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Murder on the Orient Express, is one of Agatha Christie’s best known and most loved novels. Hercule Poirot is travelling on the train when one of the passengers, a Mr Ratchett, is murdered. Now Poirot must sift through the evidence and work out which of the other passengers wanted Ratchett dead – and why.

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Although I am classing this as an audiobook, it’s actually more of a dramatisation of the novel, rather than a straightforward narration. Art Malik is the narrator but he in fact he serves mainly to provide links from scene to scene. As lovely and delicious as his voice is, the real star of the production is of course the character of Poirot, performed here by Tom Conti, who imbues his Poirot with just the right amount of eccentricity with a dash of arrogance.

The mystery at the heart of the story is an excellent one, and if I didn’t already know something of the ending, it certainly would have kept me guessing. My favourite performers apart from Conti were Paterson Jospeh and Sophie Okonedo as Colonel Arbuthnot and Mary Debenham respectively, but the whole cast were excellent and really brought the story alive.

I really hope that Audible gives the dramatisation treatment to more of Agatha Christie’s works, as I found this a splendid and enjoyable listen. Highly recommended.

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Year of first publication: 1934 (novel) 2017 (this dramatisation)

Genre: Murder mystery

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A disparate group of five students are given detention and only four of them walk out alive. Somebody killed Simon Kelleher while he was in the room and as the investigation gets underway, it turns out that each of the other students had something to hide…and Simon not only knew all of their secrets, but was planning to reveal them on his on his gossip app.

Although this book is marketed as Young Adult, I am certainly WAY past that category and I really enjoyed it. People like me who remember classic 80s movies may well remember The Breakfast Club, and it is difficult not to draw comparisons between the premise of that movie and the initial backdrop to this book. However, the story here is a lot darker – as all four students are investigated for the murder, it turns out that each of them had reason to want Simon dead.

I really enjoyed the story, and while I have no intention of revealing the ending, I will say that it came as a complete surprise and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it.

If you like mysteries and dramas (this is more of a drama than a thriller), then I would recommend this book, no matter what your age.

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This is an epistolary novel, told by the main character Balram (who calls himself the White Tiger) to the prime minister of China, who is coming to India for a visit. Balram was born in an extremely poor part of India and was destined to live a life of labour or servitude, but as we find out at the beginning of the story he is a successful business. We also find out right at the beginning that he also murdered his killed his former master Ashok. The book tells Balram’s story and explains why he did what he did.

I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I definitely enjoyed it, in that it was written well and I liked it’s very descriptive chronicle of life in India. (Note: this book does not romanticise India in ANY way, shape or form). It was often witty, and the writing flowed well. I found it an undemanding read that kept me interested – but for all that, I never felt fully engaged with the characters and always felt a slight detachment from Balram.

Nonetheless if this is a genre you like, I would recommend this book and if it is different kind of novel to what you would normally choose, you might like this change of scene.

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This is the second in the Gourmet Detective series of tv movies, starring Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns, and which are based on the books of Peter King.

In this instalment, the titular detective Henry Ross once again finds himself teamed with Detective Maggie Price, when they investigate the murder of a journalist at a luxury spa. Naturally there are several possible suspects, and it is up to Henry and Maggie to sift through the evidence and uncover the killer.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Scott Smith

Writers: Peter King (book series), Dawn DeKeyser, Dylan Neal, Becky Southwell

Main cast: Dylan Neal, Brooke Burns, Crystal Lowe, Patrick Sabongui, Stefanie von Pfetten, Devon Weigel, Brendan Penny, Steve Valentine

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Genre: Cosy murder mystery

Highlights: Charming and undemanding fun throughout, chemistry between the two main characters, mystery kept me guessing until the big reveal

Lowlights: None for me, but those who like their films gritty and realistic might want to pass on this one

Overall: Good fun, perfect to unwind on a lazy weekend

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The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike detective series, by Robert Galbraith – who everybody and his wife knows is J K Rowling writing under a pseudonym.

I really enjoyed the first book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, despite having seen the excellent television adaptation, and therefore knowing ‘whodunnit’. I was determined to read the rest of the books available before watching their respective adaptations, and as the adaptation of this particular novel has been sitting in my recorded items for some time, I felt I should probably get around to reading it.

The plot here revolves around a writer named Owen Quine, who has written a provocative novel, which casts aspersions about many other people in the literary and wider world. It has given several people reason to detest Quine, so when he is found murdered in extraordinary circumstances, there is no shortage of suspects. With the police choosing the most convenient suspect, it is left to Strike and his assistant Robin to try to get to the truth.

If anything, I enjoyed this book much more that the first one in the series; the writing seemed much more pulled together somehow and the mystery was more satisfying. As I say, I did actually really enjoy The Cuckoo’s Calling, but it did have a convoluted plot, which meant that knowing the outcome from the start probably helped. With The Silkworm, I had no idea of the outcome, and while the plot was tightly woven, I was able to follow it and found myself getting pulled in. It’s wonderful when you find a book that you actually look forward to coming back to, as I did with this one. They mystery kept me guessing and there was a twist at the end, which I did not predict but which was not so out of left field as to be completely unbelievable.

Also the characters of Strike and his assistant Robin were much more fleshed out in this novel. I continue to adore Robin, who is intelligent, compassionate and a good foil for the gruff and imposing Strike.

All in all, I can’t find anything to complain about with this one, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

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This is the third instalment in the cosy ‘Murder She Baked’ mystery series. Melanie Quinn opens a bakery opposite Hannah’s own bakery and the two women become rivals not only in business, but also possibly for policeman Mike’s affections. As viewers of the previous two films will know, Hannah has an unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies and when she discovers Melanie lying murdered, Hannah herself is in the frame for the killing!

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Kristoffer Tabori

Writers: Joanne Fluke (novel), Teena Booth

Main cast: Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison, Barbara Niven, Gabriel Hogan, Michelle Harrison, Roark Critchlow, Anne Marie DeLuise

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Genre: Mystery, cosy murder mystery

Highlights: I finally worked out who was Mike and who was Norman!! (Hannah’s two potential love interests look too alike to me), these films are just generally comforting and undemanding viewing, if entirely unbelievable. Alison Sweeney is eminently likeable.

Lowlights: Entirely unbelievable!!

Overall: If this is a genre you like, then I recommend these films. If you like your films gritty and hard hitting, maybe give these a miss. I will say that I thought this was the best one in the series so far.

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This 1998 film was a remake of a 1949 film of the same name, although only the name and the overall premise remain the same. I have seen both before (the last time I watched the 1998 film was – and yes, I feel old – over 25 years ago) and I honestly think that the later film is the far superior one.

Dennis Quaid is Dexter Cornell, an English Professor. The film begins with him staggering into a police station to report his own murder (shot in black and white, this is an homage to the 1949 film which opened much the same way). He then sits down to reveal his account of events and the film flicks back a couple of days earlier. During the intervening hours, Cornell is poisoned, faces his own mortality and has to find out who has killed him and why.

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Year of release: 1988

Directors: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton

Writers: Charles Edward Pogue, Russell Rouse, Clarence Greene

Main cast: Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Charlotte Rampling, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek, Christopher Neame, Robin Johnson

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Genre: Drama, thriller

Highlights: Dennis Quaid;  the scene after Cornell is diagnosed – he runs outside and there is a fantastic scene set to The Waterboys’ ‘Don’t Bang The Drum’. I remember this scene from when I first saw this film over a quarter of a century ago

Lowlights: Some hammy acting from Robin Johnson, Christopher Neame

Overall: Enjoyable thriller

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