Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a classic that sadly failed to impress me and a historical mystery that did hit the mark.

Title: Strangers On A Train
Author: Patricia Highsmith

Genre: Classics, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 15th 1950
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: August 14th 2021
Pages: 262

“Death was only one more adventure untried.”


Guess what? It’s unpopular opinion time again! Sigh. I’ve been meaning to read Strangers On A Train for quite some time now, as it’s been referred to in a lot of stories, TV series as well as movies. The plot was already spoiled thanks to this, but I was still curious to see how the original story would unfold. I had high hopes for Strangers On A Train, thinking it would be right up my alley as I love murder mysteries and I’ve always liked the sound of the plot. Things started out promising enough, with the two characters meeting and the things leading up to the first murder. True, even then I thought things were to elaborated and wordy, and I was getting tired fast of the endless descriptions and thoughts of both Bruno and Guy… But things really went downhill after the first murder. Bruno is basically an alcoholic psychopath and the author does portray this really well, but I got bored of his endless ravings and increasing ‘psychopathness’ fast. The same goes for Guy; I really couldn’t be bothered to read the endless details about what happened after the murder, his daily life and psychological decline as Bruno keeps insisting his part of the deal (that was never a deal in the first place as Guy never said yes). I confess that I started skimreading well before I reached the halfway mark, and I ended up being considerably underwhelmed by this classic. Definitely not one for me! Oh well, at least I can stop wondering about it now.

Title: Red Winter
Author: Dan Smith

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: July 18th 2013
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: August 23rd 2021
Pages: 432

“Perhaps we’ve just forgotten what we’re fighting for.”


I bought a copy of Red Winter on a whim a while ago, and I’m definitely glad I did as I turned out having an excellent time with this story. Red Winter is set in 1920 Russia, a complicated time in Russian history and a fascinating backdrop for this story. The story itself reads mostly like a thriller though… Following former soldier Kolya as he tries to discover what happened to his wife and children. I loved the little mentions of Russian folklore, and the plot itself was filled with both haunting, shocking moments and despair as well as a hopeful note every once in a while. It was fascinating to slowly learn more about Kolya and the people he meets along the way, and I could really appreciate how everything wrapped up in the end. The writing and descriptions themselves are quite lush and vivid, and they really gave life to the acute and daunting situation they are finding themselves in… Their surroundings complimenting what is happening seemlessly. All in all a great read, and I definitely want to try more of this author’s work now!

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