71. The Bat by Avery Hopwood and Mary Roberts Rinehart. 143 pages.
Over-the-top gothic crime story with added stereotypes in the form of a comic Irish maid and inscrutable Japanese butler.
To a modern reader this book seems riddled with cliches, but that’s probably at least in part because it was written in 1920 before most of them actually became cliches :)
72. Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood. 158 pages.
Another investigation for Phryne Fisher, this time set in a theatre presenting a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
A nicely complex story, well resolved, although I felt that the balance between the main plot and the sub-plot concerning a Chinese family could have been a little better.
73. Changeless by Gail Carriger. 254 pages.
74. Blameless by Gail Carriger. 262 pages.
Second and third in the Parasol Protectorate series.
Normally the amount of American slang in the mouths of these supposedly Victorian characters would have me running for the hills, but the characters, plot and setting are enough to make them a forgiveable annoyance. The ending of Changeless had me scrabbling for the next in the series right away…
75. The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey 328 pages.
Typical Lackey fare - ill-treated orphan girl rises to a position of caring responsibility but does things a little bit more innovatively than her predecessors and gives things a much-needed shake-up.
Nothing here to break that pattern, but a decent enough read.
76. The Blue Lights by Frederic Kummer. 131 pages.
The more vintage detective novels I read, the more I see why Christie and Sayers are regarded as outstanding in the field.
A frankly implausible tale of an American child (who, bizarrely never gets mentioned by his first name) kidnapped in Paris and pursued independently by husband and wife detectives. The characterisation is so sketchy as to be nonexistent and the plot is barely strong enough to suspend the barest minimum of disbelief.
77. A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer. 304 pages.
A rather uneven book, but enjoyable nonetheless - it reminded me of Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea to some degree and of Martha Wells’ Fall of Ile-Rien series, and to be compared to either is a compliment in my book.
78. The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman. 154 pages.
I’d seen this book referred to in several detective novels set at the time it was current so i decided to read it to see why it was so well-known.
I found the culprit obvious from early in the book, but not the means by which he had carried out his crime.
79. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. 545 pages.
Giant spaceships, mysterious alien artefacts, cyborgs and labyrinthine plots. Proper epic space opera, marred only by the author’s occasional tendency to use words he doesn’t seem to have checked the meanings of.
80. Pegasus by Robin McKinley. 305 pages.
A human kingdom allied with a race of pegasi, but unable to communicate with them properly is shaken when the king’s youngest child finds she can speak directly with her pegasus partner.
The book ambles along amiably for most of its length, with occasional hints that all is not well elsewhere and then ends just as everything is going nastily pear-shaped. I hope McKinley will write the rest of the series soon.
81. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. 261 pages.
I hadn’t realised that Neverwhere was made for telly first and that Gaiman wrote the novel to put back all the bits they cut out for the screen. We shall have to watch the series again soon to see if we can spot what they changed.