not as good as Sayers. Campion has a propensity, like Marsh’s Alleyn, to randomly fall in love with women involved with the cases, which is annoying, especially as he has a Bertie Wooster-ish quality to him in the first place. Also interesting is the fact that unlike, say, Poirot and Holmes, he is sometimes mistaken in his conclusions even all the way to the end of the story.

Mrs. Bradley (Gladys Mitchell)
A few years ago, Mystery showed several of these on PBS. Diana Rigg starred as Mrs. Bradley, a middle aged, multiply-divorced woman of means who is a well known expert on psychology and crime. (Peter Davison was also in several of the episodes as well. He’s been busy.) They caught my attention because unlike a Miss Marple type, Mrs. Bradley has professional qualifications and a reputation that extends beyond her village. But I never quite got around to trying to find out if these were based on a series of books until just recently. Interestingly, for a series with dozens of books in, it seems fairly hard to get hold of some of the early titles and I have to wonder why she is not more well known than she is. A local library had a handful of titles from later in the series and the style was readable, if a bit different than what I’m used to. Mrs. Bradley is nearly as energetic as some of her younger counterparts and seems to be constantly driving around the countryside interviewing suspects and even spent some time crawling about on a roof and shimmying down a drianpipe.

The Baby-Sitter’s Club
I followed this series for quite a long time, pretty much until I went off the college and got behind in buying the books and couldn’t keep up (this is when I lost track of the Star Trek novels, too). It ended a while ago, but every once in a while I’ll get the urge to a) reread it and/or b) complete the set. Anyhow, a couple of years ago Scholastic had the idea to reissue four of the books (#1, #3, #4 and #7) as graphic novels. I bought the first one and was surprised (and a little depressed) at how much of the story I remembered. The graphic novel itself was quite well done — the art was clean, the character designs to my taste, and I think the artist did a nice job trying to capture the essence of the girls while trying to draw them in a way that wouldn’t become dated in about a month. Because the one thing the graphic novels dropped entirely was the effusive descriptions of 80s ‘cool’ clothes that permeated so much of the originals. First, because descriptions of that nature are not necessary when you have pictures, but second because while Anne Shirley going on about puffed sleeves may be historical now, I imagine it was a turn-off for girls in the 20s and 30s. And somehow I just don’t see the BSC enduring quite long enough for an armful of jelly bracelets to feel historical.

Picma
I really am not a fan of picross, but somehow the description of this game on jayisgames lured me in. I played the first three levels with little difficulty and was actually enjoying it. It appealed to the same part of my brain that got horribly addicted to sudoku for several weeks and which still occasionally wants to do some. But when I got to the 20×20 sized grids, I found the flaw in the game: the playing area is too small. While picma does provide a little tool which you can use to slide the grid around and see the edges, it’s incredibly annoying to try and fill it out without being able to see all of the numbers around the board. There needs to be an option to play full screen or an option to zoom out. I managed to do one puzzle shifting the grid around, but after that I was forced to give up.

Copycat
Another game I discovered through jayisgames, this one provides a pattern of colors on one side of the screen which you have to duplicate on the other. This is done by arranging shapes and then dumping paint over the rest of the canvas — you have to figure out in which order to apply the colors and where to place the stencils so you end up with the proper result. I hadn’t really ever seen any game like this before, and I was fascinated. It was very interesting, with the only annoyance being the possibility that you would accidentally hit the ‘winning’ percentage of replication before you were actually done with your efforts. This could easily be fixed by requiring people to submit their result for judgement rather than automatically judging it after every action.

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