Another March Review!

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Amber Here!

This book/series is so brilliant it deserves a second review!

Don’t forget to check out my other blog – Finder of Lost Things! This week Phoebe winds up in another shed waiting for a man about a boat on the way to the gang’s group vacation!

Maureen Johnson – The Vanishing Stair

Now Fran reviewed this book back in March’s Newzine -but I must add my own words to the wonderfulness that is this book! So read her excellent review (click here then scroll down or reread the whole newzine – your choice), then read mine.

Because we both agree you need to start this series posthaste!
Maureen Johnson should sideline as a magician.

Why? She has some serious skill in sleight of hand!

Like any skilled magician, she draws her audiences eye in one direction – while the real trick is occurring someplace else – leaving her readers to sit in awe of her skill.

By the end of The Vanishing Stair, Johnson gives us the answers we were looking for at the end of Truly Devious; who the pair in the picture were, who kidnapped Ellingham’s wife and daughter, what happened to the missing student and many other solutions besides.

But our author is tricksy.

While giving us the answers we crave – Johnson gives us more questions, complicated questions and subtly unravels a case we thought neatly sewn up at the end of Truly Devious. All without her readers fully realizing what’s happening until the final chapter’s finished.

Seriously this book is excellent.

If Johnson’s aiming for a trilogy, then this is one of the best, outstanding and brilliant middle books I’ve read in a very long time. In fact, it’s just a clever mystery on its own – but you have to read the first book first thus making this a superb middle mystery.

What’s even better? I have a sneaking suspicion Johnson’s sleight of hand doesn’t end in this installment – I think both our cold, unraveled & current cases link together to form something far more sinister than we currently suspect. Something which will impact Stevie (our heroine) in ways that she and we cannot yet foresee.

I cannot wait to see where exactly the next book leads us!

March Newzine

SMB

      Podcasts / Shows

We’re late coming to this: TNT Unveils new Podcast Series: Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia. It debuted Feb. 13th.

The “Sherlock Holmes of Wood” and the Lindbergh Kidnapping.

If you enjoy supernatural mysteries/thrillers check out the Netflix original The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Russian Doll & The Umbrella Academy! They are all dark and addictive series that will leave you with more questions than answers & wanting more. I Love Them All!

And this looks promising: “Highwaymen” Trailer: Costner & Harrelson Go After Bonnie & Clyde

      Words of the Month

petard (n.): From the 1590s, “small bomb used to blow in doors and breach walls,” from French pétard (late 16th C.), from Middle French péter “break wind,” from Old French pet “a fart,” from Latin peditum, noun use of neuter past participle of pedere “to break wind,” from Proto-Indo-European root *pezd “to fart” (see feisty). Surviving in phrase hoist with one’s own petard (or some variant) “blown up with one’s own bomb,” which is ultimately from Shakespeare (1605):

For tis the sport to haue the enginer Hoist with his owne petar [“Hamlet” III.iv.207].

thanks to etymonline

       Book Events

Phillip Margolin, March 7, 7pm Powell’s, March 12, 7pm Third Place/LFP

Joe R. Lansdale, March 19, 7pm, Powell’s, March 20, 7pm, Third Place/Ravenna

Glen Erik Hamilton, March 27, University Books, 6pm

      Links of Interest

January 30: How do you compost a human body – and why would you?

February 1: Fragments of Early Arthurian Legend Found in 16th-Century Book

February 2: Unique ‘dialectogram’ drawings capture a regenerating city

February 3: Thieves stole architectural gems from USC in a heist that remained hidden for years

February 4: Pierce Brosnan on GoldenEye: crazy stunts and thigh-crushings from Xenia Onatopp

February 4: Meet the Journalist Who Interviewed Ted Bundy for Months

February 5: Life-size Star Wars walker saved

February 5: James Brown: Lost in the Woods with James Brown’s Ghost -The Circus Singer and the Godfather of Soul (this is a three-part investigative epic that reads like a multi-episode true crime series, interesting and detailed ~ JB)

February 5: ‘I Am the Night’ Unearths New Details of Hollywood’s Black Dahlia Murder

February 6: How a Book Gets to the Perfect Cover

February 7: George Orwell gets food essay apology

February 7: Here we go again… the painting of the woman who painted the bird has arrived

February 7: Danes find secret beer trove

February 7: Overdue Library Book Returned in Maryland After 73 Years

February 8: IS THAT A HAND? GLITCHES REVEAL GOOGLE BOOKS’ HUMAN SCANNERS

February 8: The British Library’s Dirtiest Books Have Been Digitized

February 9: Emiliano Sala: Who owned the plane the Cardiff player died in?

February 11: Stolen statues of King Billy and Oliver Cromwell found

February 11: Why Reading A Book Can Increase Your Longevity

February 12: “I Knew Right Away It Was My Dad” A conversation with the daughter of the serial killer BTK.

February 12: Confessed serial killer draws portraits of his victims, and the FBI asks for help naming them

February 12: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was a beloved cult hit. Now there’s a movie, out this year.

February 13: Move Over, Lady Psychopaths: The Locked-Room Mystery Is Back

February 14: Burglar hits legendary bookstore, steals rare edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

February 14: Why do so many book covers still use the phrase for works of fiction?

February 14: Some people go to Vegas to gamble, others to buy really rare books

February 14: Breaking Bad film release date, trailer, cast, plot, spoilers – everything we know so far about Greenbrier

February 14: Why did Victorian-era gravestones include so many images of clasped hands?

February 15: Vodka firm loses valuable iceberg water in apparent heist

February 15: Does Rembrandt’s Night Watch Reveal A Murder Plot?

February 16: Bond 25 – Daniel Craig’s Final 007 Film Delayed (a bit)

February 16: Tana French: ‘Nobody with imagination should commit a crime. You wouldn’t handle the stress’

February 17: Loose lips sank this plot to assassinate George Washington: new non-fiction book by Brad Meltzer


February 18: Don Winslow Digs Into Modern Drug War With New Novel ‘The Border’

February 19: ‘The Border’ author Don Winslow wants to debate Trump about the wall, and Stephen King wants to pay for it


February 19: The Lab Discovering DNA in Old Books

February 19: McDonald’s hands out free books in New Zealand to encourage children to read more

February 20: Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson Lay Down the Law in ‘The Highwaymen’ Trailer

February 22: In letters, Whitey Bulger fondly recalled old days, Alcatraz


On Plagiarism: These should be Read In Order

Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot.

February 22: PLAGIARISM, THEN AND NOW

February 23: NOT A RANT, BUT A PROMISE


February 25: Secondhand books: the murky world of literary plagiarism

February 25: Never forget David Bowie masterminded ‘the biggest art hoax in history’

February 25: This bookseller gives kids books in exchange for empty cans and bottles

February 25: How To Cultivate A Reading Habit

February 26: ‘We donte want to hurt anney one’: Bonnie and Clyde’s poetry revealed

February 26: ‘Bond 25’ Official Title Revealed, Plus Everything We Know About The Next 007 Movie

February 27: ‘Bond 25’ Exclusive: Rami Malek in Final Negotiations to Play Villain

February 27: Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery granted right to appeal after new evidence

      Words of the Month

tenebrous (adj.) “full of darkness,” late 15th C., from Old French tenebros “dark, gloomy” (11c., Modern French ténébreux), from Latin tenebrosus “dark,” from tenebrae “darkness” (see temerity). Related: Tenebrosity. (thanks to etymonline)

      R.I.P.

February 4: Julie Adams: Creature from the Black Lagoon star dies

February 8: Albert Finney dies at aged 82

February 22: W.E.B. Griffin, 89, Dies; a Best-Selling Novelist Dozens of Times

February 23: Stanley Donen, 94, director of ‘Charade’ and ‘Singing in the Rain’

      Words of the Month

Necropolis – especially : a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city; Cemetery – 1st known use was in 1819

With its polis ending, meaning “city”, a necropolis is a “city of the dead”. Most of the famous necropolises of Egypt line the Nile River across from their cities. In ancient Greece and Rome, a necropolis would often line the road leading out of a city; in the 1940s a great Roman necropolis was discovered under the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. Some more recent cemeteries especially deserve the name necropolis because they resemble cities of aboveground tombs, a necessity in low-lying areas such as New Orleans where a high water table prevents underground burial.

Entomology/History – Borrowed from Late Latin, “cemetery,” & from Greek Nekrópolis, literally, “city of the dead,” name of a large cemetery in a suburb of ancient Alexandria, from nekro – NECRO- + -polis -POLIS

Anagram – prosocline – meaning slanting forward

(Thanks Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

      What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

 Finder Of Lost Things

Don’t forget! Check out my mystery blog! This last week we’ve discovered who our Pink Lady is and almost met the Librarian Extraordinaire Mrs. Schmit! Tomorrow Beatrice & Wood help Phoebe move the rest of her stuff into the shed in penance for their friendly early morning torture… 

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J.D. Robb – Connections In Death

The newest Eve Dallas mystery, Connections In Death, came out on February fifth! What wasn’t so great was the fact I’d started a completely different book prior to its release. Then attempted to continue reading it while my favorite guilty pleasure sat on top of my to-be-read pile…

Needless to say, I caved.

It was snowy! I needed something fun to read while watching the drifts pile up…That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

In any case, this installment of the In Death series was everything you’ve come to expect from Eve and her team, starting with a murder dressed up to look like an overdose which connected back to Crack and his new lady whom Eve met just the night before…

Now I must place a slight caution – not on the writing or storylines (all of which were great) – but you need to have read the last couple of books in the series to fully appreciate every event Eve finds herself attending. As there are subplots in this book which link back to previous cases and if you’re not up on them – you’ll miss some of the significance of the action unfolding in the pages of this book. You won’t get lost mind you – but Robb doesn’t use any of her usual boilerplate catch-ups in this book (thank goodness for us long-time readers), she ‘s assuming you’ve read and remembered her previous books.

I would recommend this book to any of the Eve fans out there! This book went flat out from the first page and didn’t stop until its last. Even if you missed the previous book or two, you wouldn’t be lost, but you’ll want to go back and read them – because Nadine won a huge award which makes Eve both happy (for her friend) and irritated (as a cop) at the same time!

    Fran

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Alrighty then, I’m about to ask you to follow another link for a moment, but first I gotta tell you that the second book in the  Maureen Johnson “Truly Devious” trilogy is out – The Vanishing Stair (Kensington) – and ohmygoodness you have to read it, but you absolutely have to have read Truly Devious first.

If you’ve forgotten about it, see if this jogs your memory: Click here

You have to scroll down, but you’ll recognize it by the cut-and-pasted threatening note. Of course, re-reading the whole newzine is perfectly okay, but remember to come back here.

Okay. So here we are, back at Ellingham. Sort of. See, Stevie’s parents have pulled her out because of that horrible mess at the end of the last book, and the only way she can get back is to make a deal with the devil. At what point do your wants overcome your morals? It’s a tough question at any age, and Stevie is seriously torn.

Again, we jump between the two time periods, 1930 and now, and again both are riveting. We learn about the story behind that chilling note. If you thought it had a Dorothy Parker flavor, you’re right and it was intentional. The imagery is deliberate and perfect, but then it would be since Maureen Johnson is a brilliant writer, and she picked the highly talented Sarah Weinman’s  brains and gaspingly deep knowledge of that time period. I must admit I squeed a bit when I discovered they consulted for this book. If you haven’t read any of Sarah’s writing, you’ve been remiss. Fix that, but after you’ve read The Vanishing Stair.

Make no mistake, though. The 21st century has much to offer in Johnson’s capable hands. And she ties the two eras together perfectly.

“Detection has many methods, many pathways, narrow and subtle. Fingerprints. The lost piece of thread. The dog barking in the night.       

“But there is also Google.”

So yes, once again I am stalking you across the shop floor, eyes gleaming madly, shoving this book in your hand and insisting you read it. I’m pushy like that, but I have my reasons, and once you’re immersed in this strange academic world, you’ll understand why.

And, on a personal note to Maureen, congratulations on your marriage to Oscar! And deepest condolences on the loss of your beloved rescue dog, Zelda. You embrace both joy and tragedy so profoundly, and I am in awe.

shadowgamelgI blame one of our customers, Helen T., for this one. Yes, Helen, it’s all your fault, and I’m not sure if I’m deeply grateful or want to rough you up. In the nicest possible way, of course. I mean, there I was, reading the first in one of her series, and Lillian walked past, stopped, stared for a moment, then asked, “Are you reading a bodice ripper?”

Yes. Yes, I am.

And I’m loving them.

Which ones, you ask? And you’re giving me that side eye, aren’t you? Tough.

Helen told us how much she loved Christine Feehan’s books. I figured I needed some mind candy, so why not? I’ll tell you why not. They’re bloody addicting. Seriously, I reached the end of a series and thought, “Wait, no more Feehan in the house? That’s not acceptable!” I’ve really got it bad.

It’s her characters, because you know I’m all about the characters. There’s a mystery in all of them, but the damsels do a lot of the rescuing, which I like. Granted, all the men are broodingly handsome and the women are gaspingly beautiful, and there’s lots of steamy stuff (which I skip, ‘cause I always do in every book, including JD Robbs. Just not my thing but I imagine these are well done. Dunno. Don’t care), but the subjects Feehan tackles are often timely and bitterly dark, which I love. There’s lots of violence and death, and our heroes often are the recipients. So far, every one of our protagonists is damaged in some way, and frequently it’s the ladies to the rescue. And not just with “steamy” solutions. Asses are frequently kicked.

Christine Feehan has seven series, and I’ve read two all the way through. Learn from my mistakes – you want to read the “Drake Sisters” series first, and in order, then go to the “Sea Haven” series. After that, you can go to the “Torpedo Ink” series. They all tie together. The “Shadow” series stands on its own.

It was in the “GhostWalker” series (15 books so far) that I came to truly admire Feehan’s talent. One of the books had a couple I didn’t much care for. They just didn’t click for me. But I devoured the book anyway, because I still cared what happened to them. And I’m realistic enough to know that she writes for her, not me, and others are going to adore this book and dislike others. Doesn’t matter. I haven’t tackled the “Leopard” series (only 11), much less the “Dark Series” which is her largest – so far there are 33 there, but I’m kinda vampired out for the moment. But at least I have plenty to keep me occupied! Christine Feehan is really, really good at writing paranormal romance, and I’m grateful.

I think. *studies bookshelves looking for more space*

    JB

While walking my dog Parker one recent, snowy afternoon, I glanced across a street to see a duplex, both having the same street number but were differentiated by a letter after the numbers. Got him thinking – – who lived at 221A Baker Street????

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The New Flavia de Luce!

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      Amber Here!

Here’s another review that I just couldn’t wait until the March Newzine to share with you! 

And don’t forget to check out my penny dreadful, Finder of Lost Things! This week we find out who our mysterious passenger, Miss Eighties glam might be!

   Alan Bradley – The Golden Tresses Of The Dead

Flavia’s back! Woot!

And she and Dogger are investigating their first case – who put a severed finger in her sister’s wedding cake!

Even if you have never read a Flava de Luce novel, you can start with this installment. While not precisely a stand-alone, as there are a number of references to previous books, The Golden Tresses Of The Dead feels more like the first step in a new story arc. Allowing a new reader to step into the series without HAVING to read the previous nine stories (though if I’m honest there’s a good chance you’d want to go back and read them anyways – but it’s not necessary).

I loved this book! Not only did the mystery capture my interest from the outset, but the way Bradley incorporated real facts into the narrative, made it feel effortless! For instance, the London Necropolis Railway, a line dedicated to carrying mourners and the deceased to Brookwood Cemetary (the largest cemetery in the United Kingdom) between 1854 and 1941. A railway I’d never dreamt existed previously (and will be researching shortly on my own) featured prominently in the story – but its presence never felt forced and description didn’t feel akin to a regurgitated Wikipedia page. As I said above – I loved it, and Bradley sewed it into his mystery seamlessly.

On a side note, while reading this mystery, I finally realized who Flavia reminded me of – and it’s one of my favorite fictional female leads – Wednesday Addams (from the Addams Family)! With Flavia’s love of poisons and churchyards coupled with her reticent nature and unique world view – I think these two girls share some significant similarities. However, I doubt they’d ever get along as Flavia doesn’t possess Wednesday’s sadistic streak and Wednesday doesn’t contain Flavia’s natural empathy. But I think they could come to appreciate one another (from a sheer intellectual standpoint) from opposite sides of the line much in the way Sherlock and Moriarty did.

Perhaps Undine is Flavia’s Moriarty? Only time will tell.

Either way, this parallel struck me while reading, which made the book even more fun to read!

So go out and purchase this mystery post haste! If you’re a fan of classic British mysteries, I seriously doubt this book will let you down! I certainly wasn’t!

Hallowe’en Party: Part Two – Snapdragon

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      My 52 Weeks With Christie:

Hallowe’en Party

   Random (And Almost Relevant) Facts: 

Anyone out there ever heard of Snapdragon before? Yes? No? Well, prior to reading Hallowe’en Party I never had. The only reference point I had was the British tradition of dousing a Christmas Pudding with brandy and setting it alight at the end of Christmas dinner. But Snapdragon, from Christie’s description, sounded far more boisterous, chaotic and merry compared to my single point of reference.


Fun Fact: Apparently Christmas/Plum Puddings never caught on on this side of the pond due in large part to the U.S.’s Puritan & Quaker roots, as they considered it, “the invention of the scarlet whore of Babylon”. Which seems a rather harsh view of a pudding.


Anyways…

Since Snapdragon played such a crucial role in Hallowe’en Party, by giving the murderer the perfect distraction/opportunity to commit their dastardly deed, I decided to investigate.

And much to my surprise I discovered this description in an 1855 party guide called:

Home Games For The People: A Collection of Family Amusements For The Fire-Side, Parlour, or Pic-Nic Parties; Consisting of Games of Action; Games simply taxing the Attention; Catch Games, depending on the assistance of an Accomplice; Games requiring the Exercise of Fancy, Memory, Intelligence and Imagination. For The Use of the Old and Young.

(Yes, that’s the title.)

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This guide’s instructions (along with several others I discovered) tallies with Christie’s description of events at that fateful Halloween Party attended Ariadne Oliver – pretty blue flames which posed a slight risk of injury, alcohol saturated raisins which cause a mess when plucked from the bowl and participants who enjoyed the diversion immensely.

However, what I found most surprising, after reading the lengthy title page, was the fact the publisher was located in New York! So with a bit more perusing, I discovered Snapdragon was played from about the 16th to 19th centuries in England, Canada, and the United States. (Apparently, the Puritans and Quakers found fault with a pudding but filling a bowl full of spirits, raisins and fire then sending their children to play in it was fine.)

Raisins were the preferred treat. However, currents, figs, grapes, plums or almonds could be substituted if needed or suited the audience better. Originally a Christmas Eve activity it eventually evolved into a Twelfth Night and Halloween diversion as well – which Christie’s mystery illustrates.


Fun Fact: Our esteemed authoress keeps great literary company, both Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll mention Snapdragon in their works as well.


Three guesses why this tradition died out…and the first two don’t count.

While the liquor, flames, and fruit delighted the younger set and made holiday parties a smashing success, these very same elements often made the day after a bit of a misery for the unlucky. Who wants to spend Christmas Day nursing singed fingers and blistered mouth? (And depending on how quick you snatched the raisins out, the younger participates might get a slight hangover – the spirits don’t burn off as quick as you’d think.) So around the beginning of the twentieth century the observance of this custom begun dying out.

Interestingly, its decline in popularity coincides when Christie was growing up – so perhaps she played Snapdragon as a child? No clue. But due to its waning popularity, it explains why the none of the Halloween party-goers notice the killer leading their victim from the room – because Snapdragon could indeed have been a rare treat by 1969!


Fun Fact: According to Atlas Obscura, Snapdragon had an adult variant called Flapdragon. In Flapdragon a lit candle was dropped into a mug of ale, then the individual attempted to down the contents without setting their mustaches, beard or hair on fire.


Now to give you guys a complete picture of this Victorian holiday tradition, I took it upon myself to play a game of Snapdragon.

Purely for due diligence purposes, you understand.

I did, however, decide against playing Flapdragon. Which either proves I am now an adult with an iota of common sense or am merely reluctant to explain to every ER doctor/nurse/lab assistant on duty that I sustained my burns by willingly drinking a beer with a lit candle in it – could go either way.

Plus I already have enough outrageous emergency room anecdotes, thank you.

When I proposed my thrilling new Wednesday night adventure, my husband regretfully declined my invitation. Stating that watching me dip my fingers into fire, popping something on fire into my mouth, while undoubtedly standing to close to the fire was incompatible with one of his primary drives – my safety.

He did not find Snapdragon a safer alternative to Flapdragon.

So while he sat in the other room playing video games, and definitely not making sure the fire extinguisher and car keys were handy – I played Snapdragon on our balcony!

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The flames were lovely. And even better? No burns or blisters to report! Though I am glad, I decided to light the bourbon (we didn’t have any brandy) outside, because a little bit goes a long way, and I used a bit too much! The flames got a bit higher than anticipated but other than that it went great!

I can definitely see why both the children & adult’s full attention was on the Snapdragon in Hallowe’en Party! It’s entertaining and scary all at the same time!

*BTW – Don’t try this without a Responsible adult present! Fire is still dangerous, the Victorians were just plain crazy or bored, either way, while this post (is hopefully) funny – this activity is not to be taken lightly. Burns and/or real fires can result. So be it on your head if you try it!

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Hallowe’en Party: Part One

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      My 52 Weeks With Christie: Hallowe’en Party

   First Published:

November 1969

   Series:

Hercule Poirot with Ariadne Oliver & Superintendent Spence

   Summary:

During the preparations for a Halloween party Joyce Reynolds (thirteen), trying to impress Ariadne Oliver, brags that she witnessed a murder. But that she didn’t know that it was a murder at the time, because she was, “…quite young at the time.” 

Everyone agreed at the time that Joyce was just telling tall tales again – but when she’s murdered a few hours later, Ariadne isn’t so sure she was. Disturbed by the child’s murder, indeed enough to swear off apples, she descends on Poirot asking for his help in solving this mystery.

   My Review:

In school did you ever have a teacher who assigned a report with a minimum page count? You do your research, write it out and print it up – only to discover your draft is eight pages, and the minimum is twelve?

Rather than rewriting a substantial section of your paper, you employ the time-honored tactic of padding. You add superfluous examples, extra quotes from primary sources and tangentially relevant information to your final draft. Which allows you to make your required page count – but unintentionally weakens/dilutes your thesis.

This is precisely how Hallowe’en Party felt to me. The entire time I was reading it, it felt like a short story padded out with extra bits until it reached the required length of a novel.

Which, after some research, I discovered is pretty much what happened.

Hallowe’en Party’s main plot springs from a 1935 Poirot short story called How Does Your Garden Grow?. With its keystone firmly in place, Christie then engaged in more literary recycling by stitching in elements from Dead Man’s Folly, published in 1965, to impart a sense of urgency to her narrative.

Christie then moved onto her cast of characters, Poirot’s there (obviously) but she also included two previously introduced detectives; Ariadne Oliver (who’d appeared in five other novels prior) and Superintendent Spence (who appeared in two others himself). Both easing her writing burden because we already knew who they were and allowed Christie to achieve more depth in her story through the further fleshing out of established characters.

Further augmenting the book’s length Christie embroidered in a sliver of the atmosphere from her 1961 classic The Pale Horse thru one oblique and one overt reference to Macbeth (which is a vital element of the 1961 classic). She also dedicated several paragraphs to our detective’s recollections of four previous cases and two other characters (beyond our writer and retired policeman). And to round out her page count Christie placed in some commentary on the stated of the world and the British legal system.

All of these tricks allowed her to transform an eight-page short story into a two-hundred-and-sixty-six-page novel (I am using the page counts of my editions). It wasn’t a bad story, but it’s nowhere close to the brilliance of Endless Night, or The Pale Horse both penned in the same decade as Hallowe’en Party.

However.

What I ultimately think sinks this book to the bottom of the Potroast Level is the same thing that keeps it out of the Meringue Level. (If unclear about these levels read my review from last week, I detail them there.)

I think Hallowe’en Party is a Miss Marple mystery dressed in Poirot clothing.

Stick with me here.

Despite all the Poirot-ness crammed into Hallowee’en Party, from the reprocessed plot to the upcycled cast of detectives, I think the bones of this book actually lie in the Miss Marple canon (which made this an odd read since it took me a while to put my finger on exactly what was going on). But it started to clear up the night Oliver and Poirot drank brandy before his warm fire while she recounted the elements of the mystery to him, which sent echoes of The Tuesday Night Club thru my mind.

What clarified everything for me was Poirot’s summation of the case, which showed me that the real foundation of Halloween Party lies not with Poirot’s short story Where Does Your Garden Grow? but in Miss Marple’s “last case” Sleeping Murder.

Because it’s not the financial/inheritance shenanigans which set events in motion in Hallowe’en Party – but the eyewitness claims of a thirteen-year-old girl.

Still skeptical? Well, compare the two books. Both feature little girls who’ve witnessed a murder but due to their age don’t understand what they’ve seen until much later. When this revelation finally comes to light the killer, who up until that point believed themselves free from suspicion, murder again to cover up their initial crime. Additionally, the two stories also feature victims who supposedly ran off never to be seen again but are eventually discovered to have met grisly ends, then end up buried in places of natural splendor.

Now before you start shouting at me thru your computer, saying what about Dead Man’s Folly? It was published thirteen years prior to Sleeping Murder and contains these same elements!

But here’s the thing not everyone knows (and which I find vastly irritating about most Marple reading lists), that while Sleeping Murder was published after Christie’s death, she penned it well before its publication, somewhere about the mid-1940s to early 1950s then held onto it for posthumous release. In reality, Sleeping Murder is a mid-series book while Nemesis is the real end of Marple’s series. Published two years after Hallowe’en Party, Nemesis features similar underpinnings and literary padding techniques but is a far more sound book – I believe – in part because the correct detective is at the helm.

Either way, whether you think Hallowe’en Party a padded Poirot short story, based on the Sleeping Murder or a practice run for Nemesis I think this quote from Hallowe’en Party sums the book up best, “The past is the father of the present…” (pg. 128).

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      Don’t Forget

Check out my other fiction blog: Finder Of Lost ThingsThis week Beatrice is “helping” Phoebe out!

My 52 Weeks With Christie…

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      Amber Here:

So here’s the deal, five years ago my blog series My 52 Weeks With Christie officially ended (though I’ve kept photographing Christie books and posting them on Tumblr). But it’s always nagged at me that I never completed reading/reviewing the entire Christie canon. I’ve missed a few of the full-length Poirot’s, all his short stories, the latest Sophie Hannah Poirot mystery and I never even started the Parker Pyne’s or her Mary Westmacott’s! Even worse? Recently, I’ve had a hankering to reread some of my old favorites (a complete bibliophile problem – when you have a stack of new titles ready to read and all you want to do is reread old books)!

So I thought I’d finally finish what I started.

Not a weekly post, because I don’t have enough time, but sprinkle these posts thru the year (along with my regular reviews) until I completed Christie’s entire body of work!

Huzza!

Tune in tomorrow to see which book I’m reviewing next! (BTW it will be a two-part review – so the length is more manageable!)

Agatha’s Announced!

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One of the best things about this time of year? Awards! You get to see all your old friends getting recognized for being outstanding writers (of which you already knew!)!

Announcing the 2018: Agatha Award Nominees

   Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder – Ellen Byron
Beyond the Truth – Bruce Robert Coffin
Cry Wolf – Annette Dashofy
Kingdom of the Blind – Louise Penny
Trust Me – Hank Phillippi Ryan

   Best Historical Novel

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding – Rhys Bowen
The Gold Pawn – L.A. Chandlar
The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey
Turning the Tide – Edith Maxwell
Murder on Union Square – Victoria Thompson

   Best First Novel

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder – Dianne Freeman
Little Comfort – Edwin Hill
What Doesn’t Kill You – Aimee Hix
Deadly Solution – Keenan Powell
Curses Boiled Again – Shari Randall

   Best Short Story

All God’s Sparrows – Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
A Postcard for the Dead – Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
Bug Appetit – Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
The Case of the Vanishing Professor – Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
English 398: Fiction Workshop – Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

   Best Young Adult Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) – Cindy Callaghan
Winterhouse – Ben Guterson
A Side of Sabotage – C.M. Surrisi

   Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists – Jane Cleland
Writing the Cozy Mystery – Nancy J Cohen
Conan Doyle for the Defense – Margalit Fox
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – Laura Thompson
Wicked Women of Ohio – Jane Ann Turzillo

Winners will be announce this May! For more info on the Agatha Awards, click here!