Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House

10/30/2017 at 6:45 AM (Books, Classics, Mystery, TV) (, , )

When I borrowed this book from my local library, I was under the impression this was an Agatha Christie type mystery with a bit more edge. I think Agatha Christie type mysteries are older fashioned compared to Agatha Raisin. The novel ends in a surprising fashion with the protagonist deciding to begin her own agency for ladies.The problem the victim faces is that she is an older, much maligned lady and her claims that her house is being haunted falls on deaf ears when it comes to the local police. Due to her interest in solving crimes, when the old lady is murdered, it makes M.C. Beaton’s Agatha sit up and take interest. For her, the solving of a crime holds more interest because she finds it more fun rather than chasing after ghosts.

Agatha Raisin, comfortable and warm in her cottage, in Carsley has that same old feeling-boredom-until a report of a haunted house sends her and new neighbor, handsome Paul Chatterton, to investigate. Suddenly, middle-aged Agatha is aglow with romance and excitement. But the charm fades fast. It turns out Paul is a cad because he is married to Juanita. The victim of the haunting is a universally disliked old biddy. And the ghost is most likely someone playing a dirty trick. Then an old lady is soon found murdered. For Agatha, solving a homicide is more fun than hunting a ghost. She quickly has a theory and a risky scheme. And she makes a startling discovery which could either be her greatest triumph or leave her heartbroken, in trouble with the police, and in danger of losing her reputation – or her life.

 Agatha is again mesmerised with the latest man living next door Paul Chatterton while she pines under it all for James Lacey. Her older age comes out well when she can’t get up out of a lawn chair gracefully. I like Agatha because she is so very real. I can imagine myself doing what she does just blundering around until something happens. But there is a susceptible side to Agatha, and this was brought out in this book and at times I felt a little sorry for her. As usual Agatha solves the murders, and saves the day, and everything turns out alright in the end. This was #14 in the Agatha Raisin series written by M.C. Beaton.

There is a TV series also based on the much-loved books by M.C Beaton where Cotswold dwelling amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin attempts to solve the mysterious murder cases that seem to plague her community.

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The Trespasser

06/05/2017 at 12:09 PM (Books, Mystery, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

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This was my first experience reading Tana French and my negative reaction to it is attributable to a mistake on my part. Had I been introduced to the main detective earlier in her Dublin Murder Squad book series, I might have found her sympathetic. However, this was a pick up from a local bookshop after reading the following blurb.

Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?”

Due to my lack of research into reviews of this book and expectations of fast-paced story, when I realised it was the reverse I found the descriptions of police procedural rather tedious because it seemed to border on the excessive. I enjoyed her writing and her characterisation was very well done but personally I think this book probably didn’t make for a very good stand-alone read. The mystery was interesting enough in its individualistic way but the paranoia exhibited by Detective Conway grated on my nerves. My favourite part was when a certain arrogant character got his comeuppance from an unexpected ally but I disliked the brow beating of the primary suspect in the murder mystery. I was coming in expecting a psychological thriller so I was disappointed despite the motivations of the murder victim.

All I can say is if you are a Gone Girl fan, don’t go for this type of book. It’s not the type of psychological thriller you are looking for. For me this particular reviewer’s assessment of The Trespasser is spot on. For a positive perspective on the book, try this review.

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Gone Girl

08/19/2015 at 10:48 PM (Adaptations, Books, Movies) (, , , , , , , , )

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne has disappeared when her husband, Nick, arrives home. It appears there has been some commotion at home but to some investigating police officers, it looks too much like organised clutter. Being the husband, Nick is the obvious suspect and Amy’s parents start to slowly distrust him after he fails to show adequate grief for someone who lost his wife on national media. It turns out that Nick has secrets he has been hiding from wife and her adoring parents because their marriage has been rocky but the police have doubts as to whether he actually murdered Amy because there is no body. His only supporter is his twin sister, Margo, who never liked Amy.

Gone Girl

Source: katyat34.typepad.com

The second half of the book takes a surprising twist showing that Gillian Flynn had been “gaslighting” her readers for the first half which is the entire theme of the book. I probably shouldn’t say more as I’ve already said too much. This is probably one of the best deeply deranged thrillers I’ve ever read given the well-written prose, but Amy’s characterisation has a lot more depth than Nick’s.  I just finished reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and while Gone Girl isn’t that gratuitous or nihilistic, I couldn’t help but feel there were some not so obvious parallels about creating a facade.

While I have no qualms with encouraging people to read the book, people who only watch the David Fincher movie based on the book are missing out as they have changed some key elements of the story, including what happens with Desi. The casting of Rosamund Pike was great for “Amazing Amy” but I couldn’t really swallow Ben Affleck as the hipster golden poster boy, Nick. Usually books told in multiple perspectives don’t translate so well into film as major plot details end up being omitted in order to maintain suspense. Some people find reading the book gruelling as it gets off to a fairly slow start but I found the movie more difficult to follow than Flynn’s novel which kept me awake until ungodly hours.

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The Man With The Twisted Lip

07/14/2011 at 1:58 AM (Books, TV) (, , , , , , , )

My Hercule Poirot and Marple episode searches as of late have yielded no results. I have watched most episodes starring David Suchet as Poirot and the Marple series with Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple. So now I have turned to Sherlock Holmes for my entertainment. Last week, what I watched was called The Man with the Twisted Lip. This case belongs in the The Return of Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Neville St Clair is spotted by his wife in an establishment in Upper Swindon Lane; a home to opium dens, beggars and the generally destitute. She catches a glance of him through the window and he abruptly withdraws. Being of a brave temperament, the lady enters the premises and tries to go upstairs in search of her husband. She is prevented from gaining entry by an employee of Lascar origin. Undeterred she returns accompanied by the police to search for her missing husband. But the only occupant they find is a dirty but professional beggar by the name of Daniel Boone who lodges there. He seems to have a penchant for quoting literary figures such as Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Her persistence finally makes her realise that a box of building bricks that was promised to her daughter is in the room as is his clothes. During low tide, they also locate his overcoat weighted down with pennies. Daniel Boone is arrested for doing away with Neville St Clair.

The lady engages Sherlock Holmes (played by Jeremy Brett) to find her missing husband. When Sherlock expresses he fears that her husband might be dead, she produces a recently delivered letter which assures her he is well and is accompanied with his signet ring. Dr. Watson (played by Edward Hardwicke in this episode) also asks if her husband could possibly have been an opium addict but she rejects this surmise. Sherlock Holmes finally stumbles upon the solution as he washes his face in a basin in the morning and tells Watson who has barely slept he wants to test a theory at dawn. His inkling about the whereabouts of the missing husband proves to be correct. So it turns out that The Man with the Twisted Lip was a case without even as much as a criminal.

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The Clocks

04/06/2011 at 6:14 AM (Books, Mystery, TV, War) (, , , , , , , )

Colin Lamb, who walks around in the guise of a marine biologist, is paying a visit to Wilbraham Crescent when Miss Sheila Webb runs screaming out of a house straight into his arms. She tells him there is a corpse inside the house. When he goes in to check, her hysteric tale is confirmed. There is a dead body in the house and what is more mysterious is that four clocks in the room are frozen at 4:13 even though the actual time is 3:13.  The house turns out be the residence of an elderly blind lady, Mrs. Pebmarsh. To the astonishment and consternation of everyone involved, she states she did not call the Cavendish Secretarial Bureau to specifically inquire for the typing services of Sheila Webb.  Is Miss Webb the target of a conspiracy or is she actually hiding something?

When Colin Lamb gets Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective concocted by the queen of crime writing, involved in the case from his armchair no less, he enquires as to why Colin was found at Wilberham Crescent. Apparently he was investigating another case that pointed him towards this address.  Unfortunately here the main role doesn’t fall to the detective but when murder rate spikes higher, Poirot uses his grey cells to figure out this case doesn’t follow the one plot but two which intertwine with each other.

As the mystery unravels, you finally figure out the motive for the murder of that unidentified man, why the girl with broken high heel was prevented from giving evidence, the significance of 4:13 and who is committing treason by passing information to the enemy. This one is littered with red herrings so it is almost impossible to figure the case out by reasoning.

Below is the television adaptation based on the novel. Please note the story is mostly true to type but there are some modifications made such as the time in which it was set.

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