Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie.

Today would have been famous English crime writer Agatha Christie‘s 127th birthday. She was born in 1890 and died in 1976.

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and died in 1976.

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Out Tomorrow

How in the world has the In Death series reached book #45?! Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb is out tomorrow.

I have really liked the In Death books I’ve read, but I’m nowhere near up to date with this series.

Secrets in Death (In Death #45) by J.D. Robb

A new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series: Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumours from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronise, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.

The mortally wounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally—with a knife to the brachial artery.

Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimised herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…

Revisiting Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley Mr Darcy Elizabeth Chatsworth House SOnya Heaney

The ABC has been showing the adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley again, and I’ve been watching late at night.

Essentially a fancy fanfiction of Pride and Prejudice, it is more a murder mystery than anything resembling Jane Austen.

I wrote about the show in 2014.

Since I last watched it I’ve changed my mind about a few things, and think I enjoyed it more this time round. It’s FAR from perfect, but still worth watching.

Set a few years after Pride and Prejudice ends, the Darcys are now happily married with a son (the scene of him running through the property at the start is like a tourism advertisement for Chatsworth House!).

deathcomestopemberley Sonya Heaney Chatsworth House

And then someone is murdered.

As before, I have issues with the producers making Chatsworth – one of the greatest estates in all of the British Isles – the home of plain old “Mister” Darcy, but it makes for gorgeous scenery from start to finish.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-8 Mr Darcy Elizabeth Matthew Rhys Anna Maxwell Martin Chatsworth House

There was a lot of outrage of the (many think) bad miscasting of Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet. Apart from being too old for the role, her posture bothers me throughout. She slouches, walks around with her wrists propped on her hips, never wears gloves or anything on her head. I loved her in North & South, and she is a great actress, but mistress of Chatsworth House/Pemberley she certainly is not.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-9 Matthew Rhys Mr Darcy

I still love Matthew Rhys as Mr Darcy, even though he was an unlikely candidate for the role. It says everything about his talent as an actor that he can pull off Darcy as well as he does his other roles, such as a Russian agent.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy

Eleanor Tomlinson is a wonderful Georgiana Darcy. Since then she has gone on to find considerable fame as Demelza in Poldark – another role I love her in (but then I’ve thought she was great since she played Young Sophie in The Illusionist).

death-comes-to-pemberley-mrs-bennet-lydia-pride-and-prejudice-sonya-heaney

And I still think current British actress-of-the-moment Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham overacts to the point she’d over-the-top in a pantomime! She is much a caricature as the shrieking Mrs Bennet of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

Those are the actors who – for better or for worse – stand out for me.

This is an imperfect but GORGEOUS production that is worth a watch if it’s on repeat where you are.

On My Radar

Even though this book has a January 2018 release date, advance reader copies are already floating around, and the film rights have been sold.

Involving the CIA and Russian sleeper cells in the United States – something that really does still happen – this is *exactly* the type of book I want to read. (Blurb below.)

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

The Week: 20th – 26th March

Canberra’s sky this week.

We started the week so well! Temperatures in the 30s, sunny days. And then the rain hit. It’s so odd to have rain in Canberra at all, let alone a number of days in a row.

Friday evening.

The first Formula One race of the year is on in Melbourne this weekend, and it is the first time in about a decade I haven’t gone. We gave up our (crazy-expensive) premium seats after the race last year. The corruption in the sport was a real turn-off. Little did anyone know that new managers would sweep in and fire sleazy, misogynistic, Putin-loving boss Bernie Ecclestone soon afterwards!

However, all those thousands once spent on the F1 can now go to more trips to Europe!

There is something stirring in Belarus. If there’s one country in Europe people care even less about than Ukraine, it’s their neighbour. On Saturday there were protests; there’ve been mass arrests in Minsk – demonstrators and journalists alike (it is estimated about one thousand people were arrested); the riot police were out in force. The country’s opposition leader was arrested shortly before the protests began, and one woman was even put in a mental hospital for daring to protest.

This is Soviet-level stuff.

It looks like the stirrings of the 2013-14 revolution in Ukraine. Frightening, but important.

in other news, this story (below) yesterday was… even after reading it, I still don’t understand:

Naked demonstrators kill sheep under Auschwitz gates

Estonian children in a forced settlement in Siberia in 1952.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of the Kremlin’s mass deportation of 90 000 Baltic people (mostly women and children). They were sent to forced settlements in inhospitable parts of Russia, and most were never able to return.

I was on Westminster Bridge only three or so weeks ago (the photo above is from this month). The terror attack this week was… not unexpected. Sadly, I’m surprised it has been so long since something like this happened in London.

Some people have been saying: ‘Why should we care so much about London? How about (insert world conflict here)?’

Um… as if anybody cares about Yemen etc. any other day of the week! I wish they did!

People are allowed to care about London AND other things!

However, while everyone was distracted by London, Russia did some absolutely awful things in Ukraine this week. They assassinated a Russian Putin critic in the middle of Kyiv in broad daylight. They blew up the Ukrainian army’s biggest and most important munitions factory (the image above), heavily hampering their ability to fight the invasion. They killed more people in their war.

^^^^

This is an amazing – and funny – account mocking Putin, and if you have Twitter, you should follow it. Last year, the Kremlin actually bribed Twitter to ban it for a while – so much for freedom of speech! So they deserve support.

It seems bizarre that this week the US and the UK decided to put bans on electronics on aeroplanes, citing the need to stop terror attacks. The following day, a home-grown terrorist committed the London attack – without a Kindle, a laptop, a camera, OR a plane. Me not being able to take my Kindle when I fly through the Middle East twice more this year sure didn’t stop what happened in Westminster.

Travel is becoming exhausting. The ridiculous liquids ban on international flights was meant to have been lifted years ago. Instead, here we all are, still carrying lip gloss in little ziplock bags for no particular reason, and now we can’t even read a book during our flight!

I had to go through airport security FIVE times just to get home a few weeks ago. I wish there was a way I could do aeroplane-free travel, but it’s a bit of a problem, living on an island!

O-kay… I think the ranting is done for the moment.

Jugiong Writers’ Festival last weekend.

My review of The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

RITA Nominees Announced

A Visit to Charles Dickens’ House

Romance without feminism is no longer an option.

Monday Randomness

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

1928

After eight years abroad, Rowland Sinclair has come home
to a house he hates, and a city which seems conservative
… and dull.

He longs to return to the bright lights of Europe.
Until an old friend persuades him to join Sydney Art School.

There, under the tutelage of the renowned Julian Ashton, Rowland learns to paint and finds himself drawn into the avant-garde world of Sydney’s artistic set.

But murder rears its ugly head and Rowland must decide who his friends really are.

This book can be (legally!) downloaded for free here:

The Prodigal Son (A Rowland Sinclair Novella) by Sulari Gentill

When you come across a really well-written piece of historical fiction, you realise how superficially “historical” some of your reads have been.

Author Sulari Gentill captures late 1920s (and the 1930s in her later books) Australia in way that makes you really feel as if you’re there. It’s honestly not an era I’m all that familiar with, even though it is the decade all of my grandparents were born in (but seeing as half of them were born in Ukraine…).

This story is apparently a “gift” from the author to the fans of her Rowland Sinclair series that mixes crime with politics and people in a transitional era for the world. It takes place before the series proper begins, and if I was familiar with these characters beforehand I think this would have been great fun to read. Not that I didn’t really enjoy it, but there’s nothing better than a strong author writing backstories for established, favourite characters.

I really appreciated the dialogue and the interactions between the people involved. To me, at least, I find the 1920s and 30s the period of time between “the past” and the “modern” world, and I think that is captured perfectly here. It’s an old, different era, but the contemporary one is beginning to emerge.

I get the impression from other reviews that this novella is not as heavy on the crime as some of the full length books are, but this wasn’t a problem for me as I went into it with no expectations. Gentill clearly knows how to construct a story so that it builds and builds.

I will have to seek out more instalments in this series, especially as they take place in areas familiar to me. So often I read historical fiction set overseas, and this was an interesting change.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

kerry-greenwood-miss-fishers-mysteries-books

I have seen exactly ten minutes of one episode of the television adaptation of this series, but now find myself the unexpected owner of a bunch of Miss Fisher books.

Set in Melbourne, Australia in the 1920s, the show turned out to do fairly well overseas, which surprised me a bit (in the parts I’ve seen, there are some VERY heavy Australian accents in there!). However, the costumes look gorgeous:

miss-fishers-murder-mysteries-tv-series

Has anybody read these? I have no idea when I’ll find time to, but I figure I’d better at least try one!