I’m not sure exactly what a “royal post” entails, but I’m feeling rather queenly as I listen to the “Queen Vic” edition of CBC’s Tempo this morning, all royal music, all morning long. I’ve got a steaming cup of chai tea and a delicious Date Bar to keep me company on this bright, brisk Monday morning.
I read the latest “Hercule Poirot” novel by Sophie Hannah last week, The Mystery of Three Quarters, and I have to say, it was just ok. I enjoyed the very first one she wrote as she continued this series originally written by Agatha Christie, but the second and now third have left something to be desired, at least for this reader. This novel begins with Poirot receiving a visit from a woman he does not know, accusing him of writing to her and claiming that she murdered Barnabas Pandy, that he had proof, and that he would be going to Scotland Yard with this accusation. Of course, she claims complete innocence, informing him that she doesn’t even know this man, let alone have any reason to murder him. Poirot is prepared to write this off as an unsavoury prank until another and yet another individual come forward with the very same claim. Four individuals in all have received the same letter, and Poirot’s interest is piqued. Who is this Barnabas Pandy, and why are these individuals being accused of murdering him? And most intriguing of all, why did they receive letters supposedly written by the great Hercule Poirot? As his investigation proceeds, with Poirot employing his sidekick Edward Catchpool from Scotland Yard, he uncovers secrets, lies, deceptions and cover-ups that all lead to possible solutions, but which are the red herrings and which will lead to the truth? I will admit that it was mildly entertaining, but I never felt a sense of urgency with this book, like I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. I guess I found it rather bland; it lacked the “zing” that her other psychological mysteries have. I really have nothing more to say about it, except that, if you’ve been reading these new “Poirot” novels, you’ll probably want to pick this one up, but if you’ve never read them, I’d recommend The Monogram Murders, which I recall really, really enjoying.
And I finished a surprisingly good audiobook last week, Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan. I’ve never heard of this author, but this book was very interesting. It is the second in the “DI Jim Clemo” series, and I guess at the end of the first book, Clemo was suspended or was off on stress leave or something, because he’s just returning to work and is given as his first assignment an unfortunate accident involving two fifteen-year-old boys who were playing around down by a canal the night before when one of them ended up falling in. This boy, Noah, is now in hospital and in a coma, and Jim must determine whether there was any foul play that caused him to fall in. His friend, Abdi, is the son of a Somali refugee, and in the wake of recent racial tensions in Bristol, there is the possibility that this could have been a hate crime, despite evidence to the contrary. But Noah’s family are British and upper-middle-class, and, with their son’s life in jeopardy, his parents need to find someone to blame and some ugly prejudices surface. What was meant to be a simple open-and-shut case to ease Jim back into his job turns out to be more complex and multifaceted than anyone could have anticipated, and as complications develop, Jim must tackle each problem aggressively while also displaying racial sensitivity. It was really a very good novel, more than a mystery-thriller, although the mystery was the thing that kept the story moving. It was also a social commentary and a look at the ways different families deal with very different but comparably difficult situations. The narrator did a great job, and I thought Macmillan balanced the various aspects of the novel well. It was good enough that I now want to read the first “DI Jim Clemo” novel to find out why he ended up being off. Unfortunately, What She Knew is not available through the library as an audiobook, so I will have to read the print version. I think I’ll put it on hold right now, before I forget.
That’s all for today. The forecast has changed and it’s now not supposed to rain this afternoon, so I can to out for a long walk. Hopefully I can find a new audiobook that is engaging - I’ve tried two others so far, but they have been disappointing. Thank goodness I have about five more already downloaded that I can choose from. Enjoy this extra day off, whatever you do, but remember to make time to read!Bye for now…