Friday, May 31, 2024

The Crackler by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24

💸 Tommy and Tuppence are longing to have a bonafide case - the kind you'd read from Edgar Wallace - and their wish came true when Inspector Marriot arrived with a new mission: tracking down a gang of bank notes forgers. And with that, Tommy coined the word 'crackler' that points to a money forger - the word derived from the crackle of a bank note.

💸 The case is a straight forward one. Inspector Marriot gave them a hint that the bank notes seemed to circulate around the Laidlaw family. Major Laidlaw was often involved with racing and gambling, while his beautiful French wife always gathered some men on her entourage. They seemed to have plenty of money. So, after learning to spot forged bank notes from the Inspector, the couple got themselves into the Laidlaw's circle, and took action.

💸 Like I said, it's a pretty straightforward case. There's a tiny plot twist and a little bit of action, but the main interest of the story is only from the witty banters of the Beresfords. Not a memorable case, but a nice little reading nonetheless.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

#CCSpin: Stormy, Misty's Foal (1963) by Marguerite Henry

🐴 First of all, my initial #CCSpin #37 book, that is no. 8 of my list, was The Duchess of Bloombury Street. However, upon checking my Google Playbook - which is one of the sources for my readings nowadays - I found out that, alas, 'this item isn't available in your country'. That was annoying, because I had wanted to read that book, and now, apparently, I can't. Well, until it's available again (will they?) I can't read it! Anyway, as I couldn't get hold of the book, I switched to no. 9: Stormy, Misty's Foal, which proved to be a success! 

🐴 Based on historical real-life story of equine and human characters, Stormy, Misty's Foal is a children novel (third of a series) set in Chincoteague island in Virginia (now made famous by this series). The nearest island is Assateague, which is famous for its wild ponies.

🐴 The Beebes are the owner of Beebe Ranch, the family consisted of Mr. Beebe and his wife, who lived there with Paul and Maureen, their grandchildren. Paul and Maureen, aged around thirteen, own a horse called Misty, which was foaled from wild horses in Assateague (its story was told in the first book).

🐴 Misty was now close to foaling, but what made the family more anxious is the beginning of storm that hit their land with hurricane and floods. It was a prelude of the famous Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, one of ten most disastrous storms in the US history of 20th century. The Beebes must evacuate from their beloved ranch by helicopter, but they could neither bring Misty with them nor leave her alone in the stable. So, they put her in the kitchen with enough hay for the time being, then left their house.

🐴 Most of the story was about the struggles of the Chincoteaguers in dealing with the disaster. Through these vignettes we are brought to see how humanity triumphed over devastation. Their heroic salvation of their fellow human beings run parallel with their indefatigable efforts to save the animals from perish.

🐴 Reading my review you would think this is a bleak story; but it's not. There are the sense of hope and triumph throughout the story, sprinkled with humour and kindness, that will warm you heart. If you love horses, then this story would doubly entertain you. It's a satisfying feeling when a horse delivers its foal safely onto the world, right? (this is not a spoiler, as the title had hinted it) All in all, this was a wonderful reading for me, I loved every moment of it!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Monday, May 27, 2024

The Sign in the Sky by Agatha Christie #AgathaChristieSS24

💙 Here is another story of Mr. Satterthwaite solving a murder mystery with the help of his enigmatic friend Mr. Harley Quin. It begins when a young man was sentenced for murdering a lady with whom he had had an affair. Mr. Satterthwaite attended the trial and wasn't satisfied with the result, though he didn't know why, and would have never thought of doing anything about it if he hadn't bumped into Mr. Harley Quin.

💙 The meeting took place in a restaurant Mr. Satterthwaite frequented. Their conversation was around the murder case, and slowly but subtly Mr. Harley Quin guided Mr. Satterthwaite to act quickly before the young man was hanged.

💙 It apparently happened that all of the servants had given evidence at both the inquest and trial; all but one. And this was the one lead that Mr. Satterthwaite should follow to reveal the truth. It's rather funny how Quin encouraged Mr. Satterthwaite to take a journey to Canada, which he (Satterthwaite) refused indignantly at first, but in the end enjoyed the trip.

💙 It's the kind of mystery we are familiar with from Christie - simple, reasonable, and clever. And that is why, I think, I begin to enjoy these short stories - the satisfaction of completely following the case's detail (which are more straightforward than novels because of the shortness of the story) and finding the solution by my own. I mean plot twists are exciting, but sometimes it feels good to have guessed a mystery correctly!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Six Books Saturday #9: Favorites from A Century of Books (so far)

is my personal monthly bookish meme, inspired by Six Words Saturday, which I've stumbled upon @ Travel with Intent. It's basically to list six books of random category, which I'd decided on the spot. Anything is possible according to my whim. I post Six Books Saturday on last Saturday of each month. If you're interested, you are, of course, welcomed to join me. There's no rule, really. You can post six anything about books. 

If you have been following this blog long enough, you've probably noticed that I am doing a personal challenge/project of A Century of Books - reading 100 books in two years, one book for each year. I am following Simon's idea, by the way. Intending to read 50 books this year, I have now up to 19 done. Not bad at all, eh?

So, for this month's Six Saturday Books, I'll do some kind of review of my A Century of Books, by rating six of my most favorites.


6. The Man Who Died Twice (Richard Osman)

5. The Cornish Coast Murder (John Bude)

4. The Easy Life in Kamusari (Shion Miura)

3. Cigarette Girl (Ratih Kumala)

2. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Dorothy Gilman)

1. Scarlet Feather (Maeve Binchy)

Have you read any of them? Which one is your favorite?

Next Six Books Saturday: 29th June 2024.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

In the Market for Murder (2015) by T.E. Kinsey: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #2

🥧 The duo Lady Hardcastle and her maid Florence Armstrong are back in a new murder mystery. It's 1909, several months has elapsed from the end of 1st book (A Quiet Life in the Country) where Lady Hardcastle was injured. She is now recovered, but is bored and dejected. So, her friend and neighbor in the little village of Littleton Cotterell, Lady Farley-Strouds, brings her and Flo to the cattle market in Chipping Bevington during market day. The fun trip is capped with a visit to the local pub, enjoying its delicious beef and mushroom pie, while at the same time being introduced to the local farmers.

🥧 A week after, also during market day, one of the farmers, a Spencer Carradine, was found dead at the same pub, while eating the same beef and mushroom pie. Inspector Oliver Sunderland requested Lady Hardcastle to help him in the investigation, as he's quite busy at that moment. A request which, of course, was warmly welcomed by our duo.

🥧 A case which seemed at first to be simple, proved otherwise. The deceased made everyone's life miserable, and he quarreled with them often. Everyone could be suspect, then. Moreover, the police couldn't decide on what caused the death. It seemed like poison, but it could also be something else. Being stuck in the investigation, Lady Hardcastle and Flo were by no means idle. Two small mysteries unexpectedly appeared.

🥧 First, the local rugby club lost its precious memento - robbery? Then, a seance, in which Lady Hardcastle and Flo participated for fun, turned nasty when a "spirit" accused one of the guest of committing murder in the past. Who, or "what" caused it? Of course, our duo finally solved the cases nicely, just in time when a revelation from unexpected quarter turned up, and... eureka! Lady Hardcastle solved the murder mystery!

🥧 Just like its predecessor, In the Market for Murder is a light, humorous, charming story. The dynamic and unconventional relationship of the lady and the maid is one unique point of this series, and their everyday life in the countryside village forms a charming backdrop to every crime mystery comes their way. My only complaint is that I feel Flo's rudeness to her boss is a bit too impertinent to my liking. The rest is just refreshing and charming. Now I can't wait to read the third, which, as the end of this book hinted, sounds interesting!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monday, May 20, 2024

Frenchman's Creek (1941) by Daphne du Maurier

🛶 Frenchman's Creek is set in the 17th century of Cornwall. After my first acquaintance with du Maurier through Rebecca (loved it), I have since read My Cousin Rachel (quite like it, though not as wholesome as Rebecca). I've been wondering what to read next, when I read The Cornwall Sabbatical (a memoir) by Jonathan E. Cox last year, where Frenchman's Creek and Jamaica Inn (both are set in Cornwall) were mentioned. Then I knew what I should pick for next read. I found that Frenchman's Creek is in very different league with Rebecca, though equally entertaining.

🛶 Dona, the Lady St. Columb, was thirty, and mother of two children. Bored with the frivolousness of London's high society, and, partly, with her dull and foolish husband, Dona fled with the children to their ancestors' house in Cornwall, the Navron house.

🛶 She felt peaceful at first, but began to notice mysterious things like a jar of tobacco and a poetry book inside her bedroom's drawer, whom do they belong to? William, the butler? Very unlikely... Then, there's a secret meeting between William and a man at night outside the house. Who is he, and what they're discussing? Then one day Dona took a walk along the stream towards the river, and accidentally found a beautiful and secluded little creek. And there, totally hidden from outsiders' sight, a ship was anchored - a pirate ship!

🛶 There had been concern among the gentries in the village. A group of French pirates had been robbing their belongings for sometimes, but they failed to catch them. But they had had enough, and now, helped by some soldiers, they intended to capture and hang the pirates, especially the captain, a Frenchman called Jean-Benoit Aubéry.

🛶 The same Frenchman captured Dona during her walk, but rather than afraid, she was fascinated by the ship, the captain (a cultured and pleasant man), and by the overall idea of freedom, adventure, a bit of danger, and excitement of pirating. Moreover, she began to fall in love with the Frenchman - a feeling reciprocated by the other.

🛶 Now, what will Dona do - will she let her foolish husband and his peers capture and hang her lover, keep her love affair a secret, then be back to her London life as a wife and mother? Or will she throw her former life away, fight against the hypocrite landlords, and embrace the Frenchman's offer of a new life of love and freedom she really wanted? Whichever option she'd pick, it shows how unfortunate to be born as a woman in that era!

🛶 If you think this is a pure romance story, you're wrong. There's still the trace of du Maurier's remarkable quality of gothic-thriller writing, and vivid story-telling in this book. The romance and adventures just made this book more entertaining, with a touch of deeper subject of women's constraint versus men's freedom.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday, May 17, 2024

But Not for Me (Kay Schiffner Mysteries #1) by Allison A. Davis #NetGalley

Thanks to Bronzeville Books and NetGalley for providing me review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

🎷 1958 - what was happening in that year? Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Rock 'n' Roll, Cha-cha dance? For some of the Baby Boomers of that era, like my parents, they were. But for Kay Schiffner, it's the Jazz. And the only place where a jazz pianist could play in public at that time was at the clubs or restaurants for coloured people. Yes, segregation would have been ended by then in San Beatniks, Eisenhower, Fillmore District, but for white people like Kay, to mingle with coloured people would be highly frowned upon.

🎷 Kay Schiffner was a lawyer. For a woman to be independent was also to be frowned upon at that time. Men didn't like women to have career, let alone be prosperous in her own business like Leitisha Boone. Her club, The Blue Moon, where Kay often played, was threatened by redevelopment.

🎷 When a prominent black businessman who opposed the redevelopment was murdered, Leitisha was accused and imprisoned. It's up to Kay and Thursday Zimpel, a white Detective Inspector who was concerned with injustice against black people, to reveal the truth and bring justice.

🎷 This is a combination of a murder mystery and a poignant tale of racial injustice and prejudices, of women's struggles for freedom and recognition. Add the unique atmosphere and pop culture of the 1950s into it, and you'll be entertained as well as inspired. A series I can't wait to read through!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

**But Not for Me will be published in September 17th, 2024**

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

20 Books of Summer (but not really summer) 2024 #20BooksOfSummer24

Yay, #20BooksofSummer24 is back! I have first joined last year, and it’s a blast. After a long monsoon season that felt like forever (I hate humidity!!), and then the transition to dry season with its heat, I can’t wait to get to June. June and July are usually the best weather of the year here, the air is cooler with gentle breeze. When August come, it usually begins to be drafty and drier. Therefore, June always feels like a new life to me. With it, a new excitement, reading wise. I thank Cathy @ 746 Books to host yet another 20 Books of Summer (but not really summer for me) – and it’s the 10th year (bravo, Cathy!) Here’s my list:

My 20 Books of Summer:

Blitzcat by Robert Westall – for #ReadingtheMeow2024
The Cat Who Could Read Backward by Lilian Jackson Braun – for #ReadingtheMeow2024
The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency by Mandy Morton – for #ReadingtheMeow2024
The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White – for A Century of Books (1936)
Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie – for A Century of Books (1944)
Snow by Benjamin Black (John Banville) – for #johnbanville2024
Madame, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart – for #ParisInJuly2024
Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley – for #ParisInJuly2024
The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Féret-Fleury – for #ParisInJuly2024
Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker – for #ParisInJuly2024
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson – for #MoominWeek
The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson – for #MoominWeek
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald – for A Century of Books (1978)
Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo – for A Century of Books (1982)
Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym – for A Century of Books (1953)
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Mystery of the Peacock's Eye by Brian Flynn – for A Century of Books (1928)
Miss Plum and Miss Penny by Dorothy Evelyn Smith

Alternatives – just in case I fail with the original list, or simply change my mind…

The Blue Guitar by John Banville
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb
The Cat Who Caught a Killer by L.T. Shearer
Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

Spot a favorite or two from my list? Or books you have read or are in your TBR? Let me know in the comment section!

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Cornish Coast Murder (1935) by John Bude

🔵 Reverend Dodd and his best friend Doctor Pendrill love to spend their Friday evenings together by the fireside, discussing detective novels they had just buddy-read, and each would, alternately, bring some more detective novels to be perused before their next meeting. Some authors they cherish are Edgar Wallace, J.S. Fletcher, Farjeon, Sayer, Freeman-Willscroft, and "my dear old friend Christie". That's one thing I've been dreaming to do after my retirement - hopefully I'd find the perfect friend to do it with when the time comes!

🔵 One stormy night, on one of those meetings, Doctor Pendrill is summoned to the neighboring house, because one Julius Tregarthan, an ill-tempered man who quarreled with everybody, was found dead, with a bullet through his head. A murder! A real one, not in a novel.

🔵 The investigator, Inspector Bigswell from Boskawen police force, puzzled over the case as it has limited clues, besides some of the strangest things that he found. Three bullets were shot from outside the victim's study in three wide ranges of direction - only one of it got through the victim. Then sets of footprints they had found were also inexplicable. Bigswell's suspects are Miss Tregarthen (the deceased's niece), and her lover, a writer who inexplicably left his abode on a hurry on the night of the murder, and seemed just to vanish.

🔵 Inspector Bigswell is fortunate that the local vicar is surprisingly not only good at delivering sermons, but is equally good at deduction. The combination of Bigswell's investigating experience and Reverend Dodd's insight of human nature bring in a beautiful conclusion to this simple-but-complicated mystery.

🔵 It was a super fun read, and a celebration of the Golden Age crime novel. The Cornish coast, with its sea, boats, and all, isn't only the nice background, but it forms an essential character of the crime itself. Bravo!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Friday, May 10, 2024

Danger Calling (1931) by Patricia Wentworth: Benbow Smith Mystery #2

👨‍🦰 This is the second book in the Benbow Smith mystery, a combination of spy, adventure, and charming romance mysteries. After reading the first: Fool Errant last year, I can't wait to dig into this one. I found it almost as entertaining as its predecessor, though with a bit less of exciting and dangerous actions. It's a pity too that the main characters are different from the first one (I loved them more). But we get more appearances of Benbow Smith and his beloved parrot Ananias in this one,'s not that bad after all.

👨‍🦰 Lindsay Trevor, a junior partner in a publishing firm and is engaged to be married in two weeks time, met a stranger on board a train, and was asked if he's willing to die for his country. Yes, the stranger is none other than Mr. Benbow Smith, a prominent figure in British intelligent service. Trevor was in the secret service himself during war, but it's twelve years ago. Now he can't be bothered any longer by that kind of activity - or can he?

👨‍🦰 When Lindsay's betrothed called off the wedding only a few days before without reason, the broken-hearted young man didn't think twice when Benbow Smith renewed his offer. Lindsay Trevor is announced dead of accident, and after dyeing his hair red and changed his voice, he impersonates the former agent, secretary to a prominent man who was suspected as the mastermind behind some worldwide unrest (strikes, incendiary newspaper articles, and so on).

👨‍🦰 Lindsay soon plunged into this sinister world, full with blackmail, kidnap, poisonous snakes, and dubious character. But in the center of it, there are some romances going on, and of course, some witty hilarious scenes too. All in all, it made an entertaining read, though the plot is rather farfetched compared to its predecessor.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Sunbirds (2024) by Penelope Slocombe #NetGalley

Thanks to John Murray Press and NetGalley for providing me review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

🐦 This is not a book about birds, but about people. People who long for freedom that seems to be possessed only by birds. People who, just like birds, fly high, leaving the present place to another, whenever it likes to, without responsibility, without reserve. The question is, is it possible for human being to take the same way of life as of birds?

🐦 Torran was 18 when he left home in Taigh na Criege, Scotland, to go for a spiritual journey to India in 1997. One day he walked out of his hotel in Himalayan town of Manali, and disappeared. For months his parents had searched everywhere without avail. They didn't even know whether their only son was dead or still alive.

🐦 Seven years later, someone gave them a tip that Torran is alive, living happily in a secluded community away in Himalaya, a place called Sunshine House. Once again Anne went to Himalaya to find her son. Could she find him at last? Or more precisely, did he want to be found?

🐦 This is Penelope Slocombe's debut book, and she's inspired by real life phenomenon. Nearly two dozen Western travelers had disappeared in Northern India’s Kullu Valley between the mid 1990s and the early 2000s. I never get the idea of these hippies, my question along the story was reflected in Esther's (Torran's cousin) comment: "How could one person hold their own needs and desires so high above everyone else's?" I mean... the boy could have let the parents know that he's not coming back, that he'd found his way of living, and please leave me alone. The parents would be devastating, of course, but at least they'll get closure. Disappearing like that is just mean and selfish.

🐦 On the whole, this is quite a poignant story of helplessness, of coping with daily struggles. Anne, the mother, felt that she's not a good mom no matter how hard she tries. And through the story we meet others who feel trapped in the world he or she is at present, and the long to break free, which in my opinion, is simply irresponsibility. I loved the Himalayan, back-to-the-nature themes; loved the birds appearances - a purple sunbird, a blue-throated barber, and a whistling thrush - but found the ending is rather inconclusive. I have a feeling the author purposely made it like that to emphasize the tone of the book, but I just dislike stories that aren't rounded up nicely at the end.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

**Sunbirds will be published on August 1st, 2024**

Monday, May 6, 2024

#MurderEveryMonday: Cover with the 'Secret' on the Title

Murder Every Monday
was created by Kate @ Crossexamining Crime and @ArmchairSleuth. Put simply, the plan is for readers to take a photo of a crime fiction book (novel or short story collection) which meets a given week’s theme criteria and to then share it online, using the hashtag #MurderEveryMonday.

This week's theme is:

Cover with the 'secret' on the title

Have your read any of them? Which cover(s) do you like most?

If you want to participate, here's the list of the weekly theme.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Six Degree of Separation, from The Anniversary to Away with the Penguins

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme, now hosted by Kate @ books are my favorite and best.

On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

This month we start from yet another book I haven't read:

0. The Anniversary by Stephanie Bishop

The Anniversary is a simmering page-turner about an ascendant writer, the unresolved death of her husband, and what it takes to emerge on her own. It’s a novel that asks: how legible, in the mind of the writer, is the line between reality and plot? How do we refuse the people we desire? And what is the cost, to ourselves, to others and to our art, if we don’t? [Goodreads]

For my first link on the chain, I pick a murder mystery that centers on the anniversary of a wife's death:

1. The Crooked Wreath by Christianna Brand

Excerpt from my review:

"Sir Richard Marsh is a wealthy man; the owner of Swanswater estate, but he's turned a bitter man. When his wife, Serafita, was still alive, he had cheated on her. After her death, Sir Richard married Bella, his mistress. But, perhaps out of guilt, he made in his house a shrine for Serafita, complete with her portrait, and a wreath. Her ballet shoes were also kept around the house (she was a ballerina). Every anniversary of her death, he made his family gather around this shrine to do a kind of memorial ceremony." Here's the complete review.

The word "crooked" from the title forms the link to the next book. Also, both book have a character who loves ballet.

2. Crooked House by Agatha Christie

"The Leonides are one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That is until the head of the household, Aristide, is murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection." [Goodreads]

The most memorable character in this book is Josephine, the victim's granddaughter who loves ballet. Another book with another memorable Josephine is...

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Excerpt from my review:
"From the four sisters, I think Amy is the most natural one, for her age. Beth is too good to be true; she is more like an angel than a little child! Megan and Jo are typical contradiction in books’ characters; they even reminded me of Anne and George in Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five. It seems that girls are mostly divided into two categories. The feminine ones love pretty dresses, play with dolls, like to cook, and always think about getting a husband. While the tomboy ones like to be called with boy’s names, dislike dresses." Here's the complete review.

The four sisters remind me instantly of the other four sisters, who I like better:

4. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Excerpt from my review
"It's four years after their mother's death, the Penderwick sisters live on Gardam Street, still with their father, and the dog. Rosalind, the elder, has grown up to be the little housewife of the family. She's responsible, much matured for her age, and little Batty - the youngest - depends on her much like a child to a mother (she can't sleep before Rosalind tells her a story - nobody can tell stories like Rosalind!). The second sister Skye is the tomboy (like Jo in Little Women?) and the most intelligent one. She's obsessed with math, logics, and scientific stuffs. Jane, on the contrary, is the most imaginative and romantic one in the family. She's the poet and writer. Last but not least, is little Batty, the imaginative kid who loves animals." Check also my complete review.

The next link would be another middle grade novel with a widower father and his daughter in the center:

5. The Cryptid Files: Loch Ness by Jean Flitcroft

Excerpt from my review:
"It's been four years since Vanessa's mother died, and unlike her twin brothers Luke and Ronan, who's getting on with life nicely, Vanessa's heart is still gripped with anger and grief she's unable to cope with. Her father's growing intimacy with his girlfriend Lee doesn't make it any easier. Now her father's proposing a family holiday in Scotland, which Vanessa would've accepted gratefully, if his father hadn't mentioned that Lee is coming too. Not only coming along, she realized later on that they are staying at her house!" And here's the complete version.

One of the most interesting parts of this book is the unexpected bond with an animal that is live changing. Another book with the same trope which is equally heartwarming is...

6. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Excerpt from my review:
"Three scientists do research on how to save Penguins in a colony in Antarctica, but they are in financial difficulty. Veronica is eager to leave her money for this research, and despite the scientist team's warning that their quarter is by no means adequate to accommodate an elderly, Veronica stubbornly comes to Antarctica to see the penguins. What'll happen next? Will Veronica change the penguins? Or is it her life that will be changed by the penguins?". You can read the complete review here.

Have you read those books? If you do #sixdegree, how it worked out for you this time?

Friday, May 3, 2024

Agatha Christie Short Stories 2024: MAY #AgathaChristieSS24

May is finally here, and I am looking forward to a milder weather here where I live, and a calmer month in general. Let's see what kind of stories we are going to read!


It's another Harley Quin's story, in which Mr. Satterthwaite attends the trial of a young man accused of murder. Shortly after the guilty verdict is returned, Satterthwaite runs into Harley Quin. Can they prove the man innocent? Or is he actually a murderer?

The story was first published in book form in the collection The Mysterious Mr Quin, published by Collins in 1930, which altered the title slightly from the original magazine publication's A Sign in the Sky. The collection was dedicated to its eponymous hero and is the only book of Agatha Christie's to be dedicated to a fictional character!


Tommy and Tuppence are sleuthing again after a clever counterfeiter who has been flooding both sides of the Channel with phoney bank notes. This story sees the Beresfords as the Busies, in an Edgar Wallace-type adventure, which parodies Wallace’s slapdash, action-laden thrillers. "We need several hundreds of yards of extra book shelf if Edgar Wallace is to be properly represented" Tuppence says at one point, referring to Wallace’s vast output.

This story was published by Collins in the collection Partners in Crime, 1929, and the title was changed from The Affair of the Forged Notes to The Crackler. It was adapted for radio in 1953, starring Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim. It also featured in the 1983 TV series Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime, with Francesca Annis and James Warwick.

Both stories seem quite fun, don't they? Happy reading, and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Zoladdiction 2024 Wrap-Up

May is here, and it means that Zoladdiction 2024 is coming to the end. I don’t know how the others had managed – April has been so crazily hectic for me, I couldn’t even check your blogs, let alone read all your Zola posts – so sorry! On my part, I have read and reviewed two short stories, and barely managed to finish the audiobook review of Germinal (a 3rd re-read) in time. All in all, I’m pretty relieved that I completed what I had planned to read, but it got me re-thinking about the future of Zoladdiction. I have hosted this event for eleven years now, but it begins to feel like a burden. My responsibility at work is increasing, following the company’s growth, and April happens to be the busiest month of the year with the annual tax report, and what not. That being said, I don’t know whether I’m going to host Zoladdiction next year or not. Let’s just see then!

I would like to thank all of you who had participated in Zoladdiction 2024, and wish you had a good time! Especially Brona, whose chronological read of Rougon-Macquart brings her to A Love Story (Une Page d'Amour); Nancy, who had read the same book (Une Page d'Amour); and Mallika, who had read the same short story I've reviewed earlier: Captain Burle - thanks to all your reviews! If you have reviewed or posted anything Zola but not mentioned here, please leave link to your post on the comment below, I’ll add them to this post, and will try to make time to read them!