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Monday, 5 August 2019

The Problemist - Clinton H Stagg

This is the complete canon of Clinton H Stagg's  adventures of Thornley Colton, Blind Detective.
The short stories were first published in 1915 the book Silver Sandals in 1916. Sadly  Clinton H Stagg was only 26 years old when he died in a car accident in Los Angeles in 1916.
These stories are very interesting, it seems clear that Clinton knew of a man blind from birth as many of his descriptions, of his blindness ring true. His amazing sensitivity in his fingers I find I am a little  sceptical of. I am not sure if even experiences Braillers could read ordinary print in letters on the reverse, or the headlines in newspapers. Perhaps the old fashioned newspaper printers did indent the paper enough? His counting of his steps is very accurate and his acute sense of hearing. I loved his use of the pulse his 'keyboard of silence' that helped him determine the truth behind potential suspects stories. The way he solves the crimes is of course mainly by using his intelligence and deduction and most of the crimes are more of the problem solving kind. That is why he calls himself a problemist not a detective. I enjoyed them all but they are not the sort of stories that allow you the reader to solve them. Our job is to marvel and savour the cleverness of our hero. I appreciated the skill of the author just as much. He was a loss dying as he did so early with so much potential.
Incidentally the Braille on the cover spells out MURDER!

Monday, 29 July 2019

Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

Published in 1937 this is the first of the Inspector Mallett series.
This was one of his books recommended on the Bodies from the library reading list, and I must say I had not heard of him before.
It was a great read and kept me guessing until the end. His writing is tight and there is a somewhat legal wit. Cyril Hare being the pen name of Judge Gordon Clark.
Including as it does dodgy financiers, sly Estate Agents, and good solid policing there is much in this book to show that not much changes in 80 years!
I shall definitely be reading more based on this.

Bodies from the library 2019

Finally I was able to go this year to Bodies from the Library on 29th June 2019. As well as meeting so many Golden Age enthusiasts and sharing notes, every lecture was absolutely riveting. I came away with a long reading list which I will be presenting here!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Naomi Alderman - The Power #BaileysPrize @readingagency

This is an amazing book. Clever, innovative, funny, shocking and thought provoking. 15 year old girls suddenly acquire the power to generate and use electricity. They can then pass this power on to other women, thus tilting the balance of power between men and women. Across the world this creates a huge gender change. This story is a story within a story, and the novel is interspersed with hilarious illustrations. At first you feel hurrah, now there will be true equality but then things all begin to go very wrong. Who can forget women rioting in Saudi Arabia or taking control in Pakistan, and the voice of God? That would be Mother Eve.

What do you think would happen if women could and did seize power. A terrifying vision and a salutary reminder of the corrupting influence of power itself.
This would make a fantastic reading group book. I loved it

Friday, 2 June 2017

C E Morgan - The Sport Of Kings #BaileyPrize @readingagency

This is a beautifully written novel, almost painfully so. It screams the new ' Great American Novel'. Indeed it was  a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
I think I have been spoilt by thrillers and crime as I found this very slow, wonderful detailed descriptions. Minutiae but I wanted to get on with the plot!
It covers a lot of American history but I also found myself getting lost. It would have been useful to have dates .

And there was an awful lot about horses........

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Madeleine Thien - Do not say we have nothing #BaileysPrize @readingagency

This is a very rich. textured book. It reminded me of the perennial Wild Swans by Jung Chang.
This book is set in Canada, Hong Kong, and China. In Chinese history it covers the period from the beginning of Chairman Mao up to Tiananmen Square. As such it is absolutely fascinating and a history that I had no idea about. I did occasionally lose track of who was who as it has a it has a large cast of characters. It was moving, funny, and tragic. Not a page turner but a deeply immersive novel.
It is beautifully written and would make an excellent Book Club choice. it will stay with you for a long time afterwards. This will be high on my list.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Gwendoline Riley - First Love #BaileysPrize @readingagency

Well I have to confess to being flummoxed with this book. It is beautifully written but I did not get it. None of the characters were appealing. Nothing very much happened and we were left with huge questions and holes in the plot. Why did she marry Edwyn? Why has she stayed married to him? Why is she so nasty to her mother? Why why why and to be honest I didn't care. Please explain what am I missing?