Sittaford Mystery, The: A book review

Sittaford Mystery, The: A book review

Do you read mystery thrillers? If you do, you will understand my frustrations about being able to guess the culprit in the first few chapters. But when you are reading a book by Christie, you don’t have to fear. So how did The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie fare on my scale?

Have you read The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie? How did you like it? What is your favorite book from the Christie's? Let us talk. Click To Tweet

About the book

Sittaford Mystery Cover

Book Name: The Sittaford Mystery

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Fiction – Thriller, Mystery,

Characters: Major Burnaby, the Willets, Captain Joe Trevelyan, Emily Trefusis, James Pearsons, Inspector Narracott

Setting: England, The UK

The plot

Major Burnaby visits his new neighbors, the Willets and finds himself participating in an Ouija board game (“tableturning”). The seemingly harmless game ends with the “spirits” announcing that Captain Trevelyan, his long time friend and landlord, is dead.

Burnaby gets restless and takes it upon himself to make sure the Captain is well, trudging through the thick snow. But as it turns out to be, the Captain is really dead and his nephew is arrested.

Emily Trefusis, the fiancée of the nephew takes it upon herself to acquit him and find the real culprit. Was it just coincidence that the séance pronounced the death? If so, who killed the Captain forms the rest of the story in The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie.

My initial thoughts

I am not even surprised anymore that I failed to solve an Agatha Christie’s murder mystery. While I had two or three lines of suspicions, I was not even close to the actual murderer. I bow down before the Queen of mystery, once again.

The set up of secluded Sittaford was a good choice and gave the perfect eeriness required for this whodunnit. And you all know how much I love small town/village set ups.

Emily Trefusis and Inspector Narracott worked well for me, and their styles never clashed with each other. No negativity, but I liked him more than some of Christie’s regulars themselves.

I loved the ensemble of colorful characters – puzzle loving Major Burnaby, the Willets who have made a bizarre decision to spend their winter in an isolated place in Dartmouth, absolutely unlikeable heirs of the Captain and the weak, naïve accused James Pearson and of course Emily Trefusis herself!

Emily was a welcome change. She spoke her mind, put on a bit of act and was earnest in freeing her fiancé, and had a great sense of humor. And Charles Enderby played the perfect sidekick. Well, how many times do we get the female to do the heavy lifting and the male being the humble sidekick!

What worked for me

  • I really liked Inspector Narracott and his working style as much as I enjoyed Emily’s.
  • I loved the snowy and secluded Sittaford background, perfect for my small town loving self.
  • The tableturning or Ouija board game was nice add in too. I confess it misled me a bit more than it should have.

What may have been better

  • I wish we heard more about the Captain Joe Trevelyan, the misogynistic, money loving victim. Literally that is all we hear about him.
  • I didn’t want to read the men fighting over Emily. I want mystery, murder, and mayhem and no romance please.

Bottom line

The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie is a perfect mystery thriller for the lovers of the whodunnit genre. If you like an ensemble mystery this one is for you and again you can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie.

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Have you read The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie? How did you like it? What is your favorite book from the Christie’s? Let us talk.

Plot holes: Watch out for these inconsistencies! Part 2

Plot holes: Watch out for these inconsistencies! Part 2

I seldom lose my cool when I see those glaring plot holes in books and movies. If the book has more than a few, I feel completely turned off and may even DNF the book. Many of us do that and it is not wrong to DNF.

Earlier this month we were discussing about some of those plot holes that would affect the story’s flow. These can be the inconsistencies in terms of

  • The actual plot and story line
  • The character development
  • The world we built

I realized these inconsistencies are much more common than I realized and I decided to explore more on it. In order to make it easier to find and fill those damn holes, I will try and classify the holes in terms of plot and story line into groups.

1. Illogical and impossible scenes

I hate it when in the movies the actor gets shot in their chest with a gun, continues to fight the villain and deliver a fatal blow , yet a single bullet can explode moving cars every time. Don’t you?

For me the simple measure to group these illogical scenes in a plot is to ask myself if they make go ‘But how did he/she?’. More often than not, those questions are rhetorical because we know that couldn’t happen, unless there was a miracle. And if your story is about magic and miracle, please elaborate on how it happened. If not, that is a hole for you to fix.

 

 

Let us see some examples shall we?

  • The highly frustrated curly girl in me, wants to mention about how easy the makeovers are – removing the glass and straightening the hair.
  • Oh my favorite! How is there not even an adult whenever the young protagonist survives every damn disaster? My mom won’t even let me go to a sleepover without a chaperone when I was a wee teen, and these kids survive a zombie Apocalypse.
  • Another one about the bullets. A single man (the protagonist) can shooting 20 men has more chance in destroying them than 20 of them shooting him. It always happens in the movies.

2. Contradictory scenes

Y’all how much I love reading Whodunnits and attempting (and failing) to solve it. But you know what irks me the most there? Plot holes!!

Why does the person who left town in the third chapter return in the final chapter? Please do not say he is the murderer, that is too convenient. Don’t we hate it when luck and coincidence solves them all? Okay maybe I am moving away from the topic. Do not let your events contradict.

 

Here are some more that would just make me pull the hair off my head.

  • A person who is trapped in a dungeon appears from nowhere at the last moment to defuse the bomb. He WAS TRAPPED!
  • You were beaten black and blue in a fight earlier, but without any more new reinforcements you win him the next day. What changed and how?
  • How did you know land the bull’s eye if you never learnt archery? At the least tell me in advance that you were good at darts. Look out for those events that could not have happened because of something else that happened in the book and kick them off.

3. Unresolved conflicts:

I cannot emphasis too much on this one at all. I mean am sure no one would like to wait for eternity to know what those smaller characters did next in your story. Of course I hate cliffhangers, but I am not talking about them.

 

While love having lots of a few just the right number of side plots and characters in a story but only when you intend to make them reach their destiny er.. I mean solution. Why else would you include about them, except perhaps to add some conflicts just for the heck of it?

I know some of these might sound a bit over the top but they do happen. As a beta reader I do point out such inconsistencies in the manuscript but it saves a lot of time and your efforts to fix them when you revise your manuscript before you send it to the beta reader or the editor.

Just remember, if it doesn’t make sense to you, your readers won’t understand it either.

What is the most blatant plot hole you have come across in a movie or a book? Do you find these gaps in the plot annoying or they completely obtrusive? Do share with me. 

Plot
And Then There Were None: Book review

And Then There Were None: Book review

When I love a book, I give myself some time to let my thoughts brew and write my review in a day or two. Sometimes, that becomes eventually or.. never. That is what had happened to those ‘favorite’ books and I never gotten around to write those amazing 5 star reviews. But here I am, finally attempting to talk about one of such books – Agatha Christie’s And then there were none.

There have been numerous adaptations based on And then there were none by Agatha Christie, and frankly none of them are closer. Read my review here. Click To Tweet

About the book

And Then There Were None

Book Name: And then there were none

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Fiction – Thriller

Characters: Justice Lawrence John Wargrave, Vera Elizabeth Claythorne, Philip Lombard, General John Gordon Macarthur, Dr Edward George Armstrong, Anthony James Marston, William Henry Blore, Mr Thomas Rogers, Mrs Ethel Rogers, Emily Caroline Brent, Isaac Morris, Fred Narracott.

Setting: Devon, England, The UK

The plot

Eight strangers are invited to a private island near the coast of Devon, England by an eccentric millionaire, Mr Owen. The guests are welcomed by a cook and a butler. But their host is nowhere to be seen and they realize none of them know him very well.

All they find is a framed copy of an old nursery rhyme that tells the tale of ten soldiers who leave, disappear or die until none of them are alive. Everyone is intrigued to find ten figurines depicting the ten soldiers in their dining room.

At dinner a voice accuses that everyone of them was guilty of murder and they will all be dead soon. Immediately one of them chokes on their drink and dies. And they realize one of the figurine is broken. Soon one by one each of the guests dies, following theme of the childhood rhyme.

Each of them starts suspecting the other, as they are all stranded in secluded island. Who is the murderer and who survives their stay forms the rest of the book ‘And then there were none’. 

My initial thoughts

For me And then there were none would be one of the best mystery ever written. I read this for the first time when I was around 13 years old and it was not a surprise that I was not able to solve it.

Incidentally, I forgot about this book for about another five years until I gave it another read in my late teens. I still didn’t solve it but that’s when I realized how much I loved it. I keep reading it once in a while and it has never lost its charm on  me.

And to make matter worse (or better) it has become a sort of benchmark to compare the other mystery novels and ‘whodunnits‘. There have been numerous adaptations based on And then there were none by Agatha Christie, and frankly none of them are closer to the book, IMHO.

Things that worked for me

  • There are so many mini plots within the story that makes it hard to guess the murderer. 
  • The murders get more and more exciting as it follows an old rhyme and everyone has a theory that someone else’s involved.
  • I liked the strong emphasis on ‘fair’ justice system, even if it meant eye for an eye. I understand it is a fantasy but it sounds so good. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I don’t think anyone could guess the murderer on their first read. I mean there are literally no clues. 
  • There are so many characters that you stop feeling related to them, in a while. There are, more or less, no descriptions for any of the characters.
  • Unfortunately, There is a huge plot hole which is a part of the solution. But it is kinda easy to ignore it (at least it was for me).
  • The book obviously feels dated but the casual racism and sexism might turn you off.

Bottom-line

I consider And then there were none as a masterpiece and I am sure everyone would love it. I can’t recommend it enough. If you are going to read only one Christie’s in your life, choose And then there were none.

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What is your favorite Agatha Christie novel? Have you read this one? Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple – who do you like better? Let us chat.

One of us is lying: A Book review

One of us is lying: A Book review

Do you know who is up to date on all book trends and posts reviews as soon as they finish a book? Not me. Even when I rarely catch up with trend and read something that everyone likes and raves about, everything doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Let us take the example of One of us is lying, a YA ‘whodunnit thriller that rocked the Twitter and blogs last, read on to know more.

Almost a year ago, everyone I knew and followed read and spoke about One of us is lying. After a tedious hunt I found the book and read it as fast as could. You see, I do try to keep up. But I never posted a review because I am generally forgetful and I forgot about the book. Read further to know why the book was so forgetful.

About the book

One of us is lying

Book Name: One of us is lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Genre: Fiction – Young Adult, Mystery

Characters: Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, Jake, Cooper, Simon

Setting: California, The USA

The plot

The story begins at detention with five students that fit the popular stereotypes – Bronwyn the class nerd, Nate the brooding bad boy, Addy the pretty and popular girl, Cooper the athlete, and Simon the outcast. Simon holds a knife over everyone else’s head with help of the school’s gossip website and he knows a lot.

Things go haywire when Simon dies of an allergic reaction right in front of them at the detention center. The police suspect foul play and the four teens are brought under spotlight. Did the fact that Simon was going to publish their secrets the next day had anything to do with his death? You will have to read One of us is lying to know more.

My initial thoughts

As someone who loves reading whodunnit, I sorta guessed the murderer easily. Well, my theory almost worked, though not completely. Karen M. McManus’s writing was fast at some places, especially around the murder, and then lagged in other places. I wish it had a consistent pace but it was not a deal breaker.

Things that worked for me

  • It is definitely an easy to read book and I finished reading it in a few hours. And needless to say it was un-put-down-able.
  • Kudos to the author for writing such a mostly fast paced story with typical characters and yet, make her mark. 
  • I liked Addy’s character growth, from an airhead to sort of empowered(?). It would have been great if there was such a character development for all the other characters as well. 
  • Though marketed as a thriller, it has much more of romance and drama from the other side plots, which kept the story moving, all though slowly. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • The multiple POVs for various characters sounded pretty much the same to me. 
  • How many red herrings are too many? ‘One of us is lying’ many. Since I kinda already guessed it, I felt the clues were too many apparently misleading. 
  • The romance kinda felt forced and the book might have been more crisper without it.
  • I think I keep repeating this on all my YA reviews. Where are the adults? And why is the police so incompetent? 

Bottom line

Despite the cliched characters and events, One of us is lying held my attention for the few hours it took for me to finish it.If you like a YA mystery that is more on the side of YA, you might like One of us is lying. If you are looking for more solid mystery/thriller, there are better options.

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Have you read this one? How did it fare on your scale? What are the cliches that turn you off the Young Adult genre? Let us talk.