My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I used to go through intense phases of reading Agatha Christie when I was in high school. For a while, I read nothing but Poirot, then nothing but Miss Marple. For some reason, though, I could never get myself interested in reading any of Christie's books with one-shot detectives, or her other regulars, like Parker Pyne or Tommy and Tuppence.
I think that might just change now.
This collection of Tommy and Tuppence Beresford's first cases was a fun, twisty, and interesting read. I really enjoyed the variety of crimes depicted within. The young couple (who are so obviously and adorably in love) solve cases of missing girls, ironclad alibis, spies and treason, and even murder! They do it all with a strapping, gung-ho attitude that is remarkably refreshing when compared to Poirot's cynicism and Marple's shrewdness.
Christie's long works are among the finest mystery novels out there, but I think she truly excelled in the short story form. She piles an immense amount of complexity and intrigue into a few short pages that leave you breathless with brevity and adrenaline.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I started this book a while back on my iPad, but the beginning was so long (and the ebook pages so short) that I gave up. However, many of my friends recommended it to me, and urged me to press on past the first, rather slow part. I acquired a hard copy recently, and immediately tore through the book. After skimming the part I found boring (mostly financial journalism minutiae that didn't interest me), I was caught up in the twisted storyline and intrigued by the main characters.
On the surface, the protagonist of the novel is Mikael Blomkvist, disgraced financial reporter and authorial stand-in, but the true hero of the story is Lisbeth Salander. She starts out as, and continues to be, an enigma in terms of her dark past. She is, however, an investigative genius, and soon joins Blomkvist in his quest to uncover the fate of the missing daughter of a sprawling, dysfunctional family. The conclusion of this plotline is both shocking and satisfying.
The other plotline, having to do with Blomkvist's wrongful conviction and jailtime, is less compelling. Fortunately, most of the novel is dedicated to the first storyline, and spends quite a lot of time developing the relationship between the main characters.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a shameless trend-follower like me, and to anyone who enjoys a good story, but is not fazed by lots of exposition and a rather dry style of writing.
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