Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales (Bruno, Chief of Police 14.5), by Martin Walker
Book Review/ 1. April 2022

Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales by Martin Walker My rating: 3 of 5 stars “Bruno’s Challenge & Other Dordogne Tales” consists of 14 short stories featuring rural French cop Bruno who has already “starred” in 14 previous books.The full-size novels (that I prefer) went on a downward spiral around book 10 and mostly picked up at book 14. So I was curious to see how this short story collection would hold up.This was especially true because only six of the collected stories are actually new – the other eight have previously been published. The eponymous “Bruno’s Challenge” is one of those new stories and, sadly, a prime example of all that was wrong with the latest Bruno novels: Endless recipe descriptions, hardly any kind of story. 1 star. “Birthday Lunch” is an older story that I had already read: Another short story from the “Bruno universe”. Unfortunately, like the later novels, this one didn’t have any appeal for me. A large part of it is basically simply a narrated recipe: “He beat the yolks and eggs together with a hundred fifty grams of sugar until they were creamy.” That really doesn’t float my boat, sorry. The rest is just…

The Maid, by Nita Prose
Book Review/ 25. February 2022

The Maid by Nita Prose My rating: 1 of 5 stars From whatever point of view: This is a disgrace of a book. Let’s look at the story itself first: Molly, usually referred to and sometimes self-referring as “Molly the Maid” (as if that’s all she is), works as a maid in the Regency Grand Hotel.One day, when she’s cleaning a suite she finds the body of Mr. Black, a rich “power magnate”, who stays at the hotel with his second wife, Giselle.While it becomes clear to the reader very quickly that something sinister beyond the murder is afoot, Molly doesn’t recognise it and, thus, quickly becomes the prime suspect in the murder case.Trying to prove Molly’s innocence Molly and a bunch of coworkers-cum-friends come up with a plan to entrap the true culprit… So, there’s basically nothing new plot-wise. It is unoriginal and rather boring. What about the character’s, though? We get to “meet” about 20 people – which is quite a lot but, thankfully, it’s manageable. The problem here is, though: Most of them are stereotypes and never get a chance to evolve into something real. There’s Mr. Preston, the fatherly good-natured doorman and his sharp lawyer daughter,…

The Sittaford Mystery, by Agatha Christie
Book Review/ 5. February 2022

The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie I learnt to read with turn of the century German editions of Sherlock Holmes – set in Fraktur. I still remember lying in front of the bookcase and deciphering those weird letters – and I prevailed!Having thus been “initiated” it isn’t surprising I turned to other mystery authors once Conan Doyle’s Sherlock retired to beekeeping. Whom else would I turn to than two masters of the field: Edgar Wallace (who has largely been forgotten in his native UK but whose books are still in-print here in Germany!) and Agatha Christie. I think I’ve read every of Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot books and greatly enjoyed them. Over the years, I’ve revisited Christie, reading her “The Secret Adversary” for example. (Three stars, no written review.) When I came across a very favourable review of “The Sittaford Mystery” I found myself eager to revisit this childhood icon of mine – which usually is a bad idea. Captain Trevelyan lies slain, a retired soldier of some royal windbag’s Navy, and a simpleton nephew of his, Jim, who fled the scene after unsuccessfully trying to beg some money out of his uncle is charged. Never fear, though, Simple-Jim,…