I listen to audiobooks all the time, in my car and when I walk. Usually it’s an exciting suspense or interesting non-fiction. This week it was The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie, and as an audiobook I heard via my phone, the old tale was fresh and new all over again, with Miss Marple coming alive as never before.
As the story opens Miss Marple has advanced in years and her little town of Saint Mary Mead has grown to include a ‘development’, a collection of new homes just outside of town; increasing the size and population of what was once a sweet rural town. Miss Marple, at 86, is more housebound than in previous novels but she still has her friends, neighbors, and relatives from whom to glean information.
With the help of Mrs. Gantry, who once owned Gossington Hall and now the scene of an unexpected death, and her nephew the police inspector, Mrs. Marple uses her wit and wiles to discover what really happened the day a local woman, Heather Babcock, is killed while visiting the Hall for a benefit. Was it an accident? Or was it … murder?
The book’s title The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side references a poem by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalot, which is boldly recited by Miss Marple several times in the novel, foreshadowing the killing as well as presenting a clue to motive.
Because it’s written by Agatha Christie this book is chock full of interesting characters with hidden agendas, and definitely worth the read. Folks who steer clear of Christie thinking her books can’t compare to more contemporary mysteries will be pleasantly surprised: it’s more modern than you might think. And please enjoy Miss Marple. I did. Her wit and wisdom warmed me the way I would if I had been visiting my grandmother. Miss Marple is determinedly independent, politely outspoken, and altogether lovely.
Reviewed by Leigh
story by Lisa Wheeler and art by Ponder Goembel
A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006
I have an adorable picture book for you! This is how it starts out – “On an island/in the ocean,/ near the land of Singapore,/midst a storm of great proportion,/ fifteen cats were washed ashore.” There were 7 kittens and 8 adults – a calico tom named Mittens (who has muscles and an anchor tattoo), a Persian Blue, an angora, a bobtail, a beat-up tabby, a pair of Siamese cats, and an orange marmalade. They all must band together if they are to survive on a tiny island in the ocean. At first they look for help to rescue them and then decide they’re on their own. Will they be able to survive? Will they even be able to get along with each other?
The illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is told via rhyming poetry. The print is large enough for early readers to enjoy; there are so larger words that may be difficult at first but every reader needs their vocabulary expanded!
I loved this book – it’s got everything you could want – cats, cats and more cats – plus kittens!; an adventure at sea; a lesson on how to get along with the ones around you and that family doesn’t always mean the folks you were born to!
I pulled these images off the internet – they aren’t very good quality – but let that encourage you to check the book out at your library!!
Maggie O’Dell is a FBI agent, who as the story opens, has been asked to speak at a conference on her specialty: forensics. But when she arrives in rural Nebraska, Maggie receives a call from her boss telling her to put the conference on hold a day to help local law enforcement. In many small midwestern towns cows often outnumber the people living there. This makes it difficult for these towns to afford their own forensic departments, so they must rely on state and federal resources for assistance. That said, Maggie finds it odd to be called on to investigate a cow mutilation. Even more unusual is the fact the carcass is completely drained of blood, with one eye missing and the poor animal’s legs raised towards the sky.
What is thought to be a government cover-up by the cattle ranchers, and part alien invasion by more creative residents, has Maggie stumped. And when local teenagers begin to die under mysterious circumstances Maggie decides to stay on to further her investigation, conference or no. Later, when the body of yet another teen is found she is so puzzled Maggie feels the need for a break. Running down a secluded country road Maggie turns to see an old truck pulling to a stop at the top a hill. It guns its’ motor. Within seconds Maggie is run down, electrocuted, and kidnapped.
Meanwhile, across the country a strange outbreak occurs in Norfolk, VA and moves through several schools, making elementary students violently ill. Maggie’s boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt races the clock to discover just what is making the children sick, and hopefully discover an antidote.
How the author links these seemingly random events makes Hotwire an exciting read. Maggie O’Dell is a resourceful character with lots of experience from which to draw and being independent as well means she doesn’t depend on her boyfriend to rescue her from the kidnappers.
I enjoyed Hotwire. It was a fun, fast-paced novel, with enough science and real life scenarios to keep me guessing. While the epilogue didn’t pull all the events together as well as I would have liked, I was still satisfied with the results. I plan to read another Maggie O’Dell novel, just to see what happens next!
Reviewed by Leigh