Tag: Strange

Agatha Christie – The Secret of Chimneys | Review

Title: The Secret of Chimneys

Author: Agatha Christie

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 310

Rating: 3/5

This one’s a bit of a strange one because there aren’t any of Christie’s iconic characters for us to enjoy and it’s arguably more of an espionage thriller than a classic cosy mystery. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing here to like, but it does mean that if you’re expecting some classic cosy crime then you’re probably going to be disappointed.

I think my favourite thing about this book was probably the old lady who’d lived a blameless life and who ended up being blackmailed by someone. She realised that the blackmailer had got the wrong person, but she decided to play along anyway, even giving him some money, which she would otherwise have spent on a dress. She just wanted a little bit of excitement in her life, and fair play to her.

From there, someone gets murdered, and then we kind of slowly move on from there. The pacing is pretty good and the overall plot itself works out, it’s just that it’s nowhere near as gripping as some of Christie’s other work and so it feels relatively disappointing as a consequence. It’s definitely something that you’re only going to want to read if you’re a completionist like I am, or if you’re lucky enough to get a copy of the facsimile edition without paying, like I did.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for you here. I guess the only other thing that I’d mention is that one of the characters speaks like Poirot does, using English but sprinkling in random bits of French here and there. I feel as though Christie was just keeping herself in practice there and it didn’t really work so well. You see, not everything she touched turned to gold.

Learn more about The Secret of Chimneys.

 


Oli Jacobs – Wilthaven | Review

Title: Wilthaven

Author: Oli Jacobs

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 396

Rating: 4.25/5

I’ve read about a dozen of Jacobs’ books by this point, and all of them have been worth reading. This one is cool because you can read it as a standalone but it also still functions as part of a wider realm. It’s almost King-like in that respect, and indeed I think King would approve of it because it lives up to his saying that “there are other worlds than these”.

Wilthaven follows the BPD, the Bureau of Paranormal Detectives, and essentially documents their investigation into this strange, eldritch, Lovecraftian town called Wilthaven where nothing is quite as it seems. It’s almost reminiscent of Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae series in the way that it plays with layout, except I didn’t finish Illuminae while I tore through this one and had a blast while I was at it.

What’s quite cool here is that there’s a nice little range of genres, with a lot of Lovecraftian creepiness, some dark humour and some honest-to-goodness horror. One of my favourite bits was when a bunch of limbs just appeared out of nowhere. That was actually pretty brutal and not for the faint-hearted, but at this point I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I can read that will properly shock me. I’m immune.

There was also a pretty cool little subsection in it which was kind of a book within a book, and I think that it worked really well in context here. Because the book itself is presented as a dossier of documents, it makes sense that there’d be a book within a book. It worked better than Paul Sheldon’s book in Misery, in any case.

So would I recommend this one? Oh, absolutely, especially if you’re looking to read some more indie authors and to help to support the ecosystem. I’ve always enjoyed Oli’s stuff and this is him at his best, at least in my opinion. I’d take this over Kirk Sandblaster any day, and probably over another installment in the Filmic Cuts short stories series.

Oh, and did I mention that there’s a photo of yours truly in there? Oli was looking for volunteers to be featured in the Wilthaven files, and I of course jumped at the opportunity. Even though it’s a super old photograph. At least it’s heavily stylised though.

Learn more about Wilthaven.

 


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