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review 2017-04-20 18:13
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

In the village of King's Abbot, a widow's sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study--but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow's blackmailer. King's Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd's wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim's home. It's now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King's Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd--a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard's ingenious sister, Caroline.

 

M. Poirot, what were you thinking? Retiring to a small village to grow vegetable marrows? I too would hurl them in fits of regret! As if marrows could suitably engage those little grey cells!

Excellent depiction of the competitive sport of gossip. Small communities everywhere suffer from it. That is one of the reasons that I came to live in a city—I can actually keep my private life relatively private!

Dame Agatha really did set the patterns for current mystery literature, didn’t she? Very, very enjoyable and as usual, I had no idea who the perpetrator was until M. Poirot did the big reveal.

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review 2017-02-02 14:10
Third Time's a Crime (A Love or Money Mystery) - Diana Orgain

See this and all of my reviews at Mystereity Reviews

Third Time's a crime is reality TV in book form! Except in Cold Case at the Castle, the drama wasn't scripted! Set at an old mansion that had operated as a boys home many years in the past, ex-cop Georgia and the nine other contestants are tasked with solving the murder of a girl who disappeared decades ago, to solve the mystery first. But when an employee at the castle is found dead, and another contestant is murdered after he was voted off the show, Georgia knows all the murders are tied together and the killer is still very close to the scene. Can she find a cold blooded killer at the Castle before she's the next victim?

This was recommended to me by a friend, who sent me a copy of the book. (Thanks, Joann!) This was the first book I've read in the Love or Money series, and I really enjoyed it. I don't care for reality shows, so I skipped over a lot of the backstabbing/partnering/cheating sort of reality tv shtick. But at the heart of it, this was an excellent plot, lots of action and suspense with plenty of misdirections and a hint of is-it-or-isn't-it-paranormal to keep you guessing. The satisfying ending tied everything up nicely, and although the book can be read as a standalone, it will definitely suck you right into the series.

I loved the crumbling old mansion setting, very well described and so vivid I felt like it was real. I eagerly followed along as the contestants combed the mansion and gardens, and I love the dumbwaiter scene (I've always wanted to do that!) Combined with the animated characters (especially Bert!) the entire story was dimensional, exciting and totally engrossing.

Overall, Third Time's a Crime is an excellent mystery, and can be read as a standalone or even an entry into the series. I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery and reality tv fans.

How come the whole issue of all the contestants who tried to cheat by looking at the results in Cheryl's office was dropped without another word? Georgia even mentioned it when she was voted off, but literally nothing ever came of it, despite them being caught on film. And don't get me started about the DNA kit.

(spoiler show)
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review 2016-10-22 21:13
The Woman in White / Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white'

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

 

Very Victorian. When I start to read books of this vintage, I have to remember to slow myself down and get ready to appreciate a story told in a different way from today’s literature. One of my earliest literature loves was H. Rider Haggard’s She, giving me an early appreciation of the Victorian novel which I can tap into when starting new works. The story is approached more slowly and circuitously.

I can certainly see why The Woman in White is considered a classic. Collins builds an intriguing mystery and a wonderful cast of characters. What a wonderful villain Count Fosco is! With his white mice, canaries, and cockatoo in tow!

The tale gives me great sympathy for the gentlewomen of the time—the course of one’s life determined so strongly by the choice of marriage partner. Once chosen, there was no escape and a woman was expected to stick by her husband, no matter how dreadful. Cheeringly, Laura’s lawyers seemed to be very protective of her, but one can consider how much they were protecting the woman versus the fortune.

And anyone who doesn’t like how their boss is treating them should attend to the life of a servant in this novel—where one can be yelled at, belittled, ignored, mistreated, even physically punished, all at a whim. [Just as an aside, do you suppose this is where the unfortunate tendency of some people to abuse staff at restaurants and retail stores comes from? People treating them like the unfortunate servants of the past?]

Definitely a worthwhile read if you are interested in the evolution of the mystery genre. Get a glass of wine, settle in for a leisurely evening or three, and prepare to make your way slowly through the evidence.

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review 2016-08-22 17:19
In Cold Blood / Truman Capote
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

 

A hypnotizing look at a real crime. I’m giving this 4 stars for the reading experience, which usually means “I enjoyed it a lot.” But I can’t actually say that I enjoyed this book, more like I couldn’t look away.

It’s obvious from the book that Capote had sharp observational skills and a good ear for dialog. Taking an actual news story and making it fit a dramatic arc is a distinct skill, something uncommon in the “true crime” genre, where stating the facts sometimes takes precedence over telling a good story. Capote never lost sight of the shape of the narrative, while weaving the facts into a riveting book. The most amazing thing that he accomplished with this work, in my opinion, is humanizing everyone, even the killers.

It is “creative nonfiction” which probably means that Capote created some conversations and situations which make the story work better. At the time of writing, he was certainly accused of these inventions. Despite that, I thought that he treated all involved fairly. The Clutter family are presented as successful, community-minded, and unlikely victims of crime. The reader cannot help but feel for their remaining family members and their community. Neither, however, can you ignore the families of the killers, who also suffer in a different way, nor the law enforcement officers who were traumatized by the murder scene and exhausted during the long investigation.

Although we learn the facts of the murder, the gory details are not lingered on and the two murderers are not glorified in any way. Indeed by book’s end it is difficult to have any sympathy for them at all, as it is obvious that they care for no one but themselves. Rather ironically, Hickock was not nearly the tough guy that he liked to pretend he was and Smith was certainly not the sensitive soul that he portrayed himself to be. They cruise through the story like sharks, striking at others whenever they are given a chance. And yet, both of them are lonely and seem to desperately want real friends. Instead, they only get each other and notoriety for a crime which neither one would have committed without the other.

Not a book for sensitive souls, In Cold Blood looks evil in the face without flinching.

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review 2016-05-03 16:33
Nearly digging up the past...quite literally
Nearly Found - Elle Cosimano

Nearly Found is even better than the debut novel by Elle Cosimano.

 

Cosimano uses the same style in this sequel to make the reader never want to put the book down. If you thought, "hmmm, where could the story line go from here?' at the end of the first book, you obviously didn't think much about the surrounding characters...hint hint. 

 

Nearly tries hard to make amends with Anh and Jeremy, while trying to keep Reece within an arms reach. She gets into a bit of a pickle, with the same notes from before. But how could that be since TJ is in jail? 

 

Don't worry, it all comes together in the end and you'll be asking when a third book will be published. 

 

Riveting and full of surprises! I honestly cannot wait to see if Cosimano keeps going on with Nearly's character. I know its a YA title, but seriously, aren't they the best?!

 

BUY THE BOOKS! READ ALL THE PAGES! 

http://ellecosimano.com/books/ 

 

Best,

Adria

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