Monday, September 30, 2019

Death In the Clouds - Agatha Christie

Death In the Clouds by Agatha Christie

First Paragraph(s):

The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodrome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner Prometheus, due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes' time. 
     Jane Grey was among the last to enter and take her seat, No. 16.  Some of the passengers had already passed through the centre door past the tiny pantry-kitchen and the two toilets to the front car.  Most people were already seated.  On the opposite side of the gangway there was a good deal of chatter--a rather shrill high-pitched woman's voice dominating it.  Jane's lips twisted slightly.  She knew that particular type of voice so well. 
     'My dear--it's extraordinary--no idea--Where, do you say?  Juan Le Pins?  Oh, yes.  No--Le Pinet--Yes, just the same old crowd--But of course let's sit together.  Oh, can't we?  Who--?  Oh, I see...'
     And then a man's voice--foreign, polite:
     'With the greatest of pleasure, Madame'.'
     Jane stole a glance out of the corner of her eye.
     A little elderly man with large moustaches and an egg-shaped head was politely moving himself and his belongings from the seat corresponding to Jane's on the opposite side of the gangway.

My Thoughts:

As part of my R.I.P. reading I knew I must listen or read at least one Agatha Christie book, and I selected one of my favorites, Death In the Clouds.  This was narrated wonderfully by Hugh Fraser, who played Captain Hastings in the TV adaptations of Christie's books opposite David Suchet as Poirot.  This book was originally published in 1935 and the air travel described was quite different in many ways to ours.  It was more luxurious and also less, of course.

In this book, our intrepid detective is not quite as attentive as usual owing to his stomach troubles or airsickness.  A woman dies during the flight from Paris to London, though she has been deceased for a while before anyone notices.  It turns out the lady was a well-known moneylender.  I love 'locked-room' mysteries and this one qualifies - only the passengers on the airplane could have killed the woman.  Or could she have died of natural causes?  Well, of course not.  What would be the need for Poirot in that case?  Lots of theories develop - stung by a wasp or poisoned by a thorn administered through a blowpipe?  Each of these seems impossible, though a blowpipe is found.  I enjoyed coming along for the ride as Hercule Poirot solves the case.  A definite 'comfort' read for me (and yes, comfort reads can contain a murder!) - ha!   


From seat No. 9, Hercule Poirot was ideally placed to observe his fellow air passengers on the short flight from Paris to London. Over to his right sat a pretty young woman, clearly infatuated with the man opposite; ahead, in seat No. 13, sat a countess with a poorly concealed cocaine habit; across the gangway in seat No. 8, a writer of detective fiction was being troubled by an aggressive wasp.

Yes, Poirot is almost ideally placed to take it all in, except what he did not yet realize was that behind him, in seat No. 2, sat the slumped, lifeless body of a woman. Murdered, and likely by someone in Poirot’s immediate proximity.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Cruel Acts - Jane Casey

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

First Paragraph(s):

The house was dark.  PC Sandra West stared up at it and sighed.  The neighbours had called the police -- she checked her watch -- getting on for an hour earlier, to complain about the noise.  What noise, the operator asked.
     An argument?
     More than likely.  It's not fair, the neighbour had said.  Not at two in the morning.  But what would you expect from people like that?
     People like what?

My Thoughts:

Cruel Acts is the 8th book in Jane Casey's crime series featuring DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent.  I've read and enjoyed them all, but it has been over two years (almost three) since I got to visit with these characters.  I was delighted to do so.  I will admit that I felt a little uncertain remembering exactly what happened in the previous book, but I got up to speed.  In this story, a man who had been previously convicted of two murders is released from prison because it's found that the jury was looking at social media and websites while the trial was going on.  They 'pre-decided' what they thought he had done based on his past.  And then to top it off, one of the jurors writes a book describing what they did and self-publishes it.  Leo Stone is released and the police have to begin again with the investigation, which is where Maeve and Josh come in.  Former characters appear, at least a little, including Maeve's former love, Rob.  Lots of twists and turns and a chance to see Maeve settle more into her DS status. 

I liked this book, though I don't think it will be my favorite.  Honestly, too much bickering and posturing between Maeve and Josh.  In fact, Maeve seems more than a little prickly and defensive much of the time with everyone.  Hopefully, she's just going through a stage.  Josh is always prickly, but kind at heart (if you look really deep sometimes - ha!).  I don't want to give too much away for those who have followed this series, so I'll not share any more about the plot.  Happily, another book will be coming out in the spring entitled The Cutting Place.  I'll be watching for it! 


A year ago, Leo Stone was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life in prison. Now he’s been freed on a technicality, and he’s protesting his innocence.

Not guilty?
DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve digs, the less convinced she is that he did it.

The wrong decision could be deadly…
Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Quick update - 9.21.19

I'm just going to write a quick update on my week.  It has been a busy one and my fall allergies have started.  Haven't felt completely wonderful, so I'll be brief.

I finished the 4th Rachel Prince book, Dying To Cruise, and enjoyed it.  I think the 5th in the series will be out in a few months and I'll watch for that.

I listened to In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware on audio - narrated by Imogen Church.  Always a fun listen.  It starts with:

In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house;
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room;
And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard;
And in the dark, dark cupboard there was.....a skeleton!

Next on my finished list is Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  Another listen narrated by Bernadette Dunne - for our October mystery book group meeting.  What a weird book!  I look forward to the discussion

Then I did a read/listen of Lisa Unger's The Whispering Hollows, a novella set in The Hollows and featuring Eloise Montgomery who shows up in several of this author's books.  Eloise is a psychic that never wanted to be a psychic, but these three stories tell us of her life over 30 years - the tragic loss of her older daughter and husband in the first, the realization that her 9-year-old granddaughter also has abilities in the second, and a sort of 'changing of the guard' between Eloise and Finley, the granddaughter, in the third.  I liked all The Hollows books, which are not exactly a series but loosely connected.

The last book I finished was Lissa Marie Redmond's third Cold Case Investigation book, A Means to An End.  I read the first two series books earlier this year and liked them very much.  Redmond is a retired Buffalo PD cold case detective and she brings that knowledge and expertise to her third Lauren Riley book.  I get frustrated at times with Lauren, but I do like the tales.  And this was no exception.

Lastly, I attended my afternoon book group on Tuesday and participated in discussing Susan Orlean's The Library Book.  I had also listened to this one and it was read by the author.  She did an OK job, not great, but not too bad.  I enjoyed the book with the info about the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 and also the author's extra musings about libraries in general, her memories of libraries, and more history about the Los Angeles Library.  The discussion was good with most people liking the book.  A few thought it was way too dry and a bit fragmented.  One of the library staff also attended the meeting and told us about some new trends in libraries in general and in the Austin Public Library specifically.  That was quite interesting.  Most libraries these days are not exactly like the ones we grew up with.  And that's perfectly OK.


I think I may start writing some reviews of books upcoming, so watch for that.  They will not be on a 'schedule', just as I finish the book and get them written.  Have a good weekend!    

Friday, September 13, 2019

kay's week - 9.13.19

Non-reading life:

I have news to report!!  We had some moisture fall from the sky here - think it's called 'rain'.  Ha!  It wasn't much, but it's been a very dry and hot summer for us.  I know that everyone thinks we always have hot, dry summers, but some are worse than others.  This has been one of those.  We didn't get a lot of rain, but most of the time when the 'barrier' is broken, rain shall fall again before long.  Maybe even today!  Our poor sad grass.  However, this is why we have drought-tolerant grass called Zoysia.

Otherwise, the week was good.  I made it to yoga both days - my, I am creaky.  That's what happens when you miss a few weeks.  Our family birthday event last weekend went well and my mother-in-law was pleased (it was her 85th).

Reading life:

I finished a few books this week and I'll mention them here quickly.  By the way, I think that everything I'm reading right now will be applicable to the R.I.P. Challenge.  As I said when I mentioned joining, I'll write a wrap-up post at the end of October.

Deadly Cruise and Killer Cruise - both by Dawn Brookes and 2nd and 3rd in her Rachel Prince mystery series.  I'm not sure how I ran across this series - probably an Amazon suggestion from reading another book.  I've really enjoyed the three I've finished and am reading the 4th right now.  Rachel Prince is a Police Constable who initially took a cruise as a vacation.  Her friend Sarah is a nurse with the cruise line and this would give them time to catch up and visit.  Of course, a murder occurred and Rachel assisted the security team in solving it.  In Deadly Cruise, they are sailing for New York and, again, crime happens.  The 3rd book brings back a couple of characters from the initial story and the destination is the Baltic area.  I've enjoyed reading about cruising and am liking the characters.  I am not a water person and get seasick looking at boats.  This is a good way for me to 'cruise'.

I listened to Riley Sager's new book, Lock Every Door.  It was narrated by Dylan Moore.  It's sort of a tribute to Rosemary's Baby, I guess.  Jules Larsen is lucky enough to get a job as an apartment sitter at a very famous and luxurious building in New York, The Bartholomew.  This is based on The Dakota, a real place.  She is desperately in need of the money this job will provide and so ignores her friend's concerns about the weird rules.  She shouldn't have.  Other sitters disappear or perhaps are murdered.  The residents are odd.  The final resolution was OK, but not as scary as I had been thinking it would be.  I've read all this author's books so far and still think that the first is my favorite, Final Girls.

I also finished listening to Shirley Jackson's famous The Haunting of Hill House.  This author is the designated 'author of the month' for October in our mystery book group.  I had not ever read this book and it was a good one.  I think I might have seen one film adaptation a long time ago.  I have not watched the more recent Netflix series.  It will be interesting to see how many others in the group selected this book.  I don't think I had realized how much Stephen King was influenced by Jackson in some of his writing.  I was very much reminded in spots of his made-for-TV miniseries Rose Red.  I actually have Rose Red in my DVD closet and am tempted to watch it again before long.  I'll be listening to We Have Always Lived in the Castle soon.  Bernadette Dunne narrates both these books.

Right now, I'm reading the 4th Rachel Prince book, Dying To Cruise, and I'm doing a reread of Ruth Ware's first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.  Imogen Church narrates all of Ware's books and I'm rereading them for R.I.P.


I guess that's about all I have to share.  We have another family birthday dinner this weekend (September is popular in our family) and my husband is playing in a big golf tournament.  I'll be back next week to tell a bit about our afternoon book group's reactions to Susan Orlean's The Library Book.  I'm looking forward to next Tuesday afternoon and that event.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I also hope that fall is coming to your part of the world.  Maybe one day it will come to mine.

Friday, September 6, 2019

kay's week - 9.6.19

I'm going to go back to a weekly update on reading and life for a while or that's my plan anyway.  I don't have too much to say for this week as I've already had two posts relating our summer fun and also my R.I.P. XIV challenge entry.  I also don't think I will talk much about my reading since my last update, but here's a bit:

I did finish Betty Webb's Lena Jones series and loved all of it.  Such a wonderful series.  I then read all of Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite books - there are 6 up to now and a new one coming out early next spring.  From Webb's Arizona setting to Dugoni's Washington mountains - it was perfect.  I read a couple of books for the afternoon book group that I attend - Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin and The Library Book by Susan Orlean (upcoming discussion on the 17th).  The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer was our mystery group's September book.  Oh, and I must mention Molten Mud Murder by Sara E. Johnson - it's a debut book and is set in New Zealand - vivid setting indeed.  All the book covers are to the right and are linked to Amazon if you want to read more about them.

I'm still trying to get back in the swing of my routines.  I've had to miss yoga several times for various reasons - had a crown come off and that meant an urgent trip to the dentist (he was able to put it back on - let's hope it stays), attended a good friend's father's memorial service this week, checkup and battery replacement on our pickup - all of these seemed to have to happen during my yoga class time.  Ah well.  I'll soon get it all sorted. 

Right now, I'm listening to Riley Sager's new book, Lock Every Door.  Perfect for R.I.P.  And I'm reading the second book in Dawn Brookes' mystery series set on a cruise ship, Deadly Cruise.  Enjoying it very much.  I would never make it on a cruise, but I like reading about them. 

We are hosting a family birthday event this weekend so we will be busy.  Football has begun - what more can you want?  Take care everyone and hope you have a nice weekend! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

R.I.P. XIV Reading Challenge - let's get spooky for fall...

Probably my favorite challenge ever (and probably also the only one I've actually completed successfully more than once) is in the 14th year.  It is Readers Imbibing Peril, aka R.I.P.  This runs from the first of September through the last day of October and, as I said above, is in the 14th year.

I love reading spooky books at this time of year - well, any time of year really.  The books or short stories or movies included in this challenge would be:

Dark Fantasy

Emphasis is not on 'challenge', but on fun and sharing the fun with others.  I will be participating in Peril the First - reading at least four books that fit the genres above.  Easy peasy, right?  I will also be joining in on Peril of the Short Story this year.  Our mystery group is doing Shirley Jackson month for October and I'll be reading (or rather listening to) several of her short stories.  One you might be familiar with is The Lottery.  I'm also looking forward to listening to a couple of Jackson's books and perhaps even her biography, A Rather Haunted Life.  I've also got Stephen King's new book, The Institute, pre-ordered for my Kindle.  And I'm thinking of listening to all 5 of Ruth Ware's books on audio for this challenge.  Imogen Church narrates all of them and she is very good.  Some of my print books that I might pick up are below.

I'm not sure if I'll do formal reviews, but may just do a wrap-up post at the end of October.  We'll see how it goes.  If you'd like to participate, just click this link for RIP 14 and join in.  Let's get spooky, shall we?

Possible Book Choices 

The House On Cold Hill by Peter James
The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Agatha Christie
A Better Man by Louise Penny
Cruel Acts by Jane Casey
The Whisper Man by Alex North

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Happy September!

Hello bookish friends!  May I be the first to wish you Happy September and Happy Labor Day Weekend (if you are in the US).  Also, happy fall?  Well, temps are still in the 90's for us and will be for quite a while.  However, at least we seem to be done with the 'over 100's' time period...maybe. 

We have had a very busy summer.  Travels to New Mexico and lots of golf stuff for my husband.  We spent a nice few days in early August in Kerrville, which is about 2 hours from our home.  A golf tournament was involved for him and I did some early morning walking.  It was still warm, but not as warm as it became later in the day.  Kerrville is definitely in the Texas Hill Country and is a very nice town.  They have a wonderful library, which I finally got to visit, and I also spent some quality (as in buying a few books) time in a couple of local bookstores.  It was lovely.  I met the director of the library and spent a few minutes chatting with her about library stuff - whether they had a mystery book group and if they were always in need of volunteers (answer was YES!).  My husband and I have considered and continue to think about possibly moving to Kerrville after he retires, but that's several years in the future.  It was nice to take a look at the library.  I suspect that library volunteering will be in my life always, wherever I live.

After Kerrville, we moved on to Ruidoso, New Mexico, one of our favorite places.  We spent a couple of weeks there and, yes, a golf tournament was involved.  Plus books.  Always books, right?  There are a number of antique-type stores in that area and each of them includes books.  Always fun to see what might be lurking in the corners.  I picked up several and may do a 'show and tell' in a later post.

I'll be back in a bit to do my fall post for RIP 14 - Readers Imbibing Peril 14.  So, the answer to Robin's query on my previous post about whether I would be joining in is YES!  Thanks for reminding me, Robin

I'm going to leave you with some wild horse pictures that we took in New Mexico.  There are wild horses in that mountain area and signs abound regarding them.  Sometimes you see them.  Sometimes you don't.  This year, they were frequent residents.  Big horses, small horses, foals - just wandering a mountain neighborhood, between the houses, munching on the vegetation.  In  past years we've seen a bear, very large elk, not as large deer, raccoons, rabbits, and skunks.  This seems to be the year of the horse.  Enjoy!