Six Degrees of Separation: from A Christmas Carol to No Further Questions

I love doing Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month the chain begins with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

A Christmas Carol cover

I love A Christmas Carol and when I sat down to think about this Six Degrees post I thought I’d be linking up to more books with a Christmas theme, but it didn’t work out like that. Instead what came to mind after the first link to another Dickens’ book is a series of mystery/crime fiction books! These are all books I’ve read, so the links are to my review posts.

The MoonstoneDiamonds Are Forever

  • The Holly Tree Inn by Charles Dickens. This was originally published in 1855, being the Christmas number of Dickens’s periodical Household Words. It was so popular that it was then adapted for the stage. It’s a collection of short stories by Dickens, Wilkie Collins, William Howitt, Adelaide Anne Procter and Harriet Parr, around the theme of travellers and inns.
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – The ‘Moonstone’, a large diamond, originally stolen from a statue of an Indian God and said to be cursed is left to Rachel Verinder. She receives it on her 18th birthday and that night it is stolen from her bedroom.
  • Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming in which James Bond is assigned to infiltrate and close down a diamond smuggling operation, run by the Spangled Mob, operating from Africa to the UK and the USA. It’s run by a couple of American gangsters, the Spang brothers, and the mysterious character known as ‘ABC‘.

The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13)The House at Sea's End (Ruth Galloway, #3)No Further Questions

  • ABC leads me to The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie – one of her best books, I think, in which there’s another mysterious character known as ‘ABC’. Poirot and Captain Hastings investigate a series of murders. An ABC Railway Guide is left next to each of the bodies.
  • The House at Seas End by Elly Griffiths – The bones of six people are found in a gap in the cliff, a sort of ravine, where there had been a rock fall at Broughton Seas End. Seas End House, which stands perilously close to the cliff edge above the beach is owned by Jack Hastings. I really, really do wish these books weren’t written in the present tense!
  • No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister – also written in the present tense, but in this book it didn’t irritate me. I was totally gripped by it. It plunges straight into a trial as Martha sits in the courtroom listening to expert witnesses being questioned  and cross-examined about the death of her baby, Layla, just eight weeks old. I didn’t want to stop reading it and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it, about the characters and their relationships, about how they had got themselves into such a terrible situation. An excellent book, and it is without doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year.

From tales told in an inn, to diamond smugglers, murders connected to a mysterious character, characters called Hastings and books written in the present tense, this chain has once again surprised me at where it has ended up!

Next month (January 5, 2019) the chain begins with another of my favourite books – The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles.


29 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from A Christmas Carol to No Further Questions

  1. Oh, this is very clever, Margaret! And you’ve linked in some favourite authors of mine (Christie, Griffiths). This is a fun feature, isn’t it? I still haven’t done it myself, but I keep telling myself I ought to…

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  2. OMG, I love your chain! The ABC Murders was very good.
    Because I’m French, I have no problem with the use of the present tense. We actually do have a thing called “the historical present”, so we commonly use the present to refer to moments in past history.
    It was used also a lot in what we called “the new novel” movement [le nouveau roman]. I actually feel I can more easily become the main character with the use of the present tense. Interesting cultural difference!
    I wish I could be as clever to come up quickly with your type of chain, but it would take me for ever, with a lot of blabla, so I use the easy way out and play with the words in the titles. Here is my chain:
    Some say it’s clever, it’s actually the lazy solution!!

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    • Thank you, WordsAnd Peace! I think that I’m in the minority of most readers – other seem to have no problem with it. And with some books I don’t either – I just can’t work out why 🙂

      I found this chain came to me very quickly. I think the trick is not to think about it too much and just go with whatever book comes to my mind first – otherwise I’d keep swapping books and getting nowhere.


  3. Great chain, Margaret. I have read both The ABC Murders and Diamonds are forever and I never noticed that they both have characters called ABC. I also have a problem with books written in present tense, but only sometimes. Right now I am reading Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, written in present tense, but I am having no problems with it. Still working on my Six Degrees post, hope to get it done soon.

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    • thanks Tracy. I’m glad to find someone else who has problems with the use of the present tense, but only sometimes. I wish I could work out why I find it so irritating in some books and not in others.


  4. I took part in this for the first time this month and had to begin by admitting that I’ve never read A Christmas Carol. Not the best start! Have you read Elly Griffiths’ latest novel, The Stranger Diaries? I was sceptical because I haven’t enjoyed the series set in Brighton, but this is excellent. It isn’t clear whether it is going to be a one off. There is a police character that a series could be based around. Do give it a try. I think you would enjoy it.

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  5. At least your chain included at least one Xmas book—I read your review of The Holly Tree Inn and decided to order a copy for myself. I like to read holiday books in December, but didn’t have an extensive list for this year, but this sounds perfect for me.

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  6. Great links and I think several of these are indirectly Christmasy! The Moonstone, James Bond and Agatha Christie are all classics of their particular kind likely to turn up on Christmas TV in one form or another.

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  7. I enjoyed your list Margaret, though I haven’t read any of the books. The moonstone is on the virtual TBR, and I have SEEN the Bond, so that’s better than nothing.

    I was interested in your comment on present tense. This is a bugbear of Aussie author Dorothy Johnston. She’s comment on it a few times in reviews and commentaries, though I probably can’t point you to one particular one now!

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