Book Review: The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

Name:  The Mystery of Three Quarters
Author:  
Sophie Hannah
Number of Pages:
  400 (Hardback)
Published:
August 23rd 2018 by HarperCollins – GB
Genre:  Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

Returning home from a luncheon, Hercule Poirot is met at his door by an imperious woman who introduces herself as Sylvia Rule. “How dare you? How dare you send me such a letter?” Ignoring his denials, Mrs. Rule insists that she received a missive claiming he had proof she murdered a man named Barnabas Pandy and advising her to confess her crime to the police. Threatening the perplexed Poirot with a lawsuit, she leaves in a huff.
Minutes later, a rather disheveled man named John McCrodden appears. “I got your letter accusing me of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.” Calmly, Poirot again rebuts the charge. Each insisting they are victims of a conspiracy, Mrs. Rule and Mr. McCrodden deny knowing who Pandy is.
The next day, two more strangers proclaim their innocence and provide illuminating details. Miss Annabel Treadway tells Poirot that Barnabas Pandy was her grandfather. But he was not murdered; his death was an accident. Hugo Dockerill also knows of Pandy, and he heard the old man fell asleep in his bath and drowned.
Why did someone send letters in Poirot’s name accusing people of murder? If Pandy’s death was an accident, why charge foul play? It is precisely because he is the great Hercule Poirot that he would never knowingly accuse an innocent person of a crime. Someone is trying to make mischief, and the instigator wants Poirot involved.
Engaging the help of Edward Catchpool, his Scotland Yard policeman friend, Poirot begins to dig into the investigation, exerting his little grey cells to solve an elaborate puzzle involving a tangled web of relationships, scandalous secrets, and past misdeeds.   – from Goodreads


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

As a recent new reader of Christie and particularly the Poirot stories I was intrigued to read how a new author would take on the writing of the famous detective and his world.

The whole thing begins when Poirot is accosted by four people in varying degrees of annoyance who have received a letter, purportedly from the detective, accusing them of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.
Some of them have no idea who this is, some are related to the man in question.

But Barnabas Pandy wasn’t murdered, he died in what could best be called a tragic, non-violent accident. Or did he? Who is writing these letters, and do they know something of the truth? Or is there other ill intent behind their sending, and why involve Poirot at all?
And how does something as simple as Church Window Cake cause so much upset but also serve to help Poirot’s infamous little grey cells work out the truth behind the deceptions?

So begins a search for a masquerading letter writer and a defective typewriter in which we encounter all manner of people – the innocent, the guilty, and those somewhere in between.
There’s a good cast of characters, from the lonely school boy to the spinster devoted to her dog, to the absent-minded schoolmaster and his wife, to Rowland Rope, a man known for sending criminals to the gallows which is unfortunate as his own son is one of those on whom suspicion falls as he too received a letter of accusation.
And at the centre of it all, Poirot himself.

I love Poirot, and it’s great to read more of his adventures. I don’t think I’ve read enough of the original novels yet to compare this Poirot to that of the original stories, but I enjoyed this version very much. Hastings has been replaced by Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard, who serves as narrator of this story and Poirot’s sidekick and helper during the investigation, and provides some light moments in the tale.

There are familiar features of the few Christie novels I have read – a large country house, a whole range of suspects, enough red herrings to send you off in totally the wrong direction if you’re trying to solve the mystery yourself, and the final gathering where the great Poirot reveals all, having discovered what is beyond most regular people to get to the bottom of.
And no, I didn’t work it all out before the reveal, even though in this case the final solution was possibly more straight forward than I would have expected.

I found this new Poirot an entertaining read, and I’ll look out for more books in this series, but while I wait for another book I’m off to discover yet more of Christie’s original stories, and I may have to seek out a piece of Church Window Cake too, because it sounds delicious!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Falling into Fall 2018

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:   Books on my Fall 2018 TBR


My favourite season is (almost) here. I absolutely love curling up with a hot drink and a brilliant book while the weather outside turns cooler. There also seems to be some fantastic sounding books either just out or coming very soon, so there’s plenty of (hopefully) great reading to look forward to. Here’s a selection of some of the titles that have caught my eye recently…

The Corset by Laura Purcell – I loved The Silent Companions by the same author, so I can’t wait to start this new tale, billed as a Victorian chiller.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry – The Essex Serpent was so good that I knew I’d pick up whatever Sarah Perry wrote next, and this story of folklore, superstition and legend sounds intriguing.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower – I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for a while now and I’ve seen some great reviews of it, so I’m hoping that I’ll start it within the next few weeks.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – A young woman recruited into the world of espionage in 1940 sounds like a fascinating beginning to a story. This will be my first Kate Atkinson.

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness – We’re really being spoiled at the moment, with a tv adaptation of A Discovery of Witches and a new book featuring familiar characters from the All Souls trilogy.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – So exciting! I’ve read all the other Cemetery of Forgotten Books series (The Shadow of the Wind has probably had a couple of re-reads too!) so getting my hands on this new instalment is something I’m looking forward to.

The Mystery of Three Quarters of Sophie Hannah – It’s Poirot as written by Sophie Hannah. My recent discovery of Agatha Christie and especially Poirot makes me really curious to see how another author writes such a famous character.

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie – A Poirot story, and picked solely on the basis that Halloween is approaching, so why not?

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo – Everyone relies on The Feed. Then The Feed collapses. Imagine a world where the technology we use so much is suddenly no longer there, and then someone really important to you goes missing. This sounds so good.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill – I’ve probably featured this one on an autumn themed TBR list before, so hopefully this time I’ll get around to reading it. It seems perfect for this time of year.


And so you have just some of the books featuring on my TBR list/pile at the moment. What are you hoping to read this autumn?

 

Book Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

Name:  The Outsider
Author:  
Stephen King
Number of Pages:
  477 (Hardback)
Published:
May 22nd 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Horror

Goodreads

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.
Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.
As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.
Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?   – from Goodreads


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A child has been brutally murdered.
There is indisputable evidence that Terry Maitland, the until-now inoffensive and totally decent Little League coach is guilty of this despicable crime. The horror and disbelief that the man who has coached so many local children could do such a terrible thing fuels the fire that sees him very publicly arrested.
There is also indisputable evidence that the very same Terry Maitland was miles away at the exact same time that the murder was committed. But that’s not possible, is it? A man cannot be in two places at once. Can he?
Ralph Anderson, the detective at the heart of the case begins to question Terry’s guilt, and when things take a tragic turn he is determined to find out the truth.
And so begins The Outsider.

“I believe there’s another dozen thoughts in my head lined up behind each one I’m aware of.”

Unfortunately I happened upon the who/what/why/how of this tale online before I started reading and I think if I hadn’t my brain would have been shooting off in every direction speculating as to how all this strange occurrence came about.

I couldn’t put this book down.
From the initial stages including witness statements and interviews, via the subplots and the back stories and the introduction of minor characters who all played some small part in the overall tale, to the shocking discovery of the truth and the race against time that ensues, the whole thing was a real page-turner.

Yes, there are probably scenes that could have been cut, but each and every minor detail added depth, and I enjoyed it all. The detail is a feature of King’s writing that I love; the characters are so real, whether they’re good or bad.
The book never felt overlong, even though at times I was turning the pages at speed to get to the next revelation, because the way the tale pulls together, very gradually, and via a network of several different main characters who are often in different parts of the country, it keeps you engaged.

I think I can say without giving anything away, there were a couple of moments that gave me a bit of a shiver, and one in particular that was reminiscent of an earlier King novel, but I’ll leave it at that. It was so good!

As the investigation unfolds a familiar face from previous novels becomes involved, and I really liked the inclusion. It was a character who didn’t particularly stand out for me in previous appearances, I don’t really know why, but here, I could have read so much more from that point of view.

The Outsider has an intriguing premise, and is a suspenseful, tension-building, evidence-challenging tale of good and evil. It’s not your average thriller, with twists, scares and a great cast of characters with which to experience all the strangeness. I really enjoyed it, and hope I’ve managed to put across how much without giving anything major away, because The Outsider is definitely one to read.

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden or Not-So-Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:   Hidden Gems (which books haven’t been talked about as much or haven’t been marketed as strongly that you think deserve some recognition?)


I’m back for my first Top Ten Tuesday in quite a while. I thought I’d use this week’s topic to remember some of the books I’ve really enjoyed over the last few months. Whether you’d call them hidden gems is debatable, because at least one or two of them I’ve seen mentioned almost everywhere, but an opportunity to talk again about good books is one not to be missed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – A time-travelling, body-swapping, Christie-esque whodunnit-type mystery. Still possibly my favourite read of the year so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – Charming characters, lovely writing. The story of Count Alexander Rostov, living under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol remains very memorable.

       

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan – This is the second book in his new fantasy series, so go check out Sins of Empire first, because you’re in for a treat. There’s also the Powder Mage books to discover as well.

              

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – I’m new to Christie and this was the book that started it all. Probably the least ‘hidden’ gem on my list, but when I saw the new movie version I actually had no idea at all about the twist in the tale. Also check out The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – Myth, folklore, frost demons, fire demons, and a whole host of determined leading ladies, I really enjoyed Spinning Silver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – Killer mermaids! Tense and exciting and well worth a read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys – A mystery tale involving a bequest from a stranger which sends main character Eve to the French Riviera in search of answers. If you’re missing the hot weather of summer, the atmosphere of this book may suit you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne – A new fantasy series and the first book I’ve read by this author.

       

 

 

 

 

 

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams – A second-in-series book. Check out The Ninth Rain then continue the adventure with Tor, Vintage and Noon (and some rather fantastic talking war beasts) in The Bitter Twins.

       

Force of Nature by Jane Harper – And to conclude, yes, you guessed it, another second-in-series book. This one is crime, featuring Aaron Falk as the main character. He previously appeared in The Dry which you may want to check out first, but I do think you could dive straight in with this one if you prefer.


So, there you have it, a few of the books that have stayed with me beyond the initial reading. Hopefully you’ll discover something to enjoy. What have you been reading lately that you’d call a hidden gem? As always, do let me know, because a TBR list/pile can never have too many books on it!

Readers Imbibing Peril XIII – #RIPXIII

The days are growing cooler and the nights are beginning the draw in, which can mean only one thing – Autumn is on its way! I love this time of year, so what better way to mark the changing seasons than by participating in a suitably eerie Readathon?
I think this is actually the first year I’ve known that RIPXIII actually starts in September, and not October, so I have the whole two months of reading/watching to enjoy this time around. Want to know more about this readathon? Here you go…

Welcome to the THIRTEENTH year of Readers Imbibing Peril, or RIP, as it is affectionately called. The challenge runs from 1st September to 31st October. You can find full info by visiting the Readers Imbibing Peril blog.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Dark Fantasy
Gothic
Horror
Supernatural

The goals are simple.

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

Multiple perils await you. You can participate in just one, or participate in them all.
As a starting point I’m going to going for the following, but hopefully by the end of the event I’ll have managed Peril the First and read at least four titles. For now I’m aiming for…

Peril the Second:

Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the challenge categories.

Peril on the Screen:

This is for those of us who like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows, or your favorite film.

A Potential TBR List

I don’t have any definite reading/viewing plans at the moment, but glancing through my TBR pile, a few books have caught my attention, so I may read any or all of the following:

The Outisder by Stephen King
It by Stephen King
Halloween Party by Agatha Christie
The Corset by Laura Purcell
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Progress

The Outsider by Stephen King


I’m really looking forward to one of my favourite reading events during my favourite season. Are you tempted to join in with #RIPXIII ?

Book Review: Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

Name:  Fatal Inheritance
Author:  
Rachel Rhys
Number of Pages:
  4oo (Hardback)
Published:
July 26th 2018 by Doubleday
Genre:  Mystery, Historical

Goodreads

1948, the French Riviera: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way …
‘But don’t you think it strange?’ she presses him. ‘That this man I have never heard of should have left me such a gift?’
1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey London suburb.
Then, out of the blue, she receives a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance. And to find out more, she must to travel to the glittering French Riviera.
There Eve discovers that her legacy is an enchanting pale pink villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Suddenly her life could not be more glamorous. But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.
Alone in this beguiling paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly . . .
Reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery, Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the razzle-dazzle and decadence of the French Riviera.   – from Goodreads


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Fatal Inheritance tells the story of Eve, a woman living an everyday life, married to a man who seems largely unconcerned with her happiness and more with controlling their lives. Clifford (thankfully) doesn’t feature too heavily once Eve leaves the shores of Britain for her French Riviera adventure, but he made a great impact in those early stages, so stifling yet cold, that I was glad that Eve was able to leave him behind, even if only temporarily.

Eve receives word of an inheritance. It’s all very strange as she has no idea who the man behind the bequest, Guy Lester, was.
She ventures to France to find out the nature of the inheritance, and to discover more about why someone she has never heard of until now would leave her anything at all.
When it turns out that she’s actually been left a quarter share in Villa La Perle, a coastal home on the Riviera, things become even more strange, for why would a total stranger make such a grand gesture, and are the apparent small ‘accidents’ that befall Eve really accidents at all, or does someone want her out of the way?

Eve’s everyday life gives way to brushing shoulders with Hollywood stars, mingling with the rich and famous, cocktails, beach visits, a celebrity wedding. It’s a whole world removed for her usual existence, and the thought of being forced to return to that much smaller life encourages Eve to try and find out more about the reasons behind this overly-generous bequest.
The reception she receives from Guy Lester’s family is less than enthusiastic, but this does not deter Eve, and she finds the willpower to stand up for herself when they band together to insist the house is sold quickly.

The Riviera really comes alive in these pages, so it’s great escapism, imagining the villa, the ocean, the wonderful atmosphere.
There’s a whole host of characters, some extravagant, some down to earth, some who are more than they first appear, and watching Eve navigate this new world was really enjoyable.

Even herself is a likeable character. She’s almost trapped in a marriage whichseems pretty loveless, and I was willing her to enjoy every moment of her unexpected escape to the French Riviera, and make the most of the opportunities presented to her.

The mystery surrounding Guy Lester and his connection to Eve is teased throughout the novel via a first person narrative in which he lives out his final days, and it really kicked in towards the later stages of the novel. I thought it really picked up pace once the truth of the present day and years ago started to come to light. I found myself unable to put the book down because I really needed to know who had been up to what and why they’d done it, and how things would conclude for Eve.

An opportunity for escapism, glamour, and a touch of mystery Fatal Inheritance is a great summer read, or perfect for recapturing a sense of those long hot summer days.

Booking Ahead: September 2018

Booking Ahead is a feature on Pages and Tea where I glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

It’s book browsing time again. There are so many books I want to be reading at any one time, but here’s a selection of what I’m hoping to start over the next month…

New Books

The Outsider by Stephen King – At last, I’m reading this book already. Can’t believe it took me so long to finally pick it up, but so far it’s very good.

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo – I have the paperback and the cover is really striking. Every time I venture to the TBR pile this book catches my eye, and I really want to read it this month.

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah – I’ve become something of a Poirot fan in recent months, so of course this new Poirot adventure by Sophie Hannah was going to catch my eye. It sounds like a great mystery and I’m looking forward to finding out how another author captures the style and characters of Agatha Christie.

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde – I can remember really enjoying The Eyre Affair. This book sounds so bizarre that I wouldn’t even attempt to try and describe at this point what it’s about. Hopefully when I’ve read it I’ll be able to be a little less vague.

Books from the Backlist

I’m not sure I’ll manage anything from my endless Backlist this month, there are so many new books I want to read, but you never know!


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.