Short Book reviews: mysteries

In 2013, I read 7 mysteries by Dorothy Gilman, from her series on Mrs. Pollifax.
I presented here earlier on The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax and Mrs. Pollifax on Safari.

So I’d like to highlight quickly the 5 others I read, as well as 3 mysteries by Agatha Christie I read in the very last days of 2013, and 1 by Alexander McCall Smith.

The books by Dorothy Gilman count for the following Reading Challenges:


2013 TBR Pile 2013 Audio Book Challenge

I have listened actually, not read, all these by Dorothy Gilman. The narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, is phenomenal. Her voice fits perfectly for me the profile of Emily Pollifax, this grand-mother who went to look for some spy job with the CIA as she was getting bored, not feeling busy enough with her garden club and her karate classes.

As a grand-mother, she has a great connection with kids and young people, and I believe this aspect comes up in every book of the series: there’s always a kid showing up who is going to be instrumental in helping Emily solve the case or even plainly escape and survive a tough and dangerous situation.

Another thing which is really good in the series is that each book takes place in a different country. There are lots of details about the landscape, society, and history of the country. The plot of each book is very closely connected to a reality proper to that country.

These elements make these mysteries very smart and enjoyable reads. I’m just sad to see that I only have 3 more to go, and the series will be over.

The Elusive Mrs Pollifax

Emily Pollifax takes 8 passports for Bulgaria Resistance leader Tsanko from CIA Carstairs.
Emily must elude bossy Balkantourist agent Nevena, vicious General Ignatov,
and free passport recipients from infamous Panchevsky Institute,
along with student Philip Trenda, kidnapped for ransom.
Athletic Debby also learns her strengths and the value of life [Goodreads]

This one in Bulgaria highlights realities of the Cold War
and the Russian hegemony over surrounding countries,
and the inevitable resistance movements.

Mrs Pollifax and the Golden Triangle

On the very morning Mrs. Pollifax and her husband Cyrus are leaving for Bangkok,
the CIA arrives on her doorstep with an urgent request for help.
All she’s got to do is carry a small object to someone named Ruamsak,
and get something from him in exchange.
After her arrival, however, she discovers the body of a murdered man and, moments later,
watches in horror as Cyrus is kidnapped!
Soon Mrs. Pollifax is tramping through the ominous Thai countryside
— known for its smugglers and drug warlords — led by a curious called Bonchoo,
who may be trying to help find her husband. Or may have other, more sinister plans… [from Mrs Pollifax Fan Blog]

This one in Thailand is on the background of the network of drug trafficking.


Mrs Pollifax and the Second Thief

Emily Pollifax goes to the Sicilian countryside for a CIA rescue mission.
Comrade John Sebastian Farrell was shot tracking down a document
that allegedly bears the signature of Julius Caesar.
Feisty vacationing Kate Rossiter joins them to find the truth.
Farrell and Kate flirt, danger threatens, and a deadly cartel is uncovered. [from Goodreads]

This one in Sicily is about art thieves and the mob.


Mrs Pollifax on the China Station

Once again, Mrs. Pollifax, the cheerful little woman with the flyaway white hair
and a penchant for old hats
is plunged headfirst into another hair-raising CIA mission.
Posing as a tourist in China,
Emily Pollifax meets the sinister challenges of the Orient
to safeguard a treasure for the CIA…
and all but loses her life in the bargain. [Goodreads]

This mission in China is within the context of repressed freedom and labor camps.


Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 7)

Emily Pollifax goes to Hong Kong for CIA Bishop
and young friend Sheng Ti.
Feng Imports has sent false reports for two months,
co-owner Detweiler, now addict, lives in store.
Psychic Hitchins seeks Inspector Hao for his son Alec.
Eric the Red leads terrorists to take over the citadel and city within days.
Robin, now with Interpol, and Cyrus help. [Goodreads]

This one in Hong Kong is with independentist terrorists,
with the relation between Hong Kong and mainland China,
before its transfer to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.



Dead Man's Mirror

The volume contains actually three stories:
“Dead Man’s Mirror”,
“Murder in the Mews”,
and “Triangle at Rhodes”.

A Caribbean Mystery

There is no rest or relaxation for Miss Marple.

Miss Jane Marple (this is case #10 here),
Agatha Christie’s most appealing sleuth,
returns in this classic baffler of a vacation-turned-deadly.


Sleeping Murder

Despite her best efforts, Gwenda is unable to modernize her new home.
Worse still, she feels an irrational fear every time she climbs the stairs.
With Miss Marple helping to exorcise the ghosts,
the two women uncover a crime committed years ago.

This is Mrs Marple’s last case. I really enjoyed it very much,
it is very well constructed, and as usual, once you think you got it,
you turn a page and discover the truth is miles away from what you thought,
at least what I thought. Very easy, cozy, enjoyable readings at the end of the year.

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I enjoy good vibrant, suspenseful mysteries.
As I had not yet read any by the famous Alexander McCall Smith,
and felt a bit ashamed about it,
I decided to remedy the situation a few months ago,
and finally set to read this popular book.

Mma Ramotswe is the only lady private detective in Botswana.
She set up her agency with money from her dad’s big cattle sale, when he died.
After telling us about her dad and her own education,
the author invites us to follow the detective in cases for her first clients.
Actually, she always feels she shouldn’t agree on helping with some cases,
but ends up doing it anyway, wanting to help desperate clients.

I got quite of a shock, seeing how boring the book was ! There are basically 60 pages of introduction. These pages were good on…

= to read my whole review, please come this way. I’d like your input, see the questions at the end of that very unhappy review.




2013: October wrap-up

Finally a day free of reviews or interviews, so this wrap-up can have your full attention!

October was quite a month on the reading and blogging fronts, as you may have noticed if you follow me.

Here is what happened…

My October reading totaled 10 books, with 2269 pages, that is,  73.1 pages/day.
Among those 10 were 3 audiobooks, [thanks to a lot of painting for an exhibit]: 40:35 hours as a whole, that is, an average of 1:18 hour/day.

I’m working hard on my reviews, and my blog as a whole, thanks to a new work schedule.

I read:

1 fiction:

  1. Paris Was The Place, by Susan Conley

3 historical fiction:

  1. Mozart’s Last Aria, by Matt Rees –upcoming review on Sunday
  2. Unravelled, by M.K. Tod
  3. Gracianna, by Trini Amador

1 non-fiction:

  1. Grape Expectations, by Caro Feely – ebook

5 mysteries:

  1. The Mona Lisa Speaks, by Christopher Angel – ebook
  2. The Cleaner of Chartres, by Salley Vickers – audiobook
  3. The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman – audiobook
  4. Mrs Pollifax on Safari, by Dorothy Gilman – audiobook
  5. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

My favorites this month:

  Unravelled The Mona Lisa Speaks


Reading Challenges recap

Around the World in 12 books:  10/12
Audiobook: 13/12 – – COMPLETED
Books on France: 31/12 – COMPLETED
Cozy Mysteries: 7/10
Ebook challenge: 24/10 – COMPLETED
European reading challenge: 12/5 – COMPLETED
Historical fiction: 30/15 – COMPLETED
Japanese literature: 1/1 – COMPLETED
New authors challenge: 59/25 – COMPLETED
TBR challenge: 7/12
What’s in a Name: 6/6 – COMPLETED
Where Are You Reading?: 9/50
Australian Literature: 1/1 – COMPLETED

Total of books read so far in 2013 = 85

Number of books added to my TBR in October = 41


Blog recap

  1. 5 of the 10 books mentioned here were received for review by the publisher/author
  2. 33 readers signed up for my Books on France Challenge, and 107 reviews have already been posted. Don’t forget to post your reviews, and it is almost time to post your recap, with a giveaway coming!
  3. Every month, France Book Tours has a giveaway for the book(s) of the month. Have you checked yet the November giveaway? There are 3 books to win!
  4. France Book Tours already completed 16 book tours, and there are 8 already scheduled! If you are interested in reviewing books on your blog for France Book Tours, just fill in this short questionnaire. 65 book bloggers have already done so! You can find all kinds of genre: historical fiction, romance, mystery, LGBT, nonfiction, etc.
  5. Speaking of France Book Tour, I introduced a new feature on it for authors, called The French Hop.
  6. October marked a big change in my job schedule, which allows me to organize better my time. That’s why you have started finding me more regularly posting for Mailbox Monday, Teaser Tuesday, First Chapter First Paragraph (on France Book Tours), WWW Wednesday, I Love France, and Friday Finds.
  7. Apart from several other giveaways, I organized one for the Historical Fiction Giveaway Hop
  8. I was thrilled to be interviewed by Bloggers International, by Booker Talk on French literature, and by another book blogger: Wildmoo Books
  9. I was able to take part in a Bloggiesta twitter party, which is always fun!
  10. And did you notice? I’m trying to structure a bit more my reviews, talking about context, plot, characters, style, and include an excerpt and/or a trailer when available.
  11. And Words And Peace passed the 50,000 hits mark!  We are close to 2,000 followers. Thanks to all of you!

Most popular recent book review

Madonnas of Leningradclick on the cover to access my review

Most popular recent post – non book review

Friday Finds (Nov. 1)

Plans for November

  • I plan to finish a few more reading challenges and update a few lists. Already 3 books finished since November started!
  • I’m finally almost done with Proust‘s 3rd volume, and will start the 4th.
  • I started last Sunday posting a review on Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, and I am scheduled to do it every Sunday.
  • And and  and: I am preparing to launch a special feature to swap books exclusively between book bloggers! You’d better think of your list, it’s coming soooooon.

How was YOUR month of October?
And what are your reading plans for November?