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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 2018-01-06 02:19
The last story strengthened my resolve to never go on a cruise
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories by Dahl, Roald (2012) Paperback - Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories was a must-have for me for 2 reasons: 1. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors and I want to read everything he's ever written and 2. I love ghost stories. I have to admit that going into this one I was very much under the impression that this was going to be a book filled with stories written by Dahl himself. I clearly hadn't read the synopsis or book jacket because that is not what this book is about. This is a collection of some of Dahl's favorite ghost stories written by other people. He compiled this list when he was working on a project for American television and his preparation was extensive. He read 749 tales of the supernatural by different authors and from that large number he whittled it down to 14 of his favorites that he felt were not only excellent examples of writing in this genre but that would make for good television. (He also discovered that women are experts in this field and until the 11th hour he thought they would beat out the men with a hard majority.) Since there are 14 different stories in this collection, I will only talk about 2 that I found particularly chilling (and yes they are written by women). 


The first is called 'Harry' and was written by Rosemary Timperley. It bore a striking resemblance to The Imaginary in that its primary focus was on a little girl who had a strong friendship with an imaginary boy. The biggest difference here is that the mom tried very hard to squash this relationship because she had a deep and abiding fear...of the name Harry. Yes, I too found this odd. Nevertheless, while it may seem irrational this fear was quite powerful and instead of ignoring the interactions of her child and her invisible playmate she let it consume her until...well you'll have to read the story.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-06 04:53
Like a good tv show in print
Bookburners - Jeffrey Veregge,Mur Lafferty,Max Gladstone,Margaret Dunlap,Mark W. Weaver,Brian Francis Slattery

I'm a little wary of multi-author narratives in print, which is a little goofy, considering that this is basically how all television is scripted. I love me some television, but, of course, it must be said that the strength of the singular vision -- the showrunner or creator -- is a huge factor in whether any given show is successful. (Successful to me, anyway; I'm not talking folding green. That's a whole other thing.) But I've been burned with uneven and unsatisfying multi-author novels before, so. I picked this is up because I've been slow-burning my way through Max Gladstone's Craft sequence. Maybe his name is top of the marquee because he's the best known of the writers, but I suspect not. This has his fingermarks on it, narratively speaking -- from the baroque murder mystery plotting to the strange other gods and devils.


But even if Gladstone wasn't the showrunner, if you will, whoever it was did an excellent job. I greatly enjoyed Bookburners, even despite my prejudice.. I felt like it overcame the lumpiness of multi-author novels I've read through what must have been good editorial control, which nevertheless allowed the individual writers to show off their specific style. Each section is episodic like television, with a mini-arc that has its own satisfaction. Sometimes the episodes were more mythology heavy, and that's fun too. The possibilities of the premise are no where near exhausted by the end, which is also a plus, given how many television shows / series / trilogies / whatever should be strangled after the first outing. How many Matrix movies are there, for example? Want to talk about season 2 of Heroes? or Lost?


Anyway, much fun was had by me.

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review 2017-08-28 19:39
"Chicago Monumental" springs off the page in television and radio interviews
Chicago Monumental - Larry Broutman

Photographer, author, and historian Larry Broutman has extensive knowledge of Chicago's vast public arts scene and a trained eye for beauty that can only come from many years working throughout the world as a professional photographer. Check out his television and radio interviews about his latest book, Chicago Monumental.










WTTW-TV’s Chicago Tonight





WCIU-TV’s You & Me This Morning




WGN Radio’s The Steve Cochran Show




WGN Radio’s Outside the Loop with Mike Stephen







Source: www.everythinggoesmedia.com/product-page/copy-of-chicago-monumental
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review 2017-02-02 03:03
Except the Dying - A Review

I can’t believe it’s already the first of February and I haven’t posted one review.  In my own defense I got that horrific cold that’s going around – it’s a bad one – so stay healthy everybody.  I still have the tail end of the cough.  Also, every time I fired up the computer I had other things to do on it.  After being downsized out the door at my job at the end of last year I decided that while I have the safety net of unemployment benefits I am going to try to start a small home based business – but more on that later this week.  There are some prizes in the offing so stay tuned.

Sick as I was I was still reading, mostly light stuff that I could digest through my stuffy sinuses.  My BFF has long been a fan of the television series “Murdock Mysteries”.  I finally gave it a look when I was up at strange hours because of my cough and there were reruns on at crazy morning times.  I was pretty quickly hooked because it’s a rather clever series set in turn of the 19th century Toronto.  Of course when I found out that the series was based on books – WELL! – You know I had to pick up the books.  So on to my first review of 2017 …
EXCEPT THE DYING by Maureen Jenkins
In the winter of 1895 Toronto acting Detective William Murdock is called out to a murder scene.  A young woman is found naked in an alleyway.  She is clearly not a lady of the evening and winter in Toronto is not a time anyone would be outside without clothing so obviously, this young woman met with foul play.
William Murdock knows no boundaries when it comes to looking for a killer.  He visits the lowest and highest echelons of society to look for his answers.  And answers he finds through meticulous police work without the availability of all toys and whistles a reader might be used to in more modern police procedurals.
This was Ms. Jennings debut book and it was an interesting read.  It showed some good research into that era of Toronto’s history and the dialogue was excellent.  There were a few slow spots, but I could forgive those.  Having the hindsight of reading a few more in the series before writing this review I can honestly say the books improve with each addition to the series.
The cover of the book is a bit deceptive as it pictures the characters from the television series.  For fans of the series – be forewarned – the book is similar but definitely not the same.  While the show is often humorous and tongue-in-cheek the book is deadly serious (pun intended).  I did particularly enjoy the more in-depth look into Murdock’s life away from the police station.
“Except the Dying” is well worth the read and I’m giving it 3.5 stars because I know the series improves in subsequent books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)
Born in England, Maureen Jennings taught English before becoming a psychotherapist.  “Except the Dying” was published in 1977 followed by 6 more books in the series.  Three of her novels were adapted into movies of the week and four years later Shaftesbury films created the Murdock Mysteries television series.
Maureen lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs.
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