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Books 17-24 for 2014

17. Dread Companion by Andre Norton. 183 pages.

Unusually for one of Norton's space tales, this book has a female protagonist and it starts off rather like a space-going version of those books where an impoverished young Victorian lady takes employment as a governess.

But then it spins off into left field somewhat when Kilda, the main character, finds that one of her young charges has an imaginary friend who may not be entirely imaginary, with far-reaching consequences for Kilda and the children....

Not the best Norton I've ever read, but entertaining enough.


18. Dead in the Waterby Carola Dunn. 184 pages.

Book six of the Daisy Dalrymple series.

This time Daisy's staying with relatives as she reports on the Henley Regatta for an American magazine. But of course, being Daisy, it isn't long before she stumbles over a murder....

Undemanding fun.

19. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder. 318 pages.

Yelena has finally returned to the country she was kidnapped from at the age of six, but her troubles are far from over, as even some of her own family think she's a spy for the people who stole her away as a child. She'll have to use all the skills she learned in Ixia to survive her homecoming...

Book two of this series is as enjoyable as the first one. I'm glad I have book three waiting to be read.

20. The Thuggery Affair by Antonia Forest. 220 pages

Another of Forest's series about the Marlow family.

I didn't enjoy this as much as some of the others, mostly because of a heavy use of a species of thieves' cant by the Thuggery mentioned in the title. This verges on the unintelligible at times and seems to me a tad overdone, although it was presumably more easily understood in 1964 when the book was written.

But the books is still worth a read as Lawrie and Peter Marlow and their friend Patrick Merrick uncover sinister goings on at a local pigeon loft.

20a. Mars Minus Bisha by Leigh Brackett. 19 pages.

Short story in which an Earth doctor on Mars adopts a young martian girl.
Nicely written, as one would expect from Brackett.

21. The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood. 178 pages.

Book five in the Phryne Fisher series.

This one felt a bit disjointed to me - rather as though the two parts of the plot (involving a murder at a dance contest and a missing ex-serviceman) had been grafted together but hadn't quite taken.

Still enjoyable enough though and I shall continue to follow Phryne's adventures.

Besides, it has a wombat. I can forgive a lot in a book that has a wombat.

22. Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix. 170 pages.

From the other books of his I've read, i wouldn't have pegged Garth Nix as a Georgette Heyer fan, but apparently he is - and this book is his homage to her books, a Regency romance with added sorcery.

Not typical Nix by any means, but none the worse for that. Very enjoyable.

23. Death and the Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters. 196 pages.

I don't recall reading this George Felse mystery before, and yet some parts of it seemed very familiar. Perhaps I'd read it from the library and forgotten it or perhaps I've just read a lot of Ellis Peters and that's why - certainly the stratagem used to reveal the killer in this one is very like the one used in the first book of this series, which I found a tad annoying.

And yet this book was a better read than that first book, for no reason I can adequately explain.


24. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. 463 pages.

Heller's classic novel about the insanity of war. Rob immediately linked this one up with Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-5 which we also read recently - the themes and atmosphere are quite similar, but we agreed that Heller's book is the better written of the two.
Tags: crime fiction, fantasy, kidlit, satire, sci-fi
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