Review | A Mind to Murder (Adam Dalgliesh #2) by P. D. James

I doubt this is James’ best, but it was a good place to start. 3.5/5.

A Mind to Murder by P. D. James

The blurb: When the administrative head of the Steen Psychiatric Clinic is found dead with a chisel in her heart, Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate. Dalgliesh must analyze the deep-seated anxieties and thwarted desires of patients and staff alike to determine which of their unresolved conflicts resulted in murder.

My take:

I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting from P. D. James… perhaps something more spectacular? Anyway, this is a perfectly well-written detective story. In fact, it reminded me of the two Poirot stories I’ve read, although the detective in this case – Dalgliesh – isn’t as much of a “character” as Christie’s Belgian sleuth. In fact, he’s practically personality-free, which isn’t a bad thing, as it means the focus is on the “whodunnit” aspect of the book.

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Review | Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith

Please, someone, edit these books! 3.5/5 stars.

Career of Evil Robert Galbraith

The blurb: When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

My take:

If you’re unfamiliar with my mixed feelings towards books 1 and 2 of this series, here are my reviews of The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm.

I’m pleased to report that there are a couple of ways in which Career of Evil is an improvement on its predecessors. With the first two books, I was irritated that the mysteries were impenetrable right until the end when we finally get some idea of what the heck is going on. This isn’t any fun for the reader because it feels like we’re being shut out rather than carried along as part of the investigative team. Thankfully, Career of Evil is much more inclusive of its readers because it begins with Strike setting out his four clear suspects and then working to eliminate/incriminate each of them. This made motive and connections between events and suspects clearer. I actually managed to figure out bits of what was going on this time!

We also get more Robin, which can never be a bad thing. And, in general, making this case personal to Strike and Robin was a good move. After 2 books we now care enough about them to be invested in their personal safety and so putting them in jeopardy is great for building tension.

But my largest issue still remains. Once again, the book is far too long. In fact, I think this book had more unnecessary length than the first two. There were whole sections I thought could have been cut to move things along more quickly without losing anything crucial in terms of plot, characterisation or drama.

So, if the next book is a snappy 400 pages or less, I think I’ll stick with the series. If only because I’m now so invested in Robin’s happiness I want to know what happens next for her. Personally, I’m still hoping Matthew – the devious little weasel – has an unfortunate accident!

Overall: this series continues to entertain and is becoming increasingly involving and inclusive of its readers. I’d still say to get them from your library though… just in case they’re not for you!

Claire Huston / Art and Soul





Review | The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

A slight improvement on book 1: solid and entertaining but still overlong and overly complex. 3.5/5 stars.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith book cover

The blurb: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

My take:

I read and reviewed Book 1 in this series – The Cuckoo’s Calling – back at the start of December and gave it 3/5 stars. As you can see, I’ve rated this second installment slightly higher, mostly because it’s mercifully free of the over-blown language which featured in the first book and irritated me by no small measure. If you missed my slightly ranty review of Book 1, you can see it here.

Otherwise, I could pretty much copy what I said about Book 1 and paste it here. To be brief:

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Review | Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The 1934 classic is a lesson in how to make the highly unlikely both entertaining and plausible. 3/5 stars.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

It’s happened to us all. You’re on a luxury sleeper train travelling across Europe. One night the train gets stuck in a snow drift and someone gets murdered. All the passengers but one in that carriage are suspects. And, as luck would have it, the odd one out is Hercule Poirot, Belgian master detective. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

I think most people know, in general, “whodunnit” in the case of Murder on the Orient Express. But if they can remember all the ins and outs then they have a far better memory than I do. The devil is most definitely in the detail in this surprisingly short tale (only 250 pages). The sheer number of passengers/suspects means it’s quite hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s what, diverting our minds from asking questions such as: “Really?!”, “Would that ever happen in a million years?” and “Would even Sherlock Holmes be able to make such accurate intuitive leaps?”

Wait! There’s more. Click for the rest of the review!