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Madeleine's Reads 2021

What have you read this year? Post your list here and update it as you go along! (One thread per member, please.)
User avatar
Posts: 5758
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Warrior's Princess by Barbara Erskine
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Re: Madeleine's Reads 2021

Post by Madeleine » Fri November 5th, 2021, 9:52 am


The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell - I pretty much tore through this book, it's a very easy read, with the chapters alternating between the story of child spirit medium Pearl, and silhouette cutter Agnes, who narrates her sections. It's set in Bath, but it's not the Bath of Jane Austen, instead this is a sinister, grimy city, and is far removed from the genteel tourist image. Agnes is scraping a living cutting silhouettes, but when two of her clients are found dead under very suspicious circumstances, she begins to wonder if she is being targeted, for what reason she does not know. Her closest friend is her brother-in-law Simon, who was married to her sister Constance, who was killed in an Accident (as it's referred to in the book), which Agnes herself barely survived. When strange things start to happen, she reluctantly consults the White Sylph, a frail waif-like albino child who, under the guidance of her half0sister Myrtle, leads seances for wealthy clients, for it's the 1800s and the Victorians were of course fascinated by all this. But when she strikes a deal with Pearl to conduct a private séance, she begins to wonder what exactly she's unleashed. It's difficult to say more about this book without giving away spoilers, but there was one twist I didn't see coming, and another which I did start to suspect about halfway through. But unfortunately the ending let it down, it finished very abruptly, and I must admit I did feel slightly cheated, as it's very ambiguous, to the point of being vague. A shame as it has marred an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable read. 7/10

The Shrine by L J Ross - this is the 16th book in the series, and starts literally with a bang, as explosions rock the sacred site of Durham Cathedral, and when the smoke clears, it transpires that a priceless artefact - St Cuthbert's Cross - has been stolen from it's supposedly secure display case. Ryan's pregnant wife is seriously injured in the chaos, and when a fellow officer is shot dead on her doorstep, his team find themselves dealing with two high profile cases. At first there seems to be no connection between the two incidents, but as the bodies start to pile up it seems they may well be linked. This was another enjoyable story, which looks like it's setting up another possible story arc, can't say any more for fear of spoilers! 7.5/10

The Cook of the Halcyon - Andrea Camilleri this is the penultimate book in the long running series about Inspector Montalbano, set in Sicily. As usual a series of relatively minor crimes which seem to be unconnected, and the suicide of a boatyard worker, all reveal a bigger picture, when Montalbano finds himself investigating the brief appearance of a beautiful sailing ship, The Halcyon, which docks briefly, takes on a large amount of suppliers, and then sails off again, with no passengers, except occasionally a couple of beautiful young women..... Salvo's curiosity gets the better of him and soon he finds himself on the edge of something much bigger than he realised, plus it seems that his days may be numbered in the police force. this looks like it could be his last stand, as he puts himself in real danger to solve the mystery of the Halcyon. This was another entertaining read, although it does meander at first once the plot gets going it tightens it's grip, and in amongst the humour (there are some very funny scenes which I can't mention as it'd be a huge spoiler) there is real tension too. 8/10
Currently reading: The Warrior's Princess by Barbara Erskine

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