Night Shift by Stephen King (1978)

This post was written by my husband, a literature professor and fellow book lover. He reads as many scary books as I do in October, so I asked him to write a review of one book that stood out for him this season. Here it is…

Outside of creative writing classes, the short story doesn’t command a large readership these days. We can still see the vestiges of the short story’s former glory days in mainstream magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper’s, but the short story has, by and large, been relegated to more academic publications. Novels are the literary form of choice for readers at a time when screens provide most of our short-form narrative entertainment.

That being said, the brevity and intensity of the short story still maintains a challenge to the length and depth of the novel in the horror genre. Horror starts with folk tales and bedtime stories told by firelight on cool nights in the autumn and winter months. Horror is developed in the short, concentrated explorations of the creepy and the weird by Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and Flannery O’Connor and, in our generation, Stephen King. The short story is the perfect vehicle for horror, allowing us to experience the mind-bending and be utterly frightened, but only for a moment, as we come back to the relative safety of our real worlds.

I was probably twelve or thirteen when I first read Night Shift, snagging it one latch-key after-school afternoon from my parents’ eclectic bookshelf. I remember starting with one of the easier stories, almost appropriate for a twelve year-old boy, the playful “Battleground.” In this story, an apparent hitman is one-upped by his next mark, who cuts the assassin off at the pass by sending him a very unique letter bomb. The package contains a platoon full of live—and heavily-armed—action figures. Once our protagonist realizes that these G.I. Joes are serious, he has to quickly shake off his disbelief and fight back. King invests as much in this shaking off and fighting back as he does in creating the strange horrors that his characters have to face.

The now-famous story, “Children of the Corn,” follows much the same pattern: regular folks must face horror and find out if they can live long enough for it to change their lives. In both “Jerusalem’s Lot” and “One for the Road,” we get two points in the history of what will become the wonderful novel, Salem’s Lot, and in these stories, regular Down Easters have to face the apparent reality that has come to a small Maine town.

In “Gray Matter,” we get something a bit more difficult to handle, a man who is overtaken by the botulinum-ish something that has infected one of his beers. Poor Richie becomes something unthinkable. Likewise, the grounded astronaut in “I am the Doorway” must come face-to-face, or at least hand-to-hand, with an experience beyond comprehension.

King’s Night Shift takes up the work begun by Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, meaning that he uses these stories to explore two similar but distinct responses to what scares us. For Poe, the grotesque refers to the kind of fright that drives one instantly mad, the gory and the unspeakable, while the arabesque seems to refer to something that is horrible and repulsive but that profoundly absorbs our attention. The grotesque is the horror that we just cannot even…; the arabesque is the horror that we need to deal with, and terror is how we deal with it. Night Shift gives us both kinds.

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Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (2015)

Cormoran Strike Novel #3 Read my brief mention of the first two books in this series in my October 9, 2015 post here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-B and there is a full review of The Cuckoo’s Calling on this blog here http://wp.me/p6N6mT-Xx

To say that I was thrilled when my husband picked us up a brand new copy of the new Cormoran Strike book, Career of Evil, would be a huge understatement. I was ecstatic! This series – British PI murder mysteries written by the incomparable JK Rowling, using the alias Robert Galbraith – is simply not to be missed by fans of the genre or fans of the author. (Forgiving her that awkward book, A Causal Vacancy, which displayed enormous talent but was populated with stories and character’s that were unlikable and almost all heartbreaking. A review of it can be found here: http://wp.me/p6N6mT-Md )

Before reviewing, I would like to point out that while you could read this book on its own — since Galbraith’s wonderful writing makes for a thrilling mystery even without the back story — you should absolutely read the previous two books in the series (in order!) Skipping those books would deprive you not only of the reading of two thrilling tales written by a master storyteller, but also of the chance to participate in the slowly unraveling stories of the series’ hero and heroine, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

The story opens with the stalwart private investigator, Cormoran Strike, a self-described “fat bastard,” an ex-boxer with the body of a man “who smokes too much and eats too much fast food, who wears a permanent expression of crossness.” He is keeping afloat a small private investigation business with the help of his beautiful, savvy assistant, Robin Ellacott. Robin has eschewed a more profitable career in accounting to study surveillance, self-defense, and investigative tactics under Strike. The two work side-by-side solving their clients’ crises, keeping up their platonic relationship. However, there are undercurrents of attraction between the two (readers of the series will be thrilled to learn that Robin is still has not married that tosser Matthew at the start of this book.)

The newest case for the pair comes not from a client but from a gruesome package containing a severed human leg that is delivered to Robin at the end of Chapter Two. Although the leg comes addressed to Robin, Strike is immediately certain that the package is meant as a message for both of them…as a threat against Robin and a riddle for Strike to solve. The package and its accompanying letter lead Strike to zero in on four men he knows from his past, each a likely murderer. Reluctantly, he begins to sift through his past (time spent as a neglected child, an army recruit, a military investigator) for hints at the package’s sender. “His vague memories of the past had weakened, no doubt by his deliberate attempts to forget,” but the arrival of the package means “now the memories were rising to bite him as though he had trodden on a nest of sleeping snakes.”

Galbraith has once again delivered a novel true to its murder mystery roots while offering readers so much more than another formulaic read. Skillfully moving between Strike’s, Robin’s and the murderer’s points-of-view, Galbraith delivers us a modern story that is filled with wit and intelligence and populated with full-bodied characters that we quickly come to know so well. One beautifully crafted sentence follows another, sketching out in perfect detail the past and present lives of the characters – of large and small importance to the story – and the places they each inhabit.

Curling up with a book as good as this one is one of life’s greatest pleasures. There is nothing as euphoric as being unable to put down a fabulous book. Enthralled, I lugged the (not insubstantial) book everywhere for the two days, ignoring my errands, my work, and even my children — with in reason…they were playing on the playground or in their rooms with Legos) to find out how the story would end. Heavenly!

NOTE: This book, as is true of all murder mystery novels, contains graphic (although not gratuitous) depictions of murder as well as some graphic very sexual content. This story marks a much darker theme than the first two Cormoran Strike novels, but it is nonetheless outstanding. This is NOT a book for young adults, even though the author is JK Rowling.

career of evil cover

October Book Series — Young Adult Book Reviews

The author's Self Portrait

The author’s Self Portrait

Guest authoring this post is my 12 (almost 13) year old son. He also took of all of the photos posted as well. He loves scary books as much as I do and he was happy to share some of his newly finished spooky finds – some mystery, thriller and horror novels. My son is a Creative Writing student at a local performing arts middle school, very happy to practice his writing skills. He told me that I definitely should add that these are only about half of the books he read so far this month.

Ten By Gretchen McNeil (2012) This is an unnervingly realistic story following a teenage girl, Meg, who goes to a party on a small island. A violent storm hits and the teens settle in to watch a movie. When they find a DVD labeled, “Do Not Watch,” they watch it, to see a creepy video with a person in a mask threatening to kill THEM! They think it’s a prank, and then people start dying. Who is the killer, and who will survive…?

Undead By Kristy McKay (2012) Zombie movie meets humor novel. In this comedic take on a zombie thriller a teenage girl, a rebel, a nerd, and a glamour queen all trapped in snowy British town full of zombies. The teens struggle to survive the zombies…and there irritation with each other. Full of great jokes and scenes, this will have you laughing from page 3 on. The plot keeps you guessing and it is nice to read about murderous zombies without being scared to death. Like one of the characters jokes, “wait, wait, we don’t need to run from these guys. They can only shuffle. We can get away by walking briskly.”

Better hope this was not a zombie escape.

Better hope this was not a zombie escape.

The Vanishing Season by Jody Lynn Anderson (2014) When a girl from Chicago moves to sleepy town in northern Illinois she expects every thing to be boring. Then a wave of mysterious murders of teenage girls riles up the town. The county is sealed off from the rest of the state in an attempt to keep the town’s girls safe (and the murderer in!) Alternating chapters are introduced by the ghost of one of the girls. Keep’s you guessing until the very end…maybe even longer.

Season of the Witch by Mariah Fredericks (2013) Toni is being bullied by Chloe, the meanest, most popular girl in school. Toni reaches out to Chloe’s boyfriend asking for help, but the boyfriend refuses. A creepy Goth girl befriends Toni and convinces her to do a spell on the boyfriend but it rebounds back on the girls because the boyfriend was not the real bully. So of course, the girls do more spells, than more, things spiral out of control, and a killing spell is conjured.

The Haunting Hour by R.L. Stine This is a collection of ten short stories which are more entertaining than scary, with the topics that range from dragons to zombies. The book jacket promises I “will be haunted for life,” but personally they were barely at all scary, maybe because I am reading much scarier books this month. The creepiest story is about a babysitter that forces the kids to make voodoo doll cookies that the kids don’t take seriously enough and they end up hurting their neighbors.

Monster, Scavenger Hunt, and Die Softly all by Christopher Pike

Monster (1992) This is an old story* where a girl named Angela’s best friend bursts into a party and kills two people claiming they were secretly alien monsters. Angela knows that it is crazy for her friend to do this and she begins to investigate. What she discovers is horrifying. (Not for children under 12!!)

Scavenger Hunt (1989) When Carl joins his best friend’s team for a special end-of-the-school-year scavenger hunt, he feels happy to be included with the cool kids. But, then the clues for the hunt lead them astray and things start getting weird. Carl wonders if they are following the clues to the right place. And what will they find at the end of the hunt?

Die Softly (1991) A geeky boy from the school AV club tries to gain popularity by taking pictures of some cheerleaders in the locker room. What he ends up taking pictures of is a possible murder of one of the girls. He sets out to find out what really happened in the photos, and risks ending up dead.

What lies behind this door... Torture chamber? Mad scientist library? Dentist's office?

What lies behind this door… Torture chamber? Mad scientist laboratory? Dentist’s office?

A note from the author’s mother:

*By “old story” my son means the books are set in the 1990’s.

It was thrilling to pick a book and have my almost-teenage son not only love it, but ask me to help him find more by the author. (It is a rare occurrence when he will admit anything I like is cool.)

I was very excited to find these three books at the Thrift Shop since Christopher Pike’s books from the early 90’s are largely out of print. Christopher Pike was an absolute favorite writer of mine when I was in middle school. My best friend Danielle and I read all of his horror novels (our favorites were Slumber Party and Gimme a Kiss) and would talk about them for hours. To this day, she and I still bond by sharing books we loved with each other.

Sunset at cemetery.

Sunset at cemetery.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

Many readers know of Shirley Jackson without really knowing her, as her short story, “The Lottery,” is used extensively in middle and high school language arts classes (see note for more on “Lottery”). The Haunting of Hill House is one of her few novels. Despite being written in 1959, Shirley Jackson writes a thoroughly modern thriller in both subject and tone. In fact, the story seems so contemporary that reminders of the time (a mention of women being thrilled at driving or wearing “slacks”) seem to jolt us back to the 1950’s.

The story opens with our young heroine, Eleanor Vance, finally taking charge of her life and leaving behind a diminished existence as the spinster sister. She heads out of the city seeking fortune and adventure in a rural village. At the ill-rumored country home, Hill House, she will take up residence and provide administrative support for a paranormal sciences study. The thrill Eleanor feels as she flees her past and heads out — over the bucolic hills and through farm towns — slowly starts to fade as she draws nearer to the Hill House. She feels compelled to stop in the last village on her route, knowing Hillsdale offers her “last chance” to turn back. Despite a chilly reception from the townies and her own growing unease, Eleanor leaves the village for the Hill House.

Immediately upon arriving at the house – padlocked, chained, and guarded by a “malicious” caretaker – she begins to understand that her decision to travel there might be unwise. From first glance, the house appears “vile, diseased” and she is compelled by a “sick voice in her head to get away, get far away.” But she presses on, dismissing her fear as silliness, and readers are simultaneously worried for her and thankful that she will continue on with her story so we can see where it leads us all.

Eleanor meets the other (temporary) inhabitants of the house – the caretaker and housekeeper, the Dudleys; Theodora, another aide; Luke, the young man set to inherit Hill House; and the study’s leader, Dr. Montague — and the “work” they are charged with carrying out is explained. The house is haunted, Doctor Montague explains, but no one who has ever lived there can explain what is exactly to be feared from the house…once they arrived the previous owners only admit to an immediate, desperate need to leave. With great candor, the doctor admits that the task of documenting the haunting at Hill House will be terrifying and will not leave them unscarred. “The house is evil itself. It has enchained and destroyed its people and their lives,” he tells them and offers them a chance to leave.

At first, the frightening task exhilarates the characters, and they find themselves under a spell of excitement as they explore the secrets the house hides. Before long, fear has begun to infect the minds of the characters; they grow suspicious of one another and fearful for their sanity.

It seems that the women of the book are most susceptible to the effects of Hill House. As the story unfolds, we learn that all of the women who have called the house home have met a sad or violent end. Living there has led women to injury, madness, suicide, or extreme cruelty (especially toward other women). Inside the house, women’s insecurities, fears, and their need to be loved becomes their downfall. The more the women long to be included and accepted, the more ghosts of the house seem to prey upon them. Eleanor – the most vulnerable of the female characters – is the most affected by the house, but her female counterparts are also drawn into suspicion and become quick to blame each other for strange occurrences. Perhaps Jackson is making a feminist commentary on the ways in which women’s need to please make us more likely to be victimized, that by ignoring our instincts and turning on one another we find ourselves alone and vulnerable to being terrorized.

NOTE: Shirley Jackson’s famous 1948 short story, “The Lottery,” ran in the June 1948 New Yorker Magazine Fiction Section. A full copy can be found in Google Open Document form here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzbtlcAsIeTnbEpJQXE2WWd5eG8/edit

Devoted in Death by JD Robb (2015)

Devoted in Death is the forty-first book in the Eve Dallas “…in Death” series by prolific writer JD Robb (nom de plume for Nora Roberts, who has written an additional 200 books under her real name). I have read all of the books in the series, many of them more than once, and always find they are well worth the read. The books are science-fiction murder mysteries set in the 2060’s, following the life and work of NYPD detective Eve Dallas. Despite the futuristic settings and high-tech gadgetry, the books are largely told in the traditional police-procedural style. The stories portray, in graphic detail, the murders committed (often in very dramatic ways) and the minutiae of police work required to solve them.

A moment of commentary here seems in order. I know that serialized books in general are dismissed as overly simplistic and often formulaic. These are books, some readers would say, that are just like television; these contemporary murder-mystery serials are seen as sensationalizing crime and gore and sentimentalizing the work of police. Novels such as the In Death series may not be “literature,” but the author never sets out to write a Pulitzer, she sets out to entertain readers. I suggest that there can easily be room in any reader’s book list for novels such as these. It can be tiresome and confining to only read books at the high-end of the literature spectrum. While there is much value in books that demand a lot of their readers, there is also value in books that ask just a little. Books such as the In Death series demand only two things: that we come willing to be entertained (even if we have to suspend disbelief at times) and that, especially when we read serials, we are looking to form deeper connections to story’s main characters.

In Death, we meet Dallas in Book One as she is both becoming a NYPD detective and forming relationships with a slew of characters who will appear in most of the following books including: her billionaire lover-turned-husband, her hippy police partner, a savvy news reporter, an orphan turned rock-star, the police department shrink, and many more. My continued love of the series is largely tied up in these relationships, more so than the detective stories (although those are compelling as well). An abused former foster child, Dallas must open her life to welcome in more and more friends and loved ones, something that does not come easy. She must also deal with her unexpected celebrity resulting from both her sensational police work and her marriage. These caring relationships, and the at-times steamy love life she shares with her husband, Roarke, are a nice counterpoint to the otherwise dark material of the books. (Another comment: the fact that her books include romance — and not just sex — is often cited as evidence of their inferiority to similar books written by men.)

Devoted in Death opens with two serial killers, intent on making sex and torture their lives’ work, just setting out on a killing spree that will stretch from Oklahoma to New York City before it ends. It is their murders in Dallas’s NYC jurisdiction that bring them to her attention, but she soon delves into the lives of all their victims to better understand and catch the killers. Along with her trusty team of friends and co-workers, she tracks the couple across the city, using the high-tech crime-solving techniques the series has made famous.

The series is highly readable and the sheer volume of novels in it make it a great one to become addicted to. (Re-reads of In Death are a mainstay in my beach reading every summer.) I highly recommend scouring your local thrift shop for copies, but I must argue that they are best enjoyed in order.

A note to readers: the crimes can be described in graphic detail, and the books often contain very detailed and sometimes violent sex scenes.

October Books Series — Halloween Books for Young Readers

As I have mentioned on earlier blog posts, I am not the only reader in my house who loves seasonal books. All three of my sons read stacks of spooky books every October, particularly my two younger sons, who look forward every year to pulling out their old favorite fall and Halloween stories to read and re-read throughout the month. I asked for their help drafting this blog post, and within minutes, they had brought me a teetering pile of books to recommend to other kids.

blog pic halloween at library

My son at our local library, where the librarians are also in the spirit of the season.

I cannot begin this blog, however, without acknowledging perhaps the best children’s mystery books ever written, the Harry Potter series. These books — while not necessarily Halloween-themed titles, and often only thought of as fantasy not mystery — are among the best children’s literature ever written. Readers are not only treated to glimpses of a truly amazing parallel world, but they are challenged to follow closely the slowly unfolding mystery of Harry Potter’s life. These books are an extended family affair, beloved not only by me, my husband, and our sons, but also my siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews.  Reading all seven Harry Potter books is a rite of passage in our family…that is what we call “being initiated into the Slug Club.” I could write an entire blog about the Harry Potter books. For the purposes of this blog post, I just wanted to make sure they make every parent’s list for young and young-adult readers.

FOR VERY YOUNG READERS

Owl Babies (Martin Waddell)

Eek-A-Boo (Joan Holub)

Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? (Karen Katz)

Clifford’s First Halloween and Clifford’s Halloween (Norman Bridwell)

Llama Llama Trick or Treat (Anna Dewdney)

Boo! (Leslie Patricelli)

Berenstain Bears’ Spooky Old Tree (J and S Berenstain)

blog pic trick or treat (2)Trick-or-Treat it’s Halloween (Linda Lowery) This ABC picture book and poem about the best parts of Halloween is a favorite of everyone in the family. Even our twelve year-old can be found reading it to his youngest brother, complete with spooky voices and theatrics. All of the illustrations are done with construction paper cut outs made by the author and her husband. A gem!

FOR PRESCHOOLERS

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves (Julia Rawlinson) This is a wonderful, seasonal tale about the changes in the forest from summer to fall. My four year old says this title is about, “a fox that tries to save his favorite tree from Autumn” but then the “tree turns beautiful and icicled.”      pic flecthc (2)

Big Pumpkin (Erica Silverman) A funny rhyming poem about monsters trying to pick a pumpkin in time to make pumpkin pie on Halloween night. “My favorite line is when they say ‘it’s big and it’s mine and it’s stuck on the vine’,” says my son.

Room on the Broom (Julia Donaldson) Some animals help a witch save her wand, hat, and broom, and in return, she creates a broom that can fly all of them about on Halloween night.

Henry and Mudge: Under the Yellow Moon (Cynthia Rylant) This series has been a mainstay on our bookshelves for years. In this chapter book comprised of four short chapters, each one about fall, Henry is finally brave enough to face Halloween now that he has his dog Mudge.

Scary, Scary Halloween (Eve Bunting) Absolutely gorgeous drawings by another of our favorite children’s author and illustrator, Jan Brett, depicting a whole host of ghosts and monsters out trick or treating.

In the Haunted House (Eve Bunting) A little girl is braver than her father about walking through a haunted house. My littler ones love to look for the “clues” in the pictures that the haunted house is pretend.

A Halloween Scare at My House (Eric James) A new book we just found at the library this week, this book is a funny rhyming poem about a boy who braves a monster take-over of his town only to find they are scared of him. My husband likes this one for “it’s perfectly consistent iambic meter.” [I should note here that my husband is a poetry scholar, hence the nerdy comment.]

FOR EARLY ELEMENTARY AGE READERS

All of the books in the preschool readers’ category are still beloved by early elementary school kids. If you’re looking for some titles that are a bit longer or can be read by independent readers, my sons recommend the following.

Who Stole Halloween? (Martha Freeman) Part of the ChickaDee Court Holiday Series, this title finds our main characters Alex and Yasmeen trying to find out where all of the neighborhood cats are disappearing to on Halloween. Is it really a local ghost rumored to haunt the town?

blog pic geronimoGeronimo Stilton Series, all Halloween titles. (Including: It’s Halloween ‘Fraidy Mouse, This Hotel is Haunted, The Peculiar Pumpkin Thief) Our narrator and hero, the mouse Geronimo, sets out to solve a series of Halloween themed mysteries around his hometown, New Mouse City.

Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise (Kate Dicamillo) Our nine year-old son offers this summary of the book: “Mercy gets all dressed up for Halloween but ends up chasing a cat all around the neighborhood. Everyone else in town thinks Mercy has started a Halloween parade and follows her.” BTW, Mercy is a pig.

Magic Tree House Series: A Good Night for Ghosts and Haunted Castle on All Hallows Eve (Mary Pope Osborne) A time-traveling brother and sister team go back to two different haunted, medieval castles. All of the books in Pope’s Magic Tree House series are not-to-be-missed reading for emergent readers. Both of our older sons’ first independently-read chapter books were in this series. All of the books have helpful illustrations and are researched to be historically accurate.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving), Treasury of Illustrated Classics, junior-novel version. This series of junior-novels keeps the original content and tone, but slightly updates the books to make them more accessible to younger readers. This American classic never fails to thrill our sons when we re-read it each year. Plus, the book pairs nicely with the classic Disney cartoon movie, movie information can be found here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051850/

(Other junior novel titles from this Treasury we love are: Swiss Family Robinson, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Mysterious Island, and Poe’s Short Stories. More info here http://www.amazon.com/Treasury-Illustrated-Classics-Book-Library/dp/0766616177)

The Halloween Candy Mystery (Marion Markham) A jewel thief is plaguing a town on Halloween night, but he is forced to hide the gems until he can get away. The gems end up in the candy bags of twins Mickey and Kate, and the two kids set out to solve the mystery and catch the thief.

Witch’s Wishes (Vivian Vande Velde) A witch turns a little girl’s costume wand into a real wand, unbeknownst to the girl, and crazy wish-granting ensues.The little girl makes some funny wishes that come true, sometimes better than expected.

The Worst Best Halloween Ever (Barbara Robinson) The mayor of town shuts down Halloween to put a stop to pranks. Instead, a sugar-free, spooky-free party is to be held at the elementary school. Things do not go as planned. blog pic best halloween ever

My oldest son will be reviewing some Young Adult thriller titles for a post next week. Stay tuned…

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)

My father has always loved a good British murder mystery, and it seems to be a love that I inherited from him as I am very fond of them as well. Beginning in middle school, he would often finish a PD James or Agatha Christie paperback and encourage me to read it. I was thrilled that I was mature enough to read the same books as my father. My first Christie book, Ten Little Indians, was a family favorite and the beginning of my love of the genre. (The title was changed twice and is now published as And Then There Were None, so as to remove any racially insensitive references in the title.) Feeling nostalgic, I picked a copy for a re-read this past weekend.

In the book, a classic mystery from a legend of the genre, Agatha Christie takes us to a storm-battered island off the coast of England where a party of ten has gathered. Each of the guests has been lured to the island by a mysterious millionaire under false pretenses — a doctor thinks he is to treat a reclusive patient, an unhappy school-teacher thinks she is to begin a new job, a gambler to work off his debts — to find themselves part of a strange party. With no host in sight and no way off the secluded island, the guests are called together and each one accused of a separate murder. Everyone feigns shock and horror; all assume a prank is being played until it becomes clear that their host has already found them guilty, but outside of the reach of the law, and each has been sentenced to death. Almost immediately the murders begin and the remaining party members must decide if there is a hidden eleventh person on the island or if one of them is the murderer.

Christie’s story presents the ideal setting and set up for a murder mystery — a storm-battered island with no means of escape, everyone a suspect, a plot filled with red herrings and unexpected twists. In fact, these elements have become the gold standard in the murder mystery genre. However, the book, written in the 1930’s cannot quite compete with the complex thrillers written in more recent decades. Perhaps is it our global obsession with psychology and the everyday appearance on TV and in movies depicting serial killers and their victims, but the characters seem less affected than we know they must be. Their fear and guilt is not communicated to readers as effectively as it might be. The action seems somehow removed from the characters and that leaves something to be desired. I felt myself dissatisfied wanting to know more about each person and how the tension was affecting them. On the other hand, the book offers readers a thrilling story without the graphic details of murder and mayhem so prevalent in modern day mysteries.

Overall a quick, fun read, ideal — as I found out — for a cloudy, blustery October afternoon. Reading the book will certainly put you in good company, according to Wikipedia, “And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling novel with over 100 million copies sold, also making it the world’s best-selling mystery, and one of the best-selling books of all time.”