Dennis Sanders & Len Lovallo’s The Agatha Christie Companion

Overview: So, you have been introduced to the mystery genre. And someone, it could even have been Goodreads or a book seller, has suggested the Queen of Mystery herself, the Dame Agatha Christie. But, where does one start? Mr. Sanders and Mr. Lovallo has your answer with this collection. The next question is: does it work?

Story Telling: This is a reference book made to keep the vast collection of Mrs. Christie’s books in order.

Likes: The book titles were listed in order of their publication, including the year of publication and the American versions of the titles–if there were any.

Also we get a list of the theatrical and cinematic works that were made from Mrs. Christie’s novels and stories.

Conclusion: This is a good manual to know which books that you might have missed from any of Mrs. Christie’s series. Just one thing. Both Mrs. Christie, and her publisher, was wrong concerning killing off Hercule Poirot. There are still new books being released with her titular character.

Dorothy Gilman’s The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax-Mrs. Pollifax 3

Overview: Mrs. Pollifax is celebrating a great achievement. Her night blooming cereus has reached the pinnacle of its life. Three pretty little blooms. Good thing that she made that showing, because her CIA handlers have a new case for her. There’s a small resistance group in Bulgeria that needs some passports. An elderly woman with a fascination for hats should be able to smuggle a few items over. There shouldn’t be anything that goes wrong, right?

Story Telling: This is an international thriller from the era of the 60’s-70’s. Can that time era do any better than today’s?

Dislikes: That would be one man in particular. One. Mr. Carleton Bemish decided to completely betray his heritage. There was so much that he could have done. He could have taken his wife and go home. Instead, in my opinion, he sold his soul for a mere pittance.

Likes: Mrs. Pollifax wasn’t willing to let an innocent suffer if she could do anything about it.

And Debbie was willing to help. Perhaps this situation will get her to focus on something past her generation.

Favorite Character: That would be Mrs. Pollifax.

Favortie Scene: I rather enjoyed finding out Tsanko’s job description with Mrs. Pollifax.

Conclusion: All in all, this was a fun story. It may be a little bit dated, but if we ignored all works older than our current age, we would miss out on a lot. Both interesting stories, and morals that has taken humanity years to discover. Enjoy the story.

Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile-Hercule Poirot 17, Colonel Race 3

Overview: M. Poirot is on vacation. Finally, work shouldn’t be calling him off this time. After all, he is retired. Too bad the heiress and her killer didn’t get the memo. Now instead of a nice, relaxing trip down the Nile, he has to figure out how a woman with no enemies ended up dead. Good thing Colonel Race is around to help him out. One problem though. For someone who doesn’t have any enemies, Mrs. Doyle seems to know quite a few people who wanted her dead. So, who did it?

Story Telling: Once again we have a murder mystery. We’re pretty far into the Hercule Poirot series. However, I think that Colonel Race’s ends here.

Dislikes: There’s a couple of things this time around. Firstly, it would be Mr. Ferguson, as a person and his attitude. I’m not one that will ever get along with socialists, as I find that their beliefs are rooted in greed and envy. At the time of this book’s first publication, we hadn’t yet witnessed the true horrors this ideology would commit. What’s our excuse today?

Secondly, Linnet Doyle irritated me. She was so used to getting her way, that being told that she was wrong, or being denied anything, angered her.

Likes: Poor M. Poirot. He just cannot catch a break. Maybe he should just claim to be working when he goes on vacation. Either way, he was willing to roll with the flow.

Colonel Race was fun to follow. Too bad he had to follow M. Poirot’s lead. That’s one dance I’ll gladly miss.

Favorite Scene: There was one spot where M. Poirot tried to educate Mrs. Doyle to why she was having trouble. The lesson even included the story of David and Nathan, the parable of the rich man and his neighbor’s ewe lamb.

Favorite Character: That would be Colonel Race. He wanted to do the best things for those around him while solving the crimes properly. See the problem with M. Poirot.

Favorite Quote: I have to agree more with Mrs. Allerton in this exchange:

““…Such people forget that life and death are the affair of the good God.”

He spoke gravely.

Mrs. Allerton said quietly:

“I am glad to hear you say that. All the same, God chooses his instruments.””

Conclusion: This was a rather fun mystery. You won’t be overly surprised if you watch or read a lot of true crime. But, it’s fun to watch the detectives unravel the mystery.

Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table-Hercule Poirot 15, Colonel Race 2

Overview: M. Poirot has a new case. A man, Shaitana, has claimed to have collected murderers who have gotten away with the crime. M. Poirot was invited to a party that will showcase his collection. It’s dinner and bridge, with the added spice of murder. So, can four sleuths, both professional and amateur, solve this case? Or will someone get away with murder again?

Story Telling: This is a murder mystery. There is very little in the way of action or suspense, it’s a pure mystery. We’re also quite a few books into one series, yet only the second on the other.

Dislikes: That would by M. Shaitana. God, he is what happens if the gossiping church biddies took a sinister turn.

Oh, and don’t forget Anne Meredith. It’s mostly a personality clash. I don’t care for her at all.

Likes: We have a self-insertion here. Mrs. Oliver shares many of the same attributes as Miss Christie, including book titles. One must wonder how closely Mrs. Oliver mirrors our dear author.

And the way that the case was worked out was fascinating. After all, our sleuths had to prove both, whether the suspects had actually ever committed murder, and then who committed this one.

Favorite Scene: It’s a two part scene. That’s because M. Poirot had to snoop into Major Despard’s past. The first was with a lady on one of his journeys. And then, he had to get the story from the Major himself.

Favorite Quote: In response to Mrs. Oliver, Superintendent Battle said: “But, you see, mere men are in charge, we’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to get there slowly.”

Conclusion: I had fun with this one. Enjoy the mystery. You can have twists and turns, without cheating your audience.

Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C. Murders-Hercule Poirot 13

Overview: Hercule Poirot’s retirement has been revoked forcibly. He received a letter threatening to commit a murder, complete with a date and place. What can Mr. Poirot do? This is a challenge to Mr. Poirot’s skills. One murder has taken place, can Mr. Poirot stop more murders from happening?

Story Telling: This is kind of a mixed book. You have a mystery portion, and a bit of a suspense novel. It’s also part of a series.

Dislikes: I’ve never liked for any story to have a strong point-of-view shift. It’s my main reason for disliking James Patterson novels. This series is known for following Captain Hastings, when he is around, in particular being from his point-view. This one tries to keep with that point-of-view but shifts to a third person point-of-view here and there.

Likes: We had quite the cast of characters with this one. The banter between Captain Hastings and Mr. Poirot was fun at times, and certainly could evoke quite the imagery.

Megan Barnard had a great temperament as well.

Favorite Character: That would be Donald Fraser.

Favorite Quote: This one was just fun. “C’est vrai. To grow the vegetable marrows! And immediately a murder occurs–and I send the vegetable marrows to promenade themselves to the devil.”

Favorite Scene: That would be the meeting between Megan Barnard and Mr. Poirot.

Conclusion: This was a fun read. Enjoy it with others who like murder mysteries.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express-A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Overview: Mr. Poirot’s leisurely return to London has be derailed by information on a previous case of his coming to light. So, he has to speed up his return. Good thing the Orient Express has room for him. After the train gets caught in a snowdrift, Mr. Poirot gets a new puzzle to solve. See, this one passenger was murdered in the middle of the night. Mr. Ratchett didn’t seem to have any enemies on the train. So, can Mr. Poirot figure out what happened?

Story Telling: This is a murder mystery similar to the locked room mystery style. It’s also part of a series.

Dislikes: Mr. Ratchett will never be a likeable character. His few speaking roles made his personality well.

Likes: Mr. Bouc truly wanted the case solved without a lot of fanfair or media attention.

And the passengers were paired up quite well.

Favorite Character: That would be Colonel Arbuthnot.

Favorite Quote: From the Colonel: “Say what you like, trial by jury is a sound system.”

Favorite Scene: That would by when Mr. Poirot found out Mr. Ratchett’s true identity.

Conclusion: This was a fun story. Enjoy it as a classical mystery. It’s a masterpiece in my opinion.

Agatha Christie’s Thirteen at Dinner–a Hercule Poirot Mystery

Overview: Hercule Poirot has a new puzzle to figure out. The Lady Edgeware, an American Actress by the name of Jane Wilkinson, has been accused of murdering her husband. Granted, the Lord Edgeware wasn’t ever going to win any congeniality awards. But, be that as it may, Jane bragged that she wanted the man dead. So, how does a woman kill her husband, when she’s seen at a dinner party?

Story Telling: This is a murder mystery. However this series from Miss Christie seems to be a bit more serious compared to her Miss Marple series.

Dislikes: That would be Jane Wilkinson. I disliked that woman within minutes of her introduction.

Mr. Poirot’s attitude can rub people the wrong way. Stay with the novel though, it makes sense in the end.

Likes: The way the case was resolved was pretty impressive.

Favorite Scene: That would be when Mr. Poirot threw his own dinner party. It scared many of the attendees speechless.

Conclusion: This probably isn’t the best Poirot novel to start with. That’s mostly the attitude issues. But enjoy the story.

Carol Hupping Stormer Presents: Stocking up-How to Preserve the Food You Grow Naturally

Overview: Gardening seems to be making a big comeback. Let’s just blame Youtube for that one. But, how do you make the most out of what you grow? Let’s face it, there’s only so many ways you can use fresh produce. So how about preserving it for later?

Story Telling: This is a reference book.

Dislikes: There are a couple of things that bother me about this book. For starters, we shifted to preservation with white sugar, because honey doesn’t have a consistency needed to preserve many jams or fruit preserves.

And two, unless something has gone seriously wrong with your recipe–including not processing it long enough–then you shouldn’t be having enough jars failing to worry about reprocessing the jars.

Likes: There are several good recipes and tips. For the most part, the authors seem to prefer freezing to all other forms of preservation.

Conclusion: This is an interesting reference book. But, always have a second witness to all the recipes first.

Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club-Isabel Dalhousie 1

Overview: Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of a niche specific magazine. She’s also a spinster that has a faithful housekeeper, and a close relationship with her niece. There shouldn’t be anything that agitates her, especially at an orchestral concert. But, then that young man falls from the level above her. What’s an old editor to do?

Story Telling: This is advertised as a cozy mystery. However, this will be a matter of tastes.

Dislikes: Remember when I said that the mystery portion is a matter of tastes? Well, for someone who reads a lot of mysteries, this one won’t be as captivating as others. Isabel claims to be bothered by the man’s death, but she investigates it less than she worries about her niece’s love life.

Reader beware! There’s a fine line between match-making and lusting over another, and trying to live vicariously through a loved one. Mr. Smith dances dangerously close to the edge of that line at certain points. It could even be argued that he crossed that line a time or two.

Likes: There were so many good concepts here. Grace is a big one. She was willing to do whatever was needed, and capable to tell people what they needed to hear.

Favorite Character: It’s Grace.

Conclusion: This is definitely not for everyone. Try it, maybe you’ll have better luck with it.

Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours-Odd Thomas 4

Overview: Odd has moved from the Monastery to a small town named Magic Beach. His history as a fry cook has gotten himself a rather easy job as a cook for an elderly man. This gives him plenty of time to help Mr. Sinatra cross over. Too bad Odd is having nightmares about a petite woman and a red tide. Well there goes his vacation. How will Odd handle this one?

Story Telling: We have the fourth book in a paranormal thriller with this novel. Odd Thomas novels are written in first-person point-of-view. So if you don’t like this style, you might not want to read this one.

Dislikes: So many Americans didn’t understand what makes this nation great. We don’t need to agree completely with everyone else. Individualism is what allows us to succeed in life if you so choose.

Likes: We get to meet Annamarie in this novel. She was quite mysterious, but, you can place her if you know what to look for.

Odd was pretty stubborn. You’d have to be, to take on what he did. Blossom and Birdie was fun. Not to mention Hutch’s kindness was great, as was his loyalty to his friends.

Favorite Character: Birdie was willing to follow the Spirit wherever it leads. And Hutch was willing to fight through the fears he had spent years dealing with.

Favorite Scene: One word needed: PolterFrank! That was beautiful.

Favorite Quote: In regards to PolterFrank. “I didn’t say Rod Stewart. He said Rod Stewart.”

Conclusion: This is a terrific addition to the Odd Thomas series. Enjoy it as a fun addition to your paranormal library.