Read Recently — February 2007 — Murder, Mutiny, and one baaad hairpiece

Lord Edgware Dies (also published as Thirteen at Dinner) by Agatha Christie

Poirot and and Hastings get involved in the world of the theatre, as a pretty actress mentions to the detective that she wants to get rid of her husband, the titular lord. This is unfortunate for her, as shortly thereafter Lord Edgware, well, dies. Is murdered, in fact. Fortunately for Lady Edgware, she has a impeachable alibi. So who did kill Lord Edgware? Can Poirot etc etc etc?

I thought that the solution to this one bordered both on the ingenious and on cheating, which as you know Christie is not afraid to do. But still, I enjoyed it. Recommended.

Kris Longknife: Mutineer by Mike Shepherd

It is the future; not too distant, but distant enough that humanity has spread out to hundreds of worlds. Kris Longknife is an ensign in the navy of the Society of Humanity. At the start of the book, she is about to drop with a squad of marines to rescue a kidnapped child. The mission has a particular resonance for her, since when she was young her younger brother was kidnapped and accidentally killed before he could be rescued. Furthermore, Kris has much to prove since her father is the Prime Minister of Wardhaven, one of the worlds of the Society, and her family is generally wealthy and powerful on all sides. She not only has to prove that she’s up to the life of the navy, but also that she’s not just playing at independence. Fortunately, she succeeds in this mission, and then after a little leave and some family time (explaining why she’s not hanging around the family seat), is sent on another mission to help give relief to a world experiencing an ecological catastrophe. The crew is apathetic at best, the relief lines are riddled with criminals, and the commanding officer is a drunk in disgrace for firing on civilians. Aha! Thought I, the mutiny part now makes sense. Nope, the story is more complex than that.

Kris is an interesting character, with a complex background and an interesting “world” around her. Politics is front and centre at all times (at one point the navy shuts down for lack of funding), but while the military is not typical this is military SF. Character-driven military SF, but still. Anyway, while it was a rough-start for me, it drew me in and kept me interested up to the end, and I’ve read one of the sequels since. This is highly recommended.


Hell To Pay: a novel of the Nightside by Simon R. Green

I have been wrong about this series ending twice now, so I’ve given up on making predictions. However, it was becoming plain that the storyline was getting tired, so maybe he should have retired it. Or maybe he just needed to get back to the roots, with John Taylor as the seedy PI with supernatural powers roaming the darkest streets of all . . . and that’s what we get here. In the wake of the troubles of the last few books, the Nightside has a political vacuum at the top. Some people think John Taylor should be filling it. Others think otherwise, and one such is the immortal known as the Griffin, who may want the job himself. He wants Taylor to do a job for him, first: find his kidnapped granddaughter and heir. Of course, Taylor’s gift to find anything should make short work of this, but of course some power is cutting him off from it, so he has to do it the old-fashioned way. John soon finds himself caught up in politics, both of the Nightside and of the Griffin’s family.

Nothing deep here, just Green having fun. There’s still life in this series yet. Recommended.

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