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Books 63-70 for 2014

63. Animal Farm by George Orwell. 62 pages.
Classic analogy for the Russian revolution. If I knew more about that event, I might have got more out of this book, but as it is, the message that “power corrupts” is clear enough.
64. Every Dead Thing by John Connolly. 428 pages.
Charlie “Bird” Parker was a detective and a drunk until his wife and daughter were brutally murdered. Now he’s given up the drink and is using his detective skills to try to track down the killer of his family.
A very dark book, and quite gory, but quite well done, although the supernatural element which the author proclaims the book has, is slighter than I’d expected.
65. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. 357 pages
This is one of those books that i’m not sure, even after reading the whole thing, whether I liked or not.
I guessed the revelation about Harold’s son within the first third of the book.
66. London Falling by Paul Cornell. 339 pages.
A facile description of this book would be “Rivers of London with fewer laughs”, but that wouldn’t really be fair. On the surface there are similarities of course - both concern Met police officers discovering supernatural goings-on and learning how to deal with them and both authors have links to Doctor Who, but the styles are very different, as are the backgrounds and characters.
This is a rather darker take on the idea of magical London, opening with an account of the end of a long undercover operation to try to expose a major gang leader. When the arrested gang boss dies mysteriously in custody a small group of investigators is assigned to the case, hampered by the fact that they have no clue what’s going on and that they don’t even trust each other.
67. Gone West by Carola Dunn. 259 pages.
Daisy is invited to visit an old school friend, now working as a secretary to an author on a remote farm in Derbyshire. But her friend has an ulterior motive - she suspects her employer may be being poisoned and wants Daisy to investigate…
Another fun outing with Daisy and co.
68. The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby. 258 pages.
This one had its moments, but frankly felt as though the author had read Steven Saylor’s Roman Blood and decided to recast much of it in ancient Athens. And the failure to resolve a subplot concerning the hero’s father didn’t help.
69. The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy by James Anderson. 270 pages.
Splendidly convoluted take on the country-house murder mystery. Took a while to get into and was perhaps a little over-egged in places, but I rather enjoyed it on the whole.
70. The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein. 258 pages
I’d been keeping an eye out for a copy of this book for many years, after hearing its praises sung on an sf newsgroup. I’ve never yet laid eyes on a physicalcopy, but last week, I cahnced across the ebook for under £2! As you might imagine, I snapped it up like a starving crocodile.
The plot concerns Rowan, the eponymous steerswoman. The steerswomen must answer any question they know the answer to but in return people are obligated to answer theirs - and anyone who refuses a steerswoman’s questions or lies to her is denied answers from every steerswoman. But when Rowan starts asking questions about mysterious blue jewels, she finds her life in danger…
Not sure it entirely lives up to the praise I’ve seen heaped on it, but it’s certainly a good story with an interesting premise, set in a well-imagined world and I’ll be looking for the sequel - and hoping it doesn’t take nearly as long to find as thins one did!


( 5 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )
May. 5th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
The supernatural elements in the Charlie Parker series don't really kick in until a few books into the series and even then it's a subtle aspect - Parker is given that gift of being aware of the dead in first novel and that perception grows.

There are not (as far as I am aware as I am only 4 books in) vampires and the like - more demonic aspects.

I also enjoyed 'London Falling' and looking forward to next in series.
May. 5th, 2014 07:10 pm (UTC)
I wasn't expecting vampires and such in the Parker books, just something a little less subtle than in the first one - I didn't mean to complain exactly, just to point out that it's a bit "blink and you'll miss it" in this case :)

I guess if the ability increases over the books and since the interview I heard with the author was promoting the latest one, that explains the disparity between the emphasis he gave it and what appears in the first book...

May. 5th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC)
If he was promoting the latest that would make sense. If I recall the review about the series correctly in SF Deathray magazine Connolly only started bringing the supernatural aspects to the fore in Book 4 and up till then it was 'blink and you'll miss it'. He was at the time seeking to get established.

Edit: looking back at my review for 'Every Dead Thing' I quoted the article which said that Connolly began here a "slow burning road towards the supernatural".

Edited at 2014-05-05 08:45 pm (UTC)
May. 6th, 2014 09:17 am (UTC)
Thanks - I think I might read some more of these, but at intervals - I found this one pretty intense!
May. 6th, 2014 09:22 am (UTC)
I've had the same response - actually led years between Books 3 & 4 as I was so freaked by one element in story. I've still collected the paperbacks as I will get around to reading all eventually.
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