Over the past one year there are some books that I read and meant to blog about. However, they made so little an impression on me, either good or bad that I never got around to reviewing them. I thought I would just mention them in a single blog post.
Death At the Bar by Ngaio Marsh – Marsh was a New Zealand writer heavily inspired by Agatha Christie. I have read reviews of her works across several blogs. “Death At the Bar” is my first taste of her writing and it left me totally underwhelmed. It’s an extremely standard run-off-the–mill murder mystery. Her sleuth is interesting enough, the Chief Inspector Alleyn of the Scotland Yard. The murder is neither obvious nor intriguing to hold your interest. The cast of characters are made up of slightly unrealistic vacationers who just don’t stick. I breezed through this novel, just to get to the end and get it over with.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – It’s very difficult to resist a book by this title. Instinctively you know it’s a crime story though I don’t know what gives it away. Our detective is a somewhat prodigious eleven year Flavia Sabina de Luce who discovers a dead body in her garden. You would think that such an experience would have sufficient trauma on a child, but Flavia jumps into sleuthing mood and starts investigating. The case is quite personal to her as her father is suspected of murder. Though I found the story entertaining with the charm of the British murder mystery, I just did not develop any fondness for any character. I found the antagonistic relationship between Flavia and her sisters exaggerated. I am not entirely sure what the target segment of this book is. The mystery is not complex enough to make it an adult novel. However, Flavia appears to be too grown up to appeal to younger readers. While I read the book I was entertained, but it did not make me want to read more of the series.
Hide and Seek by Wilkie Collins – Dare I dismiss a piece of work by Mr. Collins, and that too one of the first ‘mystery’ novels? I don’t know if saying this out loud is a good idea but I was quite bored by Hide and Seek. For a page turner it was incredibly tedious and I am person who enjoys reading long convoluted prose! I think my main issue with the book was with the characters. They were very one-dimensional – too kind, too innocent, too naïve, too wild, too evil, too mean-spirited- there were all types but all one-dimensional. I could not build any real interest in them. The mystery basically revolves around the identify of a beautiful girl “Madonna” who lives in the household of a reasonable well-off painter. The secret to her birth is a “Hair Bracelet” that the painter has and can lead to her parent’s identity. Now unfortunately, Collins gives away quite a bit of her birth in the beginning so a lot of the suspense is lost. Apart from the main story line, Collins does shed some light on painting as a skill and art but most it just seems to fill the pages rather than add to the storyline.