The Killings at Kingfisher Hill

 

*Minor Spoilers*

When I first heard that there was going to be a new Poirot mystery, I was absolutely buzzing (and even that feels like a bit of an understatement). Surprisingly (or maybe not so much), it took a little while for me to even open the book. I spent a good couple of hours lightly tracing my fingers across the cover and was generally in awe at the sheer magnificence of it. Of course, upon opening it, my first instinct was to inhale that bookish smell – something that took another hour or so of my time.

The sheer delight that came with reading this book would be impossible to describe and therefore a pointless endeavour to be undertaken. Once again, Poirot was presented with a beautifully intricate mystery, which got more complicated as the story progressed. Details were meticulously thrown in, which lead to further confusion and frustration at what appeared to be an unsolvable case.

I loved how there were no coincidences within the story (after all the universe is rarely that lazy) despite the appearance of this being the case. How all these small details linked up was just incredible. But like always, what was amazing to say the least was how all the clues had already been given throughout – there were no hidden clues when Poirot revealed the events leading up to the murders and the culprits. The only thing left was to use order, method and the little grey cells to solve the mystery. As usual I tried my utmost hardest to try and solve the case alongside Catchpool and Poirot, so much so, that I even started to make my own lists of questions and facts that needed to be honed in on. I can proudly say that I made a couple of connections that Catchpool had missed, but that was about it.

Let’s be honest, the end scene where all is revealed is the highlight of any Poirot book and not gonna lie, but I reread that a couple of times after finishing the story in its entirely just because of the sheer epicness.

As always, the characters were depicted as being psychologically complex as were their relationships with each other. There are never any clear-cut characters, which made for a somewhat thought provoking read. Touches of humour had also been thrown in, which mellowed out some of the more serious aspects of the narrative. Whilst I did miss the presence of Hastings (curiously though not so much Japp), it cannot be denied that Catchpool filled Hastings’ role nicely – by no means perfectly, but near enough.

In a nutshell, this was a book that I wanted to quickly read to solve the mystery but at the same time, I wanted to savour it. Similar to all the Poirot books, it seemed that the last page came all too soon and I was left hugging the book before going on to reread some of the scenes.

Au Revoir.

Saz

P.S. Why was the broom late for the meeting? It overswept 😉

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin): Amazon.co.uk: LaFevers, Robin: BooksSo after the previous read along with San failed spectacularly, she suggested that I pick the book this time round – something I was more than happy to do. After refusing a couple of options, we finally agreed on Grave Mercy. So without ado, our read along began in earnest. Alas, as fate would have it, San was just shy of a fifth of the book whilst I was turning the last page. Given how Basil had praised this book, I don’t think she was too impressed by San’s progress, much to my amusement.

Let’s face it, it was the nuns training to become assassins at the convent that reeled me in. It confused me at the start why time in the story was passing so quickly. As readers, we were barely given a glimpse of Ismae’s childhood, her escape to the convent and what her training at said convent had entailed. The details for all these were sparse and a little disappointing. To be honest, I was so looking forward to reading about her training. However, this was clearly not meant to be. So whilst the plot was quick at the beginning, it started to even out and at some points slow down completely when Ismae had been given her main mission.

“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?”

For the protagonist to be an assassin, there was a serious lack of assassinations and fight scenes throughout the book. Literally, only a handful had been thrown in, and even then, Ismae’s earlier missions where most of the fighting happened, had been brushed over. Interestingly enough, Ismae mirrored my own frustration; she was clearly dying to kill someone. It was such a shame as well given as well that she had all these wonderful methods up her sleeve (quite literally in the case of some) and yet she never got to use them.

The balance between political intrigue and romance was nicely done. The romance slowly built up and took its time to fully blossom. Although I was surprised that within their first meeting, Ismae found herself attracted to Duval, especially given her background and vows that she had made to herself. Not gonna lie but at times, I did roll my eyes when reading Ismae’s reaction to Duval touching her lightly for a second or two. But I had to keep reminding myself that badass or not, she was human as well.

One thing that I absolutely loved about Ismae was the fact that she dared to question things rather than taking everything at face value. More so, she was clever; she knew how to recognise and work loopholes to her advantage and despite being attracted to Duval, she went with her instincts of being suspicious, never divulging too much information.

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

The suspense kept me curious and although I had figured out who the traitor was, it was still enjoyable watching everything being played out.

Another thing that the book did well was to showcase males and females equally. Both genders had been treated equally – both had been portrayed in a fair light – a balanced number of males and females in stronger roles and also more dubious ones (if that makes sense?). This was refreshing and something that stood out a fair amount.

Normally, I don’t like open endings, but actually it worked perfectly with this book; it was nice how things had been wrapped up in the political sense but had been left semi open in regards to the romantic storyline.

Overall, the concept was amazing, however more action was definitely needed. At times, it did feel as if the romance was taking over and Ismae was literally doing nothing except spying on people in court. No regrets upon reading it, however it’s very doubtful that I will continue with the series.

Until next time,

Saz

The Flat Share

The Flatshare

*Minor Spoilers*

This was one of Basil’s recommendations. Initially like with most of Basil’s recommendations, I wasn’t going to read it. And yet predictably, curiosity got the better of me and one thing led to another…

To call this book a romantic comedy would quite frankly be a mistake. Yes it follows a romantic path with splashes of humour thrown in, but it’s so much more than the light heartedness often associated with rom coms. The story delved in to serious issues and these had been explored with empathy, grace and realism.

Both Tiffy and Leon were beautifully drawn out characters, their personalities mirrored by their different writing styles as part of the narrative as well as the notes they left each other. It was really nice to get a glimpse in to both their lives as well as seeing each other from the eyes of the other.

Another aspect in terms of characterisation that was brilliantly done was the ensemble that made up the secondary characters, especially Tiffy’s small circle of friends and Leon’s family. It was amazing to see how these characters came through and admittedly weren’t perfect but they were still loveable all the same. They made mistakes, yet owned them as their own. It was intriguing to see that Richie especially had such a big presence in Leon’s life, but as readers we only meet him right at the end.

“Remind myself that there is no saving of people —people can only save themselves. The best you can do is help when they’re ready.”

It was simply incredible to witness Tiffy’s transformation whilst she came to terms what had happened to her. The subtleties of abuse and gaslighting had been brilliantly highlighted. Such a sensitive topic had been handled with the utmost care and respect, which was amazing to say the least. Another thing that struck me was the ending – it wasn’t quite a ‘happily ever after’ sort of wrap up but had a more hopeful vibe to it which in turn was far more realistic.

As for Leon, his quiet sarcasm and kindness made me smile endlessly. But what made me smile the most was how Leon slowly started to open up to Tiffy as seen through his notes (more specifically the length of them).

Not gonna lie, I went through a whole host of different emotions whilst reading this book; indignation at Justin’s antics, anger at Mark’s ignorance, happiness at the exchanged notes and sadness at the trauma inflicted. At the risk of sounding clichéd, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. Just like Basil had previously said after she had finished reading it, at the end, I just wanted to hug the book and keep the characters close to me.

In a nutshell, ‘The Flat Share’ was a heartwarming read despite handling serious topics. The characterisation was pretty much perfect and honestly, it was one of those books that made me miss my tube stop, which says it all.

Until the next book,

Saz

P.S. When I was little, my parents fed me alphabet soup claiming that I liked it. But they were just… putting words in my mouth 🙂

 

 

The Guest List

As usual, San and I were both game for a read-along and the book was chosen mutually. Little did I know that I would rush on ahead, reading on my long commutes and eventually finish the entirety of the book, whilst meanwhile San would remain on the first chapter. Needless to say, San never did go back to it (much to her amusement). Here’s probably why.

The characters were very similar to the ones portrayed in ‘The Hunting Party‘ – mainly rich, privileged and in many respects unlikable with a couple of ‘outsiders’ that didn’t quite fit in the group for various reasons. To put it simply, it felt rather formulaic. I got the impression that Hannah was supposed to be likeable, however this was hardly the case. None of the other characters were appealing in the least.

In some ways it was nicely done how the characters were in one way or another linked to a central figure. Yet, at the same time it was a tad unbelievable that they all had some connection, most of which the central figure was unaware of. There was nothing particularly amazing about the characters and despite an attempt to make them complex, they somehow fell flat, feeling too wooden.

“In my experience, those who have the greatest respect for the rules also take the most enjoyment in breaking them.”

The plot itself was rather slow and tedious in many aspects. Obviously the chapters that focussed on the present weren’t going to reveal anything of use but were just added (I’m assuming) to be tantalising. And yet this wasn’t quite the effect. Rather I hurried past these as they provided no real value. Admittedly, there were a couple of twists thrown in here and there to keep things moving, but the pacing wasn’t quite right – they all came at the end, one after the other in quick succession. This made the ending seem hurried as well as anti-climatic.

As if this wasn’t  disappointing enough, what’s more was that the twists were a little on the predictable side. Granted, I didn’t see one of them but the rest were ‘meh’ (for want of a better word).

Despite all this, the remoteness of the island was brilliantly done and had very similar vibes to ‘And Then There Were None’. It emphasised the danger closing in and made for a more thrilling read.

So basically, none of the characters were particularly likeable, the whole story felt formulaic and the plot was tedious despite the setting having being nicely portrayed. It was an easy read but there was nothing particularly thrilling (yes, pun intended) about it. I am yet to figure out what all the initial hype was about.

Laters,

Saz