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review 2018-06-08 23:24
[Death of a Hollow Man: A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery] (By: Caroline Graham) [published: March, 2006] - Caroline Graham

Once more I'm delving into Caroline Graham's world of detective fiction but this time it's with the second book in her Chief Inspector Barnaby series. Death of a Hollow Man takes place primarily in the Causton theater. It begins with the death of a prominent member of the local acting community committed during a performance of their newest production. Very dramatic, eh? [A/N: I have to restate my dislike of Sgt Troy who is misogynistic, homophobic, and generally vile. I understand he's used as a literary device to highlight how different he is from the main protagonist of the novel but I really wish he wasn't in the books at all. Something I do like is the relationship between Tom and his wife Joyce which is portrayed quite a bit differently from the TV series which I am more familiar with (and like better). The reader learns more background knowledge about how they met each other and fell in love (turns out Joyce is an excellent singer while Tom possesses admirable artistic skills). In fact, a lot of relationships are explored in this sequel and the majority of them are quite ugly beneath the surface. There's quite a lot of flippant talk regarding mental illness which I didn't particularly care for especially relating to Alzheimer's. I think the only really good thing I can say about this novel is that the mystery itself is fast paced and interesting so it kept me turning the pages. Graham knows how to write a gripping mystery but I don't think she's especially adept at character portrayals (or sensitivity). All in all, I think this will be my last foray into this literary series but I will continue to watch Midsomer Murders (especially after we visited the place where it's filmed). 5/10


What's Up Next: Ghostbusters by Larry Milne


What I'm Currently Reading: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-08 00:35
Sleuthing for a new mystery series
The Killings at Badger's Drift - Caroline Graham

It might come as a surprise that I had never heard of the writer Caroline Graham until my mom got me into watching a show called Midsomer Murders. (It's on Netflix if you're interested.) What does one have to do with the other? Well, the tv show is based off of a book series by Graham that begins with The Killings at Badger's Drift which also happens to be the first episode's name. As this is the first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, you can expect the usual character introductions and some growing pains as the reader decides if they actually want to throw their hat into the ring of a somewhat grumpy detective in the English countryside. In the show DCI Tom Barnaby is a fatherly figure accompanied by a somewhat bumbling underling named Gavin Troy. It's not quite the same in the book. Firstly, Troy (who is one of my fave characters) is not at all likable. The reader is treated to somewhat of an inner monologue of his and he's not what I'd characterize as a a good dude (he's misogynistic, arrogant, and a cheater). Secondly, Barnaby is bordering on being a full-blown hypochondriac with an extensive knowledge of horticulture which at times seems to nearly distract him from the case at hand. (Get ready for a lot of plant descriptions.) However, looking beyond these very different versions of the characters the 'feel' of the mystery is the same if somewhat more overtly sexual. (This is an adult novel.) The crime centers around a small village called Badger's Drift and the victim is an older woman who everyone can agree was very likable. There aren't any concrete leads on suspects and Troy is ready to write it off as a bizarre accident when another murder occurs right up the road. Onward, super sleuths! Like Christie, Graham is able to write characters extremely well and the feel of the village comes completely to life on the page. This was an extraordinarily fast read for me because I was enjoying it so much and wanted to see whodunit (even though I already knew). Mystery fans who want to visit what has to be the deadliest county in the UK must get their hands on this book because I strongly suspect (see what I did there?) you won't want to stop there. 9/10 but lost a point because Troy made me grind my teeth in sheer frustration.


What's Up Next: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Others Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty


What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-06-15 14:35
A Ghost in the Machine
A Ghost In The Machine - Caroline Graham

I’m done with this series. I really can’t stand the 300 pages of backstory, followed by 100 pages of mystery solving, followed by another 100 pages of wrapping up the back story. I really don’t care who slept with who or who cheated who out of thousands of pounds; I just want to read about Inspector Barnaby solving a murder. I’m not sure how you can call a series The Inspector Barnaby Series and then only have him present for 1/5th of the book. I also found that like the previous book I read in this series, it had some major editing issues. There were whole paragraphs of what looked like a bunch of random words strung together. Did nobody bother to even look at the manuscript before sending it to print?


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text 2016-05-02 13:00
April Wrap-Up & May Reading List
A Ghost In The Machine - Caroline Graham
The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L. Sayers
Murder in Baker Street: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes - Jon Lellenberg,Martin H. Greenberg,Daniel Stashower
The Black Country - Alex Grecian
For Dead Men Only: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery - Paula Paul
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity - Steve Silberman
The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: 4: Fourth Annual Collection - Ed Gorman
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan
Wish You Well - David Baldacci

April Wrap-Up


I completed eight books in April. Here's the breakdown:


5 stars: 1

The Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

4 stars: 0


3 stars: 5

Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham

The Secret of High  Eldersham by Miles Burton

The Yard by Alex Grecian

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett


2 stars: 2

Death in Disguise by Caroline Graham

Veronica's Grave by Barbara Bracht Donsky


Reviews: 8


I participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon this month and managed to read 2 1/2 books during the 24 hours. I also finally finished adding all my books to Leafmarks.


May Reading List


I'm treating May as my cleanup month. The books that I didn't get to in March and April are on my reading list this month.


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review 2016-04-11 13:06
Death in Disguise (Chief Inspector Barnaby Series #3)
Death In Disguise - Caroline Graham

This was a bit of a letdown from previous books in the series. I settled on 3 stars as a rating, but I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this later in the week and re-rating it at 2.5 stars. First off, the editing in this book was atrocious. There were periods in place of commas, numerous instances of ‘is’ used in place of ‘in’, and the word sterilizer was spelled with an 's' and a 'z' in the same paragraph. I guess the editor couldn't decide on the UK spelling or the American spelling, so they decided to go with both and hoped nobody would notice. One of the suspects is referred to as both Sylvie and Sylvia throughout the book – according to Google it’s supposed to be Sylvie. What irritated me the most however, were the sections of font that randomly changed size half-way through a sentence and then changed back a paragraph later, once again half-way through a sentence. Needless to say, all these issues kept me from fully immersing myself in the story.


Just like the previous book in the series, Death of a Hollow Man, it takes almost half the book to really get started. The long set-up made sense in the previous novel because Inspector Barnaby was supposed to be familiar with all of the suspects, but it didn't work in this book. The book felt heavily padded and drawn out. Furthermore, once the mystery gets started, instead of focusing on the investigation the author made the decision to continue focusing on the lives of the suspects. I wanted to read a mystery not a soap opera.


Another puzzling decision made by the author was to spend more time with Sergeant Troy's POV. In the first two books he was almost there as a background character, with an occasional peek into his head. I mentioned in a previous review how every moment with his POV is extremely uncomfortable, so I'm a little confused as to why the author chose to write more of this novel from his perspective. Sergeant Troy is best used in small doses and it felt overdone.


I really wasn't impressed with this book overall. Though I've only read three books in this series, I have to say this is by far the worse. The author made a number of decisions in the narrative that left me scratching my head, including adding an Epilogue at the end that summarized the suspect’s lives after the murderer was brought to justice. Over 300 pages of these characters apparently wasn’t enough. The mystery itself was an afterthought and based off the flimsy evidence that Inspector Barnaby was able to collect, there was no way he should have been able to get a conviction. Huh? I actually made it to the end of this review before changing my mind. 2 ½ stars.


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