A Bundle of Reviews #9 – Or – The Case of A February of Immodest Blondes

I normally don’t write reviews of books that I’ve read but didn’t enjoy reading. But in these cases, I found that I had to put what I felt about them into words—even if just a few. So, this being just a way for me to moan and complain, you are under no obligation to read any further. 

The 31st of February by Julian Symons (1950) 

A view of a man’s decent into madness as a result of a stealthy scheme of harassment against him following the death of his wife. That’s it, that’s all there is.

This is a psychological crime thriller in which I found no thrill. It’s an extremely frustrating read. The story begins interestingly with Anderson’s irritation over strange events turns to agitation. But then it very slowly descends into a disordered jumble of disconnected events, often very disturbing imagery and even more disturbing innuendo. There is not even the satisfaction of an ending, as Symons chooses to leave that shrouded in question marks. 

I’ve gone my entire life without reading Symons, and it may be a very long time before I give him another try.

My Judgment – 2/5

Previous Rulings – Kate @ Cross Examining Crime, Nick @ The Grandest Game in the World

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza –  2020 Vintage Mystery Challenge – Commandments/Rules/Common Devices: # 17 A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. 

Calendar of Crime – February #1 Month in the title

The Fate of the Immodest Blonde (aka Puzzle for a Pilgrim) by Patrick Quentin (1947)

Iris Duluth left her husband Peter and went to Mexico, where she met and fell in love Martin Haven. Peter may have a problem letting Iris go, but he won’t stand in her way. Unfortunately, Martin’s wife isn’t so magnanimous. Sally Haven has no intention of giving Martin up, and Iris wants Peter’s help to get her off their backs. But then suddenly Sally was dead. 

I’ve often seen posts by fellow bloggers about Patrick Quentin and the Peter Duluth series, most of it good. So when I found this book in my local Little Lending Library, I thought I’d go ahead and give it a read—and what a coincidence, it fit into one of the categories for Bev’s Vintage Reading Challenge. Oh happy day!

I thought about Sally. A few hours ago she had been so powerful; she had three lives to play with and she had enjoyed herself to the hilt. Now she was dead, brushed away like a fly by a cryptic Californian and a Mexican policeman whose uncle was a carpenter. Something had happened on that balcony. What? With whom? Marietta’s face, Martin’s face, Iris’s face rose in my mind. I started to worry; then I thought, Why the hell should I worry?  What’s it to me?”

By this point in the book, that was my exact thought, and I put it down with no intention of picking it back up and finishing. But, I didn’t really feel like trying to find another title with Blonde in it, so here we are.

You may have guessed by now that I didn’t like this book, and you are correct. From beginning to end I found nothing of any merit in it. The story merely goes around in circles of blackmail, suspicion and accusation. And there’s not much mystery to be found, since the solution is made pretty obvious at the outset.

The dialogue, except for the often used “Look baby!”, consists of a series of excuses by any and all, for deeds and behavior. The characters are a very dysfunction lot, and it’s hard, if not impossible, to feel anything for any of them. Their only purpose seems to be flipping back and forth in their love/hate/domination relationships with each other. 

So, as of right now, it’s going to be a long time before I consider picking up another Patrick Quentin.

My Judgment –  2/5

Previous Rulings – Bev @ My Reader’s Block

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza –  2013 Scattergories – #32 Blondes in Danger

Calendar of Crime – February #5 Other February Holiday (Carnival – Feb 13, 1947 to Feb 18, 1947)

6 thoughts on “A Bundle of Reviews #9 – Or – The Case of A February of Immodest Blondes

    1. It’s been a real mixed bag lately. Several bad, or just meh. Maybe I should just stick to the 3 C’a…Carr, Christie, and Crofts…🤨

  1. JFW

    Thanks for the bundle of (negative) reviews. 😅 I found the combination of titles interesting, as it made me think of 2 other novels written by these authors that I think are more enjoyable – though no less scandalous-sounding than these 2 titles. My first and I think only foray into Julian Symons was ‘The Plot against Roger Rider’, which had quite a clever mystery buried amidst much annoying and immoral characterisation. I’ve read a handful of Patrick Quentin novels, and I thought the strongest was ‘Puzzle for Wantons’ AKA ‘Slay the Loose Women’ – only slightly better than ‘Immodest Blonde’? The actual proceedings in the novel weren’t quite a salacious as the title promised, and the story/mystery was definitely the best of the handful of Quentin novels I’ve read.

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