This month has been heavy on crime and thrillers.
Poppies for England, Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild)
Murder While you Work, Susan Scarlett
Death on Tiptoe, R C Ashby (Ruby Ferguson)
Tragedy at Law, Cyril Hare*L
Quite enjoyable but something heartless about it. It was discussed by the Cornflower Book Group a while ago.
The Making of a Marchioness, Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Venetian Affair, Helen MacInnes
Suitably absorbing for a day on the sofa.
Death in Berlin, M M Kaye
I’m really enjoying the series and many thanks to ramblingfancy for lending me the books. M M Kaye’s travels as an army wife certainly gave her plenty of locations to choose from and this one is very atmospheric of Berlin in 1951. Good cover, too.
Pray for a Brave Heart, Helen MacInnes
Set in peaceful Switzerland but overshadowed by post-war communist threat. Seems a little old fashioned post-cold war but still enjoyable.
Standing in the Rainbow, Fannie Flagg
The Flying Troutmans, Miriam Toews *L
Airs Above the Ground, Mary Stewart
This starts well, with the heroine setting off for Austria accompanied by a sophisticated teenage boy. The setting up of the mystery is good and the solution rather a let down, as so often. I’d have liked much more about the Lipizzaner horses!
The Merchant’s Mark, Pat McIntosh *L
The Wool-Pack, Cynthia Harnett
Reading this again after so many years, I’m mystified as to how it can have been such a favourite when I was young. As a painless way of learning some history it’s very good but the central character, Nicholas, is just a cipher. I found I remembered the illustrations very well; perhaps that’s the secret. I still feel fond of it.
St Mungo’s Robin, Pat McIntosh *L
The Hook, Raffaella Barker *L
I was glad to finish this as I didn’t enjoy it at all. There was too much writing in it. Christy is emotionally vulnerable after the death of her mother when she meets charming Mick. From page one we know that Mick is about to get fifteen years for unspecified crimes; the rest of the book tracks their relationship with occasional hints about what he might have done. The book has a watery theme (Christy’s widower father starts a fish farm) but the story is as clear as mud. I had no idea where it was set, what the date was, why I didn’t care at all about the two main characters. Very disappointing.
The Nicholas Feast, Pat McIntosh *L
I think what I like about these books is that in spite of the murders and the filth, they’re almost comfort reading. This is because of all the detail about what it’s like to live in a medieval household. I love it when the characters go visiting and are offered ‘a refreshment’ of ale and bannocks; clothes, furniture and the few possessions are all believably described. (Cynthia Harnett again!) It’s notable, too, how the characters’ lives are regulated by routine piety and the church offices. No one has a watch, of course, so when Gil asks what time something happened, the answer will be ‘after Nones’ or whenever. The stories are set in the late fifteenth century. Within fifty years all that would have been swept away, which brings home to you how awful the Reformation must have been to live through.
Pink Sugar, O Douglas. A bedtime reread.
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, M C Beaton
Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist
This one is set in northern Cyprus and as usual, I don’t like my protagonists off their natural turf. There are chunks here quoted from guide books and an incident nicked straight out of MM Kaye’s Death in Cyprus, which I read very recently.
Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death
People rubbish these books but if you’re finding it hard to concentrate they are just the ticket; you can read them when you can’t manage anything else.