callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

July books

Dark Danger , Malcolm Saville
Power of Three , Malcolm Saville
The Mystery at Underwood House, Clara Benson.
The Treasure of Poldarrow Point, Clara Benson
What was Rescued, Jane Bailey
Love is a Reckless Thing, Molly Seymour
Leaving Berlin, Joseph Kanon
A Tale of Two Families, Dodie Smith
The Break, Marian Keyes

A while ago I got a great Kindle offer of three Angela Marchmont mysteries for 99p. I like them. The Mystery at Underwood House is the second in the series. An unpleasant man called Philip Haynes leaves a will dividing everything between his four children, including the house. If one dies, the money goes to Philip’s lawyer. Three deaths, so many people with a motive: can a fourth be prevented? I moved straight on to the next book, in which Angela is ordered by her doctor to take a holiday (those were the days!) and goes to Cornwall for a nice rest. Instead, a hitherto unheard-of niece arrives on her doorstep with nowhere else to go until the school term starts. The irrepressible child throws herself into a local mystery. She’s twelve and really, Angela takes no care of her at all. Angela has to investigate and the two have the wool nicely pulled over their eyes by the criminals.

I rarely take up my free Kindle book of the month but one evening, stuck for something to read, I had another look at the month’s choices and picked What was Rescued. I’m so glad I did, because I think it’s good. Four children meet in a railway carriage and their experiences bind them together for life. They are seavacuees (a new word to me), being sent to safety in Canada. The ship sinks and they become part of a select group of survivors, who meet regularly for reunions. As a result of the terrible events, one of them has a dreadful secret and you read the whole book waiting for the truth to come out. The story is partly based on the sinking of the SS City of Benares. A good read.

Love is a Reckless Thing I’ve had lying around for ages. It was published in 1957 and my copy is from the Valentine Book Club. It’s so silly. The heroine (beautiful in an elfin way) is left destitute when her father dies and takes a post as housekeeper and companion to an invalid. Two grown up sons live in the house: devastatingly handsome actor Noel and worthy solicitor Cyprian. Of course, the poor girl is madly in love with feckless Noel while dull old Cyprian takes the whole book to realise how much they all depend on Emma and (an afterthought) how pretty she is. What a crew.

I chose Leaving Berlin at the library, largely on the strength of the cover. Alex is a Jew who got out of Germany in time, made a home in America then had to leave again after a McCarthy subpoena. He’s made a deal with the CIA to get information for them in Berlin in return for the right to return to the US. In the Soviet sector he is feted as a returned writer, like Brecht, whom he knows. He has masses to deal with. First, his own feelings on seeing the home of his youth again and in such a state of ruin. Secondly, he doesn’t know what the CIA want him to find out and no idea whom to trust. Every single conversation is full of tension: Who is this person, what is his job? How does he know that? What more does he know? What is he trying to find out? Betrayal is in the air from the start. Gripping and very atmospheric.

As predicted by slemslempike, I enjoyed A Tale of Two Families. A nice book about nice people living in nice houses. What’s not to like? A slight book and nothing like I Capture the Castle.

The Break is a book I was pre-approved to read by NetGalley. I picked it expecting a light, amusing read but unfortunately failed to check any of my previous reviews of books by Marian Keyes. I thought it was a terrible book and nearly gave up on it halfway through. I’ve yet to impart this information to NetGalley, where I also have to slag off Martin Edwards’ book on the history of crime fiction in 100 titles. I hate doing this, which is why I’ve been putting it off for so long.
Tags: clara benson, crime fiction, dodie smith, jane bailey, joseph kanon, marian keyes, molly seymour, romantic novels, spy fiction

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