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text 2018-11-04 10:37
"The Retreat" by Mark Edwards - strangled by the narrator - DNF at 30%
The Retreat - Mark Edwards

"The Retreat" is probably an interesting horror/mystery story. It has a lot of the right elements: a child thought dead but who we know to be abducted, the dark dark woods in the dark dark valley in a dark dark Wales,  a set of writers at a retreat, trying to write but finding themselves haunted and a main character with a tragic past (of course) who has just had a hit with a novel about a monster abducting and eating children.

 

I settled down for a few evenings of enjoying a creepy mystery in a warm room on dark cold nights and then found that the main impact of the book was to send me to sleep in my chair.

 

I attribute this mainly to the narrator, Simon Mattacks. Except when he is doing Welsh accents, at which he is quite adept, he narrates with a uniform cadence of the kind used by TV presenters on programs like "Escape To The Country": blokish, wannabe-charming, inoffensive rhythms that always trigger a mix of distrust and disdain in me, awakening my inner-Northerner who then mutters "wimp"  and "smug git" in my ears.

 

I returned the book to audible and got a refund. I may come back to "The Retreat" in ebook format but I won't be listening to any more books narrated by Simon Mattacks.

 

Those without my prejudices may enjoy Simon Mattacks' narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to judge for yourself.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/441101148" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

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url 2018-10-08 11:41
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text 2018-10-06 19:55
Detection Club Bingo: My Progress So Far
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards
The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr
Poison In The Pen - Patricia Wentworth
File on Fenton & Farr - Q. Patrick
Mystery in the Channel (British Library Crime Classics) - Freeman Wills Crofts
The Wychford Poisoning Case - Anthony Berkeley
Penhallow - Georgette Heyer
Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay
Murder at the Vicarage - Agatha Christie

 

First five bingos (bottom row, second column from right, center column, diagonal top left to bottom right, and 4 corners + central square) -- plus two more in the making (top row and diagonal top right to bottom left).  Not that it greatly matters, but still. :D  Progress!

 

The Squares / Chapters:

1. A New Era Dawns: Ernest Bramah - The Tales of Max Carrados;

Emmuska Orczy - The Old Man in the Corner

2. The Birth of the Golden Age: A.A. Milne - The Red House Mystery
3. The Great Detectives:
Margery Allingham - The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke;

Anthony Berkeley - The Poisoned Chocolates Case

Patricia Wentworth - Miss Silver Intervenes, Latter End, The Watersplash, and The Traveller Returns;

Agatha Christie - Murder at the Vicarage (reread)

4. 'Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!': Freeman Wills Crofts - The Hog's Back Mystery;

Dennis Wheatley and J.G. Links - Murder off Miami

5. Miraculous Murders: Anthony Wynne - Murder of a Lady;

John Dickson Carr - The Hollow Man

6. Serpents in Eden: Agatha Christie - The Moving Finger (reread);

John Bude - The Lake District Murder;

Patricia Wentworth - Poison in the Pen

7. Murder at the Manor: Mavis Doriel Hay - The Santa Klaus Murder;

Ethel Lina White - The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch);

Georgette Heyer - Penhallow

8. Capital Crimes: Mavis Doriel Hay - Murder Underground

9. Resorting to Murder
10. Making Fun of Murder:
Edmund Crispin - The Moving Toyshop;

Alan Melville - Quick Curtain

11. Education, Education, Education: Mavis Doriel Hay - Death on the Cherwell
12. Playing Politics
13. Scientific Enquiries:
Christopher St. John Sprigg - Death of an Airman;

Freeman Wills Crofts - Mystery in the Channel

14. The Long Arm of the Law: Henry Wade - Lonely Magdalen
15. The Justice Game
16. Multiplying Murders
17. The Psychology of Crime
18. Inverted Mysteries:
Anne Meredith - Portrait of a Murderer

19. The Ironists: Anthony Rolls - Family Matters;

Anthony Berkeley - The Wychford Poisoning Case

20. Fiction from Fact: Josephine Tey - The Franchise Affair

21. Singletons
22. Across the Atlantic: Patricia Highsmith - The Talented Mr. Ripley (reread);

Q. Patrick (Richard Wilson Webb and Hugh Wheeler) - File on Fenton and Farr;

Mary Roberts Rinehart - Locked Doors

23. Cosmopolitan Crimes: Georges Simenon - Pietr le Letton (Pietr the Latvian)
24. The Way Ahead

 

Free Square / Eric the Skull: Martin Edwards - The Golden Age of Murder

 

The book that started it all:

Martin Edwards - The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books

 

The Detection Club Reading Lists:
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: The "100 Books" Presented
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 1-5

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 6 & 7
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 8-10
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 11-15
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 16-20
The story of Classic Crime in 100 Books: Other Books Mentioned, Chapters 21-24

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url 2018-10-04 13:21
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review 2018-09-27 13:42
The Retreat - Mark Edwards

Lucas has come to the writing retreat to write an overdue, difficult, novel, living under the shadow of his last best-seller and a personal loss. It’s just coincidence that the retreat is located in his childhood town. There he finds Julia, the retreat owner, suffering her own loss following the disappearance of her daughter and the death of her husband. Everyone tells Julia her daughter is dead but she refuses to believe them. When mysterious events begin to occur in the house rumours abound about a legendary widow but Lucas and Julia are sure they are on the hunt for more someone more real and more dangerous.

 

There is a sense of malice running through the novel. There is the claustrophobia of the small town, the fact that everyone knows everyone else. The retreat itself seems closed off, separated by Julia’s grief as much as geography. There’s the legend of the Widow, weaved throughout the story and then there’s the fact that Lucas is a horror writer so sees the macabre in things in any event and finds it easier to see the story of his bestseller reflected in his surroundings.

 

There are a host of characters that fill the story, some having more involvement than others. There’s Karen, whose claims of things going bump in the night are questioned as being the result of drug use, Max who at first appears to be nothing but a snobbish Lothario and Suzi, a fellow resident at the retreat. There are the locals who all have some secret to hide. Then there’s Lucas and Julia. Lucas is a mixture of driven and despondent. His motivation for helping Julia seems to be driven as much by desire as it does by altruism. Julia herself is understandable downcast. She flits between melancholy and fierceness, sometimes to the point where the ferocity of her actions is a little extreme.

 

There doesn’t seem to be much happening for the first third of the story and then the pace picks up and the narrative kicks in. Some parts worked better for me than others. As said previously the sense of claustrophobia and malice was created well in the story, with seeds of doubt sown throughout and the limited character/suspect pool lends suspicion to be thrown every which way. The setting of the story in the retreat worked well and I enjoyed the air of suspicion a group of people used to making things up created. It also made me want to attend a retreat and get writing, though perhaps not at this particular retreat! There were parts that didn’t work so well for me, such as a rather incongruous love scene and the last couple of pages seemed a little too much, though I could see how they could also be argued as vital to the story.

 

If you like your thrillers with a hint of horror to them then The Retreat is for you. An interesting read.

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