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August 2018




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Apr. 27th, 2016


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Reviews Published

100 Book Reviews

Aug. 11th, 2018


Bargain books

I was writing just yesterday about George Bellairs and his Inspector Littlejohn detective stories. News today from Agora Books, who are reprinting the novels, that for the next week the e-books will be priced at £1.99. Time to grab a bargain if you like these books.

Aug. 10th, 2018


More crime fiction: Bellairs and Innes

The Crime Classics Review Club introduced me to George Bellairs and I like his books well enough to have ordered a couple from the library. Death Spins the Wheel is set on the Isle of Man, where yet again Inspector Littlejohn is conveniently taking a break. An elderly Frenchwoman, Madame Garnier, visits the Isle of Man to gamble at the new casino. Then she’s found on the beach, shot dead. At first it seems the murder must be something to do with her successful gambling method but the trail leads Knell and Littlejohn to France, to investigate events in Vichy France in 1944. This is hardly successful police procedure as various people eventually tell them what they want to know but the mystery of the disappearing Frenchman and the affairs of the Garnier family keep up the tension. I’m always interested in novels which lead back to the war and I enjoyed this one.

I was full of praise for Operation Pax but thought A Private View was less successful. A young artist is found murdered. Two valuable paintings are stolen from a stately home. Sir John Appleby and his wife Judith visit a private view of paintings by the late artist. Somehow, these events are connected and it’s quite a puzzle to see how everything fits. What put me off the book was that Sir John and his wife seem to take leave of their senses. On the very same evening, each does some private investigation which puts them in serious danger. I couldn’t believe that a sane, intelligent woman (especially one with a baby at home), would go poking around dark corners of London at night and alone. Of course, neither can contact the other so Judith doesn’t even have the comfort of hoping that her husband will rescue her. She does find out a lot of useful information which will help to fit together the pieces of the puzzle but Sir John’s activities are nothing but reckless derring-do. All the real police work is done by Appleby’s trusty deputy, Cadover, a very impressive chap. The best thing in the book is a long nighttime car chase through the English countryside, with Judith in a dream-like state. My favourite character was the down-to-earth Duke of Horton, owner of the missing paintings. I read this as a member of the Crime Classics Review Club.

Aug. 3rd, 2018


Cricket: time for The Young Ones?

As the sun blazes down here and I shelter indoors from the heat, I'm surprised that bad light has stopped play at Edgbaston, where England and India are playing their first Test Match of the summer.
What do we see? Another England batting collapse. The middle order batsmen think they're the bee's knees and that every ball is there to be hit to the boundary. Idiots! It happens over and over again, yet they never learn. Sam Curran, twenty years' old, a Test novice and selected for his bowling, was 30 not out when play stopped. That's *the highest score of any England batsman in this innings*.
Perhaps brainy Ed Smith, the new England selector, should take a leaf out of Gareth Southgate's book and put together a team of enthusiastic youngsters.

Edit: He made 63.

Jul. 25th, 2018


Crime Roundup

Last week, I caught up with three of the crime novels which the Crime Classics Club has sent me for review, plus one from Dean Street Press. Three were good and one outstanding.
read onCollapse )

Jul. 23rd, 2018


Looking ahead again: Just Before I Died, S K Tremayne

I resented every interruption to my reading of this book and felt shattered when I’d finished it.

Kath lives on Dartmoor with her handsome husband Adam, a ranger, and their much-loved and possibly autistic daughter, Lyla. Kath knows that she had an accident; drove her car into a reservoir and suffered concussion. As a result, she has blanks in her memory. When she desperately tries to remember what really happened, various people tell her that her memory is wrong and that she actually tried to kill herself. She refuses to believe it and starts to distrust everyone. Is her husband lying to her; is her brother Dan also lying? And does strange, fey Lyla know more than she lets on? Why are ancient witchcraft symbols appearing around her and what is Lyla so frightened of? This is an absolutely gripping story, with an ever-present sense of threat. Dartmoor, with its grim weather, ancient superstitions and strange beauty, is as much a character as any of the humans. I raced to the end, which was worse than I could have imagined. A real page turner.

I read this thanks to NetGalley and it’s out on 9th August. I’d previously read The Fire Child, which I also found gripping. I think Just Before I Died is even better.

Jul. 11th, 2018


Looking ahead: new book by Kate Morton

I’ve just finished The Clockmaker's Daughter, after galloping through it in about two days, and am marvelling at the complexity of the plotting. Layer upon layer of stories about people from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, all linked by a connection with a magical house, Birchwood Manor and a priceless jewel, the Radcliffe Stone. At the heart of the book is a heart-breaking tragedy which influences the lives of all the other characters. The reader is left guessing for a long while before that particular secret is revealed; I’m only sorry I did guess it. The many characters remain with you: all so different and all interesting and sympathetic. This is the perfect long read and I think it’s Kate Morton’s best yet.

If you like a long book with a lot in it and can tolerate the supernatural, this is for you. Don’t be put off if, like me, you’re tired of novels with ‘wife’ or ‘daughter’ in the title. It’s a pity it’s not out until September as it’s just right for long, hot days. I read it thanks to NetGalley.

Jul. 3rd, 2018


In the garden: pots

Where are the book reviews? The progress reports on the garden? Scuppered by heat and tiredness. In a garden laid waste by drought and rabbits, the only things I have control over are pots. Some are quite nice.

I did take more photos than this but they were rubbish.

Jun. 23rd, 2018


At the Market

At eight o’clock at the market it was already very warm. I’m not looking forward to hotter weather next week and a continued drought.

There was a chap there this morning with a table loaded with orange Penguins, green crime Penguins, white circle crime and other good things. They were a pound each so I only bought these few. He told me he has 5,000 to get rid of! I’m pretty annoyed with him because I didn’t notice until I got home that Anna and her Daughters is not complete. Grr.

These are for huskyteer if she wants them.

I never pass up the chance to buy a John and Mary book because you hardly ever see them. I have a complete set but the one I bought today is a 1st and the jacketed one I already have is a reprint. Purist that I am, I’ll have to keep the first as well. Elsewhere, a seller had a box of modern books. They were of no interest to me but a chap was scanning the barcodes on his phone, presumably to see what he could get for them from Ziffit or a similar outfit. Blimey, the world of the boot sale is changing.

Jun. 11th, 2018

Who's Queen?

The malign influence of Instagram

You will notice that when I photographed the books I bought at the weekend, I did not pose them with flowers. I am getting a leetle irritated by this trend.

Am I just a grumpy old bat or do others agree?

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