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July 2019




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Apr. 27th, 2016


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Reviews Published

100 Book Reviews

Jul. 22nd, 2019


New (and new/old) books: murder, wartime home front, more murder

A Knife for Harry Dodd is another Inspector Littlejohn adventure by George Bellairs. So far, I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read. Harry Dodd is an agreeable, popular chap, who’s made a mistake. He had an affair with a younger woman and now shares a house with her and her mother, while leading a separate life. The women are generally disliked. Who dislikes Harry Dodd enough to kill him? That’s the mystery Littlejohn has to solve and the answer lies within the complicated relationships of the Dodd family. I liked this until the last chapter or so, when the solution seemed a little too pat. Bellairs is one of those crime writers being reprinted whom I think is worth the effort.
This was the most recent Crime Classics Club offering, which the publishers now make available through NetGalley.
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Jul. 11th, 2019


We whacked'em and whacked'em and whacked'em!

English cricket fans think they must be dreaming. (If you've no idea what I mean, see here)

Plus, Sky, wanting to be the good guys for once, have agreed on a deal with Channel 4 to show the final on Sunday, free-to-air. Yippee!

My hero, Eoin Morgan.

Jul. 4th, 2019


It's flying ant day here!

OMG, the ghastly pests are here again. I went outside to put my bins out and when I came back, the wall outside the kitchen was black with them. Ugh, I hate it. Any other sightings?

Jun. 28th, 2019


'Bees stopped play'

At Chester-le-Street, during a Cricket World Cup match, players and umpires flung themselves to the ground when a swarm of bees invaded the pitch. You couldn't make it up.

Jun. 24th, 2019


You only need one flower …

I hate robbing the garden of flowers. I decided to pick this stem for the table before the storm arrives (if we get it). I couldn’t find a mat then saw that this little dish was exactly the right colour. (huskyteer take note.)
Hydrangeas, like the tall sedums, are flowers which look good at all stages of their development, even when they become skeletons. I wouldn’t be without them.

Hot news: there is a second flower on the mystery succulent.

Jun. 22nd, 2019


In the greenhouse

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Jun. 6th, 2019


Deal of the Day

Julian Jackson's A Certain Idea of France. The Life of Charles de Gaulle is 99p for the Kindle today. Considering that the book is about 800 pages long and that after ordering it from the library I had to wait months to get it, I think that's quite a bargain.

Jun. 2nd, 2019


Joe Country, Mick Herron

Wow! How does Mick Herron do it? This sixth Jackson Lamb thriller is as brilliant as the previous ones, gripping from the first page to the last. (Link to my reviews here.) The trouble with reading one is that you just have to know what happens next but don’t want to finish the book too quickly. A cunning plan of switching scenes throughout the narrative leaves the reader in a permanent state of suspense.

Joe Country opens with a startling image and a casual remark about bodies. This means that for most of the rest of the book you’re wondering who was killed and hoping it wasn’t a favourite character. In the second chapter we have the now trademark meander around the decaying ruin that is Slough House. Then the Slow Horses appear, our spooks (fewer now), who have allegedly failed at Park House (HQ) but still manage to foil the bad guys before ‘Lady Di’ (Diana Taverner, now First Desk) and her minions.

This book is achingly topical: Brexit; a woman Prime Minister; Salisbury; a royal personage (unnamed but easily guessed at) in shady company. A new member of the team (if you can call it that), has been sacked for having child pornography on his work computer, a charge he denies but which sticks. Since it’s hard to hack into Park House computers, it seems there’s been foul play. That’s a story line which turns out later to be important. The thriller aspect of the book comes when various slow horses set off to Wales, in terrible snowy conditions, in search of the missing son of a dead colleague. The chase, the battles with the bad guys, have you reading faster and faster.

I’ve said before that what I particularly like about the Jackson Lamb series is that the books are not only exciting but funny. The comments on modern life, the despair over the state of the country, are somehow made amusing. As for Jackson Lamb, he of the gross personal habits, it’s uncanny how he manages to solve problems from his desk, rather than by haring all over the country. He insults and puts down his ‘joes’ all the time but mess with them and he er, doesn’t like it much, shall we say? I find all his remarks funny. As I read a proof copy, I can’t quote from it (Publisher’s Rules, ha ha), but imagine that someone just happened to ask Lamb how on earth he knew a certain fact and he said something like, ‘Let’s suppose I’m a spy.’ You find that funny or not; I certainly do.

I can’t recommend Mick Herron highly enough; this is the best series I’ve read in a long time. I do recommend that if you’re new to Jackson Lamb, you start with the first book, Slow Horses. Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the advance e-book. Joe Country will be out on 20th June.

May. 30th, 2019


Late reviews part two

I was pleased to be pre-approved to read this book by the publishers and NetGalley, because I’d previously enjoyed a couple of Catherine Alliott’s books , especially My Husband Next Door.
The title tells you what to expect: a lovely Cornish summer holiday. Not quite so lovely for divorced Flora, as she’s never got over losing her husband and he turns up with his second wife. Poor Flora can’t even hate the new wife, as she’s really nice and tries very hard to be friends. I say, ‘poor Flora’ but really, she’s been wasting her life and it’s time she moved on. She’s only able to do so when there are some surprising revelations about her ex and his marriage.

I found this book disappointing; rather padded out and less funny than the others I’d read. It’s still a pleasant read and the complicated family relationships (ghastly mother-in-law, how the children cope), make it interesting. It will be published on 13th June.

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