Tag Archives: classic mystery

Audiobook Mini-Review: Curtain

7 Jun

My husband and I haven’t listened to an audiobook together in some time — our road trips have been seriously curtailed during Covid. But on a recent trip that included multiple stops to see family we chose one of our favorite series — Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie. After listening to many narrated by Hugh Fraser, our choices were limited. Instead of doing a little research into which titles we have left, I chose the easy route and picked Curtain, the last of the Poirot mysteries. It was great, but sad in many ways. I heartily recommend it, but please wait to read or listen to it until you have exhausted the others.

The crime-fighting careers of Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings have come full circle—they are back once again in the rambling country house in which they solved their first murder together.

Both Hercule Poirot and Great Styles have seen better days — but, despite being crippled with arthritis, there is nothing wrong with the great detective and his “little gray cells.” However, when Poirot brands one of the seemingly harmless guests a five-time murderer, some people have their doubts. But Poirot alone knows he must prevent a sixth murder before the curtain falls.

Born in Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie began writing during the First World War and wrote over 100 novels, plays and short story collections. She was still writing to great acclaim until her death, and her books have now sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in over 100 foreign languages. Yet Agatha Christie was always a very private person, and though Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple became household names, the Queen of Crime was a complete enigma to all but her closest friends.

My Impressions:

Curtain, the last case for Hercule Poirot takes place at Styles, the manor where Agatha Christie first introduced the funny little Belgian detective who makes use of his little gray cells. With him is a widowed Captain Hastings who has returned to England from Argentina. I loved how Christie brought the series full circle giving Poirot a worthy send-off. This mystery also references other cases that Poirot solved during his career weaving the past and present into the twisting storyline. As always, the interactions between Hastings and Poirot are entertaining and induce a chuckle here and there. The narrative kept my husband and I engaged as we tried to figure out just whodunit. I agree with my husband that with Curtain, no more Poirot is sad. But I found the way Christie tied up the long-running series to be a fitting end for Poirot. As always, Hugh Fraser’s narration is delightful — there can never be another Poirot for us.

For diehard Poirot fans, Curtain is a must read. But if you are new to him or haven’t read many of the books in the series, please save this one for later. Give yourself many Poirot moments before the final curtain.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Genre: classic mystery.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Mini-Review: Five Little Pigs

21 Jan

In Agatha Christie’s classic, Five Little Pigs, beloved detective Hercule Poirot races to solve a case from out of the past.

Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other “little pigs” who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcée), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.

Sixteen years later, Caroline’s daughter is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, and Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.

 

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

 

My Impressions:

Five Little Pigs is Poirot and Christie at their finest. An old open and shut case is brought to the Belgian detective’s attention, and he cannot resist finding out what really happened in the poisoning death of a talented and self-absorbed artist. Sixteen years is a long time to discover new facts, but Poirot is never deterred by the faulty memories or biased attitudes of the 5 witnesses. Christie uses several very effective means to uncover whodunit — direct interviews by Poirot, written accounts of the witnesses/suspects, and a final drawing room confrontation of everyone involved. My husband and I listened to the audiobook on our holiday road trips and found the book kept our attention over the hours and miles. We insist on Hugh Fraser as the narrator of any Poirot mystery we listen too — he is excellent in capturing the essence of Poirot.

Five Little Pigsis a great accompaniment for traveling, chores, or exercise — whatever your audiobook need!

Recommended.

Audience: adults

To purchase, click HERE

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — Little Month; Little Stories

2 Feb

This week the folks at Hoarding Books are celebrating the shortest month of the year by featuring short stories, novellas, children’s books, titles with small or short in them, etc. — basically all things little! I searched my shelves for just the right thing to share and came up with Favorite Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton. This little book features 6 of Chesterton’s short stories starring Father Brown. Great for lovers of British mysteries!

Please leave a comment with your first line. For other small offerings, check out Hoarding Books!

 

My featured first line comes from the first story in this collection, The Blue Cross.

 

Critic, author, and debunker extraordinaire, G. K. Chesterton delighted in probing the ambiguities of Christian theology. A number of his most successful attempts at combining first-rate fiction with acute social observation appear in this original selection from his best detective stories featuring the priest-sleuth Father Brown.

A Chestertonian version of Sherlock Holmes, this little cleric from Essex — with “a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling” and “eyes as empty as the North Sea” — appears in six suspenseful, well-plotted tales: “The Blue Cross,” “The Sins of Prince Saradine,” “The Sign of the Broken Sword,” “The Man in the Passage,” “The Perishing of the Pendragons,” and “The Salad of Colonel Cray.”

An essential item in any mystery collection, these delightful works offer a particular treat for lovers of vintage detective stories and will engage any reader.

 

(From Wikipedia) Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the “prince of paradox. Time magazine has observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”

Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown and for his reasoned apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an orthodox Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism.

 

What’s your first line?

Top 10 Tuesday — Unbelievable Books

30 Jan

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme is books I can’t believe I read. I don’t think that any book I’ve read I regretted or was astonished I finished. Some I loved more than others; some are a bit forgettable (see last week’s post). So I tweaked this week’s theme a bit and came up with books that were part of a self-imposed reading challenge of classic mysteries. I title this Classic Mystery/Crime/Detective Novels That I Can’t Believe I Did Not Know About Before I Read Them. Die-hard fans may yawn at this list, but I loved discovering books from the early days of mystery fiction when authors were trying out all the devices, plot twists, and tropes that are standard today. Next week I promise not to monkey around with the theme. 😉

To find out what books other bloggers cannot believe they read, click HERE.

 

Top 12 Classic Mystery Fiction I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Know About

Bat Wing by Sax Rohmer

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

The “Canary” Murder Case by S. S. van Dine

The Deserted House by E. T. A. Hoffman

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Man Who Knew Too Much by G. K. Chesterton

Midnight in Beauchamp Row by Anna Katherine Green

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The Window at The White Cat by Mary Roberts Rheinhart

 

What book can’t you believe you read?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR List

19 Sep

Can you believe that in two days it will be Fall?! Here in middle Georgia the department stores are sporting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decor for sale, but the temperatures are hovering in the Summer-range, so Fall doesn’t seem that imminent. But what is imminent is my Fall TBR list (or pile!). The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are asking bloggers to share what they will be reading in the next few months, and I am always eager to oblige. I have a wide variety of reading ahead of me — historical, romance, contemporary, mystery/suspense, and interestingly enough, a couple of Christmas novels! So without further ado, my Fall TBR List!

Top Ten Books on My TBR List

The Case of The Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

Charming The Troublemaker by Pepper Basham

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

Deeds of Darkness by Mel Starr

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells 

Lydia by Diana Wallis Taylor

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

What are you reading this Fall?

 

 

Audiobook Mini-Reviews: Two by Christie

24 Nov

‘Tis the season for road trips and Agatha Christie audiobooks! My husband and I recently traveled to his mom’s for a pre-Thanksgiving visit and then on to a college football game. Accompanying us was Agatha Christie’s famed detective, Hercule Poirot. Hugh Fraser’s narration is a must for us, but the book he read, Appointment with Death, was not a hit. Poirot did not show up until the book was about 2/3’s of the way finished. He took the accounts of the characters and came to his conclusion, one that came out of left field for us. I think we would have enjoyed the book more if Poirot had been involved more.

It has been busy-busy at my house and finding time for exercise has been challenging. But with Hercule as a walking partner, I have a great excuse to get out and moving. Dumb Witness is Hercule at his finest. Colonel Hastings is also along for the ride and the story is told from his perspective. I love his little asides about Poirot’s idiosyncracies. The mystery kept me engaged and guessing and it was not far-fetched.

Do you listen to audiobooks while traveling, commuting or exercising?

What are your favorites?

 

51k1-ngydgl-_sx330_bo1204203200_Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sits the corpse of Mrs.Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist is the only sign of the fatal injection that killed her.

With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: “You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?” Mrs. Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met . . . .

 

 

51o-ktmw8xl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Miss Emily was old, rich, and afraid – and now, she’s dead. Her terrified plea to Hercule Poirot came a little too late. All that’s left is a house full of greedy heirs, and a very strange letter that could solve the mystery – or add to it.

This title was previously published as Poirot Loses a Client.

Audiobook Review: The ABC Murders

3 Nov

As my husband and I make our way to football games this fall, we are also making our way through the many Agatha Christie novels featuring Hercule Poirot. We are endeavoring to listen to them in order, but our youngest son, who has become hooked as well, jumped ahead of us. On our latest road trip, the three of us listened to The ABC Murders. The premise was intriguing — Poirot receives letters warning in advance murders to occur. Poirot is behind the game as he investigates and endeavors to determine the killer before he can strike again. This mystery didn’t hold my interest as much as others in the series. I actually dozed off and missed murder #3! We also figured out whodunit, including the motive, prior to Poirot. Have you read this one? What did you think?

UnknownThere’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way though the alphabet. There seems little chance of the murderer being caught — until her makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans . . .

 

 

Are you a classic mystery fan? What’s your favorite element?

 

 

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Road Trip Reads

19 Oct

My husband and I have found that listening to audiobooks makes the miles fly by in an otherwise boring trip. We are hooked on Agatha Christie‘s Hercule Poirot series and are slowly working our way through. The funny little man with the big mustaches and the egg-shaped head has become a big favorite with us. The past two weekends found us traveling to family events and a football game in Mississippi. Here are the three books that accompanied us:

UnknownIn the classic The Big Four, the great Poirot is caught up in a deadly game of international intrigue as he races to uncover the strange mystery of “Number Four.”

This novel was originally published as a series of short stories. The book develops through various cases brought before Poirot and Captain Hastings. They are always just one step behind the 4 masterminds of crime and conspiracy. This one combines the mystery and spy novel genres and was my husband’s favorite.

 

51eWhCRMNPL._SX306_BO1,204,203,200_Murder on the Orient Express. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. An American lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

With tension mounting, detective Hercule Poirot comes up with not one, but two solutions to the crime.

Poirot uses all of his detection skills in this novel. A fun whodunit in which everyone is suspect, but the means and motives are obscure. This one kept us guessing and puzzling.

UnknownIn the Christie classic Peril at End House, a young woman who has recently survived a series of very close calls appears to be the target of a dedicated killer—and it’s up to Hercule Poirot to save her life.

Poirot and Hastings are back together in this novel with a big twist at the end. We have grown quite fond of the detecting duo, although we are not sure just why Hastings puts up with Poirot. 😉

 

Audiobook Review: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead

19 Jun

UnknownMrs. McGinty died from a brutal blow to the back of her head. Suspicion falls immediately on her shifty lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes reveal traces of the victim’s blood and hair. Yet something is amiss: Bentley just doesn’t seem like a murderer.

Could the answer lie in an article clipped from a newspaper two days before the death? With a desperate killer still free, Hercule Poirot will have to stay alive long enough to find out . . . .

 

 

 

mv5bmtu3otyzmzy4nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmdixotiyoa-_v1_sy317_cr80214317_al_Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.

 

My Impressions:

Another car trip called for another Agatha Christie audiobook. This time Hercule Poirot has a lot of suspects for the murder of a charwoman. Mrs. McGinty’s Dead was the perfect book to make the miles fly by.

Mrs. McGinty’s Dead is classic Poirot. The fussy and fastidious little detective is endearing as he suffers in a small English village in the hopes of uncovering whodunit. My husband, son and I had a good time trying to figure out the villain, but in true Christie fashion, the actual solution was a bit obscured. We never would have figured it out on our own. And while I like to think that my powers of detection are sharp from the many hours of mystery reading, this particular mystery was just too hard.

The audio version was very entertaining. Hugh Fraser does a great job of bringing Christie’s characters to life. His timing is impeccable too — we enjoyed a a great many laughs with this novel.

If you are looking for an entertaining and challenging mystery, then consider Mrs. McGinty’s Dead.

Recommended.

Audience: late teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Review: Hallowe’en Party

13 Nov

UnknownAt a Hallowe’en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.

That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the “evil presence.” But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double murderer.…

 

 

 

MV5BMTU3OTYzMzY4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDIxOTIyOA@@._V1_SY317_CR8,0,214,317_AL_Born on September 15, 1890, in Torquay, England, Agatha Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920, and went on to become one of the most famous writers in history, with mysteries like Murder at the Vicarage, Partners in Crime and Sad Cypress. She sold billions of copies of her work, and was also a noted playwright and romance author. She died on January 12, 1976. Read more HERE.

 

My Impressions:

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a weekend road trip. Over the course of 4 days we traveled a total of 14 hours. I thought a good way to make the time go faster was to listen to an audiobook. Like a lot of things in our life together, our book likes are not always the same. But we both like a good mystery, so I chose Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie. In this novel, Hercule Poirot, now retired, is the sleuth.

The story opens in a small English village. A group of ladies, teenagers and children are gathered to decorate for a Halloween party to be held the next night. During the course of the activity, a young girl boasts that she has witnessed a murder. A famous mystery novelist is present, and Joyce is eager to impress her. But although Joyce is known to be a liar, often making up stories to make herself seem more important, a killer takes her assertion to heart. After a real murder occurs, Hercule Poirot is called in to get to the bottom of the case.

My husband and I had fun gathering clues right along with Poirot. We figured out just whodunit early on in the narration, but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the book. Motives were hard to decipher, so we needed Poirot’s help as well. The reader for this book did an outstanding job bringing all the characters to life. He did great voices for both the men and the women.

Perfect for our car trip, Hallowe’en Party is a good choice for those who like mysteries and need a little escape into the English countryside as well as the workings of the mind of Hercule Poirot.

Recommended.

Audience: teens to adults.

(I purchased the audiobook version from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.