Wrapping Some Books

I just finished wrapping some children’s books for my friends’ children and I really like what I got out of some brown wrapping paper and Posca paint markers.

The books are all by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre and they’re a delight that’s fun to read even as an adult (the mark of a good children’s book in my opinion).

Can you guess which book is under which wrapper?

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie

“Murder on the Orient Express” is justifiably one of Christie’s most famous and well-regarded mysteries. I’ve read it several times before, seen more than one adaptation of it, and still it fascinates me how she got such a complex and outlandish idea to tick.

Christie created the perfect setting, both mundane and exotic, one that is designed for constant movement and yet is at a complete standstill, a small and confined location that is at the same time expansive and cosmopolitan. Here duchesses and servants mix, and Poirot moves deftly among them, not as his pompous self, but as a man in his element: efficient, kind, sharp and thoroughly enjoying himself. He is on his own, cut off from any outside information or help, with only his “little grey cells” to aid him, and he performs magnificently and with great heart and great human understanding.

If you are starting your Agatha Christie journey, this little gem full of dozens of well placed and well considered details is a good and very satisfying place to start.

Book Review: The Murder on the Links, Agatha Christie

Last year I bought a few Agatha Christie mysteries on sale for my kindle, mainly to serve as travel reading books. I love Agatha Christie, despite her outdated politics and attitudes and her slow pacing (relative to more modern authors, particularly mystery writers). She has the power to evoke a scene and a character with very few words, to weave fantastically improbable circumstances into believable narratives, and she is very readable and entertaining.

There are authors whose work I pick up whenever I really want to get my mind off things, and Christie is forefront among them.

“The Murder on the Links” is a Hercule Poirot novel, his second appearance after “The Mysterious Affair in Styles”, and the Belgian detective is here at his best. He is pompous, he is fastidiously neat, he is arrogant and manipulative, and yet he is a warm and kind person, much like his counterpart Marple.

This is not a golf book, despite the name. The Links here are almost an afterthought, and the plot largely doesn’t take place in them. A wealth man tries to hire Poirot to help him deal with a secret in his past, and yet as Poirot and Captain Hastings arrive to the man’s French coastal villa, he has been found murdered and the local police are investigating. There are several generational battles going on here, and Christie cleverly intertwines them: the young, coarse and cocky French detective Giraud of the Sûreté against the aging, polite and equally cocky Poirot; the older actors Paul and Eloise Renauld, Madame Daubreuil, Captain Hastings, against the younger ones, Jack and Marthe, the mysterious “Cinderella” and her equally mysterious sister. The plot revolves a lot around chance, as many of the genre do, but it revolves more around the pairing and contrasting of these characters, of the past to the present.

It’s a fun and light read, entertaining without being too problematic to modern readers. One of the Christie mysteries that survived the test of time pretty much unscathed.