For one, I finished three Agatha Christie novels, the last of them being Evil Under the Sun. This Hercule Poirot tale has the good detective staying at a remote seaside resort, where the only other notable guest is Arlena Marshall, a former actress.
Arlena is quite the determined flirt, even with her husband and stepdaughter by her side, and to all appearances is carrying on an affair with Patrick Redfern, a young newlywed whose frail looking wife Christine is managing not to give into jealousy.
However, when Arlena is found strangled to death on a deserted beach, Patrick seems to have a solid alibi due to being the person who discovered her body along with a neutral witness. While there are plenty of suspects to choose from, everyone seems determined to exclude any of the women at the resort despite the majority of them despising the victim more so than the men:
Eventually, that male-female balance in attitude towards Arlena lends itself to the identity of the killer,which is both obvious and surprising at the same time.
This is a much lighter Poirot story compared to the other two that I read recently and I have to say that my expectations were raised up rather high for it, mostly because the 1982 film adaptation starring Peter Ustinov is one that I'm very fond of.
Naturally, there are some changes from the book(with the main details of the mystery remaining intact) yet the film condenses certain characters and rewrites others to fit more into the show business connections of Arlena's past.
Don't get me wrong, the book itself has enough of it's own charms to recommend it. It's just that I did wish at times that the some of the delightful cattiness that the movie has had come from the source material. Perhaps I should check out the BBC Poirot series version as well(and yes, that one has changes,too). Nonetheless, Evil Under the Sun is fine beach reading,which is what Christie probably intended it to be all along:
Here, Clare travels from New York to Washington D.C. in order to check out the new Village Blend restaurant/jazz club setting up shop. Turns out she has plenty to deal, including an arrogant chef, the shy daughter of the current (fictional)POTUS joining the local jazz band and a mysterious death of a customer with government ties.
In addition to all of that, her police detective boyfriend Mike Quinn is working nearby with a government task force and having serious suspicions about his boss, a lady who is also trying to seduce him to her side to boot. Clare is not cool with that yet keeps her natural fury on the down low,even when Mike gets a little jealous of her ex-husband stopping by for a major event at the Village Blend:
Granted, this does sound a little over the top but Coyle grounds the multiple story lines with solid characters whose emotional connection you instantly feel. It's a sure sign of strong writing when the fifteenth book in a series makes you as welcome as a coffeehouse regular and want to order a another cup of this delightful mystery brew:
Despite not tackling every book on my list, I am happy with the progress that I made. I finished five books(should be six as soon as I completed the last of A is for Alibi) and made a slight dent in The Terror,which is an amazingly great TV series that I've kept up with much better.
My thanks to Michelle Miller and company for making this literary spring celebration a fabulously fun time and looking forward to Sci-Fi Summer in June. In the meanwhile, I've gotten a taste for Joanne Fluke's pastry themed mysteries and it helps to have a few sweets on hand while solving cookie crimes with Hannah Swenson, I've found: