on january’s reads

A new year usually begins with the desire to read more and with intention. I can read ten murder mysteries in a row without having to even think twice about it, but intentionally reading other genres and expanding my reading profile is a harder task than it seems.

No matter, #readchristie2023 helped start the year off on a familiar note. The Agatha Christie foundation hosts a reading challenge each year based on a different theme. 2023 is all about ‘methods and motives’. The book for January’s jealousy motive was Sad Cypress. Hercule Poirot is commissioned to prove that Elinor Carlisle is not guilty of the murder of Mary Gerrard, her rival in love. A really good 4-star read. Although if I had to be nitpicky about it, the murder was committed for greed, though jealousy does dominate the entire book.

The Broken Earth Trilogy was originally recommended to me by my partner, and I did love the first book when I read it a few years ago. However, life came up and I never did finish the trilogy. I reread Book One, The Fifth Season, and breezed through it in a matter of hours since I already knew the story. The second book, The Obelisk Gate, was a different experience altogether. I would read two chapters and then pace around the flat, trying to calm my racing heart down. I think I forgot to breathe as I reached the ending. I cannot recommend this series enough if you love fantasy. I will be reading the third book soon, but I just need some breathing room before I pick up The Stone Sky and let it absolutely ruin me.

Though I am a complete sucker for cosy mysteries, Plotting for Murder tested me quite a bit in the first few chapters. I seriously debated DNF-ing it, but after reading reviews that said the writing did get better after the first half, I decided to five it a shot. I regret that decision. It wasn’t all bad, I suppose, but I’m still unimpressed (which is saying a lot). The book makes use of so many (too many) cosy mystery tropes. Our female main character has to move back into her hometown after her mother’s death. She becomes the unwilling owner of a declining bookshop that offers croissants to all its patrons. There’s a greedy uncle around who is after the main character’s sizeable inheritance. And of course, the ex-boyfriend who is also the sheriff in charge of solving the murder. And I’m sure there’s more I’ve completely forgotten about. Moving on.

You can hardly miss the name Anthony Horowitz these days. He seems to have written so many books. The Word is Murder sounded interesting enough on paper, but I somehow did not see the series name – Hawthorne and Horowitz. Yes, there’s a character called Anthony Horowitz in the book. Self-insert author-characters are a bit dicey. I read The Enigma of Room 622 last year with a similar author-character, and that character was the most annoying part of the otherwise fun novel. Same here, unfortunately. There’s a fine line to walk between dropping enough information to make a novel seem like an account of true events and just plain name-dropping. The opening hook was genius, I will give it that.

It is just after 11am on a bright spring morning, and Diana Cowper is going into a funeral parlour to organise her own service.

A mere six hours later she is dead, strangled with a crimson curtain cord in her own home.

Did she know she was going to die?

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Railway Children is a classic that I always vaguely knew of but never actually read. When I saw that Olivia Colman had narrated a one-hour version, I picked it up immediately and loved it. I was expecting the book to be darker, but perhaps the abridgement makes it seem lighter than it actually is. I do want to read the full book to compare.

I did say at the start that I was going to read genres other than mystery, but three out of the six I’ve mentioned are, well, mysteries. No matter. Everyone knows January is a month of failed resolutions. February will be better. I hope.

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