Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, by Erik Larson

Eight stars

A great fan of all things Erik Larson, I turned to this piece, which is slightly different from many of the other books the author has published. Rather than using history to tell of a dastardly criminal, the piece is all about a coming hurricane and how one man, Isaac Cline, sought to forewarn others. As the meteorological event advanced and eventually hit land in a Texas community, the destruction in its wake was like nothing ever seen in the US to that point. Larson offers a gripping description of events, painting the scene as few authors are able, without ‘drowning’ the reader in excessive minutiae. Well worth the time invested in this piece of non-fiction.

Isaac Cline loved his job with the US Weather Bureau. Serving as the resident meteorologist in Galveston, Texas, Cline surveyed the area for anything weather related and made sure those around him knew all about it. It was 1900, meaning that both tracing and reporting on any weather-related phenomena was still quite primitive, though the reader will likely be quite amazed at what they could do at the time. Cline noticed that weather disturbances as far away as the Caribbean and Florida would have some effect in Texas, though many others dismissed his claims as coincidence.

On the morning of September 8, 1900, the day began like any other. Then, Isaac Cline began to notice some odd readings and took note of deep-sea swells in Galveston. It was only later that his predictions of weather patterns from other parts of the Northern Hemisphere began to take shape. A full-blown hurricane was on its way to Galveston and the town was neither prepared, nor could a plan to save themselves be put in place. As winds rose and water pelted the seaside community, Cline and others could only watch the destruction mount, as they waited to see the after effects.

While six thousand people died, most unaware of what was taking place, the story has an ominous and personal angle for Isaac Cline, who suffered a tragedy all his own. While he was calling for help, his pleas fell on deaf ears, as no one could fathom that Cline’s predictions were rooted in possible truth. This is the story of those mounting concerns and how this hurricane helped shape the future of the US Wether Bureau and meteorological predictions for decades to come.

As with all of his books, Erik Larson dazzles the reader with the detail infused into the narrative, as well as the ease with which the story progresses. Larson uses a handful of first-hand accounts—telegrams, letters and field reports, as well as the testimony provided by those who survived the Galveston hurricane—to sketch out the timeline of events, as well as the advancing storm in ‘real-time’. Isaac Cline’s struggle is surely real and effectively presented by Larson in his easy to digest writing style, leaving the reader to feel as though they, too, are battling the winds and gales that September day in 1900. Providing not only the facts, but a personal narrative throughout, the reader can latch only all that Larson has to offer and this becomes much more than a piece of historical non-fiction, trying to inform the reader as to the goings-on in a personable context that permits a degree of empathy. This was another great read by Erik Larson and I will certainly be back for more soon!

Kudos, Mr. Larsen, for more stellar history storytelling. You find the greatest and most obscure stories to share with your fans!

And There He Kept Her, by Joshua Moehling

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Joshua Moehling, andPoisoned Pen Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

New to the work of Joshua Moehling, I thought that this book would make for an interesting read. I was pleasantly surprised as to how smoothly things went, with a dark thriller that carried me through to the final page and left me wanting more. Moehling does well to paint a sinister picture with this story and has me wondering if I ought to return to explore more of his work in the months to come.

When two teens target a house in a remote community, they are hoping to score something to help with their drug high. Little do they know what awaits them there, or that the proprietor has a plan of his own. Wanting to keep the past hidden, Emmett Burr will stop at nothing to silence the teens and keep the past cemented there.

Ben Packard hopes a fresh start in Sandy Lake, Minnesota will help his demeanour. Working as a sheriff’s deputy, Packard hopes to bring security to the community and rewrite his own personal narrative. Leading the investigation to to the two missing teens, Packard is prepared to pull out all the stops and show how effective he can be. With few clues and leads drying up faster than he can process them, Packard will have to rely on his gut and intuition, which is anything but stellar.

As the story reaches its climax, those involved show how a spine-chilling tale can truly grip everyone. A mystery and thriller like no other, Moehling shows that he has what it takes to stand next to others in the genre and make himself known. Easily the best thriller I have read in a while by an author worth of more attention.

Joshua Moehling may not have been on my radar before, but this novel has surely made me take note. I enjoyed the perspexctive he offers throughout and the dedication to the genre exhibited in the story. An eerie tale with some strong character development, Moehling taps into the inner soul of both character and reader, offering a story that will make people take note and want to know more.

While it would be easy to focus all my attention on Ben Packard, I found that there were a handful of great characters who emerged throughout the reading experience. There is a little backstory involved, as well as some great development, all of which feeds into the larger =narrative to keep the story moving, Moehling does well to proponent the reader with something worth their time, without bemoaning too much of the personal lives of the characters involved. I am eager to see how he addresses his characters in other publications, as I was left feeling as though it was a unique approach to much of what I have read lately.

The key to a great story is pulling the reader in from the opening pages. I was hooked before things got too far along and could not get enough. The narrative clipped along and left me fully engaged by the first few chapters, though I was able to steer my way through the plot with some ease. Great characters, developed effectively, kept me on track and the twists came just as I needed them. I am eager to see what else is out there by Joshua Moehling and how this compares to it. Hoping others will discover and devour this book as well, allowing the conversation to grow swiftly.

Kudos, Mr. Moehling, for a great piece. I am pleased to have stumbled upon it and cannot wait for more!

Steal (Instinct #3), by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Seven stars

In this third instalment of the Instinct series, James Patterson and Howard Roughan work together to develop a great thriller with a unique twist. Psychological at times with some gritty crime aspects, the collaboration works well, as the previous two novels did for those who took the time to enjoy them. Patterson appears to mesh well with Roughan, which is a pleasant surprise, as books bearing the former’s name flood the marketplace on a weekly basis. A worthwhile reading experience.

It was a shock to everyone who glanced at social media to see that Carter van Oehson planned to kill himself. Even his Abnormal Psych professor, Dylan Reinhart, was taken aback. Now, a whole day later, Carter has still not turned up, but neither has his body.

While the hunt is on, there is no trace of Carter, at least until his boat turns up on the water, empty and with no signs of a struggle. People begin to wonder if Carter went ahead with his vow or could this just be a means of getting some attention? While people speculate, one person is sure that there is something nefarious going on.

Carter’s father, Mathias von Oehson, is sure there is more to the story, wondering if his fame and popularity might be the reason for an abduction. There is a family secret that could be used as leverage, allowing whoever is behind this to blackmail the van Oehsons and cause chaos. Without being able to turn to the police, Mathias needs answers and knows just who to ask.

Dylan Reinhart is ready to assist, but had no idea it would mean being in the middle of such a massive secret. He’ll need every fibre of his being to locate Carter, but must also rely on his connection to NYPD Detective, Elizabeth Needham. Together, Dylan and Elizabeth turn over rocks and investigate clues that could lead them to Carter, or send them to the darkest parts of the globe where additional trouble lurks. A chilling story that Patterson and Roughan develop effectively, keeping the reader hooked until the final page turn.

While I find James Patterson’s excessive publications too much to handle, particularly when I seek a decently penned book, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Working alongside Howard Roughan, Patterson has developed a decent series that has potential. While the book had some slow moments, the narrative carried things effectively through to the stronger segments of the story. I am keen to see if there is more collaboration by this pair, be it with this series or elsewhere.

Dylan Reinhart and Elizabeth Needham have grown throughout the series, both personally and professionally. While they try to keep work and personal lives separate, there are times when things blur together, leaving the reader to wonder what might happen. Both have strong development throughout the series, though I did not feel as connected to them in this novel. They are worthwhile characters with much to offer, leaving me to wonder what’s next for this duo.

James Patterson has so many collaborators with whom he works, it is hard to keep them straight, as well as which offer high caliber writing. Based on my reviews from the past books in this series, as well as though that have his name attached, Howard Roughan is one of the ‘decent ones’. The narrative of this book worked well, though there were a few slow moments that left me tapping my finger as I sped through the chapters, though the overall experience was worth my time. Short chapters, what I consider Patterson’s trademark, worked well to keep the momentum going and left me able to focus on the endgame without getting too caught up in the aforementioned slower segments. A decent plot kept me curious and some characters served to flavour the writing in ways that made it a little more enjoyable. As I said before, I am eager to see what else is to come with this series.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Roughan, for a decent read. Eager to see what you have coming out soon.

Backstory, by William L. Myers Jr.

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William L. Myers Jr., andOceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Happy to read another book by William L. Myers Jr., I turned to this standalone, which packs just as much punch as his Philadelphia legal thrillers. Myers shows that he is versatile in his writing and grips the reader from the opening pages with this story that has a number of twists to keep things on point. Fans of his series will see some of the same spark in this piece, which will surely solidify their admiration for William L. Myers Jr.

It is all a blur to Jackson Robert Hunter, but when he opens his eyes outside a bar, all he has to show for it is a sore head and no memory. He’s soon told that his wife has committed suicide, but Hunter has an inkling that it was staged as part of a murder plot, with the killer still out there. He’s determined to find out who was behind this and ensure justice is served.

As he begins to investigate, Hunter realises that his amnesia has been cover something even more problematic, namely his own sordid past. His marital history is anything but pristine, with betrayal towards his wife and a lover he left hanging on at least one occasion. Broken hearts are only part of the issue, as there are a number of dirty cops who turned the other way, ready to exact their own revenge on him. Could his wife’s murder be the cost of it all?

From a small community in Kansas, Hunter finds himself in various parts of the US, discovering family secrets he did not know existed. His hopes of tracking down the killer is mired in his own dark past and those who remember all too well what he did to them. His chase intensifies as he realises that he is also trying to piece together his own life, which is anything but reputable. Myers offers another winner that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages well into the night.

There is something about Myers’ writing that pulls me in every time. His direct approach and wonderful storytelling makes for a great reading experience, no matter the topic at hand. A clear cut narrative offers the reader something wonderful to use as a guide and provides ample time to get excited about the experience until the final page turn, when all comes crashing together. Whether this is a deviation from his Philadelphia series or the start of something new, I am eager to see what else Myers has to offer in the coming years.

Jackson Robert Hunter is a wonderful character whose life is full of gaps, primarily related to the amnesia he suffered when his wife died. He progresses throughout the book, offering both personal backstory and some development in the hunt for his wife’s killer, providing the reader something of a larger picture. Hunter’s struggles are real, though he does not know them all, leaving him to meander through a darkness he cannot easily navigate. Myers effectively creates and dismantles his protagonist throughout the story, leaving the reader to judge what sort of man they have before them.

I have always enjoyed William L. Myers Jr. for his writing and the spin he places on his stories. While I am used to something highly legal in nature, this was a great move away from it, offering the reader a different flavouring. A strong narrative is complemented by great characters and a stirring plot. The chapters are succinct enough for the reader to want to push through, though also offer the chance to take a momentary rest. Myers spins a tale like few others I have known and makes the reading experience enjoyable. I am eager to see what he has next on his publication radar, hoping it will be just as enticing.

Kudos, Mr. Myers, for another great piece. You shine like few in the genre.

Snowstorm in August, by Marshall Karp

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Marshall Karp, and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

While I have read a bunch of his collaborative work, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to see what Marshall Karp can do on his own. This piece is intense and full of great character development, making the experience one that I hope to repeat again soon. Touching on a number of pertinent issues with enough action to keep things moving, Karp shows that he has what it takes to stand on his own and impact the genre quite effectively.

A freak snowstorm in August is all New York City needs. When Central Park is transformed into a winter wonderland, many wonder if it is an environmental situation. However, as people begin to suffer the consequences of the falling flakes, it’s soon revealed that this ‘snow’ is actually uncut cocaine, falling from the sky. Thousands die or are seriously injured and someone will have to pay.

Trying to untangle it all is left at the feet of Danny Corcoran, whose time as a captain in the NYPD recently came to an abrupt halt. With a handful of other retired cops, Corcoran is being anonymously funded to get to the heart of the matter and solve it before anyone else gets hurt. It turns out that Joaquín Alboroto, a powerful drug load feared around the world, is responsible for the carnage and will stop at nothing to keep it going, as long as those who stand in his way refuse to bow down.

While Corcoran and his team work as many angles as possible, the truth behind Alboroto’s plan comes to fruition. It will take ruthless behaviour and strategic planning to bring the kingpin down, but Corcoran has nothing to lose. He’s ready for a fight and this is sure to be one that will only end when someone’s body is gathering dust on the ground. Karp’s intense thriller kept me hooked until the final page turn.

While I discovered the work of Marshall Karp reading the James Patterson NYPD Red series, I could tell that there was something there worth exploring. Karp is one of the few collaborators whose work I have never had issues reading and actually come to enjoy when I see publication dates approaching. His book had all the elements needed for a great thriller and added some grit to the mix, making it even better. A strong narrative and substantial character development kept me hoping for a great story, which came in time. I can only hope that there are more books in this vein for me to enjoy before too long.

Danny Corcoran proved to be an entertaining protagonist throughout the. reading journey. Not only does he have the gumption needed to be a great investigator, but the personal side of his life is on full offer. Corcoran offers an intuitive approach to the investigation and provides the reader with a great adventure throughout while also providing some emotional insight, both into a past with his wife, as well as with some familial issues that prove to be an interesting sub-plot. I would be interested in seeing more of Danny Corcoran, should the chance arise.

Marshal Karp is truly a talented author in his own regard. His writing is crisp and style is just what I would expect in this genre. A well-paced narrative offers the reader the necessary roadmap to successfully make their way through everything taking place, with a handful of strong characters to offer intrigue and keep things interesting. Short chapters propel the book forward and permit the reader to feel as though they could easily devour the book in a sitting or two. I am eager to see if this was a standalone or if Karp will be back with more Corcoran. It is sure to attract many readers, such as myself, who have never read any of Karp’s own books.

Kudos, Mr. Karp, for a great novel. Now that I know you can spin a formidable tale, I will be adding you to my radar.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

Mercy (Atlee Pine #4), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

Always eager to read the works of David Baldacci, I chose the latest in one of his most intense current series. Atlee Pine has long been searching for her twin sister, abducted one night when they were six. As things come to a head, Baldacci paints a tense and thrilling story that series fans will surely enjoy. There’s something about this series that is sure to spark intrigue for the curious reader and proves that Baldacci has all the ingredients for ongoing success.

After her twin sister was abducted from their childhood home at age six, Atlee Pine has been searching for her. With added tools as an FBI agent, Atlee has been able to stay on the trail, though it’s been fairly cold. Mercy’s disappearance left not only Atlee in an emotional state, but led her parents to turn away from their surviving child. After a time, Atlee was left to fend for herself with a great deal of confusion and piles of questions left unanswered.

After years of slowly trying to find answers, Atlee has something with which to work. The explanation not only puts into perspective what her parents did, but proves that Mercy is still alive and was able to get away from those who kidnapped. Her. It will be a race to turn these answers into something more, but Atlee Pine is nothing if not determined.

So close to getting answers she’s sought for decades, Atlee will have to locate Mercy to see what’s become of her. All the while, Mercy has been living under an assumed name and has no idea that Atlee has been missing her. There is a lot going on and Mercy’s past is anything but pristine. The final chapter of this familial horror story is full of twists and dangers that neither Mercy nor Atlee could have expected. Now, it’s time to see how it will play out and whether this will be the happy reunion of two long-lost sisters. Baldacci does well to keep the story moving and the reader engaged.

In my many years reading David Baldacci’s work, I have often found myself in the middle of the story, wondering what awaits me around the corner. Baldacci does well with this latest instalment of the Atlee Pine series, keeping things engaging and full of mystery. Strong writing and a plot that is anything but predictable, Baldacci proves why he is at the top of his genre and never seems to run out of ideas. I can only wonder if there is more to the Atlee/Mercy saga after finishing this story.

Atlee Pine has developed quite effectively over the four novels of this series. With a sister torn from her life at age six, Atlee remembers the night of the abduction vividly, which emerges at various points of the series. With the backing of her FBI tools, Atlee shows a great deal of grit and determination throughout, making her someone the reader can enjoy watching as the series progresses. While there is no telling what awaits her in the future, Atlee Pine is someone well worth the invested time readers have put into the series.

I have long enjoyed the writing of David Baldacci, as series emerge and develop from numerous ideas. His writing is on point and shows that there is a great deal to be said in the genre, using a formula that is anything but ‘cookie cutter’. Baldacci’s narrative is always developing and he appears to have a clear path, though he purposely tosses in some twists to keep things from being too predictable. This novel in the series introduced many characters, both to flavour the story and offer some foundation for the topic at hand, while the plot builds throughout. I can only wonder if there is more to the story yet to be revealed or if Baldacci is onto new and better stories. Either way, it’s a great instalment in the Atlee Pine series and proves just how solid Baldacci is at his craft.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another successful novel. You have been a reliable go-to when I need a book that I can enjoy and this was no exception.

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, by Carol Leonnig

Nine stars

Always one to gravitate towards books of a political nature, I have come to enjoy those penned by Carol Leonnig. While I have read some of her collaborative work previously, this was my first foray into her independent writing, which was just as captivating and revealing. Many would think of the Secret Service as the protection detail behind the scenes, saving those of some political ilk from threats and keeping the riffraff away. However, Leonnig explores not only the new ‘poltiical protection’ role of the Secret Service, but also some of the gaffes in which they have been involved, which brought some unwanted attention to the role. Leonnig does a masterful job in her explanations and description analysis of the Secret Service, choosing to educate the reader, rather than use it as a tell-all or smear piece.

The Secret Service are by no means a new arm of the US Government, but their role as political protectors has really come to fruition in the last number of decades. Carol Leonnig explores when the shift took place to move the Secret Service from primarily involved in the realm of the US Treasury to being point people for political figures, especially the President of the United States (POTUS). The significant shift can be traced back to the Kennedy Administration, though this was also the start of the major gaffes in which the Service found itself, namely the Kennedy assassination in 1963.

Leonnig moves through each of the presidents from Kennedy to Trump with some cursory explanation of the evolving role of members of the Service, as well as some detailed discussion of any major assassination attempt made or plot revealed regarding POTUS. Leonnig opens the reader’s eyes to just how busy the Service tends to be, chasing down leads and keeping things straight for all those involved in the preparation of trips, both foreign and domestic. In addition to protection, Leonnig explores some of the ‘secret keeping’ roles that members of the Service had to keep, from Obama’s smoking to Clinton’s nightly rendezvous with a variety of women. While readers may not be shocked to read about this, substantiating media rumours solidifies much of what is known about a number of those holding the highest office in the land.

In the latter portion of the book, Leonnig explores the three most recent Administrations with additional analysis, including some of the more scandalous sides of the Secret Service. Leonnig seeks not to out those who worked on the various details, but to offer some substantial explanation as to just how rampant issues and abuse of power can be, which may not be well known to the reader. Use of taxpayer dollars to drink, cavort, and put the protected at risk because of a lack of acuteness cannot be lost on what comes out in the narrative, though there is a need to understand that these men (and some women) are human and will likely ‘play while the cat is away’. Leonnig offers up some raw and straightforward explanations from what she has been able to garner, putting the Secret Service under the microscope to se how effective they have been and could be into the future.

No shock to the attentive reader, when it comes to Trump, things within the Secret Service took a highly political direction. As Leonnig discusses, Trump uses the Service as a private security force and made sure the taxpayer footed the additional bill. Using blind loyalty to ensure job security, in an organisation that is to be apolitical, Trump soiled things to the point of making another mockery of a core American institution. Leaving bitterness and destruction in his wake, Trump left the Service divided and forced America to clean up the mess, riddled in falsehoods.

I was not looking for a tell-all book or something that would seek to dismantle the structure of the Secret Service. Carol Leonnig did not provide that either. Instead, she left the reader feeling well-informed about what is taking place within the Service and how the machine works, both when well-oiled and as the wheels are falling off. Her frank narrative opens up many questions, but also seeks to educate the reader as to what is going on, which proves highly educational. Seen mostly as being the wallflowers they hope to be, members of the Secret Service have a special role, particularly when protecting POTUS on a day to day basis. However, in being given that responsibility, there is a high standard that must be met, something that Leonnig discusses on a regular basis. Lengthy chapters offer great insight into what has been going on and how things have evolved (and perhaps devolved) since the Kennedy Administration. Leonnig takes the reader on a ride like no other and substantiates much of what she says through interviews and detailed research. As with the other books of hers I have read, I leave this experience with a great deal more knowledge and a thirst to obtain more, as time permits.

Kudos, Madam Leonnig, for shedding some light on this most interesting topic. I look forward to reading more of your work soon.

Dream Town (Aloysius Archer #3), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

David Baldacci is back with another Aloysius Archer story that pulls the reader back to the early 1950s. A true gumshoe story that keeps the reader engaged and provides an entertaining tale of times when detective work was much simpler. Baldacci shows his versatility with this series, which is outside his usual style. Great narrative and strong plot makes for another successful addition to this series. Baldacci is on fire and shows no signs of fading.

As the clock ticks down towards 1953, Aloysius Archer makes his way to Los Angeles, where his friend, Liberty Callahan, awaits him. While they are getting comfortable and prepping for a lovely evening, one of Liberty’s acquaintances, Eleanor Lamb, calls to seek Archer’s assistance. While he hoped to have some quiet time, Archer won’t turn down detective work that may help bring in a little extra money.

A number of mysterious and creepy events have taken place, leaving Eleanor feeling as though she is being targeted. She wants to hire Archer to look into the matter as soon as possible. Sure there is more to the story, Archer reluctantly agrees to poke around, making plans to come by her home the following day. When he does, Eleanor is nowhere to be found, but there’s a body in the house, leaving Archer to wonder if she might have been responsible.

Archer wants nothing more than to solve this murder and brings Callahan on side to assist, as well as his partner, Willie Dash. As they investigate, things send Archer back to Vegas, where he has had some dust-ups in years past. Archer learns a little more about Lamb and her past, which includes rubbing elbows with some of the darker characters in town. When the investigation sends him to Hollywood, Archer is convinced he has a lead that could prove fruitful, all while Eleanor Lamb remains missing. Could someone have dealt with her as they did the body that started all this? Baldacci spins a tale that is both entertaining and captivating in equal measure.

In my two decades reading Baldacci novels, I have rarely been left feeling underwhelmed. Baldacci is just too great a story teller, no matter the topic or genre he presents. This is another example of that versatility, as he pens a story that is pulled right out of the gumshoe era, which differs greatly from many of his other series. There is so much going on and yet the reader can slide into a level of comfort easily, leaving them ready to learn more with every page turn.

Aloysius Archer has been a great character since he was first introduced. His backstory is always coming up, but it is the great character development that keeps the reader enthralled. The reader learns a little more about his interest in both detective work and as certain lucky lady, both of which come to a head by the closing chapters of this book. Archer remains down to earth and ready to impress, asking the right questions and yet always finding ways to get into just enough trouble to prove worrisome. I am eager to see where things are headed for him and how Baldacci will continue to shape Archer’s character in the years to come.

Many authors seem able to perfect a genre and work within it, even if they create a few series to keep readers entertained. Baldacci has done this and more, churning out great novels in a variety of sub-genres, all of which are of the highest caliber. I have loved many of them and contusion use to hope for more. This book has a strong narrative that left me feeling the pulse of the story from the opening pages. The plot advances effectively and finds ways of keeping me on my toes throughout, which can sometimes be a daunting task. Set seven decades i nthe past, there will always be interesting characters with which to contend and Baldacci finds ways of keeping them interesting until the very end. I see a number of loose ends left blowing in the wind and can only hope that Baldacci will address them before long, as my curiosity needs some sort of answer. While there is little chance Aloysius will have any crossovers with characters in Baldacci’s other series, I see a lot of great possible interactions as the series progresses.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for this wonderful throwback piece. Keep them coming, as they offer a great contrast to much of what is in the genre nowadays.

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10), by Agatha Christie

Nine stars

All aboard! Perhaps one of Agatha Christie’s most popular books in the Hercule Poirot series, this is one novel I have been eager to reach in my exploration of the collection. Christie excels in this story, offering a deeper and more complex mystery that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats. I can see why it got so much hype, as it is well well written and offers the reader an in-depth look into the analytical brain of Poirot. If there are other books int he series of this caliber, I am eager to find them, as Christie had me from the opening paragraph.

As the Orient Express makes its way across Europe, a snowstorm creates havoc. The passenger train, full of people from all over the world, is stuck in the Balkans with no clear guarantee of moving anytime. By morning, the luxury liner has more than snow to contend with, as Samuel Edward Ratchett is found murdered in his private compartment. While many of the passengers are in a panic, one of them is ready to lend an hand to find the murderer. Hercule Poirot is on holiday, having hoped to enjoy his trip from Istanbul to London.

The narrative develops and the reader learns much about the victim, many of the suspects (surely, it has to be one of the passengers), and the clues that Poirot is able to deduce throughout the investigation. Ratchett was not a popular man, having been responsible for a crime back in America. All that being said, there is surely a deeper motive for at least one of the suspects aboard the Orient Express.

By the latter portion o the novel, Poirot is narrowing the list of potential killers and runs through some of the suspects a second time. He is almost ready to finger someone, but a twist in the tale takes things in a new direction and leaves the reader gasping by the end. Who killed Samuel Edward Ratchett and for what reason? All will be revealed in time, though some will surely wish the story could have gone on forever, with its gripping aspects. Agatha Christie at her best!

The series finds new ways off getting better with each passing novel and I cannot devour them fast enough. Poirot makes a wonderful impact yet again as the narrative flows with ease. I would say that this was my favourite book to date, pulling on all the best parts of a mystery novel and keeps the reader guessing until the final page turn. I cannot wait to see what is to come in this sensational series.

Poirot shows how great a character he is and presents himself in top form throughout the book. His ego, while usually front and centre, appeared to be somewhat muted, which made for a more enjoyable read. With little backstory on which to base the character, Poirot lives in the present and uses his interactions to add depth to his personality. His sleuthing in this piece is some of the best and most on point, leaving me to hope there are more like this to come.

Christie delivers her most sensational novel to date, providing readers with a stunning mystery, well worth the praise it has received over the years. Christie’s writing is free from the extemporaneous details found in many books that supersaturated the genre to date. Strong narrative aspects provide a strong foundation for a novel that has so much going for it. Wonderful characters prove to be the cornerstone of this piece, which is full of personalities that will either impress or anger the reader. I could not get enough of the plot twists and surprise ending. I cannot wait to get my hands on a movie version of this to see how it compares. I’ll take a short break from Poirot, but will return, energized and ready for more!

Kudos, Dame Christie, for your most intense novel to date. I am super impressed.

Lord Edgware Dies (Hercule Poirot #9), by Agatha Christie

Eight stars

I am still working my way through the Hercule Poirot series and find myself impressed with each passing novel. While each story stands on its own, Agatha Christie offers small nuggets that can connect the novels, which attentive readers will discover throughout the adventure. Poirot is again presented with a unique situation and uses his ‘little grey cells’ to help unravel the crime. Working alongside his longtime friend, Captain Arthur Hastings, Poirot fingers the killer by the final chapter as readers watch in awe. Christie offers a stunning novel, sure to entertain all those who take the time to read it.

While Hercule Poirot and Captain Arthur Hastings are out one day, they are approached by none of their than the famous American actress, Jane Wilkinson. While she expects them to be in awe, she admits that she needs help trying to ‘get rid of’ her husband, Lord Edgware. Wilkinson wants a divorce, hoping to marry someone who can love and respect her without leaving her feeling controlled. Baffled and yet not interesting in getting in the middle of a marital spat, Poirot declines and continues on his way. He and Hastings are left to discuss the gall of Americans and their forward nature. However, soon things will take on a new urgency when Lord Edgware turns up murdered.

Jane Wilkinson was seen leaving the marital home around the time Lord Edgware was said to have been killed, making her the prime suspect. However, Wilkinson has a solid alibi, having been in the middle of dining with friends at the same time. Poirot is flummoxed, but not ready to give up on the mystery. Slowly and thoroughly, the retired Belgian detective begins building a case, learning more about both Wilkinson and her late husband, as well as those both had confided in leading up to the murder. When more bodies turn up, Poirot is sure that he will have to act swiftly to neutralise the killer.

Was someone trying to stymie a chance to ensure a smooth divorce between the two? Could there have been someone trying to pretend to play the role of Jane Wilkinson in order to frame her? Poirot cannot be sure but slowly learns that there is a deeper and much darker narrative taking place here. He will have to use all his grey cells and ask for the help of others to put all the pieces together effectively. Agatha Christie does a brilliant job making this one of the best in the series to date.

The series keeps getting better as I learn more about Poirot and the writing style that Agatha Christie made popular all those years ago. The narrative flows so well and keeps the reader hooked as the plot develops through the mystery’s development. Christie has shown herself to be one of the greatest in the genre and makes no effort to lessen the impact. With many books to go, I can only hope that the momentum is not lost as I keep reading.

Poirot remains a great character and uses his ego to his own advantage. Without the need for a developed backstory, Poirot lives in the present and uses his interactions to tease out new tidbits about himself. Readers will likely love much of what they know, or hate his haughty attitude. Either way, there is nothing like a great mystery and a detective who knows how to get to the core of the matter. I am eager to see what else there is to learn about him in the coming novels.

Christie delivers another winner and provides readers of the series with a strong mystery, free of fluff and filler. A strong narrative creates a foundation for a mystery that is full of twists and turns throughout. Wonderful characters provide the reader additional entertainment to contrast with Poirot’s serious nature. With one of the most popular stories in the series next in line, I feel ready to tackle such a popular story and hope that I can revel in all that is set to be revealed.

Kudos, Dame Christie, for crafting so many wonderful stories. I am addicted and reader to push onwards.