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69. The Princess and the Goblin (1872) George MacDonald
An eight year old princess and a young miner must find a way to save the kingdom from goblins...
I really liked MacDonald's style of writing. It's as if he is having a conversation with the reader, which wasn't something I would have thought writers would have done pre-20th century. MacDonald was a huge influence on C.S. Lewis, so I would recommend this for young readers and adults who love Narnia.

70. Green For Danger (1943) Christianna Brand
Set in a military hospital during the blitz; a patient dies on the operating table and a group of doctors and nurses fall under suspicion...
I figured out the killer's modus operandi, but the soap-opera of overlapping love triangles, jealousies, and secrets kept me distracted and second-guessing the killer's identity until the very last moment. The pieces are simple but Brand keeps shifting them like a kaleidoscope. I enjoyed all the characters' stories and their interactions. The WWII/blitz background gave it a tense atmosphere. I plan to read more Christianna Brand.

71. Rogue Male (1939) Geoffrey Household
A wealthy Englishman goes on a sporting-stalk to see if he can get an unnamed dictator (a thinly veiled reference to Hitler) within shooting range, but the hunter becomes the hunted...
Household painstakingly details every portion of the would-be assassin's flight and concealment. The story is a bit too drawn out in the last 1/3, but overall the atmosphere of tension is laid on so thick that you could cut it with a knife. I felt like I was right there with the narrator; both of us suffocating in a claustrophobic underground tunnel.

72. The Secret of Chimneys (1925) Agatha Christie (RE-READ)
A simple errand on behalf of a friend leads a man into the center of a murderous international conspiracy...
One of Christie's stories that is more adventure/suspense than mystery; although I enjoy seeing the characters that later appear in The Seven Dials Mystery, I don't like it near as much as most of her other stories. It's too convoluted and relies on one outlandish coincidence too many.

73. Towards Zero (1944) Agatha Christie
A failed suicide attempt, a school girl falsely accused of theft, a love triangle: just some of the unrelated puzzle pieces leading up to a murder...
Christie is pretty slick with the structure of this story. She spends more time than usual building up the setting and characters before the crime. And even though I could guess the killer and the method, I still couldn't get the real full picture until the very end. The motivation felt out of character in a way, but it's one I will definitely be re-reading because the inverted structure of the story was brilliantly laid out.

74. Paul Temple and the Margo Mystery (1986) Francis Durbridge
Novelist and sleuth Paul Temple investigates murder and drug smuggling...
75. Paul Temple and the Harkdale Robbery (1970) Francis Durbridge
After finding a dead bank robber in their own garage, the Temples begin a search for a criminal mastermind...
I'm a fan of Durbridge's work in radio and television serials, but I find his novels mediocre. One of the stories I was already familiar with in its (superior) radio-play form, and the other I kept imagining would be so much better as radio. I do think Durbridge was right to avoid describing Steve and Paul; between 30 years of radio serials and four movies everyone already has their own image of the Temples.

76. Strangers on a Train (1950) Patricia Highsmith
A sadistic psychopath shares his plan for the perfect murder with an architect he meets on a train...
It's less suspenseful than Hitchcock's film, but it's definitely darker and creepier. The book really gets inside the minds of the two lead characters. And for those familiar with the movie, the second half of the book is completely different. Very good, but I find the movie more satisfying.


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Christian Reader - Book lists, discussion, writing

September 2017

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