On reading, commuting is not necessarily conducive to good or easy reading – being short I spent one journey this week protecting my neck from the elbow of the tall man determined to read his paper in a packed train – yes I am that short – he was, of course, completely oblivious to my plight, so my reading time has been curtailed, but here goes.
I love the VI Warshawski novels and this one is no exception. VI’s cousin Boom Boom has been found dead floating in the Chicago docks, VI believes he was murdered and sets out to find out why and how. This book was originally written in the early 1980s and has dated a little because of the advances in technology. VI is an engagingly driven character, almost a female Sam Spade, and, unlike some, I like her feminism and her toughness. Also the narrative skips along nicely to the resolution and there are some interesting surprises and plot twists along the way – I certainly wasn’t expect the final scene in this book.
Back to Agatha Christie. This is the first collection of published short stories. The stories are all narrated by Captain Hastings as Watson to Poirot’s Holmes. They are an interesting bunch, mainly because they herald themes, such as natural justice, as well as some of the plot twists, that Christie reprised in her later work. Its not the best of her collected stories but still a worthwhile read.
This is another Christie that is slightly off piste. This is a fun frothy novel and is everything that The Secret Adversary wasn’t. It is very much a novel of its time, and very concerned with the upper classes, and is a reworking of the country house murder mystery but with strong romantic overtones. This is a novelist coming into her craft and having fun with characters and story. Its an interesting break from the true detective story, especially when you know about the novel that came next, that in its time transformed and subverted detective fiction!