Agatha Christie Readathon: The Murder at the Vicarage

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Time for our fourth, and final book for the month, a quick reminder…..

The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

Now, onto the review!

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Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Murder at the Vicarage

A Miss Marple Mystery

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

The Murder at the Vicarage is the first of Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple” series. As such, it made perfect sense that the story would revolve around the Vicar, who’s home in which the murder took place .

The story is slow to begin as the characters, of which there are quite a few, are introduced to the reader. As this is a small town, or village, everyone is overly involved in one another’s business. It took some time to understand those intimate relationships and to describe the crime in detail. However, once the true investigation begins, the story moves at a quicker pace.

The story is told from the Vicar’s point of view and he is somewhat of an amateur sleuth himself. Indeed, it seems the actual authorities are rather blind to a number of clues and important inferences, which makes me wonder how they got their jobs in the first place!

While the professional investigators are searching for the easiest explanation, the Vicar and Miss Marple are looking for the answers that makes sense, given the facts they have. This is made all the more complicated by the busy bodies and gossip hounds which cloud the facts by withholding information and elaborating details that may or may not be real. Ultimately it is “old Miss Marple” that sees through the deceptions of the culprits and weaves the fragmented truths together.

I do wish that this had been the first of the Miss Marple stories that I had read. I feel this was a great introduction to her character and her keen sense of observational powers. I can completely buy into her position as a supporting character, turned hero at the end when she is the one who puts it all together. I would expect that, as the series continues, Miss Marple would have a greater involvement in solving the future mysteries that seems to be in abundance in this tiny community. Having already completed “The body in the Library”, I do know that the series does not play out that way. Still, I do recommend “The Murder at the Vicarage” as a clever example of Agatha Christie’s excellent writing style!

Thank you Jay, for expanding my literary boundaries! So glad we went on this journey together my friend 😊💕!

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Agatha Christie Readathon: The Body in the Library

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Time for our third book for the month, a quick reminder…..

The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

poirot

Now, onto the review!

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Body in the Library

A Miss Marple Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Bantrys are a wealthy, upper class couple enjoying their social status, when they get the shock of their lives. The dead body of a young, blond woman is found on the hearthrug in their library. Who is she? Why is she in the Bantry’s library and who killed her? People begin to talk, naturally they believe Colonel Bantry must be involved, why else would a young woman be in his home?

The gossip mill is out of control and Mrs. Bantry looks to do some serious damage control. She calls for her friend and village busy body, Miss Marple. Jane Marple, the village spinster, is dialed into everyone’s business, and is a human lie detector. Her many years of observing her neighbors’ behavior has left her with the uncanny knack of seeing  connections that others miss. She delves into the lives of local dancers, film makers and bridge players in order to find the truth, to identify the girl, and learn the truth of her death. Of course the police have it all wrong and Miss Marple sets it right!

My Observations:

This was a tough one for me. I have no trouble believing that the elder woman is clever, astute and observant. Jane Marple could easily be a brilliant detective. And, I appreciate that Ms. Christie created such a literary character during an age when an older woman would never be cast in that light. However, I struggled with this novel. I was immediately turned off by the gossipy nature of the story. Probably because it mirrors real life, even present tense, too closely. The majority of Miss Marple’s intel was pure hearsay, and she seemed to pick and choose at random, which “facts” were to be believed and which were summarily discarded. She really had a small role in the story, as the police and inspectors were the ones conducting the actual investigation. Miss Marple would just pop in every so often to make a comparison to someone she used to know in the village. From that one example of human behavior, she would negate all the facts. To draw such powerful and apparently, always correct inferences was a bit of a stretch for me. These inconsistencies made the ending difficult for me, as I felt it was borne from a fragmented line of reasoning.

I found it entertaining, and I do love reading the language of the time. I have already read a third of the next novel “The Murder at the Vicarage” and am hopeful that I might find it a more believable story. It may just be that this series is too much of a suspension of belief for me.  😊💕

 

Agatha Christie Readathon: Peril at End House

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Time for our second book for the month, a quick reminder…..

The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

 

Now, onto the review! Little-Grey-Cells-poirot-35371574-353-500

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

Peril at End House

A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

The famous detective, Hercule Poirot has retired and is on holiday with his good friend, Captain Hastings, in the south of England.  It would appear that the gentlemen are in for some rest and relaxation when they have a chance encounter with the young woman who lives at End House, which is an estate near the detective’s hotel. They begin to chat, as one does with a new acquaintance on holiday. Poirot grows concerned about her welfare, and decides to investigate some strange “accidents” that have plagued this young lady. He quickly learns that these accidents are not what they appear and appoints himself as her guardian until he can unravel the truth behind the strange happenings at End House.

 

My Observations:

This is my second Poirot novel and I am quickly falling in love with this series! Christie is marvelous at weaving interesting characters together while developing intrigue and mystery! Hercule Poirot is arrogant, flamboyant and brilliant, a rather complex character to say the least. He is quite confident in his mental abilities and has no real sense of humility. He loves his notoriety and wears it proudly, and backs it up with dogged determination to uncover the truth.

This story kept me riveted and I was completely shocked at the end with a twist I never foresaw. For me, that is the mark of a great mystery, when I am caught totally unaware, and I love it! I am also enjoying the “old language” of Christie’s time, words and expressions no longer in use today. For example, I marveled at the phraseology, when Hastings describes a low point for Poirot and says

I thought he looked rather cast down and not his usual cock-a-hoop self. p. 193

Christie’s writing style engages me as much as her characters’ actions. I will be returning to the Poirot series at the end of our Readathon 😊!

Thank you Jay for bringing me into the fold 📚💕

 

 

 

Agatha Christie Readathon: The Secret Adversary

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The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Secret Adversary

Tommy and Tuppence series (book 1)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tommy and Tuppence are good friends, down on their luck and flat broke when we first meet them. With World War I over, and difficult economic prospects, they are having a tough time finding employment in London. So much so that Tuppence proposes they form their own business, The Young Adventurers, LTD. They place an ad in the local paper stating that they “will do anything, go anywhere”, as long as the price is right! When they receive two replies they believe their luck has changed for the better.

Tuppence is impetuous, confident and fearless as she meets with Mr. Whittington to negotiate their first paid engagement. She was unwilling to give her real name to a stranger and quickly pulls a name from her subconscious. However, in doing so, she accidentally provides the name of an actual person who is at the center of a international investigation. Now she and Tommy have to find the real woman, secure important foreign documents and discover the identity of a criminal mastermind!

 

My Observations:

I am still new to Agatha Christie and this is only the second of her novels that I have had the privilege of reading. My first was “Murder on the Orient Express”, which I read only a couple months ago, mainly because I wanted to see how it compared to the movie version. I am so impressed by her ability to create suspense and mystery, working with so little of what mystery writers enjoy today.

Present readers expect high tech crime scene analysis, technology not available to Ms. Christie. She has to weave a tale based solely on character interaction and subtle clues. There is no “in your face”moment. No phone records, emails or videos to discover.

I am also struck by the political incorrectness of the time! Ms. Christie’s sleuths often make deductions based on personal biases and prejudices. To rule out a suspect because he is French or English and to include one because he is German, is astounding to me. But then again, this is where those ingrained prejudices came from, right? I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Tuppence has to fight to be included, at times, because she is a female, so obviously “the weaker sex”. Yet Christie writes her as strong young woman, the fact that Tuppence has to overcome male chauvinism and does so successfully, seems to indicate that Christie is more than just aware of a woman’s role at this time. She too has to work against those societal boundaries, making her accomplishments even more impressive. I wonder what she would make of the #metoo movement.

Although Christie created this strong female, there was still a whole lot of proposing going on! Was marriage really that coveted at this time? Or, is Christie adding in what would be considered gratuitous “sex” scenes, such as they were back then? Many writers of today can’t help but toss in a one night stand or erotic scene, as the heroes are being chased by the bad guys, just to keep the readers interested.

Both Tommy and Tuppence are young, which probably works in their favor as those around them assume they are incapable of putting the clues together to uncover the truth. Tommy is the sensible, thoughtful and analytical foil to Tuppence’s “act first think second” persona. They make an excellent team. Those that underestimated the duo, however, later were impressed at their doggedness and determination to see their role to the end.

I was excited to learn that this is a series and I hope to return to it when we complete the other books on our list. I am glad there will be more adventurers for these two!

Thank you Jay, for hosting this challenge!

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Oh No, What have I done? 😳

I may, may have overcommitted myself for the month of April!

How have I done this? Let me count the ways!

First off, I want to participate in Jay’s Agatha Christie Readathon. I have the books on order and am ready to jump on board! We will be reading one novel each week and then posting a review. I think there is still time to join us 😃📚!.

Secondly, I will be continuing with Sally’s Baking Addiction Challenge, as I have been for the last 13 months. Our April challenge is croissants! 🥐 I have discussed the intense process for making laminated dough in the past, so you know this is a tough undertaking for me. This will be posted near the end of the month, as I am not going to be working with pounds of cold butter in my hot, Tucson kitchen!

And finally, I signed up to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. If you are not familiar this is a challenge to post, each day, excluding Sundays, for the month of April. I don’t know if I can pull this off as I have never blogged that much😬. Additionally, I have to spend three days driving my car from Tucson to Redmond. Those are some long days and I hope I can accommodate the blog schedule. If you have already participated in this before, please feel free to give me any tips or advice! Please, Please😊💕

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My theme will be Health and Fitness, but you probably saw that one coming! 🏋🏻‍♀️💪🏻🥊🧘🏻‍♀️🧗‍♀️

There are a couple reasons why I wanted to do this challenge. I have never really pushed myself to blog on a daily schedule. So, I want to try that out. Also, one of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton, passed this year. She is famous for her Alphabet mystery series, A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar….It just felt right this year.

So, come April 1st (the only Sunday blog post) I will be launching head first into the abyss, God help us all and wish me luck 🍀😫