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Mailbox Monday – 10/2

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Tell us about your new arrivals by adding your Mailbox Monday post to the linky at mailboxmonday.wordpress.com.

I purchased one book this week. I’m hoping to have time to read it this month.

Paperback

Mailbox Monday – 10/2The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Published by Barnes Noble Classics on April 25, 2005 (first published 1859)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Classic
Pages: 635
Format: Paperback
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The story begins with an eerie midnight encounter between artist Walter Hartright and a ghostly woman dressed all in white who seems desperate to share a dark secret. The next day Hartright, engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, tells his pupils about the strange events of the previous evening. Determined to learn all they can about the mysterious woman in white, the three soon find themselves drawn into a chilling vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 18, 2011 (first published 1934)
Source: Won
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 265
Format: Paperback
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“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

I had wanted to read Murder on the Orient Express again before watching the movie, and was lucky enough to win a copy in a Goodreads giveaway. This is at least the third time I’ve read it, but it’s one of those ones that I wish I could re-read for the first time. The solution is so perfect, but also so memorable.

Poirot is one of my favorite all-time detective and this particular mystery showcases his reasoning skills. The setting is perfect, a group of people are trapped in a train stuck in the snow, and clearly there is a killer on board. There is no access to people’s records, no way to check on their true identities, not contact with the outside world at all. I’ll grant you he manages to make some leaps in his deductions, but that’s part of his charm. It’s by no means a fair mystery, the reader can’t solve it, but I do love how all the clues and red herrings work together. I can’t say that the characters are well-developed, they’re mostly stereotypes, but that makes sense given the story.

Murder on the Orient Express is a low-key mystery. It’s mostly people talking, telling their versions of events. There is some hunting for clues, going through peoples luggage, building timelines, but there’s not much action, unlike in the trailer. There is some implied danger, but on re-readings that sense is lost a little.

Of course, I’m still looking forward to the movie. And the cast looks great.

About Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. In 1971 she was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

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The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Series: Inspector Alan Grant #5
Published by Dell on 1968 (first published 1951)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 189
Format: Paperback
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Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother's children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower.

I picked up The Daughter of Time at the local used bookstore a year or so ago. i had no idea what it was about and had never read anything by Josephine Tey before, but it’s one of those mysteries – the ones that make it onto the “best” lists, the ones that any true mystery lover should read.

The title refer to a quote from Francis Bacon: “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.” It’s the same idea as history is written by the victor. Not all “history” is strictly truth, it’s a version someone has told that has stuck. I wish I knew more about British history, particularly Richard III, or that I had read Shakespeare’s play. If I go back to read this again, I may do a little research first. That being said, it is truly an enjoyable book on its own.

Our detective, Alan Grant, is laid up in the hospital and a friend, Marta, brings him a bunch of pictures including one of Richard III to help soothe his boredom. He becomes fascinated with the portrait, not seeing in the face the murderer that Richard III is known to be.

King Richard III by an unknown artist, late 16th century. Image from the National Portrait Gallery http://www.npg.org.uk/

What follows is a mystery unlike any I’ve read, at least as far as I can remember. Grant, along with the help of a young historian, sets out to learn the truth about whether Richard was truly responsible for his nephews’ deaths. We never leave the hospital room, no one is ever in danger, the players in the mystery are all long-dead, but it still grabbed my attention. It’s a fascinating story and Tey does an excellent job at presenting the evidence. It’s also a good reminder that not all facts can be taken at face value. I don’t know if he killed the nephews or not, but I don’t know that it matters to this particular story.

I don’t pass mysteries onto my mother very often, but I think this is one that I’ll send her way. It’s that good. Really, it’s amazing how engrossing a story it manages to be for nothing really happening, except lots and lots of research and reasoning. I did get a little confused with all the names and positions at times, but there are several times when Grant reviews everything which always helped straighten me out.

About Josephine Tey

Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh (25 July 1896 – 13 February 1952), a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. As Josephine Tey, she wrote six mystery novels including Scotland Yard’s Inspector Alan Grant.

The first of these, ‘The Man in the Queue’ (1929) was published under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot, whose name also appears on the title page of another of her 1929 novels, ‘Kit An Unvarnished History’. She also used the Daviot by-line for a biography of the 17th century cavalry leader John Graham, which was entitled ‘Claverhouse’ (1937). Mackintosh also wrote plays (both one act and full length), some of which were produced during her lifetime, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot. These plays often featured biblical or historical themes.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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