Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tana French: Broken Harbour

I'm not going to be long-winded now. This one is about the self-absorbed, rule-following detective known as Scorcher, that Frankie Mackey spoke of with such contempt in Faithful Place.  Turns out of course that Scorcher, Mick Kennedy, is a real person too, with a history and feelings. He is called to a murder scene in one of those ghost estates that litter Ireland after the end of the Tiger era - badly built and badly planned to start with, with no proper town planning infrastructure in place at all. (As a municipal employee that makes me furious, the way they could just buy land and start building. What sort of a half-arsed way is that to build a society, eh?) This place goes by the awful name of Brianstown (COME ON), but once it was Broken Harbour and when Mick Kennedy was a boy his family came her every year for two weeks of caravan holidaying in the summers, something to keep them going for the whole rest of the year.

The basic set-up of the scene is grisly and suspenseful, but as I found with the other books it promises more than it delivers. I don't know why that is. Her writing is great and she crafts this mood around the place that makes me think that we're going to get the most un-thought of reveal EVER - it's just so weird. Two children dead in their beds, the father stabbed to bits in the kitchen, the mother next to him badly injured and just barely alive. Holes punched in the walls with cameras directed at them. No community around them, just the wind howling around mostly empty and falling-down houses. I was really intrigued. But then felt a bit flat at the end. What's that about?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book shopping!

Charity shop Saturday. :D I've read three out of the four, but I don't OWN them. So.

Also - I am the QUEEN of photography.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cyril Hare: When The Wind Blows

I got this for myself when I bought a pair of shoes off Amazon (I know, I know, I hate Amazon as much as anyone, but they had the shoes and they had the book, so ....). Cyril Hare is delightful and I just CANNOT find any second-hand copies ever. My favourite approach to book-buying, browse and stumble upon, like. No luck whatsoever with Cyril Hare.

So I reminded myself of which ones I'd already read and bought this one. And you know what? I think I'm just going to buy myself the complete works of, in bits and pieces maybe but nonetheless. Cyril Hare is worth it.

One thing holding me back is that I don't fancy the covers much in these editions, and I am paying full price for them after all. Or what passes for full price on Amazon, I know, I know.

This one is about a small-town orchestra that happens to be fortunate enough to have a very skilled director of music to head it. Being almost blind he can't work professionally any more, but he can certainly lead this orchestra to hold a concert or two yearly and make it excellent. To do so, he hires in the extra musicians he might need from the side of the pros (because he will not settle for a half-arsed amateur), and they also hire the odd star to pull in the crowds. Unwillingly our hero, former barrister Francis Pettigrew, has been roped in to be the treasurer - a task he can't refuse since his wife plays the violin for it and he wouldn't want to seem unsupportive. Well, this concert the star performer is found murdered before her act, and of course Pettigrew can't help but detect. It's full of historical detail about rationings after the war and with such lovely little portraits of people - I really like it. I quote:
"My dear miss Carless!" Mrs. Basset planted herself firmly between them and took control of the situation. "This is delightful! We are all so looking forward to the Mendelssohn tomorrow. Good evening, Mr. Pettigrew. And Mrs. Pettigrew" [ ... ] "how well you are looking, dear! I had quite forgotten what a charming colour that dress was! It suits you so well!"

Before Eleanor had had time to recover from this body-blow Mrs. Basset had swept on, carrying with her Miss Carless and the rest of her attendants.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Charlaine Harris: Dead Ever After

The last of the Sookie Stackhouses, and talk about just wanting it to end. This is a terrible book.

Events are just piled on one another in a desperate attempt to get it over with so we can end the series. And the sex scene? THE sex scene between Sookie and Sam? Lolz. There is no heart in this book whatsoever.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lookit lookit what I found! More Ursula Curtiss

So I'm was browsing the bookshelves in a charity shop I don't often go to (but when I do I ALWAYS find something), and lo:

Isn't it just a lovely paperback! The story was quite good too, but having now read two Curtisses I am starting to form the opinion that there is a little bit too much of the coincidence in the storyline. I'm not sure I buy the premises completely. Nonetheless, I liked this. Victoria Devlin has been asked by a friend to stay at her grand house for a weekend and pretend that the friend is there but very ill and can't receive visitors. In reality, the friend has gone away to sort out some sort of important business - Victoria doesn't know what. What is her friend afraid of? Then a murderer escapes from a nearby asylum, a murderer who kills his victims with a sickle ... DUN DUN DUUUHHHNN.

What I don't understand is why the Americans don't do more filming from the wealth of good suspense stories they have from the Golden Age of detective fiction. This stuff beats almost all of your modern scripts. A bit of retro flair, some Mad Men type styling - you could rake in the cash, surely. Instead we have the English filming Agatha Christie twenty million times. I call misogyny in the US to be honest. When we learn about American crime fiction from say the first half and a bit of the 20th century it's all men and Marlowe. The Story of Film (such a brilliant programme!!!) brought up and showed the huge part that women played in early cinema, something that isn't at all plain if you read about the history of films in the mainstream works on the subject. You'd be forgiven for starting to see conspiracies, a conscious wiping-out of female contributors. I call another one. :/Class, please discuss.

These pulp-type paperbacks also have those great ads at the back where you can send off for more of the same. There are ads for two Curtiss books that I'd quite like to read, then some others that meh, not so much. Knock 3-1-2 and The Lenient Beast sound like vile shite.

Just fantastic.

I fingered another pulpy novel when in the shop, but decided not to get it. I can't justify dragging home books just because the cover art appeals to my sense of nostalgia and my childhood memories... but look at this: