At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

I’m on an Agatha Christie kick so I picked this up at the library.

At Bertram's Hotel (Miss Marple, #11) Stats: The books was first published in January, 1965 (she died in 1971). In print it’s 223 pages. In audio form it’s only 2 discs – 2’20”. I listened to the BBC version, which is a dramatization, so there are multiple people involved, all playing their own character and sound effects – like a radion drama. Always enjoyable to listen to.

Blurb: An old-fashioned London Hotel is not quite as reputable as it makes out! When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer. Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day!

What I like: Mostly I liked the presentation of the story in drama form. I didn’t figure out who was the mastermind behind the chain of robberies, but Christie makes it easy to see who is at least partially involved. She has her usual trick of having many people involved in the story itself to keep you guessing on how they all fit in.

What I didn’t like: Miss Marple is hardly part of the story. I read another of Christie’s Miss Marple stories that was the same way. I suppose an old lady can only be in the center of so many murders, but when she isn’t, the stories just aren’t as enjoyable to me. You don’t get a feel for the other characters in a way that you care enough what is going on. And this was very short too.

Rating: 3/5  Not one of her better stories. I would rate the drama a 4/5.


And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

I had seen this in movie form (Title was Ten Little Indians – don’t know the year, there were a few of these made over the years) but had not read the book, so I was curious if they were the same or different. The ending was much different!

17070123Stats: Audio book is 5 discs or 6 hours, narrated by Dan Stevens – Matthew Crawley of the famed Downton Abbey fame! the print version is 264 pages.  This edition was created in 2013. The print edition was first published in 1939!

Blurb: (Goodreads): Considered the best mystery novel ever written by many readers, And Then There Were None is the story of ten strangers, each lured to Soldier Island by a mysterious host. Once his guests have arrived, the host accuses each person of murder. Unable to leave the island, the guests begin to share their darkest secrets; until they begin to die.

What I liked: For once, the blurb for a novel is not overstated. I think this is the best mystery and best Agatha Christie novel I have read so far. I loved how it was impossible to figure out. I had seen the movie, so when it started to veer away from the movie story line (toward the end) I was interested to see what Agatha had done. I had no clue who done it! And the answer was just as interesting. With ten people, there are lots of things of stories to juggle, but even listening to it, I manage to keep most of them straight, most of the time. Dan Stevens does a wonderful job with the narration. Each person has a personality and a definitive voice.

What I didn’t like: It was just a bit hard to believe the murder (won’t say who) managed everything so smoothly and the weather even cooperated so well to keep them on the island, but it is a fiction story, after all.

Rating: 5/5 highly recommend you listen to this one!

p.s. I just found out that this book was altered (even by the author) to make it more PC. I don’t know the details but I’m not surprised. Now I have to find the original. I guess the original was “Ten Little Indians.” I do understand this, but the reader has to be given a bit of a brain to know that something written in 1939 is not going to be the same as stuff written today (as the original Nancy Drew is not PC, but I wouldn’t want them to change those originals either – though they did. You can still find the originals, though).

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot, #4)I had read this book quite a while ago so when I saw the audio version in the library, I picked it up and so glad I did.

Stats: First published in 1926, 299 pages. Audio is 6 CD’s, 7′ 3″, narrated by Robin Bailey

Blurb: (Goodreads) Roger Ackroyd was a man who knew too much.
He knew the woman he loved had poisoned her first husband. He knew someone was blackmailing her ― and now he knew she had taken her own life with a drug overdose.
Soon the evening post would let him know who the mystery blackmailer was. But Ackroyd was dead before he’d finished reading it ― stabbed through the neck where he sat in his study…

What I liked: I really enjoyed the voice work of Robin Bailey. He did a wonderful job with the different voices, treating each voice as a distinct person with distinct vocal characteristics, even the women. I also enjoyed the story, of course. I have yet to read a Christe story I haven’t like, though I haven’t read them all, so who knows. Agatha does an exceptional job of making it hard to know who the true murder is. Even though I had read this in the past, I didn’t remember and was surprised once more 🙂 Old age does have some advantages. I also enjoyed her intro for Hercule Poirot (or HP as my daughter and lovingly call him) into the story: he is throwing “vegetable marrows” as I think she refers to them, over his neighbor’s fence and onto his neighbor. One example of Christie’s subtle wit.

What I didn’t like: Um…I’d have to think a bit on that one. I won’t give details so as not the spoil the story for any reader, but Christie lets the murder off (sort of) and in a interesting way. As a writer, it’s a cleaver ending, something different than the usual. As a reader, I’m not so sure I liked it.

Now you have to read it! Better yet, get the audio with Robin Bailey as the narrator. Worth the listen!

Rating: 4+/5

The Moving Finger – Agatha Christie

The Moving Finger (Miss Marple, #4) I wanted a light read (listen) so I picked this up at the library. After reading it, I’m not sure where the title comes from, other than maybe the moving finger are the fingers of the townspeople pointing at different people related to who done it (?).

Stats: First published in 1943, I think it was Ms Christie’s 4th book. The audio version is 5 discs, 6′ 10″ worth, narrated by Martin Jarvis. Print is 299 pages

Blurb: The placid village of Lymstock seems the perfect place for Jerry Burton to recuperate from his accident under the care of his sister, Joanna. But soon a series of vicious poison-pen letters destroys the village’s quiet charm, eventually causing one recipient to commit suicide. The vicar, the doctor, the servants—all are on the verge of accusing one another when help arrives from an unexpected quarter. The vicar’s house guest happens to be none other than Jane Marple.

What I liked: Agatha was able to distract me – put up a good smoke screen as she describes in the story – to make me think of everyone but the true murder, so the ending was satisfying.

What I didn’t like: This is a Miss Marple mystery and the incomparable Marble didn’t show up until the end, which was unfortunate in my eyes. I enjoy Miss M.’s personality. This isn’t one of Christie’s best stories – the beginning drags and when listening to it, it’s hard to keep all the characters straight, but I’m not sure that is an issue for the written book (the way it was originally published). Martin Jarvis’ narration was well done.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie

31299I don’t need an excuse to read or listen to Agatha; she’s one of my favs!

Stats: Audio book is 5 discs, 6′ 4″, print book is 196 pages. First published in 1955, audio book done in 2006

Blurb: (Goodreads)
Normally, a mere outbreak of petty thefts in a youth hostel wouldn’t be enough to interest the great detective Hercule Poirot. However, the warden of the hostel is sister to Poirot’s secretary Miss Lemon, and concern for her sister is interfering with Miss Lemon’s typing abilities. Poirot finds himself with an intriguing puzzle on his hands, and before long, murder increases the mystery. The fastidious Belgian sleuth is brought to life by the voice of veteran British actor Hugh Fraser.

What I liked: I like the ending. It wasn’t typical. Leave it to Agatha to turn the “normal” mystery ending on it’s head. I won’t tell you how she did it and spoil it. Besides not being able to figure out who-done-it, it had some interesting characters – particularly the owner of the hostel. The narrator, Hugh Fraser, does a bang up job with all the characters and makes them seem very real and very distinct as people. It also plays into my dream of owning such an establishment.

What I didn’t like: The only thing I can say is, listening to it, it was hard to keep all the students – thus all the potential murders – straight, but it was a minor annoyance.

Rating: 4+/5

The Tuesday Club Murders: A Miss Marple Mystery

This is really a fun Agatha book. The mysteries are written around a group of friends of Miss Marple who get together and challenge each other with unsolved crimes they personally are familiar with. It’s an intriguing surrounding – a fun group of characters – and mysteries that, of course, only Miss Marple can figure out.

It’s fun because there are one mystery after the other you get to try and figure out. I can’t remember how many but at least six different stories. As usual, I couldn’t decipher any of these mysteries, but this isn’t frustrating, most of the time, it’s just enjoyable to hear how Miss Marple does it.

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, this is a must read.

4:50 from Paddionton

I must say, as big a fan as I am of Agatha Christie, this wasn’t one of her better stories. This is a Miss Marple mystery, and I’m not sure if it’s because she doesn’t have the lovely old lady in much of the story but it just didn’t keep my interest as most of her stories do.

This story  starts with one of Miss M’s friends seeing a murder on train, as she it is moving next to her own train, so she can’t do anything about it. She tells the authorites when she gets off the train but no one believe the old woman – a body is never found. Well, her friend, Miss M believes her, of course.

Miss Marple feels she is too old for this adventure so she enlists the help of a very smart and industrious young woman, who does find the body. Then it slows up at this point as the inspector gathers clues w/o Miss Marple’s help.

He can’t figure out the answer himself, so in the end Miss M shows up again and, in her usual interesting style, saves the day. This isn’t the first Agatha mystry I’d pick up if I were you.