I’ve written about Dark Souls here before, but I’ve never adequately expressed how much I adore the game. Dark Souls isn’t my favourite game, but it’s one of the few I find endlessly fascinating. I watch a few of the community’s personalities dissect the lore, I read wikis, the subreddit and follow the parts of the game which are still being uncovered and still being reported despite the game’s approaching fifth (!) birthday. This is all to say that reading You Died: The Dark Souls Companion by Keza MacDonald and Jason Killingsworth has been a delight for me. The book ably combines personal stories of the authors’ experience with Dark Souls, interviews with community members prominent and unknown and serious discussion with people involved in the game’s development, such as its English translator. Given the range of material You Died covers, it’s an astonishingly successful book, among the finest tributes to one of the greatest games ever made.
I am an enormous murder mystery fan and I have a particular fondness for Agatha Christie. To date, I’ve read about ten of her books and across the whole selection I’ve found her a tireless innovator, always tinkering with the formula of the murder mystery. Novels like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd are famous for this, but even Murder on the Orient Express, likely her best known work, defies the usual routine of a murder followed by a systematic investigation, a dramatic confrontation and a satisfactory conclusion. In both of those novels, too, relatively archetypical characters are more vivacious and compelling than they have any right to be as mere mystery puzzle pieces. So I was excited to read Sparkling Cyanide, a novel I picked up for the price of a coffee.