Murder in Paradise: Thirteen Mysteries from the Travels of Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie

ABOUT ‘MURDER IN PARADISE’: Train journeys through rolling countryside and cruises across the open ocean might sound like paradise, but when murder strikes mid-journey, they鈥檙e anything but. Even on vacation, tensions can bubble beneath the surface, and when the end of the line leads to murder, everyone鈥檚 a suspect.

STORIES IN THIS COLLECTION: 路The Plymouth Express 路The Submarine Plans 路Problem at Sea 路How Does Your Garden Grow? 路The Market Basing Mystery 路The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan 路The Million Dollar Bond Robbery 路The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb 路The Affair at The Victory Ball 路The King of Clubs 路The Lemesurier Inheritance 路The Cornish Mystery 路The Adventure of the Clapham Cook

MY THOUGHTS: What a treat it was to have David Suchet narrate this collection! A few of these stories are also included in the Poirot Investigates collection, but they were just as interesting second time around.

This collection of short stories, also featuring Poirot’s sidekick Hastings and occasionally Inspector Japp, although lacking the depth of the Poirot novels, were still entertaining and stretched ‘the little grey cells!’ Oui!

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙

THE AUTHOR: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879鈥1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880鈥1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha’s husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie’s death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

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.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Murder in Paradise, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by David Suchet, and published by Harper Collins during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

A glorious morning has turned into a wet and stormy afternoon here in New Zealand. Pete has been away for the weekend fishing up the Coromandel. He had a wonderful time with his mates and they even brought home a few fish! I had to work this weekend otherwise I would have been with them. I haven’t been up the Coromandel for almost 40 years.

8I am currently reading Pianos and Flowers by Alexander McCall. It is a collection of short stories written about some historical photos. I am really enjoying this.

I am currently listening to Murder in Paradise: Thirteen Mysteries from the Travels of Hercule Poirot. I have read/listened to some of these previously, but some of the stories are new to me.

This week I am planning on reading The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers January group read. I am a little late starting as I committed to two group reads this month. But I have been wanting to read this ever since it came out, so I simply couldn’t pass on this.

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn鈥檛, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one鈥攁nd nothing鈥攊s what it seems. 

I have ten books due to be read for review this week 馃う鈥嶁檧锔 and obviously I am not going to get them all read. Bad planning, I know, and a mistake I am trying not to repeat. So I am planning on reading Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Who can forgive a mother who poisons her eight-year-old son? Even if it was an accident.

Tasha thought she had everything under control 鈥 her family life, her career as a nurse 鈥 until her son got into her stash of painkillers. Now, during her first weekend home from drug treatment, she must come to grips with the damage she鈥檚 done and somehow pick up the pieces. Told from the points of view of four different family members, Weekend Pass is a story about the lies we tell ourselves and the people we love. And it鈥檚 about struggling to rise above the mistakes that threaten to define us.

And Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

Not all secrets are meant to come out鈥

Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.
Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.
It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating 鈥 but someone doesn鈥檛 want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it鈥檚 too late?

I have a busy week ahead at work so I probably won’t be able to sneak any extra reads in this week, but if I can, I will.

And of course I have already read and reviewed the amazing gangland crime thriller Family by Owen Mullen, which is being released 21 January.

Check out my review which I posted 11 January. This is one book that you won’t want to miss out on!.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week, so I am back on track. The first is The Words We Whisper by Mary Ellen Taylor

And Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. This is my first book by this author so I am very excited!

Happy reading everyone, and enjoy whatever is left of your weekend!

Cheers

Sandy 鉂ゐ煋

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Apologies for disappearing on you so suddenly last week. I was rushed off to ED in the early hours of last Sunday morning with breathing difficulties, which resulted in a five day stay in hospital. I am not yet allowed back to work, and will be going for more tests and follow up during the week ahead.

Currently I am not reading anything. I have finished two books this morning, the delightful Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

And Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Which as well as being a Netgalley ARC, was a group read for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group.

I started listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout this morning.

This week I only have one ARC that I need to read for review which is Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A suspense magazine anthology, with contributions by Jeffrey Deaver, Linwood Barclay and John Lescroart, amongst others.

I will use any other reading time I get to catch up on back titles.

I have received ten new ARCs over the past two weeks:

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

The Perfect Life by Nuala Elwood

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Limelight by Graham Hurley

Our Little Secret by Lesley Sanderson

And finally I’m So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

And on that note, I am off for a nap.

Happy reading 鉂ゐ煋

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

EXCERPT: 23 July 1955

There was going to be a funeral.

The two gravediggers, old Jeff Weaver and his son, Adam had been out at first light and everything was ready, a grave dug to the exact proportions, the earth neatly piled to one side. The church of St. Botolph’s in Saxby-on-Avon had never looked lovelier, the morning sun glinting off the stained glass windows. The church dated back to the twelfth century although of course it had been rebuilt many times. The new grave was to the east, close to the ruins of the old chancel where the grass was allowed to grow wild and daisies and dandelions sprouted around the broken arches.

The village itself was quiet, the streets empty. The milkman had already made his deliveries and disappeared, the bottles rattling on the back of his van. The newspaper boys had done their rounds. This was a Saturday, so nobody would be going to work and it was still too early for the homeowners to begin their weekend chores. At nine o’clock, the village shop would open. The smell of bread, fresh out of the oven, was already seeping out of the baker’s shop next door. Their first customers would be arriving soon. Once breakfast was over, a chorus of lawnmowers would start up. It was July, the busiest time of the year for Saxby-on-Avon’s keen army of gardeners and with the Harvest Fair just a month away roses were already being pruned, marrows carefully measured. At half past one there was to be a cricket match on the village green. There would be an ice cream van, children playing, visitors having picnics in front of their cars. The tea shop would be open for business. A perfect summer’s afternoon.

ABOUT MAGPIE MURDERS: When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway鈥檚 latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she鈥檚 intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus P眉nd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan鈥檚 traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway鈥檚 latest tale has Atticus P眉nd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she鈥檚 convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

MY THOUGHTS: Magpie Murders is a book about a book and its author. I love it. I want to read it again, right now. It is fiendishly clever, inventive, compelling, and deliciously dark in its own twisty way. This is a book that will have you puzzling, scratching your head, and occasionally saying, ‘but of course!’ Magpie Murders is vastly different to anything that I have ever read before.

There are multiple references to Christie, anagrams and cryptic clues. I think that it would be impossible to read this book and not try to solve the mysteries, the murders as you read. There are plenty of red herrings (and even a publishing company called Red Herrings!), plenty of suspects.

There are characters to love, and characters you will love to hate. Everyone has secrets, some worth knowing, some not. But there is someone who knows all the secrets.

Susan Ryeland is the character who unites the two halves of this book. She is editor to the author of Magpie Murders, Alan Conway, a man she can’t stand. She has devoted her whole life to books, to bookshops, booksellers, and bookish people like her boss Charles Clover, owner and CEO of Cloverleaf Publishing, and her authors. She is starting to feel that by doing so, she has wound up like a book: on the shelf. She is at a crossroads in her life, with a new opportunity opening up for her. But will she take it?

I have always wondered how authors come up with their characters, how they round them out, make them realistic, relatable. Conway’s methods are explored in some detail, and are a little wicked.

I love Magpie Murders and will, at some point, be giving it a second read. I will also be buying myself a copy. There was not one word in this book that I didn’t enjoy.

Magpie Murders is #1 in the Susan Ryeland series.

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙猸

THE AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz’s life might have been copied from the pages of Charles Dickens or the Brothers Grimm. Born in 1956 in Stanmore, Middlesex, to a family of wealth and status, Anthony was raised by nannies, surrounded by servants and chauffeurs. His father, a wealthy businessman, was, says Mr. Horowitz, “a fixer for Harold Wilson.” What that means exactly is unclear 鈥 “My father was a very secretive man,” he says鈥 so an aura of suspicion and mystery surrounds both the word and the man. As unlikely as it might seem, Anthony’s father, threatened with bankruptcy, withdrew all of his money from Swiss bank accounts in Zurich and deposited it in another account under a false name and then promptly died. His mother searched unsuccessfully for years in attempt to find the money, but it was never found. That too shaped Anthony’s view of things. Today he says, “I think the only thing to do with money is spend it.” His mother, whom he adored, eccentrically gave him a human skull for his 13th birthday. His grandmother, another Dickensian character, was mean-spirited and malevolent, a destructive force in his life. She was, he says, “a truly evil person”, his first and worst arch villain. “My sister and I danced on her grave when she died,” he now recalls.
A miserably unhappy and overweight child, Anthony had nowhere to turn for solace. “Family meals,” he recalls, “had calories running into the thousands&. I was an astoundingly large, round child&.” At the age of eight he was sent off to boarding school, a standard practice of the times and class in which he was raised. While being away from home came as an enormous relief, the school itself, Orley Farm, was a grand guignol horror with a headmaster who flogged the boys till they bled. “Once the headmaster told me to stand up in assembly and in front of the whole school said, ‘This boy is so stupid he will not be coming to Christmas games tomorrow.’ I have never totally recovered.” To relieve his misery and that of the other boys, he not unsurprisingly made up tales of astounding revenge and retribution.

Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle’s War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss’s book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And&oh yes&there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

DISCLOSURE: I decided to read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz because I have #2 in this series, Moonflower Murders, to read. I borrowed my copy from Waitomo District Library. Publishers Orion Books are also mentioned in Magpie Murders.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Today seems to have sped past. I worked this morning, a friend called in for coffee as soon as I got home. TMOTH had been fishing so I had fish to fillet and drop around to friends. I managed to get a little time in the garden then all of a sudden it is time to come in and prepare dinner. Pan fried snapper with herbs served on lemon parsley potatoes with avocado salsa.

My reading schedule didn’t go to plan again this week. I have just started The Second Wife by Rebecca Fleet

because I snuck in the absolutely amazing Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, #1 in the Susan Ryeland series

Which I wanted to read before I started Moonflower Murders, the second book in the series.

After being totally captivated by Magpie Murders, I can’t wait to start this!

Featuring his famous literary detective Atticus Pund and Susan Ryeland, hero of the worldwide bestseller Magpie Murders, a brilliantly complex literary thriller by Anthony Horowitz. The follow-up to Magpie Murders.

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her longterm boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she’s always wanted – but is it? She’s exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she’s beginning to miss her old life in London.

And then a couple – the Trehearnes – come to stay, and the story they tell about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married, is such a strange and mysterious one that Susan finds herself increasingly fascinated by it. And when the Trehearnes tell her that their daughter is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to London and find out what really happened …

I am currently listening to The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michelle Campbell

This week I am planning on reading Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah.

The world鈥檚 most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot鈥攖he legendary star of Agatha Christie鈥檚 Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile鈥攔eturns in a delectably twisty mystery.

Hercule Poirot is travelling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate. Richard Devonport has summoned him to prove that his fianc茅e, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. There is one strange condition attached to this request: Poirot must conceal his true reason for being there from the rest of the Devonport family.

On the coach, a distressed woman leaps up, demanding to disembark. She insists that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. A seat-swap is arranged, and the rest of the journey passes without incident. But Poirot has a bad feeling about it, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered in the Devonports’ home with a note that refers to “the seat that you shouldn鈥檛 have sat in.”

Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And can Poirot find the real murderer in time to save an innocent woman from the gallows?

And six new ARCs this week . . . The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

The Rosary Garden by Nicola White

Death Score by Angela Marsons

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

and and finally, The Drowned Woman by C.J. Lyons

And if you missed my post yesterday, do take a look see what I scored at the second hand bookstore Tuesday!

Happy reading and have a wonderful week!

鉂ゐ煒嶐煋氣槙馃崻

I went to the second hand bookstore Tuesday…..

I took ten books in,

And came out with twenty.

Just doing my bit for the economy.

馃ぃ馃槀鉂ゐ煒嶐煋氣槙馃崻

Watching What I’m Reading…

It’s easy to tell when I am having a bad week…I request/buy/borrow books to make myself feel better. And I have had a bad week this week; a combination of work, one son in hospital with blood poisoning, and the dismal weather have drained me, resulting in 9 new ARCs this week! Susan and Carla can stop laughing right now, I’m sure they were responsible for some of my requests.

I am about to start Dead Wicked by Helen H. Durrant, a series that I have been enjoying.

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And I am a little over half way through All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White.

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This week I am planning on reading One in Three by Tess Stimson of which Jayme of theblondelikesbooks.wordpress.com says ‘That. Was. Fun’

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Both of them loved him. One of them killed him . . .

Louise has had to watch her husband, Andrew, start a new family in the four years since he left her. The 鈥榦ther woman鈥 is now his wife 鈥 but Louise isn鈥檛 ready to let Caz enjoy the life that was once hers, or to let go of the man she still loves.

As Louise starts to dig into Caz鈥檚 past, the two women鈥檚 pretence of civility starts to slip. But in trying to undermine each other, they discover more about the man they both married.

And when Andrew is murdered at a family party, both women are found standing over the body.

And when Andrew is murdered during the anniversary celebrations, both women are found standing over the body.
It鈥檚 always the wife. But which one?

I also plan on reading The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

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When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient鈥攕he has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim鈥檚 funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

And now (drumroll please!) my ARCs…..

Out of Her Mind by T.R. Reagan

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One In Three by Tess Stimson, and yes I know that I wasn’t going to request any more books due for publication in July or August, but I love this author…

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The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

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What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor

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The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

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A Pretty Deceit (Verity Kent #4) by Anna Lee Huber

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Come When I Call You by Shayna Krishnasamy

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The Ocean House by Mary Beth Hughes

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and finally, The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

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There’s a lot of variety there, so I hope that you have found something to tempt your bookish taste buds.

Cheers
Sandy
鉂ゐ煒嶐煋氣槙馃崻

A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux

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EXCERPT: Puck didn’t expect to find a body. She certainly hadn’t been looking for a skeleton of a man no one seemed to remember. How she had mourned him when he disappeared. Her mother told her to stop snivelling, that at fourteen she had no idea what love was.

But she did know!

Now, so many years later, she was still at Oxley Manor, and this morning she was hiding from her mother – as usual. The absurdity that she was thirty-eight years old and still trying to escape Mummy wasn’t lost on her. If her beloved cottage hadn’t been gifted to her, she would leave Oxley. Maybe.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: An English manor home, an unsolved mystery, too many suspects to count鈥 It鈥檚 the perfect holiday for romance novelist Sara Medlar.

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven鈥檛 been heard from since鈥攁nd Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

MY THOUGHTS: I liked the gist of this story but really, it was too long. I loved the characters…Sara, a well known romantic novelist who has developed a penchant for solving real life mysteries; Jack and Kate, her proteges; Puck, whose mother appears to detest her; Clive, the hanger-on; Nadine, so beautiful, so lonely; Willa, who just wants to be loved; Diana, earmarked to marry the heir to Oxley Manor, but who disappears the same night as Sean, the stable manager; Byon the poet; Nicky, heir to Oxley; Mrs Aiken, housekeeper and Puck’s mother; and Bella, friend of Sara and current owner of Oxley.

This book had the potential to be really suspenseful, but it wasn’t. Oxley is an old Manor House with its own chapel, graveyard, an attic and, no doubt, a cellar. A lot could have been made of the setting, but this was an opportunity missed to create a really atmospheric read.

It was interesting, and while I wouldn’t call it ‘irresistible’ it was certainly intriguing enough to keep me reading. There are plenty of suspects for the title of murderer, all with motive and opportunity.

I did not realise, when I picked this book up, that A Forgotten Murder is the third in a series. While it does work as a stand alone, personally I would have liked a little more information on how Jack and Kate came to be involved with Sara. I enjoyed this enough that I intend to read the first two books in the series just to find out.

This is a cosy mystery. There are references to violence and sex, but no graphic descriptions.

馃か馃棟馃拰.5

THE AUTHOR: Jude Gilliam was born September 20, 1947 in Fairdale, Kentucky. She has a large extended family and is the elder sister of four brothers. She attended Murray State University and received a degree in Art. In 1967, Jude married and took her husband’s surname of White, but four years later they divorced. For years, she worked as 5th-grade teacher.

She began writing in 1976, and published her first book, The Enchanted Land (1977) under the name Jude Deveraux. Following the publication of her first novel, she resigned her teaching position. Now, she is the author of 31 New York Times bestsellers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Mira US & Canada for providing a digital ARC of A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3232233877

The Wizard of Evesham & The Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton

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EXCERPT: Mrs Agatha Raisin fancied herself to be a detective to rival the fictional ones like Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. She was a stocky middle aged woman with good legs, a round face and small bear like eyes which looked suspiciously out at the world. Her hair had always been her pride, thick and brown and glossy.

But only that week she had discovered grey hairs, nasty grey hairs appearing all over. She had bought one of those colour rinses but it had turned the grey purple. “Go to Mr John,” advised Mrs Bloxby, the vicar’s wife. “His place is in the High Street in Evesham. He’s supposed to be very good. They say he’s a wizard at tinting hair.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Wizard of Evesham – Agatha is alarmed when her new wizard of a hairdresser seems keen to take on more than just her split ends. She soon discovers that everyone in his salon has a secret and that he practices a very dark magic indeed.

The Moment of Truth – Agatha must quickly discover the identity of the prisoner, but James is refusing to help. Has he really ceased to care for her?

The Murderous Marriage – After pursuing him for nearly four years, Agatha is finally about to marry James Lacey, the handsome Colonel next door. But there’s just one little problem …

The Disappearing Trick – With her marriage dreams in tatters, Agatha has the small task of returning the wedding presents, and the slightly larger one of clearing her name of murder.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved these short and witty BBC adaptations of Agatha Raisin stories, not least because Penelope Keith plays Agatha Raisin absolutely superbly. While they are greatly abridged, they are beautifully performed and produced, capturing the essence of the story.

I was quite put off the Agatha Raisin series a couple of years ago after watching one episode of the television series. It was absolutely ghastly. (Good grief, now I am beginning to sound like Penelope Keith!) But after picking up one of the books last year, and then listening to an audiobook of another, I have begun to quite enjoy her, so at some point I fully intend to read the full version of this one. I do enjoy Beaton’s writing, and loved her Hamish Macbeth series.

馃馃嵕馃槀馃ぃ.5

THE AUTHOR: Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith鈥檚 to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn鈥檛 work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch鈥檚 new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Wizard of Evesham and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton, narrated by Penelope Keith and produced by BBC Audiobooks, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3223109901

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton

43263431-1-1

EXCERPT: They were through the outer edge of the thicket, and only a few feet to their right they could see the brogue, the ankle, the lower leg, and…that was it. There was no body, just a sawn off leg lying amid the litter of dead leaves and twigs.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this romp with Agatha (she hates being called Aggie). I enjoyed her acerbic wit, and even her temper tantrums. She is a fault-finder supreme who can be equally charming when she wants or needs to be, and has a smile that lights up the room and melts hearts. But she does call a spade a spade, and abhors stupidity and/or anyone who doesn’t see things from her perspective. Her personal life is something of a shambles, and I felt very sorry for her assistant Toni at times.

I love Beaton’s descriptions of people…’Charles was a crease-free zone……If he were ever – perish the thought – to grow wrinkly with age, Gustav, his loyal retainer, would find a way to iron him.’ And the way she gently pokes fun at the British aristocracy and their social climbing hangers on. ‘They sell sanitary towels?’ ‘Well someone has to.’ ‘Of course someone has to, Charles, but you don’t marry them.’

Agatha Raisin comes across much better on paper than she is portrayed in the TV series…I must admit to not having been able to sit through one entire episode.

I enjoyed this amusing interlude with Agatha. She was just the antidote I needed for all my recent dark reads. She brought a smile to my face, and I can see myself calling on her again when I am in need of some light relief.

馃馃ぃ馃槀馃檪

#BeatingAboutTheBushMcBeaton #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith鈥檚 to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn鈥檛 work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch鈥檚 new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review, and others, is also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3035902147