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text 2018-12-28 18:53
24 Festive Tasks: Door 21 - Kwanzaa, Task 2 (Misdirection in Books)
The Wench Is Dead - Colin Dexter,Samuel West

 

Obviously, Agatha Christie is still the reigning queen of misdirection in a mystery, but for this task I'm going to go with Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series, which I am bit by bit revisiting at the moment, courtesy of the splendid audio versions narrated by Samuel West. The solutions of Dexter's books frequently depend on anagrams, crossword-style clues and similar instances of lateral and "six degrees of separation" thinking (the protagonist isn't named Morse for nothing), all which he tends to employ to great effect -- not least since before you've cottoned on to the particular sleight of hand he is using at any given time, the plot still seems to make sense to you and you might well think you're on to quite a different solution.  The Wench is Dead has always been one of my favorite books by Dexter, not least because it also contains a bit of historical fiction writing (of sorts) and a story within a story -- in essence, it's Dexter's bow to Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair.

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review 2018-11-20 14:37
Domestic noir, dark humour, and a fantastic new voice
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

Thanks to NetGalley and to Atlantic Books (Doubleday) for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

The title of this book hooked me. The fact that it was set in Lagos, Nigeria, made it more attractive. I could not resist the cover. And then I started reading and got hit by this first paragraph:

“Ayoola summons me with these words —Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.”

Told in the first person by Korede, the book narrates her story and that of her “complex” relationship with her younger sister, Ayoola, beautiful, graceful, a successful designer, beloved of social media, irresistible to men, the favourite of everybody… She’s almost perfect. But, there is a big but, which you will have guessed from the title. She is a serial killer.

This is a short and very funny book, although it requires a certain kind of sense of humour on the part of the reader. You need to be able to appreciate sarcasm and dark humour (very dark) to find it funny, but if you do, this is a fresh voice and a different take on what has become an extremely popular genre recently, domestic noir. I kept thinking about the many novels I had read where I had commented on the setting of the book and how well the author had captured it. There are no lengthy descriptions in this novel, but it manages to capture the beat and the rhythm of Lagos (a place where I’ve never been, I must admit) and makes us appreciate what life must be like for the protagonists. Because, although Ayoola is a murderer, life goes on, and Korede has to keep working as a nurse, she is still in love (or so she thinks) with one of the doctors at the hospital, their mother still suffers from her headaches, Ayoola wants to carry on posting on Snapchat, the patient in coma Korede confides in needs to be looked after, the police need to be seen to be doing something, and there are more men keen on spending time with beautiful Ayoola…

I found Korede understandable, although I doubt that we are meant to empathise with her full-heartedly. At some points, she seems to be a victim, trapped in a situation she has no control over. At others, we realise that we only have her own opinion of her sister’s behaviour, and she has enabled the murderous activities of her sibling, in a strange symbiotic relationship where neither one of them can imagine life without the other. We learn of their traumatic past, and we can’t help but wonder what would we do faced with such a situation? If your sister was a psychopath (not a real psychiatric diagnosis, but I’m sure she’d score quite high in the psychopathy scale if her sister’s description is accurate) who kept getting into trouble, always blaming it on others, would you believe her and support her? Would you help her hide her crimes? Is blood stronger than everything else?

I loved the setting, the wonderful little scenes (like when Tade, the attractive doctor, sings and the whole city stops to listen, or when the police take away Korede’s car to submit it to forensic testing and then make her pay to return it to her, all dirty and in disarray), the voice of the narrator and her approach to things (very matter-of-fact, fully acknowledging her weaknesses, her less-than-endearing personality, sometimes lacking in insight  but also caring and reflective at times), and the ending as well. I also enjoyed the writing style. Short chapters, peppered with Yoruba terms, vivid and engaging, it flows well and it makes it feel even briefer than it is.

If you enjoy books with a strong sense of morality and providing deep lessons, this novel is not for you. Good and bad are not black and white in this novel, and there is an undercurrent of flippancy about the subject that might appeal to fans of Dexter more than to those who love conventional thrillers or mysteries. But if you want to discover a fresh new voice, love black humour, and are looking for an unusual setting, give it a go. I challenge you to check a sample and see…

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review 2018-11-12 13:30
24 Festive Tasks: Doors 2 and 5 - Books for Guy Fawkes Night and Veterans' / Armistice Day
Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer
Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer
The Riddle of the Third Mile - Colin Dexter,Samuel West
The Riddle of the Third Mile - Colin Dexter


Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison
(Narrator: Ulli Birvé)

The first Georgette Heyer mysteries I read were her Inspector Hemingway books, which in a way meant I was starting from the wrong end, as Hemingway progressed to the rank of inspector from having been the lead investigator's sergeant in the earlier Superintendent Hannasyde books.  That doesn't impede my enjoyment of Hannasyde's cases in the least, however, now that I'm getting around to these, even though I found the first one (Death in the Stocks) seriously underwhelming.  But Heyer redeems herself in a big way with Behold, Here's Poison: Though a fair share of her mysteries have a sizeable contingent of 1920s-30s stock-in-trade bright young things and generally "nice chaps" (which got on my nerves enough at one point to make me decide I'd had enough of Heyer), when she did set her mind to it, nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did maliciously bickering families like her.  And the family taking center stage here must be one of the meanest she's ever come up with, only (just) surpassed by the Penhallows.  I'm not overwhelmed with the story's romantic dénouement (there always is one in Heyer's books), and while I guessed the mystery's essential "who" and had a basic idea of the "why" at about the 3/4 - 4/5 mark (the actual "why" was a bit of a deus ex machina), by and large this has to count among my favorite Heyer mysteries so far ... though not quite reaching the level of my overall favorite, Envious Casca.

 

Ulli Birvé isn't and won't ever become my favorite narrator, and she seriously got on my nerves here, too.  Since all of the recent re-recordings of Heyer's mysteries are narrated by her, though, I've decided I won't hold her mannerisms against the author, and I've read enough print versions of Heyer books at this point to have a fairly good idea of what a given character would sound like in my head if I'd read instead of listened to the book in question.

 

 


Colin Dexter: The Riddle of the Third Mile
(Narrator: Samuel West)

For Veterans' / Armistice Day I'm claiming the very first book I revisited after the beginning of the 24 Festive Tasks game: Colin Dexter's The Riddle of the Third Mile had long been one of my favorite entries in the Inspector Morse series, but Samuel West's wonderful reading not only confirmed that status but actually moved it up yet another few notches.  (Samuel West is fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook narrators anyway.) The fact that due to the progress of medical research a key element of the mystery would have been much easier to solve these days does not impede my enjoyment in the least ... changing social mores aside, half the Golden Age crime literature, including many of the great classics by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and even, on occasion, Arthur Conan Doyle would be deprived of substantial riddles if they were set today. -- The book qualifies for this particular "24 Festive Tasks" square, because some of the characters' and their siblings' encounter as British soldiers at the battle of El Alamein (1942) forms the prologue to the book and an important motive for their actions in the world of Oxford academia and Soho strip clubs, some 40 years later.

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review 2018-06-18 04:58
Dexter is being hunted
Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay

Dexter is a clean neat serial killer who lived by the rule of Harry, his adopted father, to kill only bad guys. 

 

The bad guys who killed children is exceptionally high on Dexter's list.

 

Dexter is also a forensic lab tech working for the police along side his sister Deborah.   

 

So when Dexter feel he is being followed, he is trying to find out who and why.

 

In the meantime, the Dark Passenger is gone. Gone from his mind as if he is a separate entity instead of part of his psychosis. 

There is a new ritualistic killings with headless corpses displayed in public. 

 

The police is after a professor, and he was caught, the killing continued. 

 

The fingers pointed to another professor but there is no evidence. 

 

Debbie is not really a good detective as she rely too much on Dexter. 

 

Dexter is getting married and he noticed that Astor and Cody, the soon to be his step children might have the dard trend as well.

 

Fun read. 

 

Although it is pure imaginative theory based on fantasy. 

 

One, children with trauma in early life might not necessary develop dard trend. They might be frightened, and have anxiety, but that's usually it.

 

Two, homicidal tendency is  part of the person's mind and not a separate entity. 

 

Aside from that, it is fun read. 

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review 2018-06-10 10:35
Dexter helped to capture a serial killer
Dearly Devoted Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

Dexter is going after a priest who have raped and killed children as young as 5 year old. 

 

That's the best opening. Hundreds of Catholic priests who have raped children have gotten away with it. Who wouldn't want some cleaners to go after these Catholic priests in the neighborhood. 

 

Dexter is a clean monster. He digged up the corpses of these young victims and confronted the Catholic priest. Of course, the priest prayed and begged, but the end is there finally.

 

And this is only the opening of the book. 

 

The story goes on with Sergeant Doakes on his tail. 

 

So Dexter hsa to pretend to be normal.  So normal that he is becoming boring. He visited Rita and played with her two children. He like children.

 

Now there is a very strange killer. Technically, he is not a killer. He cut up his victim, one part at a time, and clean up the wounds. So the victim survive and continue in a poor stage below death finally come. Very clue way. 

 

So... Debbie wants Dexter to help find this cruel monster. 

 

And walked in with the FBI Kaly. 

 

And the story go with Dexter being reluctant partner with Doakes to find this UnSub. More victims and all linked to the past of Doakes and Kaly. 

 

The fun part is the language. It is humorous and Dexter being a self realizing monster make him so likable.  Being a responsible brother also forced Dexter to get involved in finding this monster. 

 

A good read.  

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