Looking back at last week where I managed to both do some reading and get out into the big wide world….
What I finished:
I managed two this week, a bit of entertaining true crime and an engrossing mystery
Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants: Britain’s First Female Crime Syndicate by Brian McDonald
I was listening to an episode of the Dirty Sexy History podcast hosted by Jessica Cale (well worth a listen if you are interested in stuff that is a bit outside the mainstream history we mostly get taught) when this book was mentioned, and remembered that I had picked up the Kindle edition some time last year. It’s a very entertaining, extremely detailed and fast paced dive into mostly female criminality in south London, with some social history thrown in and lots of dodgy male offenders as well. I really liked it but the title is a bit misleading as we don’t get to Alice until we are quite far into the book, and what we do get was clearly insufficient for some reviewers on Goodreads who expected a full biography of the lady herself.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
I really enjoyed Hallett’s first novel (The Appeal, which I didn’t review but should have because it was just excellent) and if anything this is even better. The narrative device this time is the use of transcriptions of voice recordings made by our protagonist Steven, who is recently out of prison and has become obsessed with trying to solve a mystery from his childhood – the disappearance of his teacher after a school outing where the investigated clues in the works of Edith Twyford, an out-of-fashion children’s author based loosely on Enid Blyton. Almost everything we read comes from Steven’s perspective and we are in potentially unreliable narrator territory here; I won’t say more because watching it all unfold is part of the joy of the book. The clues are all there for the reader to solve, and now that I know how things turn out I am almost certainly going to read it again to find the clues I missed. I really recommend this if you want something a bit different, and am looking forward to what she might do next.
What I’m currently reading:
The Fall of Paris has gone onto my Set Aside for Now stack; I will definitely be going back to it later in the year.
Girl 4 by Will Carver – this is the first novel from Carver who has become one of my favourite authors, largely due to his excellent DS Pace trilogy (which I loved so much and intend to read again). This is the first in a series of novels involving a police detective, January David, who specialises in very violent crimes. This first tale is a serial killer targeting young women (which is what they do) with the first victim hitting very close to home for our protagonist. I’m just over a third of the way in, so shall say no more.
Unmasked by Paul Holes – the cold case investigator whom I first came across via Michelle McNamara’s excellent I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (as mentioned here) and numerous mentions on the My Favorite Murder podcast , as well as his own investigative podcast with Billy Jensen, The Murder Squad. I have only just started this and it looks like a mix of cases he has worked on and the impact his career has had on his family and so far so good.
New books worth mentioning:
In honour of finishing the TV adaptation Slow Horses and the publication of the latest Slough House novel Bad Actors, I treated myself to all of Mick Herron’s series in one fell swoop. Will bereading the fifth entry in the series very shortly.
Last week I mentioned Under the Banner of Heaven which I had just finished, and had an interesting conversation with Kathy at Simple Tricks & Nonsense where she recommended Heaven’s Ditch about the building of the Erie Canal and religious stuff around it; now ordered and awaiting its arrival.
Most of this week’s book spend was focussed on the Book God’s birthday list, so my recommendation will be out of sync for the next wee while.
So this week I finally got back to Sadler’s Wells, my favourite venue for all things dance, to see the Northern Ballet perform Casanova. I had such a good time; the costumes and sets were gorgeous and a quick glass of prosecco at the interval added to the fun. But oh, so many people on public transport were not wearing masks (I was fully masked the hole time) and that did make me feel uncomfortable, especially on the Tube which on the way home in particular was so crowded. This is how it will from now on I suppose….
Until next time I hope you are all well and have a great reading week!