Thursday, June 6, 2024

Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (A Hercule Poirot Mystery): Read Christie 2024 March Selection


Publication Date: 
March 29, 1928


296 pages


This was the Read Christie 2024 selection for March but I didn't quite get to it in time to review that month. Better late than never though, right? 

The story begins with a prologue that seems to purposefully confuse the reader. Shady characters seem to be discussing jewels and the reader can't quite grasp if these are victims or villains. When Book One begins, Poirot boards Le Train Bleu, the Blue Train, traveling to the French Riviera. So does heiress Katherine Grey and Ruth Kettering, an American who is also wealthy but leaving her husband due to the problems in their marriage. She is also in love with another man and wants to meet up with him. When Ruth is found strangled to death suspicion is immediate due to the priceless jewels she was carrying. Her father, Rufus Van Aldin, had given her an incredibly expensive ruby dubbed "Heart of Fire" and it is found to be missing. He hadn't wanted her to take the jewel with her and is heartbroken that it may have been the cause of her death. 

When Van Aldin and his secretary, Major Knighton ask Poirot to investigate he finds himself delving into Ruth's romantic life. While her love interest, the Comte de la Roche is certainly a suspect, Poirot is not sure he is the one. The clues just don't add up. As he digs further, he finds it strange that Ruth's husband, Derek Kettering was on the same train and seen going into Ruth's compartment but claims he never saw her. Additionally, it is discovered that Derek was conducting an affair of his own with a Parisian dancer, Mirelle, who is not of the best character. She is scheming and manipulative and becomes a suspect due to her jealously and pettiness. Poirot doggedly pursues the case and as it unfolds he realizes the answer is as far from the obvious as he can imagine. 

My Thoughts:

When I read the synopsis of what the book was about I remember reading "Poirot recreates the crime on the train." I thought that sounded fun. The story and clues were clever and I definitely didn't figure it out ahead of time. The ending was creative and the red herrings throughout the story were entertaining. 

I felt a little sad and sympathetic toward  Ruth. She was shown as a woman unhappy in her marriage and wanting to be with the man she loved but also with a father who desperately wanted her marriage to work out for his own reasons. I even had a fleeting moment where I wondered if he'd been involved in her murder. You will have to read to find out!

Some of the more memorable moments for me were between Derek and MIrelle as she pouts and schemes and I could just hear her in her accent as she whined and threatened. She added that villainous touch that made you dislike her while wanting to hear what she had to say too. 

I enjoyed this one very much and don't agree with some who have said it was thin on character development. I actually found the opposite to be true and I also loved the different ways in which Christie tried to throw in curveballs. It's always interesting to see how each of her books can be viewed so differently by so many. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Pyramid Murders by Fiona Veitch Smith (Miss Clara Vale Mysteries Book Three)


For this week's Can't Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, I'm featuring, The Pyramid Murders, by Fiona Veitch Smith.  If you subscribe to Amazon Prime the first two in the series are free to read. So I might go back and tackle those too. 

Hope you have found something you can't wait to read this week! 

June 13, 2024

Historical Mysteries

Description courtesy of Amazon

A night at the museum, a dead body and a trail to Cairo. Sounds like a case for Miss Clara Vale!

1930Miss Clara Vale, chemistry major turned detective, is taking a night off from sleuthing to attend the launch party of a new exhibition at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle. But when the piece de resistance, a rare ornate sarcophagus, is finally opened and it turns out the mummy inside it is a fake it looks like there is no rest for Clara after all...

Later that night, she is summoned back to the museum and asked to investigate a series of stolen Egyptian artifacts. Using her scientific and forensic prowess, Clara, with her trusted assistant 
Bella in tow, embarks on a trail that will lead from Newcastle to London and along the river Nile to Cairo.

But she is not the only person hunting for stolen antiquities and when she uncovers an international smuggling ring with a penchant for murder, it becomes clear that Clara's own life is in danger too.

Can Clara catch the smugglers before they get away with another murder among the pyramids?

Friday, May 31, 2024

20 Books of Summer Challenge


Since I'll be reading and reviewing books anyway I thought this looked like a fun challenge to join! Thanks to Helen at She Reads Novels for posting her link to give me the idea and for Cathy at 746 Books for hosting. I am not choosing 20 books but starting with 10. I think this is more realistic for me. Maybe next year I'll dive in with more. Happy Reading everyone! 

My List:

1. Covert in Cairo: Book Two of the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mysteries by Kelly Oliver- I love all things set in Egypt and the pyramids.

2. The Virgin in the Ice: Book 6 of the Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters- It's time to dive into the next one of these amazing mysteries.

3. The Iron King by Maurice Druon- I have wanted to read these books for so long and need a push to get started. They are classics about a subject I know little about: French aristocracy. 

4. A King's Ransom by Sharon Penman- So looking forward to finishing and reviewing this last book in her Plantagenet series. 

5.  ABC Murders by Agatha Christie- This was the Read Christie 2024 selection for May and I just didn't have the time to read it. I want to catch up so I will be tackling this one in the summer. 

6. Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie- This is the Read Christie 2024 selection for July. 

7. The French For Murder: Lady Eleanor Swift Book 10 by Verity Bright- The next book in my favorite cozy mystery series. 

8. A Gentleman Fallen On Hard Times: The Lord Julian Mysteries Book One by Grace Burrowes- I saw this in the Kindle store and the title caught my eye. It sounds a little like a Lord John Grey vibe. I want to see if it's a good series so I'm starting with Book One. 

9. The Enemy and Miss Innes: Tales From the Highlands Book Two by Martha Keyes- I enjoyed book one from this series and need this reminder to get started on the second one. 

10. The Greatest Knight: William Marshal Book Two by Elizabeth Chadwick- This is a long book so realistically we will see if I actually read and finish it by Labor Day. But I really want to read it after I finish A King's Ransom.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Murder at the Grand Hotel by Isabella Bassett (Lady Caroline Mysteries Book One)


Publication Date: 
July 1, 2022


214 pages


Lady Caroline is used to the finer things in life. When she misbehaves and is sent to spend her days with her Uncle Albert on the French Riviera, she is sure being his personal secretary will be a total bore. But she is determined to make the best of things and when her eccentric Uncle, member of the Royal Society for Natural History Appreciation, shares he is in a contest with the other members to win an odd prize for finding an obscure flower, she cheerfully agrees to step in and do the work to find it. 

Little does she know that her mission will change to dead bodies instead of plants and when a woman is poisoned and dies she is determined to find out why and who did it. With help from her growing love interest, James, another secretary, and the clues she can gather while observing the other members of the hotel, she begins to piece together a more complicated scheme than she thought. When a well known architect falls from a cliff's edge Lady Caroline believes the two deaths are connected. The background cast of characters include a Polish Count and a society woman wishing to marry Caroline off to her son. Also, she has to deal with being a suspect herself at one point. She is amazed at her Uncle's total lack of interest in the murders and his laser focus on his flower gathering mission. She presses on to solve the case before anyone else gets hurt.

My Thoughts:

Having enjoyed the other Isabella Bassett book, Secret of the Scarab, I wanted to read the first book in the series. It was a cute, cozy mystery and has a better, well written style and plot than some I've come across. I enjoy these books as an escape between heavier ones but appreciate them if they have some semblance of time and place. Bassett is great with this. I found the mystery engaging, her Uncle endearing, and Lady Caroline plucky without being annoying. The background of the characters and the location and storyline were detailed and the plot moved along nicely. Some of my favorite parts were the ones about the Society and its members because I already knew they factor into subsequent books. The clues were misleading and guess worthy too and I did not figure out the ending or who committed the crimes. It was well hidden inside a lot of other clues that I didn't see coming. Lady Caroline also has a friend, Poppy, an uber society girl who is funny and adds to the humorous side of the story. I will be reading Bassett's other books for sure. This is a great cozy mystery series so far. 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Stacking the Shelves #29


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Reading Reality. It's a place to showcase any books I have purchased, borrowed, or been lucky enough to have been given an advance copy of. Hope you find something that looks interesting to you or that makes you remember a favorite book you need to finish. Enjoy your reading this week :) 

I love finding historical fiction about people who are rarely given the spotlight. And especially queens. Anne of Denmark became the wife and queen of James I of Scotland and Great Britain but I have found very little information about her life. This book is short at only 170 pages but according to what I've seen it seems well researched. It was on sale on Kindle for $0.99 this week. Hoping it's good and I learn something interesting about a new subject. 

I absolutely adore the cover of this book. The title also caught my eye and the fact that it was written in the 1930's is special too, making it a classic. I have never heard of this author but the book is described as part of the golden age of whoodunit detective fiction and is a country house murder mystery. Reading it in Texas in May when it is already super hot is fun and puts you in the Christmas in summer feel. It is part of the British Library Crime Classics that are being reissued. On sale this week for Kindle at $1.99. I've already started it and plan to review it soon in June.

Normally this era doesn't interest me much. But the "epic family saga" tag and beautiful cover had me interested enough to read the "about this book." It was on sale this week on Kindle for $0.99 so I bought it. At 809 pages it is definitely an epic and I'm not sure when I'll get to it. Being the first in a series is always good for me too as I prefer to start at the beginning. The three book trilogy runs in time from the German Empire in 1871 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when I was in high school. It looks like a good read to dig into.