July 11th, 2013

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I'm sure you are all bored with my recitations about finishing Osprey books, but I did it again yesterday:

Osprey Men-at-Arms #3: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a unit history for a famous Highland regiment of the British military. If you're interested.

Book 126: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Book 126: Where'd You Go Bernadette.
Author: Marie Semple, 2012
Genre: Contemporary. Post Modern. Black Comedy. Part Epistolary. Coming of Age.
Other Details: Hardback. 324 pages.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.<

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a daughter’s unflinching love for her imperfect mother.
- synopsis from author's website.

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel when it was short-listed for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly The Orange Prize) as well as attracted by its quirky cover art. I'm so glad I picked it up as I found it delightful and warm yet with a wry satirical edge. Learning that Maria Semple is a successful US TV comedy writer came as no great surprise after finishing this intelligent, witty novel.

Bernadette is certainly a flawed character but she was easy to care about as was her daughter Bee. I especially enjoyed Bernadette's encounters with the other mothers whom she branded as 'gnats'. For Bee her mother's disappearance is a definite coming-of-age experience yet other leading characters also go through significant changes. A novel that I plan to recommend to friends.

The story of Bernadette - Maria Semple on how she came to create Bernadette.
by the sea

Book 127: The Marriage Hearse by Kate Ellis

Book 127: The Marriage Hearse (Wesley Peterson #10).
Author: Kate Ellis, 2006.
Genre: Police Procedural. Murder Mystery.
Other Details: Paperback. 304 pages.

When Kirsten Harbourn is found strangled and naked on her wedding day, DI Wesley Peterson makes some alarming discoveries. Kirsten was being pursued by an obsessed stalker and she had dark secrets her doting fiancée, Peter, knew nothing about. But Kirsten's wasn't the only wedding planned to take place that July day in South Devon.

At Morbay register office a terrified young girl makes her wedding vows. And a few days later her bridegroom is found dead in a seedy seaside hotel. As Wesley investigates he suspects that his death and his bride's subsequent disappearance might be linked to Kirsten's murder.

Meanwhile the skeleton of a young female is found buried in a farmer's field - a field that once belonged to the family of Ralph Strong, an Elizabethan playwright whose play, 'The Fair Wife of Padua' is to be performed for the first time in four hundred years. Is this bloodthirsty play a confession to a murder committed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1? Or does it tell another story, one that might cast light on recent mysteries.
- synopsis from author's website.

Another intriguing murder mystery in this highly addictive series, which blends contemporary crimes with historical ones. The last three in the series have all received 5-stars from me on Goodreads as I felt that Kate Ellis was really hitting her stride with them both in terms of the stories and the ongoing character arcs. Without giving any overt spoilers in this one a situation that has been bubbling under the surface breaks out leading me to feel real anger at a certain character. It's an ongoing issue and I was glad some consequences came from it though unsure how that will play out in the next books in the series.

My only disappointment was that there was no Author's Note following the story.
  • cat63

Books 37 & 38 for 2013

The Clue of the Twisted Candle by Edgar Wallace. 123 pages.

Wallace is a moderately famous mystery writer and many of his books are available on Gutenberg, so I thought I'd give one a try.

I think "competent " is probably the word I'd use to describe this book. Quite a few bits seemed cliched, but I imagine that's at least partly because other writers have pinched them since.

The plot is a bit odd - it starts out as an elaborate revenge plot (the victim of which seems to me to be more oblivious than he should be, given that he writes crime novels for a living…) and then about two-thirds in, morphs into a locked-room mystery.

Not awful but not great. I may try one or two others in case this wasn't the best example of the author's work.

Doctor Who: The Sands of Time by Justin Richards. 218 pages.

My second Doctor Who novel of the year, and, I'm glad to say, much better than the last one.

This one features the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa and makes far better use of continuity references than Scales of Injustice did by using them sparingly and in ways that are relevant to the plot.

It also uses the time travel potential of the Tardis to good effect within the story and builds the plot nicely.

I'd definitely consider reading more DW novels by Richards.