Category Archives: Books & Novellas

VOK 746 – Agatha Christie Reread 16 – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans


Bina007 discusses the Agatha Christie crime caper Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, published in one of the most prolific years, 1934. Despite containing a Wodehousian-named character called Bassington-Ffrench, the novel is pleasingly free of Woosterish-pastiche. Rather, it’s a well-plotted murder mystery and a wry, progressive commentary on the British class system. It also contains yet another wonderful female protagonist, Lady Frankie Derwent. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 745 – Agatha Christie Reread 15 – Murder On The Orient Express


Bina007, Hannah/Shadowbaby and Zander/The Lord Baron discuss arguably Agatha Christie’s most famous and most audaciously plotted novel, Murder On The Orient Express, originally published in 1934. A nasty criminal is found stabbed to death in the Calais coach of the luxurious train. With a snowstorm trapping the other guests in the carriage we have a classic locked house mystery. Poirot investigates! A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 744 – Agatha Christie Minipod 14 – Lord Edgeware Dies


Bina007 reviews Agatha Christie’s Lord Edgware Dies aka Thirteen To Dinner, originally published in 1933. A famous actress turned aristocrat is the prime suspect when her hated husband is stabbed, allowing her to marry yet higher in society. However, she has a perfect alibi having been at a dinner party at the time. Poirot investigates! A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 743 – Agatha Christie ReRead 13 – Peril At End House


Bina007 and Hannah / Shadowbaby discuss Agatha Christie’s Peril At End House, originally published in 1932. A beautiful heiress in peril – a dashing around-the-world aviator – a lot of cocaine – and Hercule Poirot! A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 740 – Agatha Christie Minipod 12 – The Sittaford Mystery


Bina007 reviews Agatha Christie’s homage to The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sittaford Mystery, originally published as The Murder At Hazelmoor in 1931. Snowbound moors, a seance, and a tolling prison bell signal murder, and Agatha Christie conjures up another courageous smart young woman to investigate. There’s no Marple or Poirot but plenty of gothic atmosphere. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 732 – Agatha Christie Minipod 11 – The Murder At The Vicarage


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the first Mrs Marple novel, Murder At The Vicarage, originally published in 1930. This is the novel people think Christie always writes! A pretty English village and the narrator is a clergyman and the victim is a retired military man. But the novel is actually spikier, nastier and more subversive than the chocolate-box cosy image. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 702 – Agatha Christie Minipod 10 – The Seven Dials Mystery


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the hilarious thriller, The Seven Dials Mystery, originally published in 1929. Slated by critics, the novel is a superb pastiche of po-faced boys-own spy novels of the time and stars Bundle Brent as a Bright Young Thing out to unmask a secret society. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 701 – Agatha Christie Minipod 9 – The Mystery of the Blue Train


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the novel Agatha Christie struggled with before her disappearance, The Mystery of The Blue Train. In later life, she complained it was commonplace, but I find it to be a compelling Hercules Poirot murder-mustery set aboard a luxurious train, complete with a reckless heiress and her stunning jewels. A spoiler-filled discussion of the solution is after the closing music.

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VOK 698 – Agatha Christie Minipod 8 – The Big Four


In this spoiler-free episode Bina007 reviews the compendium mystery novel The Big Four, published by Agatha Christie in the wake of her mysterious disappearance in 1926 when she desperately needed money. She hated it, the critics hate it, but it’s actually a rather fun and satisfying set of mysteries with a bizarre James Bond twist – complete with secret evil lairs, poisoned darts and international criminal conspiracies!

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VOK 695 – Agatha Christie 7 – Her Mysterious 1926 Disappearance


Join Zander, Abby and Bina for a minipod that explores the 1926 disappearance of Agatha Christie that caused a nationwide manhunt and it still the subject of controversy today. Many of the themes around marital betrayal can be found in her later books; and the need for financial security after her divorce led to the rushed publication of some of her weaker late 1920s novels.

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VOK 694 – Agatha Christie 6 – The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd


Join Zander, Hannah and Bina for the first full-length review of the murder-mystery that made Agatha Christie a household name – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, published in 1926. The team discuss the plot twists, characters, themes and politics of the novel as well as the adaptations. Novels spoiled in this episode: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Man In The Brown Suit. Also discussed without spoilers: The Secret Of Chimneys and The Mysterious Affair At Styles.

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VOK 693 – Agatha Christie minipod 5 – The Secret Of Chimneys


In this brief episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s mystery-thriller-adventure-comedy mash-up, The Secret Of Chimneys, originally published in 1925. It’s a story of blackmail, murder, hidden jewels, and royal coups! The novel is great fun and incredibly silly but tells us a lot about Christie’s attitudes toward men, and gives us a more grown up version of her New Woman. More negatively, it tells us about a certain kind of lazy racial prejudice circulating at the time. Spoilers after the end credit music.

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VOK 692 – Agatha Christie minipod 4 – The Man In The Brown Suit


In this brief spoiler-free episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s fourth novel and first standalone adventure, The Man In The Brown Suit, originally published in 1924. Smart, beautiful, courageous Anne Beddingfield sees a man murdered at a tube station and follows the clues all the ways to South Africa and romance! The novel is great fun and slightly silly but stars both my favourite Christie heroine AND my favourite villain. That said, it is of its time when it comes to depicting racial attitudes and has some rather bizarre things to say about marriage.

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VOK 691 – Agatha Christie minipod 3 – Murder on the Links


In this brief spoiler-free episode Bina007 critically discusses Agatha Christie’s third novel and second Hercules Poirot murder-mystery, published in 1923. The novel is flawed and doesn’t repay a reread other than to show us Christie in debate with herself about what kind of detective novelist she wants to be – and that is very much NOT a Gaston Leroux or Arthur Conan Doyle but rather someone who focuses on logic and psychology rather than material clues.

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VOK 690 – Agatha Christie minipod – The Secret Adversary


In this brief episode Bina007 continues her brief introduction to the full-fledged VOK Agatha Christie reread by reviewing Christie’s second novel and first Tommy and Tuppence thriller, The Secret Adversary, published a hundred years ago. It is a fast-paced fun novel that reads like a cross between John Buchan and PG Wodehouse with a side order of Evelyn Waugh’s Bright Young Things. It reflects the economic travails of post-war England – the rise of the New Woman – and the fear of communist revolution.

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VOK 688 – Intro to the Agatha Christie reread & The Mysterious Affair At Styles


In this brief episode Bina007 introduces a new VOK Re-read series that will cover some of the most famous and beloved novels from the Queen of detective fiction, Agatha Christie. In order to whet your appetite and perhaps tempt you to join along, Bina007 describes Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published just over a 100 years ago, and introducing the world to the famous Belgian detective Hercules Poirot. There are spoilers toward the end but these are clearly telegraphed.

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VOK 684: Song of Achilles


Sing, Vassals, of Achilles’ rage! Kat/kitkathistory24601, Sara/DrBlood, Katie/deadleavesinmyhand, and Jock/munrojock2 gather to talk about Madeline Miller’s novel, The Song of Achilles.

(Note: We lost the first 25 minutes of the podcast and had to rerecord them. Apologies for any editorial inconsistencies.)

Credits:
Edited by Peter/Shellfish
Image by artswade

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VoK 680: The Prolific Works of George R. R. Martin (Ice & Fire Con 2021 Panel)


Decades before Martin began writing A Song of Ice and Fire, he was already an award-winning writer who had published a variety of science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories. In this panel, Amin and Duncan (Valkyrist) survey Martin’s other notable works, looking for connections to ASOIAF and discussing his overall development as a writer and his philosophy toward writing.

Credits:
Edited by Valkyrist

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Links:
George R. R. Martin’s “Thousand Worlds” Wiki

VOK 678: The Wisdom of Crowds (by Joe Abercrombie)



The Vassals of Kingsgrave dive back into the world of the First Law, created by Joe Abercrombie. Join Brett (White Raven), Greg (claudiusthefool), Alex (LuckyCharms), and Zach (Alias) as they review and discuss the final book in the Age of Madness trilogy, The Wisdom of Crowds.

Credits:
Edited by Zach/Alias

Music: Kellan the Undying by Drumurboy

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VOK 675 – Mystic Shenanigans – Dune Book 1 Discussion


Join Bina, Patrick, Kat and Hannah as they discuss the the first book of Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

We discuss Patrick’s viewing of the new film; Paul as an elf; the gender of Kynes; Alia as a Star Trek alien; Fremen vs Mereen; the tenuous position of Chani; the lack of nuance with the “bad guys”; the Fenrings as Lannisters; and the Bene Gesserit’s mystic shenanigans.

No spoilers for later books.

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