The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

‘I want a change. To be in the midst of things – exciting things – even if I’m only the looker-on. You know, things don’t happen in St Mary Mead.’

When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing.

The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Review

I read quite a lot of this book sat on a very fancy train and yes I chose to read this book because I knew I would be sat on said train.

I must be honest I remembered seeing this one on TV but the TV version is nowhere near as good as the book. The TV versions just never get Poirot right or should I say Papa Poirot! 

Christie starts to set the scene with Van Aldin getting the renowned rubies and giving them to his daughter Ruth Kettering. Once Ruth gets on to the Blue train things soon take a sinister turn. Ruth is found dead in her cabin with her head so badly smashed in she is unrecognisable and the rubies are gone. Then Poirot appears on the scene to help the French police solve the crime because as he happily tells people he is possibly the greatest detective in the world. 

As the story progresses there are a lot of red herrings that the reader and Poirot have to work through and with this story Poirot doesn’t have his usual Hastings to rely on and bounce ideas off. However, Poirot does find a new sidekick to help him solve the crime. Miss Grey has been a companion most of her adult life and now she has come into a fortune she is free and wants her life to start so she leaves the quiet little village of St Mary Mead and goes on the Blue Train to start her first adventure. Poirot befriends Miss Grey and they work together to get the answers they need. 

I really enjoyed how this story developed and how Poirot worked through all the clues and also used some careful guesswork to get the answers he needed. All this builds up to the very dramatic ending which has you sitting at the edge of your seat. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Miss Grey as I really liked her character but I really enjoyed how she and Poirot interacted. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down so I give it the full 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

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.

Etsy

The Big Four by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A ruthless international cartel seeks world domination…

Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about `Number Four’.

Review

I haven’t read many Agatha Christie novels this year which is bad because I am trying to read all of her novels in order of publication so this one has been on my TBR pile for a very long time. 

My first impression of this book was wow what a lot of characters! Christie is a master of juggling many plot lines and lots of characters but this book is overflowing with characters. I know Christie liked to include a lot of characters because this was perfect for creating red herrings but it seemed like every chapter there were another new load of characters to get to grips with. To be honest I struggled at times to keep up with all the characters in this book but I think I managed it. 

In this story Hastings has returned which I am very pleased about because he always makes me laugh. He is always convinced he knows more than Poirot but of course he has no idea at all. It is also very clear that Poirot has been missing his good friend Hastings. 

The story begins with a strange man somehow turning up in Poirot’s bedroom and collapsing but not before giving Poirot a vital clue which will set the scene for the rest of the book. As the story continues Poirot finds just how far the Big Four are willing to go to take control of the world. The story sees Poirot travelling all over the place and encountering any number of characters from Professors to Government officials, from Criminals to Nobility. 

The one thing I did find with this story was it didn’t flow like Christie’s usual books and it felt at times like it was pieced together. After some research I found out that this book was actually made up of 12 short stories that Christie had written and published in a magazine. This made a lot of sense for me because once I knew I realised that this was why I struggled with the pace of the book and sheer amount of characters. 

Although I felt the amount of characters was overkill and struggled with the lack of fluency with the story I still thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Poirot was on his usual fine form and Hastings was still his bumbling self and I loved every minute of it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

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.

Etsy

Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark (Review)

Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark

Blurb

Unable to forgive herself for the death of her two-year-old son Bobby in a car accident, Menley Nichols’ marriage to Adam starts to fall apart – until the birth of their daughter Hannah. Determined to rebuild a life together around their precious baby, Menley and Adam decide to rent a house on Cape Cod for a month, confidant that the tranquility of the place will be ideal for Menley and little Hannah. But the peace they crave is disturbed when strange things start to happen – incidents which make Menley relive the horror of the accident in which she lost Bobby… incidents which make her fear for Hannah. And step by step, Menley and Adam are drawn into a dark and sinister web of events which threatens their marriage, their child and ultimately Menley’s sanity.

Review

I read my first Mary Higgins Clark book about four years ago and at the time I didn’t realise it was also her first published novel but I really enjoyed it and she turned into an author I always keep an eye out for her books. Just recently at my church someone has obviously had a clear out of Mary Higgins Clark books, leaving them at the back with the other second hand books, so I have been snapping them up whenever I see one I haven’t read. This is where Remember Me came from.

This is definitely my favourite Mary Higgins Clark book so far. I couldn’t put it down and it had me hooked with no idea what was going on or what would happen next. Menley and Adam have rented out Remember House on Cape Cod for a month where they hope to get the much needed rest together and time to relax as a family together with their baby daughter Hannah. 

Menley plans to work on her next book during this month away and so delves into research and work which is where she is happiest. It also gives her a chance to escape the past where Bobby her two year old son was killed in a car accident. However, this planned month of family bliss is not quite as quiet as they planned because Adam keeps being called away to work. This means Menley is left alone with the baby and strange things start to happen at night that start to make Menley question her sanity and fear for baby Hannah’s safety. 

There are a lot of strange events that happen in this book and I never had a clue of what to expect next. However, there were certain aspects of the story that were clearly not right and alarm bells were going off in my head that circumstances were not quite right but I couldn’t work out how these things were happening or who was responsible. I had quite a shock when it was all revealed at the end. I also loved the very last paragraph of the book and thought it linked everything up with the Remember House and Menley’s research. 

This book is very cleverly written by Clark because it keeps the reader hooked but doesn’t give much away. I also loved Clark’s descriptions especially of Remember House because I could easily picture the house in my mind. I could not put this book down and give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org

(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

Mary Higgins Clark (1927-2020) was an American author of suspense novels. She published 51 books and each one was a United States best seller.

Etsy

A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon (Review)

A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon

Blurb

A new translation of Georges Simenon’s atmospheric novel set in the bustling streets of Paris, book nine in the new Penguin Maigret series. 

Slowly the Czech was becoming animated, but in a muted way, so typical of the man. Maigret now noticed his hands, which were long, surprisingly white and dotted with freckles. They seemed to reach out and take part in the conversation. ‘Let’s be clear that it’s not your professionalism which I question. If you understand nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, it’s because from the very start you’ve been working with facts which had been falsified.’

Maigret sets out to prove the innocence of a man condemned to death for a brutal murder. As his audacious plan to uncover the truth unfolds, he encounters rich American expatriates, some truly dangerous characters and their hidden motives. 

Review

This is definitely my favourite Maigret book so far although I still have a lot to read yet. I really was hooked with this book and could not put it down, I just found the story fascinating. 

The book begins with an unusual scene but we soon realise that this is Maigret trying to prove the innocence of a man because Maigret’s gut is telling him things are not right. As Maigret starts to reinvestigate he comes upon the mysterious Czech. The Czech is a strange character who seems quite contrary. Other people would be mystified by the Czech’s actions and behaviour but Maigret clearly isn’t. 

As the story goes on Maigret starts to work it all out and starts to unweave the web that has been spun around the double murder he is investigating. I really liked the character Janvier who Maigret puts on the job of tailing the Czech. Janvier is young and inexperienced but he is dedicated to the job and lives to prove himself to Maigret. 

I love the character of Maigret he is such a formidable character and very eccentric. His love of warmth is hilarious but yet again I feel sorry for his wife who he never goes home to when he is on a case. The poor woman must have the patience of a saint. 

I really enjoyed this book and could have easily read it in one sitting but sadly work had to come first. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Bookshop.org | 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

Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was a Belgian writer who published nearly 500 novels and many short stories. Simenon is best known as the creator of the Maigret stories.

Etsy

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett (Review)

The Windsor Knot by S. J. Bennett

Blurb

The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck.

When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they’re looking in the wrong place.

For the Queen has been living an extraordinary double life since her coronation. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes.

With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the Queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?

Review

My husband read the second book from this series before realising that there was a first so we promptly bought the first one but I got to read it first. I now can’t wait to read the next one. 

I really enjoyed this book and just loved the idea of the Queen solving crimes and what a crime to solve. A guest has been found murdered in his bedroom with a rope around his neck. A murder in the Queen’s favourite residence and whilst she was in the building. I think my favourite person’s reaction to the crime is Prince Philip’s as it is such a contrast to his wife’s and very funny. 

As the story progresses it soon becomes apparent that the people investigating the murder are on completely the wrong track so the Queen decides she must solve the crime but without anybody knowing. This means she must enlist the help of her secretary Rozie. 

The Queen gets Rozie to gather the information she requires which means poor Rozie has to jump through quite a few hoops to make sure nobody knows what she is up to. Rozie also helps the Queen look after the staff who have fallen victim to the questioning. The Queen cares about her staff and wants to make sure that they are happy and safe so she enlists Rozie to make sure they know the Queen is thinking about them. 

I really enjoyed this book and loved how the Queen judges people by how her dogs react to them. The Queen has a sharp mind but a lot of the men around her believe she is a little old lady who needs to be protected from the harshness of the murder investigation but instead of putting them right she smiles and holds her tongue and bests them all without them knowing. My favourite character was definitely Prince Philip even though he wasn’t in the book much. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

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

SJ Bennett was born in Yorkshire, England in 1966, and lives in London. An army child, she grew up travelling around the world. Her first novel was published when she was 42, after a varied career and lots of procrastination. She is the award-winning author of several books for children and teaches and podcasts about writing.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Sovereign by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

Autumn, 1541. King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission of his rebellious subjects in York.

Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission for the Archbishop Cranmer – to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation.

But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead to Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age…

Review

This is the first Shardlake book that I have struggled with slightly but I am glad I persevered with it as I really enjoyed the book, especially the ending. 

We find Shardlake trying to live a quiet life fighting legal cases with the help of his assistant Jack Barak. Cromwell is now dead so Shardlake has been living his life as a normal lawyer would without being sent off to do any missions for the Crown. However, that promptly changes when Shardlake is summoned before Archbishop Cranmer who then gives Shardlake a mission. 

Shardlake finds himself joining the King’s progress to the North where not only will he be assisting with the legal work of processing the petitions to the King, he will also be ensuring the welfare of an important prisoner who needs to be interrogated in London. This is the last thing that poor Shardlake wants. 

Most of the book is in York and I must admit after the discovery of the secret papers the book did drag on for me and I really did want it to move along a bit quicker because it was at times rather dull. However, once Shardlake left York and got onto the boat things moved along at a much quicker pace and the story picked back up again and then I couldn’t put the book down till I had finished it. 

I wish this book had shown more of Guy who is one of my favourite characters but sadly he was only mentioned in passing and didn’t feature at all. We did get some new characters though. Giles is the lawyer from York who helps Shardlake with the petitions. He is an old man but still upright and very sharp of mind. He also comes across as rather a cuddly character and a man who would help anyone in need. 

The character I really couldn’t stand was Tamasin and at times Shardlake felt the same way. I really didn’t like her ways and found her far too pushy and brazen. She also had rather a big chip on her shoulder. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book and even when I had guessed who the suspect was I was still hooked. If the middle of the book had moved at a quicker pace I would have given this book a higher rating but sadly it was just too much of a drag for me. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Blind Spot by Paula Hawkins (Review)

Blind Spot by Paula Hawkins

Blurb

Since they were kids, Edie, Jake and Ryan have been the closest of friends. It’s been the three of them against the world. Edie thought the bonds between them were unbreakable. So when Jake is brutally murdered and Ryan accused of the crime, her world is shattered.

Edie is alone for the first time in years, living in the remote house that she and Jake shared. She is grief-stricken and afraid – with good reason. Because someone is watching. Someone has been waiting for this moment. Now that Edie is alone, the past she tried so hard to leave behind is about to catch up with her…

Review

I do love a Quick Reads book. The series has introduced me to so many amazing authors and sometimes I just fancy a quick book that I can basically read in one sitting. 

This book centres around the character Edie. Edie is married to Jake but since she was a child she has always been best friends with Jake and Ryan. The three of them are a team, Edie believes there are no secrets between any of them but when Jake is brutally murdered and Ryan is accused of the murder her world starts to unravel. 

Edie is left alone, living in a remote house that she shared with Jake. She is left with mounting bills, the debts she finds out that Jake had secretly taken out and the prospect that one day the house will fall off the cliff it is on. Edie has no job, no real friends and she is afraid. She is afraid because it soon occurs to her that someone is watching her, someone knows her every move. Edie’s past has come back to haunt her. 

I really enjoyed this story but I did find Edie very annoying. Edie was one of those people who happily ignores what is right at the end of her nose because it suits her circumstances. She is oblivious to anything other than herself or Jake and Ryan and anything outside of the trio she does not want to know. This way of thinking has been going on since childhood with damning consequences. 

I had no clue who the murderer was in this book until I got towards the end and started to have my suspicions. Considering the book was so small it kept me hooked and constantly wondering what would happen next. It was brilliantly written and I will definitely be reading more by Paula Hawkins. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragon. 

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Purchase Links

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

Paula Hawkins (1972) is a British author best known for the novel The Girl on the Train.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon (Review)

The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon

Blurb

Maigret has been interrogating Carl Andersen for seventeen hours without a confession. He’s either innocent or a very good liar. So why was the body of a diamond merchant found at his isolated mansion? Why is his sister always shut away in her room? And why does everyone at Three Widows Crossroads have something to hide?

Review

I have watched the episode of this where Maigret is played by Rowan Atkinson so I found it quite a shock to see just how much extra had been added into the TV adaptation which was not in the book. Even though the storyline is more complicated in the TV adaptation I found myself much preferring the book due to the simplicity of the storyline.

The story begins with a frustrated Maigret trying to get the answers he needs from Carl Andersen. In typical Maigret fashion this involves a lot of pipe smoking and a lot of beer drinking when he isn’t interrogating. Carl Andersen does not give Maigret the answers he requires so is left back at square one in trying to solve the murder and with more questions than answers. Maigret ends up going to the scene of the crime at the Three Widows Crossroads and this reveals even more mysteries for him to find answers to and more crimes. 

The novel moves at a break neck speed with Maigret performing his usual excellent detective work but at times it did feel rushed and I just wanted a bit more detail. I will be honest I found Andersen’s sister quite annoying in the book but I only felt pity for Carl himself. The fact that everyone at the Three Widows Crossroads seems to hold a secret made me want to keep reading which meant that I read the book in one sitting. 

This was a good book with a solid storyline but it did feel rushed at times and not to the standard of some of my favourite Maigret books.  Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

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

Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was a Belgian writer who published nearly 500 novels and many short stories. Simenon is best known as the creator of the Maigret stories.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Murder in Midwinter by Various Authors (Review)

Murder in Midwinter: Ten Classic Crime Stories for Christmas by Various. 

Blurb

Midwinter. As snow falls softly outside and frost sparkles on tree branches, it’s time to curl up before a roaring fire, wrap your hands around a steaming mug of mulled wine, and forget your worries for now.

But as the temperature drops outside, malice is sharpening its claws … and murder walks abroad. In these classic stories of mystery and mayhem, let ten of the great crime writers in history surprise and delight you with twists and turns as shocking as an icicle in the heart.

Featuring stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare, Anthony Berkeley, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham, Ellis Peters … and more.

Review

I love the books from the Murderous Christmas Stories series and tend to read one every December to help put me in the festive spirit. Although I was surprised to find that this book only actually had 3 stories set at Christmas and the rest were set in the Autumn or Winter months, but I suppose it is called Murder in Midwinter rather than Murder at Christmas.

I enjoyed all but one of the stories but my favourites were The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle and Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder by John Mortimer. Rumpole was a brilliant character and made me laugh a great deal, he is set in his ways and no matter how much his wife tries he will not change. Sherlock was up to his usual fantastic deductions in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. 

There was only one story in the book that I was not keen on which was the first one in the book The Queen’s Square by Sayers. I really did not get into it and found the relentless costume descriptions rather boring. However, thankfully I did not let the story put me off the rest of the book because the rest of the stories were excellent. 

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons because to be honest Rumpole and the Health Farm deserves 5 Dragons all to itself because I enjoyed it so much. 

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Purchase Links

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.)

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

Blurb

What is The Secret of Chimneys? A young drifter finds out when a favour for a friend pulls him into the heart of a deadly conspiracy in this captivating classic from Agatha Christie.

Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the centre of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realise that the simple favour has placed him in serious danger.

As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret. . . . 

Review

This was the next book in my Christie challenge and I think it is probably my favourite so far. I really could not put this book down and just loved all the red herrings that Christie throws at you. 

Now I will be honest there is an element of the ridiculous in this story and usually that annoys me but this time I just found it added to the story. Anthony Cade is doing a favour for a friend because the money is good and because he likes an outrageous adventure and he thinks that this favour will throw him into some interesting circumstances and he is not disappointed. 

As the story moves on Cade is drawn to the house Chimneys which is the setting of a house party for political reasons. Virginia Revel is also at this house party and she is definitely the star of the show. Virginia is a woman that men find themselves drawn to and she knows how to use this to her advantage. She is also a woman who likes a weird experience or adventure and because of this she finds herself dealing with the mysterious events at Chimneys. 

This is essentially a political thriller with a few surprises and some fun characters. The book is fast paced like Bundle’s driving, who I also think was my favourite character. I must admit I did not see the ending at all which was really good because I hate a predictable book. I happily give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase links

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

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.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you