Showing posts with label British Mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Mysteries. Show all posts

Friday, June 25, 2021

An ex-CEO "Sponsored" Me Some Christie Kicks

Sooooooo. As many readers here know, this blog acts as a reading journal of sorts. I document bits and pieces of life and this and that and books and bric à brac. Therefore, quite frequently, a story relating to a purchase pops up. Or, in this case, a Christie Kicks book haul "sponsored" by a retiring CEO. Here is what I was blessed with this week. The CEO of the company I work for has retired, right? He is the owner and all that jazz. So, he has gotten to where he wants to give his chair over to someone else. Cool, stuff? Now, the really cool stuff is that he has given his employees $100 times however many years they have worked for the company. In my case, I'm in my fifth year. You can do the math. So, what can a book lover do with a bonus check a week before payday (besides knock out some bills early) …?

Go invest in these leather-bound Barnes & Noble Agatha Christie collection books–that is what.

Listen, I was playing no games today. I finally read The Murder on the Orient Express; I am 25-pages from the end of And Then There Were None.  Needless to see, a particular hunger to study Christie's techniques have sat in. Besides, I have been doing super well in completing coursework toward finally finishing my degree program. No, for real.  I have busted my tail these past two weeks just so I could have the weekend free to read and not work on writing papers.

Heck, I deserved this treat. So, I took it.  In the famous words of Pattie Labelle circa the Be Yourself album of 1989: I can’t complain…

THANKS, Mr. ex-CEO, man. We will talk about the raise with the new guy. But in the meantime, I like this kind of stuff.

BOOKS! It's what's for dinner. MYSTERY BOOKS! It’s the delicious poison on the steak.

Bon Appetit, homie!

A Quick Rundown of my Christie Kicks Feelings

 Day ONE


What’s going on with me attempting to read Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles?  I’m 28 pages into the book and find myself uninterested.  Two things are occurring to me:

1. Given that Christie pretty much created every mystery trope, the reading is feeling rote (see what I did there).  I don't think it's necessarily the book, per se.  But the mood generated from the experience feels rote–I guess that's the word for it.  Here I was attempting to officially take on a Christie novel.  Yet, I've read so many mysteries and am so late to her that I'm bored with the template presented here.  I already know what is about to happen in Styles, not necessarily who will do it.  This leads me to my other problem…

2. Christie's characters are flat.  Now I experienced this realization before when attempting to read her first Miss Marple book before abandoning it.  Nevertheless, I thought I would get over this in Christie's first Hercule Poirot book.  Nah, man.  These characters are flat, 2D, and uninteresting.  Another problem I have, which is usual with me with any type of book, is the lack of illustrations behind characters, scenes, settings, everything.  There is no color here.  Just automatons are doing their master's bidding.  Heck, my reading of the first two Sherlock Holmes novels came close, but at least Holmes and Watson had character.  That's it, Christie's characters lack character... well… let’s just say dept.

So what shall I do next?  Mmmmmm.  I think I’m going to give myself more pages.

 

Day TWO


So, I managed to scoot up closer to the table and read up to fifty pages and found my interest in the book drastically improved.  Between the first 28 pages until now, the actual death has occurred and what an exciting scene it provided.  All the bells and whistles that tickle my mystery-loving fancy are on full display.  I am now on board.  I am now interested.  The death scene and Poirot's character/personality finally taking stage broke from the initial stale taste the book was giving me.  I am still not engaged with Christie's light writing style; as matter-of-fact, her style makes me hungry for some more of P. D. James's work.  I kept glancing at one of my shelves, wondering would it be appropriate to plug in another Adam Dalgleish book after The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  P. D. James is undoubtedly an evolution of Christie with both her literary style and emphasis on characters.  I stress characters.  James does character.

Friday, April 16, 2021

#FridayReads: Cordelia Gray Has Risen...

Okay. Okay. I told myself to take a minute or two out of Friday to write an updated post–or a #FridayReads deal thing. So, while I sit here at a blank page trying to put an essay down on paper, let me catch readers up on what I have next in mind to read.

Oh, I plan on doing some duel reading (more on the other book later). 50 pages a day. Something like that. Not my usual gig, but I don't want to lose steam with my second offering…

Therefore, first up is…

The Skull Beneath the Skin by P. D. James. This is the second and final entry in James's Cordelia Gray detective agency series.

Shamefully, I started this book ten years ago, after reading the wonderfulness of the first book in the series, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. So why am I just now picking up Gray's second and final mystery?

You want to know the truth? I had a dream about it and, in that dream, I was Cordelia Gray. Blame it on the Benadryl, but I tell you no lies. I laid my ass down one night and dreamt about reading this book, as I, in the dream, was Cordelia Gray solving a mystery involving crows. Maybe that was guilt for not completing this book working through my subconscious.  Yet, needless to say, I took the hint.  Dreaming about unread books has happened to me before.

But just in case, I have to list what made me stop the book ten years ago about a quarter ways through:

1.    As I've stated over the years, I can't stand mysteries involving theatres, movie lots, television sound-stages, scripts, and curtains—basically, entertainment business stuff. Don't ask me why because I don't even know why these set-ups annoy me. Nevertheless, in the case of The Skull Beneath the Skin, an actress is receiving poison-pen letters. Heading toward a performance on an island somewhere in Britain, said actress's husband employed Gray to go undercover as her secretary-companion. Gray's job is to stealthy find the culprit of these letters before he or she exacts their desired threats upon the actress. Naturally, a pile of bodies will help Gray toward the truth.

2.    I bailed as the chapters moved further away from Gray's perspective and into others. I'm used to this now from James.  Her mysteries have strength and resonance because of her ability to brighten her characters with personalities, nuance, secrets, and motives (not to dismiss her incredible literary writing qualities applied to her mysteries).  When she hops perspectives, you get first-hand observation to play inference with her mystery-writing game.  But as I've always said about James, you MUST read between the lines of her dialogue.  That's where she can really trip you up.

I GUESS I'M CONSIDERED ACTIVATED NOW
At the time of my initial attempt at the book, I was new to James. I had yet to even start her Adam Dalgliesh series. Which, thankfully, I stand at a six-out-of-fourteen down as of writing this. So I found Skull to be tepid and laborious than my experience with the first Gray mystery.  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman was shorter, and darn-right airtight with its clever mystery and pacing.  Nevertheless, reading the wonderfulness of Dalgliesh has grounded away those regards for James's work.

And so, ladies and gentleman, that's why I'm here. It's finally time to give Cordelia Gray her proper due.  I don't know why Storm from X-Men came to mind, other than I feel all powerful and activated and ready to handle my business by giving this series a proper closing.  I'm over 50 pages in already and ready to GO!  Only then can I knock on the doors of the eight books I have left in the Dalgliesh series.

(Forgive all spelling and grammatical errors.  I seriously have an essay to write, so I'm making this one quick.)

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