Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Hand of the Beast, written by Stuart Roberts, a review.

Hand of the beast2

Hand of the Beast written by Stuart Roberts

We are very fortunate to have a good number of talented authors living in our region some of whom live locally. I have just finished reading Hand of the Beast by Stuart Roberts, one of our very local writers.

I had the privilege of reading his draft manuscript  of Hand of The Beast a little while back as a Beta reader. I was really keen therefore, to see this the published version. Stuart’s second novel, like his first, All Time Lowe, it is a psychological and supernatural thriller.

The story is centred around the troubled Danny. An orphan traumatised by an abusive childhood he struggles to deal with life. His adoptive parents help him navigate his way through into adulthood but it is a chance meeting with a Goth girl that changes his life completely.

The police after discovering two murders, quickly find they are on the trail of a serial killer responsible for many more deaths.

A twisty journey of a book a really good read, five stars from me.

If you would like to buy a copy, (one of my US readers wanted a copy of All Time Lowe which is why I posted this link) the Amazon link:

Hand of the beast

For my review of All Time Lowe:

All time Lowe a review

Beau Death by Peter Lovesey a review.

Beau Death cover2

Beau Death written by Peter Lovesey

There is usually at least one of Peter Lovesey’s books in my “to be read pile”.  Of the Peter Diamond series, I now have only one more to read, unless of course there is another ready to publish.

I have enjoyed all the Peter Diamond novels but for me Beau Death is the best so far.

Following a cracking start, literally, a wrecking ball smashes into the top of an old house in Twerton, exposing the remains of a long hidden body. The beginning of a herculean quest for Deective Superintendent Peter Diamond and his team. Not only to establish the identity of the corpse but to discover the circumstances of its death.

As with the majority of the Peter Diamond novels the city of Bath is the setting.

With each new book there is a new visit, for us readers. Each time we learn a little more about the place and its rich history. This outing introduces Beau Nash to those of us, who know little, not only of Bath but the characters which helped shape the city.

As with all good books it is difficult to put down, resolution waits until the end of the story and is satisfying. I will be ordering Killing with Confetti, the latest Peter Diamond book, shortly. Ready to be placed on the TBR pile.

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne, a review.

The Red House Mystery

The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

I was surprised to learn that as well as writing Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne had also written an adult novel, The Red House Mystery, apparently his third I learned later.

Curious I decided to track down a copy, by mere chance I found a copy in a charity shop in Huntingdon. This particular edition was a paperback “A Rediscovered Classic” issued by The Times. The Red House Mystery was written before the Winnie The Pooh books, A. A. Milne’s more well known works.

It is an interesting book, undoubtedly, of its time, a time when the lives of ordinary people were, of no consequence. In this book like it seems so many others, murders took place in large country houses, inhabited mainly by the great, the respectable and the good. The fact that the great, the respectable and the good numbered among them the murderers doesn’t seem to be the contradiction it ought to be, perhaps just a better class of villain. The Red House Mystery  is not badly written but for me lacks pace. The plot is dependent on the unlikely as much as the probable. I had difficulty in finding the enthusiasm to continue reading and was able to put it down for long periods of time sometimes for days. It was a shame it wasn’t a better book, it could have been, should have been.

On a side note in a book that is nearly a hundred years old and reissued it should have been possible for someone competent to proof read it and remove the typos.

 

An Inconvenient Death by Miles Goslett (a review)

an incovenient death web

An Inconvenient Death by Miles Golett

 

Those of us old to remember the build up to the ill conceived Iraq war are familiar with the name Dr David Kelly.

At the time of his death, 45 minute warnings, talk of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and photographs filled the media supposedly showing large missiles on lorries, ready to be blasted at Saddam Hussein’s enemies, us, the UK or the U.S.

In this rush to war there were however, dissenting voices, a desire for certainty before committing lives and resources to a conflict which could perhaps be avoided. One of those casting doubt, was Andrew Gillingham, a BBC Radio 4 journalist, who’s well placed source cast doubt on the government narrative.

The hunt was soon on for this well placed source and within days Dr David Kelly’s name became known. His death in the midst of parliamentary enquiries by the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees closed down lines of enquiry.

Although the book’s title is An Inconvenient Death, at the time of Kelly’s demise it seemed to many of us it was all too convenient. Goslett’s book is a meticulous attempt to try and establish a semblance of the truth, to clear away the clutter. He casts doubt over the whole investigation of Kelly’s death gaining and sharing information not disclosed at the time. He also exposes the shortcomings of the hastily established Hutton Inquiry held into Kelly’s death.

This book may not of itself get the Kelly case reopened but it ought to help, we owe it to Dr David Kelly to find the truth and if that truth is inconvenient to members of the establishment so be it.

 

 

183 Times  A year a review

183 times a year

183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan

 

Although 183 Times a Year is Eva Jordan’s first novel I read All the Colours In between, her second book, before reading this.

First novels aren’t often as good as later work, a writer improves as they practice their craft. I was not therefore sure what to expect of 183 Times A Year.

We are introduced to Lizzie and her blended family, their daily struggles and Lizzie’s challenges in caring for them. It is beautifully told and her finely drawn characters inhabit the imagination of the reader with their presence. The mark of a master story teller for me.

It is a cracking read, a brilliant first novel, as excellent as, All the Colours in Between, itself a masterpiece, certainly one of the best books I have read.

Time Will Tell, Eva’s third novel, is in my “To be Read” pile and I fully expect it to be as good as  Eva’s other two books.

My fiction reading is usually crime or espionage novels and some science fiction, my nonfiction reading, mainly history.

Eva’s books are ones that in the past I would not normally read, these are a departure for me.

I am pleased to have read 183 Times a Year and All the Colours in Between, they are fantastically well written books and more moving than I thought possible, certainly for a man of my advanced years.

Eva Jordan is an exceptionally good writer, I look forward to seeing more of her work. if you haven’t read anything by this talented lady you need to remedy that straight away.

 

The Calling by Alison Bruce a review.

Front cover of the book The Calling

The Calling by Alison Bruce

Having read the first two books in the DC Gary Goodhew series (Cambridge Blue and The Siren) I was keen to try The Calling; the third or more accurately the first.

Alison had written The Calling before any of the others but decided that it was better placed as the third novel in the series.

There is always the problem of a Cambridge based detective being compared to that of Oxford’s Inspector Morse, Edinburgh’s Inspector Rebus or Bath’s Superintendent Diamond. DC Gary Goodhew is further down the ranks, a mere Detective Constable but none the less just as talented.

Goodhew struggles without any advantage of rank to find his way through a maze of clues, using unorthodox methods and skating round procedural niceties to find the answer to a troubling series of cruel murders. The ending is edgy and tense with the outcome by no means a foregone conclusion.

I enjoyed the book, like a great many of Alison’s fans, Cambridge is local and familiar to me, we have ownership of the settings.

This is, as are Alison’s other books well written, detailed and literate but above all else a damn good entertaining read.

England’s Lost Lake a Review

 

 

Englands Lost Lake

England’s Lost Lake, The story of Whittlesea Mere.

 

 

The fen country was for centuries, millennia even, a vast expanse of open water fen and bog that stretched from the Wash inland to the higher ground to the North and West. It has been described as a vast sump soaking up and holding the water flows from those surrounding counties on higher ground. A map of Huntingdonshire dated 1645 shows towns and villages as islands amongst the bogs fens and open water. Although drainage had been started in Roman times it was not until the seventeenth century that the serious work began with Van Vermuyden as the chief engineer. Eventually the last mere left undrained was Whittlesea Mere; Paul Middleton’s  England’s Lost Lake tells the story of that nineteenth-century project updating an earlier work produced by the WEA in 1986.

It is an interesting read, detailing not only the draining of the Mere itself and the methodology but also describing some of the players involved. The way of life of those that had earned a living from the mere is explored too. We learn of the Reed Cutters, Wild Fowlers and those that fished the Mere. We are informed of how the different seasons provided other means of earning a living for those whose livelihood depended on this vast lake. Details are given of the wildlife, insects, flora and fauna that occupied the area. The species that have survived and those that were lost, some completely unique to the area.

One is left with the feeling that the project was not the overwhelming success envisaged and returning a good proportion of the fen to its past state was partly an act of expediency. This though is purely my own personal view. Whatever the reasons the Great Fen Project is something that those of us that love this landscape, welcome, a view I share with the author.

If you have an interest in the Fens and its history this is a book you should own.

One last point Paul if you are reading this can you tell me about the Shelerode?

This book was sponsored by the Fenland Trust.

 

 

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