Category: 42 Word Retrospectives

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (John Lane, 1920); audiobook read by Hugh Fraser (Harper Collins, 2006) An agreeable debut for both Christie and Poirot; yet for all the ingenious conception and deft foreshadowing, its mystery nevertheless comes across more as an intellectual puzzle for the author to have pieced together than as a whodunnit to engage the…


Decoy by John Christopher (Science Fiction Stories, July 1955) Not much of a (short) story. Christopher’s world-building hints at a complex near-future society worthy of greater exploration, but the characters are presented as if the reader should already be familiar with them. The result is an untethered, over-simple tale of matchmaking.    

Johnny and the Bomb

Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1996); audiobook read by Richard Mitchley (BBC Audiobooks, 1997) Pratchett gifts middle-grade readers the perfect introduction to time travel, albeit that his mid-1990s ‘now’ is itself receding into history, in rapid pursuit of the Second World War ‘then’. Thought-provoking and wryly funny, with memorable characters and a rich vein of dialogue.  …

Snoopy Treasury

Snoopy Treasury by Charles M. Schulz (Book Club Associates, 1981) A large-format book combining much of “Peanuts Treasury” (1960s dailies and Sundays, black and white) with the colour Sundays from “Sandlot Peanuts” (1960s-1970s baseball themed). The result is nearly 200 pages of wit and wisdom, somewhat lopsided in favour of Charlie Brown.