30 July 2015

Review: THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

  • first published in Icelandic in 2011
  • translated into English by Victoria Cribb 2014
  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton 
  • ISBN 978-1-444-73446-1
  • source: my local library
  • #6 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series
 Synopsis (publisher)

An abandoned yacht, a young family missing - chilling crime from the queen of Nordic Noir.

The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestseller at the height of her powers.

'Mummy dead.' The child's pure treble was uncomfortably clear. It was the last thing Brynjar - and doubtless the others - wanted to hear at that moment. 'Daddy dead.' It got worse. 'Adda dead. Bygga dead.' The child sighed and clutched her grandmother's leg. 'All dead.' 

A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon?

Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father's parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

My Take

This is an amazing novel, told on two planes.

The opening scene is of a fabulous yacht, several decks high, coming into Reykjavik harbour. On the wharf waiting for it are an old couple with a young granddaughter, a man with his leg in a cast, and the harbour master. Something is wrong. The yacht makes no attempt to slow down and it crashes into the wharf. No one appears on deck and it becomes apparent that there is nobody aboard. The incident makes the headlines of Reykjavik news.

Thora Gundmundsottir comes into the story when the elderly parents of the young father who should have been on board employ her to deal with the paperwork of proving their son must be dead, and with claiming his life insurance. Thora gets in touch with the various authorities including the police, and so one plane of the story is narrated from the standpoint of after the event, trying to work out what happened.

The second narration comes from those who are on board the yacht as the events unfold. What should have been an adventure for the young family, passengers on the yacht being sailed from Lisbon to Reykjavik, turns to horror as a body is discovered stored in a freezer and an elusive perfume convinces them that there is somebody else on board.

There is plenty of mystery for the reader to work out, and in the long run, I'm sure you will agree with the judges of the 2015 Petrona Award, given annually in memory of Maxine Clarke, that this is one not to be missed.

My rating: 5.0

I've also reviewed 4.8, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
I certainly have a few titles to catch up with.

The series (list from EuroCrime)
Thora Gudmundsdottir, Lawyer
Last Rituals20071
My Soul to Take20092
Ashes to Dust20103
The Day is Dark20114
• Someone to Watch Over Me20135
• The Silence of the Sea20146

Look also for
I Remember You2012
• The Undesired2015

26 July 2015

Review: STRANGER CHILD, Rachel Abbott

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 3303 KB
  • Print Length: 364 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0957652240
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd (February 24, 2015)
  • Publication Date: February 24, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00T6MDXA2
  • #4 in the Tom Douglas series 
Synopsis (Amazon)

One Dark Secret. One act of revenge.

When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.

Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.

Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.

Emma's life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby?

When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.

They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they're right.

My Take

Once again  Rachel Abbott has produced another page turner. There is quite a lot of improbability in this plot, but that doesn't seem to matter: you read on because you just want to find out what happens.

The book opens with a hook in the form of a Prologue - an accident occurs where Caroline Joseph is killed and her six year old daughter Tasha, a passenger in the car, disappears.  The plot jumps six years and a body is found in the nearby woods. The police fear it may be Tasha, but the problem is that this girl is older, the age Tasha would be now, and she has only recently died.

Again this is a case where DCI Tom Douglas really has a conflict of interest because he knows one of the victims, but on the other hand it can be argued that this is an advantage, because it gives him a degree of inside knowledge. The novel also explores Tom's professional relationship with his second in command, and with the woman who has become his lover.

If you haven't caught up with this series, then it is time to make a start.

My rating: 4.5

I've also reviewed

Review: BELFAST NOIR by Adrian McKinty (editor), Stuart Neville (editor) - audio book

Synopsis (publisher)

Reflecting a city still divided, Belfast Noir serves as a record of a city transitioning to normalcy, or perhaps as a warning that underneath the fragile peace darker forces still lurk. 

Featuring brand-new stories by: Glenn Patterson, Eoin McNamee, Garbhan Downey, Lee Child, Alex Barclay, Brian McGilloway, Ian McDonald, Arlene Hunt, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Claire McGowan, Steve Cavanagh, Lucy Caldwell, Sam Millar, and Gerard Brennan. 

From the introduction by Adrian McKinty & Stuart Neville: "Few European cities have had as disturbed and violent a history as Belfast over the last half-century. For much of that time the Troubles (1968–1998) dominated life in Ireland's second-biggest population centre, and during the darkest days of the conflict - in the 1970s and 1980s - riots, bombings, and indiscriminate shootings were tragically commonplace. The British army patrolled the streets in armoured vehicles and civilians were searched for guns and explosives before they were allowed entry into the shopping district of the city centre... Belfast is still a city divided... You can see Belfast's bloodstains up close and personal. This is the city that gave the world its worst ever maritime disaster, and turned it into a tourist attraction; similarly, we are perversely proud of our thousands of murders, our wounds constantly on display. You want noir? How about a painting the size of a house, a portrait of a man known to have murdered at least a dozen human beings in cold blood? Or a similar house-sized gable painting of a zombie marching across a post-apocalyptic wasteland with an AK-47 over the legend UVF: Prepared for Peace - Ready for War. As Lee Child has said, Belfast is still 'the most noir place on earth.'"

Part I: City of Ghosts
“The Undertaking” by Brian McGilloway (Roselawn)
“Poison” by Lucy Caldwell (Dundonald)
“Wet with Rain” by Lee Child (Great Victoria Street)
“Taking It Serious” by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Falls Road)
Part II: City of Walls
“Ligature” by Gerard Brennan (Hydebank)
“Belfast Punk REP” by Glenn Patterson (Ann Street)
“The Reservoir” by Ian McDonald (Holywood)
Part III: City of Commerce
“The Grey” by Steve Cavanagh (Laganside, Queens Island)
“Rosie Grant’s Finger” by Claire McGowan (Titanic Quarter)
“Out of Time” by Sam Millar (Hill Street)
“Die Like a Rat” by Garbhan Downey (Malone Road)
Part IV: Brave New City
“Corpse Flowers” by Eoin McNamee (Ormeau Embankment)
“Pure Game” by Arlene Hunt (Sydenham)
“The Reveller” by Alex Barclay (Shore Road)
My Take

Not a set of stories for the faint-hearted, most of these are truly noir.
As with most short story collections, there are some that are very good, clever, or amusing, but there are others that tempt you to skip to the next.
They do make the reader appreciate that Irish noir fiction is alive, well, and strong.
Surprisingly, apart from the introduction, there is not a contribution from either of the editors.

Read a feature on Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, and Lee Child at the Wall Street Journal.
Listen to an interview with editors Stuart Neville and Adrian McKinty at RTÉ Arts Radio.

My rating: 4.2

I've read and reviewed
McKinty, Adrian:

Neville, Stuart:

21 July 2015

Review: THREE BLIND MICE and other stories, Agatha Christie

  • This edition published by Center Point Large Print in 2013. The collection was first published in 1950.
  • ISBN 978-1-61173-777-6
  • 294 pages
  • source: my local library

1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (nine short stories - US only)

The collection contains
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Strange Jest
  • Tape Measure Murder
  • The Case of the Perfect Maid
  • The Case of the Caretaker
  • The Third Floor Flat
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverley
  • Four and Twenty Blackbirds
  • The Love Detectives 
Three Blind Mice is a novella and is the only one in the list that I haven't been able to read in another collection. Reading it will complete my challenge to read all the Agatha Christie novels and short stories.

Blurb from back cover
The guests and residents of the newly opened guest house, Monkswell Manor, find themselves trapped by a blinding snowstorm and threatened by a psychotic killer. With a finite cast of characters in this "locked room" mystery it is not long before suspicions are voiced, and under growing pressure newlyweds Molly and Giles Davis start to suspect each other of murder.

My Take

This story is the basis for the West End play The Mouse Trap which had its first performance in 1952.
From Wikipedia
The story Three Blind Mice was written in 1947, and published in the US in 1950.

The story is really a novella and the action slips past very quickly. Once the guest house becomes cut off by a snow storm, the tension builds and a murder takes place. There is a dramatic quality to the events, or is it just that I know that it is the basis of The Mouse Trap? One can imagine these events being played out on a stage.

Following the tradition with The Mouse Trap there will be no revealing of how the plot works out here. For the record, I did work out who the murderer was.
I am glad I read it.

My rating: 4.2

I read this for my participation in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, and at last, after over 6 years, I've finished! I have read 66 novels and 154 short stories (including this novella) in 23 collections.

Review: A TRIFLE DEAD, Livia Day

  • format: Amazon (Kindle)
  • File Size: 602 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Deadlines (November 22, 2013)
  • Publication Date: November 22, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban cafe, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.

When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?

But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.

And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…

A TRIFLE DEAD is a culinary crime novel – delicious food, good coffee, cute frocks and okay, the occasional gruesome murder.

My Take

For me, one of the attractions of this novel was a new-to-me female Aussie author, followed closely by the setting in Hobart, Tasmania.

The overall feeling with this novel is chicklit/mystery which is probably not totally my cup of tea. However there is a murder to be solved, and some interesting characters to get to know. There are plenty of Amazon reviewers, mostly younger than me I suspect, who have loved it. There is a strong sense of setting and the portrayal of Hobart as a place for the young.

There are recipes at the end of the book for those who would like to try some of Tabitha Darling's food for themselves.

Well done.

My rating: 4.0

About the author:
Livia Day fell in love with crime fiction at an early age. Her first heroes were Miss Jane Marple and Mrs Emma Peel, and not a lot has changed since then!
She has lived in Hobart, Tasmania for most of her life, and now spends far too much time planning which picturesque tourist spot will get the next fictional corpse. You can find her online at tabithadarlingsbedroomfloor.tumblr.com
- See more here, and read the first chapter online.

17 July 2015

Review: POIROT'S EARLY CASES, Agatha Christie

  • this edition published by Fontana Books 1979
  • first published by William Collins in 1974
  • 222 pages
  • source: my local library

This is a collection of short stories, most of which were also published in other collections, and some of which I had already read.
My Take

So that left me 7 stories to read. They all feature Hercule Poirot and are about 13 pages each in length.
Surprisingly they are all from relatively early in Christie's career.
  • The Third-Floor Flat, first published 1929
    Patricia Garnett returns with her friends at night to find that she has lost her key to her flat. Her male friends decide to get into her flat, which is on the third floor, by accessing the service lift from the basement. They break into the wrong flat and discover a dead woman. Hercule Poirot is staying in the building and comes to the rescue.
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverley, first published 1923
    Hercule Poirot solves the problem of the abduction of a three year old.
  • The Chocolate Box, first published 1925
    Drinking a cup of chocolate by a warm fire reminds Hercule Poirot of a case that he regards as his greatest failure. It is set in Belgium when he is still in the Belgian police force and involves a sudden death.
  • The Lost Mine, first published 1925
    Hastings is marvelling at his dwindling bank balance and suggests that Poirot buy some shares. Poirot tells him the story of how he was given 14,000 shares in Burma Mines for his role in solving a murder mystery.
  • The Veiled Lady, first published 1925
    This story is narrated by Hastings who has noticed that Poirot is becoming increasingly restless. The newspapers are full of reports of a daring jewellery robbery in Bond Street. They are discussing this when a young lady arrives at Porot's flat. She is heavily veiled. She tells Poirot she is being blackmailed by someone and Poirot agrees to meet the blackmailer. But Poirot is cleverer than his visitor imagines.
  • Problem at Sea, first published 1936
    Poirot is on a cruise to Alexandria. He has been keeping to his cabin with seasickness but now emerges to observe his fellow passengers. His attention is caught by Colonel and Mrs Clapperton. The latter seems to be a very unpleasant person who treats her husband with contempt. The day they arrive in Alexandria Mrs Clapperton takes to her bed and Colonel Clapperton goes on shore with a couple of young women. When he returns Mrs Clapperton is dead, murdered.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow, first published 1932
    Poirot receives a letter from an elderly woman who wishes to consult him, but before he can visit her, she dies of strychnine poisoning, and her Russian companion, the major beneficiary of her will, has been accused of murder. This story show Poirot using Miss Lemon in an investigative capacity, slthough he mourns the fact that she does not have Captain Hastings' imagination.
I read these as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Check my short story list

These stories are pretty quick reads, but each shows Christie's acute observation of character, and her great interest in what causes people to commit crimes. 

My rating: 4.0

14 July 2015

Review: DOUBLE SIN and Other Stories, Agatha Christie

  • this edition a Center Point Large Print edition published in 2013
  • first published 1961
  • ISBN 978-1-61173-775-2
  • 250 pages
  • source: my local library

A collection of eight short stories, first published 1961.
My Take

In the long run I had actually already read five of these short stories in other collections, and I also realised that I had actually seen television versions of the other three.

Double Sin is the story of a young woman and her aunt who sell antiques and who run an insurance scam, looking for gullible travellers who will back up their claim that their wares have been stolen. In this case though they pick on Poirot and Hastings.

Wasps' Nest. Hercule Poirot becomes convinced that someone of his acquaintance is about to commit murder and he sets out to prevent it.

The Double Clue is the first of the stories that features the Countess Vera Rossakoff, a Russian lady who becomes involved in the theft some rubies and an emerald necklace. She makes the mistake of leaving two clues.

My rating : 4.0

I read these as part of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Check my short story list.

Review: BROKEN PROMISE, Linwood Barclay

  • this edition: e-ARC from publisher, Hatchette Australia, through NetGalley
  • published July 28, 2015
  • ISBN 9781409146452
  • Available for pre-order from Amazon 
 Synopsis (Net Galley)

The morning it all started, newspaper reporter David Harwood had plenty to worry about. A single parent with no job, forced to return with his young son to the small town of Promise Falls to live with his parents, the future wasn't looking too rosy. So when his mother asked him to look in on his cousin Marla, who was still not quite right after losing her baby, it was almost a relief to put the disaster his own life had become to one side.

The relief wouldn't last long.

When he gets to Marla's house he's disturbed to find a smear of blood on the front door. He's even more disturbed to find Marla nursing a baby, a baby she claims was delivered to her 'by an angel.' And when, soon after, a woman's body is discovered across town, stabbed to death, with her own baby missing, it looks as if Marla has done something truly terrible.

But while the evidence seems overwhelming, David just can't believe that his cousin is a murderer. In which case, who did kill Rosemary Gaynor? And why did they then take her baby and give it to Marla? With the police convinced they have an open and shut case, it's up to David to find out what really happened, but he soon discovers that the truth could be even more disturbing...

My Take

This is a nice solid contribution to Linwood Barclay's list of publications but I was surprised to find that I had solved part of the mystery about half way through the novel, and was just left to work out the finer details. So, from that point of view, this is not one of Barclay's best. It does explore the motives people have for their actions, and there is a cast of interesting characters.

The setting is modern, identifiable by the economic effects of the downturn of the newspaper industry, which is what has forced David Harwood to live with his parents. He has returned to the small rural town where he first began his career, a town where everyone knows everyone else, but seemingly do not always know the reasons why they do things.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

11 July 2015

Talk to Margot Kinberg

Yesterday Margot Kinberg who blogs at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist,  put out an appeal for crime fiction readers to participate in a survey:

As you no doubt know, in my ‘day job,’ I’m an academic. And one thing we academics do is conduct research. Today I’d like to shamelessly beg for your participation in tell you about a research project I’m currently doing.
My study addresses the question of what adults learn and remember from reading crime novels. And I can think of no more expert group of people than you folks to help me answer that question.
I would truly appreciate your help in this project. If you’re willing to be involved, here’s what you’d be in for:
·         Go to the study link to get started.
·         After indicating your informed consent to participate, respond to a survey. The survey contains 23 questions, all but one of which are multiple choice.
·         When you’re done, just submit your answers. That’s all.
Here are a few things to consider:
·         You are of course perfectly free not to participate if you’d rather not.
·         If you do participate, your responses will be anonymous. That is, I will not be able to link you to your survey responses. Neither will anyone else.
·         You will not be asked for any private identifying information, such as your name, email address or telephone number.
·         The survey should take no more than 20 minutes maximum.
Once I’ve got my data collected, I’ll gather the information and start getting some results. I’ll share the overall results with you on this blog.
I’ll also share the results at a conference I plan to attend later this year.

If you’d like to participate, thank you!!! Please click here to get started.
If you would rather not participate, that’s perfectly fine. I would appreciate your helping me spread the word though. The more participants who are involved, the more I’ll learn, and the more I can share with you.

10 July 2015

Review: THE INSANITY OF DEATH, Felicity Young

Synopsis (author website)

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?

Dody and Pike's investigations lead them to a women's rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge - and before Florence becomes the rest home's next victim.  

My Take

Australian writer Felicity Young has certainly grown as a crime fiction author and this latest offering in the Dody McCleland series brims with confidence and authenticity. I have somehow missed reading #3 and feel that is an omission I must rectify.

Dody McCleland works as an assistant to Dr Bernard Spilsbury and is right at the centre of the suffragist world. If she is not present, then her lover Inspector Pike is, and between them they are a formidable pair. Besides being a murder mystery, the novel does a good job of presenting the injustices of a world where women lack equality and where males can deal with unwanted females in the most radical manner.  

If you like authentic history in your crime fiction then give this series a go.

My rating: 4.6 

I've also read

About the author
Felicity Young was born in Germany, educated in the UK and settled in WA. She lives on a small farm with her family, has trained as a nurse, studied music, reared orphan kangaroos and is a volunteer firefighter. The world of the Dr Dody McCleland mysteries is based on her grandmother's old memoirs. 

Her books
Stevie Hooper
1. An Easeful Death (2007)
2. Harum Scarum (2008)
3. Take Out (2010)

Also stand-alone title: A Certain Malice (2005) being reprinted as FLASHPOINT later in 2015 with a sequel promised in 2016.

Doctor Dody McCleland
1. The Anatomy of Death (2012)
     aka A Dissection of Murder
2. Antidote to Murder (2013)
3. The Scent of Murder (2014)
4. The Insanity of Murder (2015)
The next Dody McCleland book, A Donation of Murder, is set for release on May 1st 2016. 

Books on the Go

I discovered today that so far I have read exactly the same number of books as this time last year. According to Good Reads I am running 4 books ahead of schedule for a total of 140 for the year. Last year I read 137.

On my list for the immediate future I have

Library Book
  • J, Howard Jacobsen
  • THE SECRET PLACE, Tana French
from Net Galley
  • KING OF THE ROAD, Nigel Bartlett
  • EDEN, Candice Fox
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
from my TBR
  • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
audio books on the go
  • THE BURNING MAN, Christopher Fowler
  • BELFAST NOIR, Adrian McKinty (editor), Stuart Neville (editor)
from my Kindle
  • BURIED: Department Q #5, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • ASHES TO DUST, Yrsa Sigurdardottir
  • A SIEGE OF BITTERNS, Steve Burrows
  • THE SECRET ARTS, Azmar Dar
  • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams
review books
  • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
  • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
  • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz
But that may all get knocked into a cocked hat if those Agatha Christie short stories I wrote about yesterday turn up from the library. I note also that some books have been on my "immediate reading" list for a while now.

9 July 2015

Review: THE BANK INSPECTOR, Roger Monk

  • Publisher: The Horizon Publishing Group
  • ISBN: 9781922238375
  • ISBN-10: 1922238376 
  • Format: Paperback 
  • Language: English 
  • Number Of Pages: 422
  • Published: 1st September 2014
  • source: my local library 
Synopsis (Booktopia)

The perfect crime! One Monday morning, a bank branch is robbed. No one hurt or threatened. Not a hold-up. Not a tunnel into the vault. A three minutes robbery and the robber drives away. Not followed. Not caught. A perfect, flawless crime.

Detective Sergeant Brian Shaw hardly knows where to start, especially as he is distracted by an attempted murder in a nearby street. A story of greed, treachery and a heart-breaking family feud.

My Take

Thank you to blogging friend Bernadette for the recommendation to read this book. Her review at Fair Dinkum Crime is here.

This novel has so far not received the publicity it deserves. The plot is remarkably simple but at the same time intricately woven with a delicate twist. The setting is local - South Australia, Adelaide, Grote Street, Norwood, the Barossa Valley - some recognisable local scenery, set in 1950, some strongly drawn characters, and some intriguing mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. For overseas readers I wish I could recommend an e-book but there doesn't appear to be one yet. I live in hope. I also have hopes that it will make the Ned Kelly shortlist.

My rating: 4.8

Agatha Christie short stories to be read

I've managed to identify the Agatha Christie short stories to be read to complete my challenge.

Yesterday I commented that I thought I had a few collections to check
But in fact things are not as bad as that and I think I have only 10 stories unread.

I now have on request from my local library
1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (nine short stories - US only), containing
  • The Third-Floor Flat
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverley
1961 Double Sin and Other Stories (eight short stories - US only), containing
  • Double Sin
  • The Double Clue
  • Wasps' Nest
and POIROT INVESTIGATES (US published) for
  • The Chocolate Box
  • The Lost Mine
  • The Veiled Lady
  • Problem at Sea
  • How Does Your Garden Grow
That will make my final tally 153 stories, matching the list at Wikipedia

8 July 2015

Finishing off the Agatha Christie short stories

According to my records, although I have completed reading the Agatha Christie novels, I still have a number of short stories to go.

First of all I need to check out these collections:
However many of the short stories published in these collections were also published in other collections and I have actually read them.
So I have begun tracking the collections above through my local library network and finding the elusive few that I haven't yet read. The problem is compounded by the fact that some were also published under other titles according to whether they were published in the US or UK, or whether they were modified and then re-published.
So, a bit of tedious housekeeping ahead.

Currently I have 143 short stories on my list, but I am not sure how many there are in total.
Has anybody come across a number? An article on Wikipedia suggests 153, but I don't think that includes any recently "found".

5 July 2015

Review: A IS FOR ALIBI, Sue Grafton

  • #1 in the Kinsey Millhone series
  • first published in 1982 in the USA, perhaps not until 1987 in UK (in paperback??)
  • this edition published for Kindle
  • File Size: 633 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New Edit/Cover edition (April 1, 1991)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 1991
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005G14VK8
Synopsis (Amazon)

"My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind..."

When Laurence Fife was murdered, few cared. A slick divorce attorney with a reputation for ruthlessness, Fife was also rumoured to be a slippery ladies' man. Plenty of people in the picturesque Southern California town of Santa Teresa had reason to want him dead. Including, thought the cops, his young and beautiful wife, Nikki. With motive, access and opportunity, Nikki was their number one suspect. The Jury thought so too. Eight years later and out on parole, Nikki Fife hires Kinsey Millhone to find out who really killed her husband. But the trail has gone cold and there is a chilling twist even Kinsey didn't expect...

My Take

I chose to read this book for the Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge over at Past Offences, thinking it had first been published in 1987. I now know that it was published in the USA in 1982.

It is a significant book because it was the first in Sue Grafton's "Alphabet Series", with Kinsey Millhone as the central figure, and it sets the stage for Kinsey's sleuthing career.
Kinsey was born in 1950, but she really hasn't aged like the rest of us (I think she has reached a point where she doesn't age any more) . And around her Sue Grafton has built a "family" of characters, adding human elements to crime fiction scenarios that often reflect events in American society or politics.
It is also an important book because it set the benchmark for a number of series by other authors that featured female PIs.

Interestingly it is the first in the series that I appear to have read since beginning this blog. I appear to have 4 to catch up on: U, V, W, and X.
I did write about A IS FOR ALIBI as a "forgotten book" nearly 6 years ago. My post is here.

Sue Grafton has now written 24 in the series with X to be published later this year.
1. A is for Alibi (1982)
2. B Is for Burglar (1985)
3. C Is for Corpse (1985)
4. D Is for Deadbeat (1987)
5. E Is for Evidence (1988)
6. F Is for Fugitive (1989)
7. G Is for Gumshoe (1989)
8. H Is for Homicide (1991)
9. I Is for Innocent (1992)
10. J Is for Judgement (1993)
11. K Is for Killer (1994)
12. L Is for Lawless (1995)
13. M Is for Malice (1996)
14. N Is for Noose (1998)
15. O Is for Outlaw (1999)
16. P Is for Peril (2001)
17. Q Is For Quarry (2002)
18. R Is for Ricochet (2004)
19. S Is for Silence (2005)
20. T Is for Trespass (2007)
21. U Is for Undertow (2009)
22. V Is For Vengeance (2011)
23. W is for Wasted (2013)
24. X (2015)

My rating: 4.5 

Summary - Agatha Christie Reading Challenge for June 2015

If you read Agatha Christie, then you can enter your review in the monthly Agatha Christie Reading Challenge here.

Here are the entries for June 2015.

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Participants
1. Agatha Christie's 14 poisons investigated in Scotland's crime writing festival
2. Covers: N or M? @ The Nick Carter & Carter Brown Blog
3. Margaret @ BooksPlease (Sad Cypress)
4. Margaret @ BooksPlease (Short Stories)
5. Agatha Christie and The Detection Club
6. Review: PARKER PYNE INVESTIGATES @ Past Offences
7. Review: PARTNERS IN CRIME @ Past Offences


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