Blurb: At the isolated Baikie's Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental study. Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal...
For team leader Rachael the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of secrets of her own to hide.
When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.
Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture - the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope...
Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first novel in the Vera series. It felt at first it could be a bit of a slow burner, but Cleeves really set the scene so you thought you knew all the characters really well before having the rug pulled out from under you. A really good read, looking forward to the rest of the series.
10. Peril at End House - Agatha Christie
Blurb: Three near escapes from death in three days! Is it accident or design? And then a fourth mysterious incident happens, leaving no doubt that some sinister hand is striking at Miss Buckley, the charming young owner of the mysterious End House. The fourth attempt, unfortunately for the would-be murderer, is made in the garden of a Cornish Riviera hotel where Hercule Poirot, the famous little Belgian detective is staying. Poirot immediately unravels a murder mystery that must rank as one of her most brilliant that Agatha Christie has yet written.
Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this Poirot and liked how little the plot needed amending to make it into a programme (unlike the Marples I am finding!) It was a definite page-turner, despite knowing what was coming!
11. Murder in Mesopotamia - Agatha Christie
Pages: 226 (3203)
Blurb: Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot - "the best combination in modern detective literature" - bring together all their wit and wits to bear on the solution of another remarkable case.
This time the murder takes place among the members of an expedition which has gone to Mesopotamia to excavate the ruins of an ancient city. As to the murderer, he was so diabolically clever that he would certainly have gone undetected if Poirot had not providentially been passing through on his way to Bagdad. And never, perhaps, has that keen brain been put to a greater test. The story is told by a hospital nurse attached to the expedition, and to have kept the whole tale in character as it would appear to her commonsense mind and professional eye is not the least of Mrs Christie's achievements.
The unusual setting is not only vividly but authentically described, for Agatha Christie is the wife of an eminent archaeologist and she actually wrote this story while accompanying him in one of his expeditions to Mesopotamia.
Thoughts: This was again a thoroughly pleasant Poirot. I particularly liked the narration from the perspective of the nurse and the unexpected twist at the end. The book also paints a lovely picture of Iraq, making it seem incredibly vivid and not the desert wasteland many of us would believe.