Crime - Shastrix Books

Crime

Recently reviewed

Hallowe'en Party

Hallowe'en Party

4th May 2017

I've lost count of what number this is in Agatha Christie's epic series of Poirot stories, but it's certainly one of the later ones, and yet retains the charm, comedy and mastery of mystery that she wrote throughout.

Although a seemingly simple tale from the outset, it becomes increasingly more complex. I'm not sure whether I was distracted, but the resolution had me baffled right up to the end, and honestly it felt like it may have been a bit over complex towards the conclusion.

Perhaps not one of the best in the series, or one that I would recommend, but definitely a worthy entry in the canon and an entertaining read.

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Buy book: UK
Murder in the Museum

Murder in the Museum

20th December 2016

The fourth Fethering Mystery, which I've finally located my copy of after over a year of hunting, returns to the Sussex village's amateur detectives as a body is discovered at a local heritage house. It's not recent, but leads to the usual complicated scenarios that only a pair of plucky amateur sleuths can untangle.

The plot felt a little convoluted, with perhaps a few too many threads weaving around. Some of the suspects are larger than life, which while traditional in this genre, just steps it a touch outside plausibility.

The main characters are where the real richness and enjoyment enters this novel - it's hard to believe that this is only the fourth novel given how detailed their lives have becomes, and I really like stepping in as they investigate and learning more about them and understanding more about how they tick.

An interesting if not quite great entry in the series, and one I'm glad I finally found, and which frees me up to continue enjoying the series.

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Buy book: UK
Third Girl

Third Girl

6th July 2016

I decided to do something different with this Poirot novel. Instead of just read along, get a bit confused between characters, and eventually stumble upon the right answer moments before the big reveal, I would take copious notes, in the form of triples, that would mean I could take in the entire plot, make logical connections, identify contradictions, and come to some sensible conclusions as early as possible.

I started taking notes on my phone's notepad application, then when that proved awkward and slow switched to scribbling longhand notes in a notebook. I managed to keep this up into chapter seven. A week had passed, and I was barely making any progress with the story. Perhaps I was noting down too much - but how did I tell what was important and what wasn't? I gave up on this approach and continued reading in the more traditional manner.

Third Girl has an interesting set up for Poirot, in that it isn't clear at the start of the story if a murder has taken place or not, and much of the narrative is focused on investigations that are different from the usual. Christie once again makes great use of her crime-author character, Ariadne Oliver, to add some fantastic comic moments to the plot and keep the story flowing.

It's another good mystery from the leader in her class. Christie puts together a complex plot, and I just about managed to work out one of the key secrets that came at the end, while many more managed to slip past unnoticed and left me feeling surprised at what I'd missed.

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Hot Six

Hot Six

26th May 2016

Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, sees her sixth adventure in the ongoing soap opera of her life with only the slightest twist in the formula. This time her friend Ranger is her target as he's vanished following a mysterious death.

I can't entirely render remember why I started reading these novels - probably one was really cheap in a library sale - but I quite enjoyed the first few, with the idea of a woman attempting to make it in an unusual profession. Now however the premier seems a bit stale, and it feels a little like the author has run out if be ideas for plot and has fallen back on romance to take over as the primary story.

The lustfulness of the characters was there from the start, but now it seems to dominate over the story. Additionally, the series has started to develop cliches - grandma's trips to the funeral parlour and the destruction of cars in particular, which now detract from the enjoyment of reading.

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Headhunters

Headhunters

25th March 2016

I've put off reading his standalone Jo Nesbo novel for some time. However having finished the Harry Hole series and being up to date on his latest releases it came to picking this up. I really enjoyed it.

Headhunters is the tail of a recruitment specialist who is known for always getting the right person for the job. But there's more to him than that, things that not even his wife knows about. It's an excellent story about an interesting character that goes from a fascinating look at a mans life to a hilarious adventure that keeps the reader gripped.

Okay, so there was a point at which I felt like the author had spoiled the good thing he had going with one of the twists, and I felt that the story was moving dramatically from something I'd been loving into a different type of story, but then everything became a step more awesome and I got sucked right back in.

Nesbo has a real talent for creating characters with shades of grey that really engage and deAw you in as a reader, and I'd have no qualms about recommending this book.

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The Clocks

The Clocks

2nd February 2016

Agatha Christie's The Clocks continues the theme of Poirot novels without really featuring the character for most of the narrative, as if the author head by this point become horrifically bored of her star detective but has to keep him in for the marketing value of his name on the cover.

It's a fairly straightforward story with a mix of suspects, clues and red herring that you might expect, with an interesting subplot between some of the characters. It doesn't really add anything dramatically new, and a lot if the clues seemed fairly obvious and I managed to successfully work out the solution before the reveal.

The best feature of this novel is actually the humour. Christie writes with sharp sarcasm introducing a wide range of quite deep characters as witnesses are visited and interviewed by the investigators. There are many winks to a knowing audience and this I absolutely loved.

An average Christie novel I think, though worth it if you've read a few for some good fun.

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Set in Darkness

Set in Darkness

31st December 2015

The eleventh Inspector Rebus story from Ian Rankin took me a while to get into. Particularly early on I wasn't really sure where my focus was meant to be, and it seemed to have stepped back from where the previous novels had been with the character to being more focussed on the investigation in question and less on the characters.

Later on though I became much more interested in the story as things progressed, and it's actually got a lot more going on than I had initially realised. There are a lot of new characters or characters that are stepping onto centre stage in a way that they hadn't in earlier novels, and it feels like this is a major stepping stone on the way to developments to come in later novels (we shall see).

The plot is intricate, but feels more like a vehicle for the other things that are going on in Rankin's Edinburgh - it often felt like it was taking second place to the world building, although that could be because the various parts of it felt quite discrete.

So in retrospect actually quite a good Rebus novel and one important, it would seem, to the ongoing continuity - just needs the beginning to be got through first.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

High Five
Blind Fury
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
The Concrete Blonde
Dead Souls
Four to Score
Seventy-Seven Clocks
Silent Scream
Cat Among the Pigeons
The Black Ice
The Hanging Garden
Police
Deadly Intent
Dead Man's Folly
Phantom
The Case of the Missing Books
Black and Blue
Dead Tomorrow
The Black Echo
Tell No One
Hickory Dickory Dock
Clean Cut
Cockroaches
Let it Bleed
Death on the Downs
Dead Man's Footsteps
Darkest Fear
After the Funeral
The Red Dahlia
Two for the Dough
Diamond Solitaire
The Leopard
Mortal Causes
Flesh Wounds
The Cuckoo's Calling
The Body on the Beach
No Deals, Mr Bond
The Final Detail
Mrs McGinty's Dead
Above Suspicion
One for the Money
Our Kind of Traitor
The Last Detective
The Snowman
The Black Book
Looking Good Dead
One False Move
Taken at the Flood
The Redeemer
Strip Jack
Back Spin
The Labours of Hercules
Full Dark House
The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks
The Bat
The Devil's Star
Tooth and Nail
The Hollow
The Affair of the Mutilated Mink
When the Devil Drives
The Geneva Trap
Fade Away
Five Little Pigs
Where the Bodies are Buried
Hide and Seek
Worth Dying For
Evil Under the Sun
The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy
Drop Shot
One, Two, Buckle my Shoe
Knots and Crosses
Gone Tomorrow
Sad Cypress
Deal Breaker
Nothing to Lose
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Bad Luck and Trouble
Appointment with Death
The Hard Way
Murder in the Mews
Dead Simple
A Snow Ball in Hell
One Shot
Death on the Nile
Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks
The King of Torts
Dumb Witness
Nemesis
The Enemy
Cards on the Table
A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil
The Complaints
Persuader
Murder in Mesopotamia
The Redbreast
Without Fail
The ABC Murders
The Sleeping Doll
Echo Burning
Death in the Clouds
Three Act Tragedy
Roadside Crosses
Murder on the Orient Express
Die Trying
Lord Edgware Dies
Mystery Man
Peril at End House
Killing Floor
Black Coffee
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Big Four
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Poirot Investigates
The Gun Seller
The Murder on the Links
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Miss Marple's Final Cases
A Study in Scarlet
Sleeping Murder
Nemesis
At Bertram's Hotel
A Caribbean Mystery
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
4.50 From Paddington
A Pocket Full of Rye
They Do It With Mirrors
A Murder Is Announced
The Moving Finger

Unreviewed books

A Darkness More Than Night
A Question of Blood
An Unkindness of Ravens
And Then There Were None
Angels Flight
Beyond Recall
Bleeding Hearts
Blood at the Bookies
Blood Hunt
By the Pricking of My Thumbs
City of Bones
Curtain
Death Comes to Pemberley
Death in Holy Orders
Death Under the Dryer
Destination Unknown
Doors Open
Elephants Can Remember
Eleven on Top
Exit Music
Fearless Fourteen
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Hard Eight
Hold Tight
Imitation in Death
Lean Mean Thirteen
Lost Light
N or M?
No More Dying Then
No Second Chance
Not in the Flesh
Off the Rails
On the Loose
Plum Spooky
Poirot's Early Cases
Postern of Fate
Seven Up
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen
Ten Big Ones
The 13 Problems
The Body in the Library
The Grave Tattoo
The Hanging in the Hotel
The Impossible Dead
The Last Coyote
The Lighthouse
The Man in the Brown Suit
The Memory of Blood
The Mermaids Singing
The Monster in the Box
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Narrows
The Poisoning in the Pub
The Sittaford Mystery
The Watchman
The Woods
To The Nines
Trunk Music
Twelve Sharp
Union Jack
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Witch Hunt

Top books

  1. Where the Bodies are Buried
  2. Police
  3. Black and Blue
  4. Dead Tomorrow
  5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
  6. The Hanging Garden
  7. Cat Among the Pigeons