Crime - Shastrix Books

Crime

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Poirot's Early Cases

Poirot's Early Cases

15th December 2018

As I approach the end of my decade-long read-through of the Hercule Poirot series, I come to this collection of short stories. The stories are all from early in Poirot’s career, before he was an internationally renowned detective, and were originally published relatively early in Christie’s career, although not collected like this until the end.

It’s a nice dip of the toe into the world of Poirot, but generally I found it frustrating that each of the stories was so short - they don’t contain the depth that I’ve come to expect from the mystery, and there’s not really any opportunity to work it out for yourself as a reader, given the very limited page count.

The beauty of Christie’s writing, to me, is in her ability to feed me clues at just the right pace that I can work it out at the perfect speed along with the narrative - and in these cases I don’t have the chance to do that.

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Buy book: UK
Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember

25th July 2018

Nearing the end of the Poirot canon, this story follows the elderly detective as he’s asked to investigate a very cold case - as the mother-in-law-to-be of a young woman digs to find out what really happened to her parents.

It’s a complicated case, and leads to the usual approach of interviewing a rich variety of witnesses, gathering seemingly random pieces of information before putting together a startling conclusion.

In this case, I felt that some aspects were a little too obvious. And yet other things that really stood out to me turned out to be red herrings, and I think almost too much so - it felt more like the truth was hidden behind distractions rather than assembled from little jigsaw pieces.

Overall though a good story, and one that does the series justice as the final ‘regular’ episode.

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Buy book: UK
Off the Rails

Off the Rails

7th July 2018

Bryant & May’s eighth adventure takes an interesting twist on the series, being the first novel that is a direct sequel to the preceding one. The continuing case of The Fox, who having escaped custody appears to have begun a new killing spree, and the detectives are once again given an absurdly short deadline to complete the case or be shut down.

While it’s a good mystery story, I felt that this one had lost a little of what earlier novels had. The crimes aren’t particularly peculiar in their nature - they are fairly ordinary as crimes go - and the character developments that have been at the forefront of previous stories seem to have been back-burnered in favour of plot.

The narrative is however quite amusing, in a relaxed way. There are a few in jokes, at the author and characters’ expense, as well as a number of moments of humour and particularly strong and witty dialogue. This I think was what held the book together and made me race through the pages, rather than anything with the plot itself.

A good mystery overall, with some interesting twists and turns, and a satisfying resolution.

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The Hanging in the Hotel

The Hanging in the Hotel

26th May 2018

The fifth Fethering Mystery finds amateur sleuths Carole and Jude embroiled in a hotel-based death during an ego-trip event by a group of local do-gooders.

Compared to the previous novels, it’s very much in the same vein. There’s perhaps a little less of the dynamic between the two main characters than I’d have liked, but each of them gets amusing moments as they proceeded with their meddlesome investigation.

It’s a satisfying mystery with a range of dodgy suspects, although one in particular was an uncomfortable one to read about. Overall an enjoyable diversion.

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A Question of Blood

A Question of Blood

20th January 2018

Deep into the Rebus series, we see the eponymous detective face a novel crime - two schoolboys murdered and another wounded - which hits close to home when he discovers one of the victims is a long lost relative.

It's quite a complex plot with a lot of different strands weaving through, and writing this a few weeks after reading it, I'm not entirely clear in the end quite how it was all wrapped up. Some of the threads are serial ones though rather than specific to this book, and I think it's fascinating how this series has evolved into something that can have continuing plot lines mixed in with the crime of the week.

The Rebus stories are currently my favourite in the crime genre, with characters that are surprisingly likeable and plots that suggest a great understanding of the realities of police work, without feeling like they’ve been particularly livened up for the purposes of telling a story, like some of the more thriller-esque crime novels that I’ve been reading.

A solid novel in a solid series that I really enjoy reading.

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On the Loose

On the Loose

7th September 2017

The seventh novel about the Peculiar Crimes Unit opens with the interesting twist of the unit being disbanded and its staff sent on their merry way. This is of course followed by the discovery of a peculiar crime, and the investigation is off.

Like many of the previous novels, the interesting content is not so much the plot or investigation, but the details that it uncovers about London, specifically in this case Kings Cross, and its history, as well as the interaction between the characters, which has both a comedic and a slightly dark edge.

I'm still not entirely sure I've got a grip on what the series is meant to be about. But I don't think it really matter as it keeps me entertained and wanting to pick up the next book.

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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

Other reviewed books

Murder in the Museum
Third Girl
Hot Six
Headhunters
The Clocks
Set in Darkness
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
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
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
Plum Spooky
Postern of Fate
Seven Up
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen
Ten Big Ones
The 13 Problems
The Body in the Library
The Grave Tattoo
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. The Affair of the Mutilated Mink
  2. Where the Bodies are Buried
  3. Cat Among the Pigeons
  4. Dead Tomorrow
  5. The Hanging Garden
  6. The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks
  7. Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks