“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.” // Review of “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Date Read: 25/04/2018 – 26/04/2018


As someone who very often finds classic literature dry, stuffy and inaccessible,  I  had put off reading Murder on the Orient Express for a long time. It’s so iconic, and I didn’t want to sllog my way through it and then end up disappointed. I needn’t have worried. I flew through it in two days. It was completely engaging.

While I’d never read a Poirot book before, I had seen many an episode of the TV series starring David Suchet. Poirot is just as interesting a character on paper; his way of talking to people makes me laugh, but his powers  of deduction are masterful.

Having reached the end of the book, I could see why this particular one is so iconic, and widely considered Christie’s best. I tried keeping track of details, but of course, the outcome took me completely by surprise. Just when I thought things were getting completely unrealistic and ridiculous, that gets addressed and is part of the solution.

The reason that this doesn’t get a full five stars from me is because the decisions made by Poirot in literally the final paragraphs threw me off a bit. I couldn’t quite reconcile it, and even after googling some discussions surrounding the ending and coming to understand it, I still don’t know how I feel. But honestly, that was the only issue I had.

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“F*** me, I can do magic.” // Review of Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Title: Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Genre: crime fiction/urban fantasy
Date Read:
06/05/2016 – 11/05/2016
Rating: ★★


riversoflondoncoverI remember getting this book from the library not long after it was published in 2011, but the fact that I couldn’t remember many details at all made me think that I had DNFed it. However, going by my GoodReads status updates, I did get all the way to the end, but I only gave it two stars. I thought that maybe I should give it another chance to impress me, but sadly, I ended up feeling the same way again.

When Constable Peter Grant meets a ghost while supervising a crime scene, it ends up leading him into a world he never imagined. The string of murders his team are investigating are revealed to have a supernatural bent, and before long, Peter is taken on as an apprentice to a wizard, trying to get his head around Latin while also meeting the Gods of the London rivers, among other events.

One of my main issues with this book was Peter, and the way he was written. Some will argue with me that he’s just a typical hot-blooded male, but it gets not only tiresome but a bit gross when nearly every time he lays eyes on a woman (whether it’s one he knows or not), we got descriptions of her perky breasts, or the hardness of her nipples, or how he’d really like to do certain things to her. The book is in first person, which I am picky about anyway, but when I’ve got a character spouting things like this, it bugs me. If it hadn’t been for that, I might have liked him okay, but I think I would have found his character a bit flat anyway. I thought the narration was a bit similar to Mark Watney’s in The Martian, i.e. fun and snarky at first, but then forever fun and snarky, to the point where it’s just annoying and boring (I know, I know, I’m a crazy weirdo for not liking the Martian).

The plot as a whole was not terribly exciting until maybe the last fifty pages or so. I had trouble keeping track with all the players in the murder investigation, not to mention the subplot that didn’t really have a lot to do with anything, other than to introduce some side characters. Some of the world-building to do with magic was interesting, particularly to do with the history of magic and also Peter’s lessons, but I felt the procedural aspect of the book outweighed the magical aspects by far, which was disappointing, given that it was supposed to be a supernatural crime!

As you have probably concluded by now, I’m not going to continue with the series. While its premise promises all my favourite things, the execution just didn’t do it for me.

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller/crime fiction
Date Read:
12/03/2016 – 13/03/2016
Rating: ★★☆


sharpobjectsI’m going to get this out of the way first. In my very humble opinion, this is not a thriller. It’s a crime novel. There is a difference. And because it was marketed as a thriller, I kept waiting for that moment where the events would really truly grip me and have me devouring the rest of the book, but that never came. While it was a good book, the fact that those expectations weren’t met made it a bit of a disappointment for me.

Camille Preaker is a small-time journalist in Chicago, sent by her editor to her hometown of Wind Gap to cover the disappearance and murder of two young girls. As she works to uncover who killed the girls, she also has to confront her own past, and the dysfunctional family she’s worked so hard to leave behind.

Sharp Objects is full of messed up characters, and as well as the murders, deals with issues of mental issues and self-harm, as well as harmful family practices. Camille had a younger sister who died quite young, and even younger half-sister seems to have issues of her own. At one point, Camille’s mother openly says that she never loved Camille (and gives her a list of reasons why), and her step-father (while the closest thing to a father Camille has ever known) blames Camille when her mother’s mental issues seem to worsen. Having said that, these characters were all written in such a way that you almost felt you were on their sides at times, even if you rationally knew they were not good people.

The small-town setting made everything feel very claustrophobic and suffocating; these awful people were there wherever Camille and the reader turned. Flynn creates this atmosphere really well. It felt stifling.

I do have to admit, that while I know one of Gillian Flynn’s aims in her novels is to show that women can be just as messed-up and nasty as men, there are times when the way she does it makes feel uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it’s in a well,-that-was-supposed-to-make-you-uncomfortable way. Thirteen-year-old Amma constantly flaunted her sexuality and there was only one reference at the end to Camille realising how young thirteen really is. Camille also calls the male police officer she is working with sexist because he calls out situations of rape for what they are (the conversation is a bit more nuanced than that, but I can’t just transcribe it here, so you’ll have to accept that at the end of it I felt really weird about it) and that really put me off her for a chapter or two.

The “twists and turns” mentioned in so many reviews didn’t seem that twisty and turny to me. I never really felt any of the revelations of the investigations were twists as much as realisations and revelations naturally unfolding in the plot. That is, of course, a perfectly legitimate way to structure a novel, but it meant I was continually waiting for the big “oh, my God!” moment that never came. Maybe I was waiting for a really obvious game-changer like the twist in Gone Girl, and maybe that was my mistake, but it did lead to a bit of a let-down when the end finally came.