Tuesday 27 May 2014

Lynda Wilcox

Another Verity Long story and if you haven't yet read any, you're missing a treat!

Amazon.com Married to Murder

My review -

The ever-nosy Verity Long can hardly help becoming involved in her latest case as she’s in the next room when the body is found. She’s in the throes of planning her wedding to the gorgeous Inspector Jerry Farish and in so doing she discovers nasty goings-on in the world of wedding planning. Jerry is out of touch for several days and has been seen dining with a blonde so Verity seriously wonders if her own nuptials will go ahead. Several people are in the frame for the murder and of course, Verity can’t leave ill enough alone.

I find reading a Lynda Wilcox book like slipping into something comfortable and grabbing a glass of red - so relaxing. They are elegant, urbane, witty and utterly charming – and I never guess who the baddy is! Verity is the kind of person who would run towards an unexpected noise in the night. I am the one who would sit under the table with a towel on my head till it went away.  Still, opposites attract and I love these characters and hope there are many more stories to come. Lynda Wilcox is Queen of the Cosy Mysteries for me.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Jonathan Hill

Jonathan Hill is already known for his dark short stories and his funny novellas but here he takes a serious tone - and the book is devastating.  It's probably, though we're not yet in June, going to be my Book of the Year.  


Amazon.com FAG

My review -

This story, set in an English boarding school in the 1930s, looks at the effects of bullying and of a system in which the strongest survive. The prefects, with the collusion of the Headteacher, rule the school and decide on punishments. One teacher, John Gray, tries to bring the dangers to the head's attention but is not a strong enough character to make a stand. Married to the attractive nurse at the school, he has repressed his natural tendencies all his life and in an age when homosexuality is illegal this makes him vulnerable. We feel the tension mounting and the story moving inexorably towards disaster. The pressure-cooker atmosphere and sense of a world with its own rules is cleverly conveyed and the result is inevitable tragedy. The Head will do anything to cover it up and the pupils will do anything to survive. It's tense, bleak and so very unfair.

This is the author's first full length work and I found it totally absorbing and thought provoking. It is fraught with tension. There's hormonal teenage sexuality but never release or satisfaction. There is a man driven to the brink of madness but I'm pleased to say, I found a chink of light towards the end. Stunning!

Sunday 11 May 2014

Guy Portman

Strange, compulsive, can't-stop-reading kind of book.

Amazon.com Necropolis

My review -

This is the story of Dyson Devereux, the Head of Burials and Cremations for his local council. He despises the council, his fellow workers, almost everyone except his neighbour Eve whom he ‘tolerates’. Nevertheless, he exudes a studied charm and women seem to admire him greatly. He is very intelligent and speaks a number of languages but by any definition, he’s a sociopath. We discover to what extent as the story progresses.

I usually dislike present tense narrations and find them wearing and artificial but this story dragged me headlong into it to the extent that I rapidly forgot my dislike. It’s a story I couldn’t help reading. It had an inevitability to it, which made reading it like watching a train crash. There’s a gory bit, brace yourself, but I can’t say I’ve ever read a book quite like it – and I more than quite like it! I really enjoyed this.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Darren Humphries

This looks like the start of a new series from our Man From U.N.D.E.A.D. author. I like it very much.  Different characters, the same humour.

Spenser Goes North

Amazon.com Spenser Goes North

Spenser Warwick is the author of the rather turgid Wardington-Smythe adventure novels and is drawn into an adventure of his own. He receives some obscure clues in cheap envelopes which are scented with a rare perfume. A youth named Norris is persuaded to help him as he is drawn into attempting to foil a plot which will damage the Commonwealth. 

This is a change from Darren Humphries' recent fare of Agent Ward’s U.N.D.E.A.D. adventures and is set in Victorian times. I loved some of these characters, especially young Norris and The Lady with her wonderfully upfront attitude. I hope we see more in this vein. It's a great read.