Killing November by Adriana Mather

Killing November by Adriana Mather is a murder mystery novel, surrounding a teenage girl named November and her suspected involvement of a classmates death. It’s based in a woodsy boarding school full of secrets. 

November is a clever and extroverted protagonist. She is brought to a remote boarding school after her father disappears and is informed that she is enrolled in a school for spies and assassins. The school environment however is cold and toxic. Where none of her classmates talk to her except for her roommate Layla and her brother Ash. 

Unlike most places, this school is based around “families” who control and influence the students. November, much like the reader, is clueless in the beginning but slowly begins to understand the dynamic. We learn that the main family are called “The Lions” and that they’ve killed others to gain control of everyone. We also learn that November is the daughter of two very powerful leaders and is wanted dead by the Lions. 

In order to accomplish this, someone frames her for the murder of a fellow classmate. Frantic and desperate to prove her innocence November, Ash, and Layala, investigate the school to find the true culprit.

This book was moderately twisty and a great introduction to murder mysteries. There’s not too much gore and it’s easily the least scary book I’ve read. It’s fantastic if you love dark hollowy castles, sparring matches, and knives. Lots and lots of knives. The book is also extremely plot driven and is fast paced. Personally I would recommend this book to ages 12+ and to anyone who enjoys “One of us is lying” by Karen M. McManus. 

-Ashley Y.

Killing November by Adriana Mather is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Authors We Love: Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle Biography - life, family, children, name, story, death,  history, wife, school, mother

His writing style can be boiled down to two characteristics: scientific and professional. The works are good at setting suspense, stimulating readers’ interest in reading, and paying attention to the overall layout. In terms of plot, there is a strong echo and strict reasoning. Rigorous causal reasoning and deductive methods are used to promote the plot of the novel and develop the story. He is famous for Sherlock Holmes. His short stories have a strong sense of painting, and their conflict settings are concentrated, with plot twists and turns, which make readers feel as if they are reading a movie story. However, in the later period of his creation, due to the gradual disappearance of enthusiasm for creation, Doyle’s depiction of Holmes became increasingly deified, showing a deliberately exaggerated plot with the so-called brand of the devil (see “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”, “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”).

It is no exaggeration to say that many of Doyle’s short stories, with minor modifications, are excellent movie bases. It is very rare for Doyle to have such artistic thinking long before the popularization of film art. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the most frequently made film novel in the world. For example, Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., Gene Wilder in 1975, Charlton Heston in 1991 and other films based on the detective’s records have also been produced. There have been seven TV series. His short story, El Anillo De Thoth, revolves around the theme of death and immortality in ancient Egyptian culture, presenting us with a fantasy world, which was one of the important creative sources of Hollywood mummification films.

“The Lost World” is also a cross-generational work. This novel can only be said to be enlightening for our modern adventures of ancient beasts and dinosaur types and films. Conan Doyle wrote 60 stories, 56 short stories and 4 novels about Sherlock Holmes. These stories were published in Strand magazine in droves over 40 years, as was customary at the time (Charles Dickens published his novels in a similar format). The story mainly takes place between 1878 and 1907, with the latest story set in 1914. Two of these stories are written in Holmes’s voice, two in the third person, and the rest are Watson’s accounts.

-Coreen C.

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

Towards Zero - WikipediaWhat do a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a young girl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player have in common? At first glance, apparently nothing. But dig a little deeper under the surface of Agatha Christie’s Towards Zero, and you’ll find that nothing is as it seems, especially at Gull’s Point.

Superintendent Battle may be in over his head when he takes up the murder case of elderly widow Lady Tressilian, who was killed in her own seaside home at Gull’s Point. While it appears to be an open-and-shut case against her primary beneficiary, the wealthy sportsman Nevile Strange, new evidence comes to light that gives Strange an airtight alibi, leaving Battle with the question: who in the house wants to see Nevile Strange dead?

There is no shortage of suspects, and one thing is clear – nearly everyone in the house has a dislike for Nevile Strange. In the midst of this drama lies the strange nature of Nevile Strange’s love life, who divorced his ex-wife Audrey to be with a new woman, Kay. However, Strange’s true feelings may not lie with the law, and no one ever knows what Mrs. Audrey Strange is thinking…

In this slow-moving chess game of a mystery novel, Towards Zero will change the way you read murder mysteries (and Agatha Christie) forever. This book is recommended to all fans of the Queen of Mystery, or if you’re just looking for a new action/mystery book to occupy yourself with.

-Mahak M. 

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Scat, written by Carl Hiaasen, is a humorous but insightful novel about family, forgiveness, and the power of love.

The plot focuses on Nick, a teenager desperately struggling to pass biology with his fearsome teacher, Bunny Starch. To make matters worse, his father just returned from Afghanistan with no left arm. When Miss Starch goes missing on ‘family business,’ he and his best friend Marta don’t buy it. No, they assume the class delinquent, Smoke, has something to do with it. And he does! Just not in the way that they think. There’s a whole lot more going on than anyone player in this twisted tale can see…

In this book, Hiaasen expertly crafts a twisting, turning, crooked plot that captivates you until the very end. The main characters excellently portray the simultaneous confusion and excitement of ignorance, and the book itself holds great relevance to our world today.

The theme and motifs paint both a fantastical and realistic portrait of forgiveness, our earth, and the innate humanity in each and every one of us. The seriousness of the lesson is tempered well by the simplistic, yet effective humor of the characters. Using suspense and mystery in strange ways, this book will draw you in and keep you laughing until its conclusion.

-Vaidehi B.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes Book 1) - Kindle edition by Doyle,  Arthur Conan, Penzler, Otto. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

“A Study in Scarlet” has a sophisticated narrative technique that is perfect. From the perspective of narrative layout, this novella is divided into two parts, with seven chapters in each part. The narrative sequence of the first part is as follows: Watson gets acquainted with Holmes — the reasoning method of Holmes — the murder happens — the police statement — the suspected murderer appears — the police statement — the murderer is caught. The second part is as follows: looking back to the past (that is, the motive of killing) — Watson supplement — Holmes explains the reasoning process. The whole narrative can be divided into three parts with the occurrence of the murder as the boundary. Before the crime, the first and second chapters are the chapters where the author sets up the characters to appear. Watson first learned about Holmes from a friend. His friend gave a very good summary of Holmes’s character in a few simple words, such as he was a strange man, a very decent man, his studies were messy, he was a little too hard on science, and so on. The role of this friend is to give Watson, and indeed the reader, an initial introduction to Holmes, and when the two meet and decide to share a room, the friend exits and disappears behind the scenes. The task of introducing Holmes to us fell to Watson. The author makes an ingenious shift of perspective, allowing Watson to amplify the magic of Holmes with several small events, such as knowledge table, argument with Holmes and reasoning on the identity of strangers.

In these two chapters, the narrator is not fixed. The narrative perspective constantly switches between Watson, his friend and Holmes, giving us a multi-dimensional understanding of the life situation and personality characteristics of Watson and Holmes. There are five chapters between the murder and the capture of the culprit. From the point of view of the complexity and brilliance of the narrative, this part of the content is undoubtedly the most worth tasting and analyzing. The author changed several narrators to make the plot more intense. When the postman brings a letter with information related to the murder, Holmes reads it and asks Watson to read it to him again. The letter is written by a policeman, Gregson, and read by Watson, who becomes the first narrator. Gregson, on the other hand, is the latent narrator. Then Holmes and Watson come to the scene of the crime. The two policemen again become the main narrators. By his own observations and the information provided by the police, Holmes got a preliminary understanding of the case. Then, the police officer who found the body described the discovery of the body as the main narrator, the police officer Gregson as the main narrator proudly announced his investigation process, Holmes as the main narrator confirmed to everyone that the dead died from taking poison, and caught the murderer. Basically, each chapter has a different narrator who tells the reader about the case from multiple perspectives.

When the police narrated the case as the narrator, Holmes supplemented the details that the police did not find as the second narrator. Such narration made the case complicated and confusing. All the people were in the fog, but Holmes had already reached the conclusion at this time. At this point, the murderer has been arrested, and is caught. This catches all the readers by surprise, for everyone, except Holmes, is in the dark. The criminal is suddenly caught, but the author does not explain to the reader how he killed, why he killed, and how Holmes learned who the criminal was. Normally, this would have been part of the first book, but Conan Doyle took a different tack, going back in time 30 years. The narrative space is transferred from London to the desert of North America. He tells us the motive of the murderer in the objective and calm third person with the content of five chapters. After going back through history, the author adds two more chapters. In the sixth chapter, after the first five chapters have laid the foundation for the motive of the murderer, Watson as the first narrator is actually the criminal Jefferson Hope as the second narrator to describe the criminal process in detail. At the end of chapter 7, when the criminal has died of illness, Holmes tells Watson his reasoning process. At this point, the whole novel really came to an end. Conan Doyle used dozens of narrators in “A Study in Scarlet”. The narrative perspective is constantly shifting from person to person (seemingly arbitrary, but actually carefully arranged by the author).

From the detective to the police, from the police to the criminal, and then to the author of the whole novel Watson. Conan Doyle weaves the whole story with the narrative structure of crime discovery, crime solving, crime story and reasoning process, which integrates love story, crime story, historical story and detective story, expands his creative horizon and greatly enriches the artistic charm of detective novel. From the irony and ridicule in the novel, we can also feel the skillful use of the narrative discourse, so that the listener can indirectly feel the thorns in the words through the derivation of the meaning. Such sarcasm actually attacks the face of the other party through narration, and it also plays an auxiliary role in the construction of the character image. It is in this way that the author gives us a description of a sharp, distinctive character of the detective image. Through the construction, metaphor and transformation of the narrative discourse, the author employs a lot of ink to render the characters of the three detectives, with the purpose of describing the incompetence and vulgarity of the official detective as a contrast to the wisdom and courage of the private detective. Moreover, the poor performance of these two detectives undoubtedly enhances the readability and entertainment of the novel, which enables the readers to enjoy the art of murder and achieve the artistic effect of relaxation after tension.