Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon (Review)

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Blurb

A gripping new translation of the first novel in the famous Inspector Maigret series. What he sought, and what he waited and watched out for, was the crack in the wall. In other words, the instant when the human being comes out from behind the opponent.

Who is Pietr the Latvian? Is he a gentleman thief? A Russian drinking absinthe in a grimy bar? A married Norwegian sea captain? A twisted corpse in a train bathroom? Or is he all of these men? Inspector Maigret, tracking a mysterious adversary and a trail of bodies, must bide his time before the answer can come into focus.

Review

This is the first Maigret book and our first introduction to the amazing detective Maigret. Maigret is trying to hunt down the criminal Pietr the Latvian with nothing but a description but the mystery deepens when Maigret realises that Pietr the Latvian is not all that he seems.

In this book we have a detailed description of Maigret and he appears to be a formidable presence in any room. He is described as a muscular man who dominates a room with his size. He will also dominate any stove, fire or radiator in any room as he is obsessed with being by a heat source which was a surprise as the later novels in the series I have read have him obsessed with alcohol but obviously in the first book he isn’t a functional alcoholic yet.

Maigret starts to unravel the mystery that is Pietr the Latvian but as he does so the case turns dangerous for Maigret and his colleagues. However, the danger only makes Maigret more determined to find out the truth and nothing will stop him.

I enjoyed this book and liked how Maigret unravelled the case but I must admit it did seem to lack the finesse of the later novels I have read but it is the first Maigret book. I also felt very sorry for Mrs Maigret as through this book she heard nothing from her husband for days and kept making his meals without him showing up to eat them but she never complained. 

The mystery in this book was really fascinating and I enjoyed seeing how Maigret worked it all out. However, I didn’t find the book as good as the other Maigret books I have read so I have only given the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good read but was just lacking that special something.

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.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Review)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Blurb

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves

A female cop with her first big case

A brutal murder

Welcome to…

The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late? 

Review

I am always a bit dubious about reading books by celebrities because sometimes I find that they have only been published because they are already famous but I heard so many good things about this book I decided to give it a go and I am pleased I did.

I started this book and I was immediately hooked. The introduction is so intriguing you can’t help but be hooked. One old lady asking another old lady her opinion on whether someone with multiple stab wounds could have been saved and how long it would take for them to bleed out if left untreated can’t help but intrigue the reader. These two characters are Joyce and Elizabeth. Joyce is a dear lady who is a retired nurse who just wants everyone to like her. She is also clearly rather lonely and loves her new found friends in the Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth clearly has an interesting past and is an interesting character but she also has her problems but she is very good at hiding them from the outside world.

The other two members of the club are Ron and Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a retired psychiatrist and knows how to read people. Ron, who was my favourite character, is very good at speaking out against any injustice and made a name for himself when he was younger. Ron is a real character, who is clearly a tough guy but who also has a heart of gold and is always the man to give a consoling hug. 

The two official investigators are Donna and Chris. They become members of the Thursday Murder Club. I do feel sorry for Chris and Donna. They are trying to do their jobs but are also trying to control four elderly people who insist on interfering. 

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book but I will be honest I got a little bored in the middle and lost interest but thankfully I kept reading and it picked back up towards the end. I was also rather pleased that I had worked out who the murderer of Tony Curran was although I struggled to work out who the killer of Ian Ventham was. 

This book was humorous, well written with some wonderful characters that I would happily read about again. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons just because I lost interest in the middle.

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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

Richard Osman (1970) is an English television presenter, producer, comedian and writer best known for being the creator and co-presenter of the television show Pointless. 

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

Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon

Blurb

When a wealthy wine merchant is shot in a Paris street, Maigret must investigate a long list of the ruthless businessman’s enemies before he can get to the sad truth of the affair.

Review

Another Maigret novel, I have been on a roll with reading Maigret books but now I have run out so this will be the last one until I get some more and I will definitely be getting some more. 

I was surprised at the lack of alcohol in this book in comparison to the two previous books but Maigret still drank more than the average human being.

This book was a little different to the previous two books, instead of Maigret finding all the pieces of the puzzle the puzzle appeared in front of him instead. However, what Maigret did piece together was the true nature of the murder victim and I must admit he was not a very nice man and it was understandable why someone had decided to kill him. 

There were some interesting characters in this book and one of my favourites was the one nicknamed Grasshopper, she was a real character and I really liked it when she was in the book. This book really showed the class differences and how the very rich seemed to have very loose morals and the lower classes a much higher moral standard and to be honest the characters who weren’t made of money were the better people to be friends with in this book.

I really enjoyed this book and found it rather different to the two previous books I had read. Maigret is such a good character and I just love reading about him solving cases. I give this book 4 out 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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

Maigret and the Saturday Caller by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Saturday Caller by Georges Simenon

Blurb

A man visits Inspector Jules Maigret at his home to tell him he wants to kill his wife and her lover. Although it is not an official case, Maigret is interested, particularly when the man later disappears. 

Review

My second Maigret book and yet again I was shocked by the amount of alcohol that Maigret consumed. I also loved how Maigret was convinced he had a cold brewing so he kept drinking lots of hot rum as a remedy to prevent it.

This book started off very mysteriously with the man nicknamed by Maigret’s colleagues as ‘the Saturday Caller’. This strange ‘Saturday Caller’ has been appearing at the police station like clock work every Saturday but the man never says anything and runs away before anyone speaks to him. However, one evening when Maigret walks through his door he finds ‘the Saturday Caller’ in his living room.

Maigret eventually manages to get the ‘Saturday Caller’ to tell his story, with the help of several glasses of plum brandy. The story unfurls that ‘the Saturday Caller’ wants to kill his wife and the wife’s lover who lives with them. I must admit I felt so sorry for this man as he tells his story to Maigret and you can tell that Maigret also feels the same. Even though there is no crime committed Maigret takes an interest in this man’s story and so agrees with him that they will talk on the phone everyday. 

As soon as Maigret goes back to work he starts his investigations into the non-existent crime and things start to unfold. Maigret does what he does best, he gathers every little scrap of information and builds the picture up. 

I really enjoyed this book and I loved seeing the little tricks that Maigret got his men to use to get the information required even if they were a little underhand. I also loved that the police have a new forensics man who helps them with some signatures and Maigret finds these modern techniques very interesting. I finished this book in less than 24 hours and loved it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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

Maigret and the Calame Report by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Calame Report by Georges Simenon

Blurb

In ‘Maigret and the Calame Report’ the detective is reluctantly drawn into the seedy world of political manoeuvring and corruption when 128 children are killed in a collapsing building.

Review

The first impression I had of this book is how does Maigret’s liver cope? I fully expected him to need a new liver at the end of this book. Everywhere he goes he has an alcoholic drink! It did make me giggle when Maigret admits he doesn’t get on with driving as he finds his mind wanders and he has only just managed to avoid an accident whilst driving in the past. I’m not sure about his mind wandering but I am sure the alcohol he is consuming is affecting his driving.

So this is my first Maigret book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maigret deals firmly with facts and good old fashioned police work which often involves the use of his officers to gather all the facts he needs to build his case. Maigret lives a simple life of going to work and coming home to his wife who always has his slippers ready and tea on the table and who never complains if he is late or summoned out of the house at random hours. However, there is one thing that Maigret likes to avoid and that is politics but sadly with this case politicians need him to solve the case. Maigret must find the person who stole the all important Calame Report and he needs to do it fast.

The thing I loved about this book is that Maigret is unlike other detectives you read in other detective books. Sherlock Holmes for instance will deduce things and make assumptions on the evidence he has before him but Maigret does not do that. He carefully and painstakingly gathers every little fact and piece of evidence he can find and he starts to build the picture until he has a result. He never tries to predict or assume anything and won’t do anything unless he has all the facts. As the story unfolds Maigret builds the picture of what happened and the reader sees it all happen with Maigret. 

The book is only short and in reality it could be read in one day but due to tiredness it took me nearly a week but I really enjoyed the book and I can’t wait to read the next one and see what Maigret is up to next. 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

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

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

Summer, 1540. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the King’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . . 

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared. Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovered nothing is as it seems . . .

Review

I was so excited to read another story about Matthew Shardlake as I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Dissolution. This book is set three years after the first book and finds Shardlake no longer in the employment or favour of Cromwell but quietly working as a lawyer in London.

Shardlake is defending a girl who is accused of murdering her cousin and must work quickly if he has any chance of saving her. However, during this time Cromwell throws a spanner in the works by giving Shardlake another case and not an easy one. Cromwell also gives Shardlake a rather uncouth assistant to help him called Barack who likes to call  people he doesn’t like a rather rude name.

Shardlake and Barack have to work on the two cases at the same time but the one for Cromwell is hampered constantly. People are trying to kill Shardlake and Barack and the people involved that could help the investigations are killed before they can help. The other problem is that Shardlake and Barack always seem to be one step behind the bad guys.

This book really kept me on my toes and I never worked out who was guilty for either crime until it is revealed until the end. I also enjoyed reading about how the Tudors considered humours to be the source of health and illness as I have just finished an assignment on health in ancient Greece and Rome and their health and treatments also relied on the balance of humours.

There are so many twists and turns in this book and it never stopped for a moment. I couldn’t put this book down and throughly enjoyed it, in fact I think I enjoyed it more than the first book in the series. I can’t wait to read more about Shardlake and I give this book 5 out of 5 books. 

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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.

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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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.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (Review)

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Blurb

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Review

I love a gothic mystery so I was very excited to start reading this book and I will be honest it was rather a surprise once I got into the story. 

My first impression of this book was too much description and it took me a while to get used to this. Kidd is an excellent writer but sometimes her descriptions can go on too long. For example she describes at one point all the different dreams people are having and to be honest I just lost interest as they were characters that were not important. However, that is my only problem with this story; the rest I loved.

Bridie is fantastic and the more I got to know her the more I loved her character. Bridie is clever and has the ability and intellect to be an amazing doctor but sadly she is woman and women are not allowed to be doctors. This doesn’t stop Bridie though who helps Inspector Rose with unusual cases by examining the bodies and the scene of the crime. She also solves crimes for private clients as well. Bridie is eccentric, she smokes a pipe and speaks her mind and is a force to be reckoned with and she does all of this in a dress and many petticoats, most of the time.

I will be honest Bridie is basically a female Sherlock Holmes and it is very clear that that is who Kidd based the character on. Bridie also has a house maid called Cora who is fascinating. Cora is seven foot tall and a very scary woman who the local children find very interesting. She is also a fantastic bodyguard for Bridie who will see no harm come to her.

This story combines folklore and history together perfectly and makes for a fascinating read. I will be honest at times I found it a little disturbing but it was still a fabulous read that I highly enjoyed. I give this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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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

Jess Kidd was brought up in London as part of a large family from county Mayo and has been praised for her unique fictional voice. Her debut, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2016. She won the Costa Short Story Award the same year. Her second novel, The Hoarder, published as Mr. Flood’s Last Resort in the U.S. and Canada was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2019. Both books were BBC Radio 2 Book Club Picks. Her latest book, the Victorian detective tale Things in Jars, has been released to critical acclaim. Jess’s work has been described as ‘Gabriel García Márquez meets The Pogues.’ 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Mysterious Affair at Style by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

Hercule Poirot is intrigued by the details surrounding the murder of wealthy Mrs Inglethorp, mistress of Styles Court. This was Agatha Christie’s first Poirot novel, published in 1921.

Review

This is my first full length Christie novel that I have read and is part of my challenge to read more Christie novels and not just the short stories. I love watching adaptations of Poirot and Miss Marple on TV and so I was really excited to read my first full length novel and the first ever Poirot novel. 

I was pleased to see that Hastings was his usual bumbling self who is always wrong but convinced that he is right and that Poirot is wrong and going senile in his old age. He really made me laugh in this book and his random outbursts were hilarious.

Poirot was a massive surprise and I absolutely adored him. He is so eccentric and you never know what he is going to do next. My favourite scene has got to be where he goes off skipping with joy down the lawn. He is a truly brilliant character which is ten times better in the book than on the screen. 

I really enjoyed the story and it really kept me on my toes because once I thought I had worked out who the murderer was I got it completely wrong and the story went in a different direction. We also got a glimpse of the famous Inspector Japp and although we didn’t see much of him it was a good introduction that I am sure we will see more of.

The edition of the book I read also had the original ending that Christie had written as well as the one published and I must admit after reading both I much prefer the one that is published rather than the one Christie originally planned. The two endings are very good but I really like where Poirot and Hastings sit down and sum everything up and talk over the case at the end of the published ending.

This is my first full length Christie novel and it will definitely not be my last and I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. I just loved all the twists and turns and Poirot’s bright green eyes.

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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

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

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

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.