fiction and other writing

Archive for February, 2011

Book Review – Simon Beckett

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

This is the story of David Hunter, a forensic expert, who has taken work as a GP in a remote Norfolk village.

Recovering after the death of his wife and child, he is pulled out of his grief and back into the land of forensic science when a body is found.

In some ways this book is similar to Patricia Cornwall’s books, with its detail about how bodies decompose and how to analyse marks on bones, but the writing style is gentler.

Beckett’s book is full of believable characters, some of whom are highly unpleasant. His descriptions of people, places and events will draw you into the well structured plot, which is littered with clues that seem insignificant until near the end.

Not a book to be read late at night, but well worth reading.

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Book Reviews (2)

Book Review: Author Mary Westmacott
Absent in the Spring
This book was first published in 1944 and was written by Mary Westmacott, better known as Agatha Christie.
It is the story of a woman stranded for a week in an isolated rest house in the desert. With no-one to talk to, she examines her past and her relationships. This is a journey of self discovery and revelations about her life, but does it help her to make a change in direction? Well I won’t give the game away but the book is well worth a read.

Book Review: M.C.Beaton
Snobbery with Violence.
Many of us are familiar with the Agatha Raisin series and the Hamish Macbeth series; now we have a new Edwardian series, which features Lady Rose Summers and Captain Harry Cathcart. These characters are M.C. Beaton’s flawed but loveable rogues, who have good hearts.
Lady Rose is feisty, beautiful and young and Captain Cathcart is handsome, bright and has a limp. Both are unorthodox and don’t live by society’s rules.
In the setting of an Edwardian house party a guest is murdered. Rose and Harry work uneasily together to find the murderer.

Book Review: M.C.Beaton
Hasty Death
This is the second book in M.C. Beaton’s Edwardian series.
Lady Rose rejects the luxury afforded to her class and with her maid Daisy, goes off to earn her living as a typist. After they are kidnapped and rescued they return to Lady Rose’s parent’s house.
On learning of the death of an acquaintance, who turns out to be a blackmailer Rose joins with Captain Harry Cathcart to investigate.
This is another of M.C. Beaton’s very readable whodunits.

Book Review: M.C. Beaton
Our Lady of Pain
This is the fourth book in the Edwardian series and sees Lady Rose Summer find the rival for her fiancés affections, dead. Captain Harry Cathcart is determined to prove Lady Rose innocent of murder, even though all the evidence is pointing her way.
Their journey to find the truth takes them to France and gives an insight to a different culture and provides and interesting background to the story. The usual characters of Becket and Daisy provide a vivid back story.
Like the other three books in the series this is well worth a read. The feisty character of Rose and the tension between her and Harry provide intrigue; but will there be a happy ending?

Book Reviews

The Edge of Doom by Elizabeth Horrocks

The “Edge of Doom” is Elizabeth Horrocks’ debut book. It is an Arthurian novel with a difference. The characters of Ellie Tollet and Lance Poole meet up in a computer class at their local education college and then travel back through time. Each period of time they visit is brought to life through the happenings and surroundings evoking mystery and suspense. The settings vary but wend their way to the areas in and around Alderley Edge in Cheshire, where Elizabeth has been living for nearly the last 25 years.

The Edge of Doom is the first book in a trilogy; published by Vanguard Press and is available from all good bookshops and Amazon. The stories entwine historical facts and legends with new elements that will throw in some surprises.

Elizabeth is a former BBC Mastermind Champion (1974) and retired English Literature teacher. She is involved as a leader in the Girl Guides in her local area, and in the church youth drama group.

This book is suitable for adults and young adults alike and is a thoroughly good read.

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

Twenty five years after the mysterious disappearance of her mother, father and brother, Cynthia agrees to take part in a television programme in the hope that she will finally find out what has happened to them. This action starts a fast moving chain of events and an intriguing plot. The story is told by Cynthia’s husband Terry.

Did Cynthia kill her entire family when she was fourteen? Has the strain of wondering what has happened to them driven her over the edge or is she right to be very frightened of the brown car that follows her and her daughter to her child’s school?

No Time for Goodbye is written by Linwood Barclay, an author who is new to me, but one I will certainly look out for in future. The story has many strands which come together bit by bit to reveal the truth. It is compelling reading with likeable main characters that the reader can easily empathise with. It’s certainly worth reading.

The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell

Chief Inspector Wexford sees a face from the past; a man he knows to be a murderer but who has evaded conviction. He tells his colleague, Inspector Mike Burden, about the murder of Elise Caroll, which happened when he was new to the force. Eric Targo, the murderer has stalked Wexford, almost taunting him about his failure to prove him guilty.

Not being able to catch Targo has haunted him over the years, especially as Wexford is convinced that Targo has committed other killings.

Rendell builds the Targo character as a strange obsessive loner, who has a natural affinity with animals; in fact he loves animals more than his own children.

Wexford suddenly finds that Targo is not just back in Kingsmarkham but back in his life and then Wexford’s gardener is murdered.

This is Ruth Rendell at her best, telling the compelling story of Targo and that of an Asian family whose daughter, Tamima, goes missing. The Monster in the Box is published by Hutchinson and is available from Amazon and other bookshops. It’s well worth a read and takes you back through time to Wexford’s past.

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill (one of my favourite authors) is a great read.The story is set over a twenty four hour period and Dalziel is back at work after recovering from a bomb blast, but is he back to form? He wants to prove to his team that he’s the boss but is Pascoe ready to give back his leadership role?

The story centres round businessman Goldie Gidman and his “business” involvement in the past. A policeman went missing seven years ago and now his wife, Gina Wolfe, wants to remarry another policeman, Mike Purdy. First she has to see if her husband actually died or is he still alive? Mike Purdy calls on his old friend Dalziel to help her out with the investigation.

None of them have any idea what this search will cause. A murderous sister and brother team set out on a mission and a high flying journalist sniffs the hint of a story. Pascoe gets drawn in and wonders at Dalziel’s capabilities, because some of Dalziel’s decisions are questionable.

Reginald Hill crafts believable characters and his books have a number of regulars who develop with each tale he tells. Reading his books is like visiting a familiar place, but this book is one of his best. It has a quick pace and little islands of humour among the action. The plot is more complex than I’ve indicated but describing the twists and turns might ruin the reading of the book.

Midnight Fugue is available from all good bookshops and published by HarperCollins.

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