Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Friday, February 24, 2023
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie: A Tommy and Tuppence Collection (Read Christie 2023 February Selection)
Publication Date: 1929
Length: 214 pages
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When I started this book for the Read Christie challenge this month, I had no idea it was a series of short stories. I wasn't thrilled as I'm not a big fan of short stories or novellas. I just find it is hard to get into the characters and storyline when it is such a short piece. But I was pleasantly surprised by this book and thought it worked well. Having never read any Tommy and Tuppence books before I knew nothing about them and it was a great way to get small glimpses into their relationship.
When the book begins, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford have been asked to pose as owners of the International Detective Agency. Their old friend, Mr. Carter, who works for the government has asked Tommy to pretend to be Mr. Theodore Blunt and for Tuppence to be his assistant. They are to continue taking on legitimate cases while also looking for any information regarding the whereabouts of enemy spies that need to be apprehended. They also have an assistant named Albert to help them. Throughout the book as they solve current cases, the couple uses the style of different famous detectives to help them, ambitiously guaranteeing a resolution within 24 hours. Even Hercule Poirot's style makes an appearance in one story.
With seventeen stories this book is impressive. Christie's clever clues and use of the methods of a different detective each time are entertaining. For Read Christie February the focus was on the method of murder with a blunt object although with so many stories this didn't factor in every time. Rather than review them all, and they are short enough that reviewing them too in depth gives away far too much of the plots, I will give honorable mention to a few of my favorites. All can be read separately and and contain witty dialogue, suspense, and just enough depth to be puzzling. The banter between Tommy and Tuppence is adorable and I thought they came across as an authentically loving couple.
"The Case of the Missing Lady" involving an explorer who has returned home to find his fiancee missing, "The House of Lurking Death" with a mysterious, scripture quoting woman and poison as the murder weapon, and " The Unbreakable Alibi" where a man takes on a challenge to win the woman he loves, were the ones I enjoyed most. These all had a touch of either humor or originality that stuck with me. It is hard to choose though because each case was so different and unique. Tying in the idea of a famous detective's handprint to the solution was brilliant. I honestly hadn't heard of most of them and it made me want to read their mystery stories as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be reading more of Tommy and Tuppence in the future. The last page was heartwarming and a perfect conclusion to their cases.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Friday, February 17, 2023
Publication Date: March 8, 2021
Length: 286 pages
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
The setting for this book was not one I was familiar with. Being American I didn't know much about Brighton, England, or why people choose to vacation there. It was a lot of fun to be given a lesson in geography and culture along with a cozy mystery! I love all things water.....sea, ocean, whatever, so this sounds like a place I'd like to visit. Clifford the butler was a great tour guide in this one as he and Ellie work to solve who has murdered her husband.....the one she thought was already dead.
When the story begins, Ellie is taking a much deserved holiday to celebrate her 30th birthday, with her butler Clifford and her bulldog Gladstone. Also tagging along is her cook, Mrs. Trotman, housekeeper Mrs. Butters, and awkward but loveable kitchen maid, Polly. As Ellie and Clifford arrive ahead of the others they are once again thrust into a murder mystery, this time involving Eleanor's husband, Hilary, who was supposed to have died six years earlier under mysterious circumstances. How on earth did she end up at the same hotel at the exact same time his murder occurs? Shocked and confused, she nevertheless sets out determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
As the clues unfold she and Clifford make a list of suspects. As each one is eliminated and a second mysterious death occurs, they are more bewildered than ever. It seems Hilary was a man of mystery and Ellie feels she hardly knew him at all. The only real clue they have is a wedding photograph with a cryptic message on the back and the stories told to them by the remaining suspects. DCI Hugh Seldon from previous adventures arrives to be of assistance but is limited on resources himself. Ellie must discover who murdered her husband for two reasons it seems: the need to know what happened to him and her growing feelings for Hugh. She will need to resolve one relationship before she can start another.
I really enjoyed this story. It was fast paced as all the Verity Bright books are with the same recurring, adorable characters and the typical shady suspects. I didn't guess the ending and it had a few extra twists that made it fun and didn't really get resolved until the last 30 pages or so. Throughout the story Clifford, Ellie, and the hilarious ladies visit all the Brighton sights and go to the beach in surprise homemade swimsuits. Clifford shows his softer side and even gets caught testing the waters with his trousers rolled up. The author weaves local and historical information into their sightseeing which I really enjoyed and was very informative. You felt as if you'd visited Brighton yourself by the end and if I ever go I will definitely know about some things to see and do along the way.
This is a solid series I will be continuing and is always a nice, uplifting break from more serious books. And the covers are an added bonus....I just love seeing what colorful, cute 1920's style look will grace the next one.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Friday, February 10, 2023
Publication Date: January 1, 1981
Length: 219 pages
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
This series has always interested me due to its unique time period, well written dialogue, and intriguing plots. The continuation of Brother Cadfael's story along with recurring characters make it a must read, I have to check in and see what happens next. I struggle to read new authors for this reason.....I just love series books! And Ellis Peters has such a good grasp of vocabulary and description of the medieval period I always feel like I'm actually there myself.
This story centers around real events, (as do all the Cadfael Chronicles), during the period known as The Anarchy. King Stephen and Empress Matilda are still warring over who will rule England, and the monks in Shrewsbury are caught in the middle. Empress Maud is trying to gain support for an invasion and takeover along with her brother, Robert of Gloucester and his son-in-law, Ranulf, the Earl of Chester, who she hopes will join the cause. Ranulf has not decided which side to join, Stephen or Maud, and is interested in weighing his options. In the summer of 1139, everyone in Shrewsbury is eagerly awaiting the start of the St. Peter's Fair.
The story is broken down into sections: The Eve of the Fair, The First Day of the Fair, The Second Day of the Fair, The Third Day of the Fair, and After the Fair. At the beginning of the story we find the monks preparing for the three day event which will take place in and around the Abbey. This has been a long standing tradition, one in which the Abbey stands to benefit monetarily from the revenue generated. Geoffrey Corviser, the town provost, wants the order to allow for some of the money raised to go to damages incurred from last year's siege of the town but Abbot Radulfus is unmoved. He states that this is not the responsibility of the Abbey and that no money will be given.
Tensions begin to rise between the townspeople who want the money for repairs and the merchants of the fair, who are caught in the middle and don't want to be seen sharing the profits and going against the traditions of the Abbey. When a wealthy wine merchant, Thomas of Bristol is pushed to the breaking point, he hits one of the young men with his staff and a riot begins. Later, when Thomas is found naked, murdered, and stripped of his clothes, Phillip Corvisor, the young man he assaulted, is charged with his death.
Meanwhile, Thomas's niece, Emma, is grappling with the shock of her Uncle's death and feeling the weight of both the murder and the realization that she must make decisions regarding the wine business and her future. During all of the happenings, Cadfael takes Emma under his wing and vows to help her get to the bottom of her Uncle's murder. He is not convinced the right man has been arrested and charged. Due to clues uncovered regarding the state of the body and what appears to be the break in and search of Thomas and Emma's booth by an unknown culprit, he thinks there may be much more depth to the story and that the murderer is using the convenient surroundings of the riot and Phillip's involvement to mask a more sinister plot. As more is revealed, Emma realizes she may be in danger herself and must be careful as she works to uncover the truth.
While the story had all the same elements of the three previous books, I found myself a bit bored with this one which is why I only gave it three out of five stars. It was disappointing because I look forward to being entertained when I pick up one of these and they are usually an enjoyable break from longer, epic books. The story's setting at the fair just wasn't terribly interesting and the main characters didn't excite me. Most of the real action didn't get going until late into the plot and even then, it wasn't that suspenseful. Cadfael didn't factor into many parts of the story that I normally expect and so I found myself wishing we'd seen and heard more from him.
My favorite part was at the very end when the murderer and the motives behind the crime were revealed. I thought it was clever and brought some more history into the mix, which I always love. So even though it was a bit of a slog to get there, the ending was pretty satisfying. I will definitely be continuing with the series, but will probably take another break from it for a bit. The next story looks more interesting just based on the title, The Leper of St. Giles. Cadfael must seek help from the nearby leper colony and that alone sounds fascinating.
The Cadfael Chronicles are well written, classic mysteries, but there are twenty so I'm sure there are bound to be a few that won't make the very top of my favorite list. They are still worth the read though.