Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Books 87 & 88 of 2015: The Secret of Annexe 3 by Colin Dexter & A Christmas Carol & The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

These books see me reaching almost the end of my Reading Challenge for last year. This year I didn't bother taking part in a reading challenge (and I've read a lot less as a result of that) but I'm on the fence about taking part next year.

Week 51's book was 'a book based on or turned into a TV show', coincidentally Mr Click had recently finished reading Colin Dexter's The Secret of Annexe 3 which is from the Inspector Morse series, which seemed like as good a choice as any. Although it wasn't directly adapted for the TV series, it was used for inspiration for one of the episodes.

In this story, Inspector Morse is called to solve the mystery of a death at a hotel. One of the visitors to a New Year's Eve party doesn't get up the next morning, leading to a whole host of mysteries for Morse to unravel before he can learn the truth about what's happened.

I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last Morse book that I read (The Riddle of the Third Mile). I think this is mainly because although it was a rather complicated case, with a costume ball and people not being who everyone thought they were, it was still fairly easy to follow what was going on.

It also didn't hide too much from the reader, so you could follow along with the crime and try to solve it yourself. As you'll be aware from my previous book reviews, being able to solve the crime yourself is really important to me in detective/crime books.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there wasn't the usual high body count that you often get in Morse books. I don't remember seeing the TV adaptation that this one inspired, but Mr Click and I are planning on watching the complete series at some point in the future.

I was definitely reading it at the right time of year. It's all set around a New Year's Eve party and I started it on the 19th of December, finished it on the 23rd. This was entirely accidental, but it was pretty cool. I tend to read Christmas books in the run up to Christmas, there's not really many books set at New Year though.

This was also a good choice because it didn't take too long to get through. I was a little worried that I wouldn't have time to read my traditional Christmas read, A Christmas Carol, before Christmas.

But I did.

On one of my trips to the mainland I managed to find a copy of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth which I had in the Children's Classics collection that my grandparents got me as a child. Last Christmas I decided that this was the version I should read, since I like to try reading a different version of the book each year.

This edition has the traditional story of A Christmas Carol (I don't need to recap that for you, do I?) as well as a short story at the end, The Cricket on the Hearth. It's another Victorian Christmas story, in which a mysterious man shows up at the Peerybingle home and stays with them. Meanwhile May, the girlfriend of a man named Edmund who has been missing for some time, is preparing to marry a miser, but the mysterious man might put a stop to that.

It didn't take me very long to finish A Christmas Carol. I started it on the 23rd and finished it on the 24th, whilst sitting at work, watching the Disney film of A Christmas Carol. At one point it was kind of race to see how far ahead of the film I could stay.

Although A Christmas Carol was a reread, The Cricket on the Hearth was a first time read for me. I did try reading it once as a child, in this edition nonetheless, but I gave up on it then. This time around I found it a lot easier to read. I suspect my issue before was a combination of the language and the fact that the story wasn't as familiar to me. I really enjoyed the way that this story ended.

I really love reading A Christmas Carol each year. It's as much a part of Christmas to me as putting up the tree and decorations, or listening to Christmas music. Although it begins in the festive season, I don't see The Cricket on the Hearth as quite such a Christmas story; I'll probably not reread it again this year, though next time I pick up this edition to read, I'll give it another go.

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