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So ever since Carl announced RIP III I’ve been wandering around the house looking for suitable books to use as my pool for the challenge.
And even though there are more I could add, I think I’m going to plump for the following list from which to complete Peril the First, where I have to read four books of any length from any subgenre of scary stories I choose:
- The Terror by Dan Simmons [6 September]
- Duma Key by Stephen King
- Come Closer by Sara Gran
- Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist [25 September]
- Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley [3 October]
- Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman
- Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill [14 September]
- Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
I would love to have included The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman but it doesn’t come out in the UK until the end of October as far as I can tell.
I also intend to round off the challenge with my annual viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which seems fitting given Carl’s fabulous challenge button!
I’ve become very fond of Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler series, and have saved the reading of the latest until I could give it full and undivided attention.
The Vows of Silence begins with the shooting of a young woman, newly married. This is rapidly followed by the deaths of several others, all by a gunman, but what is the connection (if any) and is there more than one killer?
It’s fair to say that this isn’t really a standard police procedural; by that I mean that although there is the usual stuff you would expect, this is a novel as much about Serailler the private man as it is about a senior policemen leading the hunt for a dangerous killer. A lot of the book deals with several characters we have met before, including Serrailler’s family, especially his sister Cat. I didn’t find this a problem; I have grown very attached to these characters over previous novels, and in some ways the personal parts of the book were more compelling than the solution of the crime, especially as I worked out the identity of the killer quite early on.
Parts of this book are really quite moving; there is family tragedy which is so well described that I did have to reach for the tissues, something which doesn’t happen that often (and hasn’t since reading this book). So this might not be to everyone’s taste, but I enjoyed it very much.
I have to confess that I have never really warmed to Gyles Brandreth, whether as a journalist, a TV personality or as an MP. However, with Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, I have been pleasantly surprised and will probably have to reassess my view of him.
It is 1889 and Oscar Wilde finds the body of a young man with his throat cut in the room of a house in Westminster where Wilde has an appointment. Although Scotland Yard do become involved, Wilde decides to investigate on his own as the young man was known to him, and he enlists two of his friends. Which sounds much as you would expect, except his friends are Robert Sherard, writer and great-grandson of William Wordsworth, and Artur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. The game is indeed afoot.
This is really good fun, witty and clever and gives a sense of what Wilde might have been like as a friend. His relationships with both Sherard and Conan Doyle are based on fact, and there are interesting biogrpahical notes at the end of the story for those of us who like to know a bit more of the factual background to this type of novel.
I did twig reasonably early on who might be involved in the death of Billy Wood, but not the reasons why or the detail around the murder and subsequent events. Trying to guess the culprit in a crime novel is all part of the fun as far as I am concerned and it’s always enjoyable to find out just how right or wrong I am. What makes this book so satisfying is the picture it portrays of late Victorian London and the lifestyles of those with a bit of money.
This is the first in a series (I think there are three so far) and I look forward to reading the others.
The Bride’s film page is no more. Visit me on my new blog Bride of the Screen God for movie and TV related stuff. Hope to see you there!
The most recent Tom Thorne thriller, Death Message is a really enjoyable police procedural and a welcome addition to one of my favourite series.
Thorne receives a picture on his mobile phone which clearly shows the face of a dead man. This turns out to be the first of several, and Thorne ends up in a psychological game with a criminal whom he sent to prison, all taking place through the actions of a killer with a clear purpose.
I really enjoyed this book. We get to know the identity of the killer and the reasons for his crimes quite early on but this only added to my enjoyment as the story stopped being a whodunit, or even a whyhedunit, but was really about what was underneath and how it would be resolved.
And as well as a resolution to these particular crimes, Thorne also gets to find out what really happened to his father, a storyline hanging over from a couple of books ago.
I think I enjoy Billingham’s books because I really like Tom Thorne, and am interested in all the personal stuff as well as the case that he’s involved in. If you are new to the series I wouldn’t necessarily start with this one because of the references to previous books, but having said that any of the Thorne novels are worth picking up. Of course now that I have said that Billingham has written a stand-alone novel as a break; hopefully he’ll be back with these characters soon.
From assassination with William the Silent to anarchy in Touchstone, with a common thread of political change, all part of crime month. The background here is the General Strike of 1926 with huge tensions between the working and ruling classes, an opportunity for those with their own agenda to push the country in a certain direction.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot; suffice to say that Harris Stuyvesant, an agent of what will become the FBI, arrives in London semi-officially to follow up some leads relating to bombings in the USA. By various means he teams up with Bennett Grey, a survivor of WWI who has some interesting abilities which could help the investigation, as well as some useful contacts with key players through his sister, Sarah.
I really like Laurie King, I have never read a novel by her which I didn’t enjoy, whether it’s the Mary Russell or Kate Martinelli series, or one of her standalones as here. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed this time either; this is a really well written thriller, the plot slips along nicely but is supported by a depth of characterisation which meant I became really attached to several of the main characters.
I read this largely during my daily commute, and it was so good that on at least one occasion I didn’t realise I’d reached Waterloo and had to scramble to get off the train. Highly recommended, and I hope that she writes more involving Grey and Stuyvesant.
I’m also really, really looking forward to next year’s Mary Russell.
You are The High Priestess
Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.
The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I got into reading crime fiction through Agatha Christie, partly because of the wonderful film version of Murder on the Orient Express (reviewed on my film page) but also through my Mum buying me a copy of Nemesis with a creepy Tom Adams cover to get me through a bout of flu.
The paintings of Tom Adams were associated with Christie’s novels in paperback for almost 20 years. A number of them were collected in Agatha Christine: The Art of Her Crimes in the early 1980s. Sadly this seems now to be out of print, but I was able to get hold of a slightly bashed second hand copy which, in addition to the artist’s own comments, has a commentary by Julian Symons and an introduction by John Fowles.
I have always loved how Adams’ paintings caught the spirit of Christie’s novels, even when the objects on the covers seem obscure in terms of the story, although I’ve always suspected that if I had been paying more attention I would have seen a greater relevance in the objects he uses.
Sadly I don’t have a full set of the Tom Adams Christies but I’ve reproduced one or two of my favourites here and hope that you enjoy them. Although some of the later paperbacks have attractive covers nothing says Agatha to me like Tom Adams.
The Awful End of Prince William the Silent by Lisa Jardine describes the events leading up to the assassination of William and the repercussions of his death within the Low Countries and across Europe. It brings together two of my favourite things – crime and history – and does so in a really accessible way.
You don’t need to know anything about the political situation on the continent at that time as the author gives one of the best synopses I have ever read. So you get an understanding of why the Low Countries were in revolt against Spain, why Philip II felt the need to put a price on William’s head, and why someone might want to take up that challenge even though they knew it meant a certain and deeply unpleasant death for them. You also learn the impact this crime had on the rulers of Europe, Particularly Elizabeth II, and the growing fear of handguns. For as Lisa Jardine says, this crime wouldn’t have been possible without the invention of a pistol that could be loaded and primed in advance, concealed about the person and produced at the right moment to deadly effect.
What I found particularly interesting about this book are the parallels that are drawn with the present day. The 16th century assassin is compared to 21st century suicide bombers, who are almost impossible to stop because they have no concern for their own survival. The repressive measures taken by the English government in particular, trying to stop the wrong type of person from entering the country because of the fear that the Queen might be killed, and the lengths the intelligence services at the time went to to keep tabs on people also have a resonance in today’s fight against terror. And of course the murder of a celebrity and what that can mean to their ongoing reputation is also touched upon.
I thought this was an excellent introduction to the subject, and had the bonus of some original documents in the appendices which really fleshed out the background. Highly recommended.
Updated - I was so intent on trying to articulate what I thought about this book that I forgot to mention it was my fifth and final read for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.
Transformers , directed by Michael Bay, starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and loads more.