Book review: Agatha Christie Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World

Agatha Christie's Poirot

 

Agatha Christie Poirot:
The Greatest Detective in the World
by Mark Aldridge
William Morrow
11/12/2020
488 pages
Nonfiction / Books about books

Goodreads

Buy the book on my Bookshop

After listening to all of Hercule Poirot short stories and novels, I decided to conclude my experience with Agatha Christie Poirot:
The Greatest Detective in the World.

Click to continue reading

#91 review: The Broken Teaglass

The Broken Teaglass

by

Emily ARSENAULT

370 pages

Published by Delacorte Press  in September 2009

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I read a review of this book on Devourer of Books blog, and it sounded really good. I really enjoyed it very much as well.

Take words, a job with words and dictionaries, and a good mystery, well, how could I resist that!

This lexicographer discovers weird quotations, while looking in the company files to illustrate new words. These quotations are numbered. With another employee, he sets to figure out what this is all about, and a good mystery is coming back to light, with some neat surprises around the corner.
I liked the way the author integrated the excerpts of the mystery in the book, with all recapitulated book at the very end.

It was also such a smart book to discover all kinds of new words.

A neat, smart, very enjoyable, and quick read.

Good for you if you need a break.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

The dusty files of a venerable book publisher . . . A hidden cache of coded clues . . . A story written by a phantom author . . . An unsolved murder in a gritty urban park—all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and the stories we choose to define us.

In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editors toil away in silence, studying the English language, poring over new expressions and newly coined words—all in preparation for the next, new edition of the Samuelson Dictionary. Among them is editorial assistant Billy Webb, just out of college, struggling to stay awake and appear competent. But there are a few distractions. His intriguing coworker, Mona Minot, may or may not be flirting with him. And he’s starting to sense something suspicious going on beneath this company’s academic facade.

Mona has just made a startling discovery in the office files: a trove of puzzling quotations, all taken from the same book, “The Broken Teaglass.” Billy and Mona soon learn that no such book exists. And the quotations from it are far too long, twisting and bizarre for any dictionary. They read like a confessional, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and Mona ransack the office files, a chilling story begins to emerge: a story about a lonely young woman, a long-unsolved mystery, a moment of shattering violence. And as they piece together its fragments, the puzzle begins to take on bigger personal meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

Charged with wit and intelligence, set against a sweetly cautious love story, The Broken Teaglass is a book that will delight lovers of words, lovers of mysteries, and fans of smart, funny, brilliantly inventive fiction. [on Emily Arsenault’s website]

EXCERPT

“Language…eloquence,” Mona insisted, “is supposed to be one of the things that separates us from grunting primates. If you turn it into something you beat your chest over, something that only serves to make you better than someone else, or make you insensitive to other human beings–then you may as well be a grunting primate.” p.250

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – self-presentation on her site

I haven’t had a terribly interesting life, so I won’t share too many details. But the highlights include:

•    When I was a preschooler and a kindergartner, I had a lazy eye and I was Connecticut’s “Miss Prevent Blindness,” appearing on pamphlets and television urging parents to get their kids’ eyes checked. I wore an eye patch and clutched a blonde doll wearing a similar patch. I imagine it was all rather maudlin, but at the time I wouldn’t have known that word.

•    I wrote my first novel when I was in fifth grade. It was over a hundred pages and took me the whole school year to write. (It was about five girls at a summer camp. I’d never been to a summer camp, but had always wanted to attend one.) When I was all finished, I turned back to the first page, eager to read it all from the beginning. I was horrified at how bad it was.

•    At age thirteen, I got to go to a real sleepaway camp. It was nothing like the book I had written.

•    I studied philosophy in college. So did my husband. We met in a Hegel class, which is awfully romantic.

•    I worked as an editorial assistant at Merriam-Webster from 1998-2002, and got to help write definitions for their dictionaries.

•    My husband and I served in the Peace Corps together, working in rural South Africa. I miss Losasaneng, miss many of the people we met there, and dream about it often.

•    I am now working on my third novel. It is tentatively titled Just Someone I Used to Know, named after and old song Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton used to sing together.

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My review #41 of: A Novel Bookstore

A Novel Bookstore

by

Laurence COSSÉ

416 pages

***

 

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I found the concept of this book is fantastic: have you ever dreamed of the perfect bookstore, where you would only be able to find GOOD novels, and not the junk not worth wasting your time reading?
The idea is so good that some people thought this store DID exist for sure; a friend even went to an address in Paris, given on the website connected to the book [added on 7/7/2021: now there’s another website called also the good novel, but it has nothing to do with this book!!], only to find out it was a shop selling Afghan jewelry! How funny!

I was hooked from the beginning, as I would I guess for any book about books; plus Cossé adds a fun aspect of mystery and thriller to it. It is all about good literature, and also the whole world of publishing, with its ugliness as well.

I was very disappointed by the end though: I had the feeling the plot felt totally through, as if the author suddenly did not know how to end the book; it sounded really flat to me, very different from the rest of the book, which raises your expectations very high. It could have been shorter but a more refined ending.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Ivan, a one-time world traveler, and Francesca, a ravishing Italian heiress, are the owners of a bookstore that is anything but ordinary. Rebelling against the business of bestsellers and in search of an ideal place where their literary dreams can come true, Ivan and Francesca open a store where the passion for literature is given free reign. Tucked away in a corner of Paris, the store offers its clientele a selection of literary masterpieces chosen by a top-secret committee of likeminded literary connoisseurs. To their amazement, after only a few months, the little dream store proves a success. And that is precisely when their troubles begin. At first, both owners shrug off the anonymous threats that come their way and the venomous comments concerning their store circulating on the Internet, but when three members of the supposedly secret committee are attacked, they decide to call the police. One by one, the pieces of this puzzle fall ominously into place, as it becomes increasingly evident that Ivan and Francesca’s dreams will be answered with pettiness, envy and violence. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laurence Cossé (born 1950 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France) is a French writer, who published mainly novels.

She was first a journalist in the French newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris and then at the French public radio France Culture. Most of her novels were published by the French publishing house Gallimard. Her most famous novel to date, Le Coin du voile (1996), was translated as A Corner of the veil in American English (as well as in five other languages).

Although she published one poetic novel (Les Chambres du Sud) and one historical novel (La Femme du premier ministre), most of her latest novels evoke the contemporary French society, often in a critical or ironical manner. [wikipedia]

CODA: it seems this new review format prompts me to write longer reviews, so I’ll stick to this. And oh, I have finally managed to catch up with books read to review!

EDIT added on 7/7/2021:
Since then, I read another book by Cossé, An Accident in August, focused on Lady Diana’s death. It’s very good

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