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text 2017-09-22 11:39
Reading progress update: I've read 75 out of 288 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

I know this is a British vs. American English thing, and I'm not suggesting at all that one is more or less correct than the other, but Edwards habit of referring to authors as founder members is driving me a little bonkers.  It's so clunky when I try to read it in my head; I want it to say founding member.  My brain tries to make it so, but my eyes trip over the discrepancy and I keep getting distracted.

 

Of course not so distracted that I'm not finding books and more books to add to my TBR lists...

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review 2017-09-22 11:29
"The Jane Austen Project" by Kathleen A Flynn
The Jane Austen Project - Kathleen A. Flynn

I found the premise of "The Jane Austen Project", time travelers from our future being sent back to 1815 to inveigle their way into an intimate acquaintance with Jane Austen with a view of diagnosing the disease that would kill her in 1817 and retrieving a copy of her unpublished novel "The Watsons", irresistible

 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was much more than a good idea written up over a few hundred pages. "The Jane Austen Project" is well written, engaging and original.

 

The story is told from the point of view of Rachel, a physician with a history of working in disaster zones in her own time, who is passionate about meeting Jane and deeply curious about the disease that will end Jane's life.

 

Placing a strong, competent woman with a broad experience of the world and an expectation of being in charge of her own life into England in 1815 is a very effective way of highlighting the constraints placed on women at that time and the frustration and waste that they caused.

 

Rachel is a deeply imagined character that it is easy to become attached to. The future she comes from is tantalizingly different from today. That I wanted to know more about it and her life before the Jane Austen Project, is a sign of skill of the story teller. I was tantalized and intrigued. I came to realise that Rachel's past was as alien as the 1815 present the action takes place in.

 

I was surprised at how much tension I felt reading the book. I wanted to know what happened next. This wasn't an academic exercise or a passive homage to Jane Austen. It started as a difficult mission where failure could have disastrous consequences and became a personal and emotional journey for Rachel and those who's lives she touches.

 

Seeing the world of Jane Austen through the eyes of a woman from an unknown future but who has a detailed knowledge of Jane's life and works produced a kind of refraction of ideas and expectations that kept the novel fresh and made me think again about what I thought I knew of Jane Austen and her times.

 

Fans of Jane Austen will be fascinated by this book. People who only know Jane through various Mr Darcy movies will not feel left out but may find themselves intrigued. My interest in Jane Austen's books was revived to the extent that my next read will be "Persuasion", a Jane Austen novel that I've never read before. 

 

Saskia Maarleveld did a competent job as a narrator but I was distracted by her inability to pronounce place names like "Berkley Square" and "Basingstoke" correctly. You can hear her work on the soundcloud link below.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/317680906" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

 

kathleenflynn

 

This is Kathleen Flynn's debut novel, She's a copy editor at the New York Times. In this interview she discusses how the novel came about and what it was like for an editor to be edited.

 

I hope I see more work from her soon.

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-22 11:15
Reading progress update: I've read 219 out of 357 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

From the chapters covering some of the key locations of classic British mysteries (the countryside, including and especially country manors, as well as London -- of course -- and domestic and international vacation resorts), we've now moved to an exploration of how the various writers used their "original" professional experience in their writing, and how classic mysteries worked when set in the worlds of science, engineering, politics, teaching -- and of course, the world if the professional investigator, the policeman. 

 

I find I am particularly enjoying these chapters; while those dealing with the various geographical settings were a huge enterprise of cramming as many titles into the introductory chapters as possible (with considerable "name recognition" value -- this is, after all, the Golden Age mystery world 101, and you can't possibly read classic British crime fiction without coming across at least a fair share of the novels mentioned in those chapters somewhere or orther eventually) -- now we're back to an analysis as to what exactly made the novels, and their writers and protagonists, tick ... and how it impacted the various storylines.  That, in addition to being introduced to a plethora of new authors to read, was a major draw for me in the initial 5 chapters, too, where the focus was on how the "conventions" and hallmarks of classic British crime fiction were shaped.

 

Now off to working on another "books mentioned" reading list ...

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review 2017-09-22 02:01
Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch (audiobook)
Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Series: Peter Grant #3

 

More fun with Peter Grant via the voice of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

 

Although the story kicks off with Peter and Leslie investigating the haunting of a rail tunnel at Abigail's behest, Peter quickly finds himself investigating the death of an American art student found stabbed in the back with a shard of magical pottery in the Underground. This leads us to meet Zack, another great character and the one who starts calling the policemen from the Folly the Isaacs (for Isaac Newton, naturally).

 

Peter also gets to showcase some of his police professionalism during interrogations and we get introduced to the Suspicious Behaviour Bingo Card, which I find a lot of fun.

 

I'm thinking about using this for one of my Halloween Bingo squares but I'm not sure which one. Although there is that segment with the haunted railway track, I'm not sure it plays a big enough role for "Haunted Houses". I may use it for "Supernatural" though, and it could of course also be used for "Murder Most Foul" and "Darkest London" (I'm still trying to save The Furthest Station for Darkest London).

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review 2017-09-22 01:47
Why shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer

I was worried that I wouldn't like this book because of my disastrous encounter with Venetia, one of Heyer's regency romances, but this was pretty good. 

 

Mr. Frank Amberley, a barrister visiting his relatives in the country, comes across a man shot dead in a parked car with a woman standing alongside whilst trying to following his cousin's poor directions for a short cut. He reports the murder but doesn't mention the woman because he strongly believes she didn't do it and doesn't trust the local constabulary not to try to pin it on her by mistake, apparently. You could easily accuse him of arrogance, I suppose, but he does seem to be a clever man.

 

This kicks off an amateur investigation where Amberley liaises with the police without telling them everything. I didn't guess the solution to the mystery although I had an inkling about part of it. I enjoyed the dialogue the most, I think. There was a lot of clever talking or whatever you want to call it, where characters don't exactly say what they mean but you follow along anyway, or characters mock each other without the author having to come out and say it. Or maybe others wouldn't say it was like that at all but I had fun with it regardless.

 

The last summing up chapter could have been a teensy bit shorter, but overall it was fun.

 

I read this for the "Terrifying Women" square for the Halloween Bingo but it could work equally well for "Murder Most Foul" and "Amateur Sleuth". It may work for "Country House Mystery" as well, although the number of suspects isn't quite as limited as some country house settings although you are still limited by being in the country.

 

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