The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side

Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: May 26th to 28th, 2014
Read Count: 1
The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side is my first Miss Marple mystery, despite having read many Poirot, a Tommy and Tuppence, a Harley Quin and a few standalones. By this stage of the books, Miss Marple is getting on a bit in years and clearly not as able as she used to be, but still sharp in mind, as she solves the mystery, more or less, from her chair. My first impression is that she is tough as nails and insightful into people and of course, human nature. It’s this insight, more than your average person has, that helps her solve many a mystery.

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The Mysterious Mr. Quin

Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Fontana
Star Rating: 5/5
Date Read: September 17th to 18th, 2013
Read Count: 1
Well that may just have been the best of Agatha Christie that I have read in my short life! I stayed up to finish it and write this review even though I’m dead tired and my eyes are falling out of my head.

I am yet to meet an Agatha Christie book I didn’t like (I hope the day never comes) but this collection of short stories starring the charming, lovable Mr. Satterthwaite and the strange relationship he holds with the elusive Mr. Quin has really stood out for me above most of the others that I’ve read. It may be because it was a book of short stories rather than a novel and so presented a different way of exploring the ever-changing cast of characters. Or maybe it simply is just the best of her writing.

Mr. Quin was fascinating. At one point I almost convinced myself he was nothing but a figment of Mr. Satterthwaite’s imagination until I remembered that he had spoken to and interacted with other characters. It was interesting that just the mere association of something with Mr. Quin brought out all of Mr. Satterthwaite’s deducing abilities, that he really had just amassed from being an observer of the people he knew – and sometimes didn’t know. But I guess that was the point. Just from ‘knowing’ Mr. Quin – that’s implying that Mr. Quin really did exist, because I’m still doubtful – Mr. Satterthwaite found a way to participate in all the drama of life, to solve mysteries that had mystified others, right past wrongs and save the innocent accused from being condemned. However, I still feel like, particularly once I’d reached the end of ‘Harlequin’s Lane’, that there was more to it and Dame Christie’s genius has just gone straight over my head. I am not afraid to admit I’m wrestling with that last story.

I was glad to read somewhere the both Mr. Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite make appearances in other Christie short stories/novels. I won’t be forgetting them in a hurry!

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Vol.2

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Bantam Classics
Star Rating: 5/5
Date Read: January 27th to February 3rd, 2014
The only thing I regret about reading the stories of Sherlock Holmes in two great big chunks is that I feel like it’s all over too soon. How I wish I’d lived in the time where I would have had to wait, impatient and eager, for the next installment of the great detective’s adventures. The wait would have been well worth it.

While reading, I am in fact transported to Victorian England, to the apartment at 221B Baker Street which I can see clearly in my mind’s eye (note: I have never watched any Sherlock inspired TV series). From that sitting room I embark on, with Holmes and Watson, so many mind boggling adventures where I try as I might, like Watson does, to keep up with the great Sherlock Holmes. He leaves me for dust just about every time, but that makes it no less enjoyable. I rather like watching him prove his talents time and again.

John Watson faithfully chronicles the adventures of Sherlock Holmes for us, as Holmes is called to many a case where it is never about the money, only the mental exercise. Holmes likes to be challenged and more often than not he rises to the occasion. We are told that there are some cases that were not solved, which is interesting, but their tales have not been concluded because they lack completion. We also find in this volume, one story from the third person and a couple from Holmes’, both which I enjoyed and had a distinctly different voice to that of Watson. I felt that these were interesting author choices but also reflective of the fact Watson and Holmes were not always together.

As I’m sure you can tell, I loved every Sherlock Holmes story I read. Some of course were more thrilling than others, more adventurous, but they were all well written and very clever all the same. My hat off to Sherlock Holmes, John Watson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.