Friday, 24 October 2014

STEPHEN TYRRELL - THE TEST

Synopsis/blurb….

A short story set in a dystopian future where the surviving members of the human race have been forced to take refuge from hostile invaders within shield-protected cities.

In Aberdeen, oil is used as the fuel for the generators that power the city's shield. The lone source of oil is a rig out in the North Sea -- a rig that the invaders are constantly trying to destroy.

Protecting the rig is as vital as protecting the city itself. Security checks for those going on board are rigorous.

But the invaders will try anything to get someone inside. And it will only take one to destroy everything.

That's why there is a need for The Test.

Another new to me author and another short story and another, albeit brief, trip out of my reading comfort zone. SCI-FI does not float my boat.

That said, I really enjoyed this distraction for half an hour or so.

I was interested all the way through, I wasn’t bamboozled or baffled with techno-sciency-geeky-gizmos that were totally incomprehensible to my imagination. Instead Tyrrell provided a nice tight engaging story with a knockout punch at the end; one that kind of blind-sided me.

Would I read more from him in future? Depends – if he produces a science fiction tale in a much longer format, probably not. Something more mainstream – with a hint of mystery or intrigue over the final destination – why not.

Stephen Tyrrell has a presence on Twitter @StephenTyrrell



4 from 5….. and another notch on the scoreboard in my efforts to read 120 books, novellas, stories in this calendar year.

Acquired from Amazon UK recently when it was a freebie.



Thursday, 23 October 2014

D.S. NELSON - HATS OFF TO MURDER


Synopsis/blurb….

Hats Off To Murder - A Novelette:

'A milliner must understand his client, capture their personality and crown them with it.'
Blake Hetherington is no ordinary Milliner. Fascinated by human nature, he is not content with simply selling hats; he must know his customer. Two deaths, a sudden disappearance, and a visit from Miss Delilah Delibes, set the man milliner on the path to solving a mystery. But what lies beneath the hat? Can a milliner discover the truth?

A shrewd and sometimes intolerant widower; Blake has a big heart, a true sense of justice and weakness for the damsel in distress. Often finding himself on a 'sea of assumptions without a paddle of truth', he carefully and methodically gathers the evidence to solve the mystery. The odd glance, the chance meeting or the peculiar habits of his customers all lead him to the answer.

About The Author:

D S Nelson's introduction to murder came from Agatha Christie. Her inquisitive Miss Marple, of St Mary Mead, and very Belgian Poirot, with his 'little grey cells', captured her imagination from a young age. The intellectual and astute Sherlock Holmes, of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective fiction, is also a clear influence in her writing.

With a passion for cosy murder mysteries, her writing includes cosy crime novelettes, and short stories. She is currently working on the Blake Hetherington series of mystery books, the first of which is 'Hats Off To Murder.'

Another new author for me and having taken my eye off this particular ball my first female author this month. A long short story or a short novella…or a novelette take your pick.

Interesting up to a point, I really enjoyed Blake Hetherington when he was imparting wisdom from the confines of his milliners shop. The short chapters on the various customers and their particular hat choice was amusing and informative – not being a hat person myself.

The back end of our tale slightly less so, for this reader. I enjoyed our main character less when he was drawn out from his usual abode and was investigating the fates befalling his various customers. Slightly less believable in my opinion.

If challenged I would read more from this author in the future, though probably not about this particular character if I’m honest. It was enjoyable enough and a decent way to pass an hour or so when not in the mood for a more complex read. The story and tone of the narrative was a million miles away from my usual fare and was a trip to the gentler end of the crime fiction spectrum, but it was an entertaining trip nevertheless.

DS Nelson has written more Blake Hetherington tales and this particular piece ends with the first chapter or two of the next installment. Her website is here.



3 from 5

Bought recently on Amazon for Kindle.


In a last ditch effort to salvage something from my year’s reading and at least get close to my target number of books I’m loading the back end of the year with a lot of shortish items from my Kindle and various bits and pieces I have lying around. 

WELCOME TO MY TOWN!

naked bike rider

Spotted in Leighton Buzzard last Sunday morning. No I don't know why!

Never a dull moment............ http://www.mix96.co.uk/news/local/1429086/naked-man-on-a-bike-pictured-in-leighton-buzzard/

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

BRIAN STODDART - A MADRAS MIASMA


Synopsis/blurb……

Madras in the 1920s. The British are slowly losing the grip on the subcontinent. The end of the colonial enterprise is in sight and the city on India’s east coast is teeming with intrigue. A grisly murder takes place against the backdrop of political tension and Superintendent Le Fanu, a man of impeccable investigative methods, is called in to find out who killed a respectable young British girl and dumped her in a canal, her veins clogged with morphine.

As Le Fanu, a man forced to keep his own personal relationship a secret for fear of scandal in the face British moral standards, begins to investigate, he quickly slips into a quagmire of Raj politics, rebellion and nefarious criminal activities that threaten not just to bury his case but the fearless detective himself.

The first Detective Le Fanu Adventure, A Madras Miasma, tells a classic tale of murder, corruption and intrigue with a sharp eye on British colonial politics and race relations. It is a story that, like its main protagonist, has its heart firmly in the right place.

Praise for A Madras Miasma:

"As one would expect from a distinguished Australian academic who has written and lectured on the subject of Indian history, the background is effortlessly convincing. In Le Fanu, Stoddart has created a character with huge potential for development, both as a person and as a witness to momentous historical events. In purely technical terms, the plotting of the book is as impressive as the narrative style, and the description of the bloody end to the industrial protest is as gripping as anything I have read in a long while. The ending is very clever without being showy, and I will certainly be on the lookout for the next chapter in the career of Christian Jolyon Brenton Le Fanu, MC." - Crime Fiction Lover blog.

Brian Stoddart’s debut novel takes us to India after the First World War. India is fast approaching a period of upheaval and change as the fledgling nationalist movement starts agitating for reforms and a greater say in their own affairs. The Colonial masters are resisting. A dead European woman is discovered in a canal.

I have to be honest and say that I approached the book with a small bit of hesitation as I’m more used to reading books with a more contemporary setting. After maybe 10 pages, my doubts were dispelled as Stoddart’s main character, Detective Le Fanu and his back up, Sergeant Habibullah quickly drew me into this tale of murder with the subsequent investigation and life in 1920’s Madras.

Le Fanu, our lead is a veteran of the Great War and is the most interesting character I’ve spent time with this reading month. He possesses an inherent decency; a trait particularly apparent in his dealings with Habi, his underling – a Muslim policeman who he treats almost as an equal. The unevenness emanating solely from the difference in their ranks, rather than anything related to colour or religion.  The contrast with most of the European elite, with their casual racism couldn’t be starker. Life amongst the business community and ruling classes mainly revolves around cricket, golf or drinks at the club whilst furiously gossiping and complaining about everything, particularly Le Fanu and his pressured boss, Inspector-General Wilson.

I’m reluctant to elaborate too much on the story, I’d rather recommend you read it yourselves. It ticked every box for me. Setting, characters, mystery, pace, resolution – all spot on.

Stoddart’s depiction of Madras and his portrayal of the disparity in circumstance between the local inhabitants and the elite was fascinating. It’s a city where few secrets can be kept, and the gossip spreads faster than the traffic.

Le Fanu, Habi, Arthur Jepson, Wilson, Ro, Virginia Campbell - interesting characters all of them and strong support for Le Fanu. Some of the scenes where Jepson and Le Fanu interact and where Le Fanu encounters Campbell in the early stages of the investigation are humourous and inject some light relief without ever reducing the narrative to comedy. They were a lot of fun to read and I would imagine fun to write.

The investigation as it unfolded was enjoyable to follow and credible. The author balances the pace superbly, getting us to the final destination quickly enough, but with time to enjoy the scenery on the way; providing us with details of Le Fanus’ past and present and a possible glimpse of his future, as well as offering a view of a fascinating time in India’s history.

The good news is - there is a second Detective Le Fanu book on its way soon – The Pallampur Predicament.

5 from 5

Many thanks to author Brian and Emily at Crime Wave Press for sending me a copy of this for review. Crime Wave are a small publishing house located in Hong Kong. They mainly concentrate on mysteries with an Asian flavour, but I believe are extending their scope in the future. Their website is here.

Brian Stoddart is an Australian academic with about 15 non-fiction books to his name. There’s a brief author biography on Crime Wave’s site. Click here.  




   

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

NEW TO ME AUTHORS, JANUARY - MARCH 2014

Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise collates a blogger's meme regarding new authors discovered every quarter. I've finally back-tracked on the first three months of the year now after collating the detail on the second and third quarters.

January saw 8 books read, February saw 9 and March saw 9 - giving 26 books read for the first quarter of which 20 were new to me authors. 

January - 6 new from 8 

David Putnam - The Disposables (4)

Stephen Graham Jones - Flushboy (2)

Dan O'Shea - Penance (5)

Adam Sternbergh - Shovel Ready (3)

Annette Dashofy - Circle of Influence (4)

Jake Hinkson - Saint Homicide (4)


February - 5  new from 9 

Harry Shannon - Behold The Child (3)

John Buchan - The Thirty-Nine Steps (4)

John Ball - In The Heat Of The Night (5)

Paulette Livers - Cementville (3)

Agatha Christie - Miss Marple's Final Cases (3)

March - 9 new from 9 read

Not a fan of the book, I like the cover though!
Harry Hunsicker - The Contractors (3)

Les Edgerton - The Bitch (4)

Mike Resnick - Dog in the Manger (4)

Ellen Kirschman - Burying Ben (4)

Mike McCrary - Getting Ugly (4)

B. Selkie (aka Peter Robb) - Final Cut (aka No Sweat) (aka 1/3rd of Pig's Blood and Other Fluids) (3)

Mike Harvkey - In the Course of Human Events (4)

Luca Veste - Dead Gone (4)

Dorothy Uhnak - Codes of Betrayal (4)

Summary - Only 2 x 5 stars, 11 x 4 stars, 6 x 3's and 1 x 2 - overall not a bad average, with only the 1 book that wasn't particularly enjoyed.


---------------------------------------------------------------
Funny at the time of pulling this post together and assessing the stats for the year, albeit it ass-backwards, and ignoring October at this time - 58 new authors tried from 72 books read!

Q1 - 20 from 26
Q2 - 13 from 16
Q3 - 25 from 30

I do seem to have a tendency to try new writers and fortunately it has been a lot more hit than miss. Maybe 2015 I will go complete reversal and challenge myself not to read anyone new.


Monday, 20 October 2014

2 BY HOWARD SHRIER

Another two this week from a previously unread Canadian author, Howard Shrier. Shrier has written four series books featuring a Toronto investigator, Jonah Geller. There's a standalone novel also - Lostport.















Shrier is a two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award. High Chicago won Best Novel in 2009 and Buffalo Jump won Best First Novel before that.



I think I'm in safe hands and should enjoy these.......whenever that may be!

Howard Shrier's website is here.









Boston Cream

Canada's top private eye is back as Jonah Geller resumes his vagabond ways in Boston Cream, the Vintage World of Crime trade paperback original and sequel to the Arthur Ellis-winning novels Buffalo Jump and High Chicago.


David Fine is not the kind of guy to go missing. Or so his father tells PI Jonah Geller. A brilliant young surgeon-in-training, devout, devoted to his parents--last seen 2 weeks ago leaving the Boston hospital where he worked. Still recovering from a concussion, Jonah and partner Jenn Raudsepp soon find out that David fled for his life after a vicious Irish crime boss tried to abduct him. And that he's more likely dead than alive. Then Jenn joins the ranks of the missing, and Jonah needs help from former hit man Dante Ryan and two local wise guys as he races the clock to save her life, one step ahead of the Boston law.




Miss Montreal 


Howard Shrier's acclaimed Jonah Geller series continues with Miss Montreal, the Vintage World of Crime trade paperback original and sequel to Boston Cream.  


After what happened in Boston, P.I. Jonah Geller can't show his face in the U.S. again. Which is fine with him. He's got a new case in Montreal, one of the world's most colourful and downright scandalous cities. An old friend has been brutally murdered there, and the police investigation is stalled. With an election looming and tensions seething, Jonah and former hit man Dante Ryan have to battle religious fanatics, gun runners and a twisted political dynasty to get to the truth.


Digressing slightly and in an effort to educate as well as titillate, I have been reliably informed by my great blog friend, Moira (Clothes in Books) that the "Boston Cream" is also a cake!



Is it a pie, or is it a cake? Wikipedia offers it's verdict here.



You can read more about the exciting history of the Boston Cream Pie Cake here. Fascinating....

Sunday, 19 October 2014

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART THREE

Week three and my enthusiasm as yet remains undimmed.

Another tub and another fifty.......
A bit of Canadian crime, (more tomorrow), some Thompson's which featured last week and a Petievich.

Spencer (UK author, now deceased), Higgins (US great), Pawson (UK)

Stone (US), Pawson again and an old favourite Charles Williams

Rathbone and Deighton - a touch of espionage. Diehl's book was a film with Burt Reynolds, Simon's is a US PI book, Warner's from Australia.

Hillerman (US),  Brookmyre (Scotland), Corris (Aus) and Peyton Place!  

Vietnam tale, Yardie's in London, Lawrence Sanders and Jim Thompson novelisation of Ironside - remember that TV series? Another Petievich.

Galbraith aka Rowling, Stone, Dorsey, Douglas-Home and some noir from Dominic Stansberry

Two from Woodrell, Lindsay from Scotland, another Valin - Stoner book and Bateman from Ireland.

Italian time - Camilleri and Carofiglio, Dermot Healy, Irish author passed earlier this year, David Henry Sterry - non-fiction account of his life and time as a male prostitute in LA

Scottish and Irish fiction, plus comedian Mark Thomas takes a poke at the arms trade.

Larry Brown, one of my favourites, Kim Wozencraft

Dan Simmons - homage to Richard Stark's Parker books, read it once and I'll read it again. Stark was Donald Westlake writing on a grumpy day.


Highlights or forgotten treasures.......not too many, but also nothing I'd turn my nose up at now either......Dan Simmons, Gerald Petievich, Charles Williams.


Assuming time allows - another 50 next week



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FULL LIST
AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES
BATEMAN COLIN BELFAST CONFIDENTIAL 2005 DS7 F
BROOKMYRE CHRISTOPHER BE MY ENEMY 2003 JP4 F
BROOKMYRE CHRISTOPHER ATTACK OF THE UNSINKABLE RUBBER DUCKS 2007 JP5 F
BROWN LARRY ON FIRE 1995 N
BYRNE TREVOR GHOSTS AND LIGHTNING 2009 F
CAMILLERI ANDREA THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN 2003 IM4 F
CAROFIGLIO GIANRICO A WALK IN THE DARK 2006 GG2 F
CORRIS PETER SAVING BILLIE 2005 CH30 F
CORRIS PETER THE UNDERTOW 2007 CH31 F
DEIGHTON LEN CHARITY 1996 BS9 F
DIEHL WILLIAM SHARKY'S MACHINE 1978 F
DORSEY TIM TIGER SHRIMP TANGO 2014 SS17 F
DOUGLAS-HOME MARK THE SEA DETECTIVE 2011 SD1 F
GALBRAITH   ROBERT  THE CUCKOO'S CALLING 2013 CS1 F
HEADLEY VICTOR EXCESS 1993 Y2 F
HEALY DERMOT SUDDEN TIMES 1999 F
HIGGINS GEORGE V A CITY ON A HILL 1975 F
HIGGINS GEORGE V TRUST 1989 F
HILLERMAN TONY SACRED CLOWNS 1993 JL/JC4 F
HOLLAND WILLIAM E LET A SOLDIER DIE 1984 F
LINDSAY DOUGLAS THE LAST FISH SUPPER 2006 BT6 F
METALIOUS GRACE PEYTON PLACE 1956 PP1 F
PAWSON STUART DEADLY FRIENDS 1998 CP5 F
PAWSON STUART GRIEF ENCOUNTERS 2007 CP12 F
PETIEVICH GERALD SHAKEDOWN 1988 F
PETIEVICH GERALD EARTH ANGELS 1989 F
RATHBONE JULIAN A SPY OF THE OLD SCHOOL 1982 F
SANDERS LAWRENCE THE ANDERSON TAPES 1969 EXD1 F
SHRIER HOWARD BOSTON CREAM 2012 JG3 F
SHRIER HOWARD MISS MONTREAL 2013 JG4 F
SIMMONS DAN HARDCASE 2001 JK1 F
SIMON ROGER L THE STRAIGHT MAN 1986 MW5 F
SPENCER JOHN B PERHAPS SHE'LL DIE 1996 F
SPENCER JOHN B QUAKE CITY 1997 F
STANSBERRY DOMENIC THE LAST DAYS OF IL DUCE 1998 F
STERRY DAVID HENRY CHICKEN 2002 N
STONE JONATHAN THE COLD TRUTH 1999 JP1 F
STONE JONATHAN THE HEAT OF LIES 2001 JP2 F
STONE JONATHAN BREAKTHROUGH 2003 JP3 F
THOMAS MARK AS USED ON THE FAMOUS NELSON MANDELA 2007 N
THOMPSON JIM RECOIL 1953 F
THOMPSON JIM WILD TOWN 1957 F
THOMPSON JIM IRONSIDE 1967 F
VALIN JONATHAN SECOND CHANCE 1991 HS9 F
WARNER DAVE EXXXPRESSO 2000 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES A TOUCH OF DEATH  1954 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES STAIN OF SUSPICION  1958 F
WOODRELL DANIEL WOE TO LIVE ON  1987 F
WOODRELL DANIEL GIVE US A KISS 1996 F
WOZENCRAFT KIM NOTES FROM THE COUNTRY CLUB 1993 F