Murder in Mesopotamia

Rating: 
Author: Agatha Christie
Genres: Mystery
Pub date: 1936 (read Dec. 2018)
Series: Hercule Poirot #14 (these books don’t need to be read in order)

Agatha Christie was a new discovery for me last year. I absolutely loved And Then There Were None and proceeded to read a few of her Hercule Poirot books. So far I haven’t been able to find a book that can compare to And Then There Were None, but it’s fun to jump into one of her classic closed room mysteries every now and then.

Murder in Mesopotamia is set on a dig in Iraq and is narrated by Nurse Leatheran, who has joined the archaeological expedition to support the dig leader’s wide, Mrs. Leidner, who has been becoming increasingly antsy. Mrs. Leidner is distraught and seems to fear for her life, but the rest of the expedition chalks it up to anxiety. Some odd things take place in the compound where the entire expedition is staying and when one of the household turns up dead, the local authorities recommend calling in Hercule Poirot (who is just returning from his ride about the Orient Express). What follows is a classic character examination of all of the members of the expedition and a study of means, method, and motivation for committing the crime.

I didn’t love this book as much as some of her others because I thought it was a bit slow to get going and there are a lot of characters, so it’s a bit hard to keep track of everyone. That said, much of what happens in the early parts of the book set the scene for the rest of the book and are important in solving the mystery. I really like Christie’s closed door mysteries because you know the killer is one of the individuals in the room, so you’re never sure who you can trust. I did think this one was somewhat predictable (I had it narrowed down to one of two people), but the question of how they got away with it was clever and I liked that the crime had several layers to it.

I don’t have much to say about the book overall, but I wanted to review it anyways since I didn’t review any of the Christie books I read last year and I’m bound to forget about this one pretty fast if I don’t. I have a few more Poirot books on my shelf that I’d like to get to and I’m also interested to read some of her Ms. Marple series. Does anyone have any specific Poirot or Marple recommendations?

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Emma

Rating: 
Author: Jane Austen
Genres: Fiction, Classics
Pub Date: 1815 (read June 2018 as an audiobook)
Audio Narrator: Nadia May

Whyyyy is this book so loooong?! This was my first Jane Austen and I really wanted to like it, but I feel like I just did everything wrong with this novel.

First of all, I listened to it in Audiobook, and while I did get a laugh out of the narrators british enthusiasm, I just couldn’t keep track of the characters or who was narrating. Plus it took me like 2 months to listen to and the plot is so low key that I kept forgetting what had happened before or who any of the characters were. So audiobook was probably a bad format for this one, but I’m still not convinced I would have liked it much better in print. There’s some classics I like, but a lot of them just make me feel bad and uncultured because they’re supposed to be good literature, but I just find them so unbelievably boring.

I do get it though. I can definitely appreciate what Austen does with this novel. She is very clever with her writing and her characters and I laughed a lot at Emma, although mostly just at how stupid she was. It’s a little mind boggling that this was first published all the way back in 1815. That is over 200 years ago and people are still reading this and the setting wasn’t even that different from today! There is definitely still a class of rich british aristocrats that get caught up in this gossipy matchmaker stuff and making sure that everyone sticks within their “class”.

I forget how old Emma is, but she lives at this english estate called Hartfield and goes about her life until she makes a new friend Harriet and endeavours to play matchmaker for her. Emma has decided to never marry herself and throws all her energy into her friendship with Harriet. Then there’s a series of hi jinx in which Emma repeatedly tries to set Harriet up with men who run in a much higher class than Harriet and she constantly misinterprets everyone’s intentions, even though she believes herself to be the highest and best judge of character.

Anyways, I may have enjoyed this more as a print book and even thought I didn’t really like it, I don’t really have much bad to say about it. I do get why this is a classic, I just personally struggled with the pacing and seeming lack of plot. I feel like not very much happened in this book, and yet it’s still almost 500 pages. So not a favourite from me, but it wouldn’t deter me from trying Austen again in the future (but NOT as an audiobook).

What’s your favourite Jane Austen book?