The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

Tommy and Tuppence, two young people flat broke and out of work, are restless for excitement. They embark on a daring business scheme- Young Adventurers Ltd- ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’.

Their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, draws them into a diabolical political conspiracy, and they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever imagined…

Review

This is my first Tommy and Tuppence full length novel. I read a short story about them over Christmas and wanted to read more stories about them so this book was a good start as it is the story of how Tommy and Tuppence became the Young Adventurers. 

Tommy and Tuppence are broke and in dire need of money and so they come up with a plan to advertise themselves as the Young Adventurers who are willing to do anything, anywhere. I must admit when Tuppence came up with this idea I did think it was rather risky as they could be asked to do anything but it is the reader’s first introduction to Tuppence’s impulsive and adventurous nature. 

Tommy is a lot more reserved than Tuppence and does tend to think before he jumps but that doesn’t mean he shirks away from adventure and gets into a fair few scraps in this story as does Tuppence. 

Tommy and Tuppence find themselves hunting for the mysterious Jane Finn and they must find her in time to stop a major political catastrophe or possibly even war. This leads them into danger and not knowing who to trust. 

I must admit that at the beginning I really couldn’t put this book down but then as I got further along my fervour waned. I will be honest I worked out who the illusive Mr Brown was rather early on and was frustrated with Tommy and Tuppence that they did not work it out sooner. The only surprise for me was the identity of Jane Finn but I loved the characters Tommy and Tuppence and I can’t wait to read further novels about them. This was only the second book Christie wrote and I can see this within the book as it lacks maturity in the writing. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons.

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell (Review)

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

Blurb

It is the winter of 1893, and in London the snow is falling.

It is falling as Gideon Bliss seeks shelter in a Soho church, where he finds Angie Tatton lying before the altar. His one-time love is at death’s door, murmuring about brightness and black air, and about those she calls the Spiriters. In the morning she is gone.

The snow is falling as a seamstress climbs onto a ledge above Mayfair, a mysterious message stitched into her own skin. It is falling as she steadies herself and closes her eyes.

It is falling, too, as her employer, Lord Strythe, vanishes into the night, watched by Octavia Hillingdon, a restless society columnist who longs to uncover a story of real importance.

She and Gideon will soon be drawn into the same mystery, each desperate to save Angie and find out the truth about Lord Strythe. Their paths will cross as the darkness gathers, and will lead them at last to what lies hidden at the house on Vesper Sands. 

Review

This is a new author for me and I must admit I was really excited to read the book. When I started the book I really struggled to initially get into it and to start with I did not get on with the character of Octavia, I found her very annoying. Thankfully I kept reading and eventually started to get into the story.

The thing which annoyed me the most was the lack of detail in the book. Octavia and her brother clearly had a back story but we never got to hear what it was. We knew that Inspector Cutter had a story but we never got to hear it fully and there were massive holes in the story that were not fully explained. I really wanted to know more and to be honest that is why I kept reading but I never got those answers.

My favourite character was Inspector Cutter, he was obviously a man who had seen a lot of life and a lot of crime and he knew how to get the answers and results he needed. He had some fantastic lines and I must admit I did laugh quite a lot when reading his interactions with Gideon.

Gideon was an interesting character and I enjoyed seeing how his character developed through the book. He started off very naive but as he worked with Cutter he got to know more of how the real world worked and also realised that his constant talking was not the best thing to be doing.

I enjoyed the book overall but I will be honest I would not read it again. It really had the potential of being an excellent story but it was just lacking. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Paraic O’Donnell’s first novel, The Maker of Swans, was named the Amazon Rising Stars Debut of the Month for February 2016, and was shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in the Newcomer of the Year category.

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.

Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . . .

Review

This book was my buddy read and I came across this book because my buddy had suggested it, otherwise I might never have discovered the wonderful character of Shardlake.

I will be honest I struggled to put this book down once I became engrossed in the story and got acquainted with Shardlake’s character. Dr Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer and as well as having his own successful practice he also works for Cromwell and it is on Cromwell’s bidding that Shardlake finds himself at the monastery of Scarnsea. Shardlake uses his many skills in deduction to work out what exactly has been going on at Scarnsea and it is wonderful to see how he works everything out and puts together the truth. 

Matthew is Shardlake’s assistant in the investigation and a family friend who Shardlake feels greatly responsible for. Matthew clearly does not have the same skill set as Shardlake but he is useful for Shardlake’s protection and when Shardlake needs someone to look menacing. Matthew clearly has a great affection for Shardlake in return and is always checking on Shardlake’s welfare and I really enjoyed how their friendship shifted through the story. 

The monks in the monastery are I admit all suspicious and it made it hard for me to try and work out the murderer although I was pleased to find I was half correct in my own deductions. As the story unfolds it quickly becomes clear that all the monks could have had a reason to commit the crime. 

Sansom’s description of the different parts of London and Scarnsea are all excellent and the little extra details he gives about Cromwell’s office and other areas really helps set the scene and you soon realise that everything Sansom has described has a purpose, even if you do not see the significance right away. You can also see Sansom’s considerable experience in history as everything is well researched within the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I have ordered the next in the series as I can’t wait to see what Shardlake is up to next. I give this book 5 out 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and a good crime thriller.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

Christmas Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid (Review)

Christmas is Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid

Blurb

The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is a master of the dark and sinister story, and these powers are demonstrated in full force in Christmas is Murder, a festive collection of chilling tales.

From an irresponsible baron whose body is discovered beneath a silver birch tree, to an author who is haunted by the spiteful presence of a jealous writing partner, the characters McDermid conjures are enigmatic and dangerous, never above suspicion.

Follow Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they track a deadly killer who is preparing to strike on Christmas Day, and lose yourself in a festive exclusive – a recently unearthed case for a classic detective duo, set as the lights are going out across Europe.

These evocative, atmospheric tales will shock and delight. This is the perfect book to curl up with as the frosty winter draws in and each night gets darker than the last, written by one of our greatest living crime writers.

Review

I was so excited to see this book and immediately ordered it off Waterstones. I love a good Christmas murder mystery but sadly I was rather disappointed with this book.

The first thing I really disliked was the fact that a lot of these short stories seemed like they should have been longer but that McDermid had just removed chunks of the story to make it shorter. They jumped around too much and there was no development which even in a short story should be present.

The second thing that got on my nerves was the fact that some of the stories basically had nothing to do with Christmas and even if they did the link was tenuous at best. For a Christmas murder mystery book this was a disappointment for me.

I did however like some of the stories, my favourite was The Girl who Killed Santa Claus. This story was wonderful and a really good short story and was a welcome change from the rest of the short stories.

I am afraid I have only given 2 out of 5 Dragons to this book and I will be honest and say that I will not be reading another Val McDermid book as I just did not enjoy her writing.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. 

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. 

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime (Review)

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime by Oscar Wilde

Blurb

Wilde’s supremely witty tale of dandies, anarchists and a murderous prophecy in London high society.

Review

I picked this up the other day as I fancied a quick read that I knew would put a smile on my face. Oscar Wilde always makes me laugh and I just love his subtle humour.

The story begins at a party and involves a palm reader who sets a series of events into motion. Lord Arthur I will admit is rather a silly character who totally believes in the power of fate and will do anything to make sure it goes to plan. Wilde is most definitely having a little fun subtly mocking the English aristocracy with the characters of the party and Lord Arthur.

The thing I love most about this is just how ridiculous this story is. Lord Arthur does some very suspicious things like purchasing poison and meeting with bomb makers but nobody bats an eye lid.

I really enjoyed this short story and read it with a nice mug of tea as it is only 50 pages long. An amusing version of a murder mystery that I give 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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About the author

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was a playwright, poet, novelist and short story writer.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Review)

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

About the author

Anthony Horowitz, OBE is ranked alongside Enid Blyton and Mark A. Cooper as “The most original and best spy-kids authors of the century.” (New York Times). Anthony has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he is also the writer and creator of award winning detective series Foyle’s War, and more recently event drama Collision, among his other television works he has written episodes for Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. Anthony became patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices in 2009.

Blurb

Featuring his famous literary detective Atticus Pund and Susan Ryeland, hero of the worldwide bestseller Magpie Murders, a brilliantly complex literary thriller by Anthony Horowitz. The follow-up to Magpie Murders.

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her longterm boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she’s always wanted – but is it? She’s exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she’s beginning to miss her old life in London.

And then a couple – the Trehearnes – come to stay, and the story they tell about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married, is such a strange and mysterious one that Susan finds herself increasingly fascinated by it. And when the Trehearnes tell her that their daughter is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to London and find out what really happened …

Review

I was so excited about this book as I love Anthony Horowitz’s books, sadly I was sorely disappointed with this book. I will be honest I haven’t read Magpie Murders but after this I don’t think I will because I just can’t stand Susan Ryeland!

I tried so hard to like Susan Ryeland but she just grated on my nerves endlessly. She came across as a massive pain in the neck with no real skill who just got under everyone’s feet and she also came across as very selfish.

What saved this book for me was the wonderful story within the story. Atticus Pund Takes the Case was a wonderful read. I could not stop reading it. Atticus is a fantastic character and very much a detective from the golden age of detective novels. He could be straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. The story was brilliantly written and I loved how it all came together at the end.

All in all the Susan Ryeland story is just too unbelievable for me and I really did not enjoy reading that part of the story but I’m so pleased I did not give up because otherwise I would have missed out on the Atticus Pund story. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons but those 3 Dragons are for the Atticus Pund story as I wouldn’t have even bothered rating the Susan Ryeland part sadly.

Purchase Links

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The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (ARC Review)

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

PS: thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…

And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…

And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

Review

This is my first non-Dr Ruth Galloway book from Griffiths and I was so excited when I discovered I had been granted my request to read it on NetGalley.

Peggy Smith has died but has she been murdered? Peggy is also a ‘murder consultant’ who helps authors with the crime writing. As the story goes on more murders happen and the mystery thickens.

I’m not sure why but I struggled to get into this book and it just did not move along as I would have liked it to. I really liked the characters Harbinder and Neil and really liked their working relationship. However I disliked her repeatedly comparing Neil to a type of animal and thought it was unnecessary and rather mean of her. I also enjoyed the fact Harbinder still lived at home with her parents and the family dog Sultan.

The character that really grated on my nerves was Natalka. She really drove me insane. I found her very arrogant and self centred. I didn’t mind Benedict and Edwin and thought that they were both interesting and rather endearing characters, especially Benedict who was once a monk and now owns a coffee shop. But the whole concept of Natalka, Benedict and Edwin running off trying to solve the crime just came across as ridiculous and really they should have been arrested for meddling in a murder case. I think it was the whole storyline of this book that put me off as it did just come across as all a bit fanciful.

I still liked elements of this book and will admit I did not see the conclusion of the book at all. I will read the first book with Harbinder in and give the series another shot but sadly this book was just not for me. I only give the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

Purchase Links

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The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Amyas March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Amyas March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

Review

Firstly, I will be honest and say that I am a Dr Ruth Galloway addict. I haven’t read all of the books yet but I try and buy a new book as a treat to myself as often as possible. This one is book 12 in the series and was a massive surprise to me because it has moved on quite a bit from book 11. Ruth now has a new job, a new house and is now with a new partner. This was quite a shock for me after where book 11 left Ruth but a nice surprise.

Ruth is her usual self in the book and now she has what appears to be the dream life but as you read it you can’t help but wonder if she is really happy?

Nelson is trying to solve a murder case where the suspect March is already in prison but will not admit to being guilty of the murders. He later agrees to tell Nelson where other bodies are if he talks to Ruth. Ruth agrees which leads to Ruth and Nelson working a case together again.

As the case developed I must admit I did not see the end result coming and it was a massive surprise how it turned out. What didn’t surprise me was what happened at the very end of the book.

One of my favourite characters in the Dr Galloway series is Cathbad and I must admit I would have liked to have seen a bit more of him in the book. I always love a Cathbad ritual of some kind and sadly that was lacking in the book.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to all crime and thriller fans.

Purchase Links

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

 

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On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming (Review)

On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming

 

About the author

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Laura Cumming (born July 1961) the art critic for The Observer. In addition to her career in journalism, Cumming has written well-received books on self-portraits in art and the discovery of a lost portrait by Diego Velázquez in 1845.

Blurb

In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another fifty years before she even learned of the kidnap.

The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother’s strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast – the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker – but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach – including her own.

Review

I had such high hopes for this book and I was so excited when I bought it because I loved the sound of the book and thought it sounded like a fantastic read. Sadly, I was very disappointed, although I know that this is probably a controversial opinion looking at other reviews on Goodreads and on book blogs. I do however think the hype and advertising for this book has been very misleading in just how gripping the story is.

I enjoyed the beginning of this book but quickly guessed the outcome as it was just an age old story that has happened many times in history.

This to me was a book of meandering thoughts and it drove me mad, Cumming clearly knows her stuff about art and history but this book really needed to be more to the point. Cumming just kept going off course and it was infuriating, this also meant that there was far too much book for the main thread of the story. It really could have been half the length and for me would have been a lot more enjoyable if it had been shorter and more to the point. It was like Cumming was worried it was going to be too short so she padded it out with other random thoughts.

I can see that this story is written for the love of her mother and I can imagine that Cumming’s mother must be very touched by her daughter’s book but to the casual reader it is too much. It is also very repetitive at times. I was grinding my teeth in frustration. It really could have done with someone just gently removing the repetition from the book for Cumming.

Overall I’m amazed I stuck this book out because some days I could have quite easily chucked it through the window but I did finish it in the end just to see the outcome. I give this book 2 out of 5 Dragons because only books that I do not finish get 1 Dragon.

Purchase Links

 Book Depository  •  Waterstones

 

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Girl in Trouble by Stacy Claflin (Review)

Girl in Trouble by Stacy Claflin

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About the author

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Stacy Claflin is a USA Today bestselling author who writes about complex women overcoming incredible odds. Whether it’s her Gone saga of psychological thrillers, her various paranormal romance tales, or her sweet romance series, Stacy’s three-dimensional characters shine through.

Decades after she wrote her first stories on construction paper and years after typing on an inherited green screen computer that weighed half a ton, Stacy realized her dream of becoming a full-time bestselling author.

When she’s not busy writing or educating her kids from home, Stacy enjoys watching TV shows like Supernatural, Pretty Little Liars, and Once Upon a Time.

Blurb

He gave up his daughter years ago, but now he’ll risk his life to save hers.

Alex Mercer is no stranger to kidnappings. The emotional scars still run deep from his sister’s disappearance years earlier. His daughter Ariana remains safe long after her adoption, and he cherishes the few times a year he gets to see her. The joy is palpable when he takes her on their first one-on-one outing. At least until he pauses to answer a text and Ariana disappears…

Wracked with guilt and determined to find answers, Alex teams up with an unlikely ally at the police department. As the clues reveal a pattern of missing girls, the kidnapping case becomes a race against time to save Ariana. What cost is Alex willing to pay to keep his daughter alive?

Review

I got this book as a freebie on Apple Books and I must admit it did not take me long to read and was nice to pick up and read when I had a few minutes spare. This was an easy read and I enjoyed the story but for me it lacked the wow factor and the ending was rather predictable.

I really liked the characters in this book especially Alex and Nick the police captain. I also liked how the character of Alex developed from a dead beat man who had little to do with his daughter but as the story went along Alex turned into a dad determined to get his little girl back and become a better dad and person in general.

The character that I did not like very much was Zoey, Alex’s ex and Ariana’s mother. She drove me slightly mad and I would be happy to not have her feature greatly in the following books in the series if I decide to continue reading the series. I’m not sure what it was that caused me to dislike the character but for some reason she grated against my nerves.

I will be honest it took me a while to get used to Claflin’s writing style and the sheer number of chapters was a bit mind numbing at times but I did enjoy the story. I personally think this book would make a great holiday read or read on a long flight and I will happily read the rest of the series. I have only given this book 3 out of 5 Dragons because it just did not have the wow factor for me.

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