The Idol House of Astarte

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So last month I reviewed the first of The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“The Idol House of Astarte” from The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Next to share a mystery is Dr. Pender:

Dr. Pender is the reverend and says he only has one story to share. The story takes place on the edges of Dartmoor, the property was beautiful but had been on the market a very long time.

Hmm…

It was eventually purchased by Sir Richard Haydon, an old friend of Dr. Pender. It had been years since they had seen each other, but they reconnected and he invited Dr. Pender down to Silent Grove, as his recently purchased property was now named.

At the party was Richard, his cousin Elliot Hayden, Lady Mannerling, her daughter Violet Mannerling, Captain Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Symonds, and a beautiful, society woman Miss Diana Ashley.

Richard was extremely attracted to Diana, and Dr. Pender saw that this whole party was a setup-a setup to bring her down and woo her.

The house was solid Devonshire granite on the moor with weatherbeaten Tors. There were also relics of the Stone Age which Richard likes as his hobby was antiquarian matters.

The moors.

They are walking around the grounds, but Dr. Pender doesn’t like it. Something feels off.

Richard notices it and tells him the grounds used to be the Grove of Astarte-otherwise known as Ishtar or Ashtoreth. In the middle of a clearing is a stone summer house, which Haydon calls The Idol House of Astarte-The Goddess of the Moon.

Diana wants to have a wild orgy party, out in the moonlight in the sacred grove. To dress up fancy and celebrate. Nobody else likes it, but Diana.

That night they decide to dress up in Fancy Dress, and all dress up. Rev. Pender is a monk, Richard a Phoenician sailor, his cousin Elliot a Brigand Chief, Lady Mannerling a hospice nurse, her daughter Violet Mannerling a Circassian slave, Captain Rogers and Mrs. Rogers were Neolithic hut dwellers, Dr. Symonds a chef, and Miss Diana the “unknown”

After dinner they all go outside. After a while they realize that Diana is missing.

Violet Mannerling says that she saw her go to the idol house, so they head over there. When they get there they spot her in gauze with two crescent moons coming out of her hair.

I am the priestess of Astarte,’ she [Diana] crooned. ‘Beware how you approach me, for I hold death in my hand.”

Richard goes up to her, he tells her she is beautiful but wants her to stop.

“Stop,’ she [Diana] cried. ‘One step nearer and I will smite you with the magic of Astarte.”

Richard laughed and went closer, when something strange happened. He stumbled and fell. And he did not rise.

Okay, stop playing.

On closer examination, by Elliot, it appears Richard is dead! Afterwards, Elliot looks at his hands-weird.

They examine Richard, and it appears he was stabbed by a long thin dagger, but they could not find one. Diana faints, believing she is at fault, and all go back to the house.

Elliot decides to go back to the grove. The police come and at seven o’clock, they realize Elliot never returned. They then find him stabbed!

When questioned, Elliot says that he was at the Idol House and felt something was watching him. He then felt a cold wind, and tuned around and saw a small figure of the goddess. The figure seemed to grow larger and larger-then he blacked out.

Is someone trying to kill the Haydon? Or is it supernatural?

Thoughts After Reading:

This one wasn’t my favorite out of the series, but it was still very well written. I kind of knew the ending but I wasn’t sure how it was done.

Hmm…

For more on The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more Miss Marple books, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip

Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

stormfront

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

So I was first introduced to this series by my friend. She was an avid reader, and you know how when you have something you like, you try to get all of your friends into it.

getfriendintofandom

Anyways, we had gone on a road trip and were on our way back to our apartment, but were so tired. Halfway, we realized we wouldn’t make it unless we had something to boost us. She decided now was the perfect time to introduce me to the book series. We listened to 1/3-1/2 of the book, and by then it was too late. I was hooked and had to head to library to check out a copy to read now.

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

The Review:

So Harry Dresden is a wizard.

What?

Yes, you heard correctly. He is a wizard in modern day Chicago, and has his own P.I. office, HARRY DRESDEN-WIZARD. Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. NO Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment.

I-Love-Magic

Things have been really slow for Harry these past few months. The last thing he’s done was investigate a country singer’s “haunted house”. It turned out to be nothing but the singer’s drug addiction, but when Harry told him that, he fired him and then hired some shyster who did an “exorcism”. It seems some people just don’t want the truth.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

This day Harry was planning on going through a new box of books, as there was nothing else to do, when he gets a call.

A woman, Monica, is looking for her husband. He asks her to check with the police or a regular private investigator, but she refuses saying she needs a wizard’s help. They make an appointment, an hour later.

Immediately the phone rings again, and it’s Lt. Karrin Murphy from the Chicago Police Department (CPD). She’s the director of Special Investigations, set to investigate anything unusual.

supernaturalnotnaturalsupernaturalnotnatural

Vampire attacks, troll marauding, and faery abductions of children, etc.

gotthis

Murphy’s found some bodies and wants Harry there now. Harry tells her she has an appointment, but Murphy tells him he needs to come her NOW, and to not eat lunch. It’s ugly.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Harry leaves  note and heads on his way.

Murphy is short and petite but tough as nails. She has to be in order to succeed as a female cop.

She and Harry get along but have their differences. Murphy is a modern women, while much of Harry’s morals, values, and manners are, in her view, dated. He likes to open doors for women, pick up the check, protect them; etc. Murphy also doesn’t like his look of a leather duster, she thinks is also dated. However, she believes what he says is the truth and not crazy, and is one of the few willing to look into his eyes and do a Soul Gaze.

wow

Soul Gaze is when you look into a wizard’s eyes directly, and when you do so you see a window into their soul. It doesn’t relay specific information (you can’t use it to interrogate someone), but it does give one a vague impression on whether they’re trustworthy or not, or if they’ve been psychically harmed, etc. A lot of people don’t like it, so not many dare meet his eyes.

creepy

They go into the suite, where they meet up with Detective Carmichael, Murphy’s partner, and the most unbelieving soul you will ever meet.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

The two people had obviously met for sex, and they find them in the bed. The creepy part? Their chests have exploded, as if they had a bomb in their chest.

AAhhorrorified

Harry feels like throwing up, but tries to stay strong. The only way to do something like this is to use magic to wreak harm, in violation of the First Law, established by the White Council, the people who police Wizards.

The only way to accomplish such a feat is through Thaumaturgy. Thaumaturgy is when you make something happen on a small scale, and give it enough energy to happen on a large scale; but to do something like that you would need something that connected to the victims like hair, fingernails, or blood.

ouch-gif

To do this you need really strong emotions, revenge most likely. She or He choose the moment when the two would be having sex, as this extremely angered her or him, making the killer most likely a spouse or ex-lover.

suspicious Hmm

It turns out the girl is Jennifer Stanton, a prostitute who at the Velvet Room for Bianca. Bianca is a Vampiress. Not good. And the man? Tommy Tomm, Gangster “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone. Ouch. Not good and a WIDE suspect pool.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Murphy wants Harry to investigate how this could have happened, but Harry really doesn’t want to. You see Murphy doesn’t know everything about Harry. Harry has a dark past and the Doom of Damocles hanging over his head. If he is found guilty of violating one of the Seven Laws of Magic, the Doom would drop. If he started putting together a murder spell, that’s all that’s needed for those who dislike him to push for the Doom to start.

Blog-Child-Support-Oh-No

Murphy yells at him, and it makes him feel bad so he agrees. He just hopes that the Council will understand.

Its-Not-Going-to-Happen-Mean-Girls

Harry runs back to the office for his appointment, when he is approached by two giant men who force him into the limo. In the back he sees a handsome, unassuming man, in casual clothes. Who are you? Johnny Marcone.

Blog-Child-Support-Oh-No

“Gentleman” Johnny Marcone is a blessing and a curse to the Chicago area. On one hand he deals in everything from drugs, to robbers, etc. On the other hand, with him in charge, everything is controlled. He runs his organization tiptop, and if anybody new comes on the scene, they get taken out.

Marcone wants Harry to not investigate the case. He’s willing to pay him for two weeks, $16800, to take a vacation. It intrigues Harry, but he is even more curious about why he doesn’t want Harry looking into the deaths.

suspicious Hmm

He refuses.

Marcone stares Harry right in the face, never flinching, extremely scary. But Harry stays firm, and Marcone warns Harry not to upset him. He drops Harry off at his office, and Harry feels a bit grim about everything, but at least he’s on time for Monica.

Monica is very uneasy and unsure about being here. Her husband, Victor Sells, has been missing for three days, and she came to Harry because she thinks that he might be able to help as her husband was very into magic.

Very_Interesting250

After careful waiting, Monica tells Harry a few clues. They have a lake house he could check out and she’s willing to pay the money. So they strike a deal and she heads on her way.

Harry checks his mail and discovers a dried out scorpion. Scorpions are very powerful symbols and could be dangerous. It creeps Harry out, but he thinks he’s overreacting and dumps it in his desk.

creepy

Harry decides to reward his good fortune of two jobs, and head down to McAnally’s Pub, an old fashioned restaurant. Mac is Harry’s best friend and seemingly the only one he can talk to. Today the hot news is the Third Eye drug ravaging the city. The Third Eye is a powerful drug that gives you temporary abilities, and is extremely addictive. People will do anything in order to get it. It is really hurting the city.

Susan Rodriguez comes into the pub to talk to Harry. She is a journalist for the Arcane, a tabloid, and is always trying to get something out of Harry. She is very sexy and uses her appeal to get things out of others. So far it hasn’t worked on Harry, his past has kept him from getting close to anyone, but it’s been a long time and a date with Susan sounds great.

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

That night Harry heads over to the lake house with ingredients. Time to do some spell casting.

lets-do-this-ucas-gif

Harry sets a trap to catch a faery so that he can question him. When Toot arrives he’s quite angry with Harry, but after some bargaining, Harry gets him calmed down.

Toot tells Harry that pizza arrived the other night and the humans were “sporting”. “Sporting” to fairies means sex. And a lot of it, there must have been an orgy or something.

urkelgif interesting hmm

Harry is thinking about what it all means, when his worst nightmare shows up. Morgan, a member of the White Council, who wants Harry dead. He tries to get at Harry, saying that he was the one who killed the two people. Sadly, Morgan won’t stop until he has proof that Harry killed them.

Not-Good

Harry is too keyed up after talking with Morgan, and heads down in his basement to work. There also lives his cat Mister, and Bob, an extremely old wizard trapped in a skull, the wizard computer. Harry needs Bob’s help to make an escape potion, but Bob won’t assist unless they do something fun, like make a love potion.

really?

The next night Harry goes to see Bianca. To prepare himself, he wears a silver pentacle on a silver chain and a folded white cloth.

When he gets there, the guards remove some of Harry’s items, his cane and knife. But they stupidly let him pass with the cloth and pentacle.

Harry asks Biamca about Jennifer and she freaks out trying to kill him. Luckily he has that cloth, which contains a sunlight potion, releasing it on her. From there the beautiful woman is gone, and this ugly winged creature remains.

creepy

Harry also uses the pentacle to protect himself, leaving the two at a draw. Bianca doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t trust her. He is trying to find Jennifer’s killer, but Bianca thinks he is the real murderer.

Eventually, Harry convinces Bianca to sit and talk. Bianca liked Tommy Tomm, he treated the girls nice. He sent Jennifer that night, but has no idea who would want them dead. She sends him to go after Linda Randall, old friend of Jennifer.

HMMM

Harry has to leave quickly, as he is bleeding and hungering Bianca. He calls Linda, but she won’t speak to him. So he goes to find her.

Linda works as a driver now, but in the past was a prostitute too, and she is very sexual in everything. Last time she spoke to Jennifer was on her birthday, she wanted to get with Tommy and her, but Linda had to work.

Harry decides that gleaning zero leads from there, it is best to look up the pizza place. He finds out that there was more than one person there, an orgy, and that there was another guy taking pictures.

Very_Interesting250

That night Harry gets attacked by a man with a bat, later a man high on the Third Eye also threatens him, that his master will kill him. While Harry isn’t sure he is closer to the truth, it appears he is right on their tale.

Things get really heated, when in the middle of his date with Susan, a demon appears, and the two have to fight it off.

AAAAHHHHH

Will Harry solve the crime? Or will he be taken down; either by the White Council or this mysterious opponent. You have to read to find out.

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!

loveitSupernatural

It was extremely well written and I couldn’t put it down.

fantastic

Check it our for yourself!

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

For more supernatural mysteries, go to The Barter

For more books featuring a private investigator, go to One for the Money

For more fantasy-mysteries, go to The Emperor’s Edge