I’m busy tidying up the notebooks I use to write on the bus, and came across my book log notes for the books I read in September last year. As it happens, two of these are in the sale at Amazon UK and Kobo at the moment. :-)
Agatha Christie — Murder on the Orient Express
There isn’t really a lot I can say that hasn’t already been said by hundreds of reviewers on LibraryThing. It’s a classic bottle mystery–a murder and a group of people in an isolated venue, in this case the Orient Express trains stranded in a snowdrift. It’s great fun watching Poirot piece together all the red herrings to find that some are clues after all.
Agatha Christie — The Murder on the Links
Poirot novel set in France, with Poirot butting heads with the local police investigator. Poirot is asked to come urgently by a man in fear of his life. The widow’s story does not quite hang together, and yet she is genuinely shocked and distraught by her husband’s death. Red herrings abound, and as usual Hastings repeatedly gets hold of the wrong end of the stick–or in this case, the length of lead piping. Enjoyable Poirot fare, although nothing outstanding.
Lindsey Davis — The Silver Pigs
First of the Falco books, a mystery series set in Ancient Rome during the reign of Vesparius. Marcus Didius Falco is a PI. That’s public informer, a role remarkably similar to that of the private investigator in the modern era. And as with the classic gumshoe mystery, Falco has an office/flats at the top of a seedy low rent tenement building.
The novel is as historically accurate as Davis could make it, but human nature hasn’t changed much over the last 2000 years. Falco rescues a damsel in distress, and finds himself sucked into a case involving theft and corruption in the silver mines of a backwards colony at the fringe of the Empire.
Excellent mystery, with an appealing lead character and careful world building. I loved this, and will be reading more of the series.
Abridged on three CDs, and read by Nigel Anthony. A famous Poirot story, but one I’d never read before. Beautifully pulled off, although I suspect it suffers a little from the abridgement. Even with the abridgement issues, I loved this. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.
Back to posting July’s book log…
69) Agatha Christie — “How does your garden grow?” and other stories [audiobook]
Five short stories taken from the collection “Poirot’s Early Cases”, read on 3 CDs by the man who plays him so perfectly on tv, David Suchet. The stories included in this set are “The Plymouth Express”, “The Submarine Plans”, “Problem at Sea”, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” and “The Market Basing Mystery”. Entertaining short mysteries, and Suchet is an excellent reader. I’d like to get more audiobooks read by him.
Read by Hugh Fraser
ISBN 978-0230747371 (also 978-1405088626)
Abridged by Kati Nicholl, 3 CD set, running time approx 3 hours
Poirot has retired, and is taking his leisure in a seaside town, determined not to take on any new cases. But when a pretty young woman by the nickname of Nick tells him about a series of near-fatal accidents that have befallen her, he cannot resist temptation. The accidents are clearly not accidents, and the young lady must be protected. He is determined to unmask the killer before one of the accidents proves fatal. Alas, the killer strikes again — but strikes down Nick’s cousin, who had the misfortune to be wearing Nick’s distinctive wrap. Now Poirot’spersonal pride is at stake, and there is still Nick to protect…
Red herrings and side plots abound, but Poirot gets there in the end. It’s a beautifully constructed book, with the answer right in front of the reader from early in the book, concealed by some artful misdirection. The audiobook is read by Hugh Fraser. who plays Hastings in the tv series. Fraser is generally a good reader, but I found his portrayal of Poirot rather off-putting. He uses a very strong accent that in comparison with Suchet’s performance sounds like an overplayed stereotype. Of course, part of the problem here is that Suchet *is* Poirot for me, and anything else would sound wrong — and my subconscious attention is drawn to it because Hastings sounds right.
In spite of which, I enjoyed this 3 CD set a lot. The story has been abridged well, and I enjoy listening to Hugh Fraser. I happened to pick this up in The Works for four pounds, and think that it was superb value for money at that price. List price is 13 pounds, although the online shops are listing it for less. I might think twice about paying full price for others in the series because of my issue with Fraser’s portrayal of Poirot, but I wouldn’t have considered it a waste of money. One minor point with the cheap version offered in The Works — it’s a very simple case with only one spindle for the 3 CDs, so you have to lift the first discs out to get at the later discs, with an additional risk of scratching one eventually. It’s also available in download.
at the Book Depository
A nurse is hired by the leader of an archaeological expedition to look after his wife, who has been suffering from nervous fears. The fears are considered by most if not all of the expedition members to be the result of imagination and boredom, but are proven all too justified when she is murdered. The local police decide to call in Poirot, who happens to be conveniently in the neighbourhood. The nurse plays the role of Hastings in this novel, including writing up the case afterwards as an independent witness to the murder and its investigation.
Much of the novel is an acidly funny observation of the different personalities of the characters and the way they deceive themselves and others. The mystery itself has plenty of red herrings, and although I knew from an unfortunate spoiler on LibraryThing who the killer was, I didn’t realise until the last minute how it was done. I enjoyed this, and I think it would stand re-reading.
Books and DVDs at Play
DRM-locked ebook at Fictionwise
Enjoyable but not outstanding Poirot novel, narrated by Hastings. American actress Jane Wilkinson is desperate to be free of her husband, Lord Edgware, so that she can marry a different and more desirable English lord. Lord Mark One conveniently dies of a knife wound to the base of the skull, but the ungrieving widow by chance has an impeccable alibi, and there are other people with a motive for murder, and perhaps for framing Lady Edgware. Poirot does eventually untangle the truth, but not before there are more deaths, and a lot of false paths followed.
Books, audiobooks and DVDs at Play
DRM-locked ebook at Fictionwise