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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-21 04:52
Liked well enough but
The Necessary Deaths (Delingpole Mysteri... The Necessary Deaths (Delingpole Mysteries) - David C Dawson

The Delingpole Mysteries: Book One A young journalism student lies unconscious in a hospital bed in Brighton, England. His life hangs in the balance after a drug overdose. But was it attempted suicide or attempted murder? The student's mother persuades British lawyer Dominic Delingpole to investigate, and Dominic enlists the aid of his outspoken opera singer partner, Jonathan McFadden. The student's boyfriend discovers compromising photographs hidden in his lover's room. The photographs not only feature senior politicians and business chiefs, but the young journalist himself. Is he being blackmailed, or is he the blackmailer? As Dominic and Jonathan investigate further, their lives are threatened and three people are murdered. They uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of government and powerful corporations. The people behind it are ruthless, and no one can be trusted. The bond between Dominic and Jonathan deepens as they struggle not only for answers, but for their very survival.

Review:

Dear David C. Dawson,

Your book was languishing in my TBR list almost for a year now till I saw the second book coming out and deciding to read the first one.

Readers please beware, this is NOT a romance, this is a gay mystery with romantic elements and if you decide to try this one I suggest adjusting your expectations accordingly.

Blurb describes the set up quite well. Dominic gets involved in the case initially by accident, when he observes his neighbor losing conscience after receiving news about her son being in the hospital after the suicide attempt.

Dominic decides to drive her to Brighton since he feels bad for her and feels a little bit conflicted about what to do if she would ask for free legal advice. He also decides that this is a good chance to visit his lover Jonathan, with whom they had been together for couple of years, even though they were not living together.

Once Dominic and Samantha get to Brighton and Samantha gets to visit her son’s bedside the events starts to unfold really fast. Somebody is trying to kill Simon while he is still in coma, Dominic and Jonathan also get involved once again initially at least partially by chance, but then they decide to get involved in the investigation.

Samantha was convinced from the beginning that something was wrong. She was persistent that Simon did not do drugs and he was not in the state of mind to try suicide. Now it is pretty clear that it was not a suicide, but murder attempt, what is less clear however who is behind all of these events?

Dominic and Jonathan initially get involved in the investigation because Samantha asked Dominic for advice after all (not a free one), however very soon Dominic finds several other reasons to stay involved. I was okay with all those reasons, although I rolled my eyes at how fast Dominic decided to not inform the police about several important things they discovered. I may have mentioned it before that when I start the book about private sleuth; I expect to do a certain suspension of disbelief as to how and why the guy would start the investigation and why he would be the main investigator instead of law enforcement. I however expect the author to help me out some and in this story I just did not think that he did do that much. Dominic is a lawyer for crying out loud and I expected better from him.

Even though overall suspense/mystery plot felt very over the top to me, I liked it, it was fast moving and entertaining, there were several chapters closer to the end that I was reading very fast, because I was anxious to see how it will all get resolved and to me the resolution was satisfying enough.

Now, let me talk about romantic storyline. As I said the story is not a romance, but it has a romantic couple and I think it is fair to talk about it.

Dominic and Jonathan are in the open relationship and I want to stress that I am an odd romance reader in that regard, I am more than happy to have a gay couple in the loving open relationship in my romance, and this is not even a romance, this is a gay mystery with romantic elements, so I feel like gay couple in the open relationship could be even more at home in this book.

But you know, I expect the open relationship in such a book to be something that both partners want and it was made abundantly clear to me that it is something Dominic agrees with for Jonathan’s sake (Jonathan wanted the freedom to hook up with other guys while Dominic was not there) but not something Dominic likes, or would have preferred to if I was his choice. So bottom line is Jonathan pissed me off for being an ass and the end of romantic storyline was not convincing to me.

I do not think I will be in any hurry to read the second book sadly even if I liked the mystery and Dominic well enough.

Grade: B-

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review 2017-11-20 21:55
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 12 - Saturnalia: Sayers's Harlequinade
Murder Must Advertise: A BBC Full-Cast Radio Drama - Full Cast,Ian Carmichael,Dorothy L. Sayers

 

Another quick trip down memory lane, courtesy of the BBC's full cast audio adaptation of this novel starring Ian Carmiachel (who also starred in the first of the Beeb's two TV series based on Sayers's novels).

 

This was Sayers's revenge on the advertising business, based on her own early job experience as an advertising copywriter -- as well as (so her biographers tell us) her revenge on an ex-colleague who tried to blackmail her and who is made to tumble down an iron staircase modelled on the one at their former workplace, ending up dead. -- This is also the one Wimsey book (perhaps with the exception of the very first one, Whose Body?) where Wimsey is, at times, most similar to Bertie Wooster ... except that he's playing a role here, as he has been smuggled into Pym's Publicity for purposes of an undercover investigation into the tumbled-down man's death.  What ensues is one of Sayers's wildest rides; a veritable harlequinade that has Wimsey even impersonating himself (or his evil look-alike cousin).

 

I would have preferred to obtain a reading of Sayers's actual book by Ian Carmichael (he was a brilliant narrator and had played Wimsey so often by the time these audio recordings came around that he had the character down pat and could slip him on and off like a well-worn sweater), but since for this particular book that doesn't seem to be available, I'll happily content myself with this full cast recording.

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review 2017-11-20 21:02
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 2 - Bon Om Touk: Murder on a Secret Island
The Lighthouse (Adam Dalgliesh, #13) - P.D. James
The Lighthouse - P.D. James,Michael Jayston

P.D. James's penultimate Dalgliesh novel, revisited courtesy of the splendid unabridged reading by Michael Jayston (known to fans of John le Carré as Peter Guillam from the adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley).

 

I am, bit by bit, working my way through the Dalgliesh series, though not in chronological order but in the order I can get hold of the Michel Jayston CDs.  This book is one of my favorite entries in the series, not least because Kate Miskin finally gets to show her mettle when Dalgliesh is temporarily out of commission.

 

The story takes Dalgliesh and his team to Combe Island on the Cornish coast, a secret retreat for small select groups of government officials and VIPs, to investigate the murder of a an author who is (well, was) as arrogant and egotistical as he was brilliant as a writer -- in other words, your textbook classic mystery murder victim.

 

As I revisit this series, I am becoming downright nostalgic -- they just don't make 'em like P.D. James and Adam Dalgliesh anymore.  Probably Baroness James was wise to bring the series to an end when she did, going out on a high note with The Private Patient (2008), but man ...this is so head and shoulders above the vast majority of mystery writing published these days, it's not even funny.

 

Since this book fits the theme for Bon Om Touk -- read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover -- I decided to apply my audio excursion down memory lane to that square.

 

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text 2017-11-20 15:15
Reading progress update: I've read 171 out of 352 pages.
Lonely Magdalen: A Murder Story - Henry Wade

The investigation into the death of a prostitute found strangled in Hampstead Heath -- the eponymous "Magdalen" (though that isn't actually her name).  I finished Part 1, the first part of the investigation, this morning and have now started the middle part, which tells the victim's life story from age 14 on and is shaping up as a fairly sizeable tragedy.

 

I'm glad to see the investigation is in Inspector Poole's hands at last; his boss (Chief Inspector Beldam), who's been in charge so far, just got on my nerves after a while.  That said, Wade -- a high-ranking public official with a baronetcy, Eton / Oxford and war service background himself -- clearly knew what he was writing about.  (And is the victim's supposed last name, Knox, a friendly co-Detection Club-member jibe at Ronald Knox?  The members of the Detection Club were known to do this sort of thing on occasion ...)

 

High marks to Arcturus Publishing, too, for the splendid cover, which encapsulates the eponymous "Lonely Magdalen" and the novel's general mood to perfection.

 

I'm reading this for the Long Arm of the Law (Chapter 14) square of the Detection Club bingo and for the Pancha Ganapti square of the 16 Festive Tasks.

 



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review 2017-11-20 13:23
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 - Kwanzaa: Headless Chicken Parade Part 2: Albert Campion
Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham,David Thorpe

 

Well, I suppose that's what I get for not checking a book's online blurbs before reading it.  I downoladed this book purely because it was available on Audible and it was one of Allingham's Campion books that I hadn't read yet.  Turns out its plot chiefly rests on not one but two mystery tropes I don't particularly care for: the amnesiac detective and "Fifth Column" shenanigans, Golden Age mystery writer variety.

 

A few hours before the beginning of this book, Campion -- out on a secret mission whose full details are only known to him and Oates -- has gotten himself coshed on the head.  The book opens with him waking up in a hospital not knowing who he is and how he got there.  From an overheard conversation he concludes that he has been involved in a violent altercation that ended in the death of a policeman.  Within minutes, a young lady named Amanda whom Campion doesn't recognize but who seems to know him very well appears next to his hospital bed and whisks him away in what he discovers is his own car, to the house of an eminent scientists where, it turns out, Amanda and he are staying.  Campion also discovers that he seems to be involved in some sort of highly charged top-secret mission.  Now, instead of lying low until he has regained his wits and knows precisely who he is, what his role in that ominous mission is, whom he can trust, and what not to do if he doesn't want to give himself away -- and despite the fact that that same evening a death occurs that may well be connected with the ominous mission -- Campion starts running around like a headless chicken trying to bring the whole thing to completion.

 

Full marks for implausibility so far, Ms. Allingham.

 

Which brings us to trope no. 2, and which in its details is just about as ridiculously implausible as is the amnesia part of this book's plot.  Yet, the saving grace of this second part of the plot is (alas) that in the days of Russian meddling with the American and European democracies' political process via Facebook campaigns, "fake news" and other instances of rumor mongery, the mere concept of an enemy power's meddling with a country's political process

(here: by way of manipulating the target country's monetary politics)

(spoiler show)

does unfortunately no longer sound quite as ridiculous as it might have even a few years ago.

 

Still I really would have wished Allingham hadn't tried to match Christie in the wartime spy shenaningans game -- which was not a particular forte of either of them.

 

I listened to this book for Square 16 of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.

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