This cat doesn't belong to me. It just wanders into our kitchen sometimes, as if it owns the place. I haven't stolen it though; ...

This cat doesn't belong to me. It just wanders into our kitchen sometimes, as if it owns the place. I haven't stolen it though; after I give it a little stroke, I put it out in the garden and tell it to go home and cuddle its owner.

Speaking of crimes though, it's whodunnit month on! Here are the books I've read this month, and what I thought about them. Hit their names to buy them on Amazon.

Aaron Falk returns to the rural town in which he grew up to attend the funeral of his former friend, who apparently committed murder-suicide over money troubles. While he's there, he realises that might not have been the case, and begins an unofficial investigation into what really happened.

The writing is solid. It's not great, but it's good enough. There are some gripping bits too, where you finish a chapter and want to start the next immediately. So that's a good thing, especially in a thriller.

Twist endings are pretty much expected in crime thrillers, but I think it's important that when they come, you feel like it has been building up, even if you didn't realise it. Ideally, the reader would be very surprised, but still wonder how they didn't see it coming. But in this book, I felt cheated by the ending. It felt thrown together at the last minute, for the sake of a twist. I'd also guessed who it was halfway through.

Also, there are some glaring holes that ruined it a bit for me. Like, the first piece of evidence we see is that the shotgun shells used in the shooting were different to the shells owned by the apparent perpetrator, and the police in their official investigation just thought, "yep, no issue there." Huh?

They also use shotguns to cull rabbits, which doesn't seem very efficient to me, but I don't know much about guns or rabbit culling so I'll let that one go.

Also, at one point, Falk finds an ID which was stashed away years before. The passage says, "There was a plastic wallet with an ID of a girl[.] It said her name was [...] and she was nineteen." So, did the ID specifically say she was 19? Because that ID is going to become useless really quickly, since our ages change once a year. Or did it say her date of birth, as most IDs do? In which case, how could she be 19 now when the ID was hidden away 20 years ago? Or does Falk inexplicably know the date on which it was hidden, so he knows that on that day she definitely would have been 19?

I'm making a bigger deal of that than it was. But at time of writing this, I only recently read that bit and I just thought it was ridiculous. An editor should have caught that.


"Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead."

PI Philip Marlowe is hired by the Sternwood family to find the person behind a blackmail attempt. He makes fast progress, and ends up discovering a web of lies, money, smut and crime that links nearly everyone he meets.

I enjoyed this book. It was fun, quick-witted, exciting and well written. It's a whodunnit, in a way, but you really don't have time to be trying to work out who did what, because every chapter has a new turn that throws you off course.

Apparently, the novel was "cannibalised" from a number of Chandler's short stories. I didn't feel like there were any major threads left untied by that fact, but it did feel, sometimes, like the twists and turns were being made up as he went along; so that might have been why.

The one thing some more delicate readers might not like is the attitude of the protagonist (e.g. towards women), which is VERY outdated by today's standards. But the fact is, it was written in a different time, when people saw the world differently. We're better off now, but that doesn't mean we should throw out all the art people made during less enlightened times. If you think we should judge people from different times by today's standards, then I think you're an idiot. Soz.

Highly recommended for a quick and amusing read.


"Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona."

The Christmas party at one LAPD station descends into violence against prisoners, and the courses of three officers' careers are changed forever, as they are forced to overcome the resentment and regret left behind by that fateful night to solve LA's "crime of the century".

There are whole paragraphs of this book that you won't understand unless you're fluent in 1950s police slang. It's almost as if the author doesn't want you to understand, he's spread it on that thickly.

And even if there wasn't slang everywhere, the writing style is also confusing in parts. Every now and then, there are convoluted passages that are probably intended to be stylish, but just left me thinking they could do with a cleanup.

But still, when the style works, it's very good. The book isn't a drag by any measure, even though it's quite long by my standards. There's so much story in there that you feel like you're moving forward, every chapter.

The ending was a bit of a mess though, I thought. There were some silly bits that weren't very believable and too many threads tied up in too much of a rush.

But having said all that, I still have to say it's good. Recommended, if you don't have anything better to read.


Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

"If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, he will usually admit it - often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect."

The Orient Express is stuck in a snowdrift. There is a body with 12 stab wounds on board, and Hercule Poirot is assigned the task of finding the killer.

I've never read any Agatha Christie books. But everyone has heard of her - you can't hear her name without thinking of murder mysteries. So, obviously, I went into this expecting excellence.

I wasn't impressed by the writing style, to be honest. It felt like it had been written for kids. No subtlety, not enough showing and too much telling, strange adverbs everywhere... Nah. Not for me.

The story was quite complex though. And you want that from a murder mystery. It has to be complicated and the evidence all has to point you in the wrong directions all the time; that's what keeps it interesting. That was good.

But the ending! What a... load of crap. Sorry, Agatha fans, but I wasn't pleased with that at all. My eyes rolled so hard I thought they were going to roll down my throat and fall out of my bum. The revelation of the culprit is disappointing, and the events at the end of the story were just silly. That's what I thought, anyway. And I'm probably wrong - this has been adapted into about 3 films now, hasn't it?