Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie

This month ‘Maidens of Murder’ book club choice is ‘Murder is Easy’. This is one of Agatha Christie’s novels which does not include one of out literary national treasures Poirot or Miss Marple. This does have Superintendent Battle pop up, but he has very little to do with story as a whole.

I was pretty hooked at the beginning as a mysterious encounter between Luke Fitzwilliam and Lavinia Pinkerton, on the train to London, means he becomes aware of strange goings-on in Wychwood Under Ashe. When Mr Fitzwilliam realises that Miss Pinkerton’s suspicions will never be followed up, he takes himself to the seemingly sleepy village to carry out his own investigations.

I am sure it is not a spoiler to share that a series of suspicious murders take place. However, the investigations into the mystery slow the pace a little. Despite, of course, there being quite a collection of colourful characters, and even some suggestions of witchcraft, these chapters seem a little drawn out.

However, the conclusion of the tale picks up the pace again. There is quite some excitement as the culprit is revealed. It is very well engineered in Christie’s usual style.

I enjoyed this book – although I do not think it is one I would return to, as I feel that now I know the outcome it would not offer the same drama to read it again.

Have you read any of the Christie stand alone tales? What did you think?

Murder at The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

This was another title that I received through one of ‘The Reading Residence‘ bookswaps. It has been on the ‘To Be Read’ pile for a while because, simply, I have no discipline when it comes to the order I read books. I am rather magpie-ish and flittish when I pick reads and go with what I fancy.

‘Murder at The Brightwell’ appealed to me as a summer holiday read. It has a fabulous cover which oozes Art Deco galmour – especially Summer beach Art Deco glamour.

This is a wonderful classic-style crime. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie then you will be a fan of Ashley Weaver’s novel. From the moment you start reading you are immersed in the world of the glamourous Amory Ames. As this novel is told from her point of view, you really do feel you are on her sleuthing adventure. It is nice in this style of classic crime to have a slightly younger amateur sleuth – meaning it is not just about that but also the complex relationship she has with her dashing playboy husband, Milo and her former fiance Gil Trent. Especially as it is Gil who is the reason that Amory is at The Brightwell on the day of the murder.

The story unfolds as you would expect; secrets are revealed (not always happily), suspects are numerous and there are red herrings galore. You simply can not stop yourself from wanting to know the solution to the puzzle. And I, for one, was a little surprised by the resolution.

This is the sort of novel that makes reading feel like a luxurious pursuit: you should be reading it in the Sun, with a glass of your favourite tipple and wearing a lovely summer dress and hat – just as Amory Ames would be if she could avoid the drama.

A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

So, as many of you know, I am an Agatha Christie fan. However, usually I pick up a Poirot, so Miss Marple is a little bit of a change. I have always been a fan of Joan Hickson’s Marple, as it was something that I used to watch with my Mum. However, I actually think that my favourite Miss Marple is June Whitfield in the fabulous BBC Radio adaptations.

Anyway, back on track, A Caribbean Mystery is ‘Maidens of Murder’ July pick, which encouraged me to pick it up. I am glad I did as, usually, Poirot tempts me more. This tale was of course classic Christie. There was a collection of colourful characters with all sorts of skeletons in their cupboards. A wonderfully exotic location, that you really can’t imagine Miss Marple enjoying but somehow it works. And, last but of course by no means least, a collection of suspicious deaths that set Miss Marple and Mr Rafiel sleuthing. (Great to discover how Jane Marple met her Nemesis).

I found this novel a real page turner and did notice a difference in Christie’s style. For me, in the Poirot novels the detective work comes from his interviews with characters. However, with Miss Marple, in this novel at least, the sleuthing is more amongst the action and the observation. You really can see her sitting in the sunshine with her knitting, working out the finer details, and – let’s be honest – we all love a bit of people watching.

So, it is fair to say that I will be giving Miss Marple novels a little bit more of a chance because, although they are different, they really do prove that Agatha Christie is the Queen of Crime.

Do you have a favourite Marple story?

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

So, thanks to the power of Instagram I discovered the account @maidensofmurder – an Agatha Christie book club! Oh my, the excitement! This is simply my idea of a perfect account – it includes pictures of beautiful Agatha Christie novels, and encourages people to read them for a discussion. Ideal!

So the month of discovery could not be more exciting for me because June’s title is ‘Evil Under the Sun’. This is a novel that, I am ashamed to admit, I have never read, but it is a story I have adored since first seeing the Peter Ustinov film version. With great excitement I have picked up this novel and enjoyed every single page of it. I always feel that I can not give Agatha Christie novels the review that they deserve. They are such a classic in the crime fiction world with so many fans that the pressure on a bookblogger is intense.

However, I am going to offer my humble opinion of ‘Evil Under the Sun’ – it is a classic. For me, it contains everything that makes Agatha Christie the Queen of Crime. I have always been a little more Team Poirot and there immediately, is why I love this, because it is one of his many adventures (although I miss Hastings, but he does make an appearance in the much loved ITV version). Along with that, it has a cast of colourful characters with all sorts of backgrounds and dark secrets – who offer a few red herrings. And, of course, a murder that seems to not have a solution until Poirot and his little grey cells become involved. However, you would think Poirot deserves a holiday some time.

I was also pleased that the Ustinov version was not too far from the original story. Now, maybe, I need to seek it out for yet another viewing.

Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

I always wonder if it is worth posting about my latest Agatha Christie read because, well, they are not new titles and so many of you may have read them and not really be interested in my thoughts. However, when I explore that world out there I realise how many of us love Agatha Christie’s work and the character of Poirot.

I was keen to pick up a Poirot after reading ‘Poirot and Me’ by David Suchet. I picked ‘Death in the Clouds’ because it is one that I haven’t read but remember fondly from the ITV series. Although, it makes me sad when Hastings is not on the scene, you can always rely on Inspector Japp to lighten the mood and he does that delightfully in this book.

The joy of this story is that the crime takes place on a plane and nobody notices. Additionally, the investigation takes our hero between Britain and France – it is indeed a very continental investigation. There are, of course, all the other magic ingredients of a good murder mystery: eccentric characters, scandal, secrets and the big Poirot reveal.

This is not my favourite Poirot story but I still enjoyed every single page because there is something incredibly engaging about the words of Agatha Christie.

Last week, I also listened to ‘Death on the Nile’ on Radio 4 Extra and discovered ‘Maidens of Murder’ on Instagram. All of this together simply means that there is even more love of Agatha Christie in my life, and made me realise that if I want to share my thoughts why the heck not, because so many of us love Poirot.

Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie

So, I am pretty sure I have mentioned that I am a fan of Poirot. After all, I did do ‘A Murder on the Orient Express’ post last year. (Go and check it out if you haven’t already)

Sometimes I am just keen to read a good old-fashioned crime novel and, based on that I picked ‘Sad Cypress’ from my to-be-read pile. And, let’s be honest, I was not going to be disappointed by some quality time with Poirot and his little grey cells.

I enjoyed this novel because this is a crime that Poirot needs to solve to save Elinor Carlisle from the gallows. Her guilt has been decided by many before Poirot takes on the case with jealousy being given as the main motive, especially, by those who like a little bit of gossip. It is always fun to follow Poirot on his journey to solving the crime. There is always a charm to Christie’s novels which almost makes you wish you were part of the tale. And ‘Sad Cypress’ was no different.

So, if you are a fan of Christie Crime Classics (and if not, why not?) this is the novel for you.

Murder on the Orient Express – What a classic!

This week has been a dream for me as an Agatha Christie lover – I have read Murder on the Orient Express, I have listened to Murder on the Orient Express (thank you BBC Radio 4 Extra) and I have watched Murder on the Orient Express. So this post is a little different because I cannot just leave it as a book review as I have so much love for this story.

I decided to read the book before I saw the film simply because I am a Bookworm and it has been a long time since I have read this title (or any Agatha Christie novel) and there was a beautiful edition published to go along with the release of the film which looked like a first class ticket to the Orient Express. So it is fairly simple, I loved it. I know the story, the characters and the twist but I still find it page turning because it is told in Agatha Christie’s unique style. Poirot is a wonderful detective and a lot of the enjoyment is being in his mind as he solves the mystery of the murder of the American on the Orient Express (which is surprisingly busy for the middle of winter). The thing I love the most about this tale is how it leaves you thinking about the conclusion – and the morality of the tale.

So, like so many Christie fans, I was intrigued by another version of Murder on the Orient Express. I have watched the old versions many a time and I have listened to the BBC Radio adaptation many a time too so I was not sure where else this tale could go – and how loyal to the book it would be. However, to sum up, I loved it. Branagh has brought a wonderfully romantic version of the story to the big screen. It is not word for word the book and it has taken a couple of liberties but at the heart it it still the story. This version has brought some humour to the story (often at the expense of Poirot himself but it is all affectionate) but there is clearly love for the work of Christie at the centre of the adaptation. The acting from the whole cast is wonderful, I would be here all night if mentioned each star by name, but of course Branagh shines as Poirot and leads the cast with expertise. Overall, I adored this film and would happily watch it again and again (just like I have done with all other adaptations growing up).

I cannot spoil the story for any of you but if you love a classic mystery story or you are not sure where to start I cannot recommend Murder on the Orient Express enough but please do try to read the book first!