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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

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Dave (Gene Wilder) is deaf and Wally (Richard Pryor) is blind. So when they witness a crime, Dave sees the guilty party, and Wally hears her. Somehow between them they have to convince the police of who did it, and escape the clutches of the criminal gang who want to get rid of them.

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Year of release: 1989

Director: Arthur Hiller

Writers: Earl Barret, Arne Sultan, Marvin Worth, Eliot Wald, Andrew Kurtzman, Gene Wilder

Main cast: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Eve Severance, Kevin Spacey, Kirsten Childs

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: All of it! Wilder and Pryor are comedy gold

Lowlights: None really

Overall: Classic comedy, well worth a visit (or a revisit)

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Lively and engaging retelling of the audacious Hatton Garden Heist which took place over Easter Weekend in 2015. This is the third film to be made about this particular event, and it features a stellar cast.

Really enjoyed it, even if I always feel a bit bad when (some of) the bad guys are so damned likeable.

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Year of release: 2018

Director: James Marsh

Writers: Joe Penhall, Mark Seal (magazine article)

Main cast: Michael Caine, Charlie Cox, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse

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Genre: Heist, crime, dramedy

Highlights: The excellent cast, especially Jim Broadbent

Lowlights: None 🙂

Overall: Definitely recommended – plenty of British humour, and although it makes the crooks somewhat likeable, it never lets you forget that what they were doing was very wrong

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An undercover cop and a Police mole have to try and work out each other’s identity before either of them is caught. And when the undercover cop is working for infamous gangster Frank Costello, getting caught could be fatal.

An exciting and fast paced thriller with a stellar cast – Leonardo Dicaprio as undercover Billy Costigan, Matt Damon as policeman Colin Sullivan, Jack Nicholason as Frank Costello, plus other famous faces including Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Ray Winstone.

There is a simmering tension throughout and the ending is fantastic. I highly recommend this film.

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Year of release: 2006

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writers: William Monahan, Alan Mak*, Felix Chong*

*2002 screenplay Mou gaan dou

Main cast: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon

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I have been on a bit of an Agatha Christie roll lately. Having never read anything by her before last year (and never watched any of the TV or film adaptations), I was inspired to read And Then There Were None, after watching the superb TV adaptation of that novel at the end of 2016. Since then, I’ve been catching up on other TV films and have several of her novels stockpiled to read.

My reason for wanting to read this particular book was that the title story, The Witness for the Prosecution, has also been adapted by the BBC, and I wanted to read the story first. I was slightly surprised that it was a short story (and that it was as short as it was), but I enjoyed it. That said, I did not think the twist was quite as spectacular as I had been led to believe by other reviews, and it wasn’t my favourite story in the collection.

The other stories with brief descriptions, are as follows:

  • The Red Signal (I had read this one before): A story of mental illness and unhappy marriages. Sounds cheery doesn’t it?! I liked it a lot though.
  • The Fourth Man: Four men are on a train, and three of them know each other. The fourth man is drawn into their conversation and reveals some interesting details about an infamous woman they are discussing. Enjoyable on the whole, although it was an entirely different story to what I was anticipating from the set-up.
  • SOS: A man’s car breaks down and he seeks refuge for the night with a family who are clearly hiding secrets. He endeavours to find out what they are (and naturally does so). I liked it. It had an air of sinisterness about it – which admittedly is Agatha Christie’s forte – which worked well.
  • Wireless: This was probably my favourite one in the whole collection. An elderly woman has heart problems and is warned that she must not get too excitable and also must not brood on her troubles. Her nephew buys her a wireless to take her mind off things, but then strange events start happening. Although I thought it was fairly easy to guess who was responsible, an added twist at the end made this thoroughly enjoyable.
  • The Mystery of the Blue Jar (another one I had read before). A young man is driven mad when he hears a voice call out ‘Murder’ at the same time every morning while he is on the golf course. He befriends a young woman and her father who live nearby and together they try to work out what is happening. Probably my second favourite in this collection.
  • Sing a Song of Sixpence: Bit of an odd one this. The mystery itself was clever enough – a woman is murdered and the four members of her family who are the potential suspects all seem to be innocent, but there appears to be no possibility that it could be anyone else – however, I did feel that the reader had been tricked a bit when the final denouement was revealed. Also, I did not like the chauvinistic detective figure in this one!
  • Mr Eastwood’s Adventure (aka The Mystery of the Second Cucumber): This was a lot of fun, and another contender for my second favourite of the collection. A man receives a mysterious phone call, clearly meant for someone else, and cannot resist investigating. Naturally he gets himself entangled in all manner of problems. This was quite amusing. I would have stuck with the original title of The Mystery of the Second Cucumber though.
  • Philomel Cottage: A woman marries a man after a brief romance. She then learns that he is a murderous psychopath and has to plan a way to get out alive. This was probably the weakest of the collection for me, which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading it. I had forgotten the ending when I came to write this review though, which is never a good sign!
  • Accident: Two men are discussing a woman who one of them is convinced is a murderer who has started her life anew under a different name. They believe that her current husband is at risk of being killed by her, and one of them sets out to try and stop that happening.
  • The Second Gong: A family gather for dinner but the uncle is found shot dead in a locked room. It appears that he has committed suicide but Hercule Poirot is convinced that there has been foul play. And Poirot of course always gets his man. I like Poirot stories partly because I love David Suchet and always think of him in the role. This was very cleverly done, and I enjoyed it a lot.
  • Hercule Poirot and the Regatta Mystery: Another Poirot story – a group of people are gather together and a valuable diamond goes missing. The indefatigable Belgian detective is called in to work out who has taken it. Naturally he figures it out.

I’ll be honest here and say that as a general rule, I am not a huge fan of short stories. I prefer novels, where we get to know characters better and plot-lines are more developed. However, as an undemanding diversion these stories worked perfectly well – as can only be expected, some are more enjoyable than others, and probably every reader will have their own ideas of which were the best and which were the worst. It’s also worth mentioning that if you already have any short story collections of Agatha Christie, it’s worth checking that you don’t already possess all of these stories before spending money on this specific book. Most of these appear in the Miss Marple and Mystery story collect and others appear in other collections by Christie.

Overall, based on this collection I remain a fan of Agatha Christie although I definitely prefer her longer novels.

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I like to try and read a Christmas themed book during the Christmas season, and this collection of classic mysteries by various authors – some well-know, some less so – fitted the bill perfectly for this year.

Like all short story collections, and especially those with various authors, it’s slightly uneven and some stories resonated more with me than others but overall the standard was very high, and I don’t think there were any stories that I really disliked.

The collection contains (my personal favourites are in bold)

The Blue Carbuncle by Arthur Conan Doyle (a Sherlock Holmes story)

Parlour Tricks by Ralph Plummer

The Happy Solution by Raymund Allen

The Flying Stars by G K Chesterton (a Father Brown story)

Stuffing by Edgar Wallace

The Unknown Murderer by H C Bailey 

The Absconding Treasurer by J Jefferson Farjeon

The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L Sayers (a Lord Peter Wimsey story)

The Case is Altered by Margery Allingham

Waxworks by Ethel Lina White (this was my favourite and I could totally see it being adapted into a television film or mini-series)

Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen

The Chinese Apple by Joseph Shearing

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake

Beef for Christmas by Leo Bruce

 

If you like short stories or like me, you like to read Yuletide themed stories at Christmas (and often being a busy time of year I find that short stories are the perfect type of reading for the Christmas season) I would recommend this book. In fact, if you are a fan of mysteries in general, you can’t go far wrong with this collection.

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General Election Night, 1983. The staff and diners at the upscale Oyster House restaurant on Jermyn Street, London, are ready for an evening of hard work and hard celebration of the Tory victory, but everything changes when two masked gunmen burst in and take them hostage in the downstairs kitchen. On the outside, the Police mobilise themselves to try and end the siege in the most peaceful way, while on the inside, the hostages realise that they are trapped with a psychopath who is armed and very dangerous.

This book is an undemanding and quick read, which starts with the onset of the siege and then alternates between the current time with the gunmen and hostages in the kitchen, and the past, where one of the gunmen’s back story is revealed in stages until we find out how he came to part of the events. We also have several chapters from the point of view of the Police – in particular that of Sergeant Willy Cosgrove, an honest man with an unusual idea of how to end the siege, and his commanding Officer Petersen, who is perhaps less honest and less bothered about a peaceful ending.

As you might expect from an author who is better known as a food critic, the action is intercut with scenes of cooking some intricate and delicious meals (which seemed slightly implausible  under the circumstances, but just believable enough not to annoy me) – if nothing else, this book has definitely made me determined to try a Rum Baba!

The story moves on at a fast pace, even allowing for the chapters set in the past, which are necessary to understand Nathan, the main hostage taker, whose story is told bit by bit. However, apart from Nathan and his lifelong friend Kingston, most of the characters weren’t that roundly developed. I don’t feel that I knew any more about the two cooks Tony and Stevie for instance by the end of the book than I did at the beginning. That said however, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but I won’t post any spoilers here; what I will say is that while I’m not sure I liked it, I definitely wasn’t expecting it, so that’s a good thing.

Overall, I think I probably would read more by Jay Rayner in future, and would probably recommend this novel to fans of thrillers and very dark humour.

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At the start of this book, Joanna, her partner Alistair and their 9 week old son Noah are at the airport waiting to fly from Scotland to Melbourne, where Alistair is from. The trip is part holiday, part opportunity for Alistair’s mother to meet her grandson and also in large part for Alistair to make a claim for custody of his 14 year old daughter Chloe, who lives in Australia with his first wife.

After landing in Australia, Noah goes missing; thereafter the story focusses on the resulting search and investigation into what happened to him. The parents, and in particular Joanna, come under close and mainly unkind public scrutiny with people speculating on Twitter, Facebook and in blog posts as to what has happened.

The story is told mainly from Joanna’s point of view (in the third person) and in Alistair’s ex-wife Alexandra’s point of view (in the first person). Alistair and Alexandra’s marriage broke up after his affair with Joanna and she is still bitter.

I enjoyed the book a lot and read it very quickly. I was surprised that the reader is told what happens to Noah straight away – as events unfold in fact – so whereas I was expecting a mystery where I would be kept in the dark as much as the characters, in fact it was more of a study of how people react and treat each other in the face of such a tragedy.

Although I raced through the book, it wasn’t without flaws – I felt that Joanna and Alexandra were fairly well drawn, but other than that, I only got the broadest sense of the rest of the characters. Alistair was almost a caricature, and deeply unlikeable.

Overall I would say that this book was satisfying at the time, but probably won’t stick in my memory for very long after I finished it.

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