The opening chapters of this book are so vivid that in my ind’s eye I see it happening.
I see David Suchet bustling and hear him deliver the words. I see his very special walk – such a distinctive gait – and take off his hat and coat.
It is perhaps because i have seen Suchet’s TV performance portrayal so often that he comes to mind, but still my imagination visualises him throughout the story as the character of Hercule Poirot. The mannerisms he used are mentioned in the story and sonthe echoes remain.
I cannot say the same of the chapters ‘written’ by the detective. He slips back into the background even though he is half the book.
I found the story very entertaining – better in my mind than the original stories even though they are intended to ‘copy’ her style. More amusing and more accessible. I still didn’t get the answer though – as just in the original Christie books there are masses of red herrings to mislead you!
Oh and the Windowpane cake is really a Battenberg so a very well known recipe, so little chance of it being stolen.
I suspect that without David Suchet the story would not have been so appealing but as he is one of my favourite actors…
In this alternate Britain (world?), there are 2 types of people. They are differentiated by what they can remember in short term memories. Monos, can only remember what happened today and need a reminder of what happened yesterday; duos can remember both days. Bot people use Apple idiaries to record the important happenings of each day. Duos are only 30% of the population but hold the best jobs, monos are limited to lower paid often manual labour. The two types don’t marry each other, except that the couple in the story have – and for 20 years.
I found myself strangely reluctant to read to the end as the novelist is clearly writing it as a political statement – see the section about the 10 things you must know about a world where people would have full short term memory recall. Not all of which statements I agree with, but some certainly resonate.
The premise of the novel about the issues and short term memory just didn’t grab me as a metaphor for religion, race, ethnicity, skin colour or whatever Yap was intending it to be. I prefer these stories to be more straightforward.
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Maria Grazia Swan
He hadn’t noticed her carrying the package. He chided himself. He’d been so taken with her baby blues, wavy blonde hair, and pouty scarlet mouth, she could have brought a suitcase into his office and he wouldn’t have seen it. He hesitated. Based on her frantic demeanor, the innocuous brown paper bag could contain anything from a body part to a gun.
Pausing to take a quick breath, he unfolded the top and peered inside. “Why am I looking at a shoe?” “A red stiletto to be exact.” “You need to explain,” he said, lifting his gaze. “Why did you bring me a shoe?” “I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know where to go.” “Mrs. Rose—” “Ruby,” she said hastily, cutting him off. “Call me Ruby.”
“What’s so special about this shoe? And please, as simply as you can, tell me why you need my help?” “Take it out. Take it out and look at it.” Her voice was growing shrill, and hoping she wasn’t on the verge of hysteria he reached in and pulled it out. The shoe was glossy patent leather with an unusually high narrow heel. “I don’t think I’ve ever laid eyes on a shoe like this. How can you walk?” “Look! Look! Don’t you see it?” “See what? It’s a red shoe with a very narrow, very high heel that’s clearly expensive, and—” “Blood! It’s covered in blood!” she exclaimed cutting him off a second time. “It was sitting next to my husband when I found him.”
A sudden chill rippled down his spine.
Suicide Blonde Karen M. Bryson
When I left Florida as a wide-eyed twenty-year-old, I vowed never to set foot in the Sunshine State again. I was determined to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood. I wanted to be better than where I came from.
Now here I am right back where I started twenty-five years ago.
Apparently that old saying is true: you can take the girl out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the girl.
As I pull my rental car into the Swamp Angel Trailer Park all kinds of memories flash through my head. None of them positive. This is the place where my sister, Layla, and I grew up. The place where she apparently still lived. The place I couldn’t wait to escape from.
I rented a Jeep for one week. I don’t plan on extending the rental. My plan is to get my sister’s affairs in order and get the hell out of Florida for good.
While most of this booming bayside city has experienced a major revitalization, entering the trailer park is like stepping back in time. It’s barely changed in the last quarter century.
It’s still a festering sore in the armpit of the city.
Swamp Angel Trailer Park is right in the heart of Suitcase City. It’s a seedy part of town a few blocks west of Big State University. The rundown section of town was so named because many of its residents are so transient, they never bother to unpack their bags. It’s the kind of place where nobody knows your name and people like it that way.
When Layla’s father died, she inherited the trailer we grew up in. I’d be surprised if it’s worth forty thousand. I can make that in a month renting out my beach house in Malibu.
As I pull the Jeep up to the front of the trailer, I notice there aren’t any other vehicles parked outside. Layla was a graduate student at Big State University. We’re a few miles from campus, not really close enough to walk. I wonder how she got to class without a car.
Seeing the crime tape over the front door feels surreal. You’d think after playing a detective on television for twenty years I’d be used to it. But when it’s stuck across the door of your childhood home it feels a lot different.
I don’t have a key to her place, but I do remember where the spare keys were hidden. One was underneath a garden gnome in a patch of weeds that was supposed to be the front yard. The other was under the upper left corner of the tacky straw welcome mat outside the front door.
The straw welcome mat must have bitten the dust because it’s been replaced with an even cheaper looking Wipe Your Paws fake grass mat.
With no spare key underneath.
Fortunately, the sun-cracked garden gnome produces the goods. The key is old and a little rusty, but it still manages to unlock the trailer door.
My plan is to sell anything that’s worth selling. Donate what’s still usable to a thrift store. Then toss whatever remains into the trash.
Armed with heavy duty plastic bags and a pair of rubber gloves, I charge into the trailer ready for action.
Forbidden Distraction Siera London
“Where did I go wrong?” Jared whispered. He felt the muscles along Vivianne’s back tense. “Have I hurt or offended you in some way?”
He couldn’t stop himself from massaging the tension from her lower back. Maybe, she thought he slept with the women who’d accompanied him to SCMC fundraisers. Jared thought of his parent’s marriage. He grew up watching how his father’s betrayals chipped away at his mother’s adoration. Johnson Pierce thought his money would cover his sins. That trinkets and trips could sustain his wife’s love and his only son’s respect—he’d been wrong. His father’s infidelity was one of the reasons that Jared had waited until the right woman had come along before he gave his heart. Vivianne was smart, funny, and giving. She was it for him and he could never be unfaithful to the woman he loved.
“No,” came her soft reply, a slight moan escaping on the tail end. “Of course not.”
Yet, she was leaving him.
They’d reached his corner office. With a touch of added pressure, she walked through the door he held open. Once she was inside, he engaged the lock. She jumped when the ‘click’ sounded in the room. In a flash, he had her back pressed against the closed door, his big body trapping her.
“Then why try to leave without my knowing?” She let her head fall back against the door. For the first time, he could see the mental anguish she was under. She was suffering, too. “You want another man?”
He had to hear her say the words. After more than a year of torturing himself to stay away from her, he needed to understand her reasoning. Before Vivianne, he’d been with women who only wanted sex. He’d felt deep in his soul that Vivianne wanted more from him. The way she’d touched him, caressed his face during their lovemaking like she was imprinting his every nuance into her memory. She’d tempted him beyond sanity with her slow and thorough exploration of his body. Dark hair to match his own, dark eyes that flamed higher with each touch, skin so rich, he’d be the wealthiest man in the world if he possessed her.
“It’s purely for therapeutic reasons…”
So, she would share her body, a body that occupied his dreams, with another man for medicinal purposes?
Love Thy Sister Maria Grazia Swan
Crawling away from the pain. She had to get up from the floor. Her mouth foamed. She felt like her chest was exploding.
“One big explosion, followed by a smaller one. Just as pleasurable but not as powerful,” the man had said last night in the bonding anonymity of the dark motel room, his voice an oily whisper.
What was that smell? Maybe decaying food the other girls left behind. She concentrated on the noises from below. A door slammed somewhere in the building. She didn’t care who saw her, she needed help.
Air, she had to get some air. She grasped the front of her smock until it ripped. Her long black hair fell over her breasts.
“One big explosion….”
Was it last night or just a few hours ago?
VENGEANCE John Ling
Maya Raines hated the idea of walking into a trap, but she decided to do it anyway.
She was dressed in a Muslim robe — long and loose and rustling in the wind. Her face was covered by a veil. She carried a grocery bag as she moved along the sidewalk, being careful not to trip on the pockmarked concrete and scattered rubble.
All around her, ominous black flags hung from the shopfronts and soared from the rooftops, declaring the rise of an Islamist caliphate. And just ahead, a roadblock had been set up, manned by jihadi fighters. A modified pickup truck — a technical — was parked on the intersection, with a machine gun mounted on its rear bed.
Maya could hear Arabic being spoken in the distance. It sounded harsh and strident; completely different to the gentle melodic rhythm of the Malay language that she was used to. These men were foreign Sunnis. They had come from as far afield as Egypt and Libya, drawn to Malaysia by the promise of killing local Shiites.
Maya felt the slow burn of anxiety in her stomach…
Facing the Past Alexa Padgett
“Hank. Thirteen hours. At dawn, Jonathan, gone for thirteen hours.”
Hank turned toward Nancy, his look hollow. Nothing moved across his face, through his eyes. He tilted his head, marginally interested as she swallowed then gasped for air. Hank closed his eyes. “I can’t see any better in the dark than they can,” he said. “You heard the detective say they brought in the dogs. A helicopter from Fort Worth. It’s a full-scale search, almost everyone in town was out looking till it got too dark.”
A faint hum. Louder, a thwap, thwap overhead, a blinding spotlight. Again.
“They could miss him from up there.”
“We’ve already missed him,” Hank shot back, eyes glinting in the semi-darkness.
Nancy shrank back, away from him.
He lowered his head nearly to his knees. Inhaled, exhaled. “My son.”
Cicadas hummed, pressing their bodies against the house. Nothing could hold them together. Not with Jonny missing.
A whippoorwill called. Hank stood there, between the foyer and the living room where Nancy huddled.
“What are we going to do?” she asked him.
Another pass from the helicopter. A dog barking.
Hank hesitated again before seeming to consciously lift his leg to step into the room.
He lay his hand on her shoulder, fingers against her collarbone, his face telling Nancy he was too used up to do more as darkness crowded out the faint porch light.
This is the first of Anthony Horowitz’s novels about detectives that I’ve read. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The concept of putting the real author into imaginary scenes, some of which are based on semi-fact, and including autobiographical details was fascinating. And made the whole story so much more believable.
I found it however, to be slightly confusing in that it was set in 2015 but had just come out in 2018, but understood that writing about real events that happened to the author were better if viewed in the past rather than as his current life.
I am even tempted to go and see if this road and house – Heron’s Wake – do exist and look like they are described in the story. And it would be nice to find out if the production of the TV show really did have problems in London with filming, but there are limits to just how much I will do to verify authenticity. And I have been caving in the past so the descriptions of the pot holing system were very realistic for me. Confession time though. It made my fear of confined places very much worse – especially the crawling on your stomach in water aspects!
I liked the style of writing. At first read it is prosaic yet the characters, including his own as portrayed, come through clearly. the descriptions are spare but clear and sufficient and fluent.
The only criticism I have is the constant mention of the children’s series of books. OK Anthony. We know you are perhaps better known to a certain set of readers for the Alex Rider books, and perhaps you want others to know about them, but… mention once or twice but no more, please!
I did particularly like this though:
[a] good definition of creative writing is to unlock doors and take the reader through to the other side.