John Maytham's Book Reviews

John Maytham's book reviews: Old-school whodunnit and antics of the elderly

John's book picks for the week...

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can be solved only by the eponymous Belgian detective and his 'little grey cells'.

'What I intend to say to you will come as a shock....'

Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will - one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live...

Among Lady Playford's guests are two men she has never met - the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited...until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke in the presence of a possible killer?

When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot's best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?

Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a coordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully authorised Poirot novel. The new audiobook marks the centenary of the creation of Christie's world-famous detective, Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen 'Another year and I still don't like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.'

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he'd like. Technically speaking he is ... elderly.

But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums? Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs - not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in - the woman Hendrik has always longed for - he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what's left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

The indomitable Hendrik Groen - Holland's unlikeliest hero - has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

Obie - A Photographic Story Book Obie encompasses a decades-long sweep of his life’s work and covers the globe. It is part coffee-table book, part travelogue, part autobiography and part storybook, with a bit of philosophy thrown in for good measure. It’s a great photographer, documenter and character looking back through his ever-increasing archive (built up over 60 years) and choosing the images that resonate the most, and which have a story to tell.

Obie captures the rare, the human, the wonderful, the cosmic even. And he doesn’t just take pictures; he also meticulously records it all in words. His descriptions are often as intriguing, as beautiful or as crazy as his photographs.

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