Crime - Shastrix Books


Recently reviewed

The Memory of Blood

The Memory of Blood

Christopher Fowler

19th May 2019

Book nine for Bryant and May takes a different route than the one I had expected. The previous two novels having formed a mini-series, I was expecting this to form part three of the trilogy, but I was wrong and it stands alone.

The crime seems rather more brutal than those of previous novels, and somewhat more of the classic locked room mystery, just with the usual peculiar crime aspects bundled in - such as the apparent only suspect being a puppet of Mr Punch.

Somewhat confusingly, this isn’t the only paranormal crime novel set in London featuring Mr Punch that I’ve read this year, and I did find I needed to remind myself every so often which bits of plot belonged to which book.

It’s a good mystery though, and continues to explore the characters who work with the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and I look forward to continuing adventuring with them.

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Agatha Christie

19th May 2019

The final Poirot novel returns us to where his adventures began in the very first novel, and to Captain Hastings, who returns to help bookend the series. Poirot slowly reveals that there is a murderer about, and that he requires Hastings’ agility to investigate and feed him information.

It’s a compelling and classic mystery, with the typical Christie wit and classic unexpected plot twists throughout. The reveals are perhaps more frequent than usual, and it’s as if Christie has been trying to produce a definitive masterpiece for her finale publication.

It makes for sad reading, not only because of the story itself, but also as it is the end of my own adventures with Poirot, who I’ve been accompanying for the last decade. It is however a fitting end, and one that does its job of surprising me well.

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Poirot's Early Cases

Poirot's Early Cases

Agatha Christie

15th December 2018

As I approach the end of my decade-long read-through of the Hercule Poirot series, I come to this collection of short stories. The stories are all from early in Poirot’s career, before he was an internationally renowned detective, and were originally published relatively early in Christie’s career, although not collected like this until the end.

It’s a nice dip of the toe into the world of Poirot, but generally I found it frustrating that each of the stories was so short - they don’t contain the depth that I’ve come to expect from the mystery, and there’s not really any opportunity to work it out for yourself as a reader, given the very limited page count.

The beauty of Christie’s writing, to me, is in her ability to feed me clues at just the right pace that I can work it out at the perfect speed along with the narrative - and in these cases I don’t have the chance to do that.

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Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember

Agatha Christie

25th July 2018

Nearing the end of the Poirot canon, this story follows the elderly detective as he’s asked to investigate a very cold case - as the mother-in-law-to-be of a young woman digs to find out what really happened to her parents.

It’s a complicated case, and leads to the usual approach of interviewing a rich variety of witnesses, gathering seemingly random pieces of information before putting together a startling conclusion.

In this case, I felt that some aspects were a little too obvious. And yet other things that really stood out to me turned out to be red herrings, and I think almost too much so - it felt more like the truth was hidden behind distractions rather than assembled from little jigsaw pieces.

Overall though a good story, and one that does the series justice as the final ‘regular’ episode.

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Off the Rails

Off the Rails

Christopher Fowler

7th July 2018

Bryant & May’s eighth adventure takes an interesting twist on the series, being the first novel that is a direct sequel to the preceding one. The continuing case of The Fox, who having escaped custody appears to have begun a new killing spree, and the detectives are once again given an absurdly short deadline to complete the case or be shut down.

While it’s a good mystery story, I felt that this one had lost a little of what earlier novels had. The crimes aren’t particularly peculiar in their nature - they are fairly ordinary as crimes go - and the character developments that have been at the forefront of previous stories seem to have been back-burnered in favour of plot.

The narrative is however quite amusing, in a relaxed way. There are a few in jokes, at the author and characters’ expense, as well as a number of moments of humour and particularly strong and witty dialogue. This I think was what held the book together and made me race through the pages, rather than anything with the plot itself.

A good mystery overall, with some interesting twists and turns, and a satisfying resolution.

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The Hanging in the Hotel

The Hanging in the Hotel

Simon Brett

26th May 2018

The fifth Fethering Mystery finds amateur sleuths Carole and Jude embroiled in a hotel-based death during an ego-trip event by a group of local do-gooders.

Compared to the previous novels, it’s very much in the same vein. There’s perhaps a little less of the dynamic between the two main characters than I’d have liked, but each of them gets amusing moments as they proceeded with their meddlesome investigation.

It’s a satisfying mystery with a range of dodgy suspects, although one in particular was an uncomfortable one to read about. Overall an enjoyable diversion.

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A Question of Blood

A Question of Blood

Ian Rankin

20th January 2018

Deep into the Rebus series, we see the eponymous detective face a novel crime - two schoolboys murdered and another wounded - which hits close to home when he discovers one of the victims is a long lost relative.

It's quite a complex plot with a lot of different strands weaving through, and writing this a few weeks after reading it, I'm not entirely clear in the end quite how it was all wrapped up. Some of the threads are serial ones though rather than specific to this book, and I think it's fascinating how this series has evolved into something that can have continuing plot lines mixed in with the crime of the week.

The Rebus stories are currently my favourite in the crime genre, with characters that are surprisingly likeable and plots that suggest a great understanding of the realities of police work, without feeling like they’ve been particularly livened up for the purposes of telling a story, like some of the more thriller-esque crime novels that I’ve been reading.

A solid novel in a solid series that I really enjoy reading.

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Knots and Crosses
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Nothing to Lose
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
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Appointment with Death
The Hard Way
Murder in the Mews
Dead Simple
A Snow Ball in Hell
One Shot
Death on the Nile
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Unreviewed books

A Darkness More Than Night
An Unkindness of Ravens
And Then There Were None
Angels Flight
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Bleeding Hearts
Blood at the Bookies
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By the Pricking of My Thumbs
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Death Comes to Pemberley
Death in Holy Orders
Death Under the Dryer
Destination Unknown
Doors Open
Eleven on Top
Exit Music
Fearless Fourteen
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Hard Eight
Hold Tight
Imitation in Death
Lean Mean Thirteen
Lost Light
N or M?
No More Dying Then
No Second Chance
Not in the Flesh
Plum Spooky
Postern of Fate
Seven Up
Sizzling Sixteen
Smokin' Seventeen
Ten Big Ones
The 13 Problems
The Body in the Library
The Grave Tattoo
The Impossible Dead
The Last Coyote
The Lighthouse
The Man in the Brown Suit
The Mermaids Singing
The Monster in the Box
The Murder at the Vicarage
The Narrows
The Poisoning in the Pub
The Sittaford Mystery
The Watchman
The Woods
To The Nines
Trunk Music
Twelve Sharp
Union Jack
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
Witch Hunt

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