Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

I will be completely honest that the cover of the beautiul hardback edition is what caught my eye. However, I do also love cosy crime and Agatha Christie is the queen of that exact genre.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is just a wonderful piece of classic crime fiction for the festive season. Set over the Christmas period Poirot ends up investigating the murder of Mr Simeon Lee. A locked room mysterym with a household of motives and suspects, and – well – many who are not exactly what they seem.

This novel is a brilliant piece of cosy crime, which has all the ingredients of a classic Christie. Especially that wonderful reveal, as Poirot offers us all his solution to the problem.

I really enjoyed this book this festive season, and it may well become one I regularly revisit to spend some time in the company of the great Hercule Poirot.

Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie

I was lucky enough to win this beautiful book in a lovely giveaway on bookstagram. And, I am not sure much else could be so perfect for this time of year as some ‘cosy’ crime.

This book is a collection of tales from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. They are all stories that have been published in other collections of short stories; however, they have been brought together here because they all have a wintery or festive feel.

You meet all your favourite Christie detectives including, of course, Marple and Poirot. My favourite tale was the third in the collection, as it reminded me a little of ‘An Inspector Calls’ which is another favourite at this time of year.

This collection of tales is just a perfect piece of escapism: classic crime. You may solve some of the mysteries ot you may just wish to let it unfold around you.

Either way, grab your favourite festive treats and settle down with some Christie classics.

Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

I have rejoined reading along with ‘Maidens of Murder’. I only took a break as I had only just read the June choice. However, July’s choice is ‘Appointment with Death’, a story with my favourite Christie character Poirot.

This was a classic Poirot, for me. I really enjoyed reading this book from the moment I started. This was a fabulous read, as it has the Queen of Crime’s best signature ingredients. There is the exotic setting of the red cliffs of Petra; there is the really rather villianous Mrs Boynton; a colourful collection of other travellers and, of course, a murder.

This was a page-turner for me as it reminded me of my favourite, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. A murder takes place and there is quite a psychological study of the characters along the way. However, a theme that everyone involved seems to return to is the idea of sacrifice for the greater good. Does the death of the victim create a much better life for many of the other characters? Christie creates quite a philosophical question within the novel – just as she does with ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

If this is a Poirot you have not yet read, then I would highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed if you love a classic Poirot murder mystery.

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

This is book that I had seen a lot of hype about. However, I am not sure it is quite up to the hype, for me personally, anyway.

I felt that this book was lacking a little something – I saw all the twists come other than one. And I did not really feel a bond with the characters, other than a couple of the fairly minor ones.

It was wonderful the way it worked a study of Agatha Christie and her books into the plot. And, as a fan of her novels, I am tempted now to research more into the life of the Queen of Crime. Especially that famed disappearance that clearly has been an influence on the plot of this book.

This book was not unenjoyable to read, and I did want to know what conclusion would be reached. I needed to know that very final piece of the puzzle that I had not quite worked out. Although, I am not sure it is really truly concluded for you – you are probably required to reach your own conclusion.

I wouls suggest you give this book a go – however, if you are a fan of ‘whodunnits’, you may not be surprised by much of the book.

One, Two, Buckle my Shoe by Agatha Christie

Wow – my Agatha Christie reading has been behind this year. I have not kept up with ‘Maidens of Murder’ 2020 at all. So, I guess one lockdown highlight is that I have managed to catch up with the April read.

I was excited that I could read ‘One, Two, Buckle my Shoe’ as it is a Poirot mystery – and he is my favourite of Christie’s characters.

It must be a good one as, in one Sunday, I managed to consume the whole book. I love Christie’s books, however, I always seem to find them hard to review because they are such classics and I never want to spoil the surprise readers.

However, in my humble opinion, the great thing about this narrative is that there appears to be absolutely no reason for the death of the dentist Mr Morley. In fact, it is only Poirot who has any suspicions about the death. Japp is quite happy to write it off as a suicide, as that is what all the evidence points to. But, Poirot’s little grey cells are not satisfied with the obvious. As events unfold it appears, of course, that Poirot is correct and the truth must be uncovered.

This is a great read and the clever use of the ryhme ‘One, Two, Buckle my Shoe’ adds to the joy of the narrative.

If you love Christie and Poirot, you will love this novel.

The End of 2019

It may be the first day of 2020 but, with festive days having been full of excitement, I have missed a round-up of the final books of 2019.

So here we go…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This book crossed over from my ‘Non-fiction November’ into December. ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ is a book that I have always wanted to read but it had never quite happened.

However, this is a book that I feel many of us should read. This is not just a memoir of Maya growing up in America, but it is a study of the society and culture at the time too. It tackles some uncomfortable issues – but that is the tale of the young girl’s life, however hard it may be for us to read.

This book is an inspiration, and I am keen to read the books that follow, to learn more about this inspirational lady.

Murder at Christmas

I enjoy a festive read and I enjoy a murder mystery – so this seemed a winning combination.

A collection of short stories – classic crime capers. Some were stronger than others as tales. However, overall it was an enjoyable collection of tales for these winter nights.

The Truth Pixie Goes to School by Matt Haig

Matt Haig is a writer that I admire for a number of reasons – but one of those reasons is that he can turn his hand to writing for both adults and children.

As I purchased this book, the bookseller also mentioned that he was a Matt Haig fan, but that this book may be too young for him. I tolf him that was not true, as I think anyone can enjoy these books about the Truth Pixie. They contain ideas and themes that we should all take note of.

Told in rhyme and supported with the illustrations of Chris Mould, this book is good fun for all ages, as we have all needed the friendship of the Truth Pixie from time to time.

Let It Snow

Having watched the Netflix Original Film and always enjoying some YA fiction, I have this book a read for the festive season.

A collection of three tales by three different authors, but all centred around the same town. Love and friendship are the main themes of all the tales. It is a nice read for the festive season and will inject you with the spirit of Christmas – and the desire for a white Christmas.

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Maidens of Murder December pick.

This may not be a traditional setting for a Christie novel – Ancient Egypt. However, it has all the other elements of a classic Christie novel. An enjoyable read as the tale unravels – I do not want to give any spoilers.

My only slight issue as a reader was getting my around all the names of the characters – but that was probably just me.

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

A classic that I am not sure I have ever read – why not? Who knows? I saved this until December because I feel it is a really festive tale, maybe because it is now a classic pantomime.

This book was an absolute joy, as I knew it would be. There is adventure, heroes and villains, and a little bit of magic. It is just a wonderful tale – and makes you appreciate the importance of family and friends at all times.

Som there we are; quite a collection, there was one more but that will have a post of its own – as bookstagram made me do it.

Happy New Year – here is to happy 2020 reading!

The Hound of Death by Agatha Christie

Short stories are not usually my thing, although as I have got older, I have become less averse towards a collection of shorter tales. Ones from the pen of Agatha Christie are sure to be a crowd-pleaser – especially if they are spooky at this time of year.

However, for me, this was not a classic from Agatha Christie. In fact I was a little conflicted by this book. Some of the tales were excellent – especially those that had a crime element. I love a bit of supernatural mind games, especially when there is another twist for the culprit. The traditional ghostly tales were good too. Yet, I found a few of the stories did not hold my attention and when I had reached the conclusion, I was not sure I had taken in what had happened.

This was October’s ‘Maidens of Murder’ choice, which means I was again encouraged to pick up a title by Agatha Christie that I may have otherwise missed. I am glad that I have read this book because I am a fan of Christie’s work but can risk falling into the trap of only reading the famous titles. This just won’t go down as one of my favourites.

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie

July’s pick for ‘Maidens of Murder’ bookclub was ‘Destination Unknown’; one of the only works by Christie not to have been brought to life on the screen – big or small.

This has more the feel of a thriller than Christie’s usual works. A standalone novel set against the early days of the Iron Curtain it is a tale of secrets, science and suspicion. There is, of course, a hint of murder, but it is not quite as central to the tale as it would be with some of Christie’s more well-known works. However, it is enjoyable to read something that is not traditional for Agatha Christie, and that really reflects the post-war era she was writing in.

However, it is a little worrying that a novel that is 65 years old is still relevant today or seems to be as we live through some turbulant times. Certainly thought-provoking.

So, thank you again ‘Maidens of Murder’ for encouraging me to read a Christie I would never have picked up otherwise. As always, looking forward to next month’s pick.

The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie

This novel was ‘Maidens of Murder’ May book club choice. I am so pleased that it was because I have had a little bit of a slow reading month (I blame the day job) and this book seemed to pull me out of the slow slump.

Anyone who regularly reads the blog will know that I am a Poirot fan, so I am always happy to discover a book where he takes the lead. This one was slightly different to the usual books, as it was a full novel, but each chapter was like a self-contained story as Poirot embarked on his self-motivated challenge ‘The Labours of Hercules’.

I usually do not like short stories, but this I did enjoy. There was a level of satisfaction as Poirot solved a mystery by the end of each chapter. Of course, Poirot also finds satisfaction as he manages to solve a crime in the vain of the labours of Hercules (his namesake also).

I also find it interesting how this novel compared to the David Suchet TV adaptation. It was clever how they incorporated the tales for the TV and which tale they selected to make centre stage. Now I have read the book, I would quite like to watch the TV adaptation with a little bit of a critical eye. Although, I am pretty sure the book was better.

Have you read any novels in May which were not quite what you expected?

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie

This month’s ‘Maidens of Murder’ is ‘Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?’. I was excited to read this title as it is not a story that I know well.

I really enjoyed this book. It is such a clever mystery tale, you always know that a murder that appears to have no motive will lead to quite an adventure. And – as you expect – the Queen of Crime does indeed take the characters and readers on quite a journey. The ‘twist’ really does make the story a classic of Christie’s work and does also feel a little like she has been teasing Bobby and Frankie as they carry out their investigation. This, although clearly in the style of Agatha Christie’s work, is a little bit of a timeless tale. You could imagine this plot being created now; it is not tied to the past.

However, something that really struck me about this story is how well Agatha Christie created strong female characters. Lady Francis is to be admired as she takes quite the lead in finding out exactly ‘why didn’t they ask Evans?’ but her foe in the tale is also quite a formidable lady (although some may say only until the going gets tough).

Ultimately, however, I think what is good about this book is that as much as it is a classic Christie, it is a little bit of a romance novel dressed up as a crime novel. After all, who does not love a happy ending?