Christie and Henching

Amber Here!

Question: Have you ever moved house/apartment/room and discovered you’ve inadvertently started a collection? Or perhaps you were aware of said collection but utterly unaware of its sheer size due to it being tucked away in odd corners/cabinets/drawers of your abode.

Or – in my case – on multiple shelves, in multiple bookcases, in multiple rooms. The collection in question? Agatha Christie, and Agatha Christie adjacent, books. 

In 2014, when I started my Christie blog, I quickly discovered photos make the internet go round. Meaning? I began posting cover art along with reviews.

And you can’t photograph the same cover art over and over again…

So over the past seven years, I’ve haunted little out-of-the-way used bookshops in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and biblio.com for foreign/vintage/obscure Agatha Christie mystery covers…when I wasn’t spending my SMB paycheck to augment and enhance my collection. 

Fast forward to March 2021. When we move into new digs (and for the first time ever), I’ve my own home office and finally gathered all my Christie’s into a single room. 

Though not a single bookcase. 

Fran (who I texted when I realized how marginally out of control my collection’s got) thought you guys might be interested to see part of what I’d amassed.

These are the vintage volumes…haven’t had time to put them in order yet…perhaps on a rainy day…
These are the modern editions and my Christie research books…

(Hilariously these photos don’t include the other book cases filled with other classic mysteries and general mystery related research books! My office is mostly shelves…and yet still not enough space…)

Now For Something Completly Different.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

How many of you out there watched the Venture Brothers? (If you haven’t, you really should.) To narrow our focus further, how many of you recall The Monarch’s most trusted henchman Number 24 (aka Gary)? Yes. No.

Well, I love the series (and am still miffed Adult Swim axed its longest-running series last year), and I’ve watched every episode several times over. And when I first started reading Hench, Anna loosely reminded me of Gary…if his life were bleaker.

Much, much, bleaker.

Which initially made me want to set the book down and walk away…Because I thought I knew where the story was heading (especially when Anna accepted a contract with a villain named Electric Eel).

Boy, am I glad I stuck with it. (And finished it a day later.)

Because not only did I not see the direction Anna’s life would take…I found a clever, sarcastic, and compelling hench(woman) whose motivations were entirely understandable and relatable – but whose viciousness (in her revenge) is utterly and unapologetically unrestrained. 

Seriously, Hench is an excellent read. Because it’s more than just a tale of a single all-consuming revenge…

…sigh…

This review is so hard because I want to seriously gush about this book, but in gushing over it, I would ruin the layers, nuance, and sheer evil genius found within its pages. Hench is a book, if SMB were still open, I would simply put Hench in your hands* and say: 

“Trust me.” (Squinting at Fran.) 

Because if this is a first in a series (and I suspect it is or at least will have a follow-up), I CANNOT wait to see where Anna’s henching takes her next.

(Provided I knew you enjoyed reading gritty urban fantasy and/or sci-fi.)

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