Six Degrees of Separation: from Gaudy Night to The Cuckoo’s Calling

I love doing Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month it’s a wild card – the chain begins with the book that ended our July chains, which means that my starting book is Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers.

Gaudy Night

It’s set at Shrewsbury College at Oxford University. Harriet Vane attends the Shrewsbury Gaudy (a college reunion involving a celebratory dinner). It doesn’t go well – there are poison pen letters, nasty graffiti and vandalism causing mayhem and upset. It’s 1935 and explores the role of women in society, particularly with regard to education and marriage and the importance of truth and honesty. 

My first link is the word night’ in the title:

Endless Night by Agatha Christie. It differs from most of her other books in that it is a psychological study. It reminded me very much of Ruth Rendell’s books, writing as Barbara Vine. It has the same suffocating air of menace throughout the book, with more than one twist at the end. It’s a murder mystery, but there is little or no detection, and no investigators – no Poirot or Miss Marple – to highlight the clues to the murders, for there are several.

So, my second link is, The Brimstone Wedding, by Barbara Vine, also a book full of a menacing atmosphere. In it Stella, reveals her past as she talks to Jenny, one of the carers at the retirement home where she lives. It’s all very subtle at first with tantalising hints about what had really happened in Stella’s past. But the full horror is left to the end –  it’s not horrific in the overblown graphic sense, but in a sinister, psychological way that really is ‘chilling’ and inexpressibly sad.

And my third link takes me to another chilling book, The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton –  a remarkably powerful book, full of tension and fear. Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. The victims had been buried alive. But as she revisits the scenes of the burials she starts to think that maybe Larry wasn’t the murderer after all.

Moving away from chilling books about death and burials my mind jumped to a completely different book about death – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This is the story of Bod, the baby who escapes a murderer. He stumbles into the local disused graveyard where he is rescued by ghosts. Silas, who is neither dead nor alive appoints himself as his guardian. It’s about life, love and friendship, loyalty and the fight between good and evil. Above all it is about growing up and the excitement and expectations that Bod has about life.

Another character called Silas is Silas Marner, written by George Eliot about a weaver who was wrongly accused of theft and left his home town to live a lonely and embittered life in Raveloe where he became a miser, hoarding his gold and counting it each night. George Eliot is the pen name of Mary Anne Evans.

Finally this leads me to my last link, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, J K Rowling’s pen name. It’s crime fiction, set in the world of Cormoran Strike , an ex-army private detective, who is struggling to get clients and pay his bills, sleeping on a camp bed in his office.

My links are via the word ‘night’, chilling books, death and burials, characters called Silas and authors using pen names (the links on titles are to my posts on the books). I have read and enjoyed all these books.

Next month (September 7, 2019), we’ll begin with A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – a book I haven’t read, or even heard of before.

22 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Gaudy Night to The Cuckoo’s Calling”

  1. Lovely chain here. I like how you use the male pen name used by a female author for the last link. By the way, my husband loves Galbraith books, and we saw the BBC TV production of this book – very good. I’ll have to look up that Agatha Christie since I didn’t know about it at all. I have heard of the next starting point book, though. Thanks!

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    1. Yes I like the development of Peter and Harriet’s relationship too. I still have some more of her books to read but Gaudy Night is my favourite so far, although The Nine Tailors is a close second.

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  2. Very clever links here, Margaret! And some excellent books, too (I really do like Gaudy Night). You’ve reminded me, too, that I want to read The Brimstone Wedding. Barbara Vine wrote some excellent psychological suspense, and I just never got to that one.

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  3. I thought I hadn’t read Endless Night, but then realized I even did a book discussion on it in 2011!: https://wordsandpeace.com/2011/06/27/review-48-cool-down-with-agatha-christie-%E2%80%93-endless-night-discussion/
    I have enjoyed several books by Gaiman (and he is awesome as the narrator of his own audiobooks by the way), so I need to read this one.
    My chain is here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2019/08/03/six-degrees-of-separation-from-versailles-to-hacking/

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets that I’ve read a book! It’s one of the reasons I started this blog – and it makes it easier to remember a book when I’ve written about it.

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  4. Goodness, I remember Endless Night – I believe there was a film made of it? Very chilling! Clever links as always, Margaret, and I’m chuckling to myself because several of your links are also used in my chain. I had been thinking that with everyone starting from a different book there would be little likelihood of that happening. Yours is the first chain I’ve read this month and already we overlap! Only on links though, our book choices are very different. Mine will be out tomorrow.

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  5. I love how you got in a classic there Margaret, and I’m intrigued by the different Agathe Christie.

    If you get a chance to read next month’s book do, as it’s a great read.

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  6. I’ve read Gaudy Night and The Graveyard Book, both excellent. The first three books you feature all appeal to me so I shall go look those up. And what a gorgeous cover on that edition of Silas Marner!

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  7. Some great links there! I still haven’t read The Craftsman so thanks for the reminder. But the one that really intrigues is Endless Night – I must have read it since I’m 99% certain I read them all back in the day but it’s not ringing bells at the moment. Time for a re-read… or a read!

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  8. lovely chain, Margaret – and how nice that Silas Marner gets a shout out. It feels like a rather forgotten book in general, but much loved by me!

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  9. Some great choices! I kept thinking about Gaudy Night when I visited Oxford and I am a huge Sharon Bolton fan (although I like her Lacey books better than the standalones). A Gentleman in Moscow is delightful, putting aside my usual dislike of books written in the present tense. My sisters and I liked The Cuckoo’s Calling but somewhat lost interest in the series during book 2. Endless Night is one of the Christies I mix up so I may not have reread in years. I have been trying to interest my nieces in The Man in the Brown Suit, one of my favorites, but without success.

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