Saturday, 30 July 2011

Conor Fitzgerald - The Dogs of Rome

This is a debut novel and has been nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger 2011.
I picked it up as reaaders of my Blog will know that I devour Italian crime novels. This one is set in Rome. It is gritty, complex and as usual cynical as to the Roman Underworld/police force.
I did not warm to our detective Alec Blume. I think it may be the Americanisms, he seemed neither one nor the other, however it may be a useful story arc for the future. It was well plotted and uses Rome to full advantage. I found that after I had got about halfway I could not put it down a sure sign that the dramatic tension is right. It also made me look up Cane Corso's so I learnt something too.
I await the next book in the series to see how this series will progress. This is a competative field and there are some masters to challenge ( Dibdin, Hewson, Leon et al), this is not quite there yet but has massive potential.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Kate Atkinson - Started Early Took My Dog

Another excellent book in the Jackson Brodie series. The vision of Jason Isaacs has now superceeded any visions I had of Jackson in my head - I had not imagined him quite so buff!)
I absolutely love how Kate takes three apparently disparate threads and then inexorably weaves them in and out until they come to the climax of the book. It is a fascinating web that she weaves and I am hooked.
I hope he finds his thieving ex-wife and she gets her comuppance. I hope he gets some closure over his sister's murder and I also wish Tracy Waterhouse all the best in her new life!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dawn French - A Tiny Bit Marvellous

Having long admired Dawn French and found her hilarious, I was really interested to read her foray into fiction. And best selling at that it is currently number one on the Bookseller Top 50.

If you are like me then I can predict you will love this book. After years of watching French and Saunders you can just hear Dawn's voice in the background with her funny voices.

This is the story of a modern family. Told in the Diaries of Mo, nearly 50, a successful child psychologist and her two children. Dora nearly 17, full of raging hormones and angst, and having had one of my own, yes it is realistic. She also has a son aged 16, intelligent, amusing, and desperatly chanelling Oscar Wilde. In the background is the stalwarthusband and Dad and Granny Pamela.

This is a short passage in their lives as Dora hits 18 and Mo 50. It is genuinely funny, I found myself howling with laughter and waking my husband as I read into the small hours.

Note to all Mums it is so worth being friends on Facebook with your young.

This would be a great reading group book just be aware that some of the language is challenging but amusing, it was interesting to see how teenage language has evolved in the 10 years since my two were that age. I thought it was a very clever device to use Dora's diary. A typical, non -communicative daughter to her mother, but oh so eloquent in her diary. It also rings true to life, the successful child psychologist at work, is useless at home!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Donna Leon - Drawing Conclusions

This is the twentieth book in this marvellous series. All the wonderful ingrediaents are there. Mystery, murder and of course wonderful Venice. In this book we look at the problems with someone who believes in complete honesty, not everyone wants to know the truth or have it revealed. It starts with the death of an elderly woman, touches on battered wifeas and as usual we delight to the trumping of Vice Questore Patta.
Once again it is all resolved due to the superior mind of Guido and the infomation gathering skills of Signorina Elettra.
This is unmissable for her fans.
I am so grateful for Donna Leon for introducing me to modern Venice I cannot wait until I go there for the fifth time in the Autumn!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Alden Bell - The Reapers are the Angels

This is a post-apocalyptic zombie genre book. Our heroine is a 15 year old girl born into this world. A kick ass survivor. She travels America in a restless way, encountering others as she goes.
I am not sure what readership this book is aimed at really. It is not deep enough for hard core fantasy fans. It might be aimed at teens as it is an easy read and non challenging ( other than the gore of course). I read it in a day.
The only surprise is that he kills the goose that lays the golden egg. Have Aiden or his editor never heard of a series? Or is this a one off, cashing in on the current all things zombie craze?
There is certainly nothing here for a reading group. On thought though was why and how was the electricity still working after 25 years? Not likely I would have thought, I am afraid this is the sort of things that really bugs post apocalyptic aficionados mad.
Read The Passage it is so much better. (see below) Or read the Walking Dead graphic novels on which the TV series is based.
This is also another of those irritating books without punctuation. Is this an affectation or laziness?

Friday, 22 July 2011

Rona Jaffe - The Best of Everything

Sometimes one comes across a book where superlatives seem trite. This is just such a book, you find yourself reading slowly, savouring the words, and at the end you are left bereft as you do not want it to end, you want to know more.
This book republished to coincide with the TV Series Mad Men, was a novel written in 1958, set in 1952 to appeal to the 'modern woman'. To attempt to give them a 'voice'. If this book wasn't read by the creator of Sex in the City, I would be very surprised.
This is the story of 4 girls who came to New York to work, they all start at the Fabian Publishing House. This novel tells their story. It is compelling, beautifully written and I loved it!
It would make a superb reading group choice, there is just so much material here, a great deal to talk about. Has the world changed that much for women since then? Is it better or worse? I encourage you to read it and you decide.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Alyxander Harvey - Haunting Violet

I think this might normally be categorised as teenage paranormal romance but I have to say that this is so much more. It reveals the underbelly of Edwardian life, where, for example, a girl in her undergarments is more shocking than murder!

I found all the spiritualist/medium parts fascinating.

Violet assists her mother, a fake medium, only to discover at 16 that she has the true gift and she can suddenly see ghosts and communicate with them. This leads her into the dangerous situation, where she feels impelled to assist a ghost in revealing her murder, exposing the murderer and saving, her living, sister from the same fate.

I found this book fast paced and well written. I read it in 24 hours on holiday and found it hard to out down

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Katherine Webb - The Unseen

This is by the author of The Legacy, see below, which won the Channel 4 TV Book Club, last year.

I also loved this book. It had it all, deception, murder, and is a classic time slip novel.

Interwoven with this is a subplot involving the suffragettes and particularly the different treatment/punishment meted out to women dependant on their class.

This would make a superb reading group novel, there is just so much to discuss. An innocent and naive vicar and his wife, theosophy, forgery and an interesting modern story involving the archaeology of the War graves Commission in France - something I had never thought about before. Just how do they identify remains that turn up in a field in Northern France.

All in all I thoroughly recommend this book, it will keep you enthralled and immersed in it up until the end.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Danny Miller - Kiss Me Quick

Another of our stars from the Bournemouth Libraries Crime Festival. This is a debut novel from a very experienced script writer.
This book is set over one weekend in Brighton in 1964. We follow the investigations of Detective Vince Treadwell, sent down to Brighton whilst recovering from a head injury, to investigate a murder. However, Vince knows Brighton well, he grew up there, he knows the players. A tee total, honest cop, he has to tread warily through the morass of underground crime and police corruption ( sound familiar - no tabloids though).
This is the sixties we have, miniskirts, sex and drugs, pornography, oh, and mods and rockers fighting on the beach.
This is a fast paced, edge of your seat ride. I read the book over a couple of days, you can appreciate the skills of the script writer here, the prose is sparse, edgy and gripping. I challenge you to put it down for long!


Well I am back . Returned from holilday, having read masses of books, so keep tuning in for the reviews which hopefully with time allowing will now come Fast and Furious.

There are some exciting events coming up. On 8th September at Westbourne LIbrary we have Crime Author Graham Hurley. Then a month later we have Horolitic. A horror lit fest, a return to real horror perhaps? Featuring Graham Masterton, Stephen laws, Ramsey Campbell and Christopher Fowler, and Who Deliberately Tried To Run Over Stephen King?