31 May 2008

Travels in Abu Dhabi

Didn't manage to record where we've been for the last 2 days, so this is a quick catch up.
It is amazing how quickly the days are passing.
The day before yesterday we went to Dubai for the day. The roads are just amazing - up to 5 or 6 lanes wide in both directions. As we got closer to Dubai the traffic became more congested and we travelled very slowly after the very high speeds out on the open road.

In Dubai we visited the Soukh, in fact 2 of them, that involved crossing the Creek on an abra.
We had lunch at the Ibn Battuta Mall where 7 different areas celebrate the explorations of a 14th century Arabian explorer who visited the farflung borders of the Islamic world. The ceiling of the mall is amazing, looking like a well lit night sky.

Yesterday we travelled out to Al Ain, known for its oasis. This was a real eye opener. A large town has grown up around the original oasis which is now a rabbit warren of date farms with large walls around them. Quite different from my idea of a large pool of water with a few buildings around the edge.
After that we had lunch at the Mercure hotel up on Jebel Hafeet. Friday brunch is a very popular meal in the Emirates, a good start for the weekend. The spread at the Mercure was delicious, with a definite focus on prawns and lobster.
My picture is of the view from the top of Jebel Hafeet.
This entry must not go past without mention of the temperature for the last couple of days - a consistent 44-46 degrees Celsius, with an occasional flirtation of the car's temperature gauge with 50 degrees. Believe it or not, as the days roll on to August, temps will climb even higher.


After 2 years absence, Kirstin Rutherford returns to Edinburgh to find that her ex-husband's father, Jamie has died 5 months earlier, drowning in The Cauldron in Leith. There is a possibility that Jamie's death was suicide but this seems very unlike the man whom Kirstin remembers and she becomes determined to find out as much as she can about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Some months before his death Jamie had become volunteer head warden for the river and had crossed paths with a group of locals who wanted to use the popular river parks near The Cauldron for parties involving drugs and alcohol. Jamie's confrontations with them culminated when two of them were murdered, and another one, Morag, of the group was accused of the murders, but then released without charges being laid. Jamie had always said that Morag was innocent, but is his own death somehow connected with his determination to prove Morag's innocence?

I read and enjoyed both of Sue Walker's earlier novels THE REUNION, and THE RECKONING, enjoyed them, and looked forward to reading THE DEAD POOL.

I think however in order to enjoy a story, the reader must like at least one of the characters, but, unusually for me, there wasn't one in this book whom I liked, not even the main protagonist Kirstin Rutherford. It seemed to me (and the ending proved it) that her judgement of events and people just was not to be trusted. The rest of the characters, particularly those who held their bacchanalian orgies by the river, playing their games of spiking Morag's drinks, were reprehensible.

Sue Walker decided to tell this story from several angles: with flashbacks to the time of the dual murders - these are dated and in italics so the reader can tell what they are; with excerpts from Jamie's logs and diaries although in fact these are not all that helpful; and then through conversations and confrontations between the various characters.

I'm not sure about what in this novel did not work for me. If I hadn't been curious about who had committed the original murders, and whether it was in fact connected to Jamie's apparent suicide, then I would have been tempted to stop reading. I think it was just that I disliked the characters so much.....

My rating 3.8
Sue Walker's web site is at http://www.sue-walker.com/

28 May 2008

NO TIME FOR GOODBYE, Linwood Barclay

Orion Books, 2008, 339 pages, isbn 978-0-7528-8861-3

The morning Cynthia Bigge woke to find the house empty, her father, mother, and brother gone, would haunt her for the rest of her life. Because they never came back, disappeared off the face of the earth. A 14 year old rebel, she knew she was hard to live with, but why did they leave without her?
For twenty five years Cynthia has never lost hope that one day they would contact her, would ring, simply turn up just as they had vanished. Now she wants to go further than just wait. Happily married with a daughter of her own, she wants to solve the puzzle. What happened that night in May 1983 back in Milford, Connecticut?
And her story is just the sort of thing that people who watch the television show Deadline love. But three weeks after the show has screened there are still no results, so Cynthia decides to employ a private detective, and that's when things really start to move. Various events occur which make it seem that her family may still be alive.
Those who've called this a page-turner are not wrong. I loved the structure. Between the chapters dealing with the main story there are mini-chapters containing telephone conversations. These conversations provide a puzzle and at the same time clues to what really happened.
Highly recommendable. My rating: 4.7

Linwood Barclay is a Canadian author who published his first book in 1996, and a mystery series of 4 books in 2004. NO TIME FOR GOODBYE is a stand-alone. More details on his website.

Notes from Abu Dhabi

Kathryn has been introducing us to the relaxed life-style of an ex-pat's wife. (She'll miss it when she starts work teaching 3 year olds in a local school at the end of August)

Today we saw the Picasso exhibition at the sumptuous Emirates Palace hotel.
It's Kathryn's birthday today so we followed that up with coffee and cake in one of it's cafes.
If you look carefully you'll see the gold sprinkled on top of the coffee.

27 May 2008

SNOW CANDY, Terry Carroll

The Mercury Press, 2007, 171 pages, 9-781551-281353

When the raucous whining of snowmobiles wakes old Hughie Campbell on New Year's Eve, he reacts in anger, takes his .22 out from behind the stove, and takes a pot shot at the intruders. But shattering a headlight doesn't see them off, it brings them to his doorstep.

The fire that guts the Campbell farm early on New Year's Day is the second one in St. Thomas, Ontario, in only a few hours, and Sergeant Carl North can't help feeling that this is too much of a coincidence. There are two burnt bodies in the farmhouse kitchen. One is quickly identified as Hughie Campbell, so who is the other? North's offsider Constable Pete Heemstra remarks on how odd the placement of the bodies looks.

The other fire that night was at a strip club whose owner had been threatened by local bikie gang, the Pythons, who have controlling interest in a rival club. Coincidentally the neighbour who reported the Campbell farm fire has a son in the gang. Even without this gossamer thread, two fires in one night is just too much coincidence.

Sergeant Carl North, with one defunct marriage, and one almost finished, seems to be a person who attracts disaster. He's a bit of a lone wolf, one who doesn't always do things by the book, and we gather that in the past he has gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries. Nor does he devote the time to relationships that he should. His actions in SNOW CANDY put the people closest to him, as well as himself, in grave danger. He's impulsive, flawed, but very likeable.

SNOW CANDY demonstrates what a soft underbelly a small town can have once it is infested by the corrupting influence of a bikie gang. The corruption isn't evident in just strip tease clubs but can reach out into the police force itself. Gang leaders who will do anything to augment their own power place little value on the lives of others, even those inside their gang.

Read an excerpt from SNOW CANDY on the author's web site.

SNOW CANDY has been shortlisted for Canada's 2008 Arthur Ellis awards for best novel.
It is the second Carl North novel.
The first, BODY CONTACT, was published in 2006, and set in another small town, Belleford. Once again an excerpt is available online.

My rating of SNOW CANDY: 4.4

Many thanks to Terry Carroll for sending me a copy of the book.


Notes from Abu Dhabi.

Another hot day today: 44 degrees C.

We went on on a tour of the great Mosque, which is nearing completion. It's a stunning accomplishment of fine architecture and remarkable craftsmanship.

Ned Kelly Longlist 2008 announced

Always an interesting time when the Ned Kelly awards long list comes out.
These Australian awards, presented by the Crimewriters Association of Australia will be announced during Melbourne Writers' Festival in late August, and at some stage before that a short list will be announced.

The following list is linked, where possible, to reviews on Aust Crime Fiction

Best First Fiction:
Golden Serpent, Mark Abernethy
Shadow Maker, Robert Sims
A Fraction Of The Whole, Steve Toltz
The Low Road, Chris Womersley
The Butcherbird, Geoffrey Cousins
Bye Bye Baby, Lauren Crow - my review here (rating 4.2)
Broken Swallow, JJ Burn Green
Velvet Shoes, Christina Ann Alexander
Frantic, Katherine Howell - among my best reads in 2007
Vodka Doesn't Freeze, Leah Giarratano - a good read in 2007
Iraqi Icicle, Bernie Dowling
Maelstrom, Michael MacConnell

Best Fiction:
Trick or Treat, Kerry Greenwood - my review here (rating 4.3)
Cherry Pie, Leigh Redhead - in mount TBR somewhere
Endangered List, Brian Westlake
Harum Scarum, Felicity Young - my review here (rating 4.4)
Sensitive New Age Spy, Geoffrey McGeachin
Sucked In, Shane Maloney - in mount TBR somewhere
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, Mandy Sayer
Orpheus Lost, Janette Turner Hospital
Amongst The Dead, Robert Gott
Appeal Denied, Peter Corris
Open File, Peter Corris
Gospel, Sydney Bauer
Broken, Ilsa Evans
Skin & Bone, Kathryn Fox - in mount TBR somewhere
Fan Mail, PD Martin - 5.0 from me
El Dorado, Dorothy Porter
Shattered, Gabrielle Lord - 4.6 from me last year
The Calling, Jane Goodall - 4.8 from me last year
Shatter, Michael Robotham - scheduled for consumption soon
Game As Ned, Tim Pegler
The Tattooed Man, Alex Palmer - in mount TBR somewhere
Blood Sunset, Jarad Henry
Redback, Lindy Cameron - in mount TBR somewhere

Best Non-Fiction:
Bondi Badlands, Greg Callaghan
Mr Sin, Tony Reeves
Underbelly The Gangland War, John Silvester and Andrew Rule
Killing Jodie, Janet Fife-Yeomans
Red Centre, Dark Heart, Evan McHugh
Big Shots, Adam ShandLives of Crime, Gary Tippett & Ian Munro
Fatal Flaw, Roger Maynard
Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter, Carole Wilkinson
Wild Colonial Boys, Paula Hunt

26 May 2008


Random House 2006, 287 pages. ISBN 978-1-74166-527-7

Tokyo detective Aoki and his team are expecting that the case they have been working on for the last seventeen months will soon be over. Along the way they have lost 3 of their team who fell under the pace of the investigation, but it will all be worth it. This case is about to break and they will all have promotions.

But that's not the way it works out. They are called abruptly to a meeting with the superintendent and the director general and told that the investigation is over, no action will be taken, the case will not be proceeding. The ex-governor with connections to the yakuza will get away with it yet again.

In the following months, the ex-governor's star rises and people begin to talk of him as the next prime minister, and Aoki's star goes into decline. A member of his team commits suicide, a journalist, and both his father and his wife die and Aoki himself is suspended from duty. And just when things really can't get any worse, Aoki is sent by his superintendent to the Kamakura Inn, a ryokan in Hokkaido, to recuperate.

The detective in Aoki is revived as he realises that the other guests at the ryokan have secrets to hide, and he wonders if he has been sent there intentionally. He remembers an unsolved mystery of the disappearance of a woman 7 years earlier, and reaslises that at least two of the other guests have connections to that case. When the ryokan is cut off from the world in a snow storm, this tale becomes a classic locked room mystery. The ryokan is a house of many secrets, built to hide as well as accommodate, and the tension grows as first of all the telephone, and then the lights fail.

All the other Marshall Browne books I've read, the Inspector Anders ones, have rated highly. This one is no exception. My rating 4.3

I bought RENDEZVOUS AT KAMAKURA INN at Adelaide Writers' Week after I had heard Marshall Browne talk, and he duly signed it for me.

Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi
An inviting pile of books beckons outside the public library at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi.

Today was 44 degrees C, windy, and a bit dusty, so we spent a couple of hours viewing an exhibition about Sudan (in airconditioned comfort).

The pile of books is a "sculpture".

25 May 2008

TRICK OR TREAT, Kerry Greenwood

2007, Allen & Unwin, 288 pages

Corinna Chapman is making ends meet very well with her bakery Earthly Delights just off Flinders Lane in metropolitan Melbourne. She has built up a regular clientele of colourful locals, as well as becoming the supplier to a number of restaurants.
That is, until a franchised hot bread shop opens up at the other end of the lane, and sales begin to flag.

And that's not the only problem. The love of her life Daniel seems to be making excuses and to have other things on his mind. And then morning after morning Calico Alley, at the back entrance to her bakery, has more than its fair share of drug overdose cases, until finally someone leaps from the roof of a building into the alley. The investigation that follows threatens Corinna's very livelihood.

To make it worse, although Corinna has a secret admirer sending her flowers and cards, at least one other person wants her out of the bakery - to the point even of nailing a grisly trophy to the front door of the apartment building that houses the bakery.

Kerry Greenwood has a delightful turn of phrase that constantly brings a touch of humour to the pages. TRICK OR TREAT is full of interesting characters - from elderly Greek Jews who remember their war-time flight from the Germans as if it were yesterday; to Meroe the local witch who wants special soul cakes for Halloween; to those who conduct the nightly Soup Run through the streets of Melbourne and collect the bakery's surpluses. Even the animals come over as real characters: Heckle and Jekyll, the bakery's Mouse Police; Horatio the lordly feline whose fiefdom is Corinna's apartment; Nox the black kitten who rules a neighbour, the Professor, with an iron paw; to the death-defying Lucifer whose clawed ginger paws love koi fish.

This #4 in Kerry Greenwood's Earthly series and each one is more like a comfort read, like the comfort food Corinna cooks in her bakery. But make no mistake, there is underlying social comment here too: on the exploitation of the elderly and the gullible, bakery chains who would rather sell their surplus to a piggery than donate to charity, and the importance of resolution for those who were the victims of war crimes even when the war is 70 years in the past. And for those who like cooking, there are real recipes for some of Corinna's treats in the final pages.

Kerry Greenwood is an accomplished and popular Australian author, probably better known for her Phryne Fisher series. To be honest though, I find Corinna Chapman less grating that the Hon. Phryne.

Websites to check

The Cairns Post, among other reviewers, labelled this "chick-lit", but unlike much of this crime fiction sub-genre, this is chick-lit the oldies will enjoy too.

My rating: 4.3

Sunday Salon #10 - 25 May 2008

Can't believe this is my 10th Sunday Salon. I think I am almost addicted to blogging. In 144 days I made 176 postings!

I've set this to auto publish on Sunday so I hope that it works. The first post in the retrospective list below will explain why I had to do that.

I've learnt a few things this week- how to add a Feedburner RSS icon, and set up an email subscription through Feedburner - and met a few new people through comments they've left.
I also "hotlinked" all my reviews for 2008, currently listed in a side panel, to the actual reviews so visitors can locate them more easily.
  • A new site to explore: Crime and Mystery Fiction
    Lists over 1400 authors and their books. Some pages are not quite current but it is a remarkable piece of work. Check out some of the pseudonyms too
  • Over on Book Group Buzz there's a nice list of things you can do in your Book Group if you're looking for something to rev it up a bit.
    There have also been a couple of posts about how to locate online reading guides. An earlier posting here.
  • Over on Crime Scraps you can compete for a copy of Peter Temple's THE BROKEN SHORE, winner of CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for 2007.

    Interesting co
    ver too for the USA Picador publishing of this Australian novel by an Australian author.
    The Australian cover is on the left.
    Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, get a copy.
The Book Depository sends all over the world with free postage. Copies of THE BROKEN SHORE begin at £6.03 or treat yourself to a Peter Temple Omnibus that also includes IN THE EVIL DAY and AN IRON ROSE for £6.03

23 May 2008

DEAD LOVELY, Helen Fitzgerald

Allen & Unwin, 2007, 298 pages

We know from the beginning that Krissie Donald has killed her best friend Sarah Morgan. They are on a hiking holiday in Scotland with Sarah's husband Kyle, and you know the old saying, three's a crowd.

Krissie Donald has always been a bit unstable, a rolling stone, and promiscuous with it. One of the results of her promiscuity after a holiday in Tenerife was pregnancy. But Krissie is not yet ready to be a mother to her son Robbie. Sarah on the other hand is childless despite almost 8 years of trying to fall pregnant.

Krissie's near nervous collapse is the reason for the hiking holiday, but it ends in a way that none of them could have predicted.

This is a book where the writing and structure break all the rules. It has a deceptively simple style- very short sentences for the most part, and often very blunt expression. I would be tempted to characterise it as chick-lit, and I think the market it is probably aimed at is young women. This is reinforced not only by its vocabulary, but also through the topics of interest to the main characters: sex, pregnancy, getting drunk.

One of the rules that it breaks happens through abrupt changes in P.O.V. For example the first four chapters are in the first person, Krissie's voice. Then chapter 5 is third person, almost a narrator, and in chapter 6 back to Krissie's voice. When this first happens it is a bit disconcerting.
Chapter 5 prompted me to look back and check whose head I had been in in the previous chapters. At times we see the action through the eyes of other narrators too. It's part of what makes this novel quite remarkable.

What surprised me about this novel was how well very disparate strands converged towards the final resolution. I wouldn't say it was all believable. The murder is particularly grisly and there was an un-hinged side to the murderer that I hadn't been prepared for.

Not my best read for the year, but a good solid one.
My rating 4.0

Sally reviewed it here

From Helen Fitzgerald's web site:
Helen FitzGerald writes thrillers and teen fiction. Her first novel - Dead Lovely - was published by Allen and Unwin in Australia and New Zealand in Sept 2007 and will be published in the UK by Faber and Faber in June 2008. She has four thrillers being published in the UK in 2008 and 2009. The books have been sold to numerous other countries and will be translated into several languages. Helen's writing is pacy, sharp, funny and disturbing.

Someone needs to write better text for her though - the description of the plot of DEAD LOVELY on the website gives the game away a bit.

22 May 2008

Off Travelling

What the heck is that you say?
A cactus on my bathroom window ledge! Must be about 10 years old I think, and it began life as a demure little ball in the centre of the pot.
Reminds me a bit of my reading.

You'll notice a couple more changes to my blog layout.
Thanks to Jim at Nearly Nothing but Novels who suggested I visit Feedburner and set up a RSS widget and a link to an email subscription to my blog. You'll see them in the right hand column.

At the moment I'm trying to work out how many books to take with me on a 2 week trip overseas. 6? 8? decisions..decisions

And this is where we are off to.. Abu Dhabi ==>>
to visit the daughter and son-in-law.

Books I am taking:
That's the important stuff done: Now to pack!

Seriously though you might find my blog a bit re-purposed for a couple of weeks, but I'll try to report on my reading. :-)

A QUIET BELIEF fights back

Last week in ANGELS toppled by OUT, I commented on how OUT by Natsuo Kirino had taken top position from R. J. Ellory's A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS on Amazon UK's Bestsellers in Crime, Thrillers & Mystery list.
Since then the price of a new copy of OUT has spiralled downwards to an unbelievable £7.99 £1.00 while ANGELS has been £7.99 £3.47

This morning on my RSS feed ANGELS is back at the top. Why am I so interested in this? Well, I gave both of them my highest rating of 5, so both are well worth your attention.

The rest of the list?
#3 DEVIL MAY CARE (James Bond) by Sebastian Faulks
#4 THE FRONT by Patricia Cornwell
#5 DISSOLUTION (Matthew Shardlake 1) by C. J. Sansom
#6 FLESH HOUSE by Stuart MacBride
#7 THE WOODS by Harlan Coben
#8 BONES TO ASHES by Kathy Reichs
#9 BROTHER ODD by Dean Koontz
#10 DARK FIRE (Matthew Shardlake 2) by C.J. Sansom

20 May 2008


Harper Collins, 2008, 535 pages.

Incapacitated by what he refers to as "the big bang in Mill Street", Andy Dalziel finds that none of those who are near and dear to him want to take him on in his convalescence, and so he takes Ellie Pascoe's advice and books in at the Avalon in Sandytown. As we know the sea air is good for the health, and there is nothing like a seaside holiday for restoring health.

Sandytown is dominated by three families: the Parkers, Denhams and Hollises, very much intertwined and wanting between them to turn the sleepy little seaside resort into something much grander with a 5 star hotel, clinics, and health resort. Just the thing for the convalescent. But under the apparently united front of the Sandytown Development Consortium simmer tensions that go back decades. And then they result in the death of Lady Denham herself. That's when Peter Pascoe and his team move in to investigate.

But what of Andy Dalziel? He's supposedly on sick leave, but he desperately wants to be included, noticed, and consulted. Peter Pascoe on the other hand relishes the idea of running his own investigation yet again, but is he ready? How will he deal with Fat Andy sticking his nose in?

This is a fascinating read, and for me, doing some thinking about it, and some research afterwards, paid off, and I felt like I'd struck gold. For one thing I think Reginald Hill must have really enjoyed writing it.

There really are some things about this novel that I can't discuss, because, for the reader, working out what Hill has done here is part of the pleasure. This is another of those books that is not just crime fiction, but is also a literary work. It reveals a side of Reginald Hill that I hadn't known was there.

Getting used to the multiple points of view that reveal the story takes some effort. First of all there are the emails that Charley Heywood is sending to her sister; then the voice of Dalziel himself talking into a recorder given to him by his doctor for therapy. These two voices dominate the first volume, the first third of the novel. Then later in the novel we see the story not only from these points of view, but also from those of the individuals in the investigating team.

The structure of the novel is interesting too: A NOVEL in six volumes, it says on the title page. And throughout, even on the title pages of each volume, Reginald Hill has left little clues like little Easter eggs. Get too complacent about them and you'll miss what he's up to.

Reginald Hill dedicated this novel "To Janeites everywhere". He says this novel has been ten years in the making, from seeds sown when he visited the Jane Austen Society's of North America's AGM. Reginald Hill wrote this novel not only for crime fiction readers, for those eagerly awaiting the next Dalziel & Pascoe, but also for those who know their Jane Austen. My advice to you, dear reader, read everything.

My rating: 5.0

EVIL INTENT, progress report

I am listening to EVIL INTENT by Kate Charles on CDs (10 of them actually, about 12 hours) as I drive to and from work.

Kate Charles is a new-to-me author, so I decided to find out about her. What I've found on her own website helps me understand what I have listened to so far.

Kate Charles, who was described by the Oxford Times as "a most English writer", is in fact an expatriate American, though an unashamedly Anglophilic one. She has a special interest and expertise in clerical mysteries, and lectures frequently on crime novels with church backgrounds. After more than twenty years in Bedford, Kate and her husband now live in Ludlow with their Border Terrier, Rosie.

Kate is a former Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association and the Barbara Pym Society. Her favourite hobby is visiting churches, and this interest is reflected in her various church society memberships, particularly WATCH (Women and the Church) and her enthusiastic support of Music in Country Churches.

If I summed up what I have listened to so far (nearly 2 hours in), this novel is about
  • the hostility to ordination of women in the Anglican church
  • the suppression of homosexuality.
Now I picked this up because I thought it was crime fiction. A murder is promised in the blurb, but none has eventuated so far, although there are many I would like to murder. There's been a lot of detailed description, the role of the vicar's wife, almost banality.

Here's the blurb:

Life in the clergy is quiet, respectful, peaceful or so Callie Anson believes when she begins her new job as curate to the Reverend Brian Stanford at All Saints Church in Paddington. Little does she realise how wrong she could be.

After the traumatic end of her relationship with fiancé Adam, the last thing Callie needs is any more emotional turmoil. But it seems she is not destined for a quiet life just yet. Knowing that women in the clergy are still disapproved of in certain quarters, Callie is prepared to face some criticism. But the deep-seated hatred shown by some of her respected male colleagues takes her by surprise, particularly the spiteful attack made by Father Jonah Adimola, a hard-line conservative Nigerian priest. Luckily, however, her good friend and mentor Frances Cherry is on hand to jump to her defence. But when Father Adimola is found strangled to death the next day and Frances is suspected of the crime, Callie must call upon her faith to steer her through the troubling and violent times ahead and help prove her friend's innocence. With DI Neville Stewart heading the investigation, it is not long before the ecclesiastical façade is chipped away to reveal the ugly truth of the hidden secrets of the clergy.

Things had better look up soon. I can feel things moving towards the first climax but there is a limit to how much of the day to day routine of church life that I can stand. I haven't even met DI Neville Stewart yet!

19 May 2008

Discovery: BookMooch.com

I don't keep all the books that I read, and sometimes I take part in car boot sales or garage sales to get rid of some of them. But I'm never very successful. I end up giving a lot away to friends or to members of my face-2-face discussion group (and they give me books back too). The end result though is piles of books around the house.

So I am indebted to someone who left a comment on my blog a couple of posts ago (Bernadette) and pointed me towards Book Mooch.

Here are the details from the About page.

BookMooch is a community for exchanging used books.

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

  • Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you've read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.

  • No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others.

  • Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every three you receive.

  • World wide: You can request books from other countries, in other languages. You receive 3 points when you send a book out of your country, to help compensate you for the greater mailing cost, but it only costs the moocher 2 points to get the book.

  • Quite often these schemes don't work for us in the bottom half of the world, but it looks as if it might work for me. Already I have been contacted regarding books I listed last night. Admittedly both requests involve me sending a book to the US, but the person who originally pointed me towards the scheme says there are around 600 members in Australia, so I should be able to find a crime-fiction person or two, shouldn't I?

    My review of HARUM SCARUM up on Euro Crime

    Some weeks back I posted my review of Felicity Young's HARUM SCARUM here, and now it has made it up onto Euro Crime, along with
    • Laura Root reviews David Downing's 'Silesian Station' writing that it is "a thoughtful, sensitive thriller";
    • Norman Price reviews the second in the Yashim, Ottoman Detective series by Jason Goodwin: 'The Snake Stone' which it seems is a rather impressive follow-up to the Edgar winning 'The Janissary Tree';
    • Fiona Walker calls Mo Hayder's 'Ritual' "a complete triumph" and that it is "certainly the best British crime novel I've read so far this year";
    • Maxine Clarke thinks that 'Trial by Blood' by John Macken is one for action fans rather "than for those who like a lean plot with strong characters";
    • Karen Meek takes a look at recent Euro Crime interviewee, Mehmet Murat Somer's 'The Prophet Murders'

    18 May 2008

    Carnival of Criminal Minds moves to location #16

    The Carnival of Criminal Minds has moved to yet another splendid location.
    No. 15 was in Germany at Internationale Krimis.
    Now the Carnival has leapt entire continents in a single bound to location No. 16 to Canada to be hosted by author and critic Sandra Ruttan at life & other inconveniences.
    It's new manifestation is an absolute smorgasbord of trapeze artists, a haunted house, a ferris wheel, roller coasters, cotton candy, a food court, and enough new blogs to set your head spinning.

    Never seen any of the Carnivals? Then hie thee to the Ringmaster's site and check them all out. If you want to start with the first and move forward, start here. The purpose of The Carnival of Criminal Minds: to showcase highlights in crime fiction, books, blogs, and websites.

    Sunday Salon #9 - 18 May 2008

    Why a rain gauge?
    Well, it's been raining overnight here in this driest state in the driest continent, and we've been promised more. So this is what we caught in our backyard overnight, which was quite a lot.

    This week I've been reading Reginald Hill's A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES all week. It is unusual for me to spend a whole week on a book. Admittedly it is pretty long - 532 pages - but I'm not reading many pages in a sitting. Some people find a slow down in reading a bit depressing, but it doesn't really worry me - except that it will result in me getting through less books this month.

    So what slows your reading down? Here are some thoughts.
    • plot complexity - that certainly is true for A CURE: lots of strands, lots of detail, you struggle to decide what is important and what is not.
    • changing P.O.V. - this also certainly true - I have identified at least 7 different voices: an email correspondence between a character and her sister; Dalziel's recordings of his thoughts into a portable device; other people's voices on Dalziel's recorder; Peter Pascoe's thoughts; Shirley Novello; Hat Bowler; Wieldy. And there are probably more. Each change of P.O.V. requires the reader to assess the importance of this input and the authority of this voice.
    • book structure - the title A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES is subtitled A NOVEL in six volumes. And then each "volume" comes with its own quotation and the reader has to ingest this, and decide whether it is significant. Is the structure important or is it just the author organising himself?
      And what is the dedication to "Janeites everywhere" on the opening page of the book all about? And what does the title mean? (I think I know that one, so that's really just a rhetorical question)
    • characters and the power play between them. The balance of the Dalziel & Pascoe team has been upset by the fact that Dalziel is supposed to be convalescing from being blown up in THE DEATH OF DALZIEL, and Pascoe is meant to be running the new investigation. But Fat Andy is finding ways to breathe down his neck. And there there is the by-play between the underlings in their team each jockeying for position in a possible new team structure.
    • red herrings and the difficulties of identifying them.
    Phew! No wonder it is taking me a while read. My brain is running hot just thinking about all that.

    The rest of the week: the postings
    • I really didn't do anything with The Weekly Geeks this week. It was about books I read in my childhood. Too much I thought! Childhood was over 4, and depending on your definition of childhood, even 5, decades ago. Besides I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton, 19th century classics, every book in the school library, every book in the town library, School Friend, Girl's Crystal, Arthur Mee's Encyclopaedia, Phantom Comics etc etc.. All books were hard covers and quite expensive, on coarse paper, and with grottily small printing.
      For all that my evolution into almost solely reading crime fiction has been easily traceable for the last 30 years. Since 1975 I have been keeping a written record of authors and titles that I have read, so I can see the journey I've travelled. For the last 40 months I have been keeping mini-reviews in a database on my computer.
    • I decided to remove the list of labels that I used to have running at the foot of my blog because I realised that every time Google "scraped" my page it was also scraping those labels. That meant people were coming to my pages as a result of the Google search because it had picked up a label. If you want to find something now, and can't find it in my permanent list at the side, you'll just have to use the Search box at the top.

    17 May 2008

    Where is your favourite book store?

    This item caught my eye in my Google news feed, and thought I'd ask readers to give me directions/locations/URLs for book stores that serve crime fiction readers in a similar way. I'll use your contributions as material for a later post.

    Kate's Mystery Books receives award from Mystery Writers of America
    Cambridge - The Mystery Writers of America presented Kate Mattes and her store, Kate's Mystery Books, with the Raven Award by the Mystery of Writers America on May 1 in New York at the 2008 Edgar banquet.

    The Raven is bestowed by MWA's Board of Directors for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Mattes was honored with the Raven due to her tireless efforts in advancing the genre of mystery fiction.

    In Melbourne friends have introduced me to Kill City, which deals in new and second hand books, crime fiction and thrillers. 119 Swanston St. Melbourne.

    16 May 2008

    Female 'tecs - of the British kind

    This started out as a post about Aline Templeton's books but then I decided to range a bit further. You'll see I've said "of the British kind". With luck in later postings we'll look at European (although I'm a bit thin there), American, and Australian. These refer to characters I've met in books I've read, so I've included mini-reviews from my database.

    So here I introduce you to
    • D. I. Marjorie Fleming of Galloway
    • Janine Lewis, Manchester's first female D. I.
    • Inspector Vera Stanhope of Northumbria
    • Carole and Jude of Fethering
    • Dorothy Martin, American tourist in London
    • S.I.O. Hen Mallen
    • D.S. Karen Meadows
    • Maisie Dobbs
    Author: Aline Templeton

    COLD IN THE EARTH (2005), rating: 4.6
    #1 in Templeton's Marjorie Fleming series: COLD IN THE EARTH is set in Galloway, Scotland, and foot and mouth disease strikes the cattle. All livestock have to be destroyed, including the sheep Marge's husband Bill loves so much. When a burial pit is dug at Kirkluce human remains are found. The Mason family on whose property the remains are found are so committed to raising cattle that they go to Pamplona every year for the running of the bulls, and Jake, the head of the family is nicknamed the Minotaur. An interesting snapshot too of a community torn apart by first of all the BSE and now the foot-and-mouth crisis. Herds and flocks built up over generations have to be destroyed. This is D. I. Marjorie Fleming's first murder investigation too. She is a tall raw-boned Scotswoman who rules her investigation team with sensitivity and purpose. The characterisation and humanity in these books is excellent

    THE DARKNESS AND THE DEEP (2006), rating 4.6
    The second in the series with protagonist D. I. Marjory Fleming. The wreck of the Knockhaven lifeboat causes the death of all 3 of its crew, and worse, it looks like it is the result of sabotage. This is an excellent read - many red herrings and lots of well drawn characters.

    Author: Cath Staincliffe

    BLUE MURDER (2004), rating: 4.2
    Janine Lewis, newly promoted to Detective Chief Inspector, is 6 months pregnant, already mother of 3, and recently separated from an unfaithful husband. She is Manchester's first female DCI, and now she has been assigned her first case. It is Saturday morning and a school teacher has been grotesquely murdered on his allotment. Her boss is reluctant to give Janine the case, just as he was reluctant to accept her promotion, but there is no-one else. He, derisively known as The Lemon, seriously doubts she has the bottle to solve anything, particularly in view of her personal circumstances. Janine is just as determined to succeed and the murder investigation takes place against the background of the demands of family life.

    BITTER BLUE (2003), rating: 4.2
    Manchester private investigator Sal Kilkenny is a single mum with a 7 year old daughter, sharing a house with Ray, a single father with a 6 year old son. Sal tries to be selective about the cases she takes on but that doesn't always mean she avoids personal danger. Two or three cases at a time is not unusual: an elegant hotel receptionist has been receiving offensive and threatening hate letters, a couple want a "peace of mind" report about a street where they are considering buying a house, and then, her daughter Maddie complicates things by not wanting to go to school. Cases escalate and Sal finds she has made some serious misjudgements. Sal Kilkenny is a firmly drawn character, and this is #6 in a 7 title series. I'll be looking for another.

    Author: Ann Cleeves

    CROW TRAP (1999), rating: 4.8
    Debut novel in the Vera Stanhope series. In the Northern Pennines there are plans to open a new slate quarry. Three women are employed to conduct an environmental survey. Bella Furness, whose cottage holds right of way to the site of the quarry, commits suicide and shortly afterwards one of the women involved in the survey fails to return home. Vera makes her first appearance at Bella's funeral and then is the investigating officer when the missing woman is found murdered. Ann Cleeves has created an intriguing character in Vera Stanhope. She is the sort of detective who more or less does as she pleases, very hands-on. There are many twists in this, keeping me guessing until the end.

    HIDDEN DEPTHS (2007), rating: 4.7
    Julie Armstrong has been for a 'night out with the girls' and arrives home, barely sober, to find her son Luke in the bath, apparently drowned, scented water and flowers floating on the surface. Whatever happened, her daughter Laura has slept through it all. Inspector Vera Stanhope of the Northumbrian police, is the investigating officer. Soon there is a second body, this time young student teacher Lily Marsh. She too is found lying in a pool of water strewn with flowers but this time in an fairly inaccessible part fo the coastline. The subsequent investigation which Vera leads works rather like peeling back the layers of the onion, seeking the connections between the two deaths. And are they connected to an earlier drowning where mourners threw flowers onto the river where another young man died? This is #3 in the Vera Stanhope series: in tall, lumpy Vera Cleeves has almost created a female equivalent of Reginald Hill's Andy Dalziel. Perhaps that's being unkind to Vera, but she is every bit as clever, as intuitive.

    Author: Simon Brett

    The Fethering Series - see my previous posting
    Central characters are busybodies - Carole and Jude
    1. The Body on the Beach (2000)
    2. Death On the Downs (2001)
    3. The Torso In The Town (2002)
    4. Murder in the Museum (2003), 4.5
    5. The Hanging in the Hotel (2004), 5.0
    6. The Witness at the Wedding (2005), 4.7
    7. The Stabbing in the Stables (2006), 4.3
    8. Death Under the Dryer (2007), 4.3
    9. Blood At the Bookies (2008)

    Author: Jean M. Dams

    American Dorothy Martin broke her ankle shortly after her second marriage. Her British husband is ex-policeman Alan Nesbitt much in demand by police forces around the world as a consultant, and in this book he is only a voice at the other end of the phone. Dorothy has to travel to London by train to see her specialist, and during the journey she talks to the young man in the opposite seat, who is the CEO of a software company. When they arrive at Victoria Station he appears to have fallen asleep, and when Dorothy tries to wake him she finds that he is very dead. The doctor who comes to her assistance on the train says he will take care of matters and do all the necessary reporting, so Dorothy hobbles off ot her appointment. However the death isn't reported and now Dorothy involves herself in the investigation of what was obviously a murder. Just a little to cosy for my liking, and for me Dorothy seems a bit improbable.

    Author: Peter Lovesey

    THE CIRCLE (2005), rating 5.0
    Encouraged by his fourteen-year-old-daughter who recognises his lonely widowhood, Bob Naylor decides to join a writers' circle, believing he might gain some expert help with the poetry which keeps spilling out of his imagination. He discovers a motley collection of wannabe authors who he doubts he has anything in common with, but just as he is deciding not to formally join the group he learns that a publisher who addressed their last meeting has been killed and he stays to see what might develop. The Senior Investigating Officer, Henrietta Mallin, soon has all the members of the group under suspicion and, under pressure from her superiors, arrests their Chairman. Bob, the only writer who had not met the victim, is persuaded by other members of the group to do some investigating of his own. And that is when the trouble really starts, because another death turns the spotlight of suspicion on to him.

    Author: Hillary Bonner

    WHEN THE DEAD CRY OUT (2003), rating:4.5
    One summer day Clara Marshall vanished without trace. A few days later, her children, six-year-old Lorraine and five-year-old Janine, also disappeared and were never seen again. Richard Marshall, Clara's heartbroken husband, claimed he had discovered his wife was having an affair with an Australian backpacker and that she had run away with him, taking the children with her, destroying the family for ever. That was twenty-seven years ago. John Kelly, veteran journalist, covered the case when he was a trainee reporter and he suspected something far more sinister. Police enquiries discovered no Australian backpacker and the biggest missing persons operation ever mounted in the south of England revealed nothing. Detective Superintendent Karen Meadows has been familiar with case since childhood and she is only too aware that many suspect Marshall of murdering his wife and children. But where are the bodies? And what is the motive?
    Then extraordinary events reawaken the case and Kelly and Karen become determined to discover what happened to Clara and her children so long ago, and to seek justice for them.

    Author: Jacqueline Winspear

    BIRDS OF A FEATHER (2005), rating: 4.6
    This novel is set some time after the first in the Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is now an established detective with rooms of her own and an assistant. It's now the early Spring of 1930. Her friend Detective Inspector Stratton of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad is investigating a murder case in Coulsden, while Maisie has been summoned to Dulwich to find a runaway heiress. The woman is the daughter of Joseph Waite, a wealthy self-made man who has lavished her with privilege but kept her in a gilded cage. His domineering ways have driven her off before, and now she's bolted again. Waite's instructions are to find his daughter and bring her home. When Maisie looks into the disappearance she finds a chilling link to Stratton's murder case, and to the terrible legacy of The Great War.

    ANGELS toppled by OUT

    I am still watching Amzaon UK's Bestsellers in Crime, Thrillers & Mystery list and sometime yesterday OUT by Natsuo Kirino took top position from R. J. Ellory's A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS which had been there for well over 5 months.

    OUT is another of those books that sticks with you, in this case because of the horror of what is perpetrated and because I can't ever imagine being driven to it.

    OUT was actually published in 1997 and when I read it three years ago it got my highest rating: 5.0 I think the words below, stored in the trusty database, are from the blurb rather than actually my own.

    Translated into English in 2004. In the dreary, exhausting hours of the nightshift at a boxed-lunch factory, four women have formed a friendship of sorts. They work side by side and chat briefly each night, always carefully guarding their troubling thoughts and personal worries. When Yayoi Yamamoto, a young wife and mother, kills her abusive husband, the others help her dispose of the body; however, they become bound to one another in an ever tightening web of conspiratorial intimacy, mutual suspicion, and protective self-interest.

    We read it for a face to face discussion group I belong to, and each reported that we did not find it an "easy" read, but at the same time compulsive. My memory is that it is quite a hefty tome.

    15 May 2008


    9 CDs with approx 10 hours, read by Judith Boyd. This #7 in the Mitchell & Markby series (now there are 15, last in 2004).

    Meredith Mitchell and Alan Markby visit the Chelsea Flower Show where Meredith meets up with and old school friend (with husband in tow). The old school friend turns out to be Alan Markby's ex-wife. Just after Markby has taken a photo of Meredith and ex-wife Rachel together, the husband Alex collapses, and then dies. A bit predictably they become involved in the investigation into the death, and soon there is another, and another.

    Having vague memories of the plot of a later book from the series didn't help. I kept thinking that if I wasn't listening to this on the CD player in short 20 minute gobbets as I drove to and from work, if indeed I was reading the book, then I may very well have skimmed through.

    Judith Boyd's reading was OK although a bit limp/placid in places. Meredith Mitchell drove me nuts with her inability to do as she was told. It was a story where the reader really had little chance of solving the whydunnit part. I had worked out the whodunnit pretty early on, although some red herrings made me think twice. But the last hour was spent in revealing the why, and this is never a good ploy. There were few clues about why during the other 9 hours - or none that I picked up.

    Nevertheless, not a bad read, and one that some will rate more highly than I did.

    My rating: 4.1

    Ann Granger is a pretty prolific writer and I am more familiar with her Fran Varady novels, although I haven't read any for a while.

    Lists per Fantastic Fiction

    Mitchell and Markby
    1. Say It With Poison (1991)
    2. A Season For Murder (1991)
    3. Cold In The Earth (1992)
    4. Murder Among Us (1992)
    5. Where Old Bones Lie (1993)
    6. A Fine Place For Death (1994)
    7. Flowers For His Funeral (1994)
    8. Candle For A Corpse (1995)
    9. A Touch Of Mortality (1996)
    10. A Word After Dying (1996)
    11. Call The Dead Again (1998)
    12. Beneath These Stones (1999)
    13. Shades of Murder (2000)
    14. A Restless Evil (2002)
    15. That Way Murder Lies (2004)

    Fran Varady
    1. Asking For Trouble (1997)
    2. Keeping Bad Company (1997)
    3. Running Scared (1998)
    4. Risking It All (2001)
    5. Watching Out (2003)
    6. Mixing with Murder (2005)
    7. Rattling the Bones (2007)

    Lizzie Martin
    1. A Rare Interest in Corpses (2006)
    aka The Companion
    2. A Mortal Curiosity (2008)

    14 May 2008

    Mission Impossible: more TBR

    The other day I listed the "library" pile of Mt. TBR.

    This is just a small part of the "review" pile. I really took this photo because I've seen some good ones on other people's blogs and wanted to see what mine looked like. I didn't stack them very well did I? And there were at least another 30 that could have been included in the stack.

    Mind you, these are all books that I want to read, and as you can see, within the crime fiction genre, I am interested in a wide range of authors. I keep trying to prioritise these books without a lot of of success.

    Perhaps you've read some of them, and would like to help me in my choice.

    The Power of Blogging

    Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, May 15

    Bloggers Unite is an initiative designed to harness the power of the blogosphere to make the world a better place. By challenging bloggers to blog about a particular social cause on a single day, a single voice can be joined with thousands of others to help make a real positive difference; from raising awareness for cancer, to an effort to better education systems or support 3rd world countries.

    It is an interesting perception of the power of blogging, and reminds me a bit of Howard Rheingold’s concept of Smart Mobs.

    Bloggers Unite For Human Rights challenges bloggers everywhere to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues on May 15. What those topics may include — the wrongful imprisonment of journalists covering assemblies, governments that ignore the plight of citizens, and censorship of the Internet. What is important is that on one day, thousands of bloggers unite and share their unified support of human rights everywhere.

    Previous campaigns were

    • 17 Dec 2007 - Acts of Kindness
    • 7 Sept 2007 - Bloggers against Abuse
    • 18 July 2007 - Organ Donor Awareness Campaign

    The site contains information from Amnesty International about human rights.

    Closer to home, people might look at information to be found on Australia’s Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). They have some excellent education pages, providing resources and information for teachers, students, media, legal services, and business groups. Their focus is what human rights are, where they come from and how they are protected in international and Australian law. Most importantly the resources encourage people to explore the relevance of human rights in their own communities.

    13 May 2008

    Favourite Author, Peter Robinson

    Peter Robinson's 16th novel in the Inspector Banks series, PIECE OF MY HEART, is one of the nominations for the 2008 Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award, which will be presented at the Harrogate festival, at which Peter will be present.

    Fantastic Fiction has a list of all 18 titles published over the last 21 years. I haven't read them all by any means. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL (2007) is ensconced on Mt. TBR, and the 18th ALL THE COLOURS OF DARKNESS is due out later this year.

    Most people don't realise that Peter Robinson is in fact Canadian - his books come over, not just in setting but also in style, as British police procedurals.

    If you want to look at Peter's own website, you have a choice of two, both called, confusingly, "Peter Robinson's Official Website". The Inspector Banks site is really a blog and has an RSS feed. There is a list of Peter's public appearances. It also told me that Peter won the Crimespree award for 2007 the best on-going series. The other site is a splashier one, divided in two: a US site and a Canadian one, contains comprehensive information on his last 7 novels, and interviews which reveal more about him.

    Anyway my own little database contains mini-reviews of 4 of his novels that I have read in the last 40 months. You'll see that all have rated very highly.

    PAST REASON HATED (1991) My rating: 4.7
    Susan Gay, newly appointed Detective Constable at Eastvale, her second day on the job in D.I. Bank's team, is called to a murder scene. It is 22 December, Christmas is approaching, and the rest of the team are at D.S. Hatchley's wedding celebrations. The victim Caroline Hartley lies stretched out on the lounge in front of the fire, with multiple stab wounds in her throat and chest, and blood drenching her whole body. She is part of the cast of a local dramatic production of Twelfth Night, and right from the beginning it seems as if there are far too many suspects.

    INNOCENT GRAVES (1997) My rating: 4.6
    The worst that can possibly happen...has.
    A beautiful child is dead -- defiled and murdered in a lonely graveyard on a fog-shrouded evening. It is the sort of horrific crime Chief Inspector Alan Banks fled the city to escape. But the slaying of a bright and lovely teenager from a wealthy, respected family is not the end of a nightmare. Lies, dark secrets, unholy accusations, and hints of sexual depravity swirl around this abomination like leaves in an autumn wind, leading to a shattering travesty of justice that will brutally divide a devastated community with suspicion and hatred. But Banks must remain vigilant in his hunt -- because when the devil is left free to pursue his terrible calling, more blood will surely flow.

    STRANGE AFFAIR (2005) My rating: 5.0
    On a warm summer night, an attractive woman hurtles north in a blue Peugeot with a hastily scrawled address in her pocket, while, back in London, a desperate man leaves an urgent late-night phone message on his brother's answering machine. By sunrise the next morning, the woman is found inside her car along an otherwise peaceful country lane, shot, execution-style, through the head.
    Welcome to the idyllic Yorkshire Dales, where Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot arrives on the scene and discovers, to her surprise, a slip of paper in the dead woman's pocket that bears the name of her colleague and erstwhile lover, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Banks, meanwhile -- already haunted and withdrawn after nearly dying in the fire that destroyed his home -- has gone missing just when he's needed most, and has left plenty of questions behind.

    PIECE OF MY HEART (2006) My rating: 4.7
    An interesting structure this one: two investigations in one. In 1969 as organisers cleaned up after Yorkshire's biggest rock festival they discovered that an abandoned sleeping bag contains the body of a young woman who has been murdered. The victim has links to one of the bands, the Mad Hatters, that performed at the festival. And now in the present, Detective Inspector Banks is involved in investigating the murder of a journalist writing an article on the Mad Hatters. The novel pursues the two investigations and gradually they begin to converge..

    12 May 2008

    The Growth of Mt. TBR

    I constantly have too many books "waiting in the wings", sitting on Mt TBR (To Be Read)

    The following list, all there because of somebody's recommendation, are all sitting on the "library face" (i.e. borrowed from the local library) of Mt. TBR. I usually try to read them in the order of their impending return to the library, but for you I have put them in alphabetical order.

    Bear in mind, these are only the library books. There are also a number of other faces, all containing a daunting number of books, called "review", "lent-to-me-by-a-friend", and "leapt-off-the-shelf-into-my-shopping-basket" faces.

    Some of the following library books will be returned unread to keep the librarian happy, but I'll order them again. I keep wishing I could discover how to read faster.

    AND JUSTICE THERE IS NONE, Deborah Crombie

    BLEEDING KANSAS, Sara Paretsky


    CANDLEMOTH, Roger Jon Ellory


    DEATH OF A RED HEROINE, Qiu Xiaolong

    GONE TO GROUND, John Harvey

    THE HEADHUNTERS, Peter Lovesey

    THE HOLLOW CORE, Lesley Horton

    I REMEMBER YOU, by Martin Edwards

    ICE MOON, Jan Costin Wagner ; translated from the German by John Brownjohn

    IN MATTO'S REALM, Friedrich Glauser ; translated from the German by Mike Mitchell


    KISSED A SAD GOODBYE, Deborah Crombie

    LYING DEAD, Aline Templeton

    NAME TO A FACE, Robert Goddard

    OFFICER DOWN, Theresa Schwegel

    A QUIET VENDETTA, Roger Jon Ellory

    S IS FOR SILENCE, Sue Grafton

    SILENT IN THE GRAVE, Deanna Raybourn

    SUN AND SHADOW, Ake Edwardson ; translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson

    THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, Patricia Highsmith

    TATTOOED MAN, Alex Palmer


    11 May 2008

    Forgotten Books (Crime fiction that is)

    Inspired by a posting by Petrona who pointed me to a new-to-me blog by Pattinase on a theme called Friday:Forgotten Books, I queried my database (which contains only records of books that I have read in the last 40 months or so) with the following requirements.
    • Published before 1970
    • Given a rating of 4 or more
    • Not Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers or Ngaio Marsh (whom I don't think have been forgotten)
    Here are the books the database came up with
    • Patricia Carlon, THE WHISPERING WALL (1969)
    • Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, ROSEANNA (1968), THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN, (1968), THE MAN ON THE BALCONY (1967)
    • Colin Watson, HOPJOY WAS HERE (1962), LONELYHEART 4122 (1967), CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME (1968), THE FLAXBOROUGH CRAB (1968)
    • Truman Capote, IN COLD BLOOD (1966)
    • John Le Carre, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1963)
    • Robert Van Gulin, THE CHINESE BELL MURDERS (1958)
    • Friedrich Glauser, THUMBPRINT (1936)
    • Fergus Hume, THE MYSTERY OF A HANSOM CAB (1886)
    I am looking forward to some other recommendations

    Sunday Salon #8 - 11 May 2008

    There's been a bit of discussion this week about whether Sunday Salon is getting a bit too big. Membership stands at 136 as I write, but the size of the membership is providing a real variety in our postings, and, speaking for myself, I am enjoying reading them.

    This week Debra posted the following
    Addendum, May 2008:
    1. The Salon's membership has grown so large that it's no longer possible for any one Salonist to read all of the Salon posts every week, much less comment on them meaningfully. Salonists should not feel any pressure to do so. Please feel free to skim around, to read what appeals, to visit the blogs that are of interest and forgo the rest.
    2. Salonists should feel free also not to post some weeks if they haven't the time to read.
    3. Have any thoughts about how the Salon could be improved? Please feel free to join the discussion here.

    This week I have done a lot of thinking about what constitutes good blogging both on Mysteries in Paradise and my work blog, You Are Never Alone.

    My posts this week:
    Apart from reading posts by fellow Sunday Saloners, I've also explored 2008 31 Day Comment Challenge from a link given by Petrona.

    The Weekly Geeks challenge this week was to offer to link to other people's reviews when I review a book. This really wasn't something that appealed much to me, although I often visit reviews that others have written of books that I have read. In addition I also belong to Library Thing, always post my book reviews there, and check on the reviews of others there, so in away I guess I am already doing what the intent of this week's challenge was.

    10 May 2008

    Hahndorf Band Festival, German crime fiction writers

    Sitting in the Hahndorf Institute this afternoon listening to brass bands got me thinking about German crime fiction.

    Hahndorf is a tourist town in the Adelaide Hills with a proud history and long connection to brass banding. Today 5 bands, including Enfield Brass (alias Klemzig Oompah) with which I am connected, participated in the 2008 Hahndorf Band Festival beginning with a street march, and then a concert this afternoon.

    Thinking of German crime fiction leads me to remind you that the Carnival of Criminal Minds is at present being hosted by Internationale Krimis. The Carnival of Criminal Minds reminds me a little of Enid Blyton's MAGIC FARAWAY TREE. Every time you visited the top of the tree there was a different land hovering.

    I must confess that I am not familiar with a great range of German crime fiction. When I was in Germany a little under 2 years ago, I did notice many crime fiction novels originally printed in English available as German translations, so I know crime fiction is very popular there.

    However in the list that follows I'm taking a few liberties and including crime fiction titles I've read that have German settings. I included some when I wrote about the Schutzenfest back in january.

    These all have a rating of better than 4.0 from me

    Somebody doesn't want two big European companies to conduct a merger. An estimated 21,000 redundancies will occur if the merger goes ahead. So someone plants a bomb in the boardroom of ChemtexAG, a "fish tank" with walls of unbreakable glass, on the 33rd floor of a Frankfurt office tower. For the 16 directors of the two companies meeting in the room at the time, it is instant death, their remains coating the inside walls of the room just like paint. Interpol, in the person of one-legged Inspector Anders and his off-sider Matucci, are called in. A group called Judgement Day claim responsibility, and seems to have some sort of link with the German terrorism of the 1970s. A message from the terrorists identifies another proposed merger as the next target and suddenly Anders has a race against time on his hands. Not so much a mystery as a thriller, #2 in Marshall Browne's Inspector Anders series. The action moves between Brussels, Strasbourg, and Paris.

    The setting is 1917 and the Great War grinds on, with the youth of the British Empire and Germany being sacrificed on the Somme. Douglas Kingsley, an inspector in His Majesty's Metropolitan Police in London, finds himself in gaol when he declares that the war offends his sense of logic. Rejected by his wife and condemned as a conscientious objector, Kingsley is sent to Flanders to investigate the murder of a British officer, also renowned as a poet. The setting in the war allows the author to ask questions about the importance of investigating the murder of one man when so much bloodshed is occurring all the time.

    THE MASK OF ATREUS, A. J. Hartley
    There are really two beginning points for this thriller/mystery. In the dying days of World War Two, a German tank convoy escorting a truck is intercepted by an American platoon. In the skirmish that follows most of the Germans are killed and the rest flee leaving the truck behind. Inside the truck is a single crate stencilled with the German eagle and swastika. The contents of this crate are pivotal to the rest of the story. The story then leaps to the present day. At 3 am Deborah Miller, curator of a small private museum in Atlanta, Georgia, is awoken by her third strange phone call for the night. This one sends her hurrying back to the museum which she had left only just after midnight after a successful promotional evening. At the museum, in a room she did not even know existed, she finds the body of Richard Dixon, her mentor and the museum's founder and director. On the shelves around the room is a treasure trove of what seem to be genuine Mycenaean antiquities. The reader unravels the mystery, essentially the story of why Richard was killed, in THE MASK OF ATREUS through Deborah's eyes, travelling to Greece and Russia, patching together an incredible story.

    Axel Berg is an Inspektor in Munich's newly formed Mordkommission. The year is 1929 and the Austrian Adolf Hitler is on the rise. He leads those who want to rid Germany of degenerates, Jews, Communists. The police force that Berg belongs to is underpaid and corrupt and ill equipped to deal with the growing Brown Shirt menace, young drunken hooligans who are manipulated by Hitler and murder and attack 'degenerates'. Lustmord — the joy of murder. The terrifying concept seems apt for the brutal slaying of a beautiful young society wife dumped in the vast English Garden. Homicide inspector Axel Berg is horrified by the crime...and disturbed by the artful arrangement of the victim's clothes and hair — a madman's portrait of death. Berg's superiors demand quick answers and a quick arrest: a vagrant, the woman's husband, anyone who can be demonized will do. When a second body is discovered, the city erupts into panic, the unrest fomented by the wild-eyed, hate-mongering Austrian Adolf Hitler and his Brownshirt party of young thugs. Berg can trust no one as he relentlessly hunts a ruthless killer, dodging faceless enemies and back-alley intrigue, struggling to bring a fiend to justice before the country — and his life — veer straight into darkness.

    BROTHER GRIMM, Craig Russell
    A girl's body has turned up on a Hamburg beach with a note concealed in her hand. The note gives her name, that of a 13 year old who went missing on her way home from school 3 years earlier. But it is not the same girl. Fabel has worked this out even before her parents come to identify the body and confirm his suspicions. Then two more bodies turn up, posed at a picnic table in the woods, also with notes concealed in their hands. The notes say Hansel and Gretel, in the same tiny, obsessively neat writing. This book was interesting because it was released simultaneously in English and German. Craig Russell is an author I've meant to follow up on.

    THUMBPRINT, Friedrich Glauser,
    Sergeant Studer has been asked to arrest Erwin Schlumpf on suspicion of having murdered his fiance’s father. The body of Wendelin Witschi, merchant and travelling salesman from Gerzenstein, has been found in the forest, shot in the head behind the ear. For reasons really unknown to himself, having delivered the prisoner to Thun Castle only an hour so previously, Studer returns to find the young man hanging by the neck from a leather belt tied around the window bars. He is in time to save Schlumpf’s life. The case of murder appears to be an open and shut one, but to Studer, an aging sergeant and unlikely detective, things don’t seem right, and of course they are not. Studer gets himself assigned to the case by almost blackmailing the magistrate who originally thought the facts clearly showed Schlumpf’s guilt. This is a very satisfying whodunit, with lots of the elements of the more modern whydunnits. I've included this one because it was translated from German. I reviewed it recently.


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