Tag Archive for Mystery

Book Review: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This book is obviously an attempt to emulate the lengthy and intricately detailed novels of the Victorian era, like something Dickens would have written (Bleak House came to mind as I read it). Unfortunately, it falls far short of that mark, and instead was just overly wordy, repetitive, and slow-moving, without feeling like there was much substance.

The plot progressed very slowly, structured through constant flashbacks that awkwardly shifted from one character to another without furthering the plot very much at all. It often felt like felt like something that would have taken a minute in real life was drawn out of several pages, with much repetition. Conversations between two people would have them repeating the same phrase back and forth, or the inside thoughts of one character would be repeating and rehashing what was just detailed by the narrator or said by someone else.

Ultimately, the biggest problem was that all this detail felt like it was lacking proper substance to it. It was all just fluff, like being giving an airy ball of cotton candy when you’re hoping for a rich piece of dark chocolate to really bite into. Even if you try to savor the experience of wading through all those wordy passages, in the end, you don’t feel like you really got much out of it, despite all the effort.

I do appreciate what the author was trying to do, especially her efforts to make the language and style fit the time period. The book just didn’t quite work though, and it felt like I was reading the transcript of some sort of interactive, immersive video game, with rather heavy amounts of hand-holding, rather than a great work of historical fiction.

Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie After reading Murder on the Orient Express, I thought I’d try some other books from Agatha Christie’s Poirot series. I tried reading one called Third Girl, from later in the series, but I didn’t like it much and set it aside, so I decided to try the very first Poirot book.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie introduced Poirot to the world, though he’s a secondary character at first. He gets pulled into a mystery by Captain Hastings, who is visiting friends in the country, when the mistress of the house dies suddenly.

The form of the book was fairly standard, with Poirot collecting information that seems innocuous to others, and then at the end, he brings everyone together to reveal the murderer. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this one as much as Murder on the Orient Express. Perhaps I’m just realizing I like the BBC series Poirot better than I do the books.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie I haven’t ever really read any mysteries, other than maybe one book by Mary Higgins Clark in high school (or is that suspense?). The notion of a reading a story that revolves around someone’s murder just seemed a bit too macabre for me, though I could see the detective work being interesting.

However, my interested was sparked recently when I watched a documentary about David Suchet traveling on the current Orient Express, in preparation for filming the “Murder on the Orient Express” episode of Poirot. They made various references to the plot, which I wasn’t really familiar with, other than knowing it was a classic. I decided to look for the book at the library, and then perhaps watch the TV version afterwards.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie was a quick read for me, mostly due to how smoothly the mostly conversational writing style flows. There were certainly details about the characters and situation, but in a way that painted the picture, rather than overdoing it, as other books can do.

The main character is Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, and we follow his travels as he tries to return to London from Syria. He ends up on the Orient Express along with a variety of other passengers, who all seem to draw his interest. The train gets stuck in snow in the mountains, and shortly after, the crew discovers that one of the passengers has been murdered.

Poirot takes on the case and gets right to work to figure out who is the murderer, and I liked following along and trying to guess who was to blame. I figured a few details out, but I definitely didn’t expect the way it turned out in the end, though I liked how it was done.

I would say that I definitely enjoyed this book, and plan to read more in the Poirot series that Christie wrote over the period of many years. I’ve seen a few of the TV episodes of Poirot, but not this one yet, so that’s on the list as well. I just hope that they’re not all about murders; it seems like there are many other kinds of mysteries that could need solving.