27 November 2011

Review: DEADLY INTENT, Lynda La Plante - audio

  • Narrated by Janet McTeer
  • Length: 5 hours 30 mins (Abridged)
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • available from Audible
  • Source: audio book won at Crime Fest 2011
  • #4 in the Anna Travis series, originally published in 2008
Synopsis (from publisher)

Alexander Fitzpatrick is one of the most wanted men in the Western world. A Howard Marks character, but far more dangerous, his wealth, accrued through drug-trafficking, runs into millions.
For the past ten years there has been no sighting of him. Has he gone to ground using an alias, or is he dead?
When an ex-police officer from the murder squad is found shot in a dank squat, Anna Travis is pulled onto the case. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes ever more complex, suspicion falls on Fitzpatrick. Is he still alive and in the UK? Could he be the killer, with terrifying access to the most lethal drug in existence?

My take

My apologies for basing my review on an abridged audio version. It does appear that this version is severely abridged - perhaps by as much as 60% - so you are left wondering how representative it is of the original work. I suspect that quite a deal of the interplay between the characters has been omitted and some events are summarised, in other words, described rather than experienced.

I have read the 3 earlier titles in this series, just before I started this blog, and enjoyed them very much. I have put my mini-reviews at the bottom of this post.

So I was already familiar with the back story to the Anna Travis series, which included her relationship with James Langton. Although Langton does not start off being in charge of the case in DEADLY INTENT he takes charge when the original boss of the CID team has personal problems. That he sees Anna Travis as a loose cannon to be carefully guarded comes through loud and clear, and to be honest, Anna is not a good team player. She is very likely to go off impulsively on a tangent on her own, rather like a bloodhound following a faint scent.
To be fair to Anna it is her intuition that leads to connections being made, but it also highlight the fact that the team often does not do its job properly. It seems unfair though that James Langton is so willing to lay the blame at Anna's door, rather than accept the responsibility himself.

From the questions my listening partner in the car asked me, knowing the story from previous titles was important to a full understanding of DEADLY INTENT, and so this is a series that it pays to read in order. There are now 7 titles in the series.

Janet McTeer does an impressive job with the narration and the voice changes.

My rating: 4.5

From Fantastic Fiction:
Anna Travis
1. Above Suspicion (2004)
2. The Red Dahlia (2006)
3. Clean Cut (2007)
4. Deadly Intent (2008)
5. Silent Scream (2009)
6. Blind Fury (2010)
7. Bloodline (2011)

Mini-reviews of earlier titles

#1 In the Anna Travis series. Published 2004. My rating 5.0
Detective Chief Inspector Langton has the opportunity to had an extra DS to his team investigating a series of murders when one of his team goes sick. He chooses DS Anna Travis a graduate in economics who has experience in number of squads but has never worked on a murder team. Her father was a well respected DCS.  Anna gets an instant introduction to murder when the body of a young female student is found on Clapham Common, and she first views the body in situ and then attends the post mortem. At first the murder team incident room treat Anna as an inexperienced rookie, but then her dedication to her work proves her worth to them as she stumbles across a vital connection that identifies the possible killer. An excellent read. I look forward to the next in the series.

(Audio version:CD) Published 2006. My rating 4.8
The second in the Anna Travis series.The body of a young girl is discovered on the banks of the Thames. Clues point to the possibility that the death is a mirror image of a Los Angeles case from the 21940s, known as ""The Black Dahlia"". The murderer sets us clues to taunt. A second body is discovered and still there is no break through. Anna is again working with Detective Chief Inspector Langton and she has trouble in working out how he feels about her. He seems very enamoured of an American profiler. But the days roll on and still there is no breakthrough. And then comes the anonymous phone call with a name.. This is an unabridged reading by Jane McTeer who does an excellent job of characterisation. Approx 6 hours.

Published 2007. My rating 4.6
The sequel to THE RED DAHLIA. In the intervening time DI Anna Travis and DCI James Langton have become lovers. They no longer work together and endeavour to keep their working and private lives separate. When Langton is horrifically injured in a murder arrest that goes wrong, Anna becomes vital to his recovery. While Langton is still in hospital, Anna is assigned to a new case where a librarian is found dead by her twelve year old daughter returning from school. The suspect in this case is yet another violent rapist released from prison far too early. And then, perhaps a little predictably, the case Anna is working on and the one Langton was working on when he was attacked become linked. This a long and complex novel, with an ending that ensures there will be yet another sequel.

24 November 2011

Review: THE BURNING, Jane Casey

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 498 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0091936004
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (November 11, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049U48F0
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

A serial killer who wants to watch you burn…
The media call him The Burning Man, a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death, before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London’s parks. And now the fifth victim has been found…

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve’s empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice.

But how do you catch a killer no one has seen? And when so much of the evidence they leave behind has gone up in smoke?

My Take

There are a number of things to talk about with THE BURNING.
First of all, it is Jane Casey's second novel in a series, and I'm regretful that I haven't read the first, although I wasn't aware of it being #2 while I was reading. [The first is titled THE MISSING]

DC Maeve Kerrigan is an interesting character whose position in the murder squad raises some issues related to the promotion of women into coveted positions.
    'You’re Irish too, aren’t you? Paddies always get on.' 
    'Great,' I said bleakly. My name was the giveaway – that and my wild hair, typically Irish, I’d been told. From the first day I walked through the door at Hendon, I’d been called Spud, or had to listen to jokes about how stupid the Irish were, or even fucking Riverdance, for God’s sake. It was all too petty to make a formal complaint, but it bothered me. I’d grown up in England – I had an English accent – but I still didn’t fit in and they made sure I knew it. I had been more than happy to live up to the reputation for having a fiery temper, but it got me in trouble and I was trying to keep it under control, so on this occasion I said nothing else.
Her male colleagues have their own opinion about her worth to the squad.
    'Turns out a pretty face will only take you so far,' the other one commented. 'What’s that supposed to mean?' 'Nothing. Just that it’s harder for some people to get on to murder squads than it is for others.'
And she gets plenty of reminders that she is female:
    After five years in the job, I had enough material for twenty sexual harassment cases if I had wanted to take them, but the constant innuendo never really bothered me.
We get an insight into the competitive nature of being a  member of the murder squad. Superintendent Godley, nicknamed 'God', is constantly pressing for results, and doesn't tolerate mistakes. Maeve is the only woman in the murder squad and she feels that she is constantly under scrutiny. Others are not backward in climbing the ladder at their colleague's expense.

The story of THE BURNING is told from a number of points of view. This technique means we often see an event from different angles. It also means that one of the narrators is unreliable and even reliable narrations are tinged with personal opinions.

I wouldn't yet put THE BURNING into the top drawer of police procedurals but Jane Casey is certainly an Irish author worth following.

My rating: 4.3

Other reviews to check:

Forgotten Book: A LANDSCAPE OF LIES, Peter Watson

This contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes from my records in 1991.

Fantastic Fiction has a list of 5 novels published by Peter Watson, intellectual historian, 1985-1995.
From Wikipedia, it appears he has written a number of academic books as well. 

Publisher's Synopsis
Isobel Sadler is dead broke, and the only thing left that might bring in any money is a stupendously bad painting that’s been in her family for generations. It’s so ugly she can’t imagine it would be worth much...until someone tries to steal it.

Mystified, she turns for advice to art dealer Michael Whiting, who identifies the painting as a 16th-century treasure map, pointing the way to a cache of priceless religious artifacts that were hidden by monks when Henry VIII was dissolving the monasteries. If he and Isobel can decipher the clues in the painting, Whiting reasons, her money troubles will be history. But if they can’t decode the painting quickly, Whiting and Isobel could be history themselves
Even as they struggle to translate the arcane instructions — laced with references to everything from the Bible to Botticelli — a rival is dogging their trail, and he’ll stop at nothing, even murder, to get his hands on the medieval gold.

Another review had this to say
Before there was The Da Vinci Code, there was Landscape of Lies. A more intelligent, less sensational, less riddled with religious quackery version of the famous best-seller, Landscape also seeks a hidden treasure, its hiding place to be discovered by deciphering the clues in a painting.

LANDSCAPE OF LIES sounds intriguing:

From another reviewer:

Landscape of Lies, by Peter Watson, opens with a painted scene, literally - the inside of the cover features a fold-out image of the bizarre medieval landscape that’s at the center of the narrative.
The story begins with the painting as the target of a failed burglary attempt. The painting’s value is not in its fame (it’s obscure) or its beauty (it’s mediocre), but in its secrets.
In essence it’s a treasure map. Each element, figure or object, placement or color, carries a symbolism that, if decoded correctly, will lead to a cache of religious artifacts hidden by monks during the rule of Henry VIII. From city galleries to ancient churchyards, the chase is on!
Despite the sometimes silly dialogue and the predictable romance, the story is a clever one. Originally published in the UK in 1989 (four years before the deciphering of the DaVinci Code), this title was published by Felony & Mayhem in 2005.

November 2011 Agatha Christie Blog Carnival posted

The ACRC for November 2011 is now available here.

We have 16 contributors, some of them new, and 27 items with great variety.

Take a look at great Vintage Christie covers, learn about John Curran's new book, catch up on some Christie biographies, get a list of Christie sleuths, and much more.

And in addition, some great book reviews.

Join the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

21 November 2011

ACRC Update - 21 November 2011

My intent in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge is to read her books in order, so that I can get some idea of what she is doing, problems she is attempting to solve, and her development as a writer. If you look at some of my reviews you will see that I have been able to undertake some of this reflection.

Currently I am managing about a book a month. I've estimated there are 87 titles altogether to be read, so I am just over half-way on my journey.

I've read 34 novels and 11 collections of short stories.

Read & reviewed so far
    1924, Poirot Investigates (short stories: eleven in the UK, fourteen in the US)
  7. 1927, THE BIG FOUR
    1929, Partners in Crime (fifteen short stories; featuring Tommy and Tuppence)
    1930, The Mysterious Mr. Quin (twelve short stories; introducing Mr. Harley Quin)
  12. 1932, PERIL AT END HOUSE
    1932 The Thirteen Problems (thirteen short stories; featuring Miss Marple, also known as The Tuesday Club Murders in the US)
    1991, Problem at Pollensa Bay publ. 1991 (Two of them feature Hercule Poirot, two Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Harley Quin, and two Mr Parker Pyne.)
  16. 1935, THREE ACT TRAGEDY (aka MURDER IN THREE ACTS)- Hercule Poirot and Mr Satterthwaite.
    1933, The Hound of Death - 12 short stories, UK only
    1934, Parker Pyne Investigates - 12 stories introducing Parker Pyne and Ariadne Oliver
    1934, The Listerdale Mystery - 12 short stories, UK only
  17. 1935, DEATH IN THE CLOUDS (aka DEATH IN THE AIR) - Hercule Poirot
  18. 1936, THE A.B.C. MURDERS (aka THE ALPHABET MURDERS) - Hercule Poirot
    1947, The Labours of Hercules - Hercule Poirot - 12 short stories
  19. 1966, THE THIRD GIRL - Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver
    1997, Miss Marple: complete short stories - Miss Marple - 20 short stories
    1997, While the Light Lasts - 9 short stories - incl. 2 Hercule Poirot
  20. 1936, MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA - Hercule Poirot
  21. 1936, CARDS ON THE TABLE - Hercule Poirot, Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race, Ariadne Oliver
  24. 1937, DEATH ON THE NILE - Hercule Poirot, Colonel Race
  25. 1938, APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH - Hercule Poirot, Colonel Carbury
  26. 1939, MURDER IS EASY (aka EASY TO KILL) - Superintendent Battle
  28. 1940, SAD CYPRESS - Hercule Poirot
  30. 1941, EVIL UNDER THE SUN  - Hercule Poirot
  31. 1941, N or M? - Tommy & Tuppence
  32. 1942, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY - Miss Marple
  33. 1942, FIVE LITTLE PIGS (aka MURDER IN RETROSPECT) - Hercule Poirot

    Reading schedule
  39. 1948, TAKEN AT THE FLOOD (aka THERE IS A TIDE...)
  40. 1949, CROOKED HOUSE
Check the opening blog post of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge here.
If you'd like to join the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge click here.

I am using the list at Wikipedia of novels and collections of short stories. I will interlace the short story collections into the list where I can, but may have to read them out of order. I have decided on a method for reporting on the short stories. Here is my latest short story update.

Please feel free to join in my challenge, comment on my reviews etc.

I have set up a block over in the right hand column called Agatha Christie Reading Challenge (with the same logo as this post) where I am listing the books I'm currently reading and those I've finished.
The challenge is called ACRC so each review will be preceded by those letters.

If you want to follow my progress through your RSS reader, then the RSS URL is
Just save that in your bookmarks or RSS reader and you will be notified when I have written a new post.
Alternatively you could subscribe to the feed through FeedMyInbox. Just copy the RSS URL, click on the FeedMyInbox link and paste the URL in there.
You will need to confirm your subscription by email.

Contribute your blog postings about any Agatha Christie novels to the monthly carnival. Make an agreement with yourself that whenever you complete reading an Aggie you will write a blog posting about it and then submit the posting to the carnival.
If you are participating in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge then write updates like this one and submit them to the Carnival. Let us know what progress you are making.

19 November 2011

Review: A BREWSKI FOR THE OLD MAN, Phyllis Smallman

  • published 2010, McArthur & Company, Toronto
  • 320 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-55278-836-3
  • #3 in Sherri Travis series
  • source: hard copy provided by the author
  • note: Kindle edition is available to Australian readers
Synopsis (from author's website)

The third book in the series A Brewski for the Old Man tells the story of the return to Jacaranda of Ray John Leenders, the man who abused Sherri when she was a child. Back in town he's living with a woman who has a young daughter. Sherri doesn't want to get involved; it's none of her business - except, except - she knows the woman and her daughter and it's impossible to stay uninvolved.

Read an extract at Amazon

My take

It took me a couple of chapters to warm to this book. I think that was probably because I was aware there were back stories that I didn't know the details of, and that always puts me off a little. (Please read this an encouragement to read the earlier titles in the series - see the list below.)

But once Ray John Leenders came on the scene in chapter 3, and I understood Sherri's previous connection with him, and her consequent concern for any young women who had come into his grasp, the story gathered pace for me.

From the blurb on the back of the book:
    Then Sherri's father, Tully Jenkins, reappears in her life, dragging Sherri deep into the swamp to exact revenge on the men who set fire to Uncle Ziggy's junk yard.
There's a tangle of relationships, the murder of Ray John, with Sherri's distinctively registered pickup making an appearance at the right time at the murder scene, all to be sorted out, as well as the Sunset Bar and Grill in Jacaranda, Florida to run. Sherri Travis sure is one feisty capable woman. She is also an engaging character who really tries to do best by everyone around her.

In the long run I enjoyed the read and may well have been added to Sherri Travis's followers. Many thanks to the author for taking the trouble to post me a copy and my abject apologies that it has taken me so long (a whopping 10 months) to get it read.

My rating: 4.4

There are 4 titles so far in the Sherri Travis series
  • SEX IN A SIDECAR (2009)
About the author

Phyllis Smallman was the first ever recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award for Unhanged Arthur from Crime Writers of Canada. She was short listed for the Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers of the UK, and nominated for the Malice Domestic Award in the U.S.A.  Margarita Nights was short listed for Best first Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada.
Check her website

18 November 2011

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge - progress report

This challenge is hosted by the Book Vixen.
The idea is to set yourself a reasonable target for the year.

I decided to aim for Out of Breath: 6-10 more books than in 2010 when I read 136.
So that meant my aim was for 142, and would include all books read in all formats include audio books.

2011 Reviews is where I keep my list for the year and my current count is  144, so I've actually achieved my goal.
The fact that I've done a bit of air travel this year has contributed to the number of books I've been able to read.

So now I'm considering how many more I will manage to read. Perhaps somewhere in the range of 155 to 160. (I have some other challenges to complete so that pressure will help.)
     Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books  (that would be 151)
     I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books (that would be 152+)

Actually the next milestone coming up is that of 500 reviews published on this blog. Just 6 to go!

17 November 2011

Review: GIDEON'S WEEK, J.J. Marric (aka John Creasey) - audio

  • first published in 1956
  • this version available at Audible.com
  • narrated by Christopher Scott
  • unabridged, length 6 hrs and 33 mins
  • #2 in the Gideon series
  • source: I bought it

No week in the life of Commander Gideon of Scotland Yard could be entirely uneventful. However, a mass escape from Millways Gaol made this a particularly harassing week. Ruby Benson set up her killer husband and it's up to Gideon to protect the woman from her bloodthirsty spouse's vendetta--or die trying.

My take

I thought this was a more accomplished piece of writing than GIDEON'S DAY,  the first in the series, which I listened to and reviewed last week. The hunt for the escapees from Millways Gaol holds it together nicely for the whole book.

Gideon and his wife Kate have overcome some emotional hurdles, a friend of his daughter Pru approaches Gideon at work when her brother is accused on murder, and we get a better glimpse of the personal lives of Gideon and his offsider Lemaitre.

George Gideon is really the fore-runner of Ruth Rendell's Reg Wexford. He is so well described I can see him in my mind's eye. He is a big man, someone all his colleagues and those he commands look up to, thoroughly nice, with a photographic memory and the ability to make snap decisions.

My rating: 4.4


This contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes once again from my records in 1990.


Pearsall combines a true murder case--Hannah Dobbs, a servant accused of murdering her mistress in 1879--with murder fiction as Sherlock Holmes unravels a tangle of truths, half-truths and lies.

The hub of the story is the real-life trial of Hannah Dobbs tried in 1879 ( or thereabouts) for the murder of Miss Matilda Hacker. Pearsall claims to have found a scrapbook filled with clippings and dated 1884 and used them to intertwine an investigation using The Great Detective. 

The author

Ronald Pearsall (1927 - 2005) was a prodigious author, but his interests don't generally seem to have been in crime fiction. His topics were as varied as pornography and sexuality, antiques, and fishing. I counted 56 titles in the Wikipedia record.

He did however write a biography of Conan Doyle in 1977 and this Sherlock Holmes title in1989. According to the Guardian's obituary in 2005 Pearsall would write about anything if he was asked to. For 50 years he was an established free lance writer.
The Telegraph obituary called him a "literary jack-of-all trades".
He was also one of the team that wrote Dennis Wheatley thrillers after Wheatley died in 1977.

16 November 2011

Completed - 2011 Vintage Mystery Challenge

This challenge is hosted at My Reader's Block by Bev Hankins.

2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge Completed

Get a Clue Level: 7-9 books,
must have been written prior to 1960

My extra rule: all need to be by different authors 

Progress page on the challenge site
  1. 3.8, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Rex Stout (1955)
  2. 4.4, GIDEON'S DAY, J.J. Marric (aka John Creasey) (1955)
  3. 4.2, AN ASSISTANT MURDERER, Dashiell Hammett  (1926)
  4. 3.6, X.Y.Z. A Detective Story, Anna Katherine Green (1883)
  5. 4.1, DEATH AT THE PRESIDENT'S LODGING, Michael Innes (1936)
  6. 4.3, DIED IN THE WOOL, Ngaio Marsh ( 1942)
  7. 4.5, DUMB WITNESS, Agatha Christie (1937)
  8. 4.4, MAIGRET & the MAN on the BOULEVARD, Georges Simenon (1953)
  9. 4.4, IN THE TEETH OF THE EVIDENCE, Dorothy L. Sayers (1939) 
Looking at the ratings I have given the books it is perhaps true to say that from my point of view most of them have faded a bit with time, although if they rate 4 and above they are really solid reads.

You'll notice too that I put a restriction of 9 individual authors on myself, so I have 11 Agatha Christie reads that don't appear here.

15 November 2011

Review: BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Rex Stout

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 458 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 19, 2010)
    First published 1955
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003L1ZWQW
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis  (From the Nero Wolfe site)

When Nero Wolfe comes up against murder in the advertising business it isn't surprising that the world's largest detective (one-seventh of a ton of orchid-loving, beer-drinking genius) should find himself involved with one of the world's largest advertising agencies.

The agency is conducting the biggest prize contest ever, with prizes totaling one million dollars. Just one man knows the solutions in the million-dollar contest, and it's his disappearance that introduces Nero and Archie to the world of four-color spreads and TV spectaculars. It introduces them also to a murderer who has the audacity to kill in Nero's office and before Nero's very eyes.

After Rex Stout unfolds this novel, it is possible that the advertising world will never be the same - and this may be a public service..

My take

My crime fiction education is probably very neglected in that I have never read Rex Stout, although I have seen the occasional television story.

The prelude to the Kindle version is an interesting introduction to the two main characters Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, and gave me some tips about what to look for in their relationship. 

The basic idea of the plot was a good one - a marketing campaign that involves a quiz, that has involved millions country wide and has now been narrowed down to 5 contestants. And then the final questions are distributed and the question creator takes a slip of paper from his wallet and waves it about claiming that on the paper are written the answers to the final questions. Before the night is out, he is dead and the wallet is missing.

Nero Wolfe takes a commission from the cosmetics company behind the contest to investigate, not the murder, but who took the wallet. He is careful to say he is not undertaking a murder investigation to keep his nose clean with the police whom he has crossed many times. If the murderer though happens to be the same person as the one who took the wallet, so be it.

This is a relatively short book but a sign of how little it interested me was how long it felt. It felt very technical, lots of carefully worked out, logical, scenarios that left me cold. I made it to the end, just, but I doubt I will trouble to read another Nero Wolfe. That's probably anathema to his fans but his writing is just not for me.

My rating: 3.8

13 November 2011

Review: GIDEON'S DAY, J.J. Marric (aka John Creasey) - audio

  • Narrated by Tim Bentinck 
  • Unabridged
  • Length: 6 hours 22 mins
  • first published in 1955
  • #1 of the Gideon series (aka GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD)
  • Available from Audible.com

London is faced with the murder of a little girl and a policeman's murder. George Gideon, while trying to bring these killers to justice, has to deal with a criminal gang that is after one of it's own.

One of the most senior officers within Scotland Yard, George Gideon's crime-solving abilities are in the finest traditions of London's world-famous police headquarters. His analytical brain and sense of fairness is respected by colleagues and villains alike.

If you'd like to read some of the book click on the cover image to the right.

My take

GIDEON'S DAY, published under the pseudonym of J.J. Marric, really was the forerunner of those police procedurals which have become so popular in recent decades. It precedes by 10 years the works of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo in the Martin Beck series.
There were eventually 22 titles in the Gideon series 1955-1978 (2 of them posthumously).

Of course many of us remember the television series too.
On YouTube there is a segment of the colour film with Jack Hawkins playing George Gideon.
The television series starred John Gregson.

What strikes you as you listen is how busy Gideon's day actually was, so many things happened. George Gideon was a pretty fiery character who demanded high standards of himself and all who worked with him. His day begins with him dressing down a subordinate whom he has discovered is taking bribes from a London drug peddler. Within the hour the man has been killed in a driving hit-and-run.

I'm looking forward to following this up with GIDEON'S NIGHT and GIDEON'S WEEK.

My rating: 4.4

British Books Challenge: I'm claiming my crown

When I got to Book 50 on my British books list I thought I was ready to claim my crown, but then I re-read the terms of the challenge again on The Bookette and it definitely says 50 books by British writers.

That meant the book that I had most recently read, A LONELY DEATH by Charles Todd didn't count, because, as you know, the author is an American mother and son, and neither did another one of those listed for the same reason WHERE MEMORIES LIE, Deborah Crombie

 Although I could argue that both are nearly as representative of British crime fiction as they come.
So I had to complete two more British books. Thank goodness I had two on hand.

So here is my list of 52 including the two that don't count **.
  1. 4.6, RELICS OF THE DEAD, Ariana Franklin
  2. 4.5, A NEW LEASE OF DEATH, Ruth Rendell
  3. 4.6, THE JANUS STONE, Elly Griffiths 
  4. 4.0, LATE, LATE IN THE EVENING, Gladys Mitchell
  5. 4.3, MURDER IN PARADISE, Ann Cleeves 
  6. 4.7, WHERE MEMORIES LIE, Deborah Crombie   **
  8. 4.4, FATAL QUEST: WOODEND'S FIRST CASE, Sally Spencer
  9. 4.5, OUR LADY OF PAIN, Elena Forbes
  10. 4.5, DUMB WITNESS, Agatha Christie
  11. 4.4, A COTSWOLD KILLING, Rebecca Tope 
  12. 4.5, RAILWAY TO THE GRAVE, Edward Marston
  13. 4.7, A LONELY DEATH, Charles Todd   **
  14. 4.3, THE DARK LADY, Sally Spencer
  15. 4.7, THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY, Sally Spencer
  16. 4.4, DEAD MAN'S WHARF, Pauline Rowson
  17. 5.0, STAGESTRUCK, Peter Lovesey
  18. 4.6, FIVE LITTLE PIGS, Agatha Christie
  19. 4.4, BEGGARS BANQUET, Ian Rankin
  20. 4.4, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, Agatha Christie
  21. 4.3, NEMESIS, Lindsey Davis
  22. 5.0, THE END OF THE WASP SEASON, Denise Mina 
  23. 4.5, TO THE HILT, Dick Francis
  24. 4.5, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY, Alexander McCall Smith
  25. 4.8, DEAD LIKE YOU, Peter James
  26. 5.0, BLUE LIGHTNING, Ann Cleeves
  27. 4.5, STILL MIDNIGHT, Denise Mina
  28. 4.6, BRUNO, CHIEF OF POLICE, Martin Walker 
  29. 4.3, THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER, Sally Spencer
  30. 4.3, BLUE MONDAY, Nicci French
  31. 4.3, EVIL UNDER THE SUN, Agatha Christie
  32. 4.4, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, Peter Turnbull
  33. 4.5, THE MESSENGER OF ATHENS, Anne Zouroudi
  34. 4.5, THE FAMILY, Martina Cole
  35. 4.6, THE DARK VINEYARD, Martin Walker
  36. 3.5, STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES, P.G. Wodehouse
  37. 4.3, ONE, TWO, BUCKLE MY SHOE, Agatha Christie 
  38. 4.3, A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS, Rebecca Tope
  39. 4.7, HEARTSTONE, C.J. Sansom
  40. 5.0, DEAD TOMORROW, Peter James
  41. 4.4, THE SALTON KILLINGS, Sally Spencer
  42. 4.6, TEN-SECOND STAIRCASE, Christopher Fowler
  43. 4.8, SILENT VOICES, Ann Cleeves
  44. 4.8, THE HANGING WOOD, Martin Edwards 
  45. 4.6, SAD CYPRESS, Agatha Christie
  46. 4.4, THE JUDGEMENT OF STRANGERS, Andrew Taylor
  47. 4.3, DEVIL-DEVIL, Graeme Kent
  48. 5.0, A THOUSAND CUTS, Simon Lelic
  49. 4.1, DEATH AT THE PRESIDENT'S LODGING, Michael Innes
  50. 4.5, TEN LITTLE NIGGERS, Agatha Christie
  51. 4.5, THE FOUR LAST THINGS, Andrew Taylor
  52. 4.4, THE MOVING FINGER, Agatha Christie

12 November 2011

Review: THE MOVING FINGER, Agatha Christie

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 327 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062073621
  • Publisher: Harper; Masterpiece ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046H95SG
  • Source: I bought it
Publisher's Blurb (from Christie.com)

Lymstock is much like any other English village. Those that live there enjoy the peace of rural life until a series of poison pen letters destroy the safety they took for granted. When one villager commits suicide and another is murdered, the village is plunged into suspicion and terror. Once a village of trust, now all inhabitants are full of accusations. Who could be writing the letters and why? Perhaps Miss Marple might be of help...

Christie considered The Moving Finger to be one of her best novels. ‘It is a great test,’ she added, ‘to re-read what one has written some seventeen or eighteen years later. One’s view changes. Some do not stand the test of time, others do.’

We see events unfold from the view of Jerry Burton who is recuperating whilst recovering from an accident. Christie has been praised by critics for her believable male narrators and arguably Jerry is one of the best.

My take

THE MOVING FINGER was written in 1942 and considered by Agatha Christie to be in her top 10 novels.

The narrator is Jerry Burton, and while for some of the narration we feel as if the events are occurring simultaneously with the narration, much of the style is retrospective.
This allows Christie to create "hanging endings" to chapters or parts of chapters. This is really the first time I have noticed her attempts at this style.
Here is the end of Chapter 3.
    'We have come down here,' I said sternly, 'for peace and quiet, and I mean to see we get it.' 
    But peace and quiet were the last things we were to have.
and a little later on, another example.
    She paused lost in thought, her eyes screwed up. Then she said slowly, as one who solves a problem, 'Blind hatred... yes, blind hatred. But even a blind man may stab to the heart by pure chance... And what would happen then, Mr Burton?' 
    We were to know that before another day had passed.
The other thing that is interesting about THE MOVING FINGER is that Miss Marple almost plays only a cameo role. The main sleuths are Jerry and his sister Joanna. Miss Marple is invited to stay by the vicar's wife quite late in the novel (at 75% according to Kindle's numbering). Up until that point Jerry had been counting the vicar's wife among his suspects, because she is rather odd, and he isn't even really sure about Miss Marple when she arrives. She seems to him to take an inordinate, almost unseemly, interest in the murder.
    The Dane Calthrops had a guest staying with them, an amiable elderly lady who was knitting something with white fleecy wool. We had very good hot scones for tea, the vicar came in, and beamed placidly on us whilst he pursued his gentle erudite conversation. It was very pleasant.
    I don’t mean that we got away from the topic of the murder, because we didn’t. Miss Marple, the guest, was naturally thrilled by the subject. As she said apologetically: ‘We have so little to talk about in the country!’ 
    She had made up her mind that the dead girl must have been just like her Edith.
In the long run it is of course Miss Marple who solves the crime, but she is gracious in saying that it was Jerry who made the various observations that led her to the right conclusions.

The climax of the novel is a very interesting one as it uses a honey trap but those who set it up, Miss Marple and the police, don't tell Jerry what they are doing, and he independently becomes convinced that the woman he wants to marry is in great danger.

A very satisfying read. My rating: 4.4

11 November 2011

Review: THE SUSPECT, L.R. Wright

  • this copy published by Penguin Books 1987
  • 217 pages
  • ISBN 0-14-010477-1
  • Source: I bought it, I think. Has been residing on TBR for some time.
Publisher's blurb (author's site)

When there is a murder in a town like Sechelt ­ a sleepy community on Canada's aptly named Sunshine Coast ­ it is necessarily unusual. And in this case no one finds it more so than the eighty-year-old culprit himself, who, upon brutally striking an eighty-five-year-old crony on the head, realizes, to his great surprise, that "he is going to survive this astonishing thing."

But murder is a word far larger than much of George Wilcox's life, and suddenly he is concerned less with his volunteer work at the local hospital, or with his prolific garden, or with his out-of-touch daughter, than with guilt and honour and with secrets of the past. His crime ­ unlikely and unpremeditated, though not, as we will learn, unprovoked ­ binds him tightly to two crucial people: to warm-hearted Cassandra, the town librarian, and to Alberg, her new romantic interest, who also happens to be the humane but zealous cop investigating Wilcox's case. Theirs is an almost magical triangle, welded together by a quiet affection, structured on a firm discretion.

My take

After reading the blurb above, you are possibly left wondering what on earth I could say about this book. You certainly don't need to be told any more of the story.

From the author's site again:
    With The Suspect, her first mystery novel, L.R. Wright became the first Canadian to win the high-profile Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Novel of 1985.
My quest to read a few more Canadian authors led to me to read ACTS OF MURDER earlier this year. I discovered that it was the last in quite a long series and then I realised that I had the first in the series THE SUSPECT on the shelves.
  • The Suspect (1985)
  • Sleep While I Sing (1986)
  • A Chill Rain in January (1990)
  • Fall From Grace (1991)
  • Prized Possessions (1993)
  • A Touch of Panic (1994)
  • Mother Love (1995)
  • Strangers Among Us (1996)
  • Acts of Murder (1997)
We are in no doubt about who committed the murder in THE SUSPECT, as we, the readers, are present when George Wilcox did it, so the interest centres on two aspects: why did he do it, and will he get away with it?
The other element though is the introduction of a new sleuthing pair, newly arrived Mountie Karl Alberg and local librarian Cassandra Mitchell. However they don't know that George is the murderer although both of them come to that realisation. They react quite differently to that knowledge.

THE SUSPECT is a cleverly written story on a number of levels and one of those that you come to appreciate more as you write about it. No wonder it won the Edgar for best novel in 1985.

Laurali R. Wright died from breast cancer in 2001 and there is a comprehensive biography on her official site that leaves us in no doubt about what a loss that was.

THE SUSPECT is a quick read, so if you can find a copy, read it, and see if you agree with me.

My rating: 4.8

Lest We Forget - 11 November 2011

I'm always fascinated by palindromic dates and today we have an extra special one - Remembrance Day observations at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011, 93 years on from the original declaration of the Armistice that signalled the end of World War One. After over four years of war, what a huge relief that must have been.

Yesterday I noticed in the shopping centre the RSL were selling little red poppies, and they will be used world wide in specially created "gardens", on war memorials, and on wreaths, today to signify that we haven't forgotten.

And at 11 am in schools, at war memorials, and various public places, the bugles will blow and we will have a minute's silence for the fallen.

Those of us who weren't there really can't know what it was like but even in the crime fiction world there are books that can contribute to our understanding. Just last week I reviewed A LONELY DEATH by Charles Todd. There are some terrific passages in there that describe what it was like on the Front.

While World War One wasn't, as was hoped, "the war to end all wars", it had such a cataclysmic effect on the world that we inherited, that it is really important that we and our families don't forget, whichever "side" our ancestors were on.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in The Winnowing Fan: Poems of the Great War in 1914. This verse, which became the Ode for the Returned and Services League, has been used in association with commemoration services in Australia since 1921.

Download/Play Bugle Calls from Anzacday.org
The following downloads are in .wav format and may not be usable on all systems. Please note that, depending on the speed of your connection, files may require several minutes to download.
[Last Post - 214kb] [Reveille - 181kb] [Rouse - 72kb]
Acknowledgement: Sound files courtesy of the Australian Army Band, Brisbane.

10 November 2011

Forgotten Book: DIE FOR LOVE, Elizabeth Peters

This contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes once again from my records in 1990.
While no-one in their right mind would say Elizabeth Peters is a forgotten writer, it is her Amelia Peabody series that is much better known.

There were just four titles in Elizabeth Peters' Jacqueline Kirby series. DIE FOR LOVE, published in 1984, was #3.

The author describes Jacqueline Kirby as
"Jacqueline Kirby (known as "Jake" to her friends), a librarian turned romance novelist, enjoys nothing more than people who take themselves way too seriously. Whether it is history buffs exploring ancient Roman ruins or a convention of romance writers, Jacqueline enters into the spirit of the group.  Her fellow enthusiasts are never quite sure whether Jacqueline is a new convert, or an amused observer of their eccentricities."


When Jacqueline Kirby, a Nebraska librarian who desperately desires some excitement, attends the convention of the Historical Romance Writers of the World in New York City, she is shocked by what happens. Firstly, a scandal columnist dies under mysterious circumstances, and secondly, the writer Valerie Valentine, a popular genre star, claims that someone is trying to kill her, and asks for her help.

Read the first chapter

Elizabeth Peters is a pseudonym used by Barbara Mertz, probably better known as Barbara Michaels. Under the name Barbara Michaels, she writes primarily gothic and supernatural thrillers. The name Barbara Michaels was chosen by her publisher since she had already published one nonfiction book on ancient Egypt, and the publisher wanted her novels to be distinctive and not be confused with her other historical book.

Once again, in her own words:
Under her pseudonym as Barbara Michaels she has written twenty nine novels of suspense. As Elizabeth Peters, she has produced thirty seven mystery-suspense novels, many of them set in Egypt and the Middle East. Dr. Mertz was awarded a D.H.L. from Hood College in 1989. The Mystery Writers of America awarded her the MWA Grandmaster in 1998. She has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic and the Grandmaster Award from Bouchercon.

9 November 2011

Review; THE FOUR LAST THINGS, Andrew Taylor - audio book

  • Published 1997
  • This audio book version published by AudioGO Ltd.
  • Available from Audible.com 
  • Narrator by Ric Jerrom 
  • Unabridged
  • Length: 11 hours
  • Source: I bought it
  • First book in the Roth Trilogy

Little Lucy Appleyard is snatched from her child minder's on a cold winter afternoon, and the nightmare begins. It is as if the child had disappeared into a black hole with no clues to her whereabouts...until the first grisly discovery in a London graveyard. More such finds are to follow, all at religious sites. In a city haunted by religion, what do these offerings signify?

My take

Like all Andrew Taylor's books THE FOUR LAST THINGS is complex with great attention to detail.

The storyline sounds so simple if you just go by the synopsis but there is a multiplicity of themes and threads: should women be priests? Whose job is more important: husband or wife? Paedophilia and child abduction.

The novel is tightly structured. Each chapter is prefaced with a quotation from Thomas Browne's Religio Medici. The first quotation in the book defines what "the four last things" are.

Click on the image of the cover to the right to access the abstract of the printed version on Amazon. You can also access a sample of the audio version by clicking on the link to Audible.com.

The complexity of THE FOUR LAST THINGS extends from the plotlines into character descriptions including deep consideration of what drives those characters.

I reviewed #2 in the Roth Trilogy earlier this year: THE JUDGEMENT OF STRANGERS
Andrew Taylor explains what he is attempting to do in the Roth Trilogy as
    Each book discreetly modifies the others, and each is written in a different style. Taken as a whole, they make one large novel, which should keep readers occupied for the longest transcontinental flights.
The structure of the trilogy is made all the more complex by the fact that as you move from #1 to #2 you actually move back in time. If you click on the link on Andrew Taylor's name you can visit his website and investigate more about the trilogy for yourself.

The narration in the audio version of the novel is very well done.

My rating: 4.5

7 November 2011

Review: A LONELY DEATH, Charles Todd

  • Published by Harper Collins 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-06-172619-4
  • 343 pages
  • source: my local library
Publisher's blurb (from author's site)

Three men have been murdered in a Sussex village, and Scotland Yard has been called in. It’s a baffling case. All the victims are soldiers who have made it home alive from the Great War, which ended two years ago, only to be garroted, with small ID disks left in their mouths. And shortly after Inspector Ian Rutledge arrives, there’s a fourth murder. The killer is vicious and clever, leaving behind few clues. As the stakes ratchet up, Rutledge is determined to find answers, even as he puts his job, his reputation, and even his life on the line.

My take

A LONELY DEATH is #13 in the Ian Rutledge series and I am guilty of dipping in and out of the series (see my reviews below). #1, A TEST OF WILLS, was set immediately after the war in 1919 and it does seem that, with A LONELY DEATH, historically we haven't come very far. The story begins in June 1920 and most of the action takes place within a few weeks of that beginning.

The Great War is still fresh in people's minds, missing soldiers are still being found in hospitals near the Western Front, and England is still coming to grips with the economic impact of such a terrible loss of manpower. It does seem wrong that soldiers from the Eastland Company, some terribly wounded during the conflict, have survived only to be murdered near their homes. That it is murder can't be doubted. After Rutledge is appointed to the case a fourth murder occurs, but it is only when he begins to toy with the idea of a pre-war connection that progress is made.

Even so Rutledge is removed from the case, even gaoled, in mid-stream, by his old enemy, Superintendent Bowles, his superior at Scotland Yard. Bowles dislikes Rutledge, his education, his reputation as a war hero, and his pre-war history as an intuitive clever detective.

As with the others from this series that I have read,  A LONELY DEATH is a good read, well crafted, with an excellent feeling of authentic detail. There was one thread in particular, the case of a missing elder son, which didn't feel tied off, but maybe I just missed something.

Rutledge still has Hamish on his shoulder, the ghost of his court-martialled and executed Corporal, who talks to him and suggests ideas. To Rutledge Hamish is very real, and he often converses with him aloud which must at times be disconcerting for others who can't "see" Hamish. I must admit I was a bit taken aback when Rutledge and other policemen piled into a car to go somewhere and the comment was that there was no room for Hamish in his usual place. I'd be interested to know if a reader, new to the series, perhaps starting with A LONELY DEATH, actually manages to work out who Hamish is.

You'll notice also that I am counting A LONELY DEATH as a "British" read, despite the fact that the author, Charles Todd, is in fact an American mother and son.

my rating: 4.7

Reviews on MiP
SEARCH THE DARK (Rutledge #3)
A PALE HORSE (Rutledge #10)
A TEST OF WILLS (Rutledge #1)
4.5, A DUTY TO THE DEAD (Bess Crawford #1)

6 November 2011

2,000 posts - I meant to celebrate

The counter now shows that this is the 2006th post on this blog (which is nearly 4 years old) and I did mean to write a celebratory post at the beginning of the week.

In general I write a post a day, and this year I have been trying not to write too many more than that.
About 40% of this year's posts have been book reviews, a large part of the rest have been memes of various types.

I do try pre-schedule posts for times when I am travelling, but the book reviews are nearly always written within hours of completing a book.

5 November 2011

TBRN - best laid plans

Earlier this week I wrote about Challenges needing some attention.

Challenges needing a bit more attention
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge - one book to go for this year's target
  • Outdo Yourself - 6 books to go
  • Ireland Reading Challenge - 3 books 
  • Vintage Mystery - 2 books
  • Canadian Book Challenge 2011-2012 - I've slipped behind schedule a bit - 3 more books for this year.
  • New Zealand  - 2 books
  • British Books - 1 book to my crown. 
So here are my plans
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge - 1 book to go for the year
  • Outdo Yourself - 6 books to go
    This one will take care of itself
  • Ireland Reading Challenge - 3 books
    I have some books on my Kindle
    THE LIKENESS by Tana French
    THE BURNING by Jane Casey
    PLUGGED - Eoin Colfer
  • Vintage Mystery - 2 books
    More Kindle books
    BEFORE MIDNIGHT by Rex Stout
    THE POISONED CHOCOLATES by Anthony Berkeley
  • Canadian Book Challenge 2011-2012 - 3 more books for this year.
    INNOCENT GRAVES, Peter Robinson
    A BREWSKI FOR THE OLD MAN, Phyllis Smallman
    THE WEED THAT HANGS THE STRING by Alan Bradley - already on my Kindle
  • New Zealand  - 2 books
    BLOOD MEN, Paul Cleave
    BOLD BLOOD, Lindy Kelly
  • British Books - 1 book to my crown
    A LONELY DEATH, Charles Todd.
So that is 12 books and I think it easily do-able  so I can probably fit some of the library books in as well as completing these.
  • next on Kindle - THE BLACKHOUSE, Peter May
  • next Australian - WATCH THE WORLD BURN, Leah Giarratano
  • next on audio - GIDEON'S DAY, J J Marric (John Creasey)
  • also on audio - THE FOUR LAST THINGS, Andrew Taylor

4 November 2011

Review: WHISPERING DEATH, Garry Disher

  • Publisher, Text Publishing Melbourne 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-921758-59-1
  • 330 pages
  • Source: borrowed from a friend
Publisher's Blurb

Hal Challis is in trouble at home and abroad: carpeted by the boss for speaking out about police budget cuts; missing his lover, Ellen Destry, who is overseas on a study tour.

But there's plenty to keep his mind off his problems. A rapist in a police uniform stalks Challis's Peninsula beat, there is a serial armed robber headed in his direction and a home invasion that's a little too close to home. Not to mention a very clever, very mysterious female cat burglar who may or may not be planning something on Challis's patch.

Meanwhile, at the Waterloo Police Station, Challis finds his offsiders have their own issues. Scobie Sutton, still struggling with his wife's depression, seems to be headed for a career crisis; and something very interesting is going on between Constable Pam Murphy and Jeanne Schiff, the feisty young sergeant on secondment from the Sex Crimes Unit.

In his sixth Peninsula murder mystery, Garry Disher keeps the tension and intrigue ramped up exquisitely on multiple fronts, while he takes his regular characters in compelling new directions. Disher is a grand master of the police procedural, operating at the peak of his craft.

Read the first chapter on the author's website.

My take

WHISPERING DEATH affirms that Garry Disher is a master storyteller, a tight and consummate plotter, a writer who could sit on any international podium along with richer and more famous crime fiction writers - and thank goodness he is going to be at Adelaide Writers' Week in March 2012.

There are some interesting pictures of Australian lifestyles
    ... this morning Grace was in Hobart, strolling through a well-heeled corner of Sandy Bay... a land of two-car households, two adults working nine to five in well paid jobs. No shift workers here.
and then later
    Today she had a clear run on the toll road between Melbourne airport and the city, and again when she headed over the West Gate Bridge, high winds buffeting the little car, and down into Williamstown, where the mean grind of old Melbourne co-existed with bright young mortgages. Factories and workshops sat next to pastelly little townhouses with cute, candy-coloured cars in the driveways. Grace wound down her window. The air, dense and still, was faintly salted from the Bay. The trees, branches barely moving, seemed dazed from years-long drought.
Several elements of Hal Challis' life seem to come to an end in WHISPERING DEATH. He decides to sell his restored 1930s Dragon Rapide that he has worked on for the last 10 years. He sees this as representing a phase of his life that has come to an end. He decides also to sell his elderly Triumph TR4, this time because it needs a lot of work done on it, and he no longer has the time or motivation.

And then he voices criticisms of the resourcing problems Peninsula policing is experiencing, to local reporter, and it seems that his time on the Peninsula may be coming to an end too. He seals his fate when he rushes out of an interview with his boss and a couple of other big-wigs to answer his mobile phone.
    His mobile phone sounded in his pocket. He checked the screen, saw McQarrie's name on the screen and knew he couldn't keep avoiding the man. 
    He answered and McQarrie said, 'What possessed you, Inspector, walking out on - '
      Challis overrode him. 'A home invasion and then a murder, that's what possessed me.' 
    Silence, and he found himself adding, 'Doing my job, in fact,' guessing he was driving another nail into the lid of his coffin.'
So, if you are looking for some quality Australian crime fiction, here is another title, another author to add to your list. You won't be disappointed.
All the titles in the series are available on Amazon for your Kindle too.

My rating: 4.8

Read another review on Fair Dinkum Crime

The Challis & Destry novels
The Dragon Man (1999)
Kittyhawk Down (2003)
Snapshot (2005)
Chain of Evidence (2007)
Blood Moon (2009)
Whispering Death (2011)

Somehow I have missed reading BLOOD MOON but here is my database record of CHAIN OF EVIDENCE:
#4 in the Hal Challis and Ellen Destry series. Hal Challis has returned to South Australia – his father is dying- leaving D. S. Ellen Destry in charge of both his house and Mornington Peninsular East’s Crime Investigation Unit. And suddenly now in Waterloo a 10 year old girl is missing, feared abducted. Katie Blasko went missing after school but her parents did not realize it until the next morning. Filling Challis’ shoes is not going to be easy – Destry’s colleagues expect her to fail. But Ellen is in constant contact with Hal, both her friend and her mentor. At Mawson’s Bluff in South Australia, Challis is not only helping to look after his father, but trying to find out what has happened to his missing brother-in-law. A satisfying read.

3 November 2011

Forgotten Book: LIKE MEN BETRAYED, John Mortimer

This contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes once again from my records in 1990.


Set in London, this book is the sinister tale of a middle-aged solicitor and his hopeless attempts, both spiritual and real, to find his son and that son's search for his father.

It is the tale of Christopher Kennet, a respected solicitor and a private man, who discovers his son's involvement in a mysterious and possibly illegal manipulation of the funds of a longtime client. As the deal unfolds, both father and son discover their real values in life--much to their own surprise.

First published in 1953, LIKE MEN BETRAYED was Mortimer's second novel, preceding his much more famous Rumpole series by 25 years.

Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955 with his adaptation of this novel for the BBC Light Programme.

Mortimer was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1948, at the age of 25. His early career consisted of testamentary and divorce work, and it wasn't until he took silk in 1966, that he began to undertake work in criminal law. Rumpole first emerged in 1978. 

2 November 2011

My reads in October 2011 & Challenge summary

I've had a nice solid month of reading in October, as you can tell from the ratings I gave:
  1. 4.3, 13 RUE THERESE, Elena Mauli Shapiro (30 October)- Kindle
  2. 4.4, CAUGHT, Harlan Coben (29 October)- audio
  3. 4.7, THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY, Sally Spencer (26 October)
  4. 4.2, AN ASSISTANT MURDERER, Dashiell Hammett  (22 October) - Kindle
  5. 4.2, IN DESPERATION, Rick Mofina (22 October)- Kindle
  6. 4.3, RING OF FIRE, Peter Klein (20 October)- Australian author
  7. 4.4, DEAD MAN'S WHARF, Pauline Rowson (17 October)- Kindle
  8. 5.0, STAGESTRUCK, Peter Lovesey (13 October)
  9. 4.2, SO COLD THE RIVER, Michael Koryta (10 October)
  10. 4.6, FIVE LITTLE PIGS, Agatha Christie (7 October)- Kindle
  11. 4.6, OUTRAGE, Arnaldur Indridason (4 October)- Kindle
  12. 4.5, THE FIRE ENGINE THAT DISAPPEARED, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo (3 October)- Kindle
  13. 4.4, BEGGARS BANQUET, Ian Rankin  (2 October) - audio
  14. 4.4, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, Agatha Christie (1 October)  
Just over half, 8 titles, were read on my Kindle.

My pick of the month just had to be  STAGESTRUCK by Peter Lovesey which I rated at a 5.0.
It is a Peter Diamond mystery that will particularly appeal to those who have attended performances in Bath's Theatre Royal, exploring back stage workings, and theatre hoodoos such as the grey ghost and dead butterflies. But wound through it all is a cleverly and tightly written plot, two deaths, and a range of believable characters. And throughout, Peter Diamond is trying to discover what event in his past gave him an aversion to theatres. 

Challenges: see a detailed overview at Reading Challenges Update

I made some progress on various reading challenges during October too.
I have now equalled the total number of books I read in 2010 and am just 6 from my target for 2011 of 142 books.
I'm making good progress on the e-book reading challenge - up to 58 e-books now but a long way off 100, so regretfully I won't complete that one.
I'm one book off claiming a "crown" with 50 books in the British Books Challenge.

Completed Challenges for 2011
  • Historical Fiction Challenge
  • Nordic Challenge
  • Aussie Author Challenge
  • Cruizin' thru Cozies
  • 2011 Global Reading Challenge
Challenges needing a bit more attention
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge - one book to go for this year's target
  • Outdo Yourself - 6 books to go
  • Ireland Reading Challenge - 3 books 
  • Vintage Mystery - 2 books
  • Canadian Book Challenge 2011-2012 - I've slipped behind schedule a bit - 3 more books for this year.
  • New Zealand  - 2 books
  • British Books - 1 book to my crown.


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