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

The Murder at the Vicarage

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The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) by Agatha Christie

So I’m sure you all have been wondering when I was going to do an Agatha Christie novel. Well, I have been planning to do one, I just hadn’t gotten around to it quite yet.

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So here we are finally, our first Agatha Christie review and the first of the Miss Marple series:

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Leonard Clement is the Vicar in the village of Saint Mary Mead. His wife, Griselda, is twenty years younger than him, very pretty, and incompetent as a Vicar’s wife. She has no idea what she is doing or how to run the house.

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The Vicar’s nephew, Dennis, also lives with them.

This day the Vicar has said something very unchristian, but he is being driven crazy by Colonel Lucius Protheroe the local magistrate.

“…anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe would be doing the world at large a service.”

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Never say that in a murder mystery.

The Vicar’s schedule is interrupted by Lettice Protheroe, the Colonel’s daughter. She goes on about how her father is in horror about the artist in town, Lawrence Redding, painting her. She also goes on about how Anne, her stepmother, hates her. She then leaves as she is late for an appointment .

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After that the Vicar sees that the clock on his table shows it is a quarter to four. He decides to help out his wife and go to one of her dreaded tea parties. Gossip flows, even though the Vicar preaches against it, as we hear about Colonel Protheroe’s many disputes; whether Miss Cram is really a secretary; Laurence and Lettice are probably having an affair; who the new mysterious woman Mrs. Lestrange might be that has recently joined the community, etc.

The Vicar later accidentally comes upon Anne Protheroe, and sees that she is cheating on her husband with the artist not Lettice.

“When she had gone, I felt very uneasy. I felt that hitherto I had misjudged Anne Protheroe’s character. She impressed me now as a very desperate woman, the kind of woman who would stick at nothing, once her emotions were aroused. And she was desperately, wildly, madly in love with Lawrence Redding…”

Later Lawrence comes over for a dinner party and pleads with the Vicar to not say anything. The Vicar tells Lawrence the same thing that he told Anne, they shouldn’t be acting in such a way. She is a married woman. Lawrence wishes that the Colonel was gone as that would solve everything.

“If this were only a book,” he said gloomily,” the old man would die–and a good riddance to everybody.”

Not-Good

The next day is an unpleasant one, and to make things worse the Vicar runs into the Colonel who wants to have a private appointment to meet with the Vicar, and the Vicar is not looking forward to it. The Colonel is annoying, mean, and pretty much despised by all for good reason.

Hate him.

Hate him.

Later he runs into Curate Hawes, who looks extremely ill. He sends him home to bed.

Griselda is gone for the day in London, and the Vicar returns home at four to work on his sermon, but that is stopped when Mr. Redding  comes to tell him he is right, he needs to leave Anne or else he will ruin everything for her.

The Vicar then is given a call that Mr. Abbott of Lower Farm is dying. It is two miles away and there is no way he’ll be back in time for his appointment with the Colonel. He tries to phone him, but the Colonel is out and not expected to return for quite some time. The Vicar does the only thing he can do, leave a message with his maid and then go out to comfort the bereaved.

Hopefully that will be fine.

Hopefully that will be fine.

When the Vicar comes home, he finds out that Redding is there as well. Mr. Redding seems ill and is talking strangely.

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The Vicar finds that odd but continues into the vicarage where he finds the Colonel, dead.

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So who killed this hated man? The area is teaming with suspects, and the number ones are none other than Anne and Redding.

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The Vicar, Griselda, and Dennis; decide to investigate as the latter two love mysteries. But as they start, they discover there are a lot more questions and a whole can of worms are opened.

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The clock is revealed to have been tampered with, the actual time of death being unknown. Anne and Redding have tried to take the blame for each other. Do they really believe the other a murderer and trying to protect them or just hiding their own guilt?

HMMM

Then it is revealed that the Colonel’s first wife returned to the village even though the Colonel promised her horrible things would happen if she did. Did she kill him to be with her daughter? Did her daughter kill him to be with her mother? To get her inheritance.

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What’s with all these anonymous phone calls?

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Dennis came home earlier from his tennis party than he had said, could he have done it? Griselda took an earlier train than she said, did she even go to London? Was it the Vicar?

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One thing can be sure, the mystery will be solved with Miss Marple on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved this book.

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Christie is a master at creating twists and turns and making you suspect, then doubt, and always not quite sure who did it until all is revealed at the end.

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Fantastic book, and we will be reviewing more as time goes on.

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For more Agatha Christie, go to Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries

For more classic mystery, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more reviews, go to The Witch Hunter’s Tale

Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries

So today marks the 126th birthday of Agatha Christie:

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

Yay!

Yay!

You may not know this because I haven’t had an opportunity to review one of her books just yet, but Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters.

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Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

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Christie also does not shy away from doing extremely radical ideas, such as having a child be the killer

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Or having a part of the narration be through the killer’s eyes (although at the time you don’t realize that person is the killer.)

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Her work is so great that every time I am in a bookstore I hunt down her books as I hope to one day own them all.

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I strongly recommend reading any of her novels. When you start one, you just can’t stop.

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So to celebrate, instead of a mystery, I thought I would review a biography.

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Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries by Gillian Gill

Plot Synopsis:

Unlike how most  authors are today, Agatha Christie was a very private person. In fact at one point in her life she disappeared for ten days. She has never released a statement about what really happened and it remains an unsolved mystery to this day.

This book is supposed to be an in depth look into her professional and private life. It’s plan is to look at the works as a way of determining her “inner self”.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I only gave this book two stars.

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I loved the factual material, but it was written too dry that it was hard to read.

It's been done TOO many times

It’s been done TOO many times

In fact her biographical fiction book Unfinished Portrait, written under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott, was a much more interesting and in depth look into who Christie was.

Very fishy

Also I hated how Gill would reveal the endings or important pieces of the mysteries.

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I know most people who will read this are fans of Christie but some might not have had the chance to read all just yet. I think it is incredibly unfair that she would do that, Christie’s books should not be ruined, but enjoyed. Everybody should have a chance to try their hand at figuring it out.

seriously

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For more Non-fiction, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

For more on Agatha Christie, go to This Business of the Clocks was Curious

For mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty