Time for another round of Yvonne’s Shorties! This time around a novella and German crime thriller that were both mostly middle-of-the-road for me.

Title: A House Of Ruin
Author: Pamela Crane

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Novella
First published: February 22nd 2022
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: February 13th 2023
Pages: 126

“Was it so shocking that a person could kill a whole family in cold blood? After all, we are all capable of hate. Our blood runs black with it.”


I was looking for a novella to read for the Beat The Backlist Bingo challenge when I came across A House Of Ruin. This is actually a companion novella for A Slow Ruin (which I haven’t read), but I can now say that the novella can easily be read as a stand-alone as well. I love a good locked-room mystery, and the mention of a Clue-like vibe had me immediately intrigued. I do get this reference now, because it does seem a bit like Clue with the family murdered in the library and the almost stereotype suspects. While I did enjoy my time with this novella, I felt like the characters lacked fleshing out and the big twist just felt too much like a copy of Agatha Christie‘s The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd. If you haven’t read this particular story yet, you might be more surprised by the twist in this novella, but I personally saw it coming from a mile away… I did like the structure of the plot though, with the flashbacks and the interview style. The newspaper article in the beginning was strangely hilarious, and I did wonder if it was a bit too much. All in all there were things I appreciated and things that didn’t work as well for me, but as a whole A House Of Ruin was still a solid enough novella.

Title: Passenger 23
Author: Sebastian Fitzek

Translator: Jamie Bulloch
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Finished reading: February 25th 2023
Pages: 426
(Originally written in German: ‘Passagier 23’)

“Curiously enough, emotional torment was far more intense than physical pain.”


I’ve enjoyed Sebastian Fitzek‘s crime thrillers in the past, and I admit that the blurb of Passenger 23 caught my eye immediately. I loved the sound of the setting on a cruise ship and the mystery around the disappearances on those ships… And of course the promise of a serial killer always seals the deal for me. Just when I scheduled to read this backlist title, I was actually also approved for an ARC of the translation of his newest book… Destiny or perfect timing? Anyhow, I decided to read Passenger 23 first, because the blurb kept popping up in my mind. Somehow, I didn’t exactly have the reading experience I thought I was going to have though. I usually like his thrillers because they are both fast-paced and action-packed, but I think I like the premise more than the actual story in this case. It’s a bit like that Netflix series 1899 (also originally German by the way); what sounded initially intriguing soon went right over my head and had me mostly bored and distracted instead. The beginning of the story kind of hit me out of nowhere, and I struggled to see a connection initially. Things did improve as soon as main character Martin boarded the cruise ship, but there were just too many different characters and storylines going on at the same time, and the result was a bit of a mess for me. There were also quite a few twists that were way over the top, and I don’t think the final reveals were credible either. I can overlook a story lacking credibility if the entertainment factor is there (which is what usually happens with his books), but in this case the story somehow never managed to convince me completely.

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