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TBR Recap: Winter 2022

After a short hiatus, Brook and Sarah are back for Season 3, starting with a recap of what they watched and read over the holiday break. TW: Reference to mass shooting at 23.5 minutes.

Discussed in order

The Wintringham Mystery (1926) Anthony Berkeley

Monster She Wrote: The women who pioneered horror and speculative fiction (2019) Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

The Perfect Crime (2022) Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski (editors)

Crossing the Witchline (2022) T.L. Brown

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries (2022)

The Ink Black Heart (2022) Robert Galbraith

The Man Who Died Twice (2021) Richard Osman

The Bullet That Missed (2022) Richard Osman

These Names Make Clues (1937) E.C.R. Lorac

Ballard Down Murder (2022) Rachel McLean

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six (2022) Lisa Unger

The Pale Blue Eye (2023) Netflix

Three Pines (2022) Amazon Prime TV

The Luckiest Girl Alive (2022) Netflix

A World of Curiosities (2022) Louise Penny

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SarahWelcome to Clued in Mystery. I’m Sarah.
BrookAnd I’m Brook and we both love mystery.
SarahHi Brook.
BrookHi Sarah! I’m so happy to be back.
SarahMe too! I Have to admit I feel a little bit rusty even though it was only a few weeks that we that we took as a break.
BrookI know I think the holiday season kind of took its toll and I am feeling rusty this morning as well. But I’m so excited to talk to you and do our recap on our TBR holiday reading list.
SarahYeah, so our our last episode that we recorded before the holiday break was a list of what we were hoping to read and watch over the holidays and yeah, we’ll just share what our thoughts were. And I will admit there are a few things that I didn’t get to. I think my list was perhaps a little ambitious.     So I will get started and I will talk about, this is The Wintringham Mystery by Anthony Berkeley, which was re-released in October of 2021 but originally released in 1926. And just as a refresher so it was originally released as a serial over 30 parts with a contest at the end to see who could guess what the solution was. So, this was a classic golden age mystery. There were many characters, they had different secrets, different motives. I thought it was really cleverly done.  

And whenever I read something that has been serialized, I always wonder where it had been broken up, and how the author wrote it. I didn’t get a chance to look that up, but it would be interesting. I think it would be interesting to see if I could track down the original newspaper archives to just see what that was like. When it was published serially, it was published under the name A.B. Cox. And then after it had the final of the chapters was released, it was then published as a novel under another pseudonym A. Monmouth Platz, which I thought was really interesting because now it’s published under Anthony Berkeley. I did think that it could have been tied up a little bit quicker because there were a lot of sub-plots. But I don’t know if that’s a function of the serialization. So, yeah, as I mentioned it was published with a contest to offer the best solution and in the original description that I read it said Agatha Christie’s guess was wrong. And I looked this up and according to Wikipedia, her husband Archie’s guess was one of the best solutions that was submitted.
SarahSo I wonder if there was maybe a little bit of yeah, a little bit of family competition. But this was one of my favorites from the ones that I that I read over the break and I I’ll definitely read another one by Berkeley because it really was kind of that classic golden age mystery.
BrookWell, that sounds great. I’m really intrigued by the multiple pen names and find it interesting because after you’ve had success with the serialization then interesting to change up the name for the novel.
BrookAnd I’m wondering what the story is behind that. But anyway, interesting. So, the first one that I’ll review is my nonfiction pick which is Monster She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction. And much like the way I like to parcel out a collection of short stories, I’ve kind of decided to read this one bit by bit. They’re just really nice, concise essays about a variety of women whom many of them I have had never heard of and explaining their lives and then their work as women who really began the gothic fiction style. And it’s just fascinating. There are so many stories, Sarah, that we have never read and I’m really looking forward to learning about these authors and then looking into some of their work. But it’s really written in a very lighthearted even humorous style. So even though you’re learning you know sometimes nonfiction books can be rather a drag to get through but not this one. It’s really fun and funny and yeah, I’m learning a lot so I’ll have more to share in upcoming episodes about these fascinating women.
SarahOh, I’m looking forward to that, Brook. I think that that sounds really great and I’m super excited to learn more about people that we haven’t that we haven’t been learning about yet.   So, I had two short story collections on my list. So, The Perfect Crime, which was edited by Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski which was released in November of 2022, and this was a collection of 22 short stories, set around the world. And I didn’t get a chance to read all of all 22 of the stories in the anthology, but I did enjoy most of the ones that I read.   One, and this is just a really picky personal opinion, I would have liked for the author biographies to accompany each of the stories. So, like to read a little bit about who wrote the story before the story. In the e-book version, at least, all the author biographies were at the end, so I had to keep like you know jumping around which is a little bit challenging in an e-book. But that I think is just me being very picky. Of the ones that I read, my favorite was “Jumping Ship” by Oyinkan Braithwaite, who wrote My Sister the Serial Killer. I think it was released in 2018, that book. And it was nominated for a bunch of awards. I haven’t read it but, I definitely want to check that out.   There were a few that were pretty dark, and there was one that I actually couldn’t finish because it was really starting to feel more like horror to me. I might revisit it another time, maybe when I’m not reading in the middle of the night. But you know, reading in the day with the lights on I might feel a bit more like I can finish it. Because that you know this story was good, but it just was like “oh don’t do that. I can’t read anymore.” But I did I did enjoy I did enjoy the stories that I read from that from that collection.
BrookYeah, those sound great. And I’m with you. If it’s late at night and it gets too scary I either have to turn the television off or close the book because I can’t get too scary in the middle of the night.   The next one that I will talk about is Crossing the Witchline and this is book two in the Bellerose Witchline series by T.L. Brown. And this was my not a mystery per se because it has mystery elements, but it’s not necessarily a murder mystery. And I’ll just quick note to remind our listeners that this is an 18 and up series, the Bellerose Witchline, because of adult situations and elements of horror. But this did not disappoint. I really am into this series which is a surprise because I don’t read a lot of fantasy. But, Brown does a really great job of bringing in a lot of metaphor and symbolism where she’s weaving in deeper meaning, and I really enjoy that.   I actually found myself thinking about the book for days and days after you know and just kind of on a broad spectrum. It’s like a good and evil heaven and hell. And how you know you kind of need both good and bad to balance out. Not only the world but your life and she just has a lot of deeper meanings that I love but there is a dangerous love triangle. And the main character’s reputation is on the line. There’s a lot at stake. So, it’s just it’s a great story. It’s a little steamy. So if you’re not someone who wants to do steam just beware. But I love these characters and what makes it really fun is that Brown’s first series is more I would say a paranormal cozy so it’s lighthearted. It’s appropriate for all ages and she has crossover characters. So, in this series, some of her characters from her lighthearted cozy show up and vice versa. So, I’ve just really enjoyed that it makes the whole world seem really real and I’m looking forward to the next book which I think is going to be out in 2023.
SarahOh that sounds that sounds really good. And I love it when a book stays with me for a while. I think that is a mark of something that’s been done really, really well.
BrookYeah, and I kind of forgot to mention that the mystery comes in in this, it’s a prophecy that the main characters are trying to figure out. It’s a written prophecy, so you kind of have that treasure hunt element and that’s where the mystery really comes in. So yeah. It’s well done.
SarahSounds like lots of fun.   Ok so, the next one that I will talk about is the second short story collection that I had on my list and this was Marple: 12 New Mysteries. So again, this was released by the Agatha Christie estate and they had 12 prominent crime writers write new Marple stories and that was released in September of 2022. I really admire anyone who’s willing to take on the challenge of writing within Agatha Christie’s space and writing her characters. It must have been so daunting to work with a character who’s so well known and created by an author who is as celebrated as Agatha Christie. And what I liked about this is that I’ve read works by some of the authors and some of the authors were new to me so it was a nice introduction to some of those to some of those others.   I think my favorite two stories were the ones by Karen McManus and by Ruth Ware. So yeah, I thought I enjoyed this There were some that I enjoyed more than others. But those two stood out for me. And I am curious to see if the Christie estate will do something similar with Poirot or if they’re just going to keep Sophie Hannah doing her thing. I think she’s doing a great job of that. So yeah, we’ll see, or maybe they’ll have some additional short story collections with some of the other sleuths that that Agatha Christie had had written originally. We’ll see.
BrookRight? Right? Yeah, that that will be interesting to see. The one thing is for sure and that that’s the company is doing lots and lots to keep Agatha Christie’s works alive. You know whether it be in film or in these new collections, it’s really great the way and in even in you know, new editions new covers and things like that. It really keeps her work alive for you know this upcoming generation. So I think it’s great.   So the next book that was on my list is one that I did not finish yet and that is The Ink Black Heart. That’s the Cormoran Strike novel. It’s book six by Robert Galbraith, which is a pen name for J.K. Rowling. And I love this series, but to be honest with a book that’s a thousand pages, it was a little bit daunting to get through over break. I have started, but I also got sidetracked because I had forgotten that a book that should have been on my list was Richard Osman’s second book in his series. The Man Who Died Twice and literally, Sarah, like the day after we recorded I got notification from my Libby app that The Man Who Died Twice was available for me to check out from my library. And I thought “oh dear I need to do this or I’ll end up back in the queue” so that kind of put my schedule off a little so I’ll talk about The Man Who Died Twice. It was fantastic as I expected it to be I really love this series I think the characters are so endearing and I think I said the first time when I talked about the first book that if this is what ah if this is what retirement living is going to be like. You know I’m going to be a very happy person someday.   I believe that I actually liked book two better than book one but it’s hard for me to compare because I read book the first book as a paperback and then my second experience was with the audiobook. And Leslie Manville does such an amazing job reading that book expressing the characters. Her accents are amazing. The way that she really brings the whole story to life. So, it’s a little difficult to compare those two experiences. But, of course anyone, if you have not started this series. You definitely want to It’s great.
SarahSomething similar happened to me, Brook, and book three in that series came available for me from the library. So yeah, I thought “ok well I I’ve got to listen to this now because I don’t want to wait for weeks and weeks again”.  

So I will use that as the excuse for why I didn’t finish some of the other things that were that were on my list. But yeah, I agree. I think Leslie Manville does such a great job in in books one and two. She actually isn’t the narrator for the third book. I there I assume there must have been a conflict because she was filming Magpie Murders. I’m guessing that that was the that was the reason. but I really enjoyed book three, despite the change in in narrator. It did take me a little bit to get used to her because she has a slightly different style than Leslie Manville. But yeah, it was the series just continues to be excellent.  

What I didn’t get to read as a result of reading or listening to The Bullet That Missed, which is the third book in the Richard Osman series, was These Names Make Clues by E.C.R. Lorac. So that was the second of the golden age mysteries that I that I’d chosen. It was originally released in 1937 and then re-released I think. last year. So I am going to try again with that because I had just started listening to it and then Richard Osman’s book came in and I thought okay I have to put this aside so I’m going to give that another give that another try.
BrookGreat. So we can say if we be so we’ll just say that if we didn’t complete our mission Richard Osman made us do it.
BrookSo my next book that I’ll talk about is The Ballard Down Murder by Rachel Mclean. And overall, I enjoyed this. This is a prequel story to her series. And I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a free download for anybody who would like to go to her website and grab that and it’s a novella length book. Her writing is really good and it has that great British humor ah that you maybe get from sort of like a Richard Osman. But it also reminded me a bit of the Tana French books because it’s a police procedural. But rather than the kind of procedurals where it’s just very superficial, you definitely do get into the characters and you get to know who they are in their personal relationships.  

My only criticism is just kind of a personal thing that I don’t like cliff hangers. You can leave ah issues unresolved for me but like I want the mystery to be solved and the mystery doesn’t get solved in this book and since it’s a reader magnet I’m sure that the intention. That she makes is for that people to go and grab the first book in the series and finish that story. But honestly I felt like her writing was strong enough that she could have definitely just given us 1 contained short story and I think we still would go and get into her to get into her series and learn more about those characters.  

What about you, Sarah what do you think about cliff hangers?
SarahI think I agree. I don’t mind them if all of the books are out and you can kind of go from one to the next to the next right away. It may be a bit frustrating as a reader to kind of have that buildup and then not get that resolution.
BrookYeah I agree.
SarahAh, okay, so next on my list is Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six. So this is by Lisa Unger. It was released in the fall of 2022 and this was the first book that I’d read by her. And I actually read this after I read Louise Penny’s book A World of Curiosities, which I’ll talk about later. But it’s because I wanted something lighter after reading A World of Curiosities just to give you a sense of how I felt about that book.   So, this is a domestic thriller where just as a reminder, three couples are going to a secluded cabin and you know there’s all the secrets and lies that that come with domestic thrillers. There were some additional characters to the to the main six and it wasn’t clear until the end kind of how everybody was related, which I think it kept me reading and I’ll definitely read another by her but this was yeah, it was I really needed something else after reading Louise Penny’s book. So this was this was great for that.
BrookI’ve been looking forward to your review on this one because the concept sounds super good to me. But I also think that it says a lot about what you’re probably experienced from Louise Penny book if this was considered light reading because this has a level of darkness itself, Sarah. Oh that’s cute.
BrookUm, one thing that I was planning to watch over the hiatus but failed to look at the calendar apparently is Pale Blue Eye based on the book by Lewis Bayard. It literally comes out tonight. We’re recording this on January sixth of 2023 and it’s not released until tonight. So let’s just say that tonight I have a date with Christian Bale
SarahPerfect.   Well so I also had something that I wanted to watch that was on my list and that was the Three Pines TV series. And so that’s it was eight episodes that were released over four Fridays in December and I only managed to watch six of the eight episodes because there were some other you know Christmas, holiday movies that we were watching and a few other things and you know I can’t choose all of the things that we watch my husband gets to gets to choose sometimes too. So I will say that each pair of episodes was a ah mystery into itself. And then there’s an overarching mystery over the course of the um. The eight that I assume gets resolved in the in the final two episodes. And I so I did think that each episode got better after the first two I was like “oh I don’t know how I feel about this”. Inspector Gamache and Beauvoir I thought were very well cast but some of the members of the Three Pines community I thought were maybe not quite how I have them pictured in in my head.   So, I’m curious about what others who haven’t read the books felt about the about the show and it has been so long since I read the stories that the episodes were based on that I think I’m going to have to go back to the beginning of the series and start it over again. But I did really like the incorporation of the police treatment of Indigenous people. I don’t remember that being part of the original books. But it’s certainly something that you know is that needs to be talked about in in Canada because there has been a history of mistreatment.
BrookRight? I think that is a risk that’s run whenever you create ah a film or TV adaptation of a long running series is that you know we have that feeling of that’s not what that person looks like or that’s not how I envision that person. I know Sue Grafton always said that she didn’t want her Kinsey Millhone series to ever be you know on the screen because of that she wanted everyone to have their own characters and she’s since passed away and I have heard that there are some there is work in the future for a film or TV adaptation of that series. And it yeah, and I don’t but you know I have mixed feelings about it. I would think that it would be nice to bring a new generation to the work. But I know that it was her wish to keep Kinsey in our imaginations. So anyway, that was just a little aside.  

So the last item on my list is one that I actually am going to hold and not talk about yet. Even though I did watch The Luckiest Girl Alive based on the book by Jessica Knoll. I’m going to save my thoughts for a future episode because Sarah and I have decided that this will be our next pick for the next “What would you do?” episode. We’re both planning on reading The Luckiest Girl Alive and then also watching the Netflix adaptation and then we will. Do our “What would you do?” episode.
SarahI’m really looking forward to that. So yeah, that’s on my list of things to read and watch in the next little bit.   So the final thing that I’m going to talk about is A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny. And this was a really tough book for me to read. Sorry Brook.
BrookNo, it’s okay.
SarahSo I especially found the first few chapters where she talks about the Montreal Massacre really difficult. That’s because it’s based on actual events.  

Even though it happened in 1989 it’s one of those events that continues to sit with me as being really defining. I was only eleven when it happened. But for people who don’t know it was a shooting of women engineering students in Montreal. And it I think as a nation was a very pivotal moment for us.  

Ah, anyway, I only realized that that was part of this story when I read an article in one of our magazines local magazines interviewing Louise Penny and she talks about one of the characters in the book is based on one of the women who survived that event. Anyway, I understand why this was part of why this was something that she wanted to talk about. Louise Penny was a reporter at the time and so you know it clearly affected her. It was in Montreal of course it would have affected Gamache. He would have been working at the time and I really actually enjoyed that bit of backstory and as well as the backstory around how he and Beauvoir originally met. And I did enjoy the rest of the book. I just found that particular element to be really, really difficult to read and obviously to talk about.  

So I am curious about how people who aren’t Canadian and didn’t experience that event how that resonated with them because I imagine it may not be something that is present in in other people’s you know if you weren’t in Canada at the time… it may not have been something that you were that you were aware of. So yeah, we can talk about it at another time, Brook, because I don’t think you’ve read it yet. Have you?
BrookI haven’t. I was wondering does Penny have any sort of author note or anything to let readers know that that she’s referencing an actual event?
SarahYeah, yeah, the author’s note talks about that.
BrookBecause sadly you know you and I spoke when we were not recording at one point and you told me about this event and I was unaware of it. So I think as sad as that is you’re right that a lot of readers might not even have that event on their radar. So I’m glad that she did express and explain that you know this isn’t fictional. This is a ah real tragedy that that occurred but yes, we can talk about it later.
SarahWell I will say that I read the first couple of chapters and you know tears streaming down my eyes and I actually had to put the book aside for a few days and I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish it. But I am glad that I did you know it wasn’t it was certainly part of the story but it wasn’t the whole story. And you know, it was as good a mystery as any of the other mysteries in the series.   So I think that’s that’s my list, Brook.
BrookYes, that’s what I managed to accomplish over our break and I enjoyed the time to read and to you know, enjoy our family time. It was a great break and we’re ready to hit the ground running with. More new episodes of Clued in Mystery.
SarahI can’t wait.
BrookThank you everyone for listening today. I’m Brook.
SarahAnd I’m Sarah. And we both love mystery.