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#TuesdayBookBlog THE KILLINGS AT KINGFISHER HILL: THE NEW HERCULE POIROT MYSTERY by Sophie Hannah (@sophiehannahCB1) (@HarperCollinsUK) #Poirot #mystery Fun, twisty, and light

Hi all:

I bring you another book in the new series about Poirot adventures by Sophie Hannah:

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

The world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot—legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile—returns to solve a fiendish new mystery.

Hercule Poirot is travelling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate, where Richard Devonport has summoned him to prove that his fiancée, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. But there is a strange condition attached to this request: Poirot must conceal his true reason for being there.

The coach is forced to stop when a distressed woman demands to get off, insisting that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. Although the rest of the journey passes without anyone being harmed, Poirot’s curiosity is aroused, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered with a macabre note attached…

Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And if Helen is innocent, can Poirot find the true culprit in time to save her from the gallows?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0842DH5C6/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0842DH5C6/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B0842DH5C6/

Author Sophie Hannah

About the author:

Hello! Welcome to my Amazon Author Page, and thank you for your interest in me and my books. Below you will find my official biog and all my online links so that you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll also find a link to my Dream Author Coaching Programme for writers, which launched in September 2019.

Oh, and you can see some cute photos of my amazing dog Brewster on this page too! He often leaps onto my laptop while I’m writing and deletes entire paragraphs by accident – so you could say he’s a regular contributor to my literary efforts!

If you would like to receive my monthly newsletter (in which I give away freebies and share scandal, gossip and intrigue) you can sign up at the bottom of the home page of my website, sophiehannah.com. And if you want to contact me directly (to say you’ve loved a book of mine, or even to complain vociferously about one of my books), email sophie@sophiehannah.com. I’m always delighted to hear from my readers!

Sophie xx

My Official Biography is as follows:

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her crime novels have been translated into 49 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the 2013 UK National Book Awards. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie’s death, both of which were national and international bestsellers. She went on to publish a third, The Mystery of Three Quarters in 2018 which was an instant bestseller, and her fourth Poirot novel, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill will be published in August 2020. Sophie helped to create a Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing at the University of Cambridge, for which she is the main teacher and Course Director. She is also the founder of the Dream Author Coaching Programme for writers which launched in September 2019.

Sophie is also an award-winning, bestselling poet, and her poetry is studied at GCSE level across the UK. She has co-written two murder mystery musicals with composer Annette Armitage: The Mystery of Mr. E and Work Experience. She has written a self-help book called How To Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life, and hosts the How to Hold a Grudge podcast.

Sophie lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.

And I can be found online here:

Website: www.sophiehannah.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sophiehannahauthor/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sophiehannahwriter/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sophiehannahCB1

http://dreamauthorcoaching.com

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/how-to-hold-a-grudge/id1439465411

https://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Hannah/e/B001JP23J6

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins UK for the ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Although this is the fourth book in this series written by Sophie Hannah, it is the second I’ve read (you can check my review of The Mystery of Three Quarters here).

Having read the novel and re-read my review, I realise that much of what I said about the previous book applies here, so I won’t elaborate on those points. What I can tell you now is that I enjoyed this novel even more than the last one. I won’t go into details about the ins and outs of the plot, because this is a mystery after all, but let’s say that there are a couple of murders, several murder confessions, clues galore, red herrings by the bucket load, board games, so many secrets and lies that’s difficult to keep track, a variety of motivations for the crimes (true and not), difficult family relationships, a terribly dysfunctional family, and of course, Poirot and his sidekick, inspector Edward Catchpool from Scotland Yard. Catchpool writes the story (in the first person), and often also reports parts of the investigation he has not directly taken part in (as Poirot gives him tasks to complete on his own, and the duo split up at times to cover all bases). He is the Hastings-type character and, despite his profession, as you can imagine Poirot takes the lead and tells him exactly what to do (at the same time giving readers a chance to ask themselves the same questions and to go over the main pieces of the puzzle). At some points he seems to be quite on the ball, but most of the time he is lagging behind Poirot and never dares to challenge him. In this novel there are even fewer of his personal concerns coming through, but that is not what the story is about, and I’m sure readers will be too caught up in the plot to worry about it, as this is a plot-driven story after all and not a psychological thriller.

I enjoyed the variety of clues, the twists and turns, the red-herrings, and although most of the characters are not psychologically complex or well-rounded, I enjoyed the variety they offered and was particularly intrigued by Daisy (not that she is very consistent or likeable, but that is precisely what makes her more interesting). Some of the side topics the story deals in are difficult and morally ambiguous, but the author doesn’t dig too deep, and there is little room for philosophical disquisitions or true heartache in this novel. Yes, even Poirot acknowledges that we might like or sympathise with a criminal and his or her reasons for committing a crime, but according to him, that does not mean they should go unpunished. We might disagree with him, but there is something reassuring in having a protagonist who is not tortured by doubt or self-hatred. Yes, we might want to kick him at times, but we know what we are getting, and he delivers it every time.

There is plenty of telling in the story, and that might not suit people who prefer thrillers or to be immersed in the action all the time. Much of the story involves interrogating suspects, witnesses, or others who might have relevant information, and some of it is not directly observed by Catchpool. There are almost as many narrators as there are characters (some are less than truthful, others are reluctant, infuriatingly detailed…) even though their versions of the story are usually reported by others, and that allows from some nuggets of observation and reflection from Poirot and/or Catchpool (although Poirot does as he is wont to do and plays with some of his cards very close to his chest). There are some touches of humour —funnily named and behaved dogs, bitchy comments, put-downs, witnesses who won’t stop talking and will tell Poirot off for interrupting (a spoonful of his own medicine at last)— that I enjoyed, but readers who are keen on avoiding anything extraneous to the plot might not appreciate them. I’ve also read some comments of people who complained that the writer does not manage to create a true sense of the location or the historical time of the story. It’s true that the author does not spend much time describing the setting, clothing, or other details not essential to the story, but I thought that made readers focus on the plot (and one needs to pay close attention to everything), and I liked the location and the fact that most of the story takes place in a big house, not a mansion but rather a much smaller affair, which goes some way to show times are changing (as does the coach trip).

We have the usual rounding up of all the main characters in the house at the end, and Poirot reveals everything, as he should. Did I guess right? Well, I did guess some things, but not the full explanation. I hang my head low and confess that I was not a match for Poirot’s “little grey cells”.

All in all, this is a book I recommend to fans of Agatha Christie, especially those who have been following this new series by Hannah, to lovers of classical mysteries looking for a puzzle to solve and a fairly light read, that enjoy a challenge and plenty of twists and turns. You won’t be left wondering and worrying about it for long, but you’ll relish it while it lasts and it will help you forget about your daily concerns. A fun read. What more can we ask for?

Thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and the author for this fun read, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click review, keep smiling, and remain safe.

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (@JoelDicker) A demanding mystery recommended to writers and lovers of complex stories #mystery

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a book that had been on my mind for a while…

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

A crime story. A love story. More than 2 million copies sold worldwide.

And now a major 10-part MGM TV series starring Patrick Dempsey and Ben Schnetzer.

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’.

But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

The film is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) and released on 23 August on SkyWitness.

The Baltimore Boys, a follow-up to the bestselling The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, is published in paperback.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Truth-about-Harry-Quebert-Affair-ebook/dp/B00ELIF0WK/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Truth-about-Harry-Quebert-Affair-ebook/dp/B00ELIF0WK/

Author Joel Dicker
Author Joel Dicker

About the author:

Joël Dicker was born in Geneva in 1985, where he studied Law. THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR was nominated for the Prix Goncourt and won the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie Française and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. It soon became a worldwide success in 2014, publishing in 42 countries and selling more than 3.5 million copies. In the UK it was a Times number one bestseller, and was chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club as well as Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club.
In May 2017 his novel THE BALTIMORE BOYS, already making waves across Europe and number one in several countries, will be published for the first time in English. Both a sequel and a prequel to THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR, it will centres around traumatic events that blight the lives of the Baltimore branch of Marcus Goldman’s family.
In the meantime Joël has become “brand ambassador” for the Citroen DS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTKep1n4kFU

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jo%C3%ABl-Dicker/e/B005ZKGZWM/

My review:

I’m not sure if it was the cover (the old cover) of this book, or the title, the fact that wherever I went (Spain, the UK, France) I saw the same book in airports and bookshops, or a combination of all that together with the blurb of the book, but I had been curious about this novel for a long time and, eventually, I got around to reading it.

The book and its author have received many accolades and awards, and it is one of those books that manages to combine a gripping story (a mystery that keeps wrong-footing investigators and readers alike) with an interesting narrator and a clever way of telling the story that becomes a part of the action and almost a character in its own right.

The book is divided into Three Parts (Part One: Writer’s Disease, Part Two: Writer’s Cure, Part Three: Writer’s Paradise), a Prologue, and Epilogue, a first scene, and acknowledgements at the end. In brief, this novel is the story of the writing of a book, the book we have in our hands (we assume) by Marcus Goldman, also known as Marcus the Magnificent (you’ll have to read the book to know more about that, but let’s say that from a very young age, Marcus had been a man with a sense of his own destiny and had realised that there are ways of gaining fame and attracting everybody’s attention that are not all to do with hard work or talent). In part one, after an intriguing initial scene, we meet Marcus –who became famous after publishing his first book– suffering from writer’s block. Almost two years have passed since the publication of his novel (this is 2008), and he is desperate as his publisher has given him a deadline. To try and get out of the situation he goes to visit his writing teacher, Harry Quebert, whom he met at Burrows University, which he attended between 1998 and 2002. He lives in Somerset, Maine, and is happy to see him. While he is there, Marcus makes a discovery about Harry’s life, and as the novel progresses, we learn that there are many more secrets and mysteries hidden behind the letters and pictures he finds. A fifteen-year-old girl, Nola Kellerman, disappeared in 1975 and when her body is discovered in Harry’s property, all hell breaks loose.

The novel, although seemingly divided into the period before the writing of the novel, the actual writing of it, and its publication, keeps jumping backwards and forwards in time, sometimes through the narration of one of the characters (we go back to 1975, there are fragments where we learn more about Marcus’s relationship with Harry during university and in the in-between years, and we also travel to 1985 and to 1969), sometimes through letters and documents, sometimes we get to listen to recordings of interviews, or we get summaries of reports. There are also other written documents referred to throughout the book, the most important, The Origin of Evil, the novel that turned Harry into a famous writer, which everybody refers to as a masterpiece, and that he happened to write in Somerset, in 1975. Marcus narrates the story in first-person, but the fragments that are either written by others or part of his novel, are written in the third person. And there are false starts (as Marcus and later Gahalowood, a cranky but likeable sergeant, uncover new information, the notes and the book gets reframed and rewritten), draft versions, false endings, plenty of misunderstandings and intentional misdirection as well. We get different versions of events, but we also get alternative versions of characters, particularly of Nola, who at times appears as a Lolita, a seductress who could manipulate all adults around her, while at others she is an innocent victim of family and lusty men, or a muse intent on inspiriting a masterpiece, or perhaps just a young scared girl trying to find happiness. Nothing is what it seems to be when we consider both the plot and the characters, and even the basic things we think we know for a fact might require reconsideration.

It is perhaps not evident at the beginning, but each chapter starts with writing advice, that later we understand consists of thirty-one points Harry offers Marcus, starting from number thirty-one and going up the list. As a writer, I feel that most of the points are very insightful, and although most are not terribly personal, some, that we see given in context, later on, help us get a sense of who the characters are, and we come to realise that all the advice is pertinent to the story as well. The book follows its own advice, and it piles layer after layer of story and meaning (like Russian dolls), increasing and releasing the tension as explanation after explanation is given and eventually rejected, and as our expectations and trashed time and again.

The characters are well drawn and even some of the seemingly minor characters end up amazing us when we get to know them better (and believe me, we do). There are surprises, as I said, there is humour (mostly provided by the publisher and by Marcus’s mother, perhaps both these characters are less well drawn and caricature-like, but they are not part of Somerset and the story but instead interfere and distract the writer from his task), there are are many touching moments and those are not limited to the main protagonists either (even the least likeable characters get their spot in the limelight). Despite the repetitions and the jumps in time, the book is not difficult to follow, although it is not easy to keep all the clues in mind and guessing who did what is not simple, Of course, that is the beauty of complex mysteries. I have not read the original version, but I cannot fault the translation into English, and I kept highlighting sentences and paragraphs, some to do with writing, but some with the story.

At times readers will be almost shouting, aligning themselves with the editor, demanding that the book gets finished and there is an end to the story, but the author keeps going, pushing the sense of frustration and the patience of the reader, looping the loop once more. It’s a tour-de-force. As Harry says: Books are like life, Marcus. They never really end. Having said all that, I enjoyed the ending, even if at some points it felt as if I was watching one of those horror movies with monsters in them, where you think they are dead, but no, they keep coming. Here, the different explanations, suspects, and red herrings keep coming as well, but I loved the actual ending (even if some of the details and the explanations stretched a bit the suspension of disbelief, but I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers).

I recommend this novel to lovers of mysteries looking for a long and involving read that requires your full attention and is fairly demanding, especially if you don’t mind complex narratives and jumps backward and forward in time. I also recommend it to writers who love novels about writers, for the plot, for the format, and for the advice (most of which will make you nod and smile). This book made me think about many other stories: Lolita, Beauty and the Beast, Cyrano de Bergerac… Although the book is not overtly sexually graphic, here goes a word of warning as it does discuss a relationship between an adult male and a young girl, and there are instances of violence and brutal assaults that could be upsetting. The book depicts a world where white men occupy the main active (and alive) roles (Marcus is Jewish and that plays a major part in the jokes about his mother’s behaviour) and in no way challenges gender or diversity prejudices either, but some of the characters offer insightful comments and have positive attitudes.

I thought I would leave you with a couple of quotations, especially dedicated to writers and readers:

You know what a publisher is? He’s a failed writer whose father was rich enough that he’s able to appropriate other people’s talents.

A good book, Marcus, is judged not by its last words but by the cumulative effect of all the words that have preceded them. About half a second after finishing your book, after reading the very last word, the reader should be overwhelmed by a particular feeling. For a moment he should think only of what he has just read; he should look at the cover and smile a little sadly because he is already missing all the characters. A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, please remember to like, comment, click, and always keep reading, reviewing and smiling!
But, before you go, another one of my books has become available as an audiobook:
The first novel in my YA paranormal trilogy, Angelic Business, now available as an audiobook, narrated by the fabulous Kathy James.

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matter. Audibook. Narrated by Kathy James
Angelic Business 1. Pink Matter. Audiobook. Narrated by Kathy James

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters.

Pink Matters is the story of Pink, a 17-year-old girl, a good student, articulate and smart. But she has never been the centre of attention or made the top ten in the rankings of the most popular and attractive girls at school. When two guys, both claiming to be angels, insist that she is, indeed, ‘special’, fight for her attention and help, and tell her she is the key to the future of the universe, she is quite cynical. But these guys can ‘do’ pretty amazing things, even miracles, so she has to wonder….

Now also available as an audiobook:

AUDIBLE.COM        AUDIBLE.CO.UK       AMAZON.COM      AMAZON.CO.UK

If you have never tried an audiobook, you can get it for free here.

You can listen to a sample here:

And you prefer a YouTube video, here it is:

Thank you!

 

 

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