Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The Year of the Projects - Too Bad to Die + Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks


I do love a good list.  It gives a nice sense of order and focus and I love making lists about the books I want to read.  Last year I focused just on series I was behind on.  The project went great and I caught up on a ton of series but I felt like I was neglecting other books on my shelf and books at my library.  This year I have a few lists going - Series, Library, Clear Off My Shelves, and a random TBR Bingo where I pull books off my Goodreads TBR.  Here are a few of my most recent reads.

Goodreads:  Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews

Project:  Clearing Off My Shelves

Blurb:  November, 1943. Weary of his deskbound status in the Royal Navy, intelligence officer Ian Fleming spends his spare time spinning stories in his head that are much more exciting than his own life...until the critical Tehran Conference, when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day invasion.
With the Big Three in one place, Fleming is tipped off that Hitler's top assassin has infiltrated the conference. Seizing his chance to play a part in a real-life action story, Fleming goes undercover to stop the Nazi killer. Between martinis with beautiful women, he survives brutal attacks and meets a seductive Soviet spy who may know more than Fleming realizes. As he works to uncover the truth and unmask the assassin, Fleming is forced to accept that betrayal sometimes comes from the most unexpected quarters--and that one's literary creations may prove eerily close to one's own life.

My Thoughts:  I'm a big fan of Ian Fleming's books and I loved the idea of a historical mystery with Fleming at the center.  I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill as well as their inner circles.  However, I did find this to be a bit drawn out and a number of issues that seem like they should be major (like Roosevelt being poisoned at a dinner)  completely dismissed.  As well, the identity of the assassin stuck out from early on.  I did find a number of the characters interesting and the setting was fascinating but this was a bit flat for me.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

Goodreads:  Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran

Project:  Clear Off My Shelves

Blurb:  Agatha Christie died in 1976 at 85, the world's most popular author. After the death of her only child, 73 handwritten notebooks came to light, from single jots to lists, to full outlines of memorable plots and characters, plus grocery and schedule memos from a bountiful creative mind - a complex web of connections to unravel and link. Actual notebook page reproductions. 2 unpublished Hercule Poirot short stories: "The Capture of Cerebrus", and "The Incident of the Dog's Ball".

My Thoughts:  This was a fascinating look at Agatha Christie's writing process.  Over 50 years she wrote dozens of books, plays, and short stories all intricately plotted and all distinctly unique even when she borrowed small plot aspects or concepts from previous books.  Seeing all her notebooks and her jumbled stream of conscious way of keeping track of everything was fascinating and seeing it through Curran's eyes gave me a new appreciation and respect for an author I've always admired greatly.  Without a doubt Curran is a massive Christie fan and while I don't agree with some of his thoughts (his finding Sleeping Murder mediocre for example) it was a delight to read his thoughts and insights.  I don't think those who aren't a fan of Agatha Christie's books would enjoy this one but if you are a fan you will find yourself wanting to do a big Christie reread and thoroughly enjoying this read.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4.5 Stars)


  1. I love that you're clearing books off your shelves. I need to make more of an effort next year to read more of my own books.

  2. I think that it would be really interesting to look through some of the notes that Agatha Christie wrote over the years.

  3. Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran does sound fascinating!

  4. Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks looks really good, I'm always fascinated with writers and their processes.

  5. AC's Secret Notebooks sounds absolutely fascinating, what insight into a favourite author.

  6. The Agatha Christie book sounds incredible. 📘✨