I’ve always loved mysteries. As a child I began reading Hardy Boys books long before I reached their target age. My generous parents allowed me to eventually own all of the hardcover versions and reread them countless times. Then, desperate for new material, I read all of my maiden aunt’s Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Dana Girls books – being always careful to never be seen in public reading those girl books! It didn’t take me long to read all of the short Encylopedia Brown tales, and I was running out of sources until I discovered the Three Investigators books at my junior high library. That series was better written than the Hardy Boys, although the original author expired and later books jumped all over the library in keeping with the varying authors’ last names. We didn’t have the internet or catalog systems of today, so it was a challenge to track them all down, but eventually I would own all of them as well.
For years I didn’t read hardly any adult mysteries, although I adored The Name of the Rose for its use of Latin, pseudohistory, and mystery. Knowing that I listened to audiobooks during car trips, my dear friend and librarian Carrie Fleharty gave me An Excellent Mystery: The Eleventh Chronicle of Brother Cadfael as an audiobook, and that set me to listening to every one of Ellis Peters’ (or should I say Edith Pargeter’s) tales of that mystery-solving Benedictine monk. After exhausting those (and finding them growing a tad formulaic) I listened to some of her standalone tales, especially enjoying City of Gold and Shadows with its setting at a Roman ruin on the border of Wales. There are still many other tales of Inspector Felse by Ellis Peters which I have yet to listen to. Tulsa’s main library had many of these stories on audiotape and I paid for a membership in their system so I could check them out regularly.
Happily Barbara Mertz had chosen Elizabeth Peters as one of her pseudonyms and thus was filed by the library next to Ellis. That led me to try out one of her stories, and I then listened to many more. They tend to be rather formulaic after awhile, but I greatly enjoyed her Jacqueline Kirby and Vicky Bliss tales. Narrator Barbara Rosenblatt’s portrayal of Vicky’s comic boss, Anton Schmidt, is quite charming. However, Mertz/Peters’ more famous Amelia Peabody tales did nothing for me.
When I bought my first Kindle e-reader I decided to give Agatha Christie a go, being only familiar with her work through the old Peter Ustinov movies of Hercule Poirot. Ustinov was poorly cast for the part, which was played far better by Albert Finney in The Orient Express and then portrayed masterfully in the long Poirot television series by David Suchet. Suchet’s audiobook narrations of some of the Christie tales are also quite good. Most of Christie’s works are still under copyright, but her first Poirot story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, is in the public domain. So I loaded it onto the Kindle and was hooked.
I begin buying Poirot audibooks via Audible. One of the very best is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I then listened to every single Poirot audiobook I could find, especially enjoying Hugh Fraser’s readings. Having exhausted the available titles, I’ve listened to other stand-alone Christie tales and one of the Miss Marples. Christie is tremendously skilled with dialogue, quickly sketching out characters, and ingenious plot twists. She is far less adept at thrillers – Poirot is much more entertaining solving a typical murder case than when bringing down silly supervillains. I’m still steadily listening to Christie’s work, but eventually I’ll exhaust it as well and move on.
By now you’re wondering what in the devil I meant by titling this post The Case of the Crashing Kindle. Well, that’s a simple mystery I finally solved this week. I’ve owned and loved a Kindle 1 and Kindle 2, and I bought a WiFi-only Kindle 3 some months back after giving the first two Kindles away to family and friends. But the Kindle 3 had a flaw in the screen so I had to get a replacement. I got that done and ordered Amazon’s matching cover for the unit and have happily read several novels on the Kindle 3.
But my latest Kindle was constantly forgetting my place in a book and often frozen or rebooting when I opened the case. This was quite annoying and I finally figured out the cause this week. The stupid case from Amazon is at fault. Once I removed the Kindle from the case the problems with the forgotten bookmarks, seizures, and reboots went away. I’ll admit that I got a clue from the internet where another user experiencing frequent reboots mentioned that the case appeared to be involved.
The return window for the case is over, so I can ship it back to Amazon at my own cost and get some sort of refund or I suppose I can call their support number and whine until they agree to fully refund me for it. I certainly won’t give up on the Kindle, however, even though I have an iPad and iPhone with the Kindle apps. I love its size, convenience, and reflective e-ink screen. But I do hope they do a better job on cases in the future. And I look forward to more mysteries, although I’d prefer they be in book and audiobook form rather than annoying real-life technology puzzles.