Friday 19 April 2019

The A-Z Blog Challenge, Letter Q

Letter Q of My Favourite Books by title
Two authors - two genres
Murder Mystery and Horror

This is the first letter I don't have a title for, so I'm taking the opportunity to use titles that have numbers. There are a few in my collection. first, 4.50 From Paddington, by Agatha Christie. Here's the blurb:

For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman’s throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away.

But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses… and no corpse.

Yet another representation of the master that is/was Agatha Christie. I always think I know who killer is, but never do until it's revealed. She really is the master of plotting incredible stories.

This is another great tale unearthing a rich family's secrets. I think that's one of the things I love the most about her tales, they are set round the rich aristocracy. It's like getting a glimpse into another world or society and how it functions. To us every day folk it's another form of escapism, and also to see that they are not as squeaky clean as they like to think.

Christie was always very good at providing characters that in some ways were classless, despite their financial status. After reading her biography I think that she honestly never really saw class, and money was simply a means to an end - that end being to enjoy life, and do and learn as much as you can in the time you have.

 *** The second is, '48, by James Herbert. Here's the blurb:

In 1945, Hitler unleashed the Blood Death on Britain as his final act of vengeance.

Those who died at once were the lucky ones. The really unfortunate took years. The survivors - people like me, who had the blood group that kept us safe from the disease - were now targets for those who believed our blood could save them.

I survived for three years. I lived alone, spending my days avoiding the fascist Blackshirts who wanted my blood for their dying leader. Then I met the others - and life got complicated all over again . . .

The reason this story really imprinted on me is not just because its post apocalyptic storyline about someone trying to survive amongst people who are literally after their blood is exception, but because of its setting and location.

At the time of reading this, I worked just off the Strand on Villiers street, sandwiched between Charing Cross Station and Embankment tube station. A two minute walk from Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, where a lot of the action is this book takes place - and also a short walk to The Ritz hotel where the main character hides out.

Every day I came out of work at lunchtime, I was in the book's setting, walking round the very places he was writing about. It felt almost surreal at times, to imagine what the area would look like empty and devoid of people, with only handful scuttling about.

This is another gripping horror of Herbert's, and is definitely a favourite. It's written in first person, something he does very well, bringing you right into the events as they play out for the main character.

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