It’s Time for All Good Little Ghouls to Return Home

So here ends another Horrorfest: 31 reviews of films and/or TV episodes that are mysteries, horror, film-noir, suspense, monsters, thrillers, etc.

I started doing this because I watch something for Halloween everyday in October, and it was an easy leap to blog about it. I know some people don’t think I should as it has “nothing” to do with Jane Austen. That may be true, but I do know one character who would enjoy Halloween and Horror films.

Every year I start off with a little planning: first film, last film, Tim Burton film, Vincent Price, a film/TV episode from every decade, etc.- And everything else is just whatever I happened to watch.

Interestingly, they always end up to being completely unplanned but somehow go together.

Wow!

The first thing we seemed to have a lot this October is Vampires. We had Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Meet Dracula: Part I, The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Meet Dracula: Part II, Northanger Abbey and Return of the Vampire,

From The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula

This year’s theme is “mysteries” to tie in with it being the 100th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. That being the year’s theme, I reviewed quite a few mysteries, such as: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Batman Returns, Criminal Minds, Ellery Queen, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Meet Dracula: Part I, The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Meet Dracula: Part II, Knives OutMiss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, Raising Hope, Rear Window, and Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers.

We also had a few dystopian futures with Fahrenheit 451, Ghost in the Shell, and Mad Max.

Watching neighbors and it leading them to being involved in a mystery with Men at Work, Raising Hope, and Rear Window.

I also included Jane Austen when I ended this year with a review of Northanger Abbey.

Along with trying to encourage others to #CelebrateHalloweenwithNorthangerAbbey something I think I will continue every year.

And of course our Annual films:

  • A movie or TV episode from every decade from the 1930s-2020s
  • Alfred Hitchcock with Rear Window
  • Animated Film with Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987)
  • Disney with The Moon-Spinners
  • Lifetime/TV Film with The Stranger Beside Me (2003)
  • Stephen King with Sleepwalkers
  • Tim Burton with Batman Returns
  • Vincent Price with The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario: Ellery Queen (1976)

The full list of films and TV episodes reviewed for Horrorfest IX:

The Cat and the Canary (1939)

The Return of the Vampire (1943)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Rear Window (1954)

The Blob (1958)

The Moon-Spinners (1964)

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

“The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario” from Ellery Queen (1976)

“The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, Part I”: from The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)

“The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, Part II”:  fromThe Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)

Mad Max (1979)

Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987)

My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989)

Men at Work (1990)

Batman Returns (1992)

Sleepwalkers (1992)

Bon Voyage (2003)

The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

“North Mammon” from Criminal Minds (2006)

Northanger Abbey (2007)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Epidemiology”: from Community (2010)

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Endless Night (2013)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

Murder She Hoped: Raising Hope (2013)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

High Seas Season Two (2019)

Knives Out (2019)

High Seas Season Three (2020)

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

 

 

The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario: Ellery Queen (1976)

 

So it is time for our annual Vincent Price film or TV episode.

I love Vincent Price and I can’t resist anything he is in. I was trying to decide on a film or TV episode, but this Ellery Queen episode intrigued me as I needed to fill a Friday TV show spot, because this episode looked fun, and I couldn’t resist adding another Sleuth to my “mysterious” year.

Mystery, you say?

So I have never read an Ellery Queen mystery or watched this TV show-but I do know who Ellery Queen is. In the Leverage episode “10 Little Grifters” Nate dresses up as him and the first time I saw that episode I had to look up who Ellery Queen is. Ellery Queen is actually similar to Diagnosis Murder, but backwards. Inspector Richard Queen is a renowned detective and his son a famous crime writer, who helps his father solve the really tough cases. (Like how Steve Sloan is a detective and his doctor father, Dr. Mark Sloan, solves all his tough cases).

So I found this episode on youtube and it was a lot of fun watching it as it had the original commercials that it aired with. So enough about that, let’s get started.

It has an old CREST commercial, I can’t believe these girls are fighting over which toothpaste to use. I wouldn’t care what my friends would want. I don’t think I even know what brand they use.

The episode starts off with them filming a scene from an Ellery Queen murder mystery- like how most end, when the director yells cut. The director is played by Vincent Price, I’d know his voice anywhere. I’d listen to him read a phonebook.

The Vincent Price, director Michael Raynor, isn’t happy and I don’t blame him. The guy playing Ellery Queen stinks, like he’s the literal worst. Meanwhile Ellery Queen and his dad are watching and are not impressed. They changed his story and dialogue. I feel you Ellery, Hollywood has ruined many things I love as well.

Vincent Price yells at everyone and is just at the end of his rope, and I hope he isn’t the one who is murdered. I’ll be disappointed if he’s in it for only a second.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

OMGosh the guy playing Ellery Queen in the movie, Gilbert Mallory (Troy Donahue), is a serious jerk and diva. He’s going to die. I just know it! Too bad Michael Raynor can’t fire him as he owns part of the film and has a lot of power. It’d be great if he died.

Mallory meets the real Queen and is incredibly rude to him. What a jerk!

Mallory is cruel to the publicist and rewrote his script to steal lines from others-he’s totally going to be murdered.

So both the Queens are extremely disappointed in the experience. Inspector Queen expected glitz and glamour-but the studio is a really low budget one and doesn’t have the perks like the big studios. Ellery is upset that he didn’t get an updated script, all the changes are a surprise and an unwelcome one.

The publicist tries to console him and tells him he never gets the script changes either. How a guy can promote something without fully knowing what he is promoting is beyond me.

A lady interrupts them when she comes driving up to see Mallory-I’m assuming she’s the diva’s wife. She is and she is on set to keep her eyes on her husband, her husband who is involved with one of the actresses, Pamela, on set. Man, Mallory is digging his grave-someone is going to kill him, but who?

So the prop man unlocks the locker and grabs the prop gun, but leaves it open. Hmm…interesting,

Oh, I bet that this will be like that Psych episode Lights, Camera…Homicido where the man was murdered when the prop was switched out with a real knife. Mallory will probably be shot by the prop gun and really be shot as the gun will no longer be filled with blank but real bullets.

Pamela (the actress Mallory is sleeping with) shoots Mallory and closes her eyes when she does it. I don’t think she did that the first time. Almost as if…hmmm.

Hmm…is it her?

So she shoots him and all are happy with how Mallory died, as it finally looks real…but when he doesn’t get up, it turns out that he was…murdered. Shot by real bullets.

Ellery and Inspector are investigating which makes the local cops angry as they can’t stand these guys “butting in”. The Queens try to tell him about Mrs. Mallory-her threat of a final good-bye and that she didn’t leave when she said she did as her purse is still on set. There’s no way she would have left without it.

Hmm…

The head of the investigation, Captain Blake comes and it turns out that he and Inspector Queen are good friends who go way back. He makes the Lt. who was complaining earlier have them be a part. Haha!

They find Mrs. Mallory and she proclaims her innocence. She cries and says she loved her husband and would never kill him, and even if she wanted to she wouldn’t have had access to the prop box. She insists she only came back to talk to him as she no longer was upset. Hmmm…Her husband’s company had half the money in it-she probably could get access to the props. And did she really came back to talk to him? Or kill him?

Hmm…

Inspector Queen leaves to find the home of Dorothy Lamour and Ellery finds a note on his script telling him to talk to Al in special effects. He heads over there and it turns out Al has disappeared.

Ellery shows one of the other SFX guys his note and they find Al, who happens to be a fan and wants Ellery’s help. He insists that he put in six blanks this morning and never touched the gun again to reload it. He thinks someone got to the gun and put the real bullets in. He came in to work that morning and was loading the gun and received a phone call. With the phone being on the other end of the lot he ran over there, and it turned out that there was no one on the line. That’s the only time someone could have planted them.

His reason for hiding and not sharing this with the police? His sister was script girl on one of Mallory’s other pictures and he was afraid it would give him a motive, as Mallory dropped her and as she is “just a kid” it broke her heart. Ellery urges him to talk to the cops and they will treat him right.

In the next scene Al is in handcuffs. Yes, it turns out he had threatened Mallory, a fact he forgot to share with Ellery.

Lt. Smary Jerk Attitude gleefully tells Ellery what they discovered. He really hates Ellery.

The next commercials are pretty boring although one is for the Chicago Fire Festival. What is that?

Anyways, back to the show. The Queens are invited to a scrumptious brunch by Director Raynor. Inspector is mad as he wants to do some touristy things, but hey scrumptious brunch with Vincent Price, I mean Raynor, will have almost all your suspects and the gossip.

The big question in the air is whether or not the picture will go forward. And no one is quite sure. The Publicist for the film wants to get the stuntman Mike to be moved up to the lead, but Raynor isn’t interested in an “unknown”. This seems weird to be as you think the publicist would know better than to suggest that-their relationship seems weird.

The actor playing Inspector Queen in the movie goes to Raynor and tries to get him to reverse some of the changes Mallory made, but Raynor isn’t interested in dealing with it at the moment.

Hmmm…

Pamela isn’t too sad about the possibility of canceling the film as she will be able to get the part she really wanted in another film, a part that came her way after she signed the contracts for this film. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mallory is angry and starts pointing the finger at Raynor- telling Inspector Queen that her husband planned to fire him, but was killed first

Pamela also encourages them to look over Raynor’s gun collection as he’s a hunter and has a ton of guns that range from all types and decades. Ellery is super interested, but his father is done and ready to leave.

With that attitude I’m not surprised Ellery is the famous crimesolver in the family.

The actor playing the Inspector runs after the two and tells them something he just remembered. Originally Mallory had been wearing a real bulletproof vest but it was changed by Al, the prop man. If he had still had it on at the time then he would be alive today.

They go through the prop memos and find that Raynor was the one who asked for a bulletproof vest and that he wanted a simulated one instead. Raynor explains that Mallory hated the vest as he thought it made him look fat. Raynor tried to change his mind, but no dice, and he instead gave in. To some that may seem like a lame excuse, but the way this diva was, I believe it. The change was discussed off set with only Pamela being the one to hear if it.

Hmm…

Ellery is trying to figure it out who the killer is and starts reading over the scripts (the original and changed one)

The guy who plays Inspector Queen is always popping up and pointing fingers. I’m starting to wonder if it is going to be him as he always just “happens” to be there. He reveals that the end shooting scene changed from the original because the director requested it. It would save $200 to have Mallory be on the phone and shot by Pamela than to crash through a window by a stuntman.

But Ellery has discovered something very interesting, in the original writing, if real bullets were placed in the gun it would be harder to kill him on target, but in the new script-with the proximity, no way they could miss killing Mallory.

They ask Raynor about it who changed it and he answers he thought the clear shooting looked better and was cheaper, a win win. They are interrupted when Sonny Miller arrives on set to replace Mallory and everyone seems overjoyed to have him.

They begin shootong the car chase scene and switch Miller out for the stuntman Mike. I can’t help but feel something bad will happen.

Everything is going great until the car won’t stop and Mike goes crashing down the hillside.

We are back from commercials (a really weird Raisin Bran one) and it turns out the brakeline was cut-Mike is dead. So was the killer after Mallory, Sonny Miller, Mike the stuntman, or trying to stop the picture?

Hmm…

So the last one seems the most likely and the Queens start looking at Pamela since she is the only one who wanted to get out of the picture. She insists she has no reason for sabotage as RKO is waiting to do the picture until she is finished here. The Inspector insists that it isn’t a real alibi as she could have done the cutting of the brake line before she got word from RKO. Pamela insists there is no way as she doesn’t know anything about cars.

Ellery points out to his aggravated father that both murders were filmed, so they actually have an advantage as the review them for clues.

Ellery watches them and sees something? What? We can’t find out until he has rounded up the suspects.

Lt. Smarmy Jerk (I can’t remember his name and don’t really care to look it up) thinks Pamela did it as her face is cold blooded in the film of her shooting. Raynor defends her as being an actress and the Lt. says she’s not that good. LOL, I was thinking the same thing. Since he thinks she did it we all know that which means she didn’t.

Scene 231 is the clue. Ellery lists off the suspects:

  • Pamela, the actress who wanted out of the picture
  • The man playing Inspector Queen who’s lines were stolen by Mallory, maybe with Mallory (and Miller) gone the movie could be about him.
  • Mrs. Mallory, her husband was cheating on her and she never liked this picture-wants to pull the plug
  • Director Michael Raynor, he hated Mallory and wanted a different actor but Mallory had too much money involved-why he would try and stall the picture is uncertain, maybe it is a smokescreen to get them to look elsewhere
  • The Publicist, Mallory was cruel to him and he promoted Mike the stuntman (which is a odd relationship) also trying to kill Mike as a smokescreen?
  • Al the SFX guy-he hated Mallory but doesn’t have a reason for Mike.

Ellery gathers everyone up and here we go…

Elleey acts out the original scene from his script, Ellery going to the window and through it. A stunt is involved in the original scene so there would have been a stunt double-the stuntman would have been shot at. Mike was always supposed to be shot, the killer was always after the stuntman.

I KNOW WHO IT IS! You guys remember back at brunch the stuntman kept trying to get the publicist to get him get the part. Their interaction was weird as a good stuntman can have some power, but nothing like what Mike seemed to hold over the publicist. He must have something on him to make him do that. Earlier when Ellery complained about not being made aware of the changes to his story, the publicist complained that he isn’t told anything either. That means that he didn’t know about the scene being changed from the window and set up a murder using the original story.

Another mystery solved!

The last film the publicist worked on the actress had a nervous breakdown and was doing drugs to get through. Her drug dealer was jailed but the publicist needed to keep her going. She died from an overdose and Mike knew he supplied her with the pills and threatened him with the police if he didn’t do what he wanted.

Ellery and his dad exit set to do some conventional Hollywood plans.

That was interesting and enjoyable. Although it did make me think of Diagnosis Murder  (although I think that father and son pair had a better relationship.) I might check out some of the other episodes in the future.

For more Vincent Price, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

For more detectives, go to What are you? I’m Batman: Batman (1989)

For more mysteries, go to Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

For more that feature crime writers, go to The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)

For more TV episodes reviews, go to Who Kidnapped the Girls’ Soccer Stars?: North Mammon, Criminal Minds (2006)

Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

Hey everybody, for this year we are doing something special: Sleuthing Sundays. Each Sunday I’ll post a film with a super sleuth! To start us off we have:

****Contains Spoilers****

So I watched this during the COVID-19 #shelterinplace with my friend for her birthday. As we couldn’t be together, we decided to each watch at the same time and then text each other our thoughts. It is hard enough trying to make plans and now we have more time, but can’t get together.

Ugh! It’s so unfair

Now I’m not a big Miss Fisher fan. I have watched the show but I don’t really like the content. The mysteries are okay-usually there isn’t a whole lot of detecting and the answer just comes at the end. I’m not a fan of the book series either as I read a couple before I watched the series and just couldn’t get into it.

What I do like about the series is the characters-that’s the only reason I kept watching them: Mr. Butler Dorothy “Dot” Williams, Constable Hugh Collins, Detective Inspector John “Jack” Robinson, Cec, Burt, etc.- and I like how they interact with each other and Miss Fisher.

So quick recap for those of you who haven’t watched the show. Miss Fisher (Essie Davis) grew up poor but after WWI inherited a distant relatives fortune and now has boundless dollars. She does whatever she wants in 1920s Australia, often being asked to look into mysteries or crimes that have happened. She has a best friend/companion/lady’s maid in Dot, fosters a young girl Jane, hires two taxi drivers to assist in her investigations (Cec and Burt), and is constantly helping out/being a thorn in the side of Detective Inspector John “Jack” Robinson and his Constable Hugh.

This film takes place after the final season, when we last saw the crew Phryne saved her father, Dot and Hugh married, and Phryne asks Jack to pursue her twice. So now that the recap is over-let’s move onto the mystery.

Mystery, you say?

So we start off the film with the opening lines of “agitators” and I totally thought it said alligators. My friend did too, not a good font choice.

So we start off with a figure-Miss Fisher-running through the streets of a Middle Eastern city. Oh no, her hijab caught on a stick, I hate when that happens, you know your clothes get caught on things.

The hijab is pulled off and we get to look at Miss Fisher’s dress- it sure is something, look at all those sequins. Miss Fisher always has fantastic clothes.

So while Miss Fisher is running through the streets, all I can wonder is, where is Dot?

Hmm…

Or why is Miss Fisher there?

Hmm…

And where is Detective Jack (Nathan Page)?

Where is everyone?

So Miss Fisher is searching for someone/something. Ew, she was scaling the wall and then put her gloved hand in hr mouth-gross. That wall is probably super dirty as I’m sure it has never been cleaned. 

So she is looking for a Shirin. Why is she looking for Shirin? How does she know her?

What the heck?

Police follow Miss Fisher in a car while she and Shirin are on a motorbike. Good thing cars didn’t go fast back then or else they would be easily caught. They ditch the bike and get on top of a train with Miss Fisher in her heels being able to manage that.

I hate when movies and book do that. The train is going through a tunnel and she isn’t going to make it! Fade to black. We then switch to Australia

Oh, no! Is that Dot crying? Aw, she’s pregnant, she and Hugo are having a baby!

How sweet!

This timeline feels off, but that happens when they make movies. So it turns out that Miss Fisher is presumed dead again, and they are holding a funeral in London. Hugh and Dot can’t go because she is so far along, but Jack journeys to it.

The funeral starts, and Aunt Prudence doesn’t sit on a regular chair but has to have an armchair. She has to have the best of the best.

So the funeral is interrupted by a plane overhead, and it is so obvious that it is Miss Fisher. So now that we know she is crashing her funeral, who are all these other people?

I mean for real!

I mean right away I know that one guy is Rupert Penry-Jones, you know Captain Wentworth, but who is he in the film?

I looked him up and his character is Jonathan Lofthouse, but who is he to Phryne, they never say in the film-although the flirt a lot so we know he isn’t a close relation.

Hmm…

Oh no, poor Jack. He won’t be happy, I’m surprised he hasn’t had a heart attack with how many times Phryne has “died”. Oh..his face might get stuck in that expression.

Phryne: Why are you so angry?

Really? Really? And you just kissing everyone like it’s no big deal. Ohmygosh! I wanted to slap some sense into her. Don’t you know how that would make Jack feel? And then she is all tell me what you wrote in your eulogy and he’s all it says I’m done with you. And she is offended? Really?

You know why he is angry and you are being so caviler with his feelings. He believed you dead! Phryne ca be fun, but in this she is kind of a jerk-especially the way she flirts in front of him with all these other guys in front of him. Like this guy wanted to marry you, he LOVES you and you don’t care one iota for his feelings.

And who are these people? Especially the guy she keeps kissing-Jonathan? Like why does she know them why are they at the funeral?

Hmm…what’s going on?

Jonathan and his older brother are fencing while taking about the war and those two have serious issues. They also are talking a bit about what happened in WWI, but there is a whole angry subtext going on underneath.

So the Sheikh is Shirin’s uncle and he and Eleanor, the wife of Jonathan’s brother seem too close.

Hmmm…

So Sheikh Kahlil Abbas, Jonathan, and his brother-I guess I should look his name up…let’s see Lord “Lofty” Lofthouse. Seriously? Who came up with that name? Anyways…They have some business plan that they are doing-something that needs to go through or else the Lofthouses will lose everything as Lofty sucks at keeping the finances together.

I’m pretty over it and are focusing on more important things. When is Jack coming back? If he has just a cameo I am going to be very disappointed.

We need more Jack!

Hmm…is this sheik a good or bad guy? They seem to be setting him up to have a secret of some kind but is it a red herring or foreshadowing?

Seriously

I really miss Mr. Butler the Butler. He was awesome. This butler is super creepy and weird. He slinks around and freaks me out.

Shirin Abbas gets a note from someone saying he is a friend of Shirin and has information regarding the death of her family. When she was little her whole tribe was killed in a sandstorm. She remembers someone slaughtering everyone and sparing her-but the English government has gone with the sandstorm story and jailed her for stirring things up (that’s why Phryne had to save her). Phryne doesn’t want her to go, but decides to take her place.

Phryne goes to see Jack to assist her who is staying at a pretty crappy hotel, I mean the door is pretty see-through. Jeez Phryne, you could have offered him a room at the mansion you are staying at Phryne.

I mean for real!

Jack is also made because Phryne got married! WHAT????

So she didn’t want to marry Jack as she “wasn’t ready” but then went and married some other guy?

This girl!

They go to the meeting place, a church, which is pretty deserted. If this was me I’d want my back to the wall as it is the perfect point to assassinate someone.

Phryne finds the friend who looks crazy and possibly drugged. He speaks of demons.

So with the WWI talk, the Sheikh, the English government controlling the country, and most likely the massacre of the tribe- here are my theories:

A) Maybe this guy was one of the English troops (best guess from all that was said earlier and how they mentioned the sheik is now indebted to the government) sent to kill the tribe but spared her a she was a toddler.

B) Maybe the sheikh isn’t really the sheikh but they murdered the tribe to hide the fact that they were placing someone else in who would allow them to takeover the country. The solider spared the girl because she was so young and she had never met her uncle before so she wouldn’t be able to tell if he is or isn’t the real sheikh.

He gets shot, TOLD YOU! Perfect place for an assassination, but passes on an emerald amulet . They call the police who are incredibly rude to Jack, and he holds their passport and Jack is upset that he can’t return to Australia. Phryne is mad at him, but geez-Jack has a real job and is not rich like you. Remember he took off time for your funeral.

I mean for real!

Like you grew up poor, you think you would remember parts of what it was like.

They go to meet Phryne’s friend who is involved with art and antiquities, she had run into him on her earlier escapades, and he goes upstairs to look for something He takes a really long time and they hear a noise. Phryne follows as she is all Danger? Where? Let me at it! She doesn’t even want Jack to go with her.

Such a man!

So that guy is safe, but another one comes in and then a fire, wow it went 0-6 real fast.

Phryne runs after the thief but doesn’t shoot at him and he disappears in the fog. Well you should’ve hit him in the leg or something.

Jack saves the amulet and Phryne and him get really close when the firefighters come. They are like oh yeah, there is a fire.

They show the necklace to Shirin who remembers it. She has a flashback to her mom holding it. I think it might be a key as the way it is shaped, it could fit into something. My friend also pointed out it is a triangle-just like her tattoo.

Supposedly, there is a tomb and they were supposed to protect it I’m guessing. Th necklace MUST be a key. They also find a compass. Hmm, maybe it is supposed to be like in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark and they need it to find the crypt of tears.

Hmm…treasure?

The Lofthouses and the Sheikh were involved in what looks like a shady business deal. Hmm…thought so.

Phryne wears a sweater with a big “PF” on it. Wow, I have no words.

Wow…

So the Sheikh wants Shirin to forget all about the past and focus on London and the ball they are throwing her. I can’t hep but think that it is a huge deal to accept her so she should be happier, but when she leaves the Sheik, he seems to be thinking about it. Is he planning something bad or helpful?

Hmmm…

Shirin tells Phryne about the past and says it was three men who destroyed the village-I would have thought they would need more to destroy a whole village.

I think the Sheikh is somehow involved and that the men forced the mother to open to the tomb.

Hmm…

That night at the party Jack looks good in his fancy duds.

That evening the Sheikh fights with the Lofthouses, not wanting to agree to the deal anymore. Maybe he isn’t involved. Hmm….

Hmm…

Everyone is shouting secrets at this party, like shouting. The extra in a yellow dress and gold jacket was like oops, heard all of that. Mr. Lofthouse and the Sheikh are causing a scene as well.

All I can think is, why did Phryne marry that other guy. They better tell us, and soon.

This is like the worst party ever, at least no one died…but just wait…Oh no a gunshot! There it is.

The cop on the scene is pretty sharp putting things together. When it comes to alibis Jonathan tries to protect his brother (or him), by saying they were together, but the butler says no he and Jonathan were together. Wow really threw the older brother under the bus. Hmm…we know that Jonathon wasn’t with his brother, so why would he lie?

Hmm…

Maybe the butler doesn’t like the Lord of the manner, but then again who does?

So the Sheikh is the one who is dead and Phryne sets off to investigate his room. She looks in a vase and finds a ginourmous emerald. Why would you have an emerald that big and hide it out in a tomb in the desert. Why wouldn’t you take that to your palace?

I mean for real!

So Alexander the Great curses the emerald that whoever takes it death will follow. How come he had those powers? Where did they come from? I wish I had powers like that. I’d be cursing all kinds of objects.

Phryne decides to leave for the Middle East and the tomb and Jack wants to go with her but sorry only two fit in the plane and she’s taking Shirin. Ouch.

Jonathan going to come too and fly Jack, but how can they do that when Scotland Yard had their passports?

So they end up in the Middle East and the guide they hire is really shady. He has a big rifle and is all that’s for hunting. What do you hunt in the middle of a sandy desert?

Hmm…

Obviously he is lying, but why? Who put him up to it? Who is behind this all. The Sheik died so that leaves us with Lofty, Jonathan, Lady Eleanor, and the butler. There is no others they introduced unless Shirin is secretly a child mass murderer. They wouldn’t…would they? Nah!

Hmm…

I think Jonathan might be the one in on it, why else would he leave his brother behind if he wants to “help” him so bad. That seems weird.

Hmmm…

Phryne of course looks glamourous in the hot desert and is all made up. She seduces the guide so they can overpower him and get the truth. Someone paid him to delay him. Who? Who? The guide doesn’t know.

Such a man!

She and Jack fight and he brings up her husband, at least we will get the truth about her husband, the Maharajah…but no Jack storms off and Phryne follows him falling into quicksand? Okay…whatever.

It turns out that the Maharajah is gay and there were rumors and he was going to be killed so to stop them Phryne married him but doesn’t live with him. Like how does that make sense at all? He could’ve married anyone and how does the wife not living with him keep people from thinking he was gay?

I mean he’s royal! He could command anyone to marry him. And most royal marriages married for an alliance and to produce heirs or for wealth, not love. It makes more sense for him to marry a royal woman to have a child and then continue with his life and what he is doing. This is the stupidest thing ever. What royal parents or people would want their maharajah to marry some Australian woman who doesn’t even live in the country. This is incredibly dumb and just a plot device to keep Phryne and Jack apart.

So the tattoo does help lead the way and they find the tomb. So Jonathan is being really strange, and I am hardcore believing it is Jonathan right now.

They get i the tomb and find Alexander’s desert bride, the first time we heard that one.

What??

Watch out she might come alive like in The Mummy.

They find a knife with initials on it and I know it will be JL, for Jonathan Lofthouse as he is weird.

So he wanted to return the emerald as his troop came and slaughtered the tribe for it. He felt guilty and after the Sheikh died hid it in the room as he knew Phryne would find it and return it. Okay I feel like you could have handled this a lot better in a completely different way. It seems really convoluted.

Or plot!

But he says he did’t kill the sheikh? If Jonathan didn’t do it, then who did?

Hmm…

It turns out the butler is there in the tomb and he did it. Yes the butler did it.

Yes the butler did, but why? It doesn’t make sense? And how could he afford to get there or know where to even find this secret tomb. This whole thing makes no sense.

This doesn’t make sense!

But Phryne knows, it is because he is secretly Jonathan’s father?

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What?

HUH???!!!

How did she know? Where were the clues? I mean he liked Jonathan better than his older brother, but just because Mr. Carson liked Mary better than the other girls I never suspected that he was secretly her father.

How did the butler not only get the money and knowledge to travel to the middle of nowhere, but how did he beat them?

What??

The butler is going to kill them, but Jonathan saves them as the tomb collapses-all make it out but those two. Phyrne and Jack are now alone in the desert, what happened to Shirin? And they end up sleeping together which I don’t like as Phryne was a GIANT jerk to him in this and Jack was so moral and wanted to marry Phryne not just be another guy she sleeps with.

As they are traveling a man comes from nowhere with a message that Phryne’s husband is dead and they need her to solve the crime. How, what, why?

So this film didn’t work for me. First of all Miss Fisher works because of the contrast between her and all the other characters-so removing her from them didn’t work at all.

Second, Detective Jack Robinson didn’t really work in this scenario either. In Australia, he is in a position of power, he can get information, he has a role-going to England and the Middle East doesn’t work for him. He has no power, he can’t do anything, he has no role to play but follow Phryne around.

And third, Phyrne is completely callous and rude in this. Like she does her own thing, and is light and airy-but she never is cruel like this.

Fourth-this story sucks. Like what were they thinking-this plot is everywhere. They should have thought smaller, kept it in Australia, and created better mystery. Like where were the clues? Everything just felt so out of left field. And what was up with this mythology of Alexander the Great?

For more female private detectives, go to Those Men Are Not Going to Stand for Nancy Drew Poking Her Little Nose Into Their Affairs: Nancy Drew, Detective (1938)

For more detectives, go to What are you? I’m Batman: Batman (1989)

For more mysteries, go to The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a while back Cederberg Tea Company was doing a giveaway-you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I commented I wanted Chai tea (as my entry) and won this package of Classic Red, Green Rooibos, Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, Rooibos + Chai, and Rooibos + Ginger.

Now I didn’t pay close attention when I entered the giveaway and didn’t realize it contained Rooibos in it. I avoid Rooibos after I had the one by Tea Forté, and it did not agree with me. I resolved to not drink any again, until I saw that this was Rooibos.

That’s not good.

Well I won it and needed to review it, so I decided to stop wasting time and start drinking some tea.

I drank some…and loved it!

The other one I had must have had something wrong with it or something, because these were fantastic. I expected to like the Chai, but was just blown away by the Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla. I drank it and drank it, until I realized I only had one teabag left.

I mean you know how I feel about Earl Grey Tea:

But I was just drinking Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, at least until it was all gone.

The others were good too, but that one was the best!

Delicious!!!! I know I will definitely be ordering from them in the future.

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

And eat scones!

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I try out new teas. 🙂 As this is Chai teas and Rooibos, I tried to do my best to connect it with books that are set in Africa or India.

Tea #1: Classic Red

This Classic Red was a wonderful tea. It had everything you wanted in it and I enjoyed it so much I finished it before I realized it-picking up the cup to drink some more and finding it empty.

You can tell at first sip why it is a “classic”.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of my favorite books and an amazing classic. It is the story of mysterious, wealthy Phileas Fogg being bet to travel around the world in 80 days. It was to be an interesting challenge-made more so when he is mistaken to be a bank robber and followed by a detective; along with having some people try to sabotage him from winning. It has action, adventure, romance-everything you could want and more! It is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if Phileas is going to make it or not!

One of my favorite parts is when they go to India and the group rescue Aouda, an Indian princess, from her dead husband’s evil relatives trying to sacrifice her so they can inherit everything. This is a great scene because in it we see Phileas change from his “mechanical” way of being (everything planned and thought out) as he steps out to help, becoming a “classic” hero. I love him and Aouda together-you know me and biracial relationships. A great book and great tea.

For more on Around the World in 80 Days, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Tea #2: Green Rooibos

This tea was exactly how I expected green tea to taste, no surprises-but I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to have something and know you are going to get exactly what you want to get.

This tea made me think of Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile isn’t my favorite Agatha Christie novel as to me there wasn’t any big surprises or truly innovative or amazing characters (except Cornelia Ruth Robson). But like this tea, sometimes you want the predictable, to get exactly as you expect.

The story is of Linnet, a wealthy woman, who marries her best friend’s boyfriend, Simon Doyle. For their honeymoon they go on a trip through the Nile, and of course run into Hercule Poirot (he never gets a vacation). He sees the former best friend, Jacqueline, threaten them and they ask Poirot for help. He declines, but warns Jacqueline to stop or else she will open herself to evil. She refuses and follows the Doyles on their boat trip on the Nile, joined by 11 other interesting characters. Linnet is found dead (of course), and everything points to the two characters who could not have done it. Who could the murderer be? Poirot is on the case.

For more on Agatha Christie, go to Shame Book Tag

Tea #3: Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla

So I thought I would like this tea, as who doesn’t love vanilla? But OMGoodness I was not prepared for how amazing this tea was. It was so delicious I just drank it and drank it and before I knew it, I had drank it all up. It was sweet, wonderful, and smelled so good.

What I felt for the tea, I felt the same way about this book. When I saw the art deco style cover, I thought I would enjoy this mystery, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. The story is of Perveen Mistry, female Indian lawyer, in the 1920s. She is sent out to a small princely state to speak to the Dowager Maharani (grandmother) and Maharani (mother) about the young Maharaja’s schooling. She is the only one who can as the ladies are observing purdah (and cannot speak to any men not related to them). Preveen travels out there and finds things are not well in the palace. The Dowager Maharani and the Maharani are both fighting for control, the circumstances of the older brother’s death are very suspicious, and Perveen believes the young prince might be next-especially after a monkey eats her bread and dies. Will Perveen be able to figure out who is responsible in time to save the prince, or will she be next?

Not only is this an intriguing mystery, but Perveen has an interesting and heartbreaking backstory. It was fantastic and so easy to have your attention captured-and keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

Tea #4: Rooibos + Chai

This was absolutely delicious and just what I wanted in my chai tea-spicy but not too much, sweet but the right amount-i.e everything I wanted. It was so good that after I finished the bourbon one, the chai was gone just like that “snap”.

Like the tea, The Sign of the Four has everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You have a beautiful woman in need (Watson notes she is very attractive [he’s in love with her]), a disappeared father, jewels, a mysterious note, a secret treasure, a peculiar mansion, a villain with a wooden leg, a puzzling death, a bloodhound, and the sign of the four.

It is an amazing mystery, Holmes and Doyle at their finest, and like I said gives you everything your could want. It also is what I believe The Great Mouse Detective was based on, so if you love that movie-you’ll love this book.

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tea #5: Rooibos + Ginger

So I didn’t think I would like this tea as ginger tea is often too strong, but this was not overpowering but the right amount. It was enjoyable but still had a bit of a kick to it. It’s not something that I would drink all the time, but is perfect for every now and then or if I have a stomachache.

I felt this book was perfect to pair with it as it is a good story but the sam time has a “kick” to it that gets you thinking…I will actually discuss the book fully below.

So it has been over three months since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

 

I am 13 books behind…

I know, I know-stop looking at me like that. I just will have to try harder to catch up.

Hmmm…

Anyways…so quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club a few years ago, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time our member chose:

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken

So as I read this book 13 months ago, I was hoping to reread it as it had been a while and I wanted to make sure I got the timeline right. So I went to the book from the library…but it turns out the person who checked it out never returned it. Called (I work in the library) and sent notices but the book has not been returned.

Seriously??????!!!!!!!!!!!

I HATE when people do that!!!!!!

I then thought I would ask the other book club member, (one member had borrowed my library book) but she lent it to a friend who never gave it back.

So I’m doing this all based on what I remember from reading this 13 months ago, hopefully this go well. Right now I apologize for anything I write that is wrong.

So the first thing that struck me about this book, was the title. “Insanity of God”? What does that mean? Why did he choose that title?

The story starts off with Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) sharing how he came to know Christ. He was a kid that loved baseball, but God took a hold of his life and set him out on a new path.

He ends up going to a Christian college and meets and marries a pastor’s daughter. After both graduate, they both feel the strong call of the mission field and when they ask to be sent out, they are asked for their qualifications. For Nik, he quotes the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That part made me laugh so hard.

As Nik hadn’t been raised in church he didn’t know what exactly was being asked. They want to know his education, spiritual journey, youth mission trips, background, etc-but Nik is confident in that the Great Commission tells you to go all throughout the world and he wants to answer the call.

If he was on his own he would have been denied, but his wife knows the lingo and what is being said so they are able to be sent out. They both have a heart for Africa and get sent to Somalia in 1992.

Nik and his wife aren’t able to have a “church” but are sent with an aid group, of which they try and preach to people but find it extremely difficult. Christianity is illegal and having a church is illegal, and anyone who becomes a Christian is often taken away and never seen again. Nik and his wife really struggle with questioning what they are they doing there, is it right being here? Are they helping people?

Things get more unsettled in the country, and the Somali Civil War breaks out. His charity group requests the UN to come take action, and when they do send help, he is one of the people that helps map out the unknown areas of Somalia. I remember him describing the villages and the horror-but one really sticks in my mind. There was a village that was full of kids and had no parents and one of parents with no children, so they went and took the kids to the adults.

Also it was really hard to get the people in need the supplies as the leaders and soldiers would steal them and sell them or use them, and the people would continue to go hungry and without. War is sad and hard.

Ripken’s father didn’t care for him becoming a minister, but when Black Hawk Down came out, he was suddenly proud of his son telling all his friends that Ripken made that happen-the military going in.

The first part of the book was on his mission trip and they later were moved out of Somalia into South Africa, but were moved again. A big milestone in their life and faith was when their son grew ill and because the conditions of their home they lived in aggravated it, their son died. After this, they became heartbroken and returned to the states.

They return to the United States and teach at a bible college to young adults going out into the missions but feel really mixed up. Did they help anyone? Going through trials and tribulations every day was hard and wore them out-how do they keep people going? How do they bloom, survive, and keep going when everything is bleak, when it would be easier to give up and go home?

Ripken then goes on a quest to get this information, to speak to people who have had to go to trials and survived still praising God.

There were two incidents in the quest that really struck me, and I can’t remember their names exactly-but I remember pieces.

The first one took place in Russia. This man was jailed during the communist reign, when Christianity was outlawed and the only religion allowed was the worship of the state. He was thrown in jail-often in isolation, but the thing that kept him going was writing down the word of God. He wrote verse after verse that he remembers, helping to lock it in his brain. The beatings, isolation, lack of food, cold, etc-it was all bearable when he could get a scrap and write something down. That is what got him through.

Ripken later goes to China and their he mets several secret churches, as the church is illegal there. These Christians actually delight in getting thrown in jail or having tribulations, as they feel that is a real marker of being a Christian and consider that is when they go to “school” and recieve their “theological education”. Before anyone can be a pastor they have to have been thrown in prison.

When Ripken leaves he asks what they need and all they want is bibles, a bible. He gives them his and they take the pieces apart and hand them off to different people so they have a book to memorize, and it reminded of how they memorized books in Fahrenheit 451.

It also makes me think of how lucky we are in the United States, how many bibles are available in my home, in my parent’s home, for free, online, in a phone app, etc-and here are people begging for a page.

Wow!

The rest of the book has different stories-and I enjoyed it. It defintely made you realize how lucky you are to be in the United States and how grateful we should be for everything we have, even in the midst of COVID-19.

At the end of the book, I concluded that the insanity was not in reference to God, him being insane, but how we feel as humans. We can only comprehend so much of what God’s plan is with our tiny human brain-it seems insane, but God has a plan for us-a bigger picture.

Hmmm…

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

For more Christian novels, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

For more nonfiction, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

A Goblin in My Mailbox

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow.

Mystery, you say?

So I had wanted to start the year off posting my review of the next Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery/ Jane Austen mystery, but didn’t get time to edit it.

My life motto right there…

I wasn’t sure what to do-when the problem was solved for me…with a mysterious package.

Ready for any case

I went to my mailbox and had a large envelope from a company I hadn’t heard of. I thought it was odd, but realized it might be a gift from a friend and they sent it from the company they purchased it from.

I opened the package and was freaked out!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck?????!!!!!!!!!

G is for goblin who lives in the mirror, when I am quiet it sneaks even nearer

I then screamed internally for like five minutes.

I then continued to open the package and relaxed. It is a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

I received a “notice” from a bank that they have been cleaning records and discovered a safe deposit box from a client that wants to remain anonymous. If they did not collect their items in a certain amount of time it was to be forwarded to me.

The items from 27 East Heath Road included:

  • 1 Set of Personal Notes
  • 1 Set of Letters
  • 1 Mourning Card
  • 1 Child’s Drawing and Poem
  • 1 Page from an Orphanage’s Records
  • 1 Notice of Foreclosure Upon a London House
  • 1 Photograph

The note also has a warning:

“When I was growing up in London, the property at 27 East Heath Road was known as ‘The House of Death’. No one was ever sure of exactly what happened there, but it was infamous as  dark and dangerous place.”

That house sounds like this one:

The story is set in 1873 where amazing architect Henry Griggs happily designs his dream house for him, his wife, and his family. But all did not go well…

Griggs starts building his dream home, but things are…strange. Unexplained things happen, items moved, a spooky feeling is over all the workers, his foreman leaves frightened, and even his wife is saying there is a evil spirit.

Laura Griggs passes away and Griggs starts to go off the deep end-his notes/memorandum gets crazier and harder to read.

Something is going wrong. The plans change from what Griggs wrote to someone else modifying them, but if not him-then who?

Hmm…

The house is almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

So he fires Coldfield, and sets up his daughter in an orphanage with a trust when she is of age. Coldfield is against this as he would like to take Lizzy if Griggs is unable, but alas he does not and Lizzy goes into the orphanage, (as shown on the list). Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

There are also some marks, like some kind of cipher. But I need more clues to figure it out.

I’m on the case!

Here is everything together.

For more wonderful mail, go to Northanger Soapworks Review

For more mysteries, go to The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)