Next Stop, Murder!

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Picture the scene: a train stuck in the snow in the middle of rural Yugoslavia. In one of the first class compartments, a man lies dead stabbed multiple times. Who was this Mr. Ratchett, a wealthy man with the air of a benevolent philanthropist and the eyes of a cunning animal and why would someone hate him enough to stab him twelve times?

With no way for the murderer to leave the train undiscovered, the culprit must be one of the passengers on the train. But who among this seemingly random collection of people of various social backgrounds hailing from several different countries could have done it? Each has an alibi, but each alibi is reliant upon the testimony of another subject. Who did it, why did they do it, where is the murder weapon?

Hercule Poirot must make use of all the deductive powers of his “little grey cells” to answer all of these questions and solve the Murder on the Orient Express!

Once More With Violence

The Builders by Daniel Polansky

The last job they had did not end like they hoped it would. Betrayed and bloodied, the animals of Captain’s company (those that survived at any rate), scattered and have spent the time since then trying to stay hidden, build new lives, and forget.

But the time is right for evening the score. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to gather the survivors for one last desperate plan. This time it’s not for fame, it’s not for riches, this time it is personal. This time it’s for revenge.

Look Out Below!

Friends in High Places by Donna Leon

When Commissario Guido Brunetti receives a visit from a bureaucrat from the Ufficio Catasto (at his home on a Saturday, no less!). It appears that the apartment he and his family have been living in for years was built without any of the proper permits being filed and therefore he must either provide documentation proving it was built legally or vacate the premises.

Brunetti assumes it is either at best a garden-variety example of Venice’s legendary bureaucratic inefficiency or at worst a clumsy attempt at some kind of official “shakedown”. Like any Venetian he forgoes any official channels and immediately begins to think of who amidst his circle of family, friends, acquaintances, and individuals who owe him a favor he can call on to resolve this problem. But when time passes and he hears nothing more regarding the matter his dismisses it from his mind and gets back to his police work.

The matter is soon brought to his attention again when the young official is found dead not too long after contacting Brunetti and wishing to talk to him in his capacity as a police Commissario. Was this young man’s death an accident as much of the evidence gathered at the crime scene suggests, or is there a more sinister behind the death of someone who’s only crime seems to be overzealous dedication to his job?

Interesting Times

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff


Though he occasionally entertains thoughts of travel and adventure in the wider world Erdemoglu Selim abd al-Rahim, is perfectly content staying where he is brewing tea and fulfilling his duties as a lieutenant in the Ottoman Empire’s Janissary Corps, duties which are not exciting or even slightly interesting. That is until he comes in contact with Delilah Dirk.

Born to an aristocratic English father and a Greek mother (reputed to be one of the finest artisans in her homeland) Delilah Dirk has traveled the world learning marksmanship in France, survival techniques in the jungles of India, acrobatics in Indonesia, and has spent seven years studying fighting techniques in a Japanese monastery . A high-ranking member of at least three royal courts she is reputed to be able to fly and is the master of forty-seven different sword-fighting techniques which she has used to face down, twenty-nine Sikh swordsmen; thirty-two conquistadors; fifty-one Australian aboriginal warriors; a small pride of lions; and “one very large Mongolian man with a large sword, a small brain, and a bad temper.”

If Lieutenant Selim was looking for adventure he certainly has found it. Or perhaps it has found him, whether he wanted it to or not.

You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan

The British arrested him for treason and exiled him to Tasmania after he tried to raise a rebellion against the Crown. He escaped.

Bigots and political rivals tried to shame him when he spoke out against them. His words proved them wrong.

The soldiers of the Confederacy tried to kill him when he led a brigade of his countrymen against them. He survived.

Those who sought to take the law into their own hands thought that with his death his legacy would be forgotten. His legacy lives on to this day.

Poet, orator, revolutionary, soldier, statesman, leader, crusader, this is the story of Thomas Francis Meagher.

Perhaps You Have Heard of Me?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

“‘The story will take three days,’ Kote interrupted. ‘Starting tomorrow. That is what I am saying.’

Chronicler closed his eyes and ran his hand over his face. The earl would be furious, of course. No telling what it might take to get back in his good graces. Still…’If that’s the only way that I can get it, I accept.’

‘I’m glad to hear it.’ The innkeeper relaxed into a half smile. ‘Come now, is three days really so unusual?’

Chronicler’s serious expression returned. ‘Three days is quite unusual. But then again – ‘ Some of the self-importance seemed to leak out of him. ‘Then again,’ he made a gesture as if to show how useless words were. ‘You are Kvothe.’

The man who called himself Kote looked up from behind his bottles. A full-lipped smile played about his mouth. A spark was kindling behind his eyes. He seemed taller.

‘Yes. I suppose I am,’ Kvothe said, and his voice had iron in it.”


Recipe for Hilarious

Blandings Castle by P.G. Wodehouse

Welcome to Blandings Castle. One of England’s largest and most pleasant stately homes it is renowned for its magnificent Early Tudor architecture, elegant rose garden, and stately Yew Alley.

Even more notable are its inhabitants: Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth an almost terminally absentminded old gentleman who hobbies include gardening, feuding with his Scottish gardener McAllister, and pig husbandry; his son the Honorable Frederick “Freddie” Threepwood, noted among his acquaintances for being amiable sort of fellow but rather lacking in the brains department; Lady Constance Keeble, Lord Emsworth’s sister, a woman of forceful character who spends most of her time laboring to manage the affairs of her extended family (her brother and any single relative of marriageable age in particular); and the Empress of Blandings, the apple of Lord Emsworth’s eye and several times winner in the “Fat Pig” category at the Shropshire Agricultural Show. Add to that a highly efficient secretary; a grumpy Scottish gardener; a port-swilling butler; and a cast of various nieces, nephews, unsuitable suitors then let simmer and enjoy.