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An Assortment of Murder Monday

I finished a few books this weekend and am still waiting for more Josephine Tey to arrive at the library so that I can educate myself in the exact and useful science of Face ESP.

Cards on the Table is chock-full of Agatha Christie's fictional detective novelist, Ariadne Oliver, who is a delight and a half. She is a Straw Feminist, eats huge quantities of apples, is overbearing and overconfident but provides valuable information anyway, almost by accident, and is always generous with her opinions on how things work in detective fiction and how things ought to work in life. The conclusion was based too heavily on a gamble -- get it? but I enjoyed it -- lots of engaging murderers, metafictional shop talk, and totally opaque bridge metaphors.

A Burial At Sea was not badly written -- Charles Finch is getting very slightly more confident as a writer, I think -- as a murder mystery, it's pretty decently put together, and as an homage to Age of Sail novels, it's affectionate if maybe a little lazy. There's a two-body plot, international intrigue, imperialism! and plenty of food. Lenox making an effort to befriend the murder victim's father is classic Lenox. But I don't particularly like [Spoiler!]psycho killers, I was a little annoyed with Lenox for "protecting" Jane from information about the case and for overindulging in Angel of the Homeishness in general, and though the pacing was probably about the same as in the other books, I think it felt slower partly due to the lack of familiar characters and dynamics. (Also, thanks for taking almost two hundred pages to realize that Graham's absence requires an explanation, Finch-Lenox!) I'll still be reading the next one, though.

P. D. James' An Unsuitable Job for a Woman is pretty great, even though my copy is distractingly underlined and covered with notes marking the first place each character is described, and indicating where the reader might find examples of MOTIVE and ATMOSPHERE. Cordelia Gray is a likeable character -- a young private investigator whose more experienced partner has just died, she feels out of her depth most of the time, but does all right anyway. I wasn't sure that I liked the ending -- or rather, I disliked it and don't know why yet. I thought the bookstore had the next book in the series, The Skull Beneath the Skin, but we don't, so I guess I'll be visiting the library today whether they have any of Inspector Grant's Face-Reading Adventures for me or not.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Feb. 24th, 2015 08:55 am (UTC)
Ariadne Oliver is great! I also love how she is mostly in Poirot but she randomly turns up in all sorts of Agatha Christie novels, thus proving all these murderers and detectives are in the same world. :-)

The conclusion was based too heavily on a gamble -- get it? but I enjoyed it -- lots of engaging murderers, metafictional shop talk, and totally opaque bridge metaphors.

And when ITV's POirot filmed it, they randomly decided to change the murderer. I lost my faith in them after that. ITV will do that sort of thing with Miss Marple, but they were always rather good with Poirot. And Cards on the Table was Poirot's favourite mystery! He thinks fondly of it ever after! How could they?

Some people have no heart.
evelyn_b
Feb. 24th, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC)
Aw no, what's the point of changing the murderer? To SURPRISE people who have already read the book? I don't care about that! Plus, doesn't it mean you'd have to change the whole deduction-explanation part to fit different facts? Why go to the trouble when it was already plotted out for you?

This seems misguided. :(

lost_spook
Feb. 24th, 2015 05:45 pm (UTC)
Yep, that's about the size of it! I still haven't forgiven them. I'd kind of got used to their Marple being random to the point where you just go with it (in the happy knowledge that we always have the awesome Joan Hickson), but they do usually do better with their Poirot.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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