Archive for February, 2022

Blood Sympathy by Reginald Hill, a review

Blood Sympathy by Reginald Hill

This, so far the only one of Reginald Hill’s books I have read.

Despite watching Dalziel and Pascoe on television I wondered whether Hill was of Caribbean heritage, a quick search on Google revealed that he wasn’t. Hill’s choice of a black hero, dealing with the racism of some police, made me think that he could have been a black writer.

It is difficult to write about a Private Eye, Raymond Chandler is always looking over your shoulder. Without the influence of him and Dashie;l Hammett; the genre I’m sure would be less widely populated.

This is Joe Sixsmith’s first outing, forced by redundancy as a result of his employer’s downsizing and middle age, to find something new, Joe embarked on a career as a Private Investigator. Having spent a lifetime in engineering, this was a strange choice.

Joe is a loveable character, harassed by his anxious Aunt Mirabelle, longing to see her nephew settled into the bosom of a suitable wife. His aunt’s matchmaking is just one of many problems; Joe has to deal with as he stumbles his way through cases of drug smuggling and murder.

I do not know if Hill’s fictional Luton is close to the reality of Bedfordshire’s, the one with an airport bearing the same name but it is nonetheless one that works.

I enjoyed this book immensely and will seek out more of Joe Sixsmith’s adventures.

Switching on the imagination

I thought this was worth reblogging.

Whittlesey Wordsmiths

Sunrise in the fens with windturbines A spectacular Fenland Sunrise One of the most beautiful sunrises I have witnessed

Reading is a means of switching on the imagination. The pictures drawn in the mind, the voices heard and the drama that unfolds can be as real to a reader as anything encountered in life. In many ways it is a better reality, one that is acceptable on the reader’s terms, limited by what they want to take out of it or see within it.

As writers we grope around for the switch that lights the imagination of our readers. The words though must first paint pictures in our own minds, we are after all the first reader. Hopefully these pictures will be seen in  the mind’s eye of our readers. We know they  will see different pictures to ours, pictures on their terms. The voices too they hear will have different accents to the ones in…

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A Bird In The Hand by Ann Cleeves, a review.

A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves

Generally, I only watch a few hours of television a day if at all. Mostly it is crime dramas that attract my attention and they occupy most of my viewing time; my daily ration of dodging the adverts while trying to follow the plot.

I often watch Vera, a series featuring DCI Vera Stanhope as its main character, gradually becoming aware of the name of the Vera books author, Ann Cleeves. Ann is the creator of the programme’s characters. After a recent stint of writing at the local library, (I work better there) I sought out her books happening on her very first; A Bird in the Hand.

It is a very good read, excellent in fact, tightly plotted and populated with well-drawn, interesting characters. The thread that binds both the story and its characters together is bird watching, particularly the community known as “Twitchers”.

When the murdered body of a young twitcher is discovered in the Norfolk coastal marshes; George Palmer-Jones, a retired Home Office investigator is asked to help solve the crime. George is an elderly bird watcher respected by the bird watching community and knowledgeable about the people and their habits. Assisted by his wife Molly, George embarks on discovering the truth behind the brutal killing, we accompany the pair as they tour the country chasing sightings of rare birds while hunting the killer.

It is a brilliant first novel, as it was then. I now know there are many, many more books by Ann Cleeves, for me to read.

I have found a new sweet jar and I will dip into it whenever I can.

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