A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
Daniel brought 12 Agatha Christie books home from the charity shop where he was doing some Transition Year work experience. They only cost €5. Money broadly well spent. I have only the vaguest recollection of what this one was about. But definitely a Miss Marple. Enjoyable in an Agatha Christie kind of way.
4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
In fairness, you know what you’re going to get with Agatha Christie and, generally you get it. This is no exception. I’d forgotten how competently she writes. I mean, you are not distressed by grammatical errors or very unhappy turns of phrase.
The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie
Another enjoyable story from Ms. Christie.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
A classic which I have definitely read a couple of times before but so convoluted that I couldn’t remember who the murderer was. Our first sighting of Poirot so of interest for that reason alone.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Sadly, I did remember the murderer here as it is so unusual. This makes it distinctly less good but very clever, if you don’t know.
One Two Buckle my Shoe by Agatha Christie
At this point, I was thinking that perhaps a break in my Christie consumption might be no harm.
Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
I found the narrator here particularly irritating. The story is entertaining overall but, ferociously racist. I am indebted to my loving spouse for the information that Mesopotamia means between two rivers from the Greek and that’s where we get hippopotamus as well (this was in answer to my question, “Where exactly is Mesopotamia?” so not as useful as you might imagine). And I thought his classical education was wasted.
I decided that an Agatha break might be opportune at this point.
The Girls by Emma Cline
This is about a girl who ends up briefly joining a commune in the 60s and then someone is murdered. It’s very well written, in fairness, and has had rave reviews but I found it miserable and unsettling. I wouldn’t recommend.
The Stairlift Ascends: Tweets from a Covid Cocoon by Helen O’Rahilly
This isn’t even really a book – just a collection of tweets – but anyone who deals regularly with elderly, physically frail but mentally robust relatives would enjoy it.
The Searcher by Tana French
I love Tana French but I didn’t love this book. It’s not bad, but it didn’t engage me the way some of her earlier books did. It’s about a retired US police officer who ends up trying to solve a case in the west of Ireland. Very unsentimental about rural Ireland which I quite liked.
Born to be Mild by Rob Temple
This is by the guy who does the “Very British Problems” stuff which I find mildly funny and that’s what I was looking for here but it wasn’t quite what I got. It’s autobiographical and it is a bit funny in places but it is also pretty sad – the author has had quite serious mental health problems and the book is about his recovery. Pretty gloomy in spots.
The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
More adventures of Peter Grant, the magic policeman, his girlfriend the river and so on. This one wasn’t bad.
Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
More Peter Grant. This one features bells. Not bad.
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
This is a Peter Grant novella featuring ghosts. I quite enjoyed it.
The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch
This is about the German magic police and set in Trier. I enjoyed it. Peter Grant does not feature but his German counterpart does know about his existence. Ben Aaronovitch’s car/parking obsession is yet again prominent and beginning to get on my nerves. His German detective in Trier has to walk the last 100m to a rendez-vous as the Platz is pedestrianised. I cannot imagine a German giving out about this. Annoying.
False Value by Ben Aaronovitch
Peter Grant is undercover and the book is, in my view, unsuccessful. It’s about computers and it doesn’t hang together particularly well. Disappointing.
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
There was an article about this series of books about Roman Britain in the ever-lovely Slightly Foxed. I thought I would give them a try. This is the first in the series and I can see how if you read it at the right age, it would be great and bear repeated re-reading. I’m just not the right age and it didn’t work for me but I would be keen to press it on an 11 year old.
Her Royal Spyness Solves her First Case by Rhys Brown
A friend of mine picked this up in a book exchange at work. A detective story set in the 20s, the detective is an impoverished aristocrat who is something like 40th in line for the throne. Not for me but not awful.
You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld is always good. These short stories are all good though not exactly heartwarming.
No One Now Will Know by E M Delafield
This is such an odd book. Firstly, I found it on my bedside table. How did it get there? Did I buy it? Was it a present? Did it come from my parents’ house? No idea. It’s by the author of the brilliant, hilarious “Provinical Lady” series. I have read another of her more serious books, “Consequences”, and found it quite sad. This was the same. But although, it was first published in 1941 there’s something very Victorian about the melodramatic plot. It’s written backwards, starting in 1939 and going back to the 1870s. In the first part of the book we follow 12 year old Callie who, after her grandmother dies, leaves Barbados to a new life in England with her cousins. Happily, and quite unusually in this kind of fiction in my experience, they’re lovely and all is well but there are dark hints of a mystery associated with her parents. In the second half of the book we find out what happened to her parents. The interest in the book lies more in its mood than its plot and I find myself unsure whether I would recommend it or not. Interesting though.