Mystery, Reviews

Review: Broadchurch (Broadchurch #1)

BroadchurchBroadchurch by Erin Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely adored the Broadchurch television series. I couldn’t get enough of it. So when I spotted this novelization of the show’s first series while browsing through my local library, I snatched it up. I worried, however, that having watched the show I would know all of the twists that lead to the surprise ending that I would be bored. What the book offered, though, that the show didn’t was a further insight into the inner turmoil and hidden emotions of the characters. This added another dimension to the complex characters and the story. The actors did a brilliant job of conveying many unspoken thoughts and emotions but there are some things that cannot always be seen. It was an enjoyable read especially for a fan of the original show who, like me, miss the series. I think those who never watched the show but enjoy a good police procedural and family drama would also enjoy reading Broadchurch.

I don’t read a lot of mysteries aside from the occasional cozy mystery so I don’t

David Tennant (Alec Hardy) and Olivia Coleman (Ellie Miller) in Broadchurch.

really have a book to recommend if you enjoy reading Broadchurch but if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend watching the original show.  There are three (much too short) series and each is brilliantly acted and thought-provoking.  

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Mystery, Reviews

Review: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1)

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin, #1)Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I discovered the Agatha Raisin mystery series through the TV series that aired here on PBS. Like the show, the first book in M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series of mystery novels, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, is lighter on mystery than it is on the fun. Agatha is a flawed character who lends a bit of believability to what is essentially an entertaining romp through the Cotswolds. This kind of cozy mystery is the perfect read for these chilly winter nights. Just throw on a warm blanket and disappear into rural England.

Agatha’s new life is full of interesting and eccentric characters my favorite of which is Bill Wong. I look forward to getting know more about each of them as I read more the delightful series. I only wish I understood more of the particularly English elements in the story such as the unique accents and some of the pop culture and historical references.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries like Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death with its amateur sleuth and rural setting, I definitely recommend reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series of novels.

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Mystery, Reviews, Woman's Fiction

Review: Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big Little Lies is brilliantly written. Liane Moriarty certainly knows how to use a red herring. Though I did figure out a few of the book’s major twists, I was left guessing and second-guessing and third-guessing the main mystery of the novel. Even after it was revealed I didn’t believe it. It happened so suddenly and I was certain it was another of Moriarty’s diversions.
Not only is Big Little Lies a well-written novel with a razor-sharp sense of humor and utterly real (this is so unfortunate in many cases) characters; it is also an important novel. Moriarty tackles themes of bullying, domestic violence, marriage and parenthood, complicated structures, and friendship in a way that is so entertaining that the issues somehow seem to sink it more deeply. Big Little Lies not only makes you think about these issues but lets you think about them from different angles. Are we all capable of violence given the right circumstances? Why are some people able to control that urge better than others? When does the violence start? Why?
I’m not just thinking about all of these questions thanks to Big Little Lies. This book has changed the way I view the world. Every song on the radio suddenly sounds like a potentially abusive relationship. “If I tell you I love you, will you come back?” (I’m paraphrasing here) Why did she leave in the first place?
One of my favorite things about the novel was the little snippets of the interviews with the parents/witnesses throughout the story. Not only did they provide smoke screens, they deftly demonstrated how perceptions can be skewed and half-heard conversations can cause big problems. It was like the most ridiculous game of telephone ever. The adults were so much worse than the children.

If you enjoy Big Little Lies, you may also enjoy Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama or Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

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Mystery, Reviews

Review: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”
― Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

I found myself referring back to this (frankly sick) nursery rhyme, which the killer used as a theme to his diabolical scheme, throughout the book in an attempt to guess who was next to die and how it would happen.
Agatha Christie is brilliant! I’ve read a couple of her Miss Marple mysteries before and enjoyed them but And Then There Were None is something entirely different. This novel is no mere mystery; it is a psychological thriller filled with suspense and second guesses. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and by the time the number of guests/victims remaining was down to four, I had to put the book just so I had any hopes of sleeping soundly that night (I’m not particularly brave). It didn’t help. Like with Blore, every sound I heard as I lay in bed that night was some villain coming to murder me in my sleep. Thank you, Agatha Christie!

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