Book Review: Witch by Finbar Hawkins

Name:  Witch
Author:  
Finbar Hawkins
Number of Pages: 
277 (Kindle)
Published: 
October 1st 2020 by Zephyr
Genre: Historical, Fantasy

Goodreads

Set in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us.
After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe.
As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny?

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Witch is the story of a young woman willing to risk all for revenge against the people who killed her mother. When Evey’s mother is named as a witch her fate is more or less sealed. These women live in a time when it was potentially dangerous to be thought of as a witch, unless of course it suited other people’s purposes. For example, at earlier times most of the people involved in the capture had consulted Evey’s mother at one time or another for healing remedies or help for their families. All of which serves to ignite Evey’s rage and desire for revenge. Escaping before she too is captured, her sole focus centres on finding and punishing the people who killed her mother.

Evey and Dill are sisters but they’re very different, and their differences irritate Evey to such an extent that her choices drive the two apart, which may have dire consequences later on. There are some good characters here. Setting out on her own Evey meets a young woman called Alice. I liked Alice a lot. The pair meet first just as Evey is about to get into more trouble, and Alice gives her shelter and friendship. Her kindness means a great deal to Evey in a world where everyone seems to have turned against her. Through Alice Evey also finds other people will to offer support in various ways.

Initially I found the writing somewhat distracting. I couldn’t seem to connect with it somehow, and I felt it slowed my reading at times which is a shame because I did enjoy the story as it progressed and Evey found a way to take on those who had harmed her family.

I enjoyed the magic and fantasy elements, which came into play more towards the end of the book, by which time Evey was coming to terms with her own strengths and powers, and without giving anything away about the ending, I would like to know what happened next for certain characters.

Book Review: Hunting Evil (Robert Hunter #10) by Chris Carter

Name:  Hunting Evil (Robert Hunter #10)
Author:  
Chris Carter
Number of Pages: 
496 (Kindle)
Published: 
May 2nd 2019 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

‘Every story one day comes to an end.’
As roommates, they met for the first time in college. Two of the brightest minds ever to graduate from Stamford Psychology University.
As adversaries, they met again in Quantico, Virginia. Robert Hunter had become the head of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. Lucien Folter had become the most prolific and dangerous serial killer the FBI had ever encountered.
Now, after spending three and a half years locked in solitary confinement, Lucien has finally managed to break free. And he’s angry.
For the past three and a half years, Lucien has thought of nothing else but vengeance.
The person responsible for locking him away has to pay, he has to suffer.
That person … is Robert Hunter.
And now it is finally time to execute the plan.

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

Hunting Evil is book 10 of the Robert Hunter series and the second book that I’ve read. It’s the sequel to An Evil Mind, so I’d say read that one first. You could pick up Hunting Evil without having read the previous book, there’s enough description of past events to go along with the current narrative, but you get a much deeper understanding of the relationship between Robert Hunter and Lucien Folter through reading the first book. Long story short, they’ve encountered each other previously, Lucien then spent over 3 years imprisoned, and in that time occupied himself with thoughts of revenge against Robert Hunter.
And now Lucien has escaped.

An Evil Mind has massive amounts of tension despite (or perhaps because of?) Lucien being captured for the majority of the book. Even from a cell the amount of damage and chaos he inflicted seemed limitless.
Hunting Evil has a different feel to it altogether. Lucien is free, has had many hours of confinement to think about his revenge, and has all the tricks and tools to evade detection until it suits his purposes to come out of hiding. And he has a plan, to go bigger and more extreme than anything he’s ever done before. There seems to be little that Lucien cannot and will not do, which makes him one of the most evil and dangerous characters I’ve come across. I thought this reading the previous book, and it remains true here.

There’s a great dynamic between Hunter and Lucien. He goads Hunter and his colleagues, asking them to go through his ‘research’ to discover at least one thing that Lucien has yet to try, and they’re horrified when they realise what he has planned. Through a question and a well-thought-out riddle which has the authorities clutching for answers, the stakes turn out to be higher than ever, yet at the centre of the chaos are Robert and Lucien, with a clear eye for each other. One intent on revenge, the other intent on recapturing one of the most dangerous men he’s ever encountered. The antagonism is mutual and personal and the lengths both men will go to to ensure their preferred outcome is extreme.

Short chapters, switching viewpoints, misdirection, great reveals, all these kept me reading, and wondering just how far each of the main characters would go. The body count inevitably mounts; from the outset Lucien’s brutality is laid out clearly, and there are more gruesome scenes ahead, so perhaps not one for the squeamish (although I may have applied that to myself and my own reading choices prior to discovering this series so who knows?!).

I enjoyed every fast-paced moment of Hunting Evil, and the Robert Hunter series is one I am going to read more from. Now I’ve finished this two-part tale of Robert and Lucien I think I’ll go back to the beginning and read the rest of the series in order. I imagine there will be more gruesome, thrilling escapades ahead, and my newfound enjoyment of this genre cannot wait.

Book Review: The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Name:  The Nothing Man
Author:  
Catherine Ryan Howard
Number of Pages: 
270 (Kindle)
Published: 
August 4th 2020 by Corvus
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…
You’ve just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.
Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was – is – the Nothing Man.
The more Jim reads, the more he realizes how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first…

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Nothing Man, so-called because despite a growing list of crimes, escalating eventually to murder, the police have no real leads. He’s methodical, calculating and controlled, and so eludes the authorities and eventually disappears and the case goes cold.

It’s no spoiler to say that in fact the Nothing Man didn’t just vanish, he’s been living an everyday life in plain sight, and we discover this right at the very beginning when in his job as a security guard in a supermarket he discovers a newly published book, one in which he is the lead character.

So begins the hunt for a killer and the story of a survivor of one of his attacks.
It’s quite a creepy read, as Jim reads about his own activities of years ago, entering homes in the dead of night and subjecting his victims to cruelty and torment. None of it disturbs him, either then or in the present day, where he’s playing the role of husband and father as though there’s nothing abnormal about him at all. Even creepier as the part of his mind driving him to commit such crimes turns to this new intrusion into his life, the author of the book, Eve Black, and how to deal with her.

The tension mounts as Jim reads the book, and decides how to approach Eve and what her eventual fate must be, for she’s determined to catch him, which motivated her to write the book in the first place and relive the horrors she’d tried for a long time to shut out.
I like the story within a story used here, the way the past and the present gradually play out. Things escalate, not always in ways Jim imagines, and the idea of this man who planned everything so carefully and managed to escape undetected for so many years finally not being one step ahead keeps you reading.

The way the story is told means there is no big reveal as such, we already know who the villain is, but it still delivered in terms of twists and reveals, and finding out how things would eventually be resolved, and whether the Nothing Man would indeed be caught after so many years did lead to a race to the end of the book as I hoped Eve would finally get justice and that her plan to draw out the man who robbed her of her family would work out.

Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

Name:  The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)
Author:  
Becky Chambers
Number of Pages: 
519 (Kindle)
Published: 
March 16th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Science Fiction

Goodreads

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

 

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the first book in the Wayfarers series. I haven’t read a great deal of science fiction so far, but I enjoyed this story with it’s spaceship setting, aliens of varying descriptions, new planets, imaginative tech, and travel beyond the known. It’s a very character-driven novel, and a story of found-family, the crew of the Wayfarer.

The group have travelled together for a while, and into their midst comes new recruit Rosemary Harper, a woman with a past that she seeks to escape to the point that she forges herself a new identity and takes a job aboard the Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship about to be sent on a new and unusual mission. As the title suggests, it’s going to take a long time to reach the location of the next job, and the story follows the crew through various adventures as they travel towards their destination.

The crew is what makes this story, from new recruit Rosemary, to captain Ashby, the head of this varied family, Sissix, A.I Lovey, and the wonderful Kizzy and Jenks, the mechanics and a couple of wonderful characters. Each of these characters have their own stories to tell, and it’s through them and their experiences that various themes develop throughout the book. They encounter several other species and places along the way, and all this adds flavour to an imaginative tale.

The next book in the Wayfarers series is A Closed and Common Orbit and seems to follow one of the characters introduced here. It was a shame to leave behind some of these colourful characters as their story drew to it’s conclusion, but I’m also interested in what lies in store in the following books, the new characters and new places to encounter. Definitely a series I will return to when I’m in the mood for some character-driven science fiction.

Book Review: An Evil Mind (Robert Hunter #6) by Chris Carter

Name:  An Evil Mind (Robert Hunter #6)
Author:  
Chris Carter
Number of Pages: 
494 (Kindle)
Published: 
July 31st 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years.
The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – and he will now only speak to Robert Hunter of the LAPD.

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

An Evil Mind is the sixth book in the Robert Hunter series but it’s actually the first one I’ve read and I do think it works well as an introduction to the series, or at least it did for me because I enjoyed it so much that I’m certainly going to read more of the series. Hunting Evil is next on my list and then I’ll probably go in order after that. This isn’t a genre I read very often at all but I picked this up as I fancied something different.

A serial killer thriller, gory and gruesome at times, but intriguing and a high-stakes cat-and-mouse play between an LAPD detective on loan to the FBI and, you guessed it, someone with a very evil mind. Never has a title been so apt, because the villain at the centre of this far-reaching web is possibly one of the worst and most brutal I’ve encountered in my recent reading adventures. A remorseless character who has made a study of murder and the psychology of being a murderer, who’s gone so far as to document his activities as a ‘public service’, I was horrified and riveted in equal measure, just wondering what new horrors Robert Hunter and his FBI colleague would discover next.

The writing is really good, a great blend of tense and scary situations and locations, fraught confrontations between an increasingly distraught detective and a measured, controlled serial killer who seems to hold all the cards; it had an air of The Silence of the Lambs at times, the back and forth between some of the characters.

The pitting of wits and courage of Robert Hunter against this killer made their scenes tense. The lengths this man has gone to to rattle Hunter, and the revelations that come to light make you wonder how Hunter retains his composure, and whether he’ll eventually give in to the taunts and goading of the killer.  In the midst of this is the FBI agent Courtney Taylor, a woman more easily riled by the goading of the man in the cell, responding more emotionally than rationally, which gave a good balance because he really has done some shocking things over a long-spanning career.

A final temptation from the killer leads to a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion played out amidst more shocks and surprises. I had a great time reading An Evil Mind, and cannot wait to read Hunting Evil, which is a sequel and sees certain characters from this story revisited. The Robert Hunter series is one I think I may enjoy discovering.

Book Review: Billy Summers by Stephen King

Name:  Billy Summers
Author:  
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
448 (Paperback)
Published: 
June 9th 2022 by Hodder Paperbacks
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?
How about everything.

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

Billy Summers is the latest offering from Stephen King and quite unlike many of the other books you might associate with him. There’s no horror as such, although some quite horrific things do happen throughout the story.

It’s the story of an assassin tempted into one last job by a massive payout, tempted even though as time goes on he starts to think there’s something not right about the whole set up.
It’s also the story of a man finding pleasure in writing, in telling his story even though he’s not sure that anyone will ever actually get to read it, and whether that even matters.

The beginning of this plays out at a leisurely pace as Billy takes on an assumed identity as David Lockridge, a man working on a book. The idea is to wait for his target to arrive at a certain place as going after him would be impossible. While he waits Billy has to become someone else, blending in with the local community, both at a work location (and site for the real job he’s been employed to do), and at a new home.
It’s in the everyday I find King has a way of drawing you in, to the situation, and with the characters that Billy meets. Watching him become a friend to these people, knowing what the outcome must inevitably be, it made me wonder whether he’d actually go through with the hit or attempt to find a way out of it and continue in the life he crafts for himself.

There’s a story within the story as Billy takes his cover to heart and does actually begin to write. At first it’s to avoid suspicion and questions, but as he recalls his own childhood, and later his years as a sniper, he finds that the story needs to be told, all the way through, and that he’s writing for himself, rather than to simply provide a cover story.

And then there’s Alice. Billy meets Alice under traumatic circumstances and with her entrance the tale goes off in another unexpected direction. I don’t want to give too much away so won’t say more, but there are quite a few different threads included in the story of Billy Summers.

The characters make the story, starting with Billy. He’s a man knowingly doing bad things for bad people, but has a certain code. He’ll only take on jobs targeting bad people, and this last target certainly meets the bill on the surface, but there seems to be more to it too, things that no one wants to get into. There’s also his reaction to the way Alice is treated, and the way he cannot let it go regardless that at that point so many people are looking for Billy it would probably be the safer option.

The people Billy encounters along the way, from his agent Bucky, to Alice, to all his neighbours in his new home, some of whom do seem to become genuine friends to Billy, all bring the story to life, and it was a shame to leave the everyday behind.

The second half of the story is faster paced, as Billy decides to set certain things right, both for himself and those he cares about. There is action and violence as the man who only targets bad people sets his sights on a number of very bad characters and the truth behind his original assignment comes to light.

I enjoyed Billy Summers. Time spent with some great characters in some awful situations left me wanting a happy ending for some of them. Did I get it? I couldn’t possibly say, but I enjoyed finding out.

Book Review: The Midnight Man (Slayton Thrillers #1) by Caroline Mitchell

Name:  The Midnight Man (Slayton Thrillers #1)
Author:  
Caroline Mitchell
Number of Pages: 
311 (Kindle)
Published:
October 13th 2021 by Embla Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…
On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.
It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.
Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.
Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Midnight Man is an eerie thriller of a tale which begins when five school friends each receive the invitation to play the infamous Midnight Game. They’re willing participants, believing at first that the leader of their group, Angelica, has arranged the whole thing for some Halloween fun. Only, after a late night venture to Blackhall Manor, scene of a shocking crime 25 years prior, Angelica doesn’t come home.

The opening to this was really atmospheric and spooky, and it has a fantastically eerie location in Blackhall Manor, the now abandoned derelict manor house, isolated on a hilltop and surrounded by woodland. As the girls brave a night in this old house with it’s creaky floors and rotting facades, it’s clear that there’s something lurking, and fuels the idea that there may be a little more to the old story of the Midnight Game.

It’s all very mysterious from the outset as we meet the central characters.
Sarah is a woman returning to her job with the police after a year’s absence brought about by some scandal which we’re not privy to at first. The idea is she eases herself back into the job on restricted duties, only that doesn’t play out when she comes across people with possible links to the Midnight Game and the disappearance of Angelica.
Then there’s Maggie and her young son Elliot. Elliot is troubled by dreams, only they tend to have eerie relevance to things that actually happen in real life, and Maggie doesn’t quite know what to do about it. Elliot was at the heart of this story; as his experiences gradually become more involved and more frightening for him, he may have insights that could save a life.
Slayton also plays host to a whole range of people who could be either potential victims of the Midnight Man or be involved in the deaths and disappearances occurring, and watching Sarah and her colleagues try to piece it all together was engrossing.

This was a fast-paced read that threw in many unexpected elements towards the conclusion. I honestly thought I had it all worked out at least twice and then, well, I’ll just say I was no where near the big reveal, and I like to be surprised.

This is the first Slayton book and I believe there’s another one out now called The Night Whispers which I may be tempted to read some time to find out what happens next in this town that seems touched by some sort of darkness.

Book Review: The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Name:  The Hollows
Author:  
Mark Edwards
Number of Pages: 
335 (Kindle)
Published:
July 8th 2021 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.
From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place—strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest—but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.
It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

A holiday in a cabin in the woods, what could possibly go wrong?! Plenty, as it turns out, and that made The Hollows an engrossing and unputdownable read.

Tom and Frankie book a holiday at Hollow Falls resort. It sounds idyllic, a new resort, cabins surrounded by woodland and a lake, and no end of things to do.
What this father and daughter pair didn’t realise was that this site, now so charming was, 20 years previously, the site of an unsolved double murder. Rumours and myths have grown surrounding what happened 20 years ago and who was responsible. Added to this the main suspect was never caught. Unsettling news, and then strange things begin to happen and suddenly the perfect getaway becomes something more sinister.

I really enjoyed The Hollows. It was one of those books I was reluctant to put down, always wanting to find time for one more chapter. The viewpoints switch mostly between fourteen year old Frankie and her father Tom, and the chapters were fairly short, so I felt compelled to read on, especially as the peril and threat became more apparent.

The setting is great, by turns perfect then vaguely ominous – the trees and woodland, so dense, so old, so much history, and the idea that the place itself can affect people.  All this added atmosphere, and the way events from the past tie in with the present kept me reading. And there’s the town of Penance nearby, a place that seems a little strange in itself, with the eerie sound of wind chimes from some unknown location, the junkyard nearby, and some fairly unnerving inhabitants.

The air of tension and threat starts subtle and builds gradually, and is creepy and atmospheric rather than overly scary. It’s little things that at first would be easy to pass off as nothing, or coincidence, but as each of these things start mounting up, and the stories of days gone by are told, it becomes clear that there may be danger close by.

The characters are an interesting mix, from Tom and his daughter, to their neighbours at the resort, true crime podcasters Connie and David and their son Ryan, who becomes a friend to Frankie. Connie and David known all about what happened 20 years ago, and it’s left to them to tell Tom all about it, unable to believe he had no idea.
The staff at the resort range from friendly and helpful to slightly unsettling, as do the other people who appear throughout the story.

The Hollows reveals its secrets gradually, building up in an eerie atmospheric way until suddenly the danger is revealed and there’s a fast-paced race to get out of this idyllic holiday location alive. Entertaining and exciting, and one to read if you fancy a slightly spooky thriller.

Book Review: Murder by the Seaside by Cecily Gayford

Name:  Murder by the Seaside
Author:  
Cecily Gayford (Editor)
Number of Pages: 
223 (Kindle)
Published:
May 12th 2022 by Profile books
Genre: Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

It’s the height of summer. As the heat shimmers on the streets and ice cream melts onto sticky fingers, tempers begin to rise and old grudges surface. From Cornish beaches to the French Riviera, it’s not just a holiday that’s on people’s minds … it’s murder.
In these ten classic stories from writers such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare and Margery Allingham, you’ll find mayhem and mysteries aplenty. So grab the suncream and head down to the beach – if you dare.

My Rating:

3diamonds

My Thoughts:

Murder by the Seaside is a collection of short stories edited by Cecily Gayford. The stories included are:

The Boscombe Valley Mystery – Arthur Conan Doyle
Weight and See – Cyril Hare
Error at Daybreak – John Dickson Carr (Carter Dickson)
The Absence of Mr Glass – G. K. Chesterton
Razor Edge – Anthony Berkeley
The Furies – Michael Innes
Daisy Bell – Gladys Mitchell
A Mystery of the Sand-hills – R. Austin Freeman
Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday – G. D. H. & M. Cole
Man Overboard – Edmund Crispin

As you can probably guess, all the stories have some link to a seaside/coastal setting, and each has some sort of crime at it’s centre just waiting for the right kind of detective to come along and make sense of it all. Be it life and death, or some kind of deception for as-yet unknown reasons, there’s a variety here to keep you entertained and guessing throughout.

This collection introduced me to authors I’ve never read before, and threw in some old familiars too, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, which reminds me that it’s a very long time since I read a Sherlock Holmes story.

Each story was quite different. There were many twists and turns throughout, and even by the end I was no closer to working out whodunnit in most cases.

I usually choose really long books, so it was something of a novelty to be able to pick this up and read a whole story in one sitting. It was quite refreshing and I enjoyed that, and also experiencing so many new-to-me authors. I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie lately so it was nice to have a variety of takes on a similar theme from different authors. That said, I am looking forward to getting back to another Poirot book.

Murder by the Seaside is an entertaining collection for a warm afternoon when you want a bit of a mystery to read in one sitting.

Book Review: Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Name:  Death Comes as the End
Author:  
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 
336 (Kindle)
Published:
February 27th 2010 (first published October 1944)
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Historical

Goodreads

In this startling historical mystery, unique in the author’s canon, Agatha Christie presents the puzzle of a deadly mystery at the heart of a dissonant family in ancient Egypt. Imhotep, wealthy landowner and priest of Thebes, has outraged his sons and daughters by bringing a beautiful concubine into their fold. And the manipulative Nofret has already set about a plan to usurp her rivals’ rightful legacies. When her lifeless body is discovered at the foot of a cliff, Imhotep’s own flesh and blood become the apparent conspirators in her shocking murder. But vengeance and greed may not be the only motives…

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Following my recent read of Death on the Nile I decided to pick up another Agatha Christie mystery set in Egypt, Death Comes as the End.

The story revolves around the family of Imhotep, and sets a scene of domestic disharmony which is made many times worse upon the arrival of a young woman, Nofret, who has a talent for troublemaking. She knows she has a degree of power, and is confident enough in her position to go about causing discord and unease amongst the siblings and their families without regard for the consequences.
If things were unsettled before Nofret arrived, they were certainly worse afterwards, and more so when head of the family Imhotep goes away on business and leaves Nofret behind, ordering his family to look after her.
The simmering tension and animosity has a violent outcome, and from there the tale takes on an unexpected very slight hint of the supernatural, and one death follows another as someone or something develops a taste for murder.

Renisenb is Imhotep’s daughter. She is recently widowed, has returned home to her family, and is the main viewpoint throughout the story. She goes from suspicion to disbelief to horror as it is suggested that someone amongst her own family might actually be responsible for the awful occurrences. She ponders on characters and personalities, and how what lies within and drives a person may be very different from their outer appearance.

The characters drive this story, from eldest son Yahmose and his strong-willed wife Satipy, to trusted family friend Hori and the newly arrived Kameni. I also really liked Esa, the oldest member of the family, and possibly the most observant. She watches as trouble of various kinds unfolds within the family home and eventually develops some theories of her own as to what is going on.

Death Comes as the End has the familiar feel of a Christie story – a murder steeped in mystery, a number of suspects, an investigation of sorts, although not in the more typical format of a detective’s involvement. In this case it is Renisenb and her thoughts that propel us through the twists and turns.

There’s also something quite different in this story which made it enjoyable. The ancient Egypt setting gives it something of an historical air, and the characters and their lives are quite unique to many that I’ve encountered in my Christie reading so far. Definitely one to consider if you’re looking for something a little different in your Agatha Christie murder mystery reading.