Archives for category: Genre: Crime

Published by Allison & Busby

I picked this up as I had finished my last Children’s book, and needed something to read on the journey home. Most will know that I don’t read many Adult books – I find that if I am to give an honest review and help our younger readers then I need to have read the books I suggest. Most of my customers are visiting the Children’s section – so I read mainly children’s books. I do though like a little bit of crime (usually of the ‘friendly’ variety, though I do like Janet Evanovich), some more classical volumes have stolen my heart (Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, the short stories of Saki/HH Munro), & the odd bit of non-fiction too, also grace my shelves.

This is, I think the second in The Bradecote & Catchpoll mysteries. I haven’t read the first having only found this one in the proof piles at work. A nice mix of history and crime. I didn’t expect to be drawn into the descriptive passages as I have been.

He was quite young, perhaps only in his late twenties, but the stern demeanour aged him. He was tall, almost gangly, and the robe hung from him as though is body were the clapper of a bell. The ring of hair about his tonsure was very dark, and showed a tendency to wave, but looked as though such frivolity was frequently chastised by water and comb. The dark brows beetled over a finely chiselled face with hard grey eyes.

Its super – the plot is engaging, the deaths not too graphic, wonderful characters and I love the English. Set in 12th Century Worcester it feels accurate historically (I am no historian) – and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I shall be looking to see if we have Servant of Death on our shelves when I get back to work in a couple of days – and if its not there I will be ordering a copy. If it is – I shall be buying it and settling down another good read.

There is something about reading an ‘Adult’ book that always makes me feel a little guilty (I really should be reading more 9-12 / Teenage / 5-8) – however, I am enjoying this so much I am not feeling a even a little bit shame-faced.

After all – I think a 9-12 reader could read it and enjoy it, just as much as those who are a little older. So go out and buy this, but don’t, if you are buying books from Finchley Road O2 buy the last copy of Servant of Death (if it is in stock), until I have had a chance…I will have finished this one by the time I go back to work on Saturday…

Actually I think I might have circumvented any of you who might be thinking of buying our last copy – it seems we do have one in stock (so the Internet says), and so I have used technology and have Clicked and will Collect on Saturday – so there! You can’t have it (if they find it) – I have reserved it. Do though buy another copy – or order one. If it is as good as this – and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be – it will be worth every penny.

 

Published by Corgi / Penguin Random House Group

I have reached page 128 – and I can’t put this volume down. Ant and her brother Mattie were put with an emergency foster family when their parents disappeared. From there they have landed up in HMP London, otherwise known as Spike – a ‘family’ prison. This used to be HMP Holloway and Pentonville. Things have changed since then. They are there as a result of Heritage crime (Noun): A previously undetected crime committed by your parents or grandparents for which you are held responsible.

Ant believes that they should fight the system – as much as is possible, however, that leaves her small brother vulnerable to that same system along with her foster parents who are also residing in HMP London along with hundreds of others.

This book is intense. Are you responsible for other people’s behaviour? At the moment people are in prison for many reasons – their beliefs, for errors of judgement, for murder. Some are caught in a system that they will never manage to escape. I am not aware, though of any society that makes the children pay for crimes committed by their parents. I have recently begun to think that ideas in books, can often reflect what could happen, unless we are careful. We are not responsible for other people’s behaviour. We are all individuals and should be taking responsibility for our selves and for our children. This is a book about blame. About society’s responsibility to the individual and the individual’s responsibility to society. To care for one another. We are responsible for our own actions…

So far there has been little in Blame to make me laugh. Its not that type of book. I relate so well to Ant and her impetuosity and the need to speak out. I hope and trust though, should I ever be in a similar situation that I too would fight, and protect. I don’t know, though. I have been lucky – my ‘fights’ have been non existent compared to this.

I did laugh out loud though on the way to work this morning. I stopped reading the story and thought I would look at any notes e.t.c. at the end of the book – for background research really for this…and as expected there is a page of acknowledgements.

The first sentence I read was the following.

‘Personally, I blame Michael Morpurgo.’

I had to get off the tube at that point (because I had arrived for work) – but will be reading the rest of the Acknowledgments before I continue Blame – I suspect Simon Mayo there is more to that statement than at first appears..

This is an important book. I hope that the world becomes a better place, and not a worse one.

Simon Mayo is also the author of the 9 – 12 ‘Itch’ trilogy Itch, Itch Rocks and Itch Craft – about a boy who collects samples of all the elements of the periodic table – a marvellous series for those who are ‘into’ science…

 

 

 

 

Published by Penguin

I don’t often read adult books; I spend too many hours reading those written for children and young adults.

A few years ago though I came across Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum crime novels.  I’m not sure how many there are in the series now – this though, is the first, and possibly the best – though that is uncertain.

At the beginning of the book Stephanie has just lost her job working as a lingerie buyer, and decides it is worth visiting her cousin Vinnie who runs the local bounty hunter office to ask if his job for an office worker is still available.

Under threat of exposure, (he has an interesting personal life) Vinnie agrees to take Stephanie on as his latest bounty hunter.

The books are gritty. They are certainly not for young adults (at least not from this blog), but they are also some of the funniest books I have ever read. The relationship between Stephanie, Joe Morelli (a local policeman with a history) and Ranger – an almost mystical bounty hunter already employed by Vinnie, is central to the story.

As is often the case the characters are what makes these books so wonderful (and why I’d love to own a Ranger’s T-shirt) -they are all extraordinary: Lula, initially a minor character in this the first of the books, develops into one of the pivotal people in the series – larger than life and twice as gutsy, though with the need to stop off regularly for doughnuts, and perhaps the odd handbag sale. Grandma Mazur is Stephanie’s maternal grandmother – and is quite unique amongst grandparents – willing to try anything and with a hobby of attending viewings at the local funeral parlours. Morelli and Ranger, as mentioned above, Stephanie’s parents and of course Rex. The longest living hamster I have ever come across. He is an integral part of the books. Rex doesn’t do a lot (hamsters don’t on the whole), but he has been known to bite, when necessary…

These cheer me up, when life gets difficult. They are in parts, extremely violent, but to counter that they are also extremely funny. Do read them in order – One for the MoneyTwo for the Dough, Three to get Ready…if you don’t, you won’t appreciate the characters as they develop.

They are American (set in New Jersey) and I have to admit that they are the only American books I have so far loved.

Read them – and laugh.

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Published by Point Blank Books (an imprint of Oneworld Publications).

I like my crime to be what I refer to as ‘friendly’. More often than not the crime detailed in the story (always fiction, it can’t be ‘friendly’ crime if it is not), is murder. I am not one on the whole, for whom the deceased has been tortured before their death, for any reason. I enjoy Elizabeth George, the odd Agatha Christie, Stephen Booth, and have loved Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum volumes. Though those do have a strong line of violence. They are an exception, I find the humour of the books tempers the rather grim elements.

I first found out about Steve Burrows’ new series of books when I came across the title A Cast of Falcons, and investigated. I have had a love of raptors for many years (taking the opportunity to fly and hunt with them when I can) – and looked into this volume as a result. It isn’t published yet.

A Siege of Bitterns, however, was – so I bought it – just on the off-chance and it has been a brilliant read. This mixes the world of bird watching with classic murder, with subtle and wonderful twists. DI Domenic Jejeune has recently been transferred from London to Norfolk under the mixed blessing of being some sort of police star – however, whatever the success he has had in his past with his investigations or might have in the future hasn’t given him the joy that he has had from his knowledge and joy of watching birds.

The book is set in Norfolk and its descriptions of the landscapes has made me think I need 15710273486_a583316c81to visit the marsh lands and the area, as soon as possible. It is a heartfelt book – Steve Burrows joy of natural history is all pervading in this start of a wonderful series.

A Pitying of Doves is listed as coming soon on Oneworld Publications web site and I hope that A Cast of Falcons will follow soon after. If Steve Burrows had been resident in the UK, I would have contacted him, in the hope of arranging an event at my store. He lives in Canada (from where DI Jejeune originates) – which is a bit far I suppose. Never mind, I will I am sure enjoy the next book in the series, and am looking forward to its arrival.a20pitying20of20doves_9781780748979

Published by Bloomsbury

I know very little about ‘art’ – as in the art that is depicted in the National Gallery and the Wallace collection.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed wandering around both galleries over the years. Grandpa introduced me to art – he made me a member of the RA, and after a special trip to the Wallace purchased a copy of The Arab Tent (Landseer) for me.

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We once went to the London Museum together, I remember, and somehow landed up in a gallery with an ‘installation’ I think it is called, of steel girders. Neither of us were very impressed.  We thought it would have been better to have used them in a building.  Usually, we looked at paintings and we discussed how the artist had depicted material, (for example velvet) and expression, that type of thing, so perhaps the girders were unlikely to get much of a positive review from us. Since then I have spent some time wandering the National Gallery too – at one time carefully going through their guide book, and buying post cards of the art I particularly liked.

I picked this volume up, initially as something to pass the time in a lunch break at work – without expecting much. The cover is (I think) uninspiring and to be honest rather over emphasises the love element of the book and though it does give an indication of the art it doesn’t indicate the importance art has to the story.

It is a tale of murder, of stolen art, of identity, and there is that element of love in it too.

One character I particularly enjoyed, the personification of The Improbability of Art – a self important character, but with a remarkable astute knowledge of people and their behaviour over the centuries.

I learnt a considerable amount about old art, some about how the art ‘world’ works, the auctioneers, dealers and a little about how paintings were produced, and how they try to verify the artist.

I enjoyed the language too – to the extent of noting words and phrases used in my mobile, (it seems to have taken the place of a note book), most of which I knew, but had forgotten: effluvium, solipsistic, uxorial, peripatetic – perhaps because I read so much children’s work, that it gave me a joy to read these words again, like old friends.

I loved too the description of a naked man as ‘…etiolated as a peeled cucumber…’

My only criticism, if it could be called such, is that the detail that is strong through out the rest of the book is not there as the strings of the mystery are gathered together in the last chapter. Though perhaps it was a wise decision. The book runs to 479 pages and perhaps to give the end the detail it deserved, would have extended it too far.

The book is due to be the Book of the Month (Waterstones)  in April for Adult Fiction. The Rococo art, and the art world is brought brilliantly to life in this rather good piece of fiction.

I have to admit to looking up Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 – 1721) and found that I had seen and enjoyed several of his pictures over the years without knowing much about the artist. I also wanted to see if The Improbability of Love really existed. Sadly that part of the story too is fiction. I suspect though, it would have been very difficult to have used one of his works – particularly as I think it would have been wrong to have given a fictional history to a picture that has one already.

 

 

28821294Published by Faber and Faber

I don’t know why, but it isn’t often that I enjoy American authors. I keep reading Erin Lange, however, so there must be something in her writing. This is very American, both in its use of English and story line.

It is the story of four teenagers whose lives become entangled initially through no fault of their own. It’s about burgeoning friendships, families, heroin, guns, corrupt police and a violin.goffriller-violin-f-hole-corner-sam-hymas

It is about a chase against all odds and finally about what is important.

Each character is the product of their history – each behaving the way they do as a result of what has happened to them before, and you slowly learn about them as the story becomes more involved and knotted…

I read it with intervals of work and sleep over two days or so – another Erin Lange (Butter and / Dead Ends). Another for you to enjoy too.

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Published by Nosy Crow

Not yet published at time of going to press: April 2016

Another book of the crime genre for young readers – full of mystery, suspense, danger, missing siblings, kidnap, murder and general mayhem. Set mainly in a music hall and is full of adventure of the best sort. A true romp of a story – I loved it!

 

 

Published by Bloomsbury

This post must not be read by my friend Min, till after her birthday, or Christmas this year (2016). I liked this book so much I have bought her a copy and she mustn’t read it till she had got her copy from me.

Not only is this a superb little book, with a most intriguing and slightly worrying story, it is also illustrated by Emily Gravett. It was for this reason, really that I read the only copy we had in stock. I am a great fan of Emily Gravett’s picture books (Spells, Wolves, Blue Chameleon, & Meerkat Mail amongst others) and picked this up as a result. It has those wonderful folded covers that give strength to paperbacks, and a rather fun illustration on the cover.

It is the tale of imaginary friends. It is not the usual tale of imaginary friends and is I think a little disturbing. I have never thought of their being a community of characters employed as imaginary friends for ‘real’ people, or for that matter that some of them might not be as benign as we are led to believe.

This was marvellous. If I am ever given the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of this, or a print, or even an original drawing (I would love just a print of Zinzan) I shall do so.

It is a remarkable and unique volume…

I hope Min hasn’t read it or got it…

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Published by Chicken House

Alice Jones enjoys numbers. She likes the fact the numbers balance. That there is usually an answer that is final and complete. She likes to count in prime numbers when stressed, or if that doesn’t work she will switch to the Fibonacci Sequence. She is that type of girl.

Her father is a journalist and has taught his daughters that the truth is what is important with a story and it is the truth of the mystery that makes this story so good.

It is a mystery, a crime book, a story of families and of standing up for what is right, as well as a book coloured a little by numbers…

A fun and enticing story. Will we ever manage to make an invisibility suit, or is that just an idea for stories like Harry Potter?

NB – I had no idea what the Fibonacci Sequence is until I looked it up. It is a sequence of numbers where the next number is the sum of the two previous numbers. How that is useful, I really don’t know, but I have learnt what it is, which I suppose is something.

 

Published by Scholastic / Not yet published at time of going to post – Advertised September 2015

An Egyptian flavoured school crime story with the almost required ancient mummy and curse. An amalgamation of elements of circus, boarding school, Enid Blyton type of adventure with friendship ultimately winning through. Great fun. A phrase from the old Scooby Doo cartoons sprang to mind at the end. First person, 8-9 years. Lovely cover on the proof. I hope the art work will be reflected in that of the finished published volume (particularly that of the scaraband the lettering on the back). Advertised as September 2015