It’s almost Spring, so we just need to hang on in there for a wee bit longer.
February was not a bad reading month. I had a bit of a gap in the middle where I didn’t make that much progress but it wasn’t a slump; I was enjoying what I was reading, I was just distracted by other things.
Books read = 6
Pages read = 1952
Progress against my reading goals = 13% (2 books ahead of schedule to meet 72 books read in 2023)
Progress against my TBR reduction goals = near miss 😦
The goal for TBR reduction was to read 28 short stories in February (ie one a day) and the stretch goal was to read 4 novellas (ie one a week). I managed to read 25 short stories and 2 novellas. Perhaps if I’d concentrated on the short stories I’d have been successful, but do you know what? I still got four items off my stack and that’s a win for me.
Don’t ask how many books came into the Bride’s collection during the month, though. Just don’t. 🙂
It’s 1916, during the First World War, in an alternate world where resurrection is possible. Anne Markham, the daughter of a celebrated neurologist, is reusing the bodies of the dead, combining them into new forms and sending them back into combat, building creatures so complex, and so enormous, that they can encompass all of the fallen.
I loved this story, so grim but also beautifully written and deeply strange. Found myself trying to visualise the creatures being created and couldn’t quite get there. Will definitely be re-reading this story.
John Bachelor is the saddest kind of spy: not a joe in the field, not even a desk jockey, but a milkman—a part-time pension administrator whose main job is to check in on aging retired spies. Late in his career and having lost his wife, his house, and his savings after a series of unlucky choices, John’s been living in a dead man’s London apartment, hoping the bureaucracy isn’t going to catch up with him and leave him homeless. But keeping a secret among spies is a fool’s errand, and now John has made himself eminently blackmailable.
Another excellent addition to the Slough House world, this fits in to the series after Book 6, which I haven’t read yet but I don’t think it matters that I came to this out of order. I love this world so much.
Like all anthologies there are stories included that just don’t work for me, but it did include one of favourites from the last year – Shards by Ian Rogers which I had read as a standalone but was very happy to revisit (and will no doubt read again).
Some favourite authors included and confirmation that I will enjoy Eric LaRocca’s work.
Ghost 19by Simone St James – classed as a short story for the purposes of this challenge
A woman moves to a town where she becomes obsessed with watching the lives of her neighbours while stuck in a house that refuses to let her leave
This story gave me very strong Rear Window vibes and I am not mad about that at all. Nicely creepy, and I really liked Ginette.I really must read The Book of Cold Cases……
Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?
Another nicely twisty novel by Ms Hallett, this is told through exchanges between two true crime authors forced to collaborate on the same story, that of the Alperton Angels, a cult who were convinced that the Antichrist had been born to a young woman within the group and that they needed to kill it. Clearly all is not as it appears and we watch the story unfold. I can’t resist anything to do with cults so enjoyed this very much (though I still think The Appeal is the best of her three novels so far)
I also can’t resist anything about the Cambridge Five in particular and espionage in general, so picked this up recently though I think it’s been out for a while. I found it really enjoyable to read (you should see the quotes I pulled for my reading journal – pages of them) because the author writes wonderfully bitchy pen portraits of almost everyone involved, however tangentially, but I was not entirely convinced by his thesis that it was less about class and more about the culture of masculinity, though that undoubtedly played a role. Not sure it had the impact on the “making of modern Britain” that he suggests, and his dislike of certain individuals comes across so strongly that I think it undermines his position, but I’m glad I read it.
So that’s it for this month. Hope you are all well and having a great almost the end of winter!
The month started off fairly slowly on the reading front, but the attraction of several British Library Crime Classics in my virtual collection meant finishing three books in a week, which is pretty good for me these days.
But onto the stats….
Books read = 5 including one audiobook
Pages read = 967 plus 15.5hours of listerning
Goodreads progress = 62 of 65 finished, 95% of my challenge target
Books I read:
Cthulhu Resurgent by David Conyers – volume 2 of the collected stories of Major Harrison Peel; a very military take on the elder gods but still enjoyable if you like that sort of thing (which I do)
Death of Jezebel by Christianna Brand – published in 1949, a post-war London murder mystery with the equivalent of a locked room scenario. I thought I had guessed the murderer but talked myself out of it only to be proved right but for all the wrong reasons and with no idea of how it was done. Fiendish.
These Names Make Clues by ECR Lorac – published in 1937 this isn’t exactly a locked room mystery but does appear to be an almost impossible murder given the situations of the victim and the main suspect (I will say no more). A literary treasure hunt at a publisher’s London home with a real life detective as one of the guests, this was heaps of fun and is definitely my book of the month
A Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs – published in 1964 so only a couple of years younger than me, this is very much of its time – financial shenanigans, loose morals, potential corruption, shifty bank managers and a joinery company that explodes. Dated but still fun to read.
I also listened to an unabridged version of Dracula with Alan Cumming and Tim Curry. I will have a review of that soon, as I definitely had Thoughts.
I started several books and set them aside as not quite what I was looking for at present, though I’m sure I will go back to them all at some point. I’m currently absorbed in two:
The Explorer by James Smythe – the final book in his Anomaly Quartet came out this year and I am planning to read all four volumes this December. This is the third time I’ve read this, the first book in the series, and at about a quarter of the way through its just as excellent as I remember!
American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson – an audiobook read by the author who is one of my favourite podcasters, though I’ve sometimes taken issue with her books. Very interesting, but I’m always slow when listening to non-fiction.
Looking forward to in December, the start of a year-and-one-month low buy challenge for books, but lots of gifts to come (fingers crossed)!
It’s a very surreal (in some ways) and unsettling time here in the UK as we go through a period of transition. I’ve largely put books aside for the moment, and as I’m not reading much I thought it was a good time to post a book haul.
September is a key month in publishing and I had a lot of pre-orders in place; here’s what’s arrived so far.
REVENGE OF THE LIBRARIANSby Tom Gauld – a wonderful collection of cartoons on “the spectre of failure, wrath of social media and other supernatural enemies of the author” – I love reading his cartoons in the Guardian every Saturday.
SLENDERMAN: A Tragic Story of Online Obsession & Mental Illness by Kathleen Hale – this looks into the shocking stabbings in Wisconsin in 2014 where two 12-year-old girls attempted to kill a classmate, apparently under the spell of an internet meme. I remember this case and the fact the girls were tried as adults, and will be interested in the author’s take
BLACKSTONE FELL by Martin Edwards – the third in the excellent Rachel Savernake series; a locked room puzzle with “a Gothic sensibility” set in 1930 – what’s not to love?
DEATH OF A BOOKSELLER by Bernard J Farmer – the 100th book in the always excellent British Library Crime Collection, I actually got this as a paperback because its the hundredth (obviously), but also because it has a lovely cover. It’s the first time the novel has been in print since 1956.
FAIRY TALE by Stephen King – a mysterious shed, a recluse (and dog) and parallel worlds. It’s Mr King so of course I was going to buy it.
ITHACA by Claire North – I love Claire North and this sounds amazing (and is getting excellent reviews) – telling the story of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, it “breathes life into myth”.
BACK TO THE GARDEN by Laurie R King – going back to her non-Holmesian roots, this is the story of a fifty-year old cold case opened up by the discovery of human remains in California, taking us back to wealthy people indulging themselves during the counterculture.
THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE & Other Misfortunes by Eric LaRocca – an author new to me, recommended by other bloggers and a good opportunity for me to widen my horror reading; looking forward to giving this a go.
KOKO by Peter Straub – sad to hear of the passing of Mr Straub I thought that rather than re-reading something from the books of his that I already own I would get a hold of this, which I missed the first time round. Again, a recommendation, this time on Twitter.
AGATHA CHRISTIE: A Very Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley – a biography with a particular focus on why Mrs Christie chose to portray herself as a “retiring Edwardian lady of leisure” when she was in fact an extremely successful working woman who loved to try new things. I have a nice little collection of Agatha-related books which I will enjoy reading when the darker nights arrive.
There will be more new books coming in during the next few weeks, so watch this space!
When editor Susan Ryeland is given the tattered manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has little idea it will change her life. She’s worked with the revered crime writer for years and his detective, Atticus Pund, is renowned for solving crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950s. As Susan knows only too well, vintage crime sells handsomely. It’s just a shame that it means dealing with an author like Alan Conway…
Magpie Murders is a beautifully constructed murder mystery in two timelines, with the two stories linked by the author Alan Conway. One is a book within a book, Conway’s latest Atticus Pund mystery, and the other is set in the modern day where Susan Ryeland is trying to find the missing last chapter of the book, following Conway’s sudden demise.
I love Anthony Horowitz and I remember buying this not long after it came out several years ago, but failed to read it at the time (which is sadly normal for me these days). I hadn’t forgotten about it exactly but two recent events definitely brought it back to mind:
Britbox announced that a TV adaptation was coming to a screen near me soon; and
So what else could I do? And I’m glad I did pick it up because it is such fun and of course beautifully written. One of the things that I really loved was that the bulk of the Atticus Pund story is front-loaded so that we are reading it along with Susan and come to the realisation that the final chapter is missing and the story just stops dead along with her.
Why do English villages lend themselves so well to murder?
The modern day mystery is also very enjoyable as Susan goes off in search of the missing chapter and to fins out what actually happened to Alan Conway, whom she doesn’t even like, but who is their company’s biggest seller. Both aspects are excellent in their own right, but together they create something special.
I have also seen the first episode of the TV series and I can recommend it highly. Horowitz has written the script and changed the structure to fit the screen better. Wonderful cast and beautiful locations, I am deeply envious of all of the outfits that Lesley Manville (who plays Susan) is wearing in the series.
There is a sequel which I will try to pick up sooner rather than later.
My first book in this year’s 20 Books of Summer is by an author new to me, writing in one of my favourite genres – Sherlock Holmes stories.
It is the winter of 1888, and a very, very bored Sherlock Holmes is only pulled out of his deep fug by the receipt of a letter from France, written in code. The writer is a Parisian cabaret artist, Mlle de Victoire, who needs his help in finding her missing son. Her boy’s father is a British aristocrat married to an American who is raising the child as her own, and is also (the aristo) deeply involved in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Winged Victory from Marseilles, the suspicion being that it is heading to England to be added to his art collection.
Holmes and Watson of course take on the case with some pressure from brother Mycroft, and find themselves dealing with a rival French detective and an additional mystery surrounding the deaths of children who had worked in said aristo’s Lancashire silk mills.
As you might expect, all of this is connected.
Like I said at the top of the post, I love a good Holmes pastiche (if that’s the right word?) and there was no way I was going to ignore this one, especially given the very favourable reviews at the time of publication and the gorgeous cover which is what caught my eye in the first place.
This was a really well-done story, building on Holmesian tradition in terms of relationship dynamics (especially Holmes-Watson-Mycroft but modernised in the way that the crimes that take place are described. The sadism of of one character is not only explicitly referenced but we get to see his brutality in action. The implicit abuse of children is also made explicit when the murderer is unmasked as a pederast (a word you don’t hear very often these days).
Holmes himself continues to be drug-addicted, abrupt and often callous bu driven by the desire to achieve justice, which is his saving grace I suppose. How Watson stands him I do not know, let alone how Mrs Hudson copes. But his complexity is what makes me to continue reading about him. I ahem stopped envisioning him as Basil Rathbone and am now imagining him as Jonny Lee Miller, albeit in a top hat.
I really enjoyed this story, so much that I have ordered the remainder of the series (a further three novels as of now) and am looking forward to reading them in the not too distant future.
Last week we had so much rain but I have turned into a person who says that “at least it’s good for the garden” – what have I become 😀 ?
I also had my second Covid-19 vaccination and all is well. My arm was a bit sore and I was very, very tired but all of that passed within 36 hours and I’ve been raring to go ever since.
I’ve also been trying to get back into walking daily, and part of the fun of that for me (besides listening to podcasts or audiobooks) is interacting with local pets and wildlife. I’ve been noticing a greater variety of birds in our garden, but our neighbourhood black cat resolutely ignores me whenever I see him on his daily patrol. I was sleepily regarded by a small fox curled up in the warm sunshine. We don’t normally see them during broad daylight, but it was a gorgeous animal and I’m glad I spotted it, though I wish I’d taken a photo
Yesterday (Tuesday) after a visit to the dentist I walked part of the way home along the Thames. Lovely.
I really enjoyed reading about Ava Lee, a Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who goes after missing money for private clients. It was fast paced and took the reader from Toronto to Hong Kong to Guyana to the British Virgin Islands and back again. I loved all the money stuff and the technicalities of finding out where it might be hidden, so much so that I managed to overcome two of my pet peeves which appeared right at the beginning of the story – irrelevant information about Ava’s breast size and the use of the word panties; I loathe that word. Anyway, I have already bought the next book and I expect to continue with the series.
I’m currently reading the very next Robert Hunter thriller and will round up the series when I have finished all 9, or is it 10. Still enjoying them but they are not for anyone who can’t handle graphic violence. 50+ years of reading horror has been good practice.
I’m also currently reading Greg Jenner’s Dead Famous, a book about celebrity over the ages and how as a concept it’s not as modern as we might think it is. Great fun and thought provoking, and I’m looking forward to seeing how his theories develop. A wee taste:
CELEBRITY (noun): A unique persona made widely known to the public via media coverage, and whose life is publicly consumed as dramatic entertainment, and whose commercial brand is profitable for those who exploit their popularity, and perhaps also for themselves.
So that’s more or less my week. Hope you are well and staying safe!
A lawyer defending a wealthy man begins to believe his client is guilty of more than just one crime.
Giving away the fact that the defendant is guilty in the first place I guess, so not really a spoiler? Also Ryan Philippe is agreeably arrogant and superior not to mention smug so just by looking at his face you would guess that he was guilty in any case. I watched this largely because it’s based on the first in a series of novels by Michael Connelly and this household has been deeply addicted to Bosch, but the same author. The Book God, who has read many of the books in both series advises, me that the two lead characters are half-brothers (I think) and so there is a shared universe vibe in the background.
I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would; not sure why I had not seen it before to be honest, though I suspect it may have had something to do with not really rating Matthew McConaughey – well. until I watched True Detective season one. But he is very charming in this, justice is served and can we really ask for anything more?
Directed by Brad Furman, The Lincoln Lawyer is 1h 58 long and rated 15 for themes of sexual violence.
Wonder Woman 1984 
Diana must contend with a work colleague and businessman, whose desire for extreme wealth sends the world down a path of destruction, after an ancient artifact that grants wishes goes missing.
So, ancient artefact (check), greedy businessman who really only wants to make his son proud of him so is he really that bad (check), overlooked female academic who becomes glamorous and powerful and doesn’t want to give it up (check) and by the way she taps into her inner Big Cat, a heroine grieving for her lost love (check) who has somehow come back from the dead in an unfortunate manner (don’t see that every day) and a showdown involving lots of smashing of people and things (check).
I was really looking forward to the new Wonder Woman movie and while its a solid entry into the DC Universe (which lets face it needs all the help it can get) I felt that it didn’t really hit the eights of the first film. Well, it did once at the very beginning when we had tiny wee Diana being awesome. I think it suffered from too many villains, neither of whom was really sufficiently nasty, plus the whole love interest thing which was mildly creepy when you stopped to think about it. Still enjoyable but a little Too Much.
Also, the 1980s; who really wants to revisit that?
Directed by Patty Jenkins, WW84 is 2h 31 long and rated 12A for moderate threat, violence and a scene of domestic abuse. Not to mention the psychological impact of the means used to bring Steve Trevor back from the dead (not a spoiler, Chris Pine is on the cast list)
Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
I recently rewatched Inception so felt that I was sufficiently prepared for high-class wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans but readers I WAS NOT.
This is a classy film benefitting from excellent performances, especially Sir Ken as a very, very nasty Russian person, properly villainous and deserving of everything that might happen to him, and Elizabeth Debicki who continues to be luminous in all that she does. Shout out to Robert Pattinson being dashing, some fabulous set pieces and young Mr Washington as the Protagonist.
But do not ask me (a) what this is about or (b) what happens because I was Confused. Enjoyably so, but Confused nevertheless.
I feel I may need to watch this again but that it might not help.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet is 2h 30 long and rated 12 for moderate violence, threat, domestic abuse and infrequent strong language
A plane crashes into the Irish Sea triggering an investigation, because although four men had arranged to fly on this charter it appears that only three actually boarded the flight.
It isn’t clear who didn’t fly, and the only information that the police have are snatches of overheard conversation and the Wade family’s recollections of what happened in the few days before the trip; the Wades knew all of the men involved, you see.
The blurb poses some questions for us to consider:
who was the man who didn’t fly? (obviously)
what did he have to gain? (presumably by not flying)
would he commit such an explosive murder to get it? (presuming there actually is/was an it)
What did I think?
I kept on referring to this as the Man Who Wouldn’t Fly, picturing some traditional 1950s bloke stamping his foot and refusing to embark.
This is not that story.
What it is, is an odd little book. The structure is unusual, starting with the investigation then heading into the recollections of Hester and Prudence Wade and their father as if we were watching them living through it, and flipping back into the investigation and its conclusion.
It’s not entirely clear why the police are involved in this mystery at all because, despite the question raised about the crash, the suggestion that it was as the result of a deliberate act is a red herring.
It is all about identification, apparently:
After the accident comes the casualty list; deaths must be documented, and no man is allowed a death certificate without first dying for it
The puzzle is very interesting and (without giving away the end) is solved almost entirely through the application of logic rather than actual physical evidence. Reassuringly, there is actually a crime
The puzzle is very interesting and (without giving away the end) is solved almost entirely through the application of logic rather than actual physical evidence. Reassuringly, there is actually a crime – well, more than one – but the nature of that crime isn’t apparent until very late on, along with the identity of the criminal. So from that point of view the book worked well for me.
I was less enamoured with the characters (police officers aside; I particularly enjoyed the detective sergeant explaining various cultural references to his superior). The men are all unpleasant and/or deeply irritating to varying degrees and both the girls are hugely frustrating, especially Hester who made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion.
I made an allowance for Prudence as she’s a teenager and presumably doesn’t know any better.
To be fair this novel was published in 1955 so the stereotypes are current for the time, I suppose. What does stand out is the clever structure, which is very different to the classic mystery, but the fact that it is so unusual is what probably makes it a Marmite book.
Have you read this, and if so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments.
Whenever I see the name Chris Carter I immediately think of the X-Files but this Chris Carter is not the creator of the Truth is Out There, but the author of several (I haven’t gone to look at exactly how many) crime novels featuring his homicide detective and all-round whizz-kid Robert Hunter.
Hunter’s expertise is such that he gets all the really weird and gruesome murders that are almost always carried out by serial killers.
Earlier in the summer, I read the first three novels in the series, which are:
The Crucifix Killer – the body of a young woman is found in an abandoned cottage; tattoo on her neck is the signature of said Crucifix Killer but surely it can’t be him because he was caught, convicted and executed. More deaths follow. Did Hunter get the wrong man?
The Executioner – the body of a priest is found in his church on the altar steps, grotesquely mutilated and with the number 3 written on his chest in blood. More deaths follow, all numbered. What links the victims and who knows what they fear the most?
The Night Stalker – a woman has been abducted and murdered in a deeply gruesome way. More deaths follow. What links the victims and why are they being killed like this?
First things first, I really enjoyed these novels. The style, which is very straightforward and almost journalistic, is reminiscent of two other favourites writing in the genre – Richard Montanari and Chelsea Cain, both of whom I love.
The key to whether you’ll enjoy these books, assuming you are willing to accept without flinching the descriptions of murder and mutilation, is whether you like Robert Hunter or not. He has a very specific set of characteristics:
he is super-intelligent, a child prodigy who raced through school and college and whose unpublished thesis is, of course, required reading by those in the field
he is damaged – of course he is – for him it takes the form of insomnia
he self-medicates with single malt whisky so he gets extra points from me for that 😀
he is extremely good looking, and every woman he comes into contact with flirts with him
he is empathetic
he is attracted to strong women but these relationships do not end well, usually for the woman but just as often for him
people around him often get hurt; it is risky being his colleague
is there anything he doesn’t know and did he really learn it all from books?
At the moment I like him, and also the author’s style with one exception – his tendency to be overly specific about cars; I will definitely be reading the whole series.
It’s that time of year again where Cathy at 746Books hosts her twenty books of summer challenge and this year will be my year to actually finish all twenty of my picks. I’m convinced of it 😀
As you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram I have already posted the handwritten list that I created for my Bullet Journal, but here are the full details. In alphabetical order by title because that’s the way my Kindle app rolls; it’s worth noting that all of these are eBooks and all are fiction.
A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi-award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.
I’ve read some of her short stories but this will be the first of her novels I’ve picked up. I adore space opera.
Blood Pearl by Anne Billson – The Camillography Volume 1 Bought June 2019 – 180 pages
Millie Greenwood leads an uneventful life with her overprotective parents in Bramblewood, the most boring village in England – until one day, not long after her sixteenth birthday, she sneakily forges her mother’s signature to go on a school trip to Paris.
I love Anne, she’s a great film critic and I’ve read several of her novels so looking forward to this because, you know, there may be vampires.
Breathe by Dominick Donald Bought March 2018 – 528 pages
Amazon yells that a killer lurks in the worst fog London has ever known
London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He fought in Europe and then Korea, and has now brought his exotically beautiful Russian fiancée back to drab streets and empty bombsites. The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster in a pea-souper fog, Bourton begins to make connections his superiors don’t want to see, linking a series of deaths with the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.
I picked this up after reading Death in the Air which I found disappointing, so will be interested to see how this compares, even though that’s probably unfair given only one of them is non-fiction.
Cataveiro by EJ Swift – The Osiris Project Book 2 Don’t know when I bought this – 400 pages
For political exile Taeo Ybanez, this could be his ticket home. Relations between the Antarcticans and the Patagonians are worse than ever, and to be caught on the wrong side could prove deadly.
I read the first volume in this series several years ago (I think I was on holiday in Vienna) and it has always stuck with me so it feels like a good time to pick up the story.
Welcome to Babylon, a typical sleepy southern town, where years earlier the Larkin family suffered a terrible tragedy. Now they are about to endure another: fourteen-year-old Margaret Larkin will be robbed of her innocence and her life by a killer who is beyond the reach of the law.
I discovered Michael McDowell through Christopher Fowler’s Invisible Ink, and have already read Gilded Needles which I really should have reviewed as it was awesome, so looking forward to this.
Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters — Grayson, Morse and Chen — shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit.
Vandermeer is one of the authors I buy automatically regardless of what his new book is about. This takes place in the same universe as Borne, which I adored, so I’m excited.
The Deep by Nick Cutter Bought April 2015 – 401 pages
A plague is destroying the world’s population. The ‘Gets makes people forget. First it’s the small things, like where you left your keys … then the not-so-small things, like how to drive. And finally your body forgets how to live.
This is likely to be gross horror which feels about right.
Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. At a time when the supernatural world is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane reality of the living, his skills have never been more in demand. A good exorcist can charge what he likes – and enjoy a hell of a life-style – but there’s a risk: sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him.
I feel the need for a new/additional urban fantasy series to follow, so let’s give this a go.
WHO IS CLAIRE’S FATHER? A privileged man, surrounded by devoted friends and a family he adores?Or the deranged killer who attacked Claire’s mother and then vanished in thin air? For thirty years Claire has been obsessed with uncovering the mystery at the heart of her life, and she knows her father’s friends – wealthy, powerful, ruthless – hold the key to the truth. They know where Claire’s father is. And it’s time their perfect lives met her fury.
This is inspired by the Lord Lucan case which I have always found fascinating. This has been well-reviewed and it will be nice to read non-genre fiction.
Sooner or later, death visits everyone. Before that, they meet Charlie. Charlie meets everyone – but only once. Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. Either way, this is going to be the most important meeting of your life.
I met Claire at a reading once when her novel Touch came out, and as you might expect she was delightful and a Roger Zelazny fan and I love reading her stuff.
A girl is strangled in a London alley, the mangled corpse of a peeping Tom is found in a railway tunnel and the juicy details of the latest trunk murder are updated hourly in fresh editions of the evening papers. Into this insalubrious world steps Dora Strang, a doctor’s daughter with an unmaidenly passion for anatomy. Denied her own medical career, she moves into lodgings with a hilarious, insecticidal landlady and begins life as filing clerk to the country’s pre-eminent pathologist, Alfred Kemble.
This book is set in 1929 and speaks to my interests
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – The Locked Tomb Trilogy #1 Bought September 2019 – 479 pages
The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.
Everyone loved this and the sequel comes out soon so need to catch up.
Amazon yells this is the perfect ghostly golden age mystery
Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
Keywords – WWI, spiritualist, islands, gothic. No brainer.
I’m Jack by Mark Blacklock Bought May 2020 – 272 pages
In this provocative novel, Mark Blacklock portrays the true and complex history of John Humble, aka Wearside Jack, the Ripper Hoaxer, a timewaster and criminal, sympathetic and revolting, the man hidden by a wall of words, a fiction-spinner worthy of textual analysis. In this remarkable work, John Humble leads the reader into an allusive, elusive labyrinth of interpretations, simultaneously hoodwinking and revealing
I was a teenager during the whole Yorkshire Ripper awfulness and remember hearing the tape being played on the TV news, so I’m very interested in what the author will do with this.
It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed.Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.
Full disclosure: I’m one of Jason’s supporters on Patreon and received a Christmas card from Mr Sparks (at least that’s who he said he was!) so it’s about time I picked this up.
In 2001, a woman’s skeleton was found in the woods overlooking Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital. Despite an audit of the hospital’s patient records, a forensic reconstruction of the woman’s face, missing-person appeals, and DNA tests that revealed not only where she had lived, but how she ate, the woman was never identified. Assigned the name Madame Victoria, her remains were placed in a box in an evidence room and, eventually, forgotten. But not by Catherine Leroux, who constructs in her form-bending Madame Victoria twelve different histories for the unknown woman.
Sounds intriguing, and different and I can’t resist.
The long-awaited novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.
I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of Jennifer Egan and this sounds cool.
For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo – aide to the true heir to the throne – arrives. In seeking to help his master reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself… and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.
I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t read any Ann leckie, especially as her surname is one of my famil names, – but this isn’t about me) and I’ve heard really good things about this so thought it was a good place to start.
In 1940, eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past.
Cross with myself that it’s taken so long to get to this but I’m here now, so that’s good, surely?