High-quality, literate mysteries bound to please.

THE AGATHA PRINCIPLE AND OTHER MYSTERY STORIES

Elwood’s fourth short-story mystery collection revolving around the Beary family, written in the tradition of classic golden-age cozies.

This diverse collection of short stories features the Beary family of British Columbia: City Councilor Bertram and his acerbic wife, Edwina; their daughter Sylvia and her husband, Norton, both attorneys; their son, Richard, a detective inspector; their daughter Philippa, an opera singer and sometimes-actress who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Detective Bob Miller; and daughter Juliette and her husband, Stephen, singers and puppeteers; plus the family’s assorted children and dogs. Tales range from a murder that occurs in the snowy streets of Gastown while a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is underway, to a child in peril at the 2010 Winter Olympics, to one set in the Old South, harkening back to the War of 1812. There’s even one involving a ghost of sorts set at the seaside. Although Elwood has been compared to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, and those influences are clearly felt here, Christie’s prodigious body of work remains in print because her tales have unmatched complexity, depth and ingenuity; no successor threatens her crown. That being said, Elwood’s tales are well-written and engaging, and they feature an impressive array of puzzles. It’s unique that an entire family, rather than one amateur detective, dominates the stories; fortunately, they’re likable and worth following. Occasionally, a culprit may be telegraphed too loudly, but the clever plotlines and atmospheric backgrounds make for absorbing, delightful reading. Particularly delicious is the title story involving Philippa—who, like Elwood, is a soprano involved in theatrical productions—and Juliette, who shares Elwood’s background as a puppeteer.

High-quality, literate mysteries bound to please.

Pub Date: April 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475904451

Page Count: 266

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2012

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

JACKPOT

CIA operative–turned-killer Teddy Fay, aka Hollywood producer Billy Barnett, gets his fifth sort-of-starring role in a splashy, muddled thriller set in Macau.

Centurion Studios president Ben Bacchetti and his partner, director Peter Barrington, see no reason why their visit to the Macau Film Festival should be all business. They’re dismayed when their visit to a baccarat table at the Golden Desert Casino and Resort is used as material for a deep-fake video that seems to show them cheating. The video, which has evidently been engineered by Bing-Wen “Bingo” Jo, bids fair drag them into the iron grip of fearsome media/casino mogul Arrow Donaldson, for whom Bingo works off the books on matters concerning digital technology and violence. But Centurion producer Teddy, who’s every bit the equal of Bingo and Donaldson fixer Zhou "Ziggy" Peng put together, is on the case. His improbable sometime partners are Li Feng, the heiress and CFO of QuiTel who’s fighting to keep her company exempt from the U.S. blacklist of competing Chinese telecom corporations suspected of spying, and Millie Martindale, a CIA administrator who’s a lot more resourceful than most administrators you’ll ever meet. The first partnership between Woods and Quertermous is full of casino underlings, biddable cops, fake shootings, and doubles living and dead. But the plot never thickens, and readers confident that Teddy will live to fight, pressure, cheat, and kill another day may be indifferent to the fate of the nefarious forces arrayed against him.

The first of Woods’ many collaborations to be unquestionably inferior to his solo performances.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18845-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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