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Tag Archives: Mystery

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Marie Benedict

“A winning whodunit from the thrilling life story of the mistress of whodunits, Agatha Christie herself, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie is a deft, fascinating page-turner replete with richly drawn character and plot twists that would stump Hercule Poirot!” – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network.

I have had an interest in Agatha Christie since the early eighties when my daughter was old enough to attend story time at the library. While she listened to stories and socialized, I loaded up with books to read at home for the next week. I quickly read all the Agatha Christie novels, our local library had to offer. I have since read as many biographies about her as well.

This is a novelization of what might have happened those eleven days that Agatha Christie disappeared. From everything that I have read, this feels like a good explanation. Agatha was a very private person and I don’t believe anyone except Agatha knows the true story.

Marie Benedict researched this famous author and put the bits and pieces of information together to form a plausible explanation. She did it in a way that created tension, conflict, and well rounded characters. It doesn’t put a very good light on Archie Christie, her husband. It makes him appear to be unworthy of Agatha. The author has attempted to tell the story with two narrators, Archie and Agatha. Archie explains how he was so besotted of Agatha in the beginning but after childbirth and her inability to get back to her youthful figures, he strays. Of course, Archie makes it seem like the obvious solution.

Agatha shows their story from her point of view. She is in love with Archie and when she discovers his infidelity the reader connects and feels her heartbreak. If it had only been Archie it would have been difficult enough but when you add in Agatha’s mother pushing her to ignore everyone else, including their only child, Rosalind, in order to stroke Archie’s ego and ensure her husband’s attention.

There is a definite character arc for Agatha. Though she’d written several books before her disappearance, this might explain how she became the powerhouse writer throughout the rest of her writing career. If I hadn’t known that Agatha does re-marry and apparently had a happy union later, I would have been more sad for her. Archie seemed to negate her writing. Not sure if it was ignorance or jealousy because of her success. If this book is anything like the truth, I am happy to see how it ended.

If you love Agatha Christie’s novels or are an anglophile and love everything from the UK, I think you will find this an enjoyable read. I have read several of her novels but not all. I do intend to remedy that by reading them regularly.

Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is also the author of The Only Woman in the Room, Lady Clementine, The Other Einstein, and Carnegies Maid. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy a taste of spring wherever you are. Here in the Midwest we’ve had a string of days filled with sunshine and seventies. May you find some time to get outside and to read this week.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sun Down Motel

The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

This was one of those books I’ve seen circulating the BookTube channels for a while. I had wanted to read it in October because of that spooky thing but found it too late to start then.

This was a quick read. It definitely was a page turner. The last night I finished it at 3:30 A.M. the next morning. I could not put it down until I knew what was going on. Luckily I am retired so didn’t have to get up and go to work.

This is a story told by two protagonists. The current day one, Claire and her aunt from November 1980, Vivian. Claire was born after her aunt had disappeared and she decided to make it her mission to find out what really happened to her mother’s sister. She luckily or depending on how you look at it, unluckily took the same night shift job at The Sun Down Motel, where her aunt Vivian had disappeared.

Claire quickly picks up that something isn’t right at the motel. The mysterious scent of cigarette smoke, room doors opening and closing by themselves, the ghost of a young boy around the abandoned swinging pool, and one ghost whose anger causes the electricity to go out giving Claire a warning that it is time to leave.

The motel rarely has many guests and apparently most of them don’t notice what is going on. I thought that was a little odd.

The other half of the story is as Vivian shows the reader what did happen leading up to her disappearance. Both women snag onto the fact that they believe there is a serial killer in the area, killing women. Claire believes that same killer is still hanging around. The two women’s stories merge into a very satisfying ending.

Can’t call this a feel good novel but if you enjoy getting a scare every once in a while. This might be a good read for you.

Survived Thanksgiving 2020 style. I am finding myself reading way more than I ever did but that is normal. Reading has always been my escape.

Hope you too had a good Thanksgiving and may you find some joy in a good book.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Stranger Diaries

“If you’ll permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening. – Stranger Diaries

Stranger Diaries is a story within a story.

Claire Cassidy, a high school English teacher who has immersed herself in the life of R. M. Holland, a fictional author in this book. He is the author of a ‘famous’ historical short story – The Stranger. The school where she teaches is R.M. Holland’s former home. It has been converted to include an addition that holds most of the classrooms. Most of his home is intact, including his personal office, kept almost like a shrine.

Claire uses The Stranger in her creative writing class while she also is writing a biography about H. M. Holland. The story is set in England where she lives with her teenaged daughter, Georgia. After a rocky divorce, the two moved from London so she could take this teaching position.

After a couple of murders, reminiscent of those in The Stranger, Claire notices that someone besides herself is making journal entries in her personal diary. She soon guesses that the killer is someone she knows even though the local police detective is starting to suspect her in the killings. During Claire’s investigation, she digs up several possible suspects.

The story is set around Halloween and includes some history about H.M. Holland’s wife committing suicide in the house by throwing herself off the second floor landing and that her spirit roams the halls. The legend is that when her spirit is seen, someone will die. There are also rumors that H.M. Holland had a daughter but no one has been able to confirm it.

I discovered this author through a YouTube channel I follow called ‘Diane in Denmark’. Her channel is actually about how she uses the FlyLady Housekeeping system but she is also an avid reader and shares some of her favorite reads.

Elly Griffiths

I found a little more information about Elly Griffiths while watching another BookTube channel. Elly’s real name is Domenica De Rosa. She has written a few women’s fiction novels under that name. When she became interested in writing a mystery, her publisher suggested a new name; Elly Griffiths name belongs to her grandmother.

Elly wanted to write something scary and creepy. The story has two point of view characters, Claire and the police detective – Harbinder. Elly says that she loves telling ghost stories. Her inspiration was a place where she teaches creative writing. It is an older home owned by an art patron. It too has a spiral staircase similar to the one in this book.

When young, she used to write her own fan fiction about ‘Starsky and Hutch’. In her stories, the characters sometimes died and it made her readers cry. She wrote her first mystery novel at eleven.

She always wanted to be a writer and when on maternity leave 20 years ago for her twins, she wrote her first book.

Stranger Diaries is a stand alone but Elly is thinking about writing another one with Detective Harbinder as the protagonist.

This book reminds me of a modern Agatha Christie. I have read one of Elly’s Ruth Galloway mysteries and do like her writing style, so I will be adding Elly Griffiths to my favorite authors list.

If you decide to check this one out, let me know what you think. As always feel free to share what you are currently reading.

Will see you again soon,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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A Few of My Favorite Reads

Books Read2

 

“Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” – Susan Sontag

Often when I find it difficult to write, I read. I have been dealing with some life changes, some health related and probably the most difficult was my brother’s death. He was in home hospice for several months before he died this past December. I tried to spend as much time with him as I could while working full-time and trying not to neglect my husband and kids.

I wanted to write but my heart wasn’t in it. During those months when I did have some spare time, I spent much of it reading. That has always been my favorite escape.

As you can see I got through quite a few since September. I discovered some new authors and caught up with some of my favorites.

I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult for years. “Breathing Time” is her newest and it was fantastic. It was one of those stories that surprised me at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. The twists and turns will keep you up late.

Dorothea Benton Frank was an AVID (Author Visiting in Des Moines) author this past year. I picked up a couple of her books and because she talked so much about “Sullivan’s Island”, I bought it even though it was not her most recent book. She said there is a scene in there that actually happened so of course I had to read the book to find out what she was talking about.  I can’t tell you about the scene here, I really think you need to let her tell you about it. If you get a chance to hear her speak, do it. Her stories are women’s fiction – set in the south.

Mary Kay Andrew’s “Christmas Bliss” was one of my holiday choices this year. I love her books. The characters are spunky and you never know what they are going to get into. She is another author I have read for years.

I discovered a new author to me – Julia Keller. I read a couple of hers – “A Killing in the Hills” and “Bitter River”. She has a third out and I plan to get it as soon as I get my to be read pile down a little bit more. Her stories are set in the Appalachia area. Her protagonist is a prosecuting attorney who has a teenage daughter and an ex-husband. Her stories are a little more nitty-gritty about the side of life that isn’t so pretty. She has won awards for more than one of her books. If you like suspense, you will like these.

I met an Iowa author –  Heather Gudenkauf. I had read her first book a while back – ” The Weight of Silence” and didn’t realize that she was from Iowa. This time I read – “These Things Hidden” Her stories are well crafted and will keep you guessing. She also is a great speaker. It was one of those really cold Iowa winter nights that she spoke at the West Des Moines library. I ran into some writer friends and it was so worth it.

My Sisters in Crime group has a book exchange every year at our Christmas party. We share a book that we really liked. This year I got one that had been on my wish list for a while. William Kent Krueger’s “Ordinary Grace”. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. His protagonist told the story of a murder that happened in his hometown when he was a boy. It is no wonder he won so many awards with this book.

The last book on my list is from one of those authors that I have been reading since his first in the series. Alan Bradley writes cozy mysteries with a little girl sleuth named Flavia De Luce. It is set in England in the 1940’s and they are so cleverly written. I have reviewed some of his books here before and I continue to look forward to each new one. This one was “The Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust”. If you like cozy mysteries, you have to check this series out.

One of my goals is to read more this year. I can’t count all of these toward my goal but I am starting with this Alan Bradley novel as my first for this year.

I read for pleasure but I also read because it motivates me to write. I read novels and books on the craft of writing too but novels are what I turn to most. What do you read? Do you set reading goals?

This year I also want to review more, not just here but on Goodreads, Librarything, and Amazon. Do you know that reviewing a book could be one of the best things you could do for your favorite authors?

I hope you add at least one of my suggestions to your to be read pile.

Until next time,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in What I'm Reading

 

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You’re Broke Down in a Snowstorm…

and a stranger offers you a ride. What happens next?

Need something to write about this week – here is a prompt.

Happy writing.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Writing Prompt

 

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What’s Up Wednesday

This has been a fun, busy week. Had two meetings Saturday. Iowa Romance Novelists met in the morning and Sisters in Crime in the afternoon. Katy Madison from the Kansas City chapter of RWA presented a program in the morning – Writing Blind – Revising Brilliant. She is a pantzer who whips through her first draft as soon as possible and then spends her time revising. She broke it down in the steps that she uses to revise. This was a great workshop with six pages of detailed information.  Very thorough. She must be doing something right, she is a 2012 Daphne Award winner.

Sara Humphries gave a talk at the Sisters in Crime meeting about ‘Fifty Shades of Red: A Study of Reader Expectations and the Contemporary Mystery. This lady likes details. She found “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories by S.S. Van Dine from 1928 and we discussed whether each rule was relevant for contemporary mysteries.

We meet the third Saturday of the month and it feels like a monthly mini-conference. I always leave feeling motivated.

I have been writing a scene a day on my current story and feel like it is finally starting to come together. I understand that this will take me a while to complete and will keep pushing forward.

Lots of writing events coming up. The Montezuma Writer’s Conference is mid September and I am going to a Debra Dixon Workshop for ‘Goal, Motivation,and Conflict’ the end of September so I am trying to get as much writing done before those events.

If you live in the area and want any information on either the group meetings or workshops, feel free to comment. I would be happy to share that information with you.

Have a great week writing.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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Agatha Trivia

‘A Murder is Announced’ Trivia

Just finished reading ‘A Murder is Announced’ last night and I would like to review but because it is a book my local chapter of Sisters in Crime is discussing, I don’t want to review it until those followers have read it.

Still I thought it might be kind of fun to do a Trivia quiz for the meeting. I am going to post the quiz here and find out just how many of our members read my blog. Granted, I am not giving the answers but anyone who reads this will have a chance to find the answers before our meeting later this month. Anyone else is welcome to play along as well. After our meeting, the third Saturday of the month, I will post the answers for anyone interested.

  1. ‘A Murder is Announced’ was Agatha’s ________ book published?
  2. Inspector ________________ worked on this case with Miss Marple’s      help.
  3. Names of the lesbian couple in this story _____________________
    and _____________________.
  4. Name of the vicarage cat ________________________________.
  5. What was the time that the murder was supposed to take place?      ____________
  6. What was the name of Bunny’s Birthday cake?      __________________________
  7. Who did Agatha model Miss Marple after?      ______________________________
  8. AT the Bochercon World Mystery Convention in May _________ she was      named Mystery Writer of the Century and the Poirot books Mystery Series of the Century.
  9. What cozy mystery convention features the Agatha award? __________________
  10. Was Agatha a cat lover or a dog lover?    _________________________________

Again, have a happy 4th and enjoy the fireworks – along with a good book.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Mystery Novels

 

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