Battlestar Suburbia, Chris McCrudden
Dandy Gilver and a Most Misleading Habit, Catriona McPherson
The Death of Anton, Alan Melville
Honourable Intentions, Gavin Lyall
One Enchanted Evening, Anton du Beke
Love is Blind, William Boyd
A Colourful Death, Carola Dunn.
Battlestar Suburbia is a great title and a good idea, yet I couldn’t get through it. The premise is that humans live in floating colonies and seem to spend all their time cleaning. The universe is controlled by machines. It’s touted as ‘for fans of Douglas Adams’ but I think it’s insulting the late, great man to compare this book with Hitchhikers. This was available to ‘read now’ on NetGalley.
I got the Dandy Gilver book from the library. A convent and a lunatic asylum in close proximity: what can go wrong? The book is set in 1932 when Dandy and Alec are called in to investigate a fire which killed the Mother Superior at the convent. I got as confused as Dandy and Alec were by the names of all the nuns and where each nun was at any given time. There is a genuine mystery which is solved but I found the whole thing nonsense.
Alan Melville deserts the theatre for a travelling circus in Death of Anton. Since Anton’s act involves trained tigers, it seems obvious how he must have died. Of course, nothing is obvious and there turns out to be a far more complicated crime behind Anton’s murder. This is another crime title from BLCC and unusually, the publishers have used contemporary artwork for the cover.
Honourable Intentions has a slow start for a thriller but I liked all the detail in the book. The Palace, the Bureau, the law, the British and French police are all involved in covering up what could be a royal scandal. It was first published in 1999 and has been reprinted by Agora Books. I think Lyall probably wrote better books than this but I love a spy thriller, enjoyed this and found it realistic about the moral ambiguities of spying. Plus, there are some great characters in it. I read it thanks to Agora Books and NetGalley.
Not surprisingly, Anton du Beke’s debut novel has dancing at its heart. It’s set in the glamorous Buckingham Hotel, which is patronised by royalty. Raymond de Guise is the principal professional dancer there, dashing and handsome (‘rather like myself’ as Anton modestly puts it in an afterword), together with his dancing partner Hélène. These are the principal characters, together with Nancy, who has left an impoverished country home to become a housemaid, and a poisonous poor little rich girl called Vivienne.
Behind the scenes, all is not well at the hotel. The new proprietor Lord Edgerton and his friends are anti-semitic Nazi sympathisers and followers of Mosley. Edgerton is Vivienne’s stepfather and her bad behaviour is explained by the fact that she’s forced to live in a suite at the Buckingham because nobody cares about her. Needless to say, Raymond’s name is not really de Guise and he’s not the only one at The Buckingham with a secret he’d like to keep quiet; Hélène has a secret life, too. Nancy has a secret desire to dance, in spite of a damaged leg. Can Raymond really teach her to dance and will it lead to more? Will the sinister plotting of Edgerton and Co. be uncovered? This is a mix of glamour, politics, impossibly smart, rich people and the real, struggling world outside the hotel. I rather liked it.
I read the book thanks to NetGalley. It’s out on 4th October.
What I won't put in my Amazon review (obligatory) is the question of whether Anton actually wrote the book himself? He says that writing a novel has been a long-held ambition and he thanks an unnamed ‘writing collaborator’ who helped with his ideas. No matter; his numerous fans will buy the book anyway.
Carola Dunn’s A Colourful Death is one of her Cornish mysteries featuring Eleanor Trewynn. They are perfect cosy mysteries for people who like reading about the 1960s, English scenery, a community where everyone knows everyone else and a chief character in her sixties. Very agreeable.