Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Salon: Suspense Never Goes Out Of Style

suspenseSunday Salon is a good time to discuss suspense. It’s an element writers have been using effectively for decades. When done correctly, suspense will intrigue readers for years to come.

Today I have an example of great suspense from long ago and several that are destined to become favorites. As many of you know, I’m becoming a huge fan of audio books. All three of these selections are available in several forms, including audio.

While I have seen several movies based on legendary author Agatha Christie’s work, I have never read one of her books. (Sorry Margot, I know I must do better.) I was delighted when I had the chance to listen to one of her books on CD. 

Fill your cup with your favorite brew and let’s talk suspense.


cover 1No matter where Mrs. Boynton goes, no one seems to like her - especially her family. Taking her family on a trip to Jerusalem, she becomes the most hated tourist and it’s not because she’s from England.

Having an encounter with her, vacationing Hercule Poirot can understand why she is disliked so. She insists her family cater to her every wish and she treats them horribly. She, however, holds the purse strings to the family fortune so they submit to her wishes.

Vacationing in the Holy Lane, the family returns from a walk to find Mrs. Boynton dead. They contend she died of natural causes, but a tiny puncture mark on her wrist suggests otherwise.

Poirot is asked to check into the circumstances of her death. As he looks closer, he discovers there are quite a few people besides her family that wanted her dead. Christie builds the suspense until the real killer is finally revealed in this psychological look at how an entire family is controlled. 

Hugh Fraser does a wonderful job narrating this suspenseful story. Fraser’s dialect is perfect for this story. His mannerisms and inflection gives each character their own unique voice. Fraser, who portrays Captain Hastings in A&E and PBS productions, gives a good spin to Hercule Poirot.
Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie, A Hercule Poirot Mystery, Narrated by Hugh Fraser, AudioGo, @2011, ISBN: 978-1609983338, Unabridged, 5 Discs, Listening Time 6 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
VIGILANTE by Stephen J. Cannell

VigilanteGang activist Lita Mendez is an aggressive police critic keeping LAPD upset with countless complaints and lawsuits. When she’s murdered in her home, LAPD Detectives Shane Scully and Sumner Hitchens are called in.

Scully and Hitchens fear one of their own may be the killer. To make matters worse, Nixon Nash is closing in on the case. Nash, the charismatic host of the national reality TV show Vigilante TV, has his own agenda against cops. His show is dedicated to solving high profile cases and making the cops working the case look as bad as possible.

As Scully and Hitch work to solve the Mendez murder, they discover much more is going on. Can they put all the pieces together before they become the topic of the next Vigilant TV episode?

The late Stephen J. Cannell created a heart-pounding police thriller with VIGILANT. He draws you in, holds you spellbound and takes you on an adrenaline-rush roller-coaster ride. The story twists, turns and circles around to keep you unsure of what’s next. This is the 11th installment in the Shane Scully series, but is a stand alone read.

The narrative voice and style of Scott Brick brings Cannell’s characters to life. His distinct differentiation of characters makes each one unique. His steady pace and easy flowing voice makes the audio experience a treat. Brick’s vocals and Cannell’s writing makes a powerful combination of suspense and intrigue.

Vigilant by Stephen J. Cannell, A Shane Scully Novel, Performed by Scott Brick, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1441893307, Unabridged, 7 Disc, Listening Time 7 Hours, 39 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
KILL YOU LAST by Todd Strasser

Kill You LastLife is fairly good for Shelby despite the usual problems teenagers face in high school. Her mother is a bit withdrawn since the death of her baby brother. Her father tends to be a little strange around her friends, but stays busy with his photography business.

When 3 teenage clients of her father’s are reported missing, Shelby’s father becomes the subject of a police investigation. Shelby tries to avoid the prying media and handle threatening e-mails on her own. She also has to tolerate the hateful stares at school while trying to find out what her father has really been up to.

As Shelby unveils one shocking revelation after another, she begins to realize things are not as they seem.

Emily Bauer’s narration of this middle grade fiction will keep you on the edge of your seat. Her steady pace and smooth voice brings Shelby to life, giving her depth and great emotions. Emily’s style and characterizations add to this thriller.

While this story is labeled for ages 12 and over, I wasn’t so sure at first. It deals with a parent’s sexual misconduct with minors. Then I realized, unfortunately, this really occurs in our society forcing many youngsters to deal with it. Shelby’s strength and courage throughout the ordeal are positive aspects of the story.

Kill You Last by Todd Strasser, Performed by Emily Bauer, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1455825509, Unabridged, 5 Disc, Listening Time 5 Hours, 35 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Any interesting books you’ve read this past week you’d like to share with us? Thanks so much for stopping by. Wishing everyone a safe and blessed Sunday.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Mason - I'm so glad you liked Appointment With Death, and Hugh Fraser is, of course, the perfect person to do the narration, isn't he? As to other Agatha Christie novels, you'll get to the, I hope :-). The other two books look really interesting, too, although I agree I'm not sure about Kill You Last for middle grades students. Still, as you say, it is something that tragically does happen in our society...

  3. Thanks Mason for bringing these author's work to our attention. I've read Vigilante and I'm going to miss this series.

  4. I confess I've never read one of Agatha Cristie's books either...

  5. I loved Christie and I know there are so many more of them to read...Nice selection.

  6. I'm not a thriller or mystery reader, but my husband might like these.

  7. I have Appointment with Death on audio and love it.

    One of my favourite old time radio show was titled Suspense. Man, those kept me awake when I listened to them before bed.

  8. I have to admit, I'm in the "Have Not Read Agatha Christie" club too. I'll definitely have to read one now and give it a try.

  9. Hate to admit I'm a big fan of Poirot on the screen (large and small) but I've never read any of Agatha's. Shame on me.

  10. I´ve read several Christies, but I prefer Miss Marple to Hercule Poirot. No, not because of her cosiness, but because he is so full of himself :)

    Kill you last sounds interesting - but it should have been a subject teenagers did not need to know about.

  11. I love anything Christie or by Todd Strasser. How odd to say those two together, yet I have. Todd Strasser is one of my go-tos for my students. Christie is my go to when I just need a good solid story.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.