logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: crime-series
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-07-22 10:32
Reading progress update: I've read 8%. - a classic Walt Longmire opening.
As The Crow Flies - Craig Johnson

The first chapter filled with the dry, quiet, patient, gentle humour of the long friendship between Walt Longmire and Henry Standingbear as they try to find a new location for Katie's wedding when the venue on the Reservation becomes unavailable at the last minute.

 

There's a strong sense of place, a feeling of family and the easy companionship that comes from doing something important but not too challenging. Then, just as I was relaxing with Walt and Henry, taking in the beauty of the landscape, they see someone die and everything changes.

 

For me, this captures the spirit of the Longmire stories: men doing their best, taking their ease where they can but always keeping a weather eye for the next piece of misery the world will throw their way.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-06-27 10:20
'Naughty In Nice - Her Royal Spyness #5' by Rhys Bowen
Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

'Naughty In Nice' sees Georgie on another covert mission for the Queen, this time retrieving a small piece of art that no one wants to admit was lifted by a guest at Buckingham Palace. The mission takes Georgie to winter on the Riveria, where England's wealthiest escape the English weather and the dreariness of a country going through an economic depression, to party and gamble and do things that would be frowned upon if done back home in England.

 

While she's in Nice, Georgie becomes a model for Coco Chanel, is courted by a French Baron, is almost raped by an English industrialist, loses a stunningly expensive necklace belonging to the queen, finally gets to experience her mother's hospitality, gets arrested for murder and becomes a target for the real killer.

 

The book is full of colour and action. The plot turns out to be more complicated than it seems. Georgie is centre stage throughout but we see less than usual of her ensemble cast, although they all make an appearance. 

 

I liked the way Rhys Bowen displayed the extravagance of the wealthy against a back-drop of general poverty. The book opens with Georgie working in a soup kitchen in Victoria station, watching the rich walk by to catch the Boat Train as they head for sunshine and ease. This puts Georgie's first-class on Le Train Bleu from Paris to Nice into context. The rich come across as superficial, self-absorbed, unpleasant and completely unaware of the enmity that their behave produces in the people who service their lifestyle. 

 

The attempted rape, which takes place on a yacht, is described in a way that makes it clear that the would-be rapist, who would describe what he's doing as seduction, not rape, abuses a lot of women and takes his right to do this for granted. Georgie, once she understands the man's intentions, defends herself. I liked that the man's behaviour wasn't normalised and the Georgie didn't just brush it off. 

 

This was a sort of 'Winter Sun Vacation' episode in the series. It was fun but it also made aware of how much I dislike the people Georgie associates with. Le Train Bleu is gone and the Riviera is no longer the destination of choice but the rich are still with us and their behaviour hasn't changed.

 

As usual, my enjoyment of the story was enhanced by Katherine Kellgren's excellent narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

https://soundcloud.com/audible/naughty-in-nice
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-06-24 23:56
'The Starr Sting Scale - Candace Starr #1' by C. S. O'Cinneide
The Starr Sting Scale - C. S. Cinneide

''The Starr Sting Scale' by C. S. O'Cinneide (2020), kicks off a new slick, hard-edged but witty crime series about Candace Starr, a former professional hitwoman, trying to retire and not quite getting there.

 

We first meet Candace when a woman is trying to hire her to 'remove' someone difficult. Here's a sample of Candace's interior dialogue at that point.

 

'Difficult husbands are a speciality of mine. Rarely, in my line of work, do you run into a husband who isn't difficult in some way. The cheat, they lie and occasionally they smack their women around. It's like the metal in a wedding ring creates a strange magnetic force within a guy's body that sets off his asshole switch. Maybe wives should insist on a wooden band?'

Initially, I thought this would be a light, fast read, filled with pithy one-liners delivered by a slick anti-heroine who, through a combination of threat and incentive, finds herself working alongside the police as they investigate a murder for which Candace is a promising suspect.

 

I did get all that and it was fun but it wasn't really what the book was about. As the story unfolds, the real focus is on Candace's history and the events that made her who she is: a deeply scarred woman, who trusts no-one, is comfortable killing for money and thinks that friendship is a consensual delusion that wouldn't survive under pressure. The Starr Sting Scale of the title measures the amount of pain received from stings from large insects. Candace's story is one formed by periods of great pain.

 

Candace is a strong complex character that I can easily see a series being built around. She's physically imposing, fierce, lethal, unscrupulous, amoral, friendless, determined and very bright. She runs her mouth and can't prevent herself from antagonising everyone, especially people who try to exert power over her. Her past is traumatic. Her outlook is understandably bleak. She's a stranger to remorse and isn't looking for redemption but she'll take revenge whenever she can.

 

The plot is remarkably complex, not in a baroque way, but more in the sense that there is always a lot more going on than there appears to be and that almost everything is connected but the connections only become visible in the rearview mirror.

 

There is a lot of violence and none of it is sugar-coated. Candace is many things but likeable isn't one of them. Yet her energy and the plot's complexity kept me engaged throughout the novel.

 

'The Starr Sting Scale' works very well as a standalone novel but it also convinced me that I'll be buying the next book in the series when it comes out.

 
 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-06-16 14:12
"The Body In The Library - Miss Marple #2" by Agatha Christie - Highly Recommended
The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie

Written seventy-eight years ago, this book still feels modern and fresh.

It's brimming with energy, humour, and sharp observations and has a twisty plot that kept me guessing right to the end.

 
 

'The Body In The Library' was published in 1942 but it feels fresh, light and modern. It has a clever plot that I didn't even begin to guess the truth of but which didn't feel at all like a cheat.

 

I was pleased to see that the police were shown to be quite competent and did most of the leg work. This made the story more convincing and provided me with plenty of evidence to mull over without any chance of me figuring out what was going on. The competence of the police also served to highlight how Jane Marple's insights were and how ruthlessly she used them to extract information unavailable to the police by pressing the buttons of the people she interrogated.

 

I love that Jane Marple is driven by insight into people's wickedness, frailties, vanities and self-deceptions, with empathy coming almost as an afterthought and only then for people that she sees as innocents. I realised that I wouldn't want to meet her unless she was on my side and even then, she'd know things about me that I don't even admit to myself.

 

Until I read 'The Murder At The Vicarage' last September, my impressions of Jane Marple came entirely from adaptations of the novels for television. Now that I'm encountering the original text, I wonder how the TV people came to have left out most of the humour. They seem to have paid more attention to the period clothes and cars than to the tone of the novel.

 

There is a strong undercurrent of humour in 'The Body In The Library', some of it aimed at the genre in an in-joke kind of way, but most of it aimed at the pompous, the unkind and the hypocritical.

 

Jane Marple has a rare understanding that while class is important, it is money that drives our most desperate actions. She is able to see well-to-do gentlefolk with disconcerting accuracy, seeing beyond the manners and the social position to the person beneath, but is also able to do the same thing with people who make their living serving the gentlefolk. This makes Jane Marple something of an outsider, a status she seems entirely comfortable with.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed most about the book was the humour. From the start, 'The Body In The Library' reads like a rather drole assault on the more ridiculous elements of detective fiction combined with wickedly accurate evocations of what she calls 'the ruling class of censorious spinsters'.

 

The whole set up of the book, the finding of the body of an unknown young woman in the library of a respectable Colonel, is positioned as so unlikely (except in detective books) that it is hard for the Colonel and his wife to accept the possibility of it being real. This takes a swipe at detective fiction (where such discoveries go unremarked) and makes the discovery a source of humour rather than horror, that sets the tone for the novel.

 

Christie double-down on this by having the Colonel's wife, Dolly, call Jane Marple (even though it is not yet eight o'clock in the morning) and invite her to come to the house. Dolly explains that she wants Jane to come because she knows about murders and:

'What I feel is that if one has got to have a murder actually happening in one’s house, one might as well enjoy it, if you know what I mean. That’s why I want you to come and help me find out who did it and unravel the mystery and all that. It really is rather thrilling, isn’t it?’

I thought this was fun but also a reality check we readers of mysteries who emphasise the puzzle of finding the murderer over the brutal death of the person murdered.

When Christie moves on to show how the village gossip network functions, she doesn't miss an opportunity to deride the unconscious entitéement of the gossipers. I particularly liked this description:

‘What news?’ demanded Miss Hartnell. She had a deep bass voice and visited the poor indefatigably, however hard they tried to avoid her ministrations.

I used Poirot as my jumping-off point for reading Christie. Now I wish I'd started with Jane Marple. I think Christie likes Jane whereas she only tolerates Poirot. There are exceptions of course. 'The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd' is pretty hard to beat.

 
 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-06-14 15:50
Reading progress update: I've read 24%. - this is so fresh
The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie

Until I read 'The Murder At The Vicarage' last September, my impressions of Miss Marple came entirely from adaptations of the novels for television. Now that I'm encountering the original text, I wonder how the TV people came to have left out most of the humour. They seem to have paid more attention to the period clothes and cars than to the tone of the novel.

 

So far, 'The Body In The Library' reads like a rather drole assault on the more ridiculous elements of detective fiction combined with wickedly accurate evocations of what she calls 'the ruling class of censorious spinsters'.

 

The whole set up of the book, the finding of the body of an unknown young woman in the library of a respectable Colonel, is positioned as so unlikely (except in detective books) that it is hard for the Colonel and his wife to accept the possiblity of it being real. This takes a swipe at detective fiction (where such discoveries go unremarked) and makes the discovery a source of humour rather than horror, that sets the tone for the novel.

 

Christie double-down on this by having the Colonel's wife, Dolly, call Jane Marple (even though it is not yet eight o'clock in the morning) and invite her to come to the house. Dolly explains that she wants Jane to come because she knows about murders and:

 

'What I feel is that if one has got to have a murder actually happening in one’s house, one might as well enjoy it, if you know what I mean. That’s why I want you to come and help me find out who did it and unravel the mystery and all that. It really is rather thrilling, isn’t it?’

I thought this was fun but also a reality check we readers of mysteries who emphasise the puzzle of finding the murderer over the brutal death of the person murdered.

 

When Christie moves on to show how the village gossip network functions, she doesn't miss an opportunity to deride the unconscious entitéement of the gossipers. I particularly liked this description:

‘What news?’ demanded Miss Hartnell. She had a deep bass voice and visited the poor indefatigably, however hard they tried to avoid her ministrations.

 

I'm delighted by how fresh the humour in this book is. It's just what I need at the moment.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?