Saturday, 11 October 2008

James Anderson- The Affair of the Mutilated Mink

This is the second of 3 house party muder mysteries set in the classical age of whodunnits. Sadly there will be no more as in this volume I notice that the publishers say that James died in 2007. This is a great shame as these are rip roaring fun, extremely silly but marvellous escapism.

In this story we have a group of movie stars arriving at Burford Hall and of course, what ho, there is a murder. There are wonderful allusions to other famous literary detectives, Inspector Appleby of Michael Innes fame , Inspector Alleyn of Ngaio Marsh fame and here Inspector Allgood of no fame whatsoever! He makes such a hash of it that dear old Inspector Wilkins has to come to the rescue, with his stock in trade answer as to his abilities to solve the murder " I doubt it, I'm not sanguine, not sanguine at all."!

Can you solve it before him, I doubt it!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory

I have been a fan of Philippa Gregory's since the Other Boleyn Girl. I have also read The Boleyn Inheritance and The Queen's Fool all of which I enjoyed. I was therefore very excited when I received advance notice of this title I have always thought that Mary Queen of Scots was one of the most enigmatic and tragic queens. However, I was so disappointed in this novel. It is told through three voices, that of Mary herself, one of her em prisoners in England the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife the Countess, who is also known as Bess of Hardwick. I can't decide as to whether Philippa Gregory has decided to dumb down, or whether, it is that using the narrative device of 3 characters in the first person, that causes that feeling. Gone are the rich historical details that immerse us in the history of the period. We are left with 3 not very sympathetic characters and frankly I was bored. With the characterisation, although we hear what they think and say, we never seem to scratch the surface. I can find no sympathy for George who just comes across as a fool. Mary comes over as a lying, sulky, manipulative young woman and Bess comes over as only thinking of her silver and gold plate stolen from the Catholic Church and her household finances. We are told why they act this way but we never feel it, we are somehow disengaged.

It has made me reserve Mary S Lovell's biography of Bess of Hardwick as I am sure she must be a more interesting character than portrayed in The Other Queen. Watch out for a review soon.

Skin and Bones - Tom Bale

This is an absolutely great book that I have been lucky enough to have been sent an advanced proof copy. Look our for it! It comes out on 1st January 2009.

This is a fast paced English thriller, very much in the genre of No Time for Goodbye ( see below) that won Richard and Judy's Summer Read.

A young women walks into a massacre in a small country village in East Sussex. She survives the terrifying ordeal, but the police discount her evidence and so she joins up with one of the victim's son's to try and solve the discrepancy. This then becomes a terrifying race against time, the body count rises and I guarantee that this is a book you will not be able to put down! I spent the whole time on the edge of my seat, willing her to survive. It is also great to have a really strong female character in the lead!

Friday, 3 October 2008

When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson

I have read all of Kate Atkinson's books and I love her quirky style of writing and unusual plots. This is the third novel that features Jackson Brodie , private detective. However this is much more than a detective novel, it attempts to examine human resilience to tragedy. As usual we have several apparent disparate strands that gradually move towards a collision course. We have Reggie a 16 year old attempting to cope on her own, working as a nanny, when mother and child disappear she is the only one that appears to be worried. Poor Jackson Brodie really is in the wars in this novel, he survives barely a journey from hell, and shock, horror we discover he has married since the last novel. We also have the release from prison of a killer who 30 years previously murdered a mother and nearly all her children..............I enjoyed this once again and many of the themes would make this an excellent Book Group reading choice...........

The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy - James Anderson

This is very light reading and great fun. It is a pastiche on the country house murder mystery. All whodunnit fans will love it. Set in 1930's it is filled with extraordinary characters; ridiculous members of the British Aristocracy, dapper foreign agents, the rich Americans and a bumbling police inspector called Wilkens. So refer to the room plan, work out where everyone was and what ho, you will never get it. The solution had me howling with laughter!

The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie

I have to confess here that the only other book I have read by Salman is Midnight's Children and that was a long time ago! I am also not a big fan as a whole of the Man Booker novels, but always feel I ought to try and read at least one of the nominated titles. Well this time I picked the above and am I glad I did. This is a fascinating book strange, challenging but compelling. In this novel he intricately weaves the Mughal court of Akbar and Renaissance Italy. The plot in this novel is not the point, it is incidental to the writing, the description, the humour and characterisation. Yes we do want to know what happens to the protagonists but we are seduced by the scene setting, like the narrow alleyways of Florence that lead to treasures, like intricate Mughal paintings we are lead slowly and deliciously from beginning to end. This is a book to savour it cannot be read quickly. A triumph.

The Blood Pit - Kate Ellis

This series just gets better and better. When are they going to turn it into a TV series! The mixture of archaeology and detection is inspirational. I also like the fact that we really get to know the characters of Detective Wesley Peterson's friends, family and fellow officers. Kate deftly links 3 plots in this novel and the ending is shocking, we lose a familiar character. I didn't particularly like him, as we were lead to do so, but in this novel, Kate turns the tables and he becomes a figure of pathos and one we can be proud of. I cannot say more without spoilers.
The main thrust of the novels is the muder of a series of men who have been ex-sanguinated!!
Oh and Neil is under threat and has found a blood pit!!