Tag Archives: agatha christie

#BookReview ‘Moonflower Murders’ by @AnthonyHorowitz #crime

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz is a sandwiching together of two mysteries – one murder, one disappearance – that take place eight years apart in the same place. Second in Horowitz’s crime series featuring literary agent Susan Ryeland and Atticus Pünd, the fictional hero of her client Alan Conway’s 1950s detective books – are you keeping up? – this is at the same time a page-turning read and a mystifying Rubik’s Cube challenge. Definitely a book that will reward re-reading. Anthony Horowitz

Susan’s, now deceased, author Conway loved word play and riddled his short novels with in-jokes, complicated clues and witticisms. Many of these only make sense at the very end of Horowitz’s book. Susan, now living in Crete with boyfriend Andreas, running the just-surviving Hotel Polydorus, is asked by the owners of Branlow Hall hotel in Suffolk to investigate the disappearance of their daughter Cecily. Eight years earlier, one of the hotel’s staff was convicted of murdering a guest, Frank Parris. Shortly after the trial, Conway visited the hotel after which he wrote, Atticus Pünd Takes the Case. The book was edited by Susan who knew nothing about the links to the real-life crime.

Cecily, who manages Branlow Hall with her sister, reads Conway’s novel and is certain the wrong man was convicted of the crime. And then she disappears. How did Conway use the real crime in his fictional Atticus Pünd mystery to reveal the true murderer? What did Cecily see in the book that convinced her of the convict’s innocence? How can Susan unravel the clues and fit together two completely separate stories? And what has happened to Cecily?

The story is littered with clues, everyone has something to hide and it seems everyone is lying. Alongside the detecting we have the continuing story of Susan’s life – did she do the right thing in moving from London to Crete, should she marry Andreas or leave him, can she really be happy running a hotel and not editing books? And like the first in the series, Magpie Murders, there is also a book-within-a-book; we also get to read Atticus Pünd Takes the Case.

Layer upon layer, at times there are so many twists and turns it seems tortuous. Yes, there are coincidences and convenient secrets but if you enjoy Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot you will enjoy spotting the Christie links. If you go-with-the-flow and don’t get caught up on keeping track of the details, this is a fun read.

Here’s my review of Magpie Murders, first in the Susan Ryeland series.

If you like this, try:-
A Death in the Dales’ by Frances Brody
The Vanished Bride’ by Bella Ellis
Lord John and the Private Matter’ by Diana Gabaldon

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
MOONFLOWER MURDERS by @AnthonyHorowitz #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5j9 via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The Guest List’ by @lucyfoleytweets #crime #thriller

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a cracking crime mystery set on an isolated Irish island. The guests are there for the wedding of the year – magazine entrepreneur Jules Keegan is marrying reality TV star Will Slater. What follows is a closed room mystery recognisable from Agatha Christie novels. From the beginning you wonder, who in this group of thirty-somethings is going to be killed? Who is the killer and why? Lucy Foley

Foley expertly plays with our expectations, manipulating our first impressions of the characters as they are introduced. Old friends. Family. School days rituals. Hidden jealousies. Secret wrongs. The atmosphere on the exposed windswept island with its treacherous bogs, cliffs, caves and haunting churchyard is cranked up to full notch. We experience the weekend wedding almost hour by hour as each key character tells their own story, with the narrative chopping forwards to the present during the ceremony and reception. This switching of viewpoint and timeframe can be very sudden but it does ramp up the tension. The murder takes place quite late in the timeline making this more a psychological thriller, building up to the killing you know will happen.

The basic plot questions are – how well does Jules know her husband-to-be? What exactly happened on the stag weekend? What were the rituals at the public school attended by the groom and ushers? And why is Olivia, Jules’s sister and bridesmaid, clearly not coping with life? The options for victim and murderer are extended beyond the bridal group with Charlie, Jules’ best friend, and his wife Hannah; and bridal organiser and host Aoife and chef husband Freddie. Foley presents lots of hints about the past and secret resentments, I guessed a couple quite early on but this didn’t stop me turning the pages.

Read this over a weekend when you need an easy-to-read distraction.

Read my review of Lucy Foley’s The Invitation.

If you like this, try:-
The Animals at Lockwood Manor’ by Jane Healey
Chosen Child’ by Linda Huber
Summer House with Swimming Pool’ by Herman Koch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE GUEST LIST by @lucyfoleytweets #crime #thriller #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4M2 via @SandraDanby

My Porridge & Cream read… Sue Featherstone @SueF_Writer #books #humour #chicklit

Today I’m delighted to welcome chick lit novelist Sue Featherstone. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie.

“It’s hard to pin down a single Porridge & Cream read because there are a number of old favourites that fit into my comfort-read category. Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels, for instance, Noel Streatfield’s children’s stories and Josephine Tey’s whodunits. But I’m going to choose Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie, which I first read in my early teens in the late 1960s when I sneaked it off my dad’s bookcase.

Sue Featherstone

Sue’s copy

“What appealed to me then is what still appeals today – nostalgia for a bygone age, a murder mystery with lots of red herrings, and a gently unfolding love story. When it first appeared in 1933 Sad Cypress was considered ground-breaking. The murder takes place about a third of a way into the story – giving plenty of time to establish characters and plot – and Poirot doesn’t make an appearance until almost halfway through. Unusually, too, much of the drama takes place in the courtroom.

“The plot is classic Christie: wealthy heiress Elinor Carlisle is heartbroken when her fiancé Roddy breaks off their long-standing engagement to pursue Mary Gerrard, a protégé of Elinor’s recently deceased aunt. And when Mary is poisoned almost everyone, including Roddy who has known Elinor since childhood, believes she must be the murderer.

“When I grew up and left home, Sad Cypress was one of the first books on my new book shelves and my battered 1979 Pan edition is testament to multiple re-readings. Why? Because even though Poirot is a strange little fellow, Elinor’s story – a woman betrayed by the man she loved – has a timeless resonance. Will she forgive Roddy’s betrayal? Or will she find happiness with the local doctor, who has believed in her innocence throughout?

“Truly, Christie is the queen of crime fiction.”

Sue Featherstone


Sue Featherstone’s Bio

Sue Featherstone is a Midlander, who has spent most of her life living and working in Yorkshire. Her debut novel A Falling Friend, co-authored with Susan Pape, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel A Forsaken Friend followed in March 2018. The pair, who have also written two journalism text books together, are currently working on the final book in their Friends trilogy. Sue was a journalist and public relations practitioner before moving into academia 20 years ago to teach news and magazine journalism at Sheffield Hallam University. Married with two grown-up daughters, she recently welcomed her first granddaughter Iris who is ‘the most beautiful baby in the whole world’. 

Sue Featherstone’s links


Twitter @SueF_Writer

Sue Featherstone’s latest book

Sue Featherstone

A Forsaken Friend is the second instalment in a Yorkshire-based trilogy that follows best friends Teri Meyer and Lee Harper as they juggle men, careers and family. Their friendship is tested when Teri discovers her ex-husband is in love with Lee. And, to make things even worse, she’s just lost her job and is running out of money. Fast. It’s not all plain sailing for Lee either. Her love life might be looking up – not that she meant to fall for Teri’s ex – but her family life is a car crash. Her Catholic mother isn’t happy she’s dating a divorced man and her father has been given some bad news about his health…Described as a warm, funny and entertaining read, A Forsaken Friend is an intelligent and sassy look at the friendship between two women on the cusp of middle age.


What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects ‘Love in A Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again? If so, please send me a message.

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-

Rhoda Baxter’s choice is ‘The Nightwatch’ by Terry Pratchett

Jane Lambert chooses ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier

‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’ by Jean Kerr is chosen by Carol Cooper

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:

Why does chick lit novelist @SueF_Writerre-read SAD CYPRESS by Agatha Christie? #books via @SandraDanby 

#Bookreview ‘The Mystery of Three Quarters’ by @sophiehannahCB1 #crime #mystery

I am not a great lover of continuation series, books written by a new author after the death of the much-loved originator. It seems a cynical moneymaking move and I fear it will ruin my love of the original author’s books. I grew up loving Agatha Christie and have not, until now, been tempted to read the new Poirot stories by Sophie Hannah. But about to go on holiday, feeling tired and longing for something familiar but new, I picked up The Mystery of Three Quarters. And what a delight it is. Sophie Hannah

The story starts as Poirot is challenged in turn by four strangers, each accusing him of naming them as a murderer. Affronted that fraudulent letters have been sent in his name, Poirot sets out to investigate. He suspects however that the supposed victim Barnabas Pandy does not exist. But Pandy does exist, or did, for 94-year old Barnabas Pandy is dead, drowned in his bath. Told by Poirot’s police sidekick, Inspector Edward Catchpool, this is a clever and mystifying story of Pandy, his two grand-daughters, and long-buried guilt and shame.

Hannah writes with ease and I slipped seamlessly into loving and believing in her Poirot. As with all good crime fiction, I had suspicions about the identity of the murderer but only during Poirot’s customary reveal did I connect together the unpredictable clues laid so carefully throughout the novel. And as always, it is satisfying to know I had guessed correctly. At 400 printed pages The Mystery of Three Quarters is longer than Christie’s Poirot novels, which come in at under 300 pages, but I flew through it in one day. Just the ticket for a holiday read.

If you like this, try:-
The Silent Twin’ by Caroline Mitchell
‘An Uncertain Place’ by Fred Vargas
A Death in the Dales’ by Kate Brody

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE MYSTERY OF THREE QUARTERS by @sophiehannahCB1 #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3yD via @Sandra Danby

Book review: The Killing of Polly Carter

Robert ThorogoodThis is the first of the ‘Death in Paradise’ series by Robert Thorogood that I have read. It is the second in the series, and I picked it up unaware of the TV series of the same, the sixth series will be aired on the BBC this year. So, I am playing catch-up.

My first reaction was that it seemed lightweight, but the story and the characters pulled me in. This definitely fits into the comfort crime category so effectively occupied by MC Beaton. Detective Inspector Richard Poole is a man out of place, an English policeman on a tiny Caribbean island, he is a proper chap who persists in wearing leather shoes and woollen suits even at the height of the summer heat. His team is small and their resources are limited, which makes this more of an old-fashioned tale as they put together clue after clue. The setting is luscious.

Supermodel Polly Carter is dead, is it suicide or murder? In the true Agatha Christie fashion, of whom Thorogood is a childhood fan, this is a ‘closed room’ mystery where few people have the opportunity and motive. One by one, each of Polly’s family and friends are suspected, cleared then suspected again. In true Christie fashion, when the culprit is unveiled I thought ‘oh of course’ without actually guessing the identity correctly.

Only two books so far, so one to watch. And the covers are beautiful.

If you like ‘The Killing of Polly Carter’, try these:-
‘An Uncertain Place’ by Fred Vargas
‘No Other Darkness’ by Sarah Hilary
‘Business as Usual’ by EL Lindley

‘The Killing of Polly Carter’ by Robert Thorogood, Death in Paradise #2 [UK: Harlequin MIRA] Buy now

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