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review 2018-04-07 16:21
Being kind. It was her first time.
Fallen Into the Pit - Ellis Peters

Rating: 3.25* of five

 

Not precisely as expected. The first murder, one which I'd been *panting* after happening since the instant I met the Kraut Eddie Haskell character who is, disappointingly, not boiled in oil after being flayed alive and rolled in finely ground salt, was but the first salvo in war.

 

The War. Mm, yeah, best to put this into its time and place. England in 1951 was still under rationing. The scars of German bombing were everywhere, and the shift from staunchly capitalist to resolutely socialist government had not yet taken hold. The veterans of the fighting were, then as now, seen off with a wave and a pusillanimous "good luck!" from their erstwhile "superiors."

 

One of those veterans figures in the book as suspect, as well as one point on a love triangle, and strangely enough the schoolmaster-cum-confidant to the peculiarly prominent son of the nominal sleuth. He's got PTSD, as we'd now call it, after half a decade of being a murder machine in order to survive in the wilds of Croatia. And the second murder, of his love-rival, cements his place in the town's mind as The Killer.

 

But the sleuths? Not so sure. Neither father nor son Felse is at all convinced of Doolally Veteran Dude's desire to murder either victim. Son goes on an extended...more on this anon...search for physical evidence while Father does...does...um. Yeah.

 

Anyway, the two Felse men end up on the same track in the end and they discover the real murderer's identity due to the same strangely silent clue. They arrive in the same place at the same time, luckily, and they jointly score one for the forces of Right and Justice. But they do so in very different ways, and we only see Son's PoV! What?!

 

So this is why I'm not giving the book four or more stars. Policeman Felse is largely Father Felse in this book. He's not absent, he's just in a secondary crime-solving position, and that's not quite as satisfying as one might have imagined it to be when plotting out the book, Mme Pargeter/Peters (deceased). Oh, and that third murder? Not quite so sure it was well handled plot and position-wise.

 

But it was your first mystery, so I shall be kind and not fling it against the wall with panther-screeches of outraged fury.

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text 2018-04-01 10:27
March marches out...
The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars - Anthony Boucher
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong
Burn Bright - Patricia Briggs
One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth
Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions - Amy Stewart
The Moving Toyshop - Edmund Crispin
The House of the Cats: And Other Traditional Tales from Europe - Maggie Pearson

Either I was feeling generous, or I had a great reading month.  Since my RL wasn't as nice as my reading month, we'll go with great reading!

 

My total for March was 26 books.  Moonlight Reader's inspired reading version of the game Clue! (Cluedo to those in the Commonwealth), Kill Your Darlings, certainly helped keep my reading pace up, and as always, worked particularly well at getting the veterans off my TBR stacks.  

 

Of the 25 books, 2 were 5-star reads:

The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by Anthony Boucher 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong 

 

I had 8 4.5 star reads too:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs 

One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett 

Miss Silver Comes to Stay by Patricia Wentworth 

Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart 

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin 

The House of the Cats: And Other Traditional Tales from Europe by Maggie Pearson 

 

 

 

Some stats, gussied up:

 

My TBR project:

I've set a book buying budget for each month that = 50% of the total books I read the previous month.  Any books not bought carry over to the next month.  

 

Last month I bought 11 out of the 15 budgeted, leaving me with 4 to carry over to April.  My total books read in March being 25 leaves me with a budget of 12 (I always round down; I figure this way, if I go over one month, there's a small error of margin). 

 

total books I can buy in April:  16

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review 2018-03-27 09:48
American Housewife: Stories - Helen Ellis

This is a short story collection revolving around the theme of housewives, as the title suggests. Some of these are 30 pages long, others only two but each take the theme and deal with it in a different way.

 

As with all short story collections there were some I preferred over others. There were some with darkly comic undertones such as The Wainscoting War, a series of an escalating feud over the decorating of a communal area told in email format, or Hello! Welcome to Book Club, a story about a seemingly innocuous ladies book club that as you read seems to become more like Fight Club with a twist.

 

There are stories that have a sadder side to them, such as The Fitter, a tale of a woman married to man with the gift to change a woman’s outlook on life in an unusual way.

 

My favourite story from the collection has to be Dumpster Diving with the Stars in which the protagonist starts by questioning her reality whilst being a reality star. Unable to stop comparing herself to others she begins to see that reality is not always as it appears, and that other things matter more than a person’s chosen career path and place in society.

 

This book examines the role of the woman in the house, and in the wider world. It shows that a woman can have a role as a housewife if that is what she want, and that seeking something outside of the home is valid also. In other words, it celebrates the insecurities woman may feel and gently mocks or encourages society’s views in equal measure.

 

A great collection to dip in and out of or to read in one session.

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review 2018-03-17 09:32
One Corpse Too Many (Brother Cadfael, #2)
One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters

I had doubts starting this one, because it starts off slow.  Really slow.  Like, omg, this book is never, ever going to end.  This was largely due to the history dump Peters gives the reader in the beginning; the boring-to-me kind of history about battles and wars and political shenanigans.  

 

Then the dead body is found in the pile, and Cadfael gets his new assistant and stuff starts happening.  Midway through I was loving this story; "cat and mouse" comes to mind, but it's really much more "cat vs cat" because Cadfael is up against a man as clever as he is and there's no mouse in this plot.  The almost-the-end/climax-but-not was magnificent; the machinations were making me positively giddy, and yet the mystery itself continued.  Once Cadfael figured out who the murderer was, I admit I felt a bit knuckle-headed because the possibility never even entered my mind.  I can only tell myself I was entirely too caught up it the sub-plot of cat-n-cat and wasn't paying attention. 

 

That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

 

These are excellent mysteries for anyone who wants something more serious than a cozy, but doesn't want hard-core thrillers or crime stories.  Enjoying history is a plus, but not necessary save for the first few chapters.  There are 20 books in this series and if each of them are this meaty, I'll be reading them for years to come, because they aren't the kind I can binge read.  Yay!

 

This book works for the Kill Your Darlings game's COD: Stabbed with a sword.  Primarily, it takes place during the middle ages, but it also is set in the midst of a civil war and the text is chock full of the word "sword".

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review 2018-02-20 00:00
Eli & Gage: Something About Him
Eli & Gage: Something About Him - A.D. ... Eli & Gage: Something About Him - A.D. Ellis 3.5 Stars rounded up to 4
A very hot and sexy intro to the Something About Him series... Nicely well-developed for such a short piece!
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