25 September 2016

Review: MR JELLY'S BUSINESS, Arthur Upfield - audio book

  • #4 in the Napoleon Bonaparte series
  • originally published 1937
  • aka MURDER DOWN UNDER
  • this edition unabridged audiobook
  • Narrated by Peter Hosking
  • length 7 hours 27 minutes
  • available at Audible.com
 Synopsis (Audible.com)

Mr. Jelly's Business is one of the finest of Arthur Upfield's many distinguished stories about the career of Detective Inspector Napoleon ("Bony") Bonaparte.

It takes Bony to the West Australian town of Burracoppin to investigate the disappearance of George Loftus, whose car was found wrecked near the longest fence in the world, the 1,500 mile Rabbit Fence. He meets Loftus's wife, who is anything but grief-stricken at her husband's disappearance; Loftus's hired man, singularly reticent about his own past history; and many of Burracoppin's numerous gossips. Later he encounters the mysterious Mr. Jelly, whose business causes his charming daughters great anxiety.

The double question of Loftus' disappearance and Mr. Jelly's business taxes Bony's well-known powers of observation and deduction to the utmost, until the two problems are simultaneously solved.
As anyone who knows Arthur Upfield's other work would expect, Mr. Jelly's Business is more than a story of crime and detection: It also offers an admirable picture of life in West Australia's wheat country

My Take

Bony takes on the case of George Loftus' disappearance as a favour to a friend, and gets a job working on the Rabbit Proof Fence so he can keep the locals under observation and work out what has happened to Loftus. Mr Jelly is convinced that Loftus has been murdered by his wife and her lover, but he is surrounded by his own mystery. He gets telegrams that summon him to Perth for at least a week at a time. Given his personal hobby that involves keeping extensive files on murderers, Mr Jelly's daughters are convinced that his job must be something to be ashamed of. Bony promises Mr Jelly's daughters that he will find out what their father does during his absences.

This novel is filled with Upfield's own philosophy about what creates murderers. We also find out a lot about aboriginal tracking methods, as well as more information about Bony's family background.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET 

Review: MR JELLY'S BUSINESS, Arthur Upfield - audio book

  • #4 in the Napoleon Bonaparte series
  • originally published 1937
  • aka MURDER DOWN UNDER
  • this edition unabridged audiobook
  • Narrated by Peter Hosking
  • length 7 hours 27 minutes
  • available at Audible.com
 Synopsis (Audible.com)

Mr. Jelly's Business is one of the finest of Arthur Upfield's many distinguished stories about the career of Detective Inspector Napoleon ("Bony") Bonaparte.

It takes Bony to the West Australian town of Burracoppin to investigate the disappearance of George Loftus, whose car was found wrecked near the longest fence in the world, the 1,500 mile Rabbit Fence. He meets Loftus's wife, who is anything but grief-stricken at her husband's disappearance; Loftus's hired man, singularly reticent about his own past history; and many of Burracoppin's numerous gossips. Later he encounters the mysterious Mr. Jelly, whose business causes his charming daughters great anxiety.

The double question of Loftus' disappearance and Mr. Jelly's business taxes Bony's well-known powers of observation and deduction to the utmost, until the two problems are simultaneously solved.
As anyone who knows Arthur Upfield's other work would expect, Mr. Jelly's Business is more than a story of crime and detection: It also offers an admirable picture of life in West Australia's wheat country

My Take

Bony takes on the case of George Loftus' disappearance as a favour to a friend, and gets a job working on the Rabbit Proof Fence so he can keep the locals under observation and work out what has happened to Loftus. Mr Jelly is convinced that Loftus has been murdered by his wife and her lover, but he is surrounded by his own mystery. He gets telegrams that summon him to Perth for at least a week at a time. Given his personal hobby that involves keeping extensive files on murderers, Mr Jelly's daughters are convinced that his job must be something to be ashamed of. Bony promises Mr Jelly's daughters that he will find out what their father does during his absences.

This novel is filled with Upfield's own philosophy about what creates murderers. We also find out a lot about aboriginal tracking methods, as well as more information about Bony's family background.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET 

Review: MR JELLY'S BUSINESS, Arthur Upfield - audio book

  • #4 in the Napoleon Bonaparte series
  • originally published 1937
  • aka MURDER DOWN UNDER
  • this edition unabridged audiobook
  • Narrated by Peter Hosking
  • length 7 hours 27 minutes
  • available at Audible.com
 Synopsis (Audible.com)

Mr. Jelly's Business is one of the finest of Arthur Upfield's many distinguished stories about the career of Detective Inspector Napoleon ("Bony") Bonaparte.

It takes Bony to the West Australian town of Burracoppin to investigate the disappearance of George Loftus, whose car was found wrecked near the longest fence in the world, the 1,500 mile Rabbit Fence. He meets Loftus's wife, who is anything but grief-stricken at her husband's disappearance; Loftus's hired man, singularly reticent about his own past history; and many of Burracoppin's numerous gossips. Later he encounters the mysterious Mr. Jelly, whose business causes his charming daughters great anxiety.

The double question of Loftus' disappearance and Mr. Jelly's business taxes Bony's well-known powers of observation and deduction to the utmost, until the two problems are simultaneously solved.
As anyone who knows Arthur Upfield's other work would expect, Mr. Jelly's Business is more than a story of crime and detection: It also offers an admirable picture of life in West Australia's wheat country

My Take

Bony takes on the case of George Loftus' disappearance as a favour to a friend, and gets a job working on the Rabbit Proof Fence so he can keep the locals under observation and work out what has happened to Loftus. Mr Jelly is convinced that Loftus has been murdered by his wife and her lover, but he is surrounded by his own mystery. He gets telegrams that summon him to Perth for at least a week at a time. Given his personal hobby that involves keeping extensive files on murderers, Mr Jelly's daughters are convinced that his job must be something to be ashamed of. Bony promises Mr Jelly's daughters that he will find out what their father does during his absences.

This novel is filled with Upfield's own philosophy about what creates murderers. We also find out a lot about aboriginal tracking methods, as well as more information about Bony's family background.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
DEATH OF A SWAGMAN
4.4, THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY
4.0, A MAN OF TWO TRIBES
4.4, THE BATTLING PROPHET 

22 September 2016

Review: DIFFERENT CLASS, Joanne Harris

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2131 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (April 21, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 21, 2016
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B018X1L38A
Synopsis (Amazon)

After thirty years at St Oswald’s Grammar in North Yorkshire, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. But every so often there’s a boy who doesn’t fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside.

A new broom has arrived, bringing Powerpoint, sharp suits and even sixth form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even twenty years on haunts his teacher’s dreams. A boy capable of bad things.

My Take

Although there are roughly 10 years between the publication dates of GENTLEMAN & PLAYERS (2005) and DIFFERENT CLASS (2016), in reality there is only a time lapse of about a year and it would probably pay to read the two in sequence so as to avoid forgetting some bits from the former that are important in the latter.

The theme is similar - Roy Straitley should be preparing for retirement - his main teaching subject Classics appears to be becoming obsolete and he is having to accept female students from a nearby college into his classes. The old Head has retired and a new broom comes in, intent to turn St. Oswald's into a popular and profitable concern. The new Head is an accountant, not teacher trained, and an old boy whom Straitley once taught. And he brings with him a history that Straitley vaguely remembers, events that occurred thirty years earlier, including murder.

I found it fascinating how the author has put her finger so accurately on what modern schooling is bringing to the forefront - the relevance of formerly popular curriculum, the way education systems are being run by accountants rather than educators. Teachers though are still coming from the perspective of personalising knowledge for their pupils and concerning themselves with developing young minds. Straitley is "old school", on the surface peddling knowledge that becoming less relevant to the modern world, but underneath it all still loyal to his students, with their best interests at heart.

And yet at the same time this is crime fiction with threads that weave through a period of 30 years.

Excellent reading.

My Rating: 4.6



I've also read
GENTLEMEN & PLAYERS, my rating 4.8
The new academic year is beginning at St. Oswald’s expensive and exclusive school for boys. Roy Straitley, Classics master, is fighting to survive in a world that sees French and German as more relevant than the Latin he has taught for the last 33 years. The new year brings with it new students and new teachers including one that has got the job on the basis of false credentials. This teacher is dedicated not to the advancement of education at St. Oswald’s, but to bringing St. Oswald’s down. Little things begin to go wrong, a boy nearly dies, Straitley has a heart scare a few weeks before his 65th birthday, and then the stage is set for major catastrophe. It seems very probable Roy will not achieve his “century” and that St. Oswald’s will not survive a series of crises. The plotting in this novel is intricate, the author is determined not to reveal who the pretender is, and then all climaxes on Roy’s birthday. And look out for the little hints: the chapter headings, the chess icons, and the clever play on words.

And Blue eyed boy (rated 4.5)

About the author

JOANNE HARRIS is one of our best loved and most versatile novelists. She first sprung on the scene with the bestselling Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp), which turned into the sensuous, magical Lansquenet trilogy (Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur le CurĂ©). She has since written acclaimed novels in diverse genres including historical fiction, fantasy based on Norse myth, and the Malbry cycle of psychological suspense (Gentlemen & Players, Blueeyedboy, and now, Different Class). She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and was awarded an MBE by the Queen. Born in Barnsley, of a French mother and an English father, she spent fifteen years as a teacher before (somewhat reluctantly) becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Yorkshire with her family, plays bass in a band first formed when she was sixteen, works in a shed in her garden, likes musical theatre and old sci-fi, drinks rather too much caffeine, spends far too much time online and occasionally dreams of faking her own death and going to live in Hawaii. 

19 September 2016

Home Again

We arrived back home just under a week ago but, having brought some sort of flu bug with us, it is taking a while to get back blogging again.
I have some reviews to catch up with so hopefully that will happen in the next few days.

3 September 2016

Review: A DEADLY THAW, Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward's debut novel IN BITTER CHILL was an excellent read, and this, the second in the series, is too. 

Andrew Fisher's body turns up in a disused morgue. The only problem is that he died over twelve years ago and his wife Lena has served over ten years in goal for his murder. And yet Lena identified the body as that of her husband. If that is not sufficient a hook to get the reader intrigued, the plot is far more complex than I would have predicted, and strikes at the very heart of the Derbyshire police force.

There is a good range of contrasting characters in Inspector Francis Sadler's team, and while this is a police procedural, it is also about how policing methods have changed in the last two decades.

My rating: 5.0

Review: THE DEFENCELESS, Kati Hiekkapelto

My Take

Set in Helsinki, this case begins with an old man being run over by a Hungarian au pair. She claims that he was just lying there on the road, his eyes open, and that her car slid on the icy road, and she was powerless to stop it.

The title is the clue that this translated novel is more than just about what on the surface is a road accident. It is also about immigrants and refugees who have come to Finland looking for a better life, and the reality of what they find.

Policewoman Anna Fekete is herself an immigrant and knows well how many of those she deals with from day to day feel. But she has a determination to make the best of life and to get on with things, which many of the victims of crime don't have.

THE DEFENCELESS is the author's second novel and won the best Finnish Crime Novel in 2014.

My Rating: 4.7

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