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text 2017-10-17 23:36
The Crow Girl (Victoria Bergmans svaghet #1-3)
The Crow Girl - Erik Axl Sund,Håkan Axlander Sundquist,Jerker Eriksson

I haven't rated this book because I've abandoned it three hours in to a thirty hour book.

 

The writing ins excellent. The characxterisation is subtle and clear. The sense of doom is all pervasive. I just couldn't cope with the subject matter.

 

Three hours of contemplating the rationale for, mehanics of and damage inflicted by child abuse was as much as I could stomach. Another twenty-seven hours of it was inconceivable. If you have a stronger stomach than I do, I'm sure you'll find this to be a compelling read with three strong but flawed woman as the main characters.

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review 2017-10-15 15:08
“The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries” by Gladys Mitchel – BBC Full Cast Dramatisation
The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (Classic Radio Crime) - Mary Winbush,Gladys Mitchell,Leslie Phillips,Full Cast

Good reviews on BookLikes convinced me to try out Gladys Mitchell’s rather unique take on the female upper-class sleuth. I’m one of those folks who feels obliged to start such things from the beginning, so I went in search of an audiobook version of the first book “Speedy Death”.

 

I could only find a BBC dramatisation that  presents “Speedy Death” and “The Mystery of the Butcher’s Shop” in a condensed version that accords only ninety minutes to each.

 

“Speedy Death” is presented at pace worthy of the title. The overall feel is that of a pantomime intended for adult consumption. The cast is competent. The production standards are smooth but perhaps a bit too tongue-in-cheek. It seems to me that the dramatisation is cosy almost to the point of being self-mocking whereas the themes in the book : murder, extra-judicial execution, transgender living, lesbian attraction, abusive men and a self-possessed, manipulative older woman would have been quite shocking when the book was published in 1929.  Gladys Mitchell seems to be playing Quentin Tarrantino to Agatha Christie’s more conventional Cohen Brothers but the BBC have turned her efforts into something close to a farce.

 

“Speedy Death” is populated by damaged, privileged people who seem to have no understanding of just how broken they all are. Mrs Bradley, our heroine is a high-functioning sociopath, strong on insight and short on empathy, who stalks ruthlessly and gleefully through the pack of upper-class walking-wounded, mentally vivisecting them with accuracy and obvious, almost manic, pleasure.

 

I finished the dramatisation “Speedy Death” feeling thatI’d been shown the pop-up book version of what might well be a fascinating novel.

 

Things got worse when I reached “The Mystery Of A Butcher’s Shop”. The main murder committed here seems to be by the BBC who effectively killed this novel by slap-dash attempts at humour and a script so clumsy as to be negligent. They added insult to injury by inflicting “Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Dry Bones” as a chorus sung at random intervals.

 

I suspect that this novel never had a particular strong constitution as it leans too heavily on the sensational supported by the improbable but the BBC have managed completely to drain it of any life it once had.

 

I’m interested in reading Gladys Mitchell but I’ll stick to her text in future.

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review 2017-10-14 15:22
"Dying Light - Logan McRae #2" by Stuart MacBride - grim, violent crime in Aberdeen
Dying Light - Stuart MacBride

I didn't enjoy "Dying Light" as much as its predecessor  "Cold Granite", the first in this series.

 

The same cast of characters were there as before but now DS Logan McRae has been allocated to the Fuck Up Squad after an officer ended up in a coma during a drugs raid that he lead.

 

I enjoyed the humour and the tension that comes from the orderly McRae having to deal with his chaotic, despotic but strangely charismatic boss in the Fuck Up Squad. The local feel of the book remained strong and the depiction of bored police officers playing "If you had to or die" or "Spit or swallow" while on endless stakeouts seemed credible.

 

The plot was as twisted as in the first book but the sense of compassion and loss was not as strong. I was also put off by the maiming of one of the main characters by a gangster hard man. I recognise that this kind of thing is realistic but the detail in which it was described and the lack of empathy demonstrated by McRae and others left a bad taste.

 

I will continue with this series because it's well written and has strong characters but I'm hoping for something beyond twisted plot and escalating violence in the next book.

 

Kenny Blythe does a great job as the narrator. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear him do his stuff.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/328181286" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

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review 2017-10-13 11:49
"Iron Kissed - Mercy Thompson #3" by Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

"Iron Kissed" stepped this series up from good urban fantasy with a likeable, strong heroine and a satisfyingly complex supernatural world, to something that really gets face to face with abusive power and what it does.

 

In less than three hundred pages, Patricia Briggs managed to move from a fairly conventional (by Urban Fantasy standards) who dunnit, with Mercy trying to prove that her mentor did not murder seven fae on the local reservation, into a book that is really about what men and women do with power.

 

Mercy is brave and loyal and smart but she's not powerful and she doesn't have any magical healing ability. If Mercy gets hurt, she stays hurt.

 

Mercy grew up surrounded by male werewolves with an impulse for violence and the physical power to tear her apart. She survived by learning not to draw attention to herself. That's not an option for her any more. The two earlier books gained her the attention of the local werewolf pack and the local nest of vampires. In this book she is dragged into the affairs of the fae.

 

It is Mercy's vulnerability that makes her courage remarkable. When she stands up to those more powerful than her, with no ability to protect herself from the consequences, it means something.

 

The first part of the book expands our understanding of the fae, a not at all human set of people who will always put their security above the lives of the humans around them. Mercy negotiates a route through their threats where she can and initially this seems like another urban fantasy book where clever humans can outwit the monsters. Then Mercy is cornered by something powerful that wants to kill her and that she cannot fight or outrun.  Her only option is to seek protection. What I liked about this was her reaction: fear, not wise-cracking arrogance; guilt for putting others in danger, not a "hah, trapped you" joy; an understanding that, if things continue as they are, one of the many monsters she is surrounded by WILL kill her.

 

In the second part of the book, things get darker. Much darker. Mercy comes to understand that not all monsters are supernatural. She falls prey to one of them who hurts her, diminishes her and takes her to the brink of self-abnegation.

 

This was not easy reading. We'd left fantasy far behind and become entangle in the worst things we do to each other.

 

Mercy's reaction and the reaction of the people around her, made me cry.  I wanted to cheer but crying got the better of me.

 

The novel avoids a soft, pain free, happy ever after ending. Damage is not so easily undone but, it turns out, hope is not so easily extinguished.

 

I'm hooked now. If this standard of writing continues, I'll be with this series until the end.

 

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text 2017-10-12 22:30
"Whose Body?" Dorothy L Sayers - DNF - poor narration
Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers

This hit my DNF pile in record time because the narrator mangled the wit in the text with poor timing and zero sympathy with the spirit of the book.

This one goes back to audible and I'll try again with an ebook.

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