30 March 2024

Review: FOUL PLAY, Fiona McIntosh

  • This edition available on Amazon in Kindle 
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0CB1YNVX7
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin eBooks (January 9, 2024)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 403 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

Superstar footballer Luca Bruni is being blackmailed for a night of lust he swears he didn’t participate in...except the ransom photo denies that. A media darling on and off the field, he has powerful charisma, a perfect home life he’ll do anything to protect, and more money than he knows what to do with. He’s determined to defy the extortion racket.

When Detective Superintendent Jack Hawksworth learns that the cunning mastermind behind this crime has already swindled a dozen of the world’s most highly prized male athletes, he is instructed to keep the situation from escalating and prevent a media frenzy.

Intrigued by the creativity of the crime and the shockwaves it is creating through the global sporting fraternity, Jack begins a journey into a case that has tentacles far more wide-reaching that he ever imagined – and far more deadly. 

My Take

This is the 5th in this series.

I read the first in 2008, BYE BYE BABY, when the author had decided to use pseudonym Lauren Crow for her crime fiction titles. It was republished under the name Fiona McIntosh in 2013.

Since then there have been a further 3 in the series which I have not read.

Since all 5 titles have the same central characters, there is considerable back story which I am not familiar with. There are some references (and details) in this novel to what has gone before, and probably enough to allow you to read FOUL PLAY as a stand-alone.

Jack Hawksworth has been warned by his commanding officer more than once about mixing his private and professional lives and once again he ignores this warning to the detriment of someone he is using and whom he has promised to protect. Although both Hawksworth and his offsider Kate are supposed to be at the top of their game, they are in many ways unlovely personalities and their actions did affect the way I eventually felt about the book.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read 

4.2, BYE BYE BABY (as Lauren Crow)

From Fantastic Fiction

DCI Jack Hawksworth
   1. Bye Bye Baby (2007)
   2. Beautiful Death (2009)
   3. Mirror Man (2021)
   4. Dead Tide (2023)
   5. Foul Play (2024)

The author has written another 30+ books, mainly fantasy. 

About the author

Originally from Brighton, Fiona McIntosh moved to Australia in her teens and forged a successful career in travel - running a business with her husband - before becoming a writer. She continues her work and on top of this not only writes at least two books a year, but also spearheads the Fab Fantasy Bookclub - Australia's premier fantasy bookclub. She lives in southern Australia with her husband, her two lovely sons, two mad dogs and two insane birds.

24 March 2024

Review: THE NARRATOR, K.L. Slater

  •  This edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLCN1CF4
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bookouture (January 6, 2023Print length ‏ : ‎ 306 pages

Synopsis (Amazon

What if the chance of a perfect life… put your daughter in grave danger?

Being a single mother is tough, but I’d do anything for my little girl Scarlet. I’d given up on my career as a voice actor when the call came, but suddenly I was the new narrator for a secret book from bestselling author Philippa Roberts, who has been missing for eight months. It was a lifeline for me and my daughter.

I hated that it meant leaving Scarlet with my ex in his perfect new home with his perfect new girlfriend. But I knew it was the right thing to do.

But as I start reading Philippa’s new novel, I start to wonder if it’s no coincidence that I’ve been chosen to narrate it. There’s something hidden in the pages of this book, I’m sure of it. Some clue to Philippa’s disappearance. And I don’t feel safe. I think I’m being watched. My room has been searched.

And then my ex’s girlfriend calls in tears and everything starts to click together. If I don’t find answers fast, I’ll lose more than my second chance. I’ll lose my daughter. 

My Take

Eve has been the narrator for all nine of Philippa Roberts' popular crime fiction D.I. Tower series but then Philippa disappeared, Eve's father died, and her marriage collapsed. Now Philippa's tenth novel has turned up and Eve is offered the job of narrator again.

But, as she reads, Eve feels there is something wrong with this novel. It doesn't feel quite right. So she starts asking questions about the disappearance of the novelist, and Eve starts to get threatening messages.

This plot has some good strands and some interesting characters - sure to keep you reading to find out the final answer.

My rating: 4.6

23 March 2024


  •  this edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C8JWHT8S
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster UK (February 29, 2024
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 541 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 006329835X

Synopsis (Amazon)

She’s loved by all who meet her. But someone wants her gone . . .


When beautiful and vivacious Charlotte Salter fails to turn up to her husband Alec’s 50th birthday party, her kids are worried, but Alec is not. As the days pass and there’s still no word from Charlie, her daughter, Etty, and her sons, Niall, Paul and Ollie, all struggle to come to terms with her disappearance.
How can anyone just vanish without a trace?
Left with no answers and in limbo, the Salter children try and go on with their lives, all the while thinking that their mother’s killer is potentially very close to home.


After years away, Etty returns home to the small East Anglian village where she grew up to help move her father into a care home. Now in his eighties, Alec has dementia and often mistakes his daughter for her mother.
Etty is a changed woman from the trouble-free girl she was when Charlie was still around - all the Salter children have spent decades running and hiding from their mother’s disappearance.
But when their childhood friends, Greg and Morgen Ackerley, decide to do a podcast about Charlotte’s disappearance, it seems like the town’s buried secrets – and the Salters’ – might finally come to light.

After all this time, will they finally find out what really happened to Charlotte Salter?

My Take

An absolutely gripping read. 

The story opens with Alec Salter's 50th birthday party, the one that his wife Charlie never appeared at, even though she was expected. The party finished early but Charlie never came home.

A police investigation was held but Charlie was never found. 

And now, 30 years later, Alec has dementia and his children have made the decision to move him into a care home, and to sell the house. A podcast revisits the events of 30 years ago, opens old wounds, and asks locals and family to remember what happened.

Another death results in another police investigation.

There is plenty of opportunity for readers to pit their little grey cells against the evidence and to come up with their own theories of what happened to Charlotte Salter.

My rating: 5.0 

I've also read

Review: DARLING GIRLS, Sally Hepworth

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Macmillan Australia (26 September 2023)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1761262165
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761262166

Synopsis (publisher)

SISTERS, SECRETS, LOVE, AND MURDER... Sally Hepworth's new novel has it all.

For as long as they can remember, Jessica, Norah, and Alicia have been told how lucky they are. As young girls they were rescued from family tragedies and raised by a loving foster mother, Miss Fairchild, on an idyllic farming estate and given an elusive second chance at a happy family life.

But their childhood wasn't the fairy tale everyone thinks it was. Miss Fairchild had rules. Miss Fairchild could be unpredictable. And Miss Fairchild was never, ever to be crossed. In a moment of desperation, the three broke away from Miss Fairchild and thought they were free. Even though they never saw her again, she was always somewhere in the shadows of their minds. When a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects? 

My Take

As always, this novel by Sally Hepworth has an unusual plot with unusual twists, and, as always, gives the reader something to sink their teeth into.

Jessica, Alicia and Norah came to Miss Fairchild as young girls in need of compassion. But there was another side to Miss Fairchild and the girls were very lucky to survive. 

I loved the construction of this novel and there is mystery to work on right from the beginning.

My rating: 4.8 

I've also read


16 March 2024

Review: THE NIGHT SHE FELL, Eileen Merriman

  •  this edition is available on Amazon for Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0CP6X5ZFJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin eBooks (NZ Adult) (March 5, 2024)
  • author website

Synopsis (Amazon)

‘When I last saw Ashleigh, she was lying in a pool of blood . . . Her eyes were open, staring sightlessly into the sky. I’d like to think she saw the stars before she died; that in her last moments she flew, soaring on serotonin, dreamy with dopamine. I’d like to think she didn’t suffer . . .’

A beautiful young law student dies on the concrete below her third-storey window in chilly Dunedin.

It’s clear enough how she died. What isn’t is why — or who’s involved.

Plenty of people had a reason to hate Ashleigh, with her straight As and perfect looks. She’s fallen out with her flatmates, and her boyfriend Xander is having second thoughts about their future together. And then there are the weird messages.

The Night She Fell is a gripping psychological thriller from one of New Zealand's most multi-talented contemporary novelists. 

My Take

This appears to be the author's first adult crime fiction novel.

Set in Dunedin where Ashleigh and Xander are university students living in different flats. Xander is a medical student and Ashleigh a law student. They have been together for seven years but Ashleigh is dominating while her parents have been financially generous to Xander and his family. Xander's eye has been recently caught by Ronnie, a psychology student with a room in Ashleigh's house.

And then one night Ashleigh dies, jumping from a third floor window. It is just a week since she and Xander broke up.

The structure of book centres around Ashleigh's death. The main voices are Xander and Ronnie and the chapters are Before and After.  The puzzle is what caused Ashleigh to jump. Is anyone or anything to blame?

Very engrossing.

My rating: 4.7 

About the author

Several of Eileen Merriman’s young adult novels have been finalists in the NZ Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards, and also Storylines Notable Books. Her first adult novel, Moonlight Sonata, was released in 2019, and was longlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction. Her fourth YA novel, A Trio of Sophies, was released in Australia, New Zealand  and Germany in  2020 and was a finalist in the Ngaio Marsh Crime Awards. Her fourth adult novel, The Night She Fell, is due for release in March 2024. Three of her young adult novels have been optioned for TV or film, including Catch Me When You Fall, for which the prequel, Catch A Falling Star, was released in 2023.

11 March 2024

Review: NOW YOU SEE THEM, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition published by Quercus 2019
  • #5 in the Brighton Mysteries
  • ISBN 978-1-78648-735-3
  • 351 pages
  • author website

Synopsis (author website)

Three girls have left. None have come back.

Brighton, 1963. Edgar Stephens has been promoted to Superintendent and is married to his former sergeant, Emma Holmes. Edgar’s wartime partner in arms, magician Max Mephisto, is a movie star in Hollywood, while his daughter Ruby has her own TV show.

The funeral of an old friend highlights just how much the gang’s lives have changed in the last nine years. Edgar is struggling with fresh responsibilities and the new swinging Brighton of rioting mods and rockers; Emma is chafing against the restrictions of life as a housewife.

Bob Willis, meanwhile, is tackling his biggest case since his promotion to DI: a schoolgirl missing from high-class boarding school Roedean. It looks like she’s run away; but there are disturbing similarities to the disappearances of a young local nurse and a tearaway Modette, neither of whom have been seen or heard from since…

A new world is dawning in Brighton, but the city’s dark side is as dangerous as ever.

My take

The disappearance of 3 young women who have left similar goodbye notes sparks an investigation. And then the body of one of them is discovered and is followed by the disappearance of Ruby Magic, Max Mephisto's daughter. Ruby has also left a note telling people not to worry. But Ruby has missed work, an left her cat locked up in her flat.

Meanwhile Edgar Stephens' wife Emma is very much feeling underused and left out. She was one of the first female detective sergeants  in the country, but she resigned on her marriage. Emma feels she could still make a useful contribution. In the long run it is Emma who eventually works out what has happened to the girls.

Set in the 1960s, the plot definitely shows how things are changing. Max has been asked to accept a role in a film with a film star of some prominence.

My rating: 4.6 

I've also read

10 March 2024

Review: DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER, Craig Sisterson (edit)

  • This edition is available on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B6CQCCJD
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Clan Destine Press (July 1, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 349 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

A vibrant southern constellation of crime writers.

Dark Deeds Down Under features the very best of modern Australian and New Zealand crime and mystery writing.

Spend time with some of your favourite Aussie and Kiwi cops, sleuths and accidental heroes, and meet some edgy new investigators.

A crew of beloved series characters - Corinna Chapman, Hirsch, Sam Shephard, Rowly Sinclair, Nick Chester, Murray Whelan - will lead you down dark alleys to meet our newer heroes - the Nancys, Penny Yee and Matiu, Alex Clayton, Kate Miles - and the stars of some cracking standalone tales.

Travel the criminal trails of two countries. From the dusty Outback to South Island glaciers, from ocean-carved coastlines and craggy mountains to sultry rainforests or Middle Earth valleys, and via sleepy towns to the seething underbellies of our cosmopolitan cities.

The 19 dark deeds herein are perpetrated by:

Alan Carter - Nikki Crutchley - Aoife Clifford - Garry Disher - Helen Vivienne Fletcher - Lisa Fuller - Sulari Gentill - Kerry Greenwood - Narrelle M. Harris - Katherine Kovacic - Shane Maloney - R.W.R. McDonald - Dinuka McKenzie - Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray - Renee - Stephen Ross - Fiona Sussman - Vanda Symon - David Whish-Wilson

My Take

I love short stories but short story collections are always difficult to to review. I try not to say which I've enjoyed most. Ranking them is always too hard. But here is a collection you can pop on your Kindle for the occasional dabble. They are all good representatives of the genre, some of them grittier than others.

So I've decided to list below the authors that I have 'met' before and to list the books that I have read.

The collection has also pointed out to me some authors I should really look for, particularly those  "across the ditch". In reality I've only met the work of  9 of the 19 before, so Craig has done me a service.

But, I've got to say it... the one that will stick with me for a while is Mr Pig by NZ author Stephen Ross.

My rating: 4.6 

I have 'met' the following authors through their books recorded in this blog

Carter, Alan:

Disher, Garry:

Gentill, Sulari:

Greenwood, Kerry:

Kovacic, Katherine:

Maloney, Shane: SUCKED IN

McDonald, R.W.R

Symon, Vanda:

and lastly, but by far not least
Sisterson, Craig: 5.0, SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME

9 March 2024

Review: SUSPECT, Robert Crais

  • This edition available on Amazon for Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00AZ0HGJI
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Orion (January 17, 2013)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 418 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 0425278271

Synopsis (Amazon)

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking late-night assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty - until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing out explosives before losing her handler to an IED.

They are each other's last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find takes them both on a journey through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

My Take

I have read this book for discussion with my U3A Crime Fiction Reading Group.

If Maggie had been a human Marine, not a dog, she would be decorated, as it is she is under notice. Shape up or ship out! The same is true of her new human alpha, LAPD cop Scott James. In reality he should be retired. Both he and Maggie have been injured on duty, and both are struggling to resume a working life. They both suffer from PTSD and are temporarily part of the LAPD K-9 unit but the odds are stacked against them.

  • both react badly to loud sudden noises
  • both have long lingering injuries.

Among the questions I am going to ask my group are those relating to the meaning of the book's title, because I think there is more than one. So, what is it that helps Scott and Maggie work together? What attributes does Maggie have that are of most use to Scott in his search for the killers of his former partner?

Crais attempts to make Maggie a real character, even to the point of getting inside her head, telling us how she sees her new partner. For Scott there is a real learning journey. He has never had a dog before, and has a lot to learn about how to treat Maggie.

In a sequel to this novel THE PROMISE, Crais decided to bring this pair into his Elvis Cole series but there don't appear to be any mention of them after that.

I will be interested to see how my group react to this novel - for some of them it will not be their cup of tea. I should explain that in the case of this group we read sets of books supplied by our local library so I didn't actual choose this book specifically, just a title from a list.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read


Review: A SWEEPING DARKNESS, Inferno Trilogy 3, G.R.Jordan

  •  this edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLP5MWZ8
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (January 1, 2023
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 210 pages
  • #24 Highlands and Islands Detectives

Synopsis (Amazon)

The public weeps as the killings begin again. With the chase now on, agendas are quickly accelerated. Can Macleod and McGrath pull together a ragged investigation to stop an unholy sacrifice?

Reinstated but still under the public glare, DI Macleod knows that the dark cult responsible for the first deaths are now feeling the pressure. Tales of brutality and sacrifice run rife leaving Macleod to sort rumour from reality. As the true nature of what the cult intends to do comes to light, Seoras and Hope find themselves in a desperate race to find missing children and Ross's adopted child.

For the love of God, he has to find them!

My Take:

The Infernal Trilogy races to its breathtaking conclusion. MacLeod and his team has to find the final meeting place of the cult as well as locate seven children selected for sacrifice.

An impressively constructed story. 

My rating:  4.5

I have read

3 March 2024

Review: A COMMON MAN, Inferno Trilogy 2, G. R. Jordan

  • this edition available from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLP9G14P
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (December 11, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 222 pages
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 23 

Synopsis (Amazon)

Removed from his post and cast aside by his superiors. Without authority and any resources to call to hand. Can Macleod operate from the dark and hunt down the mysterious group before another child dies?

Having been sidelined from the investigation and fast tracked for an early retirement, DI Macleod knows that the child killer is still on the loose. With the assistance of his injured Colleague, DS Urquhart, Macleod finds himself operating beyond the law for the first time in his career. With DS McGrath increasingly frustrated by the glory hunting DCI, Macleod must pull whatever resources he can to bring about the arrest of the dark band of brothers before another innocent suffers.

With Hope removed, you need a rottweiler at your heels! 

My Take

Warning: don't start this until you have read THE DEATH OF MACLEOD, Inferno Trilogy 1.

Spoiler: in the first in the Trilogy, Macleod had a falling out with the new DCI and has gone on indefinite leave. Clarissa was injured in that novel and so she is on leave too. None of Macleod's team are meant to be in contact with him.

This novel further explores the dynamics that holds this team together. The trilogy has one more title to go.

My rating: 4.6 

I've read

Review: THE DEATH OF MACLEOD: Inferno Trilogy 1, G.R. Jordan

  • this book available from Amazon on Kindle
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 22
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BLZQ6FCS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (November 9, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 9, 2022

Synopsis (Amazon)

A slaughter of innocents. A crazed public demands vengeance from any source. Can Macleod hold his poise amidst a cry for blood before justice?

When a heinous crime against children provokes a national outcry, Detective Inspector Macleod and his team are under pressure for results like never before. As the murders continue, top brass demands a scapegoat at all costs. But when Detective Sergeant McGrath suspects evidence has been planted to sate the public’s bloodlust, can Macleod find the real killer before the public tears their sacrificial lamb apart?

Today in the crucible, tomorrow the gallows.

My Take

These stories continue to hold my attention. 

Macleod has a new DCI who sees Macleod as a managerial challenge. When Macleod comes up with a radical interpretation of the ghastly events that are occurring, the DCI insists that he is wrong and forces Macleod to take action that he feels is wrong.

There can only be one result.

The author has chosen to break this story into 3 parts, hence the title.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

Review: THE THIRTEEN PROBLEMS, Agatha Christie

  • first published 1932
  • this edition published by Harper Collins 2021
  • ISBN 978-0-00-850935-4
  • 231 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

Follow the ingenious mysteries of the ‘Tuesday Night Club’ with this hardback special edition of Agatha Christie’s beloved classic.

‘Well,’ said Joyce, ‘it seems to me we are a pretty representative gathering. How would it be if we formed a Club? What is today? Tuesday? We will call it The Tuesday Night Club. It is to meet every week, and each member in turn has to propound a problem. Some mystery of which they have personal knowledge, and to which, of course, they know the answer.’

Two years before The Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie first introduced the world to Jane Marple and the stories of murder and intrigue told by each member of the Tuesday Night Club. Time and time again, crimes so wicked they have confounded even Scotland Yard’s finest are solved by St Mary Mead’s sharpest mind and everyone’s favourite armchair.

Additional information

THE THIRTEEN PROBLEMS consists of 13 short stories, all dedicated to demonstrating the cleverness of Miss Marple, who mainly solves the mysteries by comparing them to her observations of life in St. Mary Mead. The stories marked the debut of Miss Marple. The first set were published in 1927-28, and therefore preceded her debut novel THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE which was published in 1930.

The first story is The Tuesday Night Club and it sets the scene for the next 5 stories.
The author Raymond West is staying with his aunt, Jane Marple in the village of St. Mary Mead.
Apart from Raymond and Miss Marple, there are four other people in the room, the occasion simply an evening in MissMarple's house. Other people might play charades but Raymond West suggests they think about unsolved mysteries. One of the guests suggests they form a club, call it the Tuesday Night Club, to meet every week, and each member has to propound a problem. It seems at first that Miss Marple will be left out but the others courteously include her.
As the evening progresses, each of the guests tells a story, and then the others each attempt a solution. Invariably the story teller knows the answer and only Miss Marple guesses correctly.

The stories generated are

  • The Tuesday Night Club - Sir Henry Clithering, until recently Commissioner of Scotland Yard, tells a tale about tinned lobster that caused a fatal case of food poisoning. December 1927.
  • The Idol House of Astarte - Dr. Pender is an elderly clergyman. He tells the story of paganism and the time when he saw a man "stricken to death by apparently no mortal agency". January 1928.
  • Ingots of Gold - this story is recounted by Raymond West and is about a Cornish village called Rathole (a sly dig at the real village of Mousehole?) and treasure from the Spanish Armada. February 1928.
  • The Bloodstained Pavement - Joyce Lempriere, the artist, also tells a tale from the village of Rathole, of a husband and wife playing the cruellest trick of all, the duping and eventual murder of another woman. March 1928.
  • Motive & Opportunity - Mr Petherick is a solicitor, "a dried-up little man with eyeglasses which he looked over and not through." His tale is of spiritualism and of a will that is eventually found to be a blank sheet of paper. April 1928.
  • The Thumb Mark of St. Peter - this is Miss Marple's story, about her niece Mabel who married a man with a violent temper, and who is suspected by the locals of causing his death. May 1928.
The proposed Tuesday Night Club doesn't seem to have met again, or at least not regularly as was first proposed.

Some months later, Sir Henry Clithering goes to stay with friends, Colonel and Mrs Bantry who live near St. Mary Mead. Mrs Bantry is arranging a dinner party and Sir Henry suggests Miss Marple as the sixth person for the party. He mentions the memorable evening the year before in Miss Marple's house. Mrs Bantry adds Miss Marple to the invitations and suggests they try her out on "Arthur's ghost story" after dinner. There are 6 people at the dinner table and after dinner the stories are told.
  • The Blue Geranium - This is Colonel Arthur Bantry's tale. He is a red-faced, broad shouldered man who tells his "ghost story" at his wife Dolly's prompting. It is about a "dreadful" woman who had a weakness for fortune tellers, palmists and clairvoyantes, until the latest warns her against blue flowers, and the flowers on her bedroom wallpaper begin to change colour. December 1929.
  • The Companion - Dr. Lloyd is the grizzled elderly doctor who for the past 5 years has administered to the ailments of the village of St. Mary Mead. His tale is from time he spent practsing on the Canary Islands. Tragedy struck when two English ladies, one the paid companion of the other, came to stay, went swimming, and the companion drowned. February 1930.
  • The Four Suspects - Sir Henry Clithering tells the story of a marked man, hiding from a secret society, to whom he assigns a protector. Unfortunately the man is still killed, in an apparent accident falling down the stairs, but Clithering suspects the very man he sent in as the protector. January 1930.
  • A Christmas Tragedy - Mrs Bantry, Dolly, protests she doesn't have a tale to tell, so Miss Marple tells the story of the murder of a young wife, she had been convinced would happen, and failed to prevent. January 1930.
  • The Herb of Death - Mrs Bantry can't get out of telling a tale, and so she tells a tale of what had appeared to be a case of accidental poisoning when foxglove leaves were picked with sage, and roast duck stuffed with the mixture. But even she doesn't see what really happened, but Miss Marple works it out. March 1930.
  • The Affair of the Bungalow - Jane Helier, a beautiful young actress, tells the story of a "close friend" but Miss Marple sees through it and gives her some timely advice. May 1930.

The final story does not come from either of the preceding occasions, but is a collaboration between Sir Henry Clithering, again staying with the Bantrys, and consulted by Miss Marple, who says she knows who has committed a local murder.

Death by Drowning - a local St. Mary Mead girl has been drowned. At first it is thought to be suicide but Miss Marple is convinced it is murder. She asks Sir Henry to intervene in the local investigation to ensure that the true murderer is apprehended. She gives Sir Henry a slip of paper with the name of the murderer on it. November 1931.

My Take

I have re-read these for discussion with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading group.

This is an interesting collection of short stories, a little patchy. I thought the first six were the best.

We have already read the last story (Death by Drowning) which was reprinted recently in the collection A DEADLY AFFAIR: unexpected love stories

One of the questions that I will ask in our discussion is what they think of the image created of Miss Marple. Does it fit the one which we see in the videos and films?

Miss Marple (as she is affectionately known) is a tall, thin woman of between 65 and 70 years of age. She has white snowy hair, pale blue eyes, and a pinkish wrinkled face. Two of her hobbies (and subjects of conversation) are bird watching and gardening, and she is often seen carrying knitting needles and yarn.

Here is the description from the opening page of The Tuesday Night Club:

... she sat erect in the big grand-father chair. Miss Marple wore a black brocade dress, very much pinched in around the waist. Mechlin lace was arranged in a cascade down the front of the bodice. She had on black mittens, and a black lace cap surmounted the piled-up masses of her snowy hair. She was knitting - something white and soft and fleecy. Her faded blue eyes, benignant and kindly, surveyed her nephew and her nephew's guests with gentle pleasure. 

My other question is about what sort of person she is. Is she always kind and benign or do we sometimes see another side of her? 

My rating: 4.5

My first reviews:

My list of Agatha Christie novels


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