The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Jan 16, 2018 in 2018, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review | 2 comments

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Series: #1 in the Hercule Poirot series
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal
Publication Date: 1920 Originally, 2006 This Edition
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Book:
From the Google Books:

When an aging heiress is found fatally poisoned, the amazing Hercule Poirot, brilliant Belgian criminal investigator, is brought out of retirement to solve the case. In this classic tale of murder, jealousy and greed, Agatha Christie introduced the famed sleuth, who is immediately confronted by mysteries within a mystery – a door bolted from the inside of the victim’s room; the disappearance of a coffee cup believed to have held the poison, the charred remains of a will, a strange fragment of fabric and a curious rug stain found near the body. All are puzzling pieces of evidence in a crime for which there is no shortage of suspects, not the least of which are the victim’s philandering husband, an assortment of unhappy relatives and an extremely outspoken hired companion!

My Thoughts:
I’ve read several of Christie’s Miss Marple books and enjoyed them. I decided I wanted to start her Hercule Poirot series. I hadn’t realized that this was her first published novel

The story was enjoyable. There was plenty of humor and entangled romane along with the mystery. As often happens in Christie’s mysteries there are plenty of suspects. At certian points it appears that nearly all of them could be the killer.

Poirot is a friend of the narrator of the story and just happens to be visiting the little town at the time of the murder. This is my first introduction to Poirot. I haven’t even watched any of the movies that feature him. Even so based on some of the actors who have portrayed Hercule Poirot I was surprised at the first description of him.

Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches but he carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military.

That certainly doesn’t sound like some of the actors I know have played Poirot such as Peter Ustinov or Alfred Molina.

Anyway, after I adjusted my mental image of Poirot I went on to thoroughly enjoy the story.

If you haven’t read it I recommend you give it a try. Considering it’s nearly 100 years old it’s held up as an entertaining and interesting mystery story.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review | 0 comments

The Moving Finger by Agatha ChristieThe Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Ebook
Series: #4 in the Miss Marple series
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1942 Originally, 2009 This Edition
Pages: 181
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Lymstock is a town with more than its share of scandalous secrets—a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir.

But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says “I can’t go on,” but Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone—as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly.

My Thoughts:
The book opens with an injured Jerry Burton, whose doctor recommends he spend his rehabilitation time in a small town in the country. So the he and and his sister Joanna rent a house in the little village of Lymstock. So much for peace and quiet.

When the anonymous letters seem to lead to a suicide Jerry and the local investigator start working together to find out who is behind the letters. Pretty soon almost everyone in the village is a viable suspect.

Miss Marple doesn’t appear until near the end of the story. The sleuthing up to that point is done and told by Jerry.

It was a fun fairly typical Christie book. Lots of light humor mixed in with the murder investigation.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Divided in Death by J.D. Robb – Audio Edition

Posted by on Nov 3, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, JD Robb | 2 comments

Divided in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan EricksenDivided in Death by J.D. Robb narrated by Susan Ericksen

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Series: #18 in the In Death series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 2004
Length: 12 hours, 10 minutes
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Reva Ewing was a former member of the Secret Service, and then a security specialist for Roarke Enterprises—until she was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel, and her best friend. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes there was more to the killing than jealous rage—all of Bissel’s computer files were deliberately corrupted.

To Roarke, it’s the computer attack that poses the real threat. He and Reva have been under a code-red government contract to develop a program that would shield against techno-terrorists. But this deadly new breed of hackers isn’t afraid to kill to protect their secret—and it’s up to Lieutenant Eve Dallas to shut them down before the nightmare can spread to the whole country.

My Thoughts:
This series has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. The mix of police procedural, romance and just slightly in the future science fiction elements is a lot of fun. Now that I’m listening to the audio editions instead of reading the print editions I’m enjoying it even more.

Susan Ericksen does a fabulous job of narrating this series. She creates recognizable character voices with a variety of accents. Even though she is female her voice for Roarke is yummy.

In this volume Eve and Roarke are at odds with each other for most of the book so it’s a little lighter on the romance than other books in the series. The identity of the perpetrator is known about halfway through the books so it changes from a ‘whodunnit’ to a ‘How with they catch ’em’ with a side of ‘Will Eve and Roarke be OK?’.

Peabody continues to be my favorite supporting character. She and her boyfriend/fellow cop are so delightfully earnest and funny. I love them.

 

Rating
3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

4 stars 4/5 for the narration

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A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Jodi Taylor | 0 comments

A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Ebook, Trade Paperback
Series: The Chronicles of St Mary’s #3
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: 2013
Pages. 317
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”—these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics either; a more accurate description, as they ricochet around history, might be unintentional disaster-magnets.

In A Second Chance, it seems nothing can go right for Max and her fellow historians. The team confronts a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton and later witnesses how the ancient and bizarre cheese-rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC: Concussion By Cheese.

Finally, Max makes her long-awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy, only for it to end in personal catastrophe. And just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse, it’s back to the Cretaceous Period to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose.

My Thoughts:
I don’t get too worried about the ‘correct science’ of time travel stories and I was pleased to read this comment from the author at the beginning of the first book in this series:

I made all this up. Historians and physicists – please do not spit on me in the street.

After reading the second book in the series back in April I decided not to let too much time pass before continuing with the series. I think this one is my favorite in the series so far. I have a feeling that this is a series that I’ll go back and reread in the audio format. The author has written many short stories related to the series and I have the audio editions of those

The important thing to know is that even though the story jumps around in time (including to future and past St. Mary’s) it’s imortant to read the serie in order and start with the first (Just One Damned Thing After Another).

The story is told by Madeline (Max) Maxwell with a good bit of sarcasm and humor in between the brushes with death.

The major mission in this one is to observe Troy before the war started and then go back 10 years later to find out what really happend when Troy fell. For these missions the team spent months in the past. There’s some pretty brutal violence in this part. You can’t really tell the story of the fall of Troy without it. Other missions include the battle of Agincourt and a couple of other short missions.

It’s not great literature but it’s good light escapist fun.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Agatha Christie, Book Review, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Body in the Library by Agatha ChristieThe Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback and Ebook
Series: #3 in the Miss Marple series
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1942 Originally, 2011 This Edition
Pages: 207
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing an evening dress and heavy makeup, which is now smeared across her cheeks. But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?
The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple into their home to investigate. Amid rumors of scandal, she baits a clever trap to catch a ruthless killer.

My Thoughts:
It’s been a while since I read a Miss Marple book. I wanted something short after finishing a chunkster and this was on my ereader. I was just what I needed. A classic mystery with just enough touches of humor.

This time around Miss Marple is one of several people investigating the murder both professional and amateur. Mrs. Bantry wants to be part of the investigation after she invites her friend Jane Marple to find out what happened. She wants the murder solved to prove her husband didn’t have anything to do with it but she doesn’t mind having a little fun along the way. Multiple police departments are involved as well as a retired Scotland Yard commissioner. Of course, Miss Marple is the one who solves the case.

I enjoyed this one partly for the characters and partly for the mystery. I had some guesses along the way but wasn’t sure before Miss Marple explained it all.

Now that I’ve read a few Miss Marple books I’m planning to start the Hercule Poirot series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg RuckaQueen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Norton and Steve Rolston

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #7 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 7 is a compilation of issues 25-28 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Still recovering from the death of her co-worker and lover, Tara Chace is granted a brief reprieve from London’s rain and MI6’s bureaucracy. This emotionally charged vacation take Chace to the slopes of Switzerland for a visit with old friends and family. But being an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service leaves very little time for rest and Chace is quickly thrown into another mission of national importance. A junior minister with close ties to the Prime Minister appears to be selling state secrets to the Russians, and the Minders are assigned to quietly investigate. Tara is forced to walk a tight rope between the violent dangers inherent in the field of espionage and the discretion inherent in the bureaucracy of the government, all the while assuming the new position of Minder One and field-testing a new agent.

My Thoughts:
Another excellent volume in this well done spy thriller series.

Tara Chase is a spy for the British Government. She’s got issues and in the first issue she faces one of the major ones. Her mother. Tara’s time off is anyting but restful as she visits and clashes with her mother.

Once back at work, Tara is now the leader of her team. They have mission to find out what if anything a junior diplomat might be shopping to the Russians. Tara’s got a rookie agent with her on this one and things do not go well and not just because of the newbie. Real spies aren’t like James Bond. Sometimes they make mistakes.

This is tense and exciting spy thriller fiction. I like the recurring characters but there is always something and someone new with each story arc.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for most of this story arc. While Steve Rolston returned for the first issue which has Tara’s trip to Switzerland. For the final three issues and the majority of the volume Mike Norton is the artist. I liked his work a lot. It’s all pretty stark black and white and the action in portrayed well.
You can see an excerpt here on Greg Rucka’s website

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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