Thursday, 14 July 2011

thirty-nine, thirty-eight, thirty-five, thirty-four: poirot


"'Do you know, Poirot, I almost wish sometimes that you would commit a murder.'
'Mon cher!'
'Yes, I'd like to see just how you'd set about it.'
'My dear Japp, if I committed a murder you would ot have the least chance of seeing - how I set about it! You would not even be aware, probably, that a murder had been committed.'
Japp laughed good-humouredly and affectionately.
'Cocky little devil, aren't you?' he said indulgently.
the Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1926)

Roger Ackroyd, the wealthy owner of Fernly Park is found murdered in his study. His niece asks Poirot, a retired detective to take the case and he agrees. And with the help of the small village's doctor's narrative, he solves it.

the Murder on the Orient Express (1934)

Hercule Poirot is travelling on the Orient Express when he is awoken from sleep by some strange noises in the compartment next to him. The man in the compartment is found murdered, stabbed 12 times, the next morning. As the train is stuck in a snow storm, no police can get aboard and the murderer must still be on the train.

the Murder in the Mews (1937)
A woman is found dead in her bedroom, and while it looks like a suicide, Inspector Japp is not so sure, so he asks Poirot for help. Did Barbara Allen kill herself or was it murder?

Hercule Poirot's Christmas (1939)
Mr Lee gathers his family in his house for Christmas, he hasn't seen some of his sons for years as they have fallen out. And also, his only grandchild, Pilar, will come from Spain. Once the whole family is together, tension sparks and Mr Lee announces that he needs to change his will. But shortly after dinner, Mr Lee is murdered in his locked room and the murderer has vanished. And then it is time to call in Mr Poirot.

It has been almost a year since I last read any Agatha Christie and it is such a pleasure to do nothing all day but read wonderful stories with my favourite Belgian detective (or the only Belgian detective I know). Murder on the Orient Express became an instant favourite, but then I read Hercule Poirot's Christmas, and I think I liked that one even better. And as always, I never guess the murderer.

These three novels and one short story was found in the Perfect Murders omnibus. Now I only have seven wonderful unread Hercule Poirot stories left.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

thirty-seven.


the Most Beautiful Woman in Town and Other Stories by Charles Bukowski (1983)

This book is filled with short stories, and they all include at least one sexual act.

Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite dirty old men, but this collection of short stories takes it one step too far. Necrophilia, paedophilia, rape and murder is never pleasant to read about, but having to read it from the doer's perspective was terrible. And I'm glad I have read all the good stuff from Bukowski before this book.

Read his novels instead of this.

Monday, 11 July 2011

thirty-six.

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) (1937)


"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills..."

Karen Blixen lived on a farm in Africa for almost twenty years. She came out to live with her husband, but they divorced in 1925 and Karen was the owner of the farm for the remaining years. She tells about the daily life on the farm and its many squatters and their guests.

Although it is a biography, it is never personal. It rather focuses on the farm, instead of Karen's personal life, which I think is a pity. I was lucky to find a short biography attached to the copy I bought at a market in Oslo, and she certainly lived a fascinating life, and I would love to read more about it.

I really enjoyed reading about the farm and the joys and hardships of the people who were involved. She writes with great insight and it is a joy to read about the landscape and wild life surrounding the farm. This is the way I wish an other book about an African farm was written (the Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer). But one chapter in the book annoyed me - instead of following the pattern of the other chapters, this one was full of short stories in no chronological order and many seemed written down just to be remembered and had little to do with the rest of the book. I skimmed many of them as I saw no point in them being there in the first place.

I'm looking forward to watching the film version of this once I'm united with my tv again.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

thirty-three.

the Ritual by Adam Nevill (2011)


"And on the second day things did not get better. The rain fell hard and cold, the white sun never broke through the low grey cloud, and they were lost. But it was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition."
Four English men in their late 30s, Luke, Hutch, Dom and Phil, are trekking in a remote area of Swedish Lapland. They decide to take a short-cut because of the bad condition two of the men are in. Then they find a large animal slaughtered in the worst way and hung high up in a tree. Not long after they come to an old abandoned building where they decide to spend the night. They quickly realise that the building has been used for some kind of ancient worship.

When Luke wakes up the next day after a very strange dream, he discovers that his friends have all been sleepwalking and all of them are in a state of shock. But this is just the beginning of the horror that only one of them will survive.

The beginning of the book didn't impress me, but that was mainly because of horrible writing style. But it definitely gets better throughout the book. I really liked the twist when the story was most exciting, and I was also relieved because I couldn't take one more minute of terror. This book would be perfect for the big screen. I will save Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill for the next time I want to be frightened again. But that won't be any time in the near future as I'm sure I have enough nightmare material for a year now.

I will end this with two things from the second part of the book which was my favourite:

1. A Norwegian black metal band.

2. "Hearts torn out for the sun God in Mexico. Wretches ritually strangled and buried with their masters in ancient Britain. Simple people accused of witchcraft, pressed under stones and set alight in pyres of dry kindling. Commuters gassed in the Tokyo subway. Passengers flown through the side of buildings in jets full of fuel.
If only we could all stand up. All of us who have died unjustly for the Gods of the insane. There would be so many of us"

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

thirty-two.

the Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (2011)

-->Kate, Michael and Emma were abandoned by their parents on Christmas's Eve almost 10 years ago and have ever since been moved from orphanage to orphanage. But this is not an ordinary orphanage as they are the only kids there. While exploring the enormous old house they come upon a book hidden in a secret room beneath the house. And with the book they can travel in time using photographs.
Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The prologue reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, but that was the only thing that reminded me distinctly of one certain book. It is indeed a mixture of all popular fantasy books for young readers, but that is not a bad thing. Stephens has created his own magic world with a lot of interesting creatures. While reading I was laughing out loud, holding my breath and wondering how it all would end.
I will definitely be pimping this book to the kids once school starts again, and I hope book two is out soon!

thirty-one.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)


-->
A ship rescues a man drifting on ice in the Arctic. The captain writes home to his sister to tell her the strange tale of the man named Frankenstein. Frankenstein claims that he gave life to a horrible manlike monster who killed several of his family members because he refused to make a mate to the monster.
I have spent my whole life believing that the monster was named Frankenstein and now I know the truth. It took me forever to read the book, probably because I didn't find the narrative of Frankenstein interesting at all until the first murder happened. And I finally started to enjoy the story when the monster started to speak. His story was far more interesting than Frankenstein's, although I must question the way he learnt to read and write without being discovered, considering his size and all. Frankenstein certainly didn't get any sympathy from me, but neither did the monster.
I haven't seen any film adaptions of Frankenstein yet, and I doubt I will ever dare to do it on my own either as I imagine them being scarier than the book.

thirty.

Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner (2005)

-->
"My name is unimportant.
It all started in September 1989, at about seven in the morning."
The first and unnamed narrator is cleaning his mother's house after she passed away and discovers the Nikolski-compass, a compass that points at Nikolski in the Aleutian islands instead of north, the only memorabilia after his father. The second narrator, Noah, has spent his whole life in a car with his mother travelling around Canada's midwest. His father left and spent his life on the sea, and the last postcard they got from him was sent from Nikolski. Noah leaves his mother and moves to Montreal to study archaeology. Joyce Doucette, the third narrator, grows up on an island on the Atlantic coast hearing her grandfather's tales of their ancestors who were pirates and runs away to Montreal while she's still in high school. There she starts working in a fish shop and steals old, broken computers at night.
This was for me the perfect portrait of modern Canada. The book goes from coast to coast and through generations of both natives and immigrants. So many places, facts and fiction squeezed into one small book. I loved the names of the chapters. The three narrators are all in the same small neighbourhood at the same time, will their paths cross? And will they discover that they are related?
Another thing that amazed me with this book was its design (fishes!) and the print it was set in. That is one experience that you won't get when reading an e-book.
Nicolas Dickner is an author I definitely want to read more from.

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