Nine Perfect Strangers was not a book I intended to pick up. The idea of a novel this long set at a health resort sounded tedious to me. But after seeing the trailer for the Hulu series, I found myself intrigued. I enjoyed another of Moriarty’s books, Big Little Lies, and it was also a story whose premise did nothing for me, so I decided to give Nine Perfect Strangers a try. I’m glad I did, because it ended up being one of the best non-fantasy novels I’ve read all year. I was honestly incredibly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book. …
When will I learn? I’ve read over 200 Nora Roberts novels, and yet every once in a while I will still read a synopsis for an upcoming novel of hers and decide that I’m not sure I’m going to love that one. So instead of preordering, like I generally do for her new releases, I place a hold with my library. That’s what I did with Legacy. And now I have to buy it anyway, because I loved it. …
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Genre: Mystery, Murder Mystery, Fiction
Published: June 1950 by Collins Crime Club
All hail the queen of murder mystery, Agatha Christie!
I recently finished The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, my first ever Agatha Christie read and a masterful display of writing. As that book is now among my favourites, I was quite eager to sample more of the author’s works and decided on a book in her Miss Marple series. It was not a completely random choice, rather the blurb was extraordinarily compelling and promised a very intriguing plot.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Genre: Mystery, Murder Mystery, Fiction
Published: June 1926 by William Collins, Sons
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is singularly spectacular.
After recently enjoying some mystery fiction, I decided to explore the genre a bit more and my research concluded that there was hardly a better option than an Agatha Christie novel. I did not plan on reading any specific one until I perused an article on some of the best murder mysteries and saw an Agatha Christie book listed. First published back in 1926, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever in 2013 by the British Crime Writers’ Association. I had found my next read.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction
Published: 1st October 2020 by Raven Books (Bloomsbury Publishing, UK), 6th October 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark (US)
Cunningly crafted and delightfully devilish, the Devil and the Dark Water is not only a masterpiece of a mystery novel but also the most fun I had between the pages in 2020.
And that right there might be all I need to say. While it was a horrible year in most aspects, books were a shining light in the dark, providing the very escapism I needed time and time again with a stellar line-up of stories read. Eeyore-mode averted. (It’s not a pretty sight, I confess.) And if it isn’t already transparently obvious, The Devil and the Dark Water more than did its part in keeping that gloom away. It was one of the stars of the show, making Mr Turton a shoo-in for not only the best new-to-me author I read that year but also my auto-buy author list. This might be your triumph dear author, but it feels like the pleasure was all mine, and I thank you for it.
Mysteries are one of those hit-or-miss genres for me. Sometimes I’m able to guess the big twist or outcome or both within the first 100 pages, and then lose my patience with the rest of the narrative and the cast for not getting there faster. Sometimes the author includes wild twists for the sake of sensationalism that come out of left and field couldn’t have been predicted. Both types of mystery novels drive me a little crazy. The Guest List was neither of those. Told in a way that leaves you guessing without the sensationalism and populated with an interesting group of characters, I was invested through the final pages.
The Devil and the Dark Water is a wonderful spin on a nautical mystery in the style of Sherlock Holmes. Featuring a stellar cast, a rich and atmospheric setting, chilling brushes with the supernatural and a grippingly paced plot, this was everything one could possibly hope for from a mystery novel. I found it incredibly clever, satisfyingly twisty and deliciously suspenseful. And it had an ending I didn’t see coming. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for more.
“Questions are swords and answers are shields… I’m begging you, armor yourself.”
The Holdout by Graham Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: 20th February 2020 (Orion)
Being a juror on a high profile murder case has got to be a thrill ride and a half: looking at the bloody evidence and weighing witness statements, the savage craziness of the media interest, then finally getting to decide the fate of a man charged with murder. It’s got to be just like tv, right? Exciting. Maybe even a shot at your own fame… 15 minutes or otherwise.
But what Maya Seale got wasn’t quite fame, it was INFAMY. Not convinced of Bobby Nock’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, she campaigned for a Not Guilty verdict and eventually persuaded, or wore down, all the other jurors. The result was spectacularly unpopular, provoking uproar in both the courtroom and the real world, and changing the jurors’ lives forever.
Now it’s 10 years later and they’re back together again. Apparently there’s new evidence to consider and more questions to be asked. Everyone wants to know if they got it wrong. But when one juror ends up dead, it looks like someone’s willing to kill to keep their secrets buried for good.
It took me over a week to read the first 150 pages of this book. Then I read the last half in an evening. While it took a while for the story to really get off the ground, the back half of the book was truly addictive and I couldn’t stop reading. Even when I should have been asleep.
From the beginning, we know things have gone horribly wrong for our narrator, who has been apartment sitting in the most illustrious residence in New York City. The Bartholomew is insanely famous, having been the home of countless celebrities over the decades. When recently unemployed Jules stumbles across an opportunity to live in the glamorous building while she gets back on her feet, and actually get paid a thousand dollars a week to do so, it’s too good a chance to pass up. But the Bartholomew isn’t what it seems, and the learning the truth behind the famous gargoyled facade could prove dangerous. Or even fatal. …