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Madeleine's 2015 reads

What have you read in 2015? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
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Madeleine
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Madeleine's 2015 reads

Post by Madeleine » Thu January 8th, 2015, 11:10 am

January

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart - another romantic mystery from the classic author, this time set near Lake Leman in France near the Swiss border. Belinda (Linda) Martin takes a job as governess to young Philippe de Valmy, heir to his family's fortune after his parents are killed in an accident. However, he's only 9 so in the meantime he's handed into the care of one of his uncles, Leon, and his wife Heloise. At first Linda loves her new job and her young charge, but matters get complicated when she finds herself falling in love with Leon's playboy son, Raoul, who visits from one of their other properties in the south of France. Then a series of strange accidents happen, and it looks as if the boy's life is genuinely at risk. This book took a while to get going, but overall I enjoyed it, and the last third or so has a sort of breathless suspense, with a gutsy heroine and an anti-hero who may or may not be involved in the events which befall Philippe, plus a few shady servants and a hunky Englishman who are also thrown in for good measure! There's some lovely description too, with the chateau and surrounding countryside beautifully evoked. Definite shades of Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier, but with a style of it's own.7/10

The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo - this is the 4th book in the so-called Oslo sequence of novels featuring Inspector Harry Hole (there are also some earlier books) but I read it quite happily as a stand-alone novel, although a lot has obviously happened before. Harry investigates the murder of a Salvation Army officer, shot whilst taking part in a Christmas carol performance on a busy street in Oslo. It soon becomes apparent that the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity, and the police find themselves in a race against time to prevent the main suspect, a Croatian hit-man, from fulfilling his task. And it seemed that several high-ranking officers in the Salvation Army may also have secrets. I thought this was a good, fast-paced read with an excellent translation, and Harry, despite being that rather clichéd loner, alcoholic policeman who's unlucky in love (although he has several offers) was a believable, likeable character.8/10

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton - this is an amazingly accomplished debut novel, beautifully written and very evocative with well-drawn characters and a lovely setting. I can't say I actually enjoyed it though, as it's really quite tragic, although what is uplifting is the way in which the main character, Nella Oortman, develops from a shy, newly-married teenager from a small town into a strong woman who finds herself having to take charge when her world starts to disintegrate. Nella comes to Amsterdam having married Johannes, a sugar merchant, despite them barely having even met - and married life carries on in pretty much the same way, with the relationship at best being a friendship. There's also Johannes' imperious sister, Marin, to handle, as well as the two servants, Cornelia and Otto. One day a wedding present arrives, from Johannes, a cabinet which opens into a dolls house which is an exact replica of the household, and soon various miniature figures begin to arrive, but as events start to unfold, Nella realises that the miniaturist seems to be fore-telling those events. This is certainly an unusual book, forget any comparisons with Girl with a Pearl Earring and watch the story unfold, with the miniaturist taking on an almost supernatural element. I can't wait to see what the author does next!8/10

The Lighthouse by P D James - this is the penultimate novel in the series featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh, as the author sadly died at the end of last year, and it's another well-written mystery in which AD, as he's referred to by his team, and two colleagues travel to the mysterious island of Combe, off the coast of Cornwall. This island, which has a tragic history, has only a few residents and it serves as a holiday destination for powerful men (we're talking presidents and heads of industry) who come to the island wanting a complete break from everything. When one of the guests, a successful author, is found hanging from the railing of the lighthouse, AD and co are called to the island to ascertain whether his death was suicide or murder. It turns out that he was one of the least popular visitors to the island, so when it turns out that he was strangled before he was dangled from the lighthouse there are several suspects. Then AD falls ill and it's up to his small team to discover the truth. Overall I enjoyed this, it was very well-written if a little too long, and there was one search carried out by the team which I'm sure was illegal - no search warrant? Surely one could have been faxed over to the island? But apart from that, it was an enjoyable mystery in a great setting - a kind of country house mystery with a relatively small group of people confined to one space, and yes, a lot of the interviews take place in the library! 7.5/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Wed February 4th, 2015, 10:50 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Mon February 9th, 2015, 12:21 pm

February

Still Life by Louise Penny - first in a series of novels set in the small town of Three Pines, not far from Montreal, featuring the investigations of Inspector Armand Gamache, this would probably come under the "cosy crime" genre and there are now several books in the series. A local artist is found dead in the woods, shot with an arrow and initially a hunting accident is assumed to be the cause, but it soon becomes apparent that the lady was murdered, and the whole village is under suspicion as Gamache and his team - the reliable Beauvoir, the sullen Nichol and a few others - try to find out what really happened. This is an enjoyabe mystery, with a few similarities to Britain's "Midsomer Murders", and it looks set to be a welcome addition to the cosy/country village crime catalogue, with Gamache being a likeable character. 7.5/10

When Nights Were Cold by Susanna Jones - I thought this started slowly and although at times I wondered where it was going once it did pick up I found it gripping. It's the story of Grace Farringdon, stuck at home with her domineering parents and elder sister Catherine - her parents think that women should stay at home and look after their families, but Grace, who is obsessed with the attempted Polar expeditions of the time (around the turn of the previous century) wants to be an explorer and manages to get herself into a ladies' college where she forms a small climbing group with 3 other girls - the domineering Parr, quiet Hooper and flirty Locke - and after a holiday climbing in Wales they attempt to climb in the Swiss Alps. The book shifts between Grace recounting the girls' lives at school and afterwards, and her current situation, back at home in Dulwich, with only a couple of lodgers and her memories for company. As the book goes on her mental state becomes more precarious, until eventually neither the reader nor Grace herself knows what it is real (this isn't giving anything away, as this is a recurrent theme throughout the book). I thought it was well-written, and the characters all felt real, and the climbing exploits are vividly described. It would give a reading group some interesting themes - women's role in society at a time when things were changing: first the suffrage movement, and then the aftermath of WW1 - and I really felt for both Grace and her sister at a time when women were so limited by the attitudes of the period. 8/10

Warleggan by Winston Graham - this is the 4th book in the Poldark series and, after a slow start, I found it just as gripping and compelling as the earlier books. The Poldark marriage continues to lurch from one crisis to another, and there are also tragedies and financial problems to contend with. Help comes from surprising quarters, and whilst Ross's life eventually starts to look brighter in one aspect, other situations look darker still. This book is a classic example of "every cloud has a silver lining", but every silver lining also has a cloud! 8/10

The Ghost House by Helen Phifer - first in a new series featuring police officer Annie Graham and her colleagues, Jake and Will. It's a kind of dual time-frame as Annie, whilst recuperating from a serious injury, house-sits for her brother, who is the caretaker of a nearby old house which is rumoured to be haunted, and indeed whilst exploring the house she has a very strange experience. Before she flees, she finds an old diary, and as she starts to read it and discover the house's history her colleagues are investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. It soon becomes apparent there is a link to the old house and it's Victorian residents, especially Alice, a maid who becomes infatuated with the son, Edward, and well, you can probably guess the rest. It was an OK read but I think it suffers from too many storylines - the Jack the Ripper twist I thought was especially daft - and the number of typographical errors was atrocious. A bit predictable, and a typical woman-in-peril scenario. 6/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Sun March 1st, 2015, 5:02 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Tue March 10th, 2015, 7:39 pm

March

The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss - this is the second book in the Lucifer Box series, which is a kind of James Bond style spoof with a very camp hero, who by this stage (not long after WW1) is reluctantly admitting that he's beginning to feel his age a bit, but there's still life in the old dog yet and when we first meet him he's in snowy New York, where he comes into possession of what he first thinks is simply an old handkerchief, but then realises it seems to be some sort of map, and when he's framed for a murder he didn't commit (for once, for he's a trained assassin), he takes his "victim's" identity and escapes on a boat to England. But as soon as he arrives in English waters, he realises he's been betrayed, and this time he's not only trying to escape his enemies, but also the hangman, for it looks as if the betrayal has come from someone within his own agency. It's a fast-paced, breathless read, involving chases across rooftops, on and off a train, in the water, an old convent with lots of secrets, Fascists, and an apocalyptic document that, as usual, everyone wants. A good bit of escapism, and beautifully written with a wry sense of humour. 8/10

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark - this is the first novel by this author, who in the UK is a well-respected TV presenter, and overall I found it very enjoyable and well-written. Elizabeth Pringle's legacy is her house on the isle of Arran, which she leaves to a young woman, Martha, whose family regularly holidayed on the island, but apart from a passing acquaintance with Martha's mother, there seems to be no connection at all to Elizabeth Pringle (although Martha later discovers they have distant cousins in common), and as Martha's mother is suffering from dementia, she is unable to provide any clues. But as Martha starts to spend more time on the island (she eventually decides to take redundancy from her job as a journalist) and meets a few people who did know Elizabeth, we gradually get the old lady's story revealed in flashbacks - the book's chapters alternate between Martha and Elizabeth. Finally Martha finds that tried and trusted staple of this sort of novel - a box of letters - and the full story of Elizabeth's legacy is revealed. I must admit it was fairly obvious what it was, but the author handles the subject matter sensitively and movingly, as she does the Alzheimer's storyline involving Martha's mother. The only storyline which I felt didn't ring totally true was the one involving Martha's sister Susie, whose sudden change in character and attitude felt rather unconvincing, and perhaps too predictable, but apart from that I would certainly recommend this book, and look forward to her next novel. 8/10

A Dance with Dragons - Part 1: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin - 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and the wheels are beginning to come off a bit - this one runs parallel, time-line wise, with "A Feast for Crows" and whilst that seemed to work with "A Storm of Swords" I think it's showing flaws here, or maybe it's because the book catches up with, for the most part, some of the series's most (for me anyway) boring characters. Yup we've got Daenerys wittering and vascillating over what she should do next and the hole that she's dug herself into, Jon Snow does a lot of talking but not much action, Bran does more skin-changing/walking and Stannis is, as usual, sorely under-used. The most interesting character is, once more, Tyrion, who undergoes a series of bizarre adventures as he tries to escape the fallout from Book 3. And there's more Theon Greyjoy too, although at least the author, for the most part, glosses over the torture scenes which were depicted so viscerally in the show. I found it a bit of a slog, and felt that there was too much telling, and not enough showing. 6.5/10

Street of the Five Moons by Elizabeth Peters - 2nd in the Vicky Bliss series in which Vicky finds herself in Rome, investigating a case of forgery which takes her to a beautiful palace on the outskirts of the city where she finds herself involved with an eccentric, mega-wealthy family, and meets her old adversary from the first book, the mysterious Englishman, John Smythe, who comes across as a lot more human in this book. There are several escapades and chases, and more than once Vicky finds herself waking up in a strange place from which she must escape, often helped or hindered by Smythe, who seems to be involved, somehow, in all the mayhem. An enjoyable, fun read. 8/10

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie - second in the series about a sleuthing priest in Cambridge, and like the first book it's more a set of inter-connecting short stories rather than a conventional novel. I found the first story very weak, and it sort of fizzled out, but the other stories got stronger and were for the most part enjoyable (except one which had far too much detail about cricket!), and the final story had perhaps a few too many coincidences to be totally convincing, but set things up nicely for the next book, which will apparently consist of 4 longer stories. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Mon April 20th, 2015, 11:35 am, edited 13 times in total.
Currently reading "The Scandal" by Mari Hannah

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Post by Madeleine » Mon April 20th, 2015, 11:34 am

April

A Dance with Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin - the second part of the 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and it carries on pretty much the same as the first book, although there's a bit more of the Lannisters, but it's still very slow and talky - some of the endless discussions remind me of the scenes of the Entmoots in The Two Towers ie lots of sitting around talking, and finally coming to a decision - with only the final 100 pages or so finally bursting into life, or not - yes there's at least one big shock towards the end of the book! 7/10

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon - first in the long-running series of crime novels set in Venice, with the likeable Commisario Guido Brunetti as the main policeman investigating various deaths, in this case a world-famous conductor who has been found dead in his dressing-room at the aforementioned opera house, in the interval of a performance. He's been poisoned, and as Brunetti starts to look for clues it seems that the conductor wasn't too popular, although he was respected in his field, and had a very interesting past. This was an enjoyable read, a very straightforward police procedural, and Brunetti is a convincing character. Venice is the real star, almost a character in her own right, and there's plenty of food references too, so don't read if you're hungry! 7/10

The Darkest Hour by Barbara Erskine - the historical part of Erskine's latest time-slip novel is set relatively recently, for her anyway, with the historical setting being just before and during the Battle of Britain. In the present day, art gallery owner and expert Lucy Standish is mourning her husband, killed in a car crash a few months previously. She becomes intrigued by a painting which he was restoring at the time, by an almost forgotten war artist called Evelyn Lucas, and she manages to get a grant to write a book on the artist, but as she starts to do her research and find out what happened to her paintings, many of which seem to have vanished, it becomes apparent that members of her family, both past and present, don't want Evelyn's history to be discovered. In the historical parts of the book, we gradually learn Evelyn's story, and also what happened to her family after the War, including her current descendants, her grandsons Mike and Christopher, one of whom is keen to help Lucy (at least at first) and the other who seems intent on doing anything to stop her, which of course only makes her more determined. Overall I enjoyed this, although I found it a little bit long and it wasn't quite as creepy and atmospheric as some of her earlier books. She does evoke the atmosphere of Sussex during the war very well, and most of her characters are quite convincing, with the exception of the bad guys, who are very two-dimensional, and the ending felt a bit rushed. Not a bad read, but not as good as her last book, River of Destiny. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Tue April 28th, 2015, 1:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Tue May 12th, 2015, 3:06 pm

May

The Shroud Maker by Kate Ellis - latest instalment in the Wesley Peterson detective series, set in the picturesque Devon town of Tradmouth (in reality Dartmouth), in which Wesley finds himself investigating the murder of a young woman in mediaeval dress, whose body is found floating in a dinghy during the wild week of the Palkin festival. Another young woman disappeared a year earlier during the previous festival, and Wesley can't help wondering if there is a connection. Then bodies are found on an excavation taking place on a local building site, the owner of which is also connected to the festival. Everything also seems to be connected to a fantasy website, Shipworld, which also happens to be run by the owner of the building site. I enjoyed this, despite the subject matter it's a fairly gentle crime novel, with a lovely setting and likeable main characters. 8/10

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander - first in a series of light historical crime novels featuring Lady Emily Ashton, who at the beginning of the book has been recently widowed after Philip, her husband of only a few months, dies whilst on a hunting trip in Africa. She thought the marriage was one pretty much of convenience, and she was desperate to escape her domineering mother, and hardly knew her husband at all, and as a fiercely independent woman, it suited her fine that Philip spent much of his time out hunting, a practice which she found distasteful. But when she starts to read his journals (extracts of which we are shown) and talks to people who knew him, she finds that he did, in fact, love her deeply and couldn't believe his luck when she agreed to marry him. Then she discovers that he may have been involved in stealing ancient artefacts from museums, and replacing them with near-perfect copies, and as she tries to find out if her husband was a thief, she finds herself being courted by two suitors, both of whom travelled with him on his last expedition, and both of whom seem keen to woo her - is it just for her money, or to keep her from finding out more about the thefts, and how much were they involved too? I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery, and Emily is a likeable character, as are her friends: Ivy, herself newly married, the rather rebellious American, Margaret, or her widowed friend in France, Cecile, who doesn't have to live by the stifling conventions so prevalent in England at the time. A promising start to the series. 8/10

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick - I'd been meaning to read this one for ages, and found it another excellent novel by the author. I preferred it when Hawise and Brunin, who grew up together after Brunin Fitzwarin was sent to train with Hawise's father, Joscelyn de Dinan. It was lovely seeing both of them grow into fully-formed adults, especially Brunin who went from timid, put-upon boy to a brave knight - removed from a rather cold father and a domineering grandmother, he blossomed in the lively de Dinan household. The story of the fight for Ludlow Castle was well-told, with some genuinely exciting scenes and a truly reprehensible "bad guy". 8/10

Entry Island by Peter May - stand-alone novel by the author of The Lewis Trilogy, this isn't as good as those books but is still a worthwhile read, and he's an excellent writer. Detective Sime (Simon) McKenzie is called out to the island to investigate the brutal murder of a local businessman - his wife is the immediate and indeed most obvious suspect, but Sime finds himself strangely drawn to her, and feels there is a connection between them. For some reason he's reminded of the old family tales his grandmother used to read to him as a boy, drawn from his great-great--great-grandfather's diaries. As he starts to uncover his family background, he finds that his ancestor, also Sime, endured the Highland clearances in the 18th century to eventually arrive in Canada, and this historical side makes a fascinating backdrop to the story, and is a period of history about which I knew very little - in fact it could make a novel in itself. Past and present eventually catch up with each other, although I thought the ending felt a little rushed. A good, solid read though. 8/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Fri May 29th, 2015, 6:47 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Fri June 12th, 2015, 8:27 am

June

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson - this book is set almost entirely in the notorious Marshalsea debtors' prison in 1727. The narrator, Tom Hawkins, has been living in London, mainly by his wits, participating in all aspects of life such as gambling, drinking etc. He could have had the life of a country vicar, following in his father's footsteps, but after a family row he's pretty much persona non-grata in his native Norfolk, but has no regrets at all. Until one day when, having won enough money at cards to pay his debts, he's beaten and robbed on his way home, and finds himself in the Marshalsea. Luckily for him he's been left with just enough money to pay his for his keep on the Master's Side, which has it's own bar, restaurant and even a barber, but he's living on a knife-edge. His best friend Charles helps him keep his head above water and, when a murder is committed in the prison (but passed off, officially at least, as a suicide) he's told that if he solves the murder then he can go free. But he's already made an enemy of the prison governor, David Acton, and it's difficult to tell who, if anyone in the prison, is on his side, and as he investigates and gets closer to the truth, it's impossible to know who to trust. I thoroughly enjoyed this, it's well-written with quite a bit of humour (I thought the ghost scene was very amusing) and Tom is an engaging character, despite being his own worst enemy and unable to keep out of trouble. The plot twists and turns with almost everyone at some point being a suspect, and it moves along at a brisk pace. Many of the supporting characters did exist, and there are some great personalities in the book. A sequel has just been published, which I look forward to reading, as i found this a thoroughly enjoyable read, with the details of life in the prison fascinating (albeit grim, especially for those on the Common Side, shudder), and I think that people who aren't fans of historical crime would enjoy it too. 8/10

The Edge of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne - dual time-frame novel in which Roz moves back to York to help with the launch of a restored old house in the town which is opening to the public. Orphaned at the age of five, she can't remember anything about her past, but once in York (where she was born) she finds herself seemingly haunted by a woman called Jane, who starts to take over her life. As she begins to re-live Jane's story, she realises it's linked to the house where she's working, and also to her own past. I quite enjoyed this once it got going, it's well written and would appeal to readers of Barbara Erskine, although I think Erskine does this sort of thing better. And I didn't quite buy into how easily Mikey's reasons for what he did were explained, nor his redemption at the end, which was all a bit too neat. 7/10

The Poisoned Chalice by Bernard Knight - 2nd in the Crowner John series set in 12th century Devon, in which John finds himself investigating some nasty crimes against some prominent ladies of the town. His brother-in-law, the sheriff, has a suspect or two in his sights, but John insists on investigating properly, as the evidence is flimsy and mainly circumstantial. Cue the usual arguments between John and the sheriff as they try to find the real culprit. An entertaining, evocative read.7/10


Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch - 4th in the Peter Grant series in which the trainee wizard/detective tries to get to the bottom, literally, of a mystery which seems to be centred around a hideous block of flats designed by a legendary architect (based on Erno Goldfinger, who really did design some monstrosities in London which are now listed buildings. There's also a shock in store for Peter, as he finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. I didn't find this book as quite as involving as the others, although it was still an entertaining, enjoyable read, and Peter is a likeable character. 7/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Fri June 26th, 2015, 7:12 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Post by Madeleine » Sun July 5th, 2015, 11:12 am

July

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris - this is the first in a new series by the author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood novels, and is set in the tiny Texas town of Midnight, where online psychic Manfred sets up home. His new neighbours include Fiji, a witch, Bobo (who some will recognise from the Lily Bard series) who runs the local pawn shop, the mysterious Lemuel, who does night shift in the pawn shop, and the even stranger local Reverend. But it's when the body of Bobo's missing girlfriend is found that things start to heat up - he is the main suspect and as his friends try to clear his name and find out what really happened that Manfred starts to discover what a strange place his new town really is. This is another quirkily enjoyable read from Ms Harris, with memorable characters, quite a bit of humour and some darkness as well. There are references to her other series, but you don't need to have read them to enjoy this. A promising start to another series of Southern gothic mysteries. 8/10

Just one Damned thing After Another by Jodi Taylor - this is the first in the Chronicles of St Mary's Series, and was recommended to me on another forum, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Madeleine Maxwell graduates from the University of Thirsk, and after a few jobs she receives a letter from on one of her former tutors, recommending that she apply to St Mary's, an institution of historians which is funded by Thirsk. She is accepted, and after several months of rigorous training is accepted as a historian - only these historians take their job literally, for St Mary's has discovered time travel, and using a selection of Tardis-like pods they send their staff back to various periods in time. But it's dangerous work, and although there is some real humour in the book, there's also quite a bit of violence and tragedy, for another group of historians has gone rogue, and it's up to St Mary's to stop them. After a slightly uneven start - there are lots of characters and it took me a while to work out who was who, especially as they are sometimes referred to by their second names, and sometimes by their first names, but gradually they started to emerge and it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is to be trusted. An entertaining read, which would appeal to readers of Jasper Fforde and Ben Aaronovitch. 8/10

The Black Moon by Winston Graham - fifth in the Poldark series and life moves on for both the Poldarks and the Warleggans. I found this book not quite as engrossing as the 4 predecessors, I thought there was a bit too much about the French Revolution and a lot of technical detail about military operations. There's a bit of scandal involving Demelza's family, and there's adventure too, as Ross, unable to lead a quiet life for too long, goes off to France to rescue a friend - if ever there was a man who did the right things for the wrong reasons, it was Ross - and on a lighter note there are preparations for Aunt Agatha's 100th birthday. And at the end, a bombshell is dropped for one character, which will surely have repercussions. 7/10

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths - first in a new series by the author of the Ruth Galloway series, which I love. This new book is set in 1950s Brighton in the world of end-of-pier shows, and the main character is Inspector Edgar Stephens. During the war he served in Scotland as one of the Magic Men, a group who set up decoys to try to fool the Germans out of bombing the UK, and when a series of gruesome murders take place in Brighton, it looks as if someone is trying to pick off the Magic Men, and people associated with them. Edgar finds himself re-united with his old friend, Max Mephisto, a magician who also served with the group, and it soon becomes clear that one of them will be the next victim. I enjoyed this once it got going, it's well-written with some nice dry humour, although some minor, sloppy editing errors jarred slightly. A promising start to a new series, in an evocative setting. 7.5/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Mon July 6th, 2015, 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Madeleine's 2015 reads

Post by Madeleine » Mon August 17th, 2015, 7:19 pm

August

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - first book in a new crime series written by J K Rowling under a pseudonym, and it's not a bad start at all. Down on his luck (and everything else) private investigator Cormoran Strike is hired by John Bristow to investigate the death of Bristow's sister, model Lula Landry, which has been ruled a suicide, but Bristow is convinced otherwise, and Strike has to wade through the model's chequered background, high profile friends and unreliable witnesses to find out the truth. He also has to try to sort out his own private life and personal trauma (an ex-serviceman, he's still recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan), and is helped by Robin, his sympathetic temporary secretary.
The story bowls along, although it's very wordy (and sweary :o), but well-plotted, even if some of the characters aren't totally convincing. Strike, although a bit of a clichéd PI (ex-girlfriend, debts etc) is a likeable character, and he and Robin, after a shaky start, gradually work together to become a good team. A promising debut into adult fiction for Rowling. 7.5/10

Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman - first official novel in the Merrily Watkins series about a young woman vicar who is offered the post of Deliverance Minister in the Shropshire area. She finds herself thwarted at every turn - by the elderly, outgoing bishop who seems to not want women at all, the new, trendy incoming bishop who seems a bit too friendly, her mentor Huw, and even her own daughter who is, like most teenagers, in a state of rebellion and meeting unsuitable friends. This isn't really a murder mystery, although there are a couple of suspicious deaths, in fact it's difficult to categorise as it touches on witchcraft - a small church is desecrated, and Merrily is convinced that there is evil within the Cathedral itself - and there are also many New Age and Pagan references too as Merrily struggles to hold onto her own beliefs whilst trying to help others. There is some quirky humour, and parts of the book are genuinely chilling - it's also been filmed for TV so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. But Merrily is a compelling character and it's very atmospheric, and certainly different to the usual crime/mystery series around. 7.5/10
Last edited by Madeleine on Fri August 21st, 2015, 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Madeleine
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Posts: 5645
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "THe Scandal" by Mari Hannah
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Re: Madeleine's 2015 reads

Post by Madeleine » Fri August 21st, 2015, 2:11 pm

Madeleine wrote:August

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - first book in a new crime series written by J K Rowling under a pseudonym, and it's not a bad start at all. Down on his luck (and everything else) private investigator Cormoran Strike is hired by John Bristow to investigate the death of Bristow's sister, model Lula Landry, which has been ruled a suicide, but Bristow is convinced otherwise, and Strike has to wade through the model's chequered background, high profile friends and unreliable witnesses to find out the truth. He also has to try to sort out his own private life and personal trauma (an ex-serviceman, he's still recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan), and is helped by Robin, his sympathetic temporary secretary.
The story bowls along, although it's very wordy (and sweary :o), but well-plotted, even if some of the characters aren't totally convincing. Strike, although a bit of a clichéd PI (ex-girlfriend, debts etc) is a likeable character, and he and Robin, after a shaky start, gradually work together to become a good team. A promising debut into adult fiction for Rowling. 7.5/10

Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman - first official novel in the Merrily Watkins series about a young woman vicar who is offered the post of Deliverance Minister in the Shropshire area. She finds herself thwarted at every turn - by the elderly, outgoing bishop who seems to not want women at all, the new, trendy incoming bishop who seems a bit too friendly, her mentor Huw, and even her own daughter who is, like most teenagers, in a state of rebellion and meeting unsuitable friends. This isn't really a murder mystery, although there are a couple of suspicious deaths, in fact it's difficult to categorise as it touches on witchcraft - a small church is desecrated, and Merrily is convinced that there is evil within the Cathedral itself - and there are also many New Age and Pagan references too as Merrily struggles to hold onto her own beliefs whilst trying to help others. There is some quirky humour, and parts of the book are genuinely chilling - it's also been filmed for TV so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. But Merrily is a compelling character and it's very atmospheric, and certainly different to the usual crime/mystery series around. 7.5/10
Currently reading "The Scandal" by Mari Hannah

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5645
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "THe Scandal" by Mari Hannah
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Re: Madeleine's 2015 reads

Post by Madeleine » Fri August 28th, 2015, 8:42 am

Madeleine wrote:
Madeleine wrote:August

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - first book in a new crime series written by J K Rowling under a pseudonym, and it's not a bad start at all. Down on his luck (and everything else) private investigator Cormoran Strike is hired by John Bristow to investigate the death of Bristow's sister, model Lula Landry, which has been ruled a suicide, but Bristow is convinced otherwise, and Strike has to wade through the model's chequered background, high profile friends and unreliable witnesses to find out the truth. He also has to try to sort out his own private life and personal trauma (an ex-serviceman, he's still recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan), and is helped by Robin, his sympathetic temporary secretary.
The story bowls along, although it's very wordy (and sweary :o), but well-plotted, even if some of the characters aren't totally convincing. Strike, although a bit of a clichéd PI (ex-girlfriend, debts etc) is a likeable character, and he and Robin, after a shaky start, gradually work together to become a good team. A promising debut into adult fiction for Rowling. 7.5/10

Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman - first official novel in the Merrily Watkins series about a young woman vicar who is offered the post of Deliverance Minister in the Shropshire area. She finds herself thwarted at every turn - by the elderly, outgoing bishop who seems to not want women at all, the new, trendy incoming bishop who seems a bit too friendly, her mentor Huw, and even her own daughter who is, like most teenagers, in a state of rebellion and meeting unsuitable friends. This isn't really a murder mystery, although there are a couple of suspicious deaths, in fact it's difficult to categorise as it touches on witchcraft - a small church is desecrated, and Merrily is convinced that there is evil within the Cathedral itself - and there are also many New Age and Pagan references too as Merrily struggles to hold onto her own beliefs whilst trying to help others. There is some quirky humour, and parts of the book are genuinely chilling - it's also been filmed for TV so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. But Merrily is a compelling character and it's very atmospheric, and certainly different to the usual crime/mystery series around. 7.5/10
A Question of Identity by Susan Hill - 7th in the Simon Serrailler crime series and a vast improvement on the previous instalment. Things have moved on from that and Simon finally has a personal life, of a sort, whilst his sister is having problems with her teenage children, funding for the local hospice and is also trying to find out what is going on between her father ( a cold fish if ever there was one) and her stepmother. Then someone starts murdering elderly women, and Simon finds himself in charge of yet another major crime unit. This was quite a gripping read, and even though as usual I guessed the killer's ID pretty much straightaway, it was still a page-turner. 8/10
Currently reading "The Scandal" by Mari Hannah

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