Destination Unknown

Destination Unknown

by Agatha Christie

5

In Agatha Christie’s gripping international thriller Destination Unknown, a woman at the end of her rope chooses a more exciting way to die when she embarks upon an almost certain suicide mission to find a missing scientist.

When a number of leading scientists disappear without a trace, concern grows within the international intelligence community. And the one woman who appears to hold the key to the mystery is dying from injuries sustained in a plane crash.

Meanwhile, in a Casablanca hotel room, Hilary Craven prepares to take her own life. But her suicide attempt is about to be interrupted by a man who will offer her an altogether more thrilling way to die. . . .

Destination Unknown is my favorite Agatha Christie novel (so far)! Pretty sure you now know how this review is going to go….

The weather was turning muggy and I wanted an Agatha Christie novel to take to the beach. Her stories are typically the perfect length and tone for a lazy weekend reading and listening to the waves crash on the shore. I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to peruse the next instalment of the Miss Marple or Piroit series, so I picked up one of her stand-alone stories. And I openly admit that I picked Destination Unknown solely because of the cover. I mean look at it! Airplanes! I was in.

(Don’t even pretend that you don’t pick up books because of the cover. WE ALL DO! That’s the whole point of books having a cover.)

The mystery and suspense is the best aspect of any Agatha Christie novel, so I will not be going into too much detail about the plot. I don’t want to spoil it! Just know the story was fantastic. The plot progressed quickly, with Christie providing just enough detail to keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everything tied together perfectly and I didn’t figure out ‘who-dunnit’ before our heroine. And speaking of the heroine, I enjoyed reading this story from Hilary’s point of view. She is smart, witty, and surprisingly average making her a relatable character. Readers can easily connect with her emotions, which range from grief to hope to curiosity, and feel as if we are traveling the unknown roads right next to her. Hilary is the reason I enjoyed this story so much.

I do have one negative point and it contains SPOILERS. Look away if you must! I was left wanting more development when it comes to Hilary’s relationships. The last half of the book finds her forced into a relationship with one man while she is subtly developing feelings for another. I knew this was happening; I was all about it happening! I just wanted a little bit more. I wanted more passages detailing her struggles, her strain to keep up appearances, and her hopes for the future. We know she wants to escape but I wanted to know more about her hopes for after the planned escape. The ending felt a tad rushed and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye. That’s all for the negatives!

Agatha Christie is definitely the Queen of Suspense and Destination Unknown will be one of my top mystery recommendations of the year. It is perfect if you are in need of a quick summer suspense!

Let me know which story is your favorite by Agatha Christie and happy reading!

Lindsay

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East of Desolation

East of Desolation

by Jack Higgins

East of Desolation

Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…

couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf.  A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane?  Are you kidding me?  This book was just begging me to read it!  I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.

So I’ll start with the positives.  I like the main character, Joe Martin.  He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland.  Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier.  Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements.   The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane.  It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting.  I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.

Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid.  ALL THREE OF THEM.  It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968.  These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché.  Here are their descriptions:

1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore

2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil

3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny

Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe.  There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women?  They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.

East of Desolation is a decent book.  Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting.  It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.

Are you a Jack Higgins fan?  These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!

Lindsay

Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed

by Louis L’Amour

Last of the Breed

After U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack is forced down in Russia and later escapes from a Soviet prison camp, he calls upon the skills of his Sioux Indian forebears to evade Alekhin, the Yakut native and legendary tracker, on his trail.

My husband loves to learn about basic survival skills; I enjoy reading survival stories.  We both want to be prepared to live in ‘the wild’ if we must.  We aren’t doomsday preppers or anything, but we do fly small airplanes and live in an area frequented by hurricanes.  Things could happen, and these survival stories are for educational purposes!  Louis L’amour’s Last of the Breed is the one story that I just can not stop reading.  I have read it between 5 to 10 times in the last 13 years and each time I am riveted!

Joe Mack is a Sioux who is also a test pilot for the Air Force.  He is captured by the Russians and brought to Siberia for interrogation.  Joe Mack refuses to remain a prisoner and he quickly escapes.  But he now much survive a Siberian winter and it will require all his military and ancestral training to make it out alive.  (Now I want to start reading it again!)

Last of the Breed was originally published in 1986 and the writing style is somewhat different than current publications.  The language is often more telling than showing, which requires a vivid imagination to fill in all the glorious details.  Luckily, I have one of those, but many reviews complain that the novel drags on because of it.  L’Amour also has a tendency to repeat himself…a lot.  I blame the editing process because this should have been fixed before publication.  The only time it bugged me was when the next sentence would be a reworded copy of the previous sentence.  That is an editing issue.

Don’t let this deter you because the story is great!  I am enthralled by Joe Mack and his journey across Siberia.  Plus, L’Amour provides an interesting cast of supporting characters for you to both love and hate.  I hold my breath as Talya and her father rush to the Chinese border.  I whisper “yes!” each time Joe Mack escapes; and I curse Alekhin as he hunts Joe Mack down.  But, this is more than a story of sheer survival.  L’Amour also describes the mental strain of surviving and living on the run.  These passages left me with goose-bumps as the fear of being hunted courses through me while Alekhin closes in on Joe Mack.  I know how the story ends, but that doesn’t matter.  I feel like I am there in Siberia every time I open this book.

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Last of the Breed will always be one of my favorites and I plan to keep rereading it.  I mean, just look at my personal copy!  Why hasn’t it been made in to a movie?!  Anyways, happy survival reading everyone 😛

Lindsay

 

East of Desolation

 

East of Desolation

by Jack Higgins

East of Desolation

Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…

I couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf.  A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane?  Are you kidding me?  This book was just begging me to read it!  I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.

So I’ll start with the positives.  I like the main character, Joe Martin.  He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland.  Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier.  Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements.   The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane.  It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting.  I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.

Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid.  ALL THREE OF THEM.  It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968.  These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché.  Here are their descriptions:

1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore

2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil

3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny

Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe.  There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women?  They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.

East of Desolation is a decent book.  Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting.  It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.

Are you a Jack Higgins fan?  These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!

Lindsay