First line: Mrs. Ariadne Oliver had gone with a friend with whom she was staying, Judith Butler, to help with the preparations for a children’s party which was to take place that same evening.
Summary: At a children’s Halloween party, a young girl named Judith, mentions that she had once witnessed a murder. While no one believes the girl, she is found later drowned in an apple bobbing tub. Famous detective, Hercule Poirot, is called in to find the girl’s murderer as well as to discover who committed the murder Judith claimed to see years before.
My Thoughts: After recently hearing about the upcoming Hercule Poirot movie, A Haunting in Venice, starring Kenneth Branagh I decided it was time to get back into the world of the famous detective. However, the title of the book and much of the plot seems to differ. I will be interested to see how they use the plot of Christie’s novel to create the movie.
Like many of the Poirot novels I have read I found this one filled with twists and suspicious characters. As the detective dives deeper into the dark history of the village he finds a pattern that could easily be tied to the death of the young girl. There were many disappearances and deaths that it was hard to keep some of it straight. Hallowe’en Party was a fun read as most Agatha Christie novels are. While not my favorite Poirot book it is worth a read, especially if you are looking forward to the upcoming movie.
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
First line: Two small pairs of boots echoed on the afternoon cobblestones—one pair in a sprint, the other in a stumble and slide.
Summary: We all know the story of the little mermaid who falls in love with a prince but what we do not know is what happened before. After the disappearance of her friend, Evie continues to blame herself. However, when a young girl suddenly appears in their city who has a striking resemblance to Anna, Evie believes that miracles do come true. This stranger though has a few secrets. She must gain the love of the prince within four days or disappear into the ocean forever.
Highlights: The cover art is stunning with its mysterious purple eyed witch. I did not even have to read the synopsis before I knew that I wanted to read this. I loved watching The Little Mermaid growing up! My cousins and I would pretend to be mermaids while swimming at the pool. The sea witch was always very creepy and now we get her back-story! The history of the country and its culture was very interesting. The reliance on fishing and the sea is something I am not familiar with (being from Kansas). My favorite part was the flashbacks to when Anna went missing in the sea. It gave us a look at who our characters are and what drives them.
“The sea is a fickle witch.”
Lowlights: There are some dark elements to the story but they do not appear until the end of the story. I expected a little bit more since we were getting the back-story of a villain. And the narrative was very much young adult. They are teenagers who are worried about falling in love. Ok, great. But I want more sea witch!
FYI: This is a debut novel for Kansas author, Sarah Henning!
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
First line: This is how it begins.
Summary: When Emma Davis is asked to return to Camp Nightingale it brings many memories and fears to mind. One summer, fifteen years before, Emma was a camper at Camp Nightingale and the three girls from her cabin all disappeared. Now as an artist on the rise, she continues to paint the missing girls Vivian, Natalie and Allison. Maybe going back will help Emma get past her demons and find out what truly happened to the girls of Dogwood cabin.
“I want to go inside, look around, see what memories it dredges up. That’s why I’m here, after all. Yet when I twist the doorknob, I realize my hand is shaking. I don’t know what I’m expecting. Ghosts, I suppose.”
Highlights: Sager’s latest novel is one of nostalgia for me. Having attended a summer camp near a large lake and cabins with no AC, this brought back many memories for me. The uncomfortable nights where everything is hot and sticky, canoeing on the lake, campfires and crafts. My sister, my cousins and I attended Quaker Haven Camp in Northern Indiana for two summers. We loved every minute of it. We made friends, crafts and memories. Even at church camp, you hear the stories of some creepy man that stalks the woods or a ghost that kidnaps children. This is what summer was as a kid at camp.
I could picture Camp Nightingale as clear as day. As Emma looks deeper into the events of fifteen years before she slowly reveals more memories that she has kept hidden. The author leads us in many different directions to keep us guessing. I loved the mystery of the lake. With each new tidbit, I was even more intrigued.
The ending was not what I expected. It wrapped up, we got the mystery solved but then…that ending! Holy cow! My chest was tight. My heart was pounding. I had to set the book down and breathe after the last page. The fact that Sager once again got a five star review from me is astounding. I cannot wait for his next book.
Lowlights: The only downfall was that I could not be reading this in a lawn chair on the shores of Dewart Lake in Indiana. That would have made this perfect.
FYI: This is the perfect book to take on a weekend trip to the lake!
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
First line: I was very young when I was cracked open.
Summary: The Drowning Pool as it has been dubbed by the locals is where several women have been found dead. Julia has not been back to her hometown in many years and rarely spoken to her sister. However, when she gets the call that her sister, Nel, has been found in the water she has to travel back to take care of her fifteen-year-old niece, Lena. As the police look into the two most recent deaths of Nel and a young girl named Katie, they begin to discover that they might be connected.
Highlights: I listened to this as an audio book and was happy to find that many of the characters had different readers. When there are, multiple points of view listening can be very difficult. The story was suspenseful enough to keep it interesting. I liked that several different storylines were intertwined with the main plot. The chapters are nice and short which make the story move along quickly. This is a fast read and great for rainy day.
Lowlights: I felt like the ending was a little predictable. I was not 100% sure with who Nel’s killer was but it was not hard to figure out once several more pieces fell into place.
FYI: Perfect for readers of Gone Girl and The Couple Next Door.