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Book Review: The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: The Big Bow Mystery
Author: Israel Zangwill
Pages: 160
Publication Year: 1892

So, it so happened that after reading so many locked room mysteries by Agatha Christie, I wanted to explore books on similar analogy. Googling the concept gave the result of top books among which I found the summary of  The Big Bow Mystery most interesting. So, here is my story on how I started reading this book since this was also available free for Kindle devices through Project Gutenberg.

Keeping the mystery to mute in this review, the book has several interesting characters where the conversation and dialogues are kept simple. The twists and turns are handled beautifully, not what I had expected to be. The so-called sleuth seems to have a slight cocky attitude like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. But ah, the end, it is fabulous.  Only if, as a reader, we could also have participated in solving the mystery, it would have been perfect. However, luckily, the mystery books are not kept open-ended and most of the times, readers reach an end. Overall, this book is worth picking up.

 

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
East End landlady Mrs Drabdump is alarmed when she cannot rouse her lodger Arthur Constant. She summons the assistance of her neighbour, retired Scotland Yard detective George Grodman. He breaks down the door to Constant’s room, only to find the man lying dead on his bed, with a deep-cut to his throat. No-one it seems, could have got in or out of the locked room and there is no sign of the murder weapon.

Who was the killer and how will he be identified? A man is condemned to death for the seemingly impossible crime but Grodman is unconvinced that he is guilty.

With its sardonic style and vivid, Dickensian characters, Zangwill’s short novel remains a cleverly plotted and ingenious murder mystery which will still appeal to readers today.

About the author:
Israel Zangwill was a British novelist, short-story writer, dramatist and a Zionist leader.

Rating: 8/10
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Book Review: A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: A Pocket Full of Rye
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 315
Publication Year: 1932

I guess this book A Pocket Full of Rye ends my addiction of Agatha Christie for this year. Oh no no, the book is not bad. Then what, you ask! I am just bluffing. Just check the date on which this post is written – just a week to go and not much time left for the new year to come in and I have to complete my current book Coffee, Tea or Me and two more book reviews. Too much on my palette, right? But breaking addiction is difficult and this year I had let go of many many things but I am proud that I was able to sustain the temptation and to start a new journey altogether.

So this book again helped me in figuring out how authors find inspiration. For Agatha, it is also rhymes since two or more have already featured at the cusp of different books, for example And Then There Were None. So, let me give you a hint on where to focus to find the murderer. Read the poem carefully while you go ahead with turning the pages of the book (and hey, I am not misguiding you, I swear):

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.

The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
A handful of grain is found in the pocket of a murdered businessman! Rex Fortescue, king of a financial empire, was sipping tea in his ‘counting house’ when he suffered an agonising and sudden death. On later inspection, the pockets of the deceased were found to contain traces of cereals. Yet, it was the incident in the parlour which confirmed Jane Marple’s suspicion that here she was looking at a case of crime by rhyme!

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: The Thirteen Problems / The Tuesday Club Murders
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 315
Publication Year: 1932

I thought I had read it all – all forms of Agatha Christie books – novels, playwrights etc, but there is one I recently discovered – short stories too. Agatha Christie is really the queen of mystery in the way she is able to hold off the mystery and solution in such delicate way in even a few pages. Hats off to her!

And who better to solve these short mysteries other than Miss Marple who is champion in analyzing human behavior through just a simple description of the characters. However, I believe that it is too much since the narrator may be prejudiced in favoring a given character basis his/ her own valuation. But but but, we are here talking about a short story collection where the narrator is none other than Agatha Christie herself in the garb of other people, and so we as a reader get a foray into the minds of Miss Marple  and deriving solutions in a marvelous way. In fact, it reminded me of the recent board game I had played – Sherlock Holmes series where the reader along with a team has to solve the case with minimum number of steps, oh that was so exhaustive – a sleuthing game that took us 5 hours.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
The unifying premise for this short story collection is the Tuesday Club: six people who meet socially one evening at Jane Marple’s home and then decide to meet regularly each Tuesday night to solve a mystery which a group member must relate.

Unsolved mysteries… When author Raymond West proposes a regular gathering of friends with unique and disparate outlooks to solve mysteries, the Tuesday Night Club is formed.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: A Caribbean Mystery
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 1964

So you like reading fast-paced murder mysteries, then Miss Marple series is not the one for you. In fact, just a confession, I myself had not liked it when I had started off with Agatha Christie in my 9th class, it was all Hercule Poirot only. However, it has been years and since I can now (understand, oh sorry, the word is….) appreciate variety in characters, it is Miss Marple who seems more charming to me now. So here’s to another book review of a thriller featuring Miss Marple.

A Caribbean Mystery is again locked room mystery-kind since the murderer is among the holiday-ers on the island and there is not one but two victims and more to go. Just wondering, when someone keeps on talking yap-yap-yap about one’s golden days, or childhood or corporate jargon, how do you react? At one point, you shutdown, right? And this lays the foundation of the first murder. So keep your attention and do not lay it waver, you may be after-all becoming a detective, or if not, at least will earn brownie points of the people around you or help you in climbing corporate ladder.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Stricken with arthritis, Miss Jane Marple has packed herself off, at the insistence of her nephew, for some rest and relaxation at a resort in the Caribbean. The sea is sublime and the weather is fine in this quiet paradise so far away from bustling St. Mary Mead. But suddenly the calm is interrupted by the death of Major Palgrave, one of her fellow guests at the hotel.

Miss Marple finds herself quite disturbed by this turn of events. She’d just spent the previous evening speaking with the major, who’d seemed to her to be in perfectly good health. He’d been telling her about a photograph that he had – “a snapshot of a murderer,” he’d claimed. Convinced that the major’s death was not at all natural, she begins to ask difficult questions. It soon becomes clear that a murderer is lurking among her companions at the hotel, and it is up to Miss Marple to root out this person before he or she can strike again.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Poirot Loses A Client by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Poirot Loses A Client / Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: Poirot Loses A Client / Dumb Witness
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 411
Publication Year: 1937

What will a book named such remind you of? Really Poirot Loses A Client? Is this going to be the first book where a client hires Poirot to help him/ her solve a mystery but that client either dies or goes away losing faith in Poirot. At least this is what I thought. Oh, by the way, when I pick up any Agatha Christie book, I never read excerpt form the back cover of the book so that there is much more to anticipate in the book, hey they are supposed to be mystery thrillers, so let the story-lines themselves be a mystery. This book also goes by the name of Dumb Witness since there is a dog playing pivotal role in all of this.

It is interesting to find out that the famous detective gets so many letters requesting for his expertise and he has to shift through garbage to find the one exceptional case. Really you need an eye for that! This book Poirot Loses A Client starts off such a way but here in some way, we see the character of Hercule Poirot wearing Miss Marple cape in the sense that he analyses behavior of different person who surrounded the victim and then solves the case. So, in a way, I liked this book for I saw in a way both mastery of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
The letter requesting the renowned detective’s services arrived too late–one month after the sender’s demise. But a client was a client, and Hercule Poirot was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Why had Emily Arundell believed her life was in danger? And why had the old lady revised her will only days before her death? Poirot faces one of the most unusual challenges of his career as he tries to determine which of the victim’s disgruntled relatives did not have a motive for murder!

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Elephants can Remember by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Elephants can Remember by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: Elephants can Remember
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 1972

This book Elephants can Remember is again not the usual Agatha Christie book in the sense that it turned out to be actually boring and I kept waiting for the book to finish. You know what it reminded me of? When I used to love Sidney Sheldon books and later read inspired work by Tilly Bagshawe. I mean the writing is just ok and not too great.

I assume there comes a time when authors have written 100s of books and want to try out a different kind of writing. In fact the only thing I liked in this book was the characterization of Adriane Oliver, the mystery writer. Oh, it felt like how some are able to write thrillers by having a propensity to research and getting enthusiastic about even a small lead. By the way, is her character based on Agatha Christie, just wondering? However, if you are a newbie in reading such genre or you have never before read Agatha’s books, I will not recommend this one for starters but to be kept at the very end of spectrum.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Hercule Poirot is determined to solve an old husband and wife double murder that is still an open verdict! Hercule Poirot stood on the cliff-top. Here, many years earlier, there had been a tragic accident. This was followed by the grisly discovery of two more bodies — a husband and wife — shot dead. But who had killed whom? Was it a suicide pact? A crime of passion? Or cold-blooded murder? Poirot delves back into the past and discovers that ‘old sin can leave long shadows’.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 6/10

Book Review: Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: Sleeping Murder
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 1976

Even though this book is written as last of Miss Marple series and many years hence Agatha Christie started writing book, this one seems as fresh as new, probably because of the experience Agatha had in writing and publishing her novels. So first, let us talk something about Sleeping Murders. What in your idea is a perfect murder? Most of your answers may be where victim is found but the no one is able to find the culprit. However, there is a second category wherein even the victim is not traceable, in the sense that the victim is not even supposed to be murdered. Yes, this is what this book Sleeping Murder is about – a murder that had happened years back but no one knew about the same!

As a reader, tell me, did you ever have nightmares or a premonition in your life? And you were totally clueless and found it difficult even to articulate to even your close ones. Some may say that it is because of , you know, previous carnation – oh the soul lives but only life passes from one body to the next after former one dies. Well, the other reason may totally useless conjuncture of a stressed mind. However, there is one logical reason where it is actually because of things of past that they you may have forgotten. So let me now not talk about the story any more? It is the perfect book where this time Miss Marple does not want the past to be found for the safety of present people, but she still helps. I will just end this book review now with the mention that this will go on to be on my list of best recommended murder mysteries.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernize the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs.

In her fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, they were to solve a “perfect” crime committed many years before.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 10/10

Book Review: At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: At Bertram’s Hotel
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 223
Publication Year: 1965

Whenever I read Agatha Christie book, I wonder whether she had traveled as much because a writer needs to see things to have such variety of people and surroundings. This book At Bertram’s Hotel has a setting of old glorious past in the modern world where tourists want to feel the old world experience without comprising about any of their present need. How so categorically relevant it is in present times! Do not many of us want to explore some quaint little village or a do difficult climbing/ hiking/ trekking without missing out on mobile connectivity or modern life saviors.

However, this time, the story-line disappointed me slightly since it seemed it was only because Miss Marple was at places at such appropriate times that the mystery was able to be solved. However, for a change, the police, if not smarter than at least was as smart as her and we see an apt ending. The book is just great in the point that there are multitudes of characters involved with their unique idiosyncrasies and they are handled really well by Agatha Christie. After all, it is the persona and characterization that leads to solving a murder mystery, right?

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
An old-fashioned London Hotel is not quite as reputable as it makes out! When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer. Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day!

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: The Murder at the Vicarage
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 288
Publication Year: 1930

After completing A Murder Is Announced, I was interested to read other books featuring Miss Marple and what other way to start than the first one in the series – The Murder at the Vicarage.

As I had written in my last review, Miss Marple is a nice change from Hercule Poirot. She neither has any airs on solving the case nor is too proud in herself as a sleuth. She is the portrayal of a character which can be any one of us. How interesting, right? However, just hoping that at least I am never put in such position. So about the book, the characters are nicely drawn out, giving ample space to the story-line to develop in which the reader too can deduce their own assumptions. There is no side-kick (like in Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes) to wayward finding out the murderer and it looks pretty simple in the end the way Miss Marple concludes. By the way, Miss Marple books are making me think about starting off in a new career-path. So, enough tidbits about me, pick up this book and you will not be disappointed.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Murder at the Vicarage marks the debut of Agatha Christie’s unflappable and much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple. With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is led on her first case to a crime scene at the local vicarage. Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: A Murder Is Announced
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 288
Publication Year: 1950

A Murder Is Announced was my first Miss Marple book and I loved it. Now, I will have to rearrange my favorite list of thriller books which mostly comprised of Hercule Poirot to make space for this one. Like all Agatha Christie books I have read till date, it is too difficult to guess the murderer. While Poirot had a sidekick and was too confident of solving a murder mystery, Miss Marple is coy and studies people’s behavior to find out the culprit. This is a nice change from all other books I had read. I think I shall soon attempt reading more on this subject, since I am an idiot in judging people and there are few who have taken me for a ride.

Coming back to the book, when a declaration comes in a gossip newspaper or filmy column, the only thing one does is laugh and amuse oneself assuming nothing is going to change in their lives. However, a murder gets committed and second a more reckless one, with everyone clueless on what happens next. This is not a city crime but a small village murder with many parallel stories progressing on the legacy and profitability gaining from the murder. So what will happen next? Hey, Miss Marple is there to solve it for you. So do not worry, dear villagers. And for you dear reader, pick this and read it at your leisure.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Villagers expect a fun game after a Gazette announcement of murder, but when lights flash off, shots ring out, and a masked burglar falls dead, the Inspector and vicar’s wife Bunch call in expert Miss Jane Marple. Was Swiss hotel clerk Rudi framed? Miss Letitia Blackstone houses scatty Dora, cousins Julia and Patrick, gardener widow Phillipa, and paranoid cook Mitzi.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 9/10
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