Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

"And then there were none" written by the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie is perhaps the most famous murder mystery of all time and has been adapted several times on the big screen, does Gumnam(1965) ring a bell? It’s sold over 100 million copies making it the world’s best selling mystery ever and one of the bestselling books of all time. The first of several Christie stories based on nursery rhymes, this deals out ten mysterious murders, and none was more satisfactory at the conclusion of this cryptic puzzle. This book stars no Hercule Poirot and no Jane Marple, it belongs to no series.


10 people are invited to a Mansion on the mysterious and deserted Soldier Island. The Host is conspicuously missing.

On the Island they are cut off from the rest of the world except from the dark shadows of their own past. The guests are unable to leave because of freak weather. In the trapped mansion, one by one the guests start to get murdered and as Tensions in the house begin to rise the prisoners/guests of the Mansion begin to realize that the murderer is one of them but can they figure out who the murderer is before he/she is able to finish off the nursery rhyme:

Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.


This is without a doubt the best book that I have ever read and can totally understand how it sold 100 million copies, the book is brilliant and the plot is ingenious. Even though the guests are the only people on the island, they are all mysteriously murdered one by one, in a manner paralleling the nursery rhyme, I was not able to figure out who the murderer is in fact I was totally baffled by the ending, If you are able to figure out then hats off to you. This is not your regular English country village mysteries, this one is a dark murder mystery the atmosphere that Christie creates at the end of the book is of pure terror, I was actually scared a couple of times when reading this one, there is a paragraph in the book were the mansion is being lashed with rains there is no light exterior or interior and in the rooms of the mansion lay dead bodies of people who have been murdered and the survivors are waiting for their fate in the dining room.

If you don’t read murder mysteries or just don’t read at all, try out this one and you will not regret your decision, 5 stars for the Queen of Crime.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Judas Window by Carter Dickson

so first a bit of background, the Judas Window is written by my favorite author, I was introduced to John Dickson Carr by a blog which I regularly follow and I will be thankful to that man forever, John Dickson Carr is the master the de facto master of the locked room mystery, his novel the hollow man was voted as the greatest locked room mystery of all time, you might ask me now that what is a locked room mystery? It is a crime—almost always murder—is committed under apparently impossible circumstances. The crime in question typically involves a crime scene that no intruder could have entered or left, a locked room. Following other conventions of classic detective fiction, the reader is normally presented with the puzzle and all of the clues, and is encouraged to solve the mystery before the solution is revealed in a dramatic climax.

Most of John Dickson Carr’s novels are based on two sleuths Dr. Gideon Fell and Henry Merrivale, the Judas Window stars Henry Merivale, John Dickson Carr used to write Henry Merrivale mysteries under the name Carter Dickson.


Young James Answell goes to the house of his future father-in-law to ask him for the hand of his daughter for marriage, when his father-in-law offers him a drink, he feels sick and drowsy after taking a few sips, then he hears his father –in-law scream “have you gone completely mad” as he fades away into unconsciousness, when he wakes up he finds the room locked from inside and the two steel windows shut from inside, and sees his father-in-law stabbed by an arrow which has gone through his heart, James Answell is a dead man – there was no one who could have got inside and no one went outside, there are no hidden passages inside the room, the only logical conclusion is that James Answell killed his future father-in-law or did he? Only Henry Merrivale think he is innocent and takes up the case of the Judas Window.


This was the first John Dickson Carr book I read and become a fan for life after reading just the first 5 pages, the book is a engrossing, fast paced and a mind numbing mystery, there is no supernatural element involved and has a perfectly understandable and logical solution, the book unfolds in a court room where HM defends the accused, I’m surprised that there aren’t many films based on this, In the British prison system, a "Judas window" is in the door of a cell and enables the guards to observe prisoners without being seen themselves. But Sir Henry Merrivale points out another Judas window that is in every room, but that no one notices, this is perhaps one of the best books ever written and it’s a pity that it’s not well known to the general public, the book has twists and turns all of the way and once you start reading you will keep talking about it till you finish and even after you have finished you will marvel at the ending and the locked room mystery genre, this is a must read.


Friday, July 22, 2011

First Post and A Murder is Announced

After reading countless murder mysteries, I have decided to share my thoughts about the books that I read, I really enjoy reading Classic Mysteries and can't think of a better way to spend my time, I have read a lot of Agatha Christie's but John Dickson Carr is my favorite author he truly is a man who explains miracles, like the majority of the reading population, my favorite detective is Hercule Poirot.

In the coming months, I'm going to read, review and then post my thoughts and comments on books by Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, and John Dickson Carr

Also my blogs are going to be spoiler free, which means I would not discuss or reveal about Whodunit? Also all books reviewed would be Fair play detective fiction - these books are challenges to the reader, The idea is that readers should be able to solve the crime along with the detective, if their wits are sharp enough. The rules of fair play prevent the author from throwing in unforeseen surprises that would prevent readers from solving the mystery themselves. Basically the rules state that there must be no bizarre breaks or surprise solutions that are hidden from the reader until the end and that the reader must be in possession of all the clues; nothing should be withheld by the author.

My first post is going to be about "A Murder is Announced" by Agatha Christie

A murder is announced is part of the Miss Marple series, I was really put off from Miss Marple after reading 13 problems, which had thirteen stories and most of them were not the best works by Agatha Christie and here Miss Marple's approach in solving the crime was same in all stories, I had promised myself not to read Miss Marple again, but then from a highly recommended source came A Murder is Announced – which many people claim to be the best in the Miss Marple series.


The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are agog with curiosity over an advert in the gazette which reads - A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm, a childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out and a gun is fired! When they come back on a Murder which was announced has taken place and suddenly the sleepy town of Chipping Cleghorn is awakened to Mystery and Death.

My Review:

Perhaps if I had read A murder is announced before thirteen problems, then I would have not stayed away from the Miss Marple series for such a long time, this is an engaging mystery and with a very interesting premise and is quite fast paced, the characters are well written and the humor part is not missing, the book has many suspects which is always good.

The feeling of some shire type village and a murder in the midst of it gives the book a good ambiance. Miss Marple is unusually active in the book, and even cooks up a scheme to catch the killer red handed, but my problem with Marple is her constant references to her village life and her not really doing any actual detective work( she just sits and thinks), that said the story is good but for me but the killer is predictable, after reading many Christies this is something you begin to catch from the clues.

Ratings: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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