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text 2018-12-11 21:48
Reading progress update: I've read 34%. - finally - a Poirot book that feels polished and assured
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

After some dissatisfaction with the much later "Third Girl", I decided to try an earlier Poirot to see what I'd been missing.

 

"The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd" seems to be the most highly recommended Agatha Christie book. It's also the fourth Hercule Poirot book, qualifying it for Door 13 Advent in the 24 Festive Tasks challenge.

 

I'm about a third of the way through and very pleased with this book. The writing is assured and confident. The narrator, a local doctor, is a good observer and makes a great foil for the rather odd little Belgian man who lives next door to him. The murder mystery is a sort of amped-up locked room mystery with a wide variety of possible villains and some peculiar plot twists, for example how the good doctor is first made aware of Ackroyd's death.

 

I think what I'm enjoying most is that, in this book, Agatha Christie has forgone the authorial voice and is telling the tale entirely through the eyes of the good doctor. I wonder if this is a deliberate allusion to Holmes and Watson. In any event, so far it has produced a clearer and more intimate view of what is going on as well as a fresh-pair-of-eyes assessment of Poirot.

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review 2018-12-11 12:37
A Mind To Murder by P.D. James
A Mind to Murder - P.D. James

Although there were obvious clues that were shrouded by other factors, these factors were successful enough to distract the detective but not me.

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review 2018-12-11 11:59
Murder On Cue by Jane Dentinger (1983)
Murder on Cue (Jocelyn O'Roarke Mystery #1) - Jane Dentinger

Everyone around Harriet — from Harriet’s family down to the stage manager — has a motive to murder, if given the right opportunity.

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review 2018-12-10 00:16
24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Book
Candy Cane Murder - Leslie Meier,Laura Levine,Joanne Fluke,Suzanne Toren

Well, let's just say that none of these three ladies is anywhere near Donna Andrews's league when it comes to cozy mysteries, plotting, character creation, dialogue, and a writer's craft in general.  And if I thought Joanna Fluke's entry was disappointing (mediocre plotting and dialogue, character responses that felt forced / didn't make sense, and one of my no-go TSTL behavior tropes as the "big reveal" cue (though I have to hand it to Fluke, the setting and overall scene of the final confrontation with the murderer was inspired)), I'm sorry to have to say that Leslie Meier's contribution did even less for me -- you could scratch off the Hallmark sugar coating with a shovel, virtually NONE of the characters' actions and responses bore even the slightest semblance of realism,  and she managed to make 1980s rural Maine come across as more backward than it probably was even in the 1940s and 1950s (while also looking more dripping-with-saccharine-style-homely than any Norman Rockwell picture -- and for the record, I like Norman Rockwell.  Or at least I like his Christmas pictures.)

 

Laura Levine's entry fared a bit better (I'd call it the book's highlight if such a term were appropriate for a muted glow in the midst of two seriously dulled lights); at least she took me right back to L.A. inside my head and the plotting was halfway decent.  But her story seriously suffered from an overabundance of quirky characters, not-very-subtle hints at the MC's padded waistline and her resolutions to do something about it (in which she predictably fails on every single occasion -- and yes, I know this actually is an L.A. thing; been there and would have bought the T-shirt, too, if I'd found it funny then, but the last thing I want is to have this sort of fad jammed up my nose with a sledgehammer in a book) -- and an equal overabundance of wannabe hipster slang and coloquialisms ... everything from repeated exclamations like "ugh!", "oh golly!" and "drat!" to "bet my bottom cupcake" (and yes, even there she goes again with the calorie stuff).  Oh, and the MC's conversations with her cat and said cat's female-Garfield act got old pretty soon as well.

 

Oh well.  If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the consistently high quality of Donna Andrews's writing even more -- I'll happily be returning to her for my cozy contemporary Christmas mysteries (I just hope she'll reliably continue to produce them for the foreseeable future).

 

I may try some of the recipes included in this book eventually, though.

 

Since the audiobook I listened to has a green cover, I'll be using this as my book for the Mawlid square.

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text 2018-12-01 19:54
24 Festive Tasks: Door 12 - St. Andrew's Day, Task 4 (Books Featuring Golf)
4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie
Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Agatha Christie
The Clicking of Cuthbert - P.G. Wodehouse
Goldfinger - Ian Fleming
Murder in the Mews and Other Stories - Agatha Christie
The Mystery of the Blue Jar: A Short Story - Agatha Christie
The Sunningdale Mystery: A Short Story - Agatha Christie

Golf is key to a number of books by Agatha Christie (not only in the Poirot series -- Hastings is not the only character by Christie who is an ardent golfer).  So my list of favorites is largely a mash-up of BrokenTune's and Obsidian's:

 

Agatha Christie favorites:

1.  4:50 From Paddington

2.  Murder on the Links

3.  Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

 

Honorable mentions from my TBR:

 

1.  P.G. Wodehouse: The Clicking of Cuthbert (short stories)

2.  Ian Fleming: Goldfinger (I've seen the movie but have yet to read the book)

 

... and a few Christie short stories:

 

1.  Murder in the Mews (Poirot)

2.  The Mystery of the Blue Jar (standalone)

3.  The Sunningdale Mystery (Tommy & Tuppence)

 

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