Slade House

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Read 31/10/2017-01/11/2017

Rating: 3 stars

David Mitchell’s Slade House is an adjunct to his previous six novels, an Easter egg laid on Twitter turned into a book. I enjoyed it as a quick read on Hallowe’en, surrendering myself to its suspense and tension, allowing myself to be played with, as the visitors to Slade House are played with. I indulged myself in Spot-the-Link, appreciating the way plot lines from Mitchell’s previous works made tangents with this story. Continue reading

The 19th Wife

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Read 16/10/2017-30/10/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Onward in my tour of US authors by state, and to Utah. All that I know about Utah is it has a Salt Lake and is the home state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. All that I know about the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, is gleaned from being an archivist and having watched a couple of episodes of Big Love once. Continue reading

The Pelican Brief

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Read 20/07/2017-22/07/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Road Trip Challenge.

Every so often, because a lot of what I read can be classed as literary fiction and requires concentration, since it often draws on a wider literary context, I need to read what I think of as easy reading. Quite often, this takes the form of crime novels or thrillers, occasionally family sagas. Popular rather than literary fiction, the type of book you can pick up in a WHSmith shop at a train station or airport. I love this sort of fiction because it employs different skills. The author has to be able to hook the reader in quickly and maintain pace and human interest throughout the story.

The Pelican Brief is one of those books. Continue reading

Every Man for Himself

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Read 18/05/2017-25/05/2017

Rating: 5 stars

Beryl Bainbridge’s novel Every Man for Himself, set on the RMS Titanic, is a mystery. The title hints at that mystery. Every man, and woman, that the young narrator, Morgan, encounters is a paradox. They are, seemingly, in it for themselves and don’t give too much away about themselves. Morgan spends a lot of time puzzling over other people’s opaqueness. He is uncertain whether other people are being straight. He admits early on that he isn’t always straight himself. People begin conversations without finishing them properly, leaving Morgan wondering about what they might be hiding. Or what he might be missing in the cryptic way he thinks they communicate. Continue reading

The Nine Tailors

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Read 22/12/2016-26/12/2016

Rating: 2 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Winter Challenge.

I love crime books. My favourite crime writer is Agatha Christie, to whose works I’ve been addicted since I was about 12 years old. I also recently read a Ngaio Marsh Inspector Alleyne novel and really enjoyed it. I find crime novels soothing. There’s something about the horror of the crimes committed, being able to imagine such awful events while safely tucked up behind the pages, mixed with the dogged determination of the detective to solve the mystery and the successful resolution at the end, that makes me feel happy. As an angry person, too, this genre assuages my rage somewhat. I read some pretty violent crime books, not just the cosy Golden Age type, and jokingly say that, in deflecting my inner rage from external expression, they stop me becoming a violent criminal myself.

I’d never read any Dorothy L Sayers before, so I was pleased when one of my monthly Willoughby Book Club titles was a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. I used to watch the TV adaptations of the books, so I was looking forward to reading The Nine Tailors. Continue reading

After the Funeral

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Read 13/01/2016-15/01/2016

Rating: 3 stars

It had been a while since I had read an Hercule Poirot mystery, and I picked this to read because it fulfilled one of the clues on the Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt challenge. This was a particularly fun clue to do, because I needed to visit a local place with a literary connection and take a selfie there (no, I’m not sharing it here).

A friend just happened to have taken up a new job based in a former mansion which used to be owned by Agatha Christie’s brother in law, and I discovered that Mrs Christie had written After The Funeral while staying at Abney Hall. Continue reading

Vertigo (Boileau-Nacejac)

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Read 08/11/2015-10/11/2015

Rating: 5 stars

Read for week 4 of The Reader’s Room Halloween challenge.

I was intrigued to read the book which became a Hitchcock film. Especially because I read that Boileau and Nacejac wrote it with Hitchcock in mind, after he failed to secure the rights to their first novel. I like the film. The book is just different enough to make it better than the film. The setting of Paris at the start of WW2 adds to the melancholy of the anti-hero Flavières. I think his status as a young enough man not at war is more important than his titular vertigo. The second part of the book is significantly different, and more satisfying, than the film. The story is exquisitely turned, the characters sighingly believable. Continue reading

The Woman in White

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Read 08/07/2015-23/07/2015

Rating: 4 stars

I read the Project Gutenberg edition of The Woman In White, which was a decent version without too many glitches, just the odd weird page break.

Wilkie Collins‘s story is rightly a classic. This is stirring stuff, with plenty of mystery and suspense. There are wonderful characters, both charming and horrific. My heart was in my mouth at times as I read about the cruelty humans can enact on one another in the pursuit of money. It was always believable, never hysterical or florid, and even minor characters were well imagined. Continue reading