Revisiting literary friends……Agatha Christie

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Books often take you places you never would have gone before. Agatha Christie for me is one such author who has taken me to places I really wish did exist – St Mary Mead for example -although the murder rate is quite high there so maybe not sure about that one.

Still, the places such as Gossington Hall, the inside of the Orient Express,  Betrams hotel are memories which will stay with me for ever. They’ve lasted like faded photographs in  my mind ever since I read them and now with the TV adaptation of her Tommy and Tuppence novels, I thought it was nice to reread them.

Oh and it was like visiting an old friend, seeing the places again that I knew as a child, the very first day an English teacher handed me my first Agatha Christie – A Murder Is Announced – and said “I think you’ll like this”

How do you feel when you wander back into a book you’ve known and loved for years? It felt like wandering back into a house I used to visit frequently, friends I used to know, wondering what has changed and what has stayed the same. Of course it was me who now was older and arguably wiser, now having read many crime and mystery books based on forensics and more brutal cases would my visit to the past be a good one?

Well yes it was and more. For it was like opening up an old treasure trove and marvelling at a time when there was no technology that we rely on today, that clever old Miss Marple who would sit and knit and observe……the head bobbing over the hedge as she listened to some secret chatter, the excitement of wandering into Gossington Hall when it was still owned by the colonel and then when it is taken over by an American actress…

Aah Agatha, your crime stories have stood the test of time for me – they are classics, photos in my memory box, recollections in my mind.

tOMMY

As for Tommy and Tuppence, I had met these two in the story N or M and now they are being republished with the TV images of David Walliams and Jessica Raine as the crime busting couple. A new chance to reconnect with two old friends!

Now then, I think a cup of tea is in order, a comfy rug and a good Christie in preparation for tonight’s visit with Tommy and Tuppence on BBC.

How did you feel reconnecting with characters from your past? Is it good to meet old literary friends?

Cold Mourning in Ottawa

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Cold Mourning is the first book in a new series by author Brenda Chapman – a well known and well respected mystery writer

Set in Ottawa, Canada, the plot is as chilling as the cold, snowy setting

Native American Kala Stonechild moves to Ottawa for her job and for something else as well. She lands herself a job in a special unit of the Ottawa Police Department headed up by detective Jacques Rouleau.

Both Stonechild and Rouleau have a past and this is one of the novels strengths -we get to know them on a much deeper level and start to care for them early on in the story.

They have a case to investigate and so must work together – business man Tom Underwood has gone missing and Rouleau’s team is charged with finding what has happened.

When the case later turns to a murder investigation, family, friends, and business colleagues are all under suspicion. Everyone could have had a motive and the twists and turns through out the book made it hard to guess which makes the end a nice treat. There might be so many motives but no real evidence. Each character is flawed, and the subplots and background set up a perfect backdrop to this first in  a series of novels.

You see, Tom is not your ordinary business man – he has a very disfunctional family and questionable friends. Not to mention the character of the man himself –

 Tom Underwood looked across the room at his wife and wondered how it would feel to place his hands around her slender neck and throttle the life out of her

Meanwhile, Kala has her own mystery to solve – she needs to find her cousin, with whom she once shared a horrific nightmare of brutality and murder.

A cold winter in Ottawa
A cold winter in Ottawa

A multilayered novel with a unique premise made all the more chilling by the frosty cold environment of an Ottawa winter

The snow there was soft and deep, but years in the bush made her sure-footed and quicker than most in the shadowy darkness

If you haven’t read any Canadian fiction, you would not go wrong starting with Brenda Chapman – an Ottawa gem

The Da Vinci Code, Paris

The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown was very popular when it was first released in 2004 and long after.However it was also widely criticised, especially by the Church as it questions the existance and indeed the origin of the Holy Grail.

Putting the subject matter and your opinions on this to one side, I have found this book to be a very interesting guide book to Paris and beyond for several reasons:

The Louvre is very popular with visitors all year round but I was living and working in Paris at the time when it came out and the number of visitors to this museum and to the underground shopping mall and museum entrance where the upside down pyramid can be found, was quite simply astonishing. Even if you don’t go inside the museum to see the Mona Lisa (Which is MUCH smaller than you would ever imagine), you can still marvel at the Louvre museum itself and the gardens around it.

I also revisited the beautiful Saint Sulpice church in Paris with this book and was rather amused to find this note in the church for visitors to read:

There were still many tourists taking pictures of the ‘rose line’.Including me. And yes I looked for the P and the S in the windows and imagined Silas breaking the line to look for the treasure beneath.

Shows you the power of the written word.