Reading Trio

I prefer to review books one at a time, but when you get as far behind as I am, that becomes impossible. I don’t remember enough to write full reviews anyway, and even if I did, it would take forever. So here are brief reviews of three mysteries I read earlier this year. All three were bought at the Westerly book sale.

The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
Grade: B-

I love Agatha Christie. Her books are quick, easy, and for the most part, well-written. She is the only author completely immune to the GLP, though not for the reason you would think. She wrote so many books that I don’t dare get rid of any of them, lest I inadvertently buy them again!

The Seven Dials Mystery is one that I would definitely not want to buy again. It starts with an intriguing practical joke and the way that the joke goes bad for the characters makes an excellent start for a mystery novel. It also has one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever met in a book, Lord Caterham, who says things like, “I don’t like anyone who comes and dies in my house on purpose to annoy me.” I’m sure many people would feel that way if a stranger was inconsiderate enough to die in their house, but few would have the audacity to say so.

I read along happily for quite a while, eager as always to be duped by the end. But Christie fell into the trap that lies in wait for all intelligent writers of formulaic fiction—the reckless desire to break the formula and add the ultimate “twist.” The ending was not only unrealistic, but dumb. Yeah, just plain dumb. This mystery only barely got a B-level grade, and I would not recommend it for anyone but a die-hard Christie fan.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Grade: B+

In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a small English village is rocked by two deaths, one an overdose and the other a murder, and luck has placed Hercule Poirot on the scene. He will need all of his finely-honed detective skills to determine whether the two deaths are related and who might have had a hand in them.

It’s not the best Christie mystery I’ve ever read, but it is clever. I was certainly fooled. If I graded it purely on the outcome, it would fare better, but the situation and characters are slightly boring. Still, I would give this one a go if you’re a fan of the genre, particularly if you like the ever amusing Hercule Poirot.

Death in the Andamans by M.M. Kaye
Grade: B-

The Andamans are an island group in the Bay of Bengal. Near the beginning of the last century, the British had a penal colony there, and that is the setting for this book. The odd setting, particularly the creepy house in which the main characters stay and the hurricane that starts the action, make this a memorable book.  Unfortunately, the characters and story are an entirely different matter. I would summarize the plot for you but it’s hazy in my memory. I only remember being aggravated by the silly dialogue. However, I’m still so charmed by The Sun in the Morning that I won’t let this failure turn me from Kaye’s other books. I fully intend to read more of them as time and circumstances permit.

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2 Responses to Reading Trio

  1. chick says:

    I had never heard of the Andamans before reading the M.M. Kaye book. I am surprised to see now how often the island group is mentioned in the BBC news. Today they announced that the last speaker of the Bo language has died, and the language died with her. The languages of the Andamans are thought to be extremely old, perhaps going back as far as pre-Neolithic times. But they are all at risk because the speakers are dying, many from contact with people from other places who bring diseases against which the islanders have no immunity. It’s a story we’ve heard before, and still so sad.

  2. Pingback: A Year of Poirot | Blue-Footed Musings

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