PositiveThe Times (UK)... [a] fond and occasionally foolish work of woke devotion. Even so, every fan should read it ... What makes this biography so fascinating is the way Worsley demonstrates how \'everything Agatha experienced became copy\'. An irreverent historian, she sets in context the events of her subject’s life with great skill, then shows how Christie reflected them in her work ... if she remains elusive, it is not the fault of the effusive Worsley ... Christie lovers should read this biography for the same reason they read her novels: they \'address dark, uncomfortable feelings. They address the darkness that can lurk within even normal, respectable people. People like your own spouse.\' Worsley not only makes you want to reread them all over again, she actually makes you love the talented yet tormented woman who wrote them.
PanThe Times (UK)Has Galbraith/Rowling written an epic novel ranging across history and the world? No she has not ... Whole chapters consist of nothing but chat conveyed in up to three columns (or channels) per page. It is hard to read — and hard to identify with characters who can’t or won’t reveal their identities ... Galbraith plays fair with the reader, but it is easy to hide clues in a thousand pages ... So why is the damn thing so long? ... Galbraith remains a children’s writer. Each character, no matter how minor, is laboriously described.
Nina De Gramont
MixedThe Times (UK)Although The Christie Affair features a double murder it is not a crime novel. It is a swooning historical romance ... The way de Gramont reveals the psychological fallout of trench warfare is a highlight; her habit of ending paragraphs with a portentous platitude...is irksome ... Her occasionally humorous take on Christie’s disappearance is ingenious but, for an epic tale of love and loss, strangely unmoving. It drags when it should drive forward, circles when it should soar.
Patricia Highsmith, Ed. by Anna von Planta
RaveThe Times (UK)Half the volume is devoted to the years 1941-1950, in which Highsmith found her feet and voice — if not herself — in the Big Apple. The city inspires some of the young Texan’s finest writing ... Readers of Highsmith’s novels will not learn much more about them here ... Anna von Planta edited Highsmith for the last 11 years of her life. She has done a superb job, creating a clear storyline through the mental and physical chaos of an often \'disgustingly befuddled\' (the words are Highsmith’s) writer’s life. These diaries, like those of Williams, will send you reaching for the bottle yourself if read cover to cover. Keep them beside the bed, dip into them each night, and count your blessings you haven’t (yet) ended up a tax exile in an architect-designed fortress in Switzerland with just two narrow windows facing the road, alone with your memories, subsisting on smokes, booze and peanut butter ... And read them you must. Von Planta has thankfully omitted the most offensive of Highsmith’s hateful outbursts. The many bed scenes are unlikely to cause even a maiden aunt to clutch her pearls. Furthermore, the magnificent result is, indeed, unpredictable. It’s impossible to guess what Highsmith will come out with next. There is a startling phrase on every page.
RaveThe Times (UK)... fascinating ... Jobb has a talent for scene-setting ... Jobb uses a twin-ply narrative, switching between Canada and Britain, between the bulk of Cream’s life and his last two years, to heighten what is essentially a sad, sad story about a bad, bad man ... His life, in Jobb’s hands, is a splendidly atmospheric journey through the halls of Victorian vice, virtue and, above all, hypocrisy.
PositiveAir Mail\"... fascinating ... How had a good Presbyterian boy, who sang in the church choir and taught Sunday school in his teens, turned into such a depraved debauchee? The truth is no one knows, but Jobb does a good job of laying out possible explanations ... In the end he was betrayed by his distinctive handwriting. The letters Cream sent to potential blackmail victims revealed knowledge that only the poisoner could have known. The smile he had maintained throughout numerous inquests and trials—all vividly related by Jobb—was finally wiped off his face.
PositiveThe Times (UK)The mystery is intriguing, but following the progress of Brunetti via canal and calle provides the real pleasure ... The city, in Donna Leon’s novel, is as much a character as Guido and his family ...Leon’s special skill is to splice glimpses of la dolce vita with acute analysis of moral and ethical dilemmas. Here one of the boys who dumped the girls has to decide whether or not to betray the friend with whom he is secretly in love ... \'They are so fragile, young people,\' Brunetti reflects, \'their self-assurance such a thin layer.\' It is his humanity, and hard-won wisdom, that has made — and makes — him such a boon companion in crime. The series that has shadowed Brunetti for three decades is an epic achievement.
RaveThe Evening StandardBrilliant ... Rankin controls the release of vital information with great skill. In a House of Lies is a highly complex procedural that grips from the first sentence. The large cast includes gangster Big Ger Cafferty and — hurrah! — Brillo, his devoted rescue dog. No one in Britain writes better crime novels today.