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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Mini reviews #4

The Saltmarsh Murders (1931) by Gladys Mitchell. An absolutely delightful, waspish parody of village mysteries, most obviously The Murder at the Vicarage, featuring the captivating Mrs Bradley.

The Labours of Hercules (1947) by Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot decides to retire with twelve cases, each resembling one of his namesake's labours. These cases prove to be hit-and-miss, but overall an excellent bridge between the carefree early Poirots and the sombre late Poirots. Needless to say, he doesn't retire.

Tim Frazer Again (1964) by Francis Durbridge. The thing I like about Durbridge is his innocence. When he tries to write cynically, with a tough secret agent protagonist, the whole thing falls flat. Tim Frazer is not an impressive creation.

Derailed (2003) by James Siegel. Forgettable, well-plotted and poorly-executed thriller which has, I think, been filmed. Reading it, one gets the impression that the author would rather be writing a treatment for Hollywood. Assuming that all women exist only to annoy men, the twist is quite obvious.

A Talent for Murder (2017) by Andrew Wilson. A thriller in which Agatha Christie herself is blackmailed into a murderous conspiracy. Wilson's page-turner is grounded equally in extensive research and an expansive imagination.


  1. Glad you enjoyed The Saltmarsh Murders. It is one of my favourite Mitchell novels. Have you read Speedy Death? That was another I really liked. Not the biggest Mitchell fan in the world but some of her earlier novels were very good.

  2. Thanks, Kate. Speedy Death is my favourite, and I write about it at even the slightest opportunity. I read it in the first year of my PhD when I was writing a chapter on cross-dressing and gender identity in Agatha Christie. By then, I was already a big Mitchell fan, having read a few. When I first got into her, which wasn't really that long ago, hardly anyone knew who she was. So I'm extra thrilled that she's basically become canonical in a very short time.