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review 2017-10-18 02:07
Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock (Audio) - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser

Hercule Poirot frowned. 

"Miss Lemon," he said.

"Yes, M. Poirot?"

"There are three mistakes in this letter."

His voice held incredulity. For Miss Lemon, that hideous and efficient woman, never made mistakes. She was never ill, never tired, never upset, never inaccurate. For all practical purposes, that is to say, she was not a woman at all. She was a machine - the perfect secretary. She knew everything, she coped with everything. She ran Hercule Poirot's life for him, so that it, too, functioned like a machine.

Order and method had been Hercule Poirot's watchwords from many years ago. With George, his perfect manservant, and Miss Lemon, his perfect secretary, order and method ruled supreme in his life. Now that crumpets were baked square as well as round, he had nothing about which to complain.

Square crumpets?! Have I missed these so far?

 

Anyway, to the book... Hickory Dickory Dock was a fun read, in which Miss Lemon gets some page time. The story is set in 1955 in London and Miss Lemon is worried about her sister and the strange goings on at the hostel where her sister works: Things have gone missing.

 

In order to return to a life of normalcy and perfection, Poirot offers to help Miss Lemon's sister solve the mystery of the disappearing items.

 

Hickory Dickory Dock is a great story to note the differences in Christie's writing between the pre- and post-war periods. This story is set in the 50s, and the bright young things are now less decadent and more international. The youth comes across in Christie's dialogues reasonably well, but the international aspect made me cringe. 

Let's face it, despite her efforts, Christie just was not great at writing characters from non-English backgrounds.

 

Still, it was fun watching Poirot solve this, even if sometimes you just want to kick Poirot in the shins.

Hercule Poirot nodded understandingly. It seemed to him appropriate that Miss Lemon's sister should have spent most of her life in Singapore. That was what places like Singapore were for. The sisters of women like Miss Lemon married men in business in Singapore, so that the Miss Lemons of this world could devote themselves with machine-like efficiency to their employers' affairs (and of course to the invention of filing systems in their moments of relaxations).

 

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text 2017-10-17 15:15
Reading progress update: Thallium
The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison - John Emsley

It's not that often that a book about murder makes me smile, but Emsley has bit of a "Battle of the Grand Dames of Mystery" going on here. (I have put the titles in spoiler tags in case the plot description provides spoilers...)

 

In the red corner, Dame Agatha:

Agatha Christie built one of her murder mysteries around thallium poisoning. In

1952 she wrote The Pale Horse

(spoiler show)

, in which the murderer used it to dispose of people’s unwanted relatives and disguised his activities as black magic curses. The plot involves a murdered priest and a pub owned by three modern-day witches.* Christie described the symptoms of thallium poisoning very well: lethargy, tingling, numbness of the hands and feet, blackouts, slurred speech, insomnia, and general debility, and she is sometimes blamed for bringing this poison to the attention of would-be poisoners. However, her book was responsible for saving the life of one young girl as we shall see.

 

In the blue corner, we have Ngaio Marsh also using Thallium:

 

In

Final Curtain, written in 1947

(spoiler show)

, the novelist Ngaio Marsh had her villain using it. The murder to be investigated was the death of

Sir Henry Ancred

(spoiler show)

who had been poisoned with thallium acetate which had been prescribed in the treatment of his granddaughter’s ringworm. Marsh clearly had no knowledge of how thallium worked in that she imagined that those poisoned with it would drop dead in minutes. Would-be murderers seeking to emulate her villain would have been very puzzled when their intended victims appeared to suffer no ill effects, although this disappointment might only have lasted a few days, and then they would have been fascinated at the many symptoms it produced.

 

I haven't read Marsh, yet, (something I intend to remedy someday) but one of the fun aspects in Dame Agatha's work is that she seldom gets the use of poisons wrong. Her training as a nurse and familiarity with pharmacy had much use, of course, but she also didn't slack on her research in that field.

 

This is the only instance in Emsley's book that cites crime writing. The rest of the book recounts real events and people.

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text 2017-10-12 15:16
"Also, its not spamming if the site allows authors to promote stuff."
The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers - Christopher Vogler

The meeting I attended yesterday afternoon did not go particularly well.  I won't bore you with the details beyond saying that certain issues of socio-economic class distinctions drive me up the freakin' wall.  (Like the implication that if you're not rich, you must be stupid.)

 

The last thing I expected to find when I finally got back to BookLikes was a hint of renewed BBA wars. It did not improve my mood.

 

The closure of the Amazon discussion forums set off little alarm bells in my brain, but I hoped the worst of the denizens would migrate to GR and leave us alone here on BL.  Whether the one who decided to plague me is in fact an Amazon refugee, I don't know for sure.  However, I am now a bit gun shy.

 

He joined BL a few weeks ago.  He contacted me via message in response to one of my blog posts about writing, and I responded by welcoming him to BL. His subsequent message to me was a solicitation to subscribe to his newsletter, which covers a subject I have no interest in whatsoever.  I told him so, and I warned him not to spam.  He replied by telling me I was too emotional.

 

He has no books on his BL shelves.  He has only a few blog posts, and several seem to be promoting his own books.  He appears not to be engaging with other BookLikers in terms of comments.  He is down to two followers -- I suspect he blocked me even before I could block him.

 

His writing is not very good.  There are some rather unsettling errors in both his blog posts and his book descriptions.  I looked at the samples of his books on Amazon and cringed.  I won't name him or his books, and I'm not going to put them on my shelves at all.  I just hope this isn't a hint of what is to come.

 

As I have said often enough before, if there is a single book every aspiring novelist needs to read and reread and study, it's Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey.  I had to dig back into my own copy to help resolve a plot issue with the book I'm working on right now.  Understanding how story works allowed me to provide my plot with the necessary underpinnings to strengthen it and make the characters' journey plausible.

 

Story construction is one part of the writer's journey.  The other is technique and style.  It's a sad fact of the reading life in this 21st century that too many people are publishing written works that fail on either one or the other or both counts.  Great stories must still be told well.  Fantastic writing will only cover up so many plot holes. 

 

First impressions in the writing business can make or break a writer's career.  A single blog post with usage and grammar errors, especially if that blog post touts the writer's great skill and knowledge, can do irreparable harm.  Oh, wait, it already has.

 

I'm going out to my studio to sort rocks.

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url 2017-10-04 23:50
Why I included romance in my new thriller, GUN KISS

 

GUN KISS will be released by Canada’s Imajin Books in Fall this year.

Source: www.khaledtalibthriller.com
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url 2017-09-23 01:28
An Author’s Checklist: 9 Techniques For Crisp, Powerful Revisions

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