What I Read in September ‘13

At this point I am just having a down year for reading. September was another 2 book month. I don’t know why I’m just not reading at the pace I normally do, but I’m just not. Let’s get on with it.

Lord Peter Views the Body

Dorothy Sayers

This one is a collection of Wimsey shorts. Some are good, some were not as good. Some had serious, high stakes; others were jokey and inconsequential. Mostly they were good. The first is another one of these with an absolutely gruesome conclusion. It’s hard to write much about any of these stories without giving the mystery away. Many of them are so short there isn’t much there beside the set up and conclusion.

Wimsey is still an interesting character, even if he is largely beside the point in many of these stories. He shows up and solves the mystery, but the stories are about the mystery, not the characters. It is a nice change of pace from the full length mysteries.

4:50 From Paddington

Agatha Christie

I thought this was my first full length Christie, but then I remember that The Mysterious Affair at Styles was not a short. So it is my second Christie and my first Marple. I’m not familiar with Mrs. Marple, but her role in this story seemed strange to me. Her friend thinks she sees a murder while on the train, but the police don’t believe her. So she goes to Mrs. Marple, who does believe her and does some investigating. She finds the spot where the murder was likely to have occurred, then hires a woman to work as a housekeeper at the nearby home. That woman, Miss Eyelesbarrow, then takes over as the primary character. She investigates at the manor, meets the family all of whom are suspects and uncovers tons of red herrings. Then just at the end, Marple swoops in with the conclusion.

I didn’t love this book. The mystery doesn’t cheat, but the conclusion kind of comes out of nowhere. I get that a mystery’s goal is generally to mislead the reader so they don’t figure it out, but in this case the conclusion was not satisfactory. It really feels like the least interesting choice was made for the killer. His plan was just bad. I’ve been told that 4:50 From Paddington is not one of Christie’s best, and I believe it. This was moldy entertaining, but I wouldn’t call it good.

Next month: I am sure I will have read more than 2, but probably not enough to have any hope of hitting my yearly goal.

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