Thursday, 23 July 2015

Book Review: They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie (Miss Marple #6)

They Do It With MirrorsThey Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always been a fan of Agatha Christie, ever since I watched the incomparable David Suchet don his little moustache and Belgian accent. I love Christie's style of writing and find it quite easy to follow. The language she uses is descriptive but not difficult to read and her characters spring right off the page.
They Do It With Mirrors is set in a home for juvenile delinquents. On the insistence of her friend, Miss Marple heads off to visit Carrie Louise, her old school chum. The house is a busy place and relationships are rather complicated. Lewis is Carrie Louise's third husband and runs the programme for young boys. With her first husband she adopted a daughter, called Pippa. Her daughter, Gina and her American husband Wally are two that are residing in the household. Carrie Louise's natural born daughter Mildred, recently widowed also lives with her mother. Carrie's second husband already had two sons and they regularly frequent the house as well, alongside Carrie's helper Jolly. The arrival of Christian, the son of Carrie's first husband is the trigger to the dark events that follow.
I always enjoy Miss Marple's deductions and Inspector Curry provides an impartial view of the family. As always, events are not what they seem and bit by bit the picture falls into place.
I only have two main criticisms. The first is the number of characters, there were far too many and trying to remember how they were all related was quite confusing and took a lot of effort. I was also disappointed by the ending. I know it's not Agatha Christie's fault, but I don't like to work out who the murderer is. I want to be shocked and surprised. Unfortunately I worked out not only who it was, but how they had done it. So, this isn't my favourite book of hers, but I look forward to exploring more of her work, maybe with a Tommy and Tuppence.

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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Book Review: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller #1)

The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller, #1)The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had seen the trailer for The Lincoln Lawyer some four years ago and then proceeded to buy the book. It has taken me FOUR YEARS to get around to reading it, but I can tell you, it was totally worth the wait.
I've always been a fan of law, in books, programmes, films, real life. I find it interesting that while detective or police procedurals focus on whodunnit, law features focus on presenting the best case, whether that person is actually guilty or not.
Our main character is Mickey Haller, generally likeable and obviously doing his best for his clients. But he deserves to get paid like everyone else. Not long into the novel, Haller is assigned to the case of Louis Roulet. The victim, Reggie Campos, had her home broken into and has been brutally beaten. Roulet claims that he is completely innocent.
As the case progresses and details emerge from the woodwork, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems and nobody can be trusted. Haller is trying to trust his instincts, but is bound by lawyer-client confidentiality. Michael Connelly provides a variety of supporting characters: private detective Frank Levin, ex-wife and DA Maggie McPherson, ex-con and Haller's driver Earl. All of them and weaved into this story with twists and turns galore. You never quite know who is telling the truth and that's what makes this story so gripping. I blasted through it in four days and loved every minute of it. The legal terms aren't confusing, but Connelly doesn't treat the audience like an idiot either. He trusts his reader to keep up and hold on as the story rollercoasters to its conclusion. I can't wait to read more of Michael Connelly and explore more of his seedy LA underbelly.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Book Review: The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas (Commissaire Adamsberg #1)

The Chalk Circle Man (Commissaire Adamsberg, #1)The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me ten days to read this book. This book is less than 250 pages. That should not have happened.
For a start, I liked the majority of the characters in this book, particularly Adamsberg. He's different to other police detectives, he likes to draw and takes time to figure things out rather than making any rash decisions. Maybe this is what effects the pace of the novel as I found it rather slow going. At no point was I compelled to read to the next chapter to find out what was going on, this story was very much slow and steady. I really enjoyed Danglard's character too and the way that he was opposite to Adamsberg. He would get infuriated by how long it would take him to come to any conclusion or decision.
I liked the concept too. What are these chalk circles, why are they popping up around Paris and what is the significance of the items inside of them?
The reason why I gave this three stars was because they spent a long time avoiding the obvious. To begin with Mathilde gave them two clues: the chalk circle man lifts up his coat like a skirt and that his wife has a lover. Yet upon meeting a man whose wife has moved out to be with her lover, they don't make any sort of connection at all! Secondly, the smell of fruit was a big factor in identifying the culprit. Yet in the end, the reason why he smelled of fruit was never explained and just waved away, like it wasn't important.
Also, upon realising that the culprit wasn't the culprit, instead of moving further in the case, they went backwards. I seemed to spend the whole time waiting for the twist to come, and then it never happened.
On the other hand, I did enjoy reading about Adamsberg's ex-partner Camille. I was really interested in their story and I would really like to find more about what happened between them in the past.
I think I will continue to read novels in the Adamsberg series, I just hope the plot picks up and it makes a more interesting read.

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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Book Review: The Humans by Matt Haig

The HumansThe Humans by Matt Haig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a slow starter for me, but once I got into it I must have devoured it in about two days.
The premise it quite unusual, an alien is sent to Earth to inhabit the body of Andrew Martin in order to prevent the leak of his ground breaking prime number theory.
I must admit, the majority of the maths stuff went over my head, but that's fine, maths doesn't interest me greatly but I gather that it's important.
What I did enjoy was the alien trying to assimilate to human life, learning about clothes and social etiquette and realising that there is more to the language than spoken word.
This book essentially sums up what it is like to be human, the things we enjoy, the actions we take to enjoy, being loved, being taken care of, belonging. All of those things that we take for granted as every day flies past. It also puts into perspective how short life is. 30,000 days is all we have to make our stamp on the world.
The reason it isn't five stars is because for me it took too long to get to the interesting bits. We spent a great deal of time 'faffing' and yes, that is a technical term. Also, the alien went from 'I must kill these people' to 'I want to be part of this family' a little too quickly for me. I feel like there needed to be more internal conflict. And finally, as great as this book is at highlighting the wonderfulness of humans, by the end it did feel a little preachy. Although I will take some things from this novel, such as the greatness of peanut butter sandwiches and white wine.
At the end Haig said he was working on a script for a film which I think will be really interesting.

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