The Mystery of Three Quarters (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #3) by Sophie Hannah

three quartersI was so excited when I saw The Mystery of Three Quarters.  A new Poirot mystery written by Sophie Hannah, whose books I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, taking up the mantle of the crime queen.  How would it all work out?  Well, I have to say that I really enjoyed this. I totally sympathise with any author taking on a firmly established and well loved character created by a master of the genre. I think one of the real difficulties lies in capturing the essence of the period but I think Hannah did a good job of capturing not only the quintessential character of Poirot but also managing to instill the book with that quaint feel that you would expect.  Of course this isn’t Christie but, truthfully, I don’t think Hannah is trying to totally mimic the original, more that she’s bringing back to the page a beloved character whilst giving him something of her own stamp.

I’m only going to briefly discuss the plot.  Basically, four characters receive a letter from Poirot accusing them of murder.  One thing that is immediately clear is that the letters were not written by Poirot, what is not clear is why somebody would send these letters accusing people of  a murder when in fact the death in question seems to have been accidental.  It can only be assumed that foul play is suspected and that somebody wishes Poirot to dig a little deeper.

The book is set in the 1930s and I felt like Hannah did a really good job of creating not only a feel for the era but also managing to write a crime novel which feels cosy.  No violence or bloodyness on these pages.  Everything is respectable, or at least it is on the face of things.

The characters are a fun and quirky bunch ranging from a rather muddleheaded school master to a shy spinster living in a country manor and doting on her dog.  Poirot came across as quirky and eccentric with nods to his dislike of disorder and the story was narrated by one Inspector Edward Catchpool.  I really enjoyed the way in which the characters are set up and the red herrings that Hannah sprinkles around to send readers off on wild goose chases and I particularly loved the whole grande finale with all the suspects being called together in a showy attempt at flushing out the guilty party.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I thought the start was a little slow and at first I felt as though Poirot should have been a little more forceful in defending himself against the angry visitors he was treated to.  To be honest though, I think on reflection that his reaction was probably more ‘Poirot’ than if he had reacted in that way.  I didn’t think the final solution was quite as elaborate as I’d expected in fact for me it felt a little bit flat in some respects but again, maybe that’s just me trying to have things feel too ‘plausible’.

I realise that there were two previous books prior to this one but I’m not sure if I’ll go back to read those – not because I don’t want to read more however, just I feel I’ve jumped forward now and so would prefer to see what comes next.

Overall I have to say I found this a very easy and quick read and I certainly hope that Ms Hannah intends to write more books starring Poirot – I will definitely pick them up and will be curious to see how her style develops going forward.  I loved being able to read a Poirot mystery again and revisiting a character and period that has a simple charm.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Advertisements

Cover Reveal: Chasing Graves by Ben Galley

Posted On 13 September 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

Comments Dropped 15 responses

Today I’m really pleased to be sharing with you the cover for Ben Galley’s forthcoming book : Chasing Graves.  This is the first instalment in a new trilogy that sounds deliciously dark and decidedly promising.  Chasing Graves takes place in the City of Araxes where the only thing you can be certain of is ‘death is only the beginning’.  More information below but for now feast your eyes on the cover:

 

Wait for it…

 

Wait for it…..

 

Chasing Graves Cover Reveal 6.jpg

Are you not entertained? Maybe scared?  Or just downright intrigued? Of course, you’re all three and so below is a little more information to whet your appetite:

Meet Caltro Basalt. He’s a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.

They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to rule is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.

While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor’s throne in Araxes’ cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.

Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is only the beginning.

Now, if you’re anything like me you probably need just a tad more information.  So, firstly, and most importantly, I think, when is this little beauty due for release: December 7th 2018 (eBook & Paperback).  That’s right, make a note in your diary, free your schedule, pre order one today 😀

If you want to know more about the cover, which obviously you do, look no further:

Finally, Mr Galley – everything you need to know in order to get in touch with the intrepid author himself – go stalk, I mean, go check him out:

And, if that wasn’t enough and you’re scratching your bonce thinking ‘hey up, don’t I know this author’- well, yes, you probably do.  Go check out his goodreads page for a starter – very impressive list of books right there.  And, here are my reviews for Ben’s SPFBO book, Bloodrush and his emotionally loaded Heart of Stone.

I’m very excited to read this one.

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.  I love Diane Setterfield’s writing – The Thirteenth Tale is a book that I would highly recommend, gothic brilliance.

OnceUpon.jpgA dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

Due For Publication: January 2019

Read me Seymour. Read me now.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

Hidden Gems

(books that I want everyone to be aware of and reading)

  1. It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton
  2. Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd
  3. hope and Red by Jon Skovron
  4. HeartStone by Ella Katharine White
  5. The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
  6. Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn
  7. The Nine by Tracy Townsend
  8. Kin by Snorri Kristjansson
  9. The Last Sun by KD Edwards
  10. You Die When you Die by Angus Watson

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Posted On 10 September 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 15 responses

thesilenceI really loved The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.  It was a story that was absolutely immersive, brutal and yet beautiful, subtle and yet stark.  Pat Barker has taken probably the most famous battle from historical fiction and by twisting the view point given it a fascinating female voice whilst at the same time managing to steer clear of romance.

What I really loved about this is that wars and battles set in certain historic periods are usually the reserve of men and the stories that ensue as a result, being told by the victors, are usually one sided affairs and rather biased in the conqueror’s favour.  What we have in The Silence of the Girls is the perfect opportunity to read a story told not only by somebody from the opposing side but also a female, now a slave and at one point a woman with the opportunity to relay incidents from two of the main characters from within the heart of the Greek camp.

As the story begins we witness the fall of Lyrnessus with Achilles heading the charge.  The events are witnessed from atop one of the towers by a number of women, one being Briseis who will shortly be taken as a bed slave and given to Achilles as a prize to reward his heroics, a trophy for him to flaunt.  Standing atop a tower watching Achilles brutally slaying her family Briseis is less inclined to see him as the hero of the piece, still, she desperately wants to live and her life by comparison is much better than that of so many of the other women who were captured and enslaved.  I’m not going to elaborate too much further on the plot.  Whether you’re familiar with the Illiad or not it’s likely that you will have heard of many of the characters and the story surrounding them.  The Silence of the Girls brings to us the last few weeks of the Trojan war.  It doesn’t attempt to rewrite the events or give them a modern take, it’s quite simply a retelling but from a different perspective.

The writing here is wonderful.  It’s bloody and violent in parts but then so is war and this is an author who not only knows how to write a battle scene but also doesn’t shy away from the horror and brutality.  The majority of the book isn’t about the battles of course but I would point out that there are a few scenes that readers may find unsettling and I would also point out the mention of rape which, whilst there isn’t anything graphic, I thought I should note it.  Like I said, the focus here isn’t the war itself but more life within the camp as experienced by Briseis.  Of course the battles are quite often in very close proximity to the beach and so the horrors of battle are sometimes evident whether the narrator wishes to see them or not.  I just thought this was really well portrayed, to be honest I had moments that I could have been standing on that beach witnessing events they were that well drawn – and yet not overly descriptive.  Clarity without the clutter.

In terms of the characters.  Well, firstly, let me make clear that I haven’t read the Illiad so I’m in no way able to compare the two or look for differences in temperaments or the like.  For me what became very clear was that this was not a love story where Briseis finds herself falling head over heels for the God’s blessed Achilles.  As the person who killed her family she despises him but at the same time she has the wisdom to understand not to express such thoughts aloud.  She knows her place basically – this isn’t about her being all sassy and winning Achilles over by standing up to him.  Briseis is telling the story but she’s very much aware that she’s only a bystander.  The Silence of the Girls is exactly as it’s title suggests.  Women were expected to keep quiet and do as they were bid.  This is about Briseis and her own survival.  It’s also an intriguing character study of a few of the other players and a look at a war camp from a viewpoint that we wouldn’t normally see it from.

Achilles and Patroclus for example.  Their friendship and love for each other comes across clearly although Achilles has the upper hand and quite often treats Patroclus as his errand boy.  Everybody likes Patroclus though and it’s easy to see why.  He’s a little bit more human.  Of course Achilles isn’t all human, his mother being a water goddess and all.  Achilles comes across in some instances as fairly easy to read.  He’s all about the heroics and glory.  Taking Briseis as his bed slave for example.  It doesn’t come across as something he particularly cares about or enjoys, more something that is his right. Briseis is very aware that she has no agency, she’s a ‘thing’ and when she is taken by Agamemnon she becomes the ‘thing’ that came between Agamemnon and Achilles – as such everyone lays the blame at her door even though she had no choice in the matter.  But, again, Briseis does what she needs to do to survive and if that means shrinking into the background she’s not afraid to do so.

The relationship between Achilles and Briseis is a strangely developing one.  I would say they almost mutually disregard each other to begin with.  Achilles doesn’t mistreat Briseis but at the same time he doesn’t particularly seem to care if she’s there or not – although he does become a little besotted at one point – but that’s a story I won’t go into here but let you discover for yourself.  What I did like was the subtleties about Achilles, in a way he feels toyed with himself, he certainly has ‘mummy’ issues and there are these small moments where you feel sympathy for him.  He’s definitely a conflicted character – and I don’t suppose having your death laid out before you can be easy.  Which brings me to the final characters of the piece – the Gods.  I loved the way that the Gods play a part in this story.  It all feels so natural and taken for granted as par for the course.  Of course there are Gods, with fragile egos who like to play games, not just with the mere mortals, but with each other.

In terms of criticisms – I don’t have anything really, I did have a short spell where this all felt very familiar – but then it’s a retelling so of course it feels familiar.  I think the other two things of note is that Briseis is not given a modern day outlook so please don’t expect her to be all feisty and kickass and also don’t start this one expecting a romance.  This isn’t a love story as such.

I think that this is a great retelling.  The characterisation is certainly one of my favourite aspects and the way the author describes the camp and brings it to life – it’s just so wonderfully written.  I loved reading the story and thought Briseis made an excellent narrator.  Now if somebody could write a similar story from Achille’s mother I’d be just as happy as Larry.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Edelweiss, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

« Previous PageNext Page »