The story is set in the beautiful city of Delft during the Golden Age of the Netherlands . Three eight year old girls are missing. One of them is found buried in a field just outside the city. The city council of Delft asks Master Mercurius of the University of Leiden to assist them in recovering the girls and solving this crime. Mercurius is a far from perfect character. For one thing ,he is a protestant minister and an ordained catholic priest which is not always an easy marriage in the 17th century low countries. But he is very likeable, intelligent and disarmingly naive. He also meets some very interesting people among which Johannes Vermeer,the painter,and Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek,the founder of modern microbiology. And there is the city of Delft in the background of course. You know with some books that as soon as you start reading them that they are going to be alright (or more than alright). Historical mystery fiction is not always a perfect blend between the different parts. Sometimes there is not enough historical data,sometimes there is just too much and the mystery story just disappears in a swamp (or in this case perhaps a canal) of titbits and not relevant facts. But here it really ticked off and all the boxes. The setting,in the dead of winter,was both enchanting and a bit eerie. Sometimes it felt as if I was walking through one of Vermeer's paintings. The slippery cobblestones,the dykes,the wind mills and the endless sky hovering over the frost covered fields. Perhaps one little remark,nothing to do with the quality of the story,but the frozen fields,icy sleet and biting wind makes this a perfect read for the winter.
David Henchman,a young undergraduate,several other young cubs and their tutor are participating in a reading party. In the morning they pore over texts and in the afternoon they climb hills and discover Dartmoor 's treasures. One morning David visits Knack Tor with its magnificent views. When he finally, after a stiff climb,arrives at the top he is not alone. A corpse awaits him there. He then calls for help and manages to attract the attention of a casual passerby. But this hiker seems to have an altogether different agenda. What follows is a wilde chase through heather ,moors,meadows and country lanes. When David finally finds himself in a more safe environment, Inspector Appleby enters the story... I've read novels by Michael Innes before and it always amounts to the same thing,sometimes the storyline is definitely worthwhile and sometimes it is all over the place. More than one third of the book consists of young David's adventures while being chased by the assailants. It feels as if it never going to end and when it finally does, we are confronted by spies and not very intelligent or successful ones. There is definitely a boy scout feeling about. Fine if you like it but it didn't really work for me.
So Obsidian Blue launched a little market research and I can not thank her enough for it.
At least I know this site is still alive and populated by a group of colourful, obstinate,highly motivated(and yes, a bit weird) booklovers.
Thank you OB.
Adrian Gray,an unpleasant patriarch of an equally unpleasant family invites his six children (and their partners) to the family manor to celebrate Christmas. He is not a very loved or likeable man and his family have solid reasons to murder the old man. And one of them does murder Adrian Gray on Christmas Eve. The identity of the murderer is immediately revealed. This is not a who,how or why done it. The story revolves mainly around the exposure and evidence seeking to convict the culprit. It has definitely a modern,not Golden Age at all,twist about it but it took me an eternity to finish it and some parts just dragged on. True,my mother passed away in December and that really didn't help me to keep focused...
Therefore it is really very difficult to give an unbiased opinion on this classic mystery...
Although I really don't mind the winter,a sprinkling of sun in the kitchen is a welcome present.
And both the recipes and the photographs (mind you not all the recipes have photographs but most of them...)bring a bit of sunshine in your daily diet.
The problem with a lot of "international " cookbooks are the ingredients. How does anyone expect you to find some obscure vegetable or an unheard of spice blend? Well,the author gives you alternatives . For instance certain Turkish cheeses are replaced by feta,cheddar and even mozzarella! Those alternatives and the fact that most recipes are not overly complicated make this a very pleasant introduction to the Turkish cuisine.
Sixteen short stories all relating to water,be it rivers,seasides,estuaries, pools and so on. And ranging in style from classic murder mysteries to tales of the unexpected. Some are good,very good indeed,and some do not quite enchant me so much. But one of the great advantages and delights of these anthologies is the fact that you are introduced to different writers(some famous like Arthur Conan Doyle,C.S.Forester,Michael Innes and some now long forgotten) and their different approach to the "murder mystery". And notwithstanding the fact that some were written more than a century ago,they are still highly readable and are still a wonderfull source of bookish pleasure.
A storm is closing in the Cape Cod and the small town of Whale Rock and everybody is preparing for this natural disaster. But just before the storm hits the land,a small time drugs dealer is found dead in a dumpster and a toddler has gone missing. So the local police force and Daniel Benjamin a retired FBI agent(and groom to be)have their work cut out for them. Meanwhile Cassie Mitchell,a bride whose wedding has been postponed due to the stormy weather welcomes several local residents and visitors ,whose houses are in a danger zone ,in her house "The Bluffs" where the ghosts of her great-grandparents have taken up residence . There is another story of another boy whose body washed up on the shore,some 20 years ago, but who was never identified. It is clear that this story still attracts some attention. There is a mysterious woman who visits his grave,a local writer trying to make a book out of this tragic story and a visitor who also has some keen interest in the unknown boy. There is yet another storyline going back to the sixties,eighties and present day, about an immigrant Italian family and their tribulations in the US. The mystery side of the story is not bad but there are so many sidelines and so many things going on ...paternity quests,diaries,ghosts,paintings,pregnancies,illness,beach houses,party guests,lost(or forgotten)lovers,drugs,lost boys both from the past and the present,damaged young men...it is just too much. Of course,it didn't help that I couldn't connect with the amateur sleuth,Cassie. She is opinionated,judgemental, nosy(ok,that's normal for a sleuth...),not very discreet and even rude sometimes. But the setting is great,a small town of the Cape Cod coast,flooded by merry vacationers in the summer and pretty restful in the winter. And that is a great start full of promises.
The body of Hein Bohlen,a social educator and the director of a local children's home,is found dead in a beach chair on Amrum, a small island of the coast of North Germany. At first sight it looks as if the man has died of a heart attack,but his wife has doubts and demands a post mortem where poison is suspected but not confirmed. DI Lena Lorenzen and sergeant Johann Grassman are sent to this beautiful island to investigate this death. They both realise that not everything is as it should be and that the alleged victim and other inhabitants have some very disturbing secrets indeed...
This is a very pleasant mystery situated on the gorgeous island of Amrum but perhaps the end was a bit too predictable.
Still,this is the first in the series,in English at least, and I will definitely try another one.
Sukey Reynolds, a civil scene of crime photographer who is working for the police,is called to Bussell Manor to investigate a break in and the theft of several expensive pieces of art. Apparently burglaries in expensive,"arty "houses are a bit of an epidemic in the Cotswolds. The main suspect however seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth while his two partners in crime are found murdered. And then there is also the case of mistaken identity which puts Sukey's life in danger, This is a cross between a "cosy"and a classic mystery and it works up to a point. But then international criminal gangs,dark mafiosi style characters,hitmen.... make their appearance and it loses some of its charm and credibility (e.g. DI Jim Castle,Sukey's boyfriend freely discusses the case with Sukey(a civilian)in front of her son Fergus,there is somewhere a Miami Vice environment ...). It didn't feel right. I have another Sukey Reynolds book on my TBR list and perhaps there is a little bit less incongruence...
Anthologies are always a tricky business. All the stories in this volume have a common denominator ,a train,trainstation,railroad, train travel...all play a major part in their criminal make up. And it is true that trains and stations create a very special atmosphere. This collection consists of contributions by Athur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L.Sayers,Baroness Orczy,R.Austin Freeman,Will Croft and other highly talented mystery writers. Some of these stories are very good(The Mystery of Felwyn Tunnel,The Man with the Watch,The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway and many others...)and some were,well just average.
But as mentioned before,anthologies are tricky!
There is not much point in repeating the storyline of this book as every Christie reader knows the story of a horrendous, cruel,terrorising (step)mother and her dysfunctional family. And as this is a Christie, murder must follow . Enter Hercule Poirot, who decides to give Colonel Carbury(a friend of Colonel Race) a helping hand and solve this crime.
I remember reading it as a young creature and thinking,Petra,wow,it seemed so far away,both in distance as in atmosphere. When years later,I finally visited Petra I was, apart from being mightily impressed, overcome by an acute attack of Christie nostalgia.
How fabulous it must have been,travelling in a small group,sleeping in a cave,having diner overlooking those red,orange and of course, pink cliffs and gazing upon this historical and mythical wonder in the sunset.
This was written in 1938 and it is still highly readable(of course our attitude towards"servants" and the original inhabitants has changed, although not all that much...) but notwithstanding this,and a very soppy epilogue, it is always such good fun reading Agatha Christie.
This is the third instalment of the Rotherweird trilogy. Evil is back in Rotherweird and it has a name, Gervon Wynter. As is seen all over this planet, some are charmed by this power and support his masterplan although not many of them have a clear view what this plan exactly represents. And then there is the Resistance,ordinary, well perhaps not so ordinary, townspeople and country people. Of course the weird city of Rotherweird, an Elizabethan anachronism, plays a major role in this story as do many major and minor characters. Still one of the best characters in these stories is the city of Rotherweird. It is slightly gothic,Dickensian, there is a touch of horror in it ,but it is foremost absolutely captivating. This world building ,although complex,is done with great skill and is one(of the many)attractive features. As this is the third part of the trilogy it is fair to warn the readers that this is definitely not a standalone novel. If you have not been introduced to Rotherweird and its quirkiness, nor to some history or characters it is really unreadable. And as with all trilogies, especially fantasy,you are either completely mesmerized by it or you absolutely hate it! Well,I was very happy that I read it as it gave me many hours of sometimes confusing,sometimes marvelous and very often amazing pleasure.
1988. Five students at St. Andrews University share a house. It is clear that the five girls don't all get along and that there are some tensions and disputes. But then Moira,a stunning,clever and a very confident girl is found murdered on a cliff path. Her boyfriend is charged with the murder but before the police can arrest him,he commits suicide leaving a note saying he killed her.
30 years later,Roz,one of those students returns to St. Andrews accompanying her daughter who is ready to start her studies. Roz meets Innes Nevin, one of the policeman of the original investigation. The murder of Moira has left a deep impact on him. He was never completely convinced of the culpability of the boyfriend. And very slowly they try to discover the truth behind this horrendous crime.
This is an easy reads that keeps your attention (perfect for a flight where you sit between a snoring bloke and a grumpy teenager) right until the denouement .Then the story becomes a bit messy,confusing and goes definitely over the top. And the explanations are not exactly crystal clear and satisfying. Pity...
1361. Oswald de Lacy,Lord of Somershill,is forced to leave his estate because the plague is coming uncomfortably closer. So with his wife,his young son and his cantankerous mother,he seeks refuge in the isolated castle of Godfrey of Eden,on the Isle of Eden. The castle, perched on a lonely cliff is surrounded by nothing but marsh. But Godfrey has other problems than the plague. He has a layabout brother,is suspicious and has very strong religious beliefs. To his mind the plague,apart from heralding the end of the world, is also the punishment of God upon humanity and especially upon the church and the clergy. Oswald and his family are not the only ones seeking refuge in this cold and bleak castle. From the first night tensions run high and the atmosphere is somewhat unpleasant. And then Godfrey is murdered. Oswald takes it upon himself to discover the murderer(s) but only encounters more mysteries and more deaths. I remember reading the first book,The Plague Land, in this series and I wasn't completely enchanted by it. So,I was a bit apprehensive when I started The Bone Fire,but there was really no reason for it. It is a classic mystery story in a historical (and his this case,haunting )setting. It is well written,the characters are well defined and well,I just wanted to finish it. And then I felt a bit sorry that it was finished...Always a good sign!
Baron Renfield,the proud owner of Renfield Hall,has serious problems. He is bankrupt and both his wife and the Baron want to keep their estate and their way of living but there seems to be no straightforward solution unless...his rebellious daughter marries a very wealthy American. But the daughter has no such intentions because she is madly in love with Alan Lavender,the nephew of Guy Lavender, a mean book antiquarian. Guy discovers some hidden secrets in the Renfield family their historical past and attempts a spot of blackmail. When Guy is found murdered suspicion falls on Baron Renfield. But it is not the only enigma. There is the story of an incident in Renfield's past when he was an officer, there is a ghost somewhere and there is another murder and a suicide...so there is really a lot going on. But it works. The characters are well developed and the storyline is, albeit not always straightforward, easy to follow and keeps one's interest. And although it takes place in the present,there is a bit of an interbellum atmosphere. If you are not looking for a psychological thriller with gory details and really depraved characters but for a good mystery with a certain charm,then this is definitely a very good choice.