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Engineering Mathematics
Engineering Mathematics
by K.A. Stroud
Edition: Paperback
Price: 37.81

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly outstanding for self-study, lacks formal definitions. Needs to be published in two volumes., 28 Jan 2014
I have included my review of the previous edition, with minor updating, as it is still applicable. The additional material in this edition is a nice improvement, as is the lower price.

However, there is now a caveat. In my opinion, the publishers made an unfortunate decision to publish this in one volume. It needs to be published in two parts. While publishing in one volume may reduce costs, it is definitely not user-friendly. Its now weighs almost 6-1/2 pounds. This makes it very, very difficult, perhaps impossible, to carry and use easily. Its weight requires a table, or large book support, be used to work comfortably. The previous edition was almost two pounds lighter, and had a smaller size, making that edition comfortable to handle. I had no problem carrying it with me to refer to as time allowed. The weight and size of this edition make that, for me, impossible.

This is an excellent text for self-study or as a supplement to a classroom text. It is fairly wide ranging, covering a large portion of the mathematics needed during the first few years of an engineering, or physical science program. However, it is not quite comprehensive, lacking some areas that have gained significant importance in recent times, e.g, discrete transforms. Although some Fourier Series and transforms are covered in the companion volume "Advanced Engineering Mathematics".

The pretests and revision (more commonly called review in the US) sections are quite helpful. The book de-emphasizes formal definitions, as concepts and intuitive descriptions are provided in conjunction with examples. However, in some instances this can lead to problems, where the appropriate problem-solving approach is well-presented but the lack of a formal definition can lead to some "fuzziness". In these cases an inexpensive mathematics dictionary, or standard text, should provide the needed clarity.

Some sections or chapters are quite elementary and may not be needed by many readers. For example, the book starts with an approximately 60 page section on arithmetic.

The book is well designed and laid out with black type, avoiding the distracting overuse of color found in some competing texts. The authors are usually quite clear, and quickly get to the "meat" of a topic. Extra material is kept to a minimum. One section where this is not true is the Programme F.10 (section) on Functions where unneeded, and arguably unhelpful, box graphics are introduced and used fairly extensively to visually denote the the ideas of function input and output. However, the boxes are not standard mathematical constructs for handling functions. In my opinion, these extraneous constructs are an unnecessary distraction, as the function notation carries with it all the structure needed for comprehension, and is what students will see in later work. In reviewing the 6th edition, I had hoped these boxes would be eliminated in later editions. However, they are, unfortunately, retained for this edition.

The book still shows a much earlier publishing heritage as some mathematical terms no longer in common usage are nonetheless retained.

For a book this large in size, there are an unusually small number of errors or misstatements and these are usually obvious. One example where this is not true is when the authors use the terms "range" and "co-domain", page 271, incorrectly as synonyms.

This is an outstanding and well-written book. The book's presentation of desired learning outcomes, i.e., behavioral objectives, at the start of each Programme is excellent. Material is presented in easily digestible short sections that allow for breaks to be taken at almost any time, without the need to stop in the middle of an unfinished section. Pretest quizzes allow readers to determine what sections they can skip and what sections they need to work on. There are very few backward references to previously covered material. A minor deficiency is the lack of more formal definitions. These are usually not needed. In a number of cases they would help aid understanding and reduce the chance of encountering unexpected problems in later work. However, the book's strong emphasis on carefully developing concepts needed to comfortably handle the mathematical manipulation and problem solving skills required for engineering is exceptional.

There are additions in this edition, but if the 6th can be found at a significantly lower price, not the case on Amazon at the time of this review, it would likely serve as well. Owing to its lighter weight and size, that edition may prove even more useful for those who spend considerable time away from their home/office/classroom/etc.

This edition's uncomfortably large size and weight is compensated for by its outstanding content. It continues to deserve the highest recommendation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2014 7:24 AM BST


Cracking the AP Calculus AB & BC Exams, 2014 Edition (College Test Preparation)
Cracking the AP Calculus AB & BC Exams, 2014 Edition (College Test Preparation)
by Princeton Review
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for calculus self-study. Essentially unchanged from earlier editions., 28 Jan 2014
I have included portions of my review for the earlier 2009 copy with minor updating as appropriate. I felt this 5 year later version should be even better. (See Bottom Line below.)

Based on my experience, it is possible to complete this book in about eight weeks, working at a comfortable paces.

There are now three new prefatory chapters similar to other recent "Cracking the AP" Princeton study guides in this series. These chapters add little to the study of calculus, which now begins in Part IV, but they they may prove useful to some taking the AP test. They total only about 25 pages. The "meat" of the study guide now starts on page 30.

May I gently suggest considering the paperback rather than the Kindle version. The formulas in the Kindle edition are very small, and difficult to read. Changing to a larger font does not seem to help. This is noticeable from the beginning of the calculus presentation, when limits are inroduced. The subscripts for the 'lim' notation, such 'x -> 2' are relatively small in normal use. However, they appear even smaller in the Kindle version. So small that they are, literally, unreadable.

This book provides an outstanding presentation of core topics in applied calculus. Only areas identified by the AP Calculus Development Committee are covered. Narrowing the areas presented to those needed for the exam considerably reduces preparation time. Whether you are taking the AP exam or not, this is an excellent self-study guide to calculus.

The greatest strength of this text is its excellent practice problems sets with fully-worked solutions. There are usually about 8 - 25 problems per set, often with multiple problem sets per chapter. Surprisingly, for a book with this many problems, solutions are usually well-described and accurate. Although there are the rare solution section errors, e.g., the incorrectly drawn figure on page 445, or the solution to a different problem than that given on page 450.

Arguably, the book's primary deficiency is its strong emphasis on memorization of problem formats and pattern solutions, to the exclusion of a more general problem-solving strategy. The pattern-solving approach, while extremely helpful for the AP exam, may occasionally lead to "missing the forest for the trees", resulting in readers spending more time solving a problem than needed. As one example, in Chapter 8, Problem Set 8, problem 13 readers are asked to, "Find the values of x where the normal to the graph of (x-9)^2 is parallel to the y-axis." The solution presented follows the previously presented solution pattern of finding the derivative of the curve, i.e., the slope of the tangent to the curve, recognizing that the slope of the normal is the negative reciprocal of the slope of the tangent, and then finding where the slope of the negative reciprocal is infinite. Simply recognizing (x-9)^2 as an upward opening parabola with vertex at x=9 would have allowed the solution to be quickly identified by inspection.

It seems that the material from earlier editions, including deficiencies and errors, were just copied into this edition, with few if any changes. Later titles in this series have later dates, but it appears other than more current dates in the title, little else has been changed.

Fortunately, this and earlier editions were/are excellent in their coverage with only limited problems. Some of these deficiencies include the occasional editing lapse, although the unrelated integral trigonometric equation that appeared in the middle of page 81 in the 2009 edition is now missing from page 128, the equivalent location, in the 2014 edition. Some extended coverage, at least an appendix, on the use of graphing calculators, as they are now required for the exams, would have been appreciated and is still missing in this edition. Also, the paper appears to be relatively lower quality than usual, which is probably acceptable considering the book's relatively low cost. The print appears lighter than in earlier editions and Chapter headings are definitely not as dark. Overall, the change in font is -not- an improvement.

If you are considering an earlier edition to reduce costs, note that although the presentation, examples, and problem sets in earlier editions such as the 1999/2000 appear almost identical to the current edition, earlier editions, e.g., 1999/2000 only provided answers.

Although there are some minor deficiencies, this book can be highly recommended for those preparing for AP calculus exams, owing to the excellent concise presentation of topics, and the outstanding and extensive sets of problems with full solutions.

The 2014 text still includes relatively extended coverage of curve sketching, an anachronism from earlier decades when plotting software and graphing calculators were not widely available.

This book can be highly recommend for self-study in preparation for applied courses or independent reading where a basic understanding of calculus is needed, even if the AP exams are not a consideration.

If one compares the table of contents of the new Part IV's, 21 chapters, relative to the calculus content of earlier editions, it will be found to be essentially identical. Therefore, an earlier less expensive edition, from 2009 forward would be an equally good, and in terms of its better font, perhaps a superior option. However, owing to its relatively low cost, this edition would seem an appropriate, although clearly not a required choice, as earlier editions after 2009 are essentially identical. Earlier errors appear to have been retained, and the "meat" of calculus material is fundamentally unaltered. It appears little effort was made to correct earlier errors, and these still appear in this edition.

Bottom line: If you can find a less expensive and clean edition from 2009 or later, considering this edition's slightly harder to read font, and almost identical content, an earlier edition is a viable and, possibly even, better choice.


GreatShield Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7"-inch Tablet (LEAN Ultra Thin) Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Leather Folio Stand Case Cover with Sleep/Wake Function (Blue)
GreatShield Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7"-inch Tablet (LEAN Ultra Thin) Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Leather Folio Stand Case Cover with Sleep/Wake Function (Blue)
Offered by theWireless USA
Price: 26.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Keyboard pairs easily with Kindle. However Kindle insertion and removal is very difficult. Support stand frequently collapses., 28 Jan 2014
It took me a significant effort to insert my Kindle HDX 7 in this case. The compartment for the Kindle is almost too small. It took so much effort, I was concerned the Kindle might get damaged. It did not.

The Kindle was designed so that the mini-USB charging cable inserts at a slight angle, i.e., at an angle toward the Kindle screen. This arrangement makes it harder to insert the cable into the Kindle when in this case, as the cases brushes against the cable. Whether this will lead to future issues with the female plug in the Kindle, only time will tell.

The support arm for this case is not very stable, and touching the screen frequently results in the unit collapsing.

Use of this case requires two charging cables, one for the Kindle and one for the keyboard.

The cutouts are all in the appropriate places, including the one for the front facing camera.

Bottom line: Except for the non-trivial issues mentioned above, this case does its job and protects the Kindle in the process. It is also attractive. However, it is not correct to say, as the description does, that this is a "leather case". It is polyurethane (PU) and not leather (PU leather is not leather at all! This term, perhaps coined by vendors, seems to suggest that a non-leather product may be leather).

The key consideration before buying is that it would be quite difficult to remove the Kindle (once inserted)i.e., for temporary use in another case, e.g., when the keyboard is not needed, or it was desired to use the reader in a portrait orientation. Repeated insertion and removal of the Kindle from this case might, it seems to me, result in damage to the Kindle.


No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars NOT RECOMMENDED. Netgear customer support is abysmal., 12 Oct 2013
I received the product as advertised quickly from this seller, whose speedy shipping is to be commended.

The problem was not with the seller but with Netgear, the manufacturer, whose lack of support for their own re-manufactured product was both unexpected and quite disappointing.

When the package arrived it came with no instructions, manuals, or software, only a sheet of paper referencing the Netgear site to download the manuals and software. I went to the site as instructed, and found a firmware update was available. I attempted to download it. Netgear first requested my name, date of purchase, email, etc. Even after entering the requested information, the firmware update did not download.

So, I called Netgear to learn what the problem was. I was connected to a customer service representative. I explained that I had purchased a unit that was manufacturer refurbished. He asked me the same questions I was previously asked and had answered, but added additional ones as well. These questions were, to me, intrusive and not related to my problem. After answering all of his questions, he told me that this product was not supported by the manufacturer, even though they had done the refurbishing. However, for an additional payment temporary support could be provided.

Another purchaser "Keith Misenheimer" reports similar problems in his review. He found equivalent difficulties and rated this product one as I did (Amazon does now allow zero).

Almost immediately after this, to me, appropriately unflattering review was publicly posted, it received one "not helpful" evaluation. As there are 97 reviews here, and my experience was factual, this seems a quite unlikely, but not impossible occurrence, unless - well I am sure readers will draw their own conclusions.

Netgear should be embarrassed, although apparently they are not, as they are continuing a policy, which to me, attempts to exhort additional customer payments (based on other customer reviews) to obtain support for a product just purchased. Another reviewer, Mary Kline, used the term "bait and switch".

It would be particularly shameful if the almost immediate evaluation of this review, considering ninety-six others preceded it, were not left by a potential, or actual, Amazon buyer.

There are a reasonable number of positive reviews so some buyers were pleased with their experience. I and the other one star reviewers obviously were not. It may be helpful to see how many total reviews, i.e, ones for purchased Amazon products other than Netgear products, the five star reviewers have. It may also be helpful to note the relatively large number of one star reviews. At the time this review was posted, almost 20% of reviewers rated this product one.

As a famous writer once noted, all positive reviews are the same only the negative ones are worth reading. Perhaps this is good advice here.

This product and its manufacturer, NETGEAR, are definitely not recommended!


Complete Electronics Self-teaching Guide with Projects
Complete Electronics Self-teaching Guide with Projects
by Earl Boysen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 23.99

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CAUTION: A 3 star book with numerous problems, 20 Dec 2012
This could be a truly excellent book ... but it needs some competent technical editing.

If this book is quickly scanned and "flipped through", and the table of contents read, it might seem an outstanding book for those starting electronics. However, actually reading the book and going through the problems sets reveals there are just too many errors and ordering issues (see below). That is, while the table appears exemplary, the actual content is less so.

The problems start as early as chapter 1, "Review and Pre-Test". Questions are frequently asked before the information for an answer is provided, not the other way around as is appropriate for a self-teaching guide.

For example, the authors ask a question, for which readers are expected to provide an answer on the blank lines provided, "What is electrical current?". However, they provide the information for this answer after, and not before the question.

There are throughout this book more factual and calculation errors than expected or acceptable. In the presentation of the V-I curve, the curve is presented with current on the vertical axis and volts on the horizontal axis. The authors then ask the question, "what is the slope of this curve?".

The slope of a curve is (y2-y1)/(x2-x1). Ohm's law provides R = V/I not R=I/V. However, the authors state the slope of this curve is the resistance. This would be true if the curve was reversed, i.e., with volts on the vertical axis and current on the horizontal one, but is not true as presented.

Here are a few other errors that provide an understanding of the problems present: To get the answers provided on page 26 Problem B, the total current would have had to been less than that stated by the authors. The formula on page 27 is not the correct one for I2 but for I1. In Chapter 2 readers are shown a circuit on page 81 and than asked to answer a question about that circuit on page 82. Unfortunately, not enough information is given to answer the question asked. However, in the answer an assumption, for which no basis is presented, provides the missing information, etc. These seemingly "small" mistakes could be particularly confusing to beginners.

The authors are not consistent about rounding, providing an answer with two digits after the decimal in some places and one in others. This causes problems as readers answers will often not agree with the authors. For example, Chapter One's DC Pre Test provide "wrong" answers to some problems such as 9 and 10B, where apparently rounding was used and, thus, the answers obtained are not correct to any reasonable degree of precision. This occurs many times throughout the book, particularly if the final result require several consecutive calculations.

A beginner needs to confirm that the information provided is correct. Fortunately, care in learning earlier material often makes this possible, and may even help enhance learning for confident students. However, for those with less confidence, this could be a significant problem.

The problems clearly result from inadequate technical editing, and attention during writing. This is unexpected from a usually outstanding publisher such as Wiley, particularly for a book in a later edition. Some beginners may find the relatively large number of mistakes daunting.

Hopefully, later printings or editions will correct a large portion of this printing's (the first) problems. Another book in this series, "Quick Calculus: A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd Edition" while now an exceptional book, also had numerous errors in its earlier printings.

-----A hopefully gentle rant-----

I hope Vine reviewers will not be too upset with these next comments, as these reviewers perform a quite useful function for an item that has no reviewers.

However, those of us who pay for our books have more "skin in the game" than Vine reviewers. We "buyers", perhaps, read our purchases more carefully, and are less tolerant if a book has problems and probably less hesitant to point out its weaknesses.

I often rely on "real" reviews to make my purchase decisions. However, here the ratio of Vine reviewers compared to "real" buyers seems disproportionate and inappropriately high.

The number of positive ratings a book receives often correlates to the chronology of posted reviews and their evaluation. For example, reviews made before a book has many "real" buyers tend to be high. That is the case here, where most of the highly rated reviews, the leading review is an example, are from Vine reviewers who apparently received the book before many "real buyers" did. This may be a cautionary sign.

Amazon should reconsider its policy, if it involves "flooding" Vine reviewers shortly after a book is published with free copies, as this may serve to raise a book's evaluation, perhaps inappropriately.

We should also be cautious of reviews from reviewers with more that 930 book reviews. That would average about one book a week, for each of the 18 years since 1995 when Amazon first went active. This is an almost impossible schedule if it includes fully reading and solving the problems in technical books such as the one reviewed here.

Reviewers who have NOT worked though a technical book before reviewing, do a disservice to potential buyers.

Hopefully, Amazon can develop an algorithm that minimizes Vine reviewers' contribution to a book's "star rating" once the proportion of buyers providing reviews is relatively high. It seems appropriate for Amazon to consider accepting only a single Vine review from Vine reviewers who have not bought the book reviewed.

Hopefully, the ratings problem will correct itself over time as more buyers obtain and read this book, and potential buyers read and rate the reviews of buyers, as opposed to Vine reviewers. Now, however, to this reader/buyer in view of the errors and other problems present, the book's rating seems inappropriately high.

Fortunately, this is not the significant problem here in the UK that it is in the US.

----- End of rant -----

This book really has a lot to offer to its intended audience. The basic organization and design of this book is exceptional. With the proper editing this book clearly deserves, and proper attention given to the ordering of information, it could easily deserve five stars.

However, the errors now present are egregious and pervasive. Until, and if, they are corrected, three stars seems appropriate.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2013 9:16 PM BST


Corsair CMFVY3S-16GB Flash Voyager USB Water Resistant Flash Drive
Corsair CMFVY3S-16GB Flash Voyager USB Water Resistant Flash Drive
Offered by ADMI Limited UK
Price: 19.95

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reliable with fast reads and writes on my Windows 7 system. Highly recommended, but be sure which Corsair drive you're getting., 18 Mar 2012
I may just be lucky, but my Corsair drive worked without problem the first time it was installed. Surprisingly, it transferred files 2-3 times faster than my 32 GB, Gen 2, Kingston drive using my USB 2.0 ports. Specifically, files were transferred as fast as 17 MB/second, and probably averaged about 10 MB/second. It's likely considerably faster on USB 3.0 systems. However, perhaps even more important than speed, which on my Windows 7 system this drive demonstrates, is the question of longevity.

Although some users mention a 10 year Corsair warranty, the advertising packed with my drive mentions only a "5 year limited warranty". Hopefully, I'll never have to find out the exact conditions of the "limited warranty". Although I've used it considerably past the limited functioning period reported by an earlier reviewer, I haven't had this drive long enough to comment appropriately on its longevity. However, I've had no problems to date and I keep it plugged in, sometimes continuously for days. If any problems should arise, I'll update this review accordingly.

I had written Corsair about two similar appearing 32 GB Corsair flash memories sold on Amazon. From Corsair's response, it appears the larger size is now discontinued. So, for those like myself who've not kept their box, I'm listing the response from Corsair so you can measure the size of your flash drive,

CMFVY3-32GB the larger size 100mm x 23 mm Discontinued
CMFVY3S-32GB the smaller size 74mm x 23 mm Active

Up to this point the drive continues to work flawlessly, and reads and writes with relatively high speeds. As it was purchased on sale, I can happily say I'm fully satisfied with both price and performance.

From my personal experience - highly recommended


No Clue at the Inn
No Clue at the Inn
by Kate Kingsbury
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and enjoyable cozy. Read it more for its delightful characters and setting than its mystery, 6 Feb 2011
This review is from: No Clue at the Inn (Paperback)
This historical novel take places in the England of 1912, at the end of the Edwardian period. Mr and Mrs (Cecily) Hugh Baxter were the proprietors/owners of the Pennyfoot Hotel at Badgers End before they sold it to Edward Sandringham, the cousin of Mrs Baxter's first husband. (As an aside, the author Kate Kingsbury was born in England, and is also twice married. Perhaps the author has placed a bit of herself into Cecily's character). Edward had converted it into the Pennyfoot Country Club. Edward needs to leave urgently for South Africa so he writes the Baxter's to see if they can manage the Country Club during the Christmas season until he returns.

At Pennyfoot they learn from one of the more garrulous housemaids, Jenny, that Barry Wrothan, the previous manger, had been widely disliked. From the stable manager they hear that Wrothan's death was likely not an accident. Mrs. Baxter's friend Madeline tells Cecily that she is in grave danger if she involves herself with the death of the previous manager. Of course, this does not stop Cecily.

This is a enjoyable and pleasantly written cozy mystery, but with more story telling than mystery. It is longer than necessary to establish the plot and relatively modest mystery. The author appears to capture the social milieu of the time, with a husband who knows he has the right to 'manage his wife, hired help that needs to know their place, a clear class system, staff poised between servants and employees (e.g., Jenny is 'ordered' rather than asked to bring coffee), and derogatory comments about women in management. Viewed through today's prism, Mr. Baxter might appear as an overbearing misogynist, making the novel less enjoyable for some. However, viewed in the novel's historical context he is probably just about right. The plot's solution was not obvious to me, perhaps because it appeared to come somewhat "out-of-the-blue", with its primary "clues" established relatively late in the novel.

Bottom-line: Quite enjoyable cozy with characters you'll care about with a modest denouement, but the story is mostly an excellently written "set" piece. The small mystery and its solution could easily have been written as a short story. Most of the book is a description of human interactions, attitudes, and physical settings, often only marginally related to the mystery. Read it more for its delightful characters and setting than its mystery.


Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny
by John Sherwood
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A truly outstanding cozy detective novel, 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: Creeping Jenny (Hardcover)
An outstanding cozy mystery with amateur detective horticulturist Celia Grant, owner of the Ashercroft Nurseries of Melbury Village.

Celia's closest literary relation, according to the publisher, is Miss Marple. Like Miss Marple Celia is British, lives in a small village, and has an outstanding ability to piece together disparate "clues". However, Ms. Grant is younger, an attractive widow not an elderly spinster, still working, an entrepreneur, and an accomplished expert on gardening and landscape design. Celia is occasionally confrontational and frequently has attacks of nerves, characteristics not in accord with Miss Marple's personality. The primary similarities seem to be that they are both women, both live in a small village, and both are very clever and intuitive. However, this is the milieu of many, if not most, cozy mysteries.

The story begins with the hiring of Jennifer Watson to fill a vacancy at the Nurseries. Shortly after, Jennifer is mysteriously "kidnapped" by two strangers (perhaps relatives), and Celia accepts the urgent pleadings of her head gardener Bill Wilkins to find out why and locate Jennifer - the detection begins.

The story is exceptionally well-written and easy to follow. There are no "what just happened" moments. However, the occasional references to scientific plant names may break the easy flow of the text for some readers. The story takes on unexpected significance greater than simply Jennifer's disappearance. It has its arch villain(s), heroine, and helpful police and although written over a decade ago is still relevant to today's environment.

The story is also somewhat unique in that although there are women who write about female detectives, women who write about male detectives, and men who write about male detectives, it is somewhat rarer to find men who write about female detectives and can do so with apparent credibility.

This is the type of cozy and gentle story you'll thoroughly enjoy reading in front of the fireplace in the winter or in a warm comfortable bed.

It's really hard to describe the quality and texture of a novel, and harder still to describe much of the plot without giving away too much information and spoiling the story for potential readers. Perhaps, however, I can express my pleasure with this work by noting that although this is the ninth novel in the Celia Grant horticultural detective series, it was my first exposure to the series, and immediately after completion I ordered three more Celia Grant books.

Bottom Line: This is one of the most enjoyable stories I've read recently, making this an easy work to highly recommend. As the author died in 2002, this series does not get the publisher's and media publicity that a "living" author with more works to come would get. This means that Celia Grant novels can often be obtained at quite reasonable costs on the used market.


The poisoned chocolates case and "The avenging chance" (The Mystery library ; 12)
The poisoned chocolates case and "The avenging chance" (The Mystery library ; 12)
by Anthony Berkeley
Edition: Unknown Binding

5.0 out of 5 stars Two outstanding well-written detection stories, with six appendices: one of value, and one naively modifying the final solution,, 23 Jan 2011
This edition of the "Poisoned Chocolates Case" contains two stories with a common crime. A short story, "The Avenging Chance" written first and a longer full length novel, "The Poisoned Chocolates Case" which the author extended and amended from his earlier short story. Both stories contain an identical crime - the murder by poisoned chocolates of the wealthy wife of a Rainbow Club member. The names of many important characters are changed between the stories and the solutions differ. However, the same text is often used in both stories and the key elements of the crime are the same. It's the solution and the attempt to find that solution that differs between the stories.

I read the stories in the order presented in the book, i.e., the short story first and then the title story. I would recommend this order to potential readers as it has three benefits: (1) the short story provides a concise presentation of the main elements of the larger story, and thus makes its easier to follow the full length story, (2) it shows some of the evolutionary processes the author, Anthony Berkeley, followed to develop his full-length story, and (3) it prevents the solution in the short story from appearing wrong and the story anticlimactic,

Both stories are extremely well-written, in an easy to follow conversational style and with a limited cast of characters. Unlike many stories of the same period the stories here proceed without "red herrings" or devious and unnecessary excursions. There is a minor problem in the story telling, i.e., the third-person narration often provides incorrect statements that are subsequently proven erroneous. Thus, there is some question if the writer has "played fair" with his readers. However, both stories are so well told they held my interest, and will likely hold other reader's interests, from beginning to end.

In the "Poisoned Chocolates Case" six possible solutions are presented in turn by the members of the story's "Crime Circle", with the final solution in the story presented as the correct one. The book also includes six appendices. The first Appendix written by Chirstianna Brand provides an additional and different final solution to that presented in the title story. The Brand addendum is not only unnecessary but almost comical, perhaps that was her goal. However, the final appendix by James Sandoe providing an annotated bibliography of other works by the author is of real value.

Bottom Line: Its easy to see why this full length story often appears in lists of "best" detective stories. This edition is highly recommended for both its fascinating stories and the annotated checklist of other works by the author, even though the Brand addition adds, in my opinion, little in its attempt to amend the final solution of the title story.


Tales from Shakespeare (Wordsworth Children's Classics)
Tales from Shakespeare (Wordsworth Children's Classics)
by Charles Lamb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.89

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and informative book for, perhaps suprisingly, adults as well as children, but with some caveats, 31 Dec 2010
This is an excellent summary of the stories in Shakespeare plays. Well told and with most of the important details included. Thus, after reading this work one can intelligently understand, and even discuss, Shakespeare works although without reference to the marvelous phrasing of the original.

However, there are some caveats to be aware of. The original work was written around the turn of the last century, and thus its sentence structure, vocabulary, and presentation may appear stilted and unusual to some modern readers. Because the book was ostensibly written for children there is a considerable amount of generalization and "glossing over" of the more unpleasant details in the plays, particularly the six tragedies. Motives are assigned to characters that may or may not have been those Shakespeare had in mind. Characters of importance, but not in keeping with the core of the plot, are frequently excluded. For example, in the Lamb's presentation of Hamlet no mention is made of the Norwegian prince Fortinbras who in Shakespeare's play comes to claim the country after the final spate of deaths, and delivers the final lines of the play starting with "Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage".

Even recognizing its shortcomings this is a work that captures both the content and tone of Shakespeare plays with most of their detail, and itself makes quite interesting reading, albeit without the outstanding "turn of the phase" that we associate with the Shakespeare originals. A work that is easy to recommend, in spite of its minor shortcomings.


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