While I am aware that my ‘to read’ pile is extensive (happy days) I would like to assure you that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd has not been on hold since 1926 waiting for me to find time to get around to it. Sometimes when I finish reading a book I just want the comfort of an old favourite before I start something new. Part of this is driven by the sheer volume of books I get through – I read quickly, I skim read and I recognise that I sometimes miss things. By reading some books more than once I will pick up on things I may have missed (or forgotten) from my first read through.
The books of Agatha Christie were my transitional reads from what I perceived to be ‘kids books’ towards stories written for adults. I was twice blessed in this regard – my Aunt had an extensive collection of Dame Agatha’s works which I was able to plunder when we visited. Then, when I was 14, I was lucky enough to gain weekend/summer work in my local bookshop – say ‘Hello’ to the Staff Discount and goodbye to my wages.
For 12 months I could not get enough of Poirot and Marple, always feeling a little disappointed if the story I chose was Tommy and Tuppence or (worse) had no recognisable characters. Then suddenly they were all gone and I had read the entire Agatha Christie back catalogue. Next up was Stephen King but that is for another day…
25 years later I have found that I can return to the world of Marple and Poirot and rediscover the magic that Ms Christie wove. In the case of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd I remember the shock I experienced when I first read the story and how my jaw dropped when the murderer was revealed. For that reason alone it remains one of my favourite Agatha Christie books.
On a second read through I can now appreciate the story in a new light. I know how it ends so I can spot the clues that are left for me, yet I could not remember the circumstances of the murder or the supporting characters so it was almost like reading a new book. Almost.
To those who may not have read this book I would implore you to do so. For everyone else, grab a copy and retreat into familiar comfort of Poirot at his finest.
One of the main reasons I set about putting together my site was to force myself to read new books and discover new authors. Not necessarily new authors who were publishing their debut novels, but authors that are new to me.
Leaving the office last week I saw a large poster advertising James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series. There appeared to be 3 books in the collection and when the poster name checked Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride and Peter James I was sold.
Two days later I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun with Natural Causes and it will not be long before I seek out the next book. I found Oswald’s style very easy to read, the characters were engaging and memorable and the story took plenty of twists and turns to hold my attention.
The story unfolded well covering a spate of burglaries in the well to do areas of Edinburgh. There were MANY nasty murders amongst the ranks of high profile city gentlemen. Then throw in an unusual discovery of a young girl’s body who had been murdered some 60 years previously. In the midst of the carnage was Inspector McLean, dealing with the chaos of multiple murders, hostile suspects, equally hostile colleagues and his own personal tragedy when there is a death in his family.
Oswald builds a supporting cast who are immediately likeable and put me in mind of the team ‘assembled’ by Stuart MacBride in the Logan McRae series (helped in no small part by the fact Oswald has named one of the team Stuart MacBride). MacBride himself is named and thanked in the author acknowledgements.
Woven through the story are hints of former misfortunes which befell McLean and also the promise of more pain to follow. The author nicely setting up future books, clearly he has a plan as to where he wants to take his characters.
On finishing Natural Causes I fully understood the reason why the advert I saw named Peter James. There is an other-worldly twist to this tale which may not please all the readers, however, fans of Mr James and of John Connelly’s Charlie Parker books should be seeking out Natural Causes to add to their library.