The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

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EXCERPT: It was 2 pm on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

‘I beg your pardon.’

A man’s voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than once among the first class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him, he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder with a swift suspicious glance.

She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!

‘Yes?’ Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.

‘It must be!’ He muttered to himself. ‘Yes – it is the only way.’ Then aloud he said abruptly, ‘You are an American?’

‘Yes.’

‘A patriotic one?’

The girl flushed.

‘I guess you’ve no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!’

‘Don’t be offended. You wouldn’t be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I’ve got to trust someone, and it must be a woman.’

‘Why?’

‘Because of ‘women and children first’.’ He looked round and lowered his voice. ‘I’m carrying papers – vitally important papers. They may make all the difference to the allies in the war. You understand? These papers have got to be saved. They’ve more chance with you than with me. Will you take them?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Tommy and Tuppence, two young people short of money and restless for excitement, embark on a daring business scheme – Young Adventurers Ltd.

Their advertisement says they are ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’. But their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, plunges them into more danger than they ever imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: Tommy and Tuppence have never been my favourite Christie characters, but I must admit to having quite enjoyed The Secret Adversary, the first in the series, in which we learn about their backgrounds, and how they came to be sleuths.

The timeline starts not long before WWII, and then jumps to after the end of the war and the quest to find the young woman to whom the vitally important papers were entrusted.

This is rather a good, adventurous romp, and not at all classic Christie. All the same I did quite enjoy trying to figure out just who was the traitor – I was completely wrong! Again. There are Russians, secret meetings with passwords, kidnappings, and murders.

While not my favourite Christie, this was still a more enjoyable read than I expected.

😊😊😊.3

THE AUTHOR: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English writer known for her sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. (Wikipedia)

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Secret Adversary, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by Andrea Giorgani, and published by A.R.N. Publications 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, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni

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EXCERPT: The bus wound its way along the Moskva River, already filling with chunks of floating ice, another harbinger of the wicked winter to come. Thirty minutes after Zarina boarded, the bus reached her stop in front of the supermarket on Filevsky Bulvar. She crossed the bleak park, listening to the spindling tree limbs click and clack with each wind gust. Soviet-era apartment buildings stood like sentries around the park, grotesque concrete blocks with tiny windows and tagged with graffiti. Zarina pushed open a brown metal door to a spartan lobby.The light fixtures had long ago been stolen – along with the marble floor and brass stair railing. Russians had interpreted capitalism to mean: “Steal what you can sell.” Attempts to replenish the buildings had only led to more thefts.

Zarina rode the elevator to the twelfth floor and stepped into a hallway as drab and bare as the lobby. She undid the four locks to what had once been her parents’ apartment, wiped the soles of her boots on the mat so as not to mark the oak floor, inlaid with an intricate geometric design, and hung her coat and hat on the rack before she stepped into the living area.

“We were beginning to wonder if you were coming home, Ms Kazakova.”

The man’s voice startled her, and Zarina screamed.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

MY THOUGHTS: I am not a fan of the spy-thriller/legal thriller genres, and had this book been written by anyone other than Robert Dugoni, I may not have finished it. Even so, I struggled at times to maintain my interest. And, if I have to be honest, I probably didn’t check out the subject matter as carefully as I should have before hitting the ‘request’ button. Just seeing the Robert Dugoni name was recommendation enough for me.

And as I said, if The Eighth Sister had been written by anyone other than Dugoni, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. However, his writing style carried me through; that and the mystery of the eight ‘sisters’, a spy ring.

While this is definitely not my favorite of Dugoni’s books, it is certainly to be recommended if you are a spy-thriller aficionado.I am glad I read it, but not entirely sure that I want to repeat the experience with more of this series to come.

#The Eighth Sister #NetGalley

🤔😏🤔.5

THE AUTHOR: Robert Dugoni is the New York Times, #1 Amazon, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of the Tracy Crosswhite series. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, released April 2018. Dugoni’s first series featured attorney David Sloane and CIA agent Charles Jenkins, both of whom appear in The Eighth Sister.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own 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/2701024725?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading

I absolutely messed up last week’s reading schedule by missing out one of my scheduled reads – 2 pages of my reading diary were stuck together – but I discovered my error and read and posted my 5 star review for

Out of the Silence: a compelling revenge thriller

So, I have only just started

She Saw What He Did

I am also currently reading

Three Things About Elsie

and listening to

Breaking The Silence

This week I am planning on reading

You Belong To Me

Can two wrongs ever make a right?
The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook.
Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.
Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time?
Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

And hopefully will be able to start

I Invited Her In

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Only two new approvals this week

Two Silver Crosses

The Eighth Sister

I think that I am probably a bit optimistic about how much reading I am going to have time for this week, as we are in the final week of wedding preparations. Once I have finished work today I will be heading for my son’s for a few days gardening, then setting up for the wedding. I haven’t checked the weather forecast for Saturday as it is likely to change daily, and it is something I have no control over. Yes, there is an alternative to the garden should it rain – the barn.

Have a wonderful week’s reading everyone. I have scheduled some posts so I won’t be entirely absent. I would hate for you to forget me! 💕📚

Watching What I Read. . .

Because all my reads last week were short, I managed to fit in an extra two books!

Murder in the Dark (Ishmael Jones, #6)  and

The Woman Who Kept Everything

So watch for my reviews over the coming days.

Currently I am reading

Transcription

Which I am loving. Atkinson writes with a richness of detail that draws me in so that I am ‘there’, in the novel, experiencing everything along with her characters.

I am listening to

The Lucky Ones

Which I am also enjoying. I have a feeling that I know who is behind Allison’s ‘fall’, but I may be wrong. I often am.

This week I plan on reading

Broken Ground (Inspector Karen Pirie, #5)

Alice Somerville’s inheritance lies six feet under in a Highland peat bog – a pair of valuable vintage motorbikes buried by her grandfather at the end of World War II. But when Alice finally organises their recovery, she finds an unwelcome surprise -a body with a pair of bullet holes . . . and Nike trainers. DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit is called in to unravel a case where nothing is quite as it seems.

Meanwhile an overheard conversation in a cafe draws Karen to the heart of a murder she thought she’d already prevented.

As Karen gets closer to the several truths, it becomes clear that not everyone shares her desire for justice. Or even the idea of what justice is.

I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, but I love McDermid’s writing.

The Memory

She’ll never forget… I’ll never forgive.

People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Extraordinarily beautiful… until she speaks.

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a child’s, but from the mouth of a full-grown woman.

Izzie might look grown-up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened… the day that broke her from within. Our family fell apart that day, and we never could pick up the pieces.

Another writer that I greatly admire. Her books are always gripping and unpredictable.

Four ARC approvals from NetGalley this week . . .

The Man With No Face

The Lost Traveller (County Cork, #7)

The Parisians

The Thing About Clare

I am looking forward to seeing what you are reading, and what new books you have on your shelves. I do love to indulge in a bit of book envy!

The weather is absolutely beautiful today, as it was yesterday, so I am off to work for a couple of hours, then I plan on spending the remainder of my day in the garden.

Happy reading my friends 💕💕💕💕💕

 

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber
This Side of Murder (Verity Kent, #1)
by Anna Lee Huber (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


AN EXCERPT: ‘You might question whether this is all a ruse, whether I truly have anything to reveal. But I know what kind of work you really did during the war. I know the secrets you hide. Why shouldn’t I also know your husband’s?’

THE BLURB: The Great War is over, but in this captivating new series from award-winning author Anna Lee Huber, one young widow discovers the real intrigue has only just begun . . .

An Unpardonable Sin?

England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces anew when she receives a cryptic letter, suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the derogatory claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew.

Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of one of Sidney’s fellow officers, Verity mingles among the men her husband once fought beside, and discovers dark secrets—along with a murder clearly meant to conceal them. Relying on little more than a coded letter, the help of a dashing stranger, and her own sharp instincts, Verity is forced down a path she never imagined—and comes face to face with the shattering possibility that her husband may not have been the man she thought he was. It’s a truth that could set her free—or draw her ever deeper into his deception . . .

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Who of us really knows what’s coming? Or what secrets will come back to haunt us in the end? The war might be over, but it still echoed through our lives like an endless roll of thunder. ‘
This Side of Murder is an excellent beginning to a new series, Verity Kent, by Daphne Award winning author Anna Lee Huber. I must rather shamefully admit that I had never heard of her prior to reading this book. I intend to remedy that, and sooner rather than later. She has two other series available, The Lady Darby Mysteries and Gothic Myths. Both sound equally appealing.

Huber had me hooked from the beginning. Set in post WWI England, Huber has written an absorbing and thrilling tale of spies, murder, treason and a little romance with a strong young female lead. The plot is complex, but not confusing, and the characters are magnificently portrayed. Like Verity, I never even came close to suspecting who was pulling the strings until all was finally revealed.

Full of action and suspense, This Side of Murder is an excellent read on many levels. It is both humorous and poignantly sad in places. It reveals the toll of the war from both sides; those left at home – ‘..how I had dreaded those letters. Each one seemed to relay news of another death, another tragedy. ‘; and those away fighting for their country – ‘they’d had no clue how dreadful the conditions were at the front, or the horrors their men had faced almost daily. The press never told the truth; propaganda at its finest. And the men didn’t want their loved ones back home to know it anyway, even though it caused countless divides and misunderstandings. They didn’t want the terrors they’d confronted to touch those they’d loved and gone to war to protect and preserve. ‘

This Side of Murder is both a touching and thrilling read.

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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 my Goodreads.com page.

Concerning Blackshirt by Roderic Jeffries

Concerning Blackshirt by Roderic Jeffries
Concerning Blackshirt
by Roderic Jeffries

 

This is the third book by Roderic Jeffries that I have read, but the first of the Blackshirt series and, liking-wise, it falls right in the middle with a 3.5☆ rating.

AN EXTRACT:  ‘ “Dead! How? ”
“He had an accident late last night. He was unfortunate enough to fall in the river, which as you know runs past his garden. He must have fallen, knocked himself unconscious, then have rolled in the river and drowned. He was inclined to be a little careless.”
It was all too obvious that these men did not stand for the slightest incompetence. If one of their members failed, then he was eliminated. It wasa ruthlessness foreign to the English mentality.
“Who killed him?” asked Verrall.
“The Coroner will bring in a verdict of accidental death. ”
“That’s not what I asked. ”
“Mr Verrall, you do not seem to realize your position. You appear to treat the matter as though it were a bit of a lark – something to break the monotony of ordinary existence. At the moment, you are alive. I assure you, an accident can quite easily be arranged.”‘

THE BLURB: Richard Verrell is looking forward to a quiet weekend in Kent.

It certainly starts out that way – that is until he wanders across his host’s fields for a spot of rough-shooting.

Coming across a little garden shed, he’s amazed to find an immense ‘blower four and a half’ Bentley inside.

Arriving back at the house, he convinces himself that something isn’t right and returns to the shed accompanied by his host.

To their horror, they find themselves under heavy gunfire before the Bentley roars to a hurried getaway.

Unhurt, they manage to scurry to safety to another nearby shed – where Verrell trips over the body of a dead man.

Would any man ask for a better incentive to rush headlong into an affair that does not in the least concern him? Certainly Blackshirt would not.

But then Blackshirt is … Blackshirt.

Chasing women, money, revolvers and dangerous secrets, Blackshirt sets out to get to the bottom of his gruesome discovery…

MY VIEWS: If you like a fast paced spy thriller set post WWII complete with wonderful cars, car chases and lots of action and subterfuge, then Concerning Blackshirt is a must on your reading list. I salivated over the Bentley and the description of its performance, although my personal dream car is the 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Spyder.

There were numerous things that I liked about this book, which more than compensated for my general dislike of spy novels. Of course there were the cars, of which the author spends quite a bit of time describing both the appearance and the performance. I learned a new word-  bolide ‘, which when taken in the context of the Bentley, means ‘missile ‘. There is also the era in which it is set, which I gather is the late 1940’s, perhaps early 1950’s. There is the absolute ‘Englishness’ of it, the language, the attitudes, the class system, still very much in evidence, though obviously on the decline in this book. And the characterisation, which is superb.

Verrall, the central character, is a best-selling author by day with the alter-ego of Blackshirt, a daring and most wanted criminal by night. He is described as having the mischievous nature of a man who has never grown up, and admits that he is happiest when faced with danger. It is not enough for him to merely write about crime and spies, he must live it.

Thank you to Endeavour Press for providing a digital copy of Concerning Blackshirt for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings.

Please check out this and other of my reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2119244897