Tag Archives: Book Review

The October Man

18 Jun

In this lovely novella, Ben Aaronovitch takes us away from the familiar streets of London.

Tobias Winter is a police officer and apprentice wizard with the German equivalent of the Folly. He is called to Trier when a body is found covered in fungus. Teamed with local police officer Vanessa Sommer the frantically search for the source of the magical infraction while dealing with a fractious river goddess and trying to stem the rising body count.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ben taking the series away from London. I was delighted to discover I like Tobias Winter almost as much as I like Peter Grant.

Thought separate from the main stream of the RoL series, “The October Man” ties in neatly with references to the Folly, Peter Grant, and some interesting information about Thomas Nightingale’s past.

I thoroughly enjoyable read and a truly delightful addition to the RoL world. What I really want now is for Tobias to come to London. Tobias and Peter together would be both fun and quite possibly a national disaster.

Highly recommended.

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The Bartered Brides

4 Feb

In “The Bartered Brides”, the thirteenth Elemental Masters novel by Mercedes Lackey, Sherlock Holmes is apparently dead, and Lestrade needs the help of Watson, along with Nan and Sarah to solve the crime of who is beheading young women dressed as brides, and throwing the headless corpses in the Thames.

Mercedes Lackey has turned out a gorgeous tale of magic and murder.

The joy of the Elemental Masters books with Sherlock Holmes in them is that Holmes isn’t a magician, and has difficulty with the concept, though, being the logical man that he is, when he is given evidence, he takes it on board.

Towards the end of the novel there is a delightful tip of the hat to Arthur Conan Doyle’s abysmal continuity, that made me chuckle.

This is the third Elemental Masters book with the cast of Nan, Sarah, John & Mary Watson, and Sherlock Holmes. In each book the characters grow and develop just that little bit more.

“The Bartered Brides” is a delicious addition to my permanent Sherlock Holmes collection.

Highly recommended.

I noted on Good Reads that a fourth book is due out towards the end of this year.  I will look forward to that with great anticipation.

Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes

29 Jan

This book, the fourth anthology volume of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes stories, is simply delicious.

The standard of the stories is very high. Usually in every anthology you get at least one story that falls flat. It’s a tribute to the joint editing skills of J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec  that every story is a winner.

“Gaslight Gothic” combines the fog shrouded mysteries of Sherlock Holmes with the sort of plots that the likes of M. R. James and William Hope Hodgson excelled at.

As I said, every story is a winner, but three really stood out for me:

The Cuckoo’s Hour, by Mark A. Latham
The Strange Case of Dr Sacker and Mr Hope, by James Lovegrove
The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder, by Nancy Holder.

All three stories were creepy to an extremely high level.

“Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes” now has a place in my permanent Sherlock Holmes collection, alongside my editions of the canon and one or two others.

Highly recommended.

The Ravenmaster

24 Jan

Those of you on Facebook and Twitter who follow Christopher Skaife aka the Ravenmaster, know just what a highly intelligent and quirky individual he is.

“The Ravenmaster: Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London” showcases both attributes, along with his obvious love for the ravens he is now priviledged to look after.

What comes across is just how strong the personalities are of the various ravens. The famous Merlina being the most obvious.

Chris writes with wit and warmth which makes for a charming combination. He is also capable of much pathos, as I sat trying to read about Thor’s death through the tears in my eyes.

Highly recommended. Especially if you love a good memoir or a good natural history book. This combines both for a truly delightful reading experience.

Holy Ghost

10 Dec

“Holy Ghost” is the latest novel by John Sandford.

In a small town in Minnesota, the Virgin Mary has taken to appearing in a small church. Is it a hoax? That’s really none of Virgil Flowers’ business, but the maniac who has taken to shooting people outside the church is!

The 11th Virgil Flowers novel is every bit as delightful as the previous ones. Virgil has grown a bit, settling in to the idea of being a father.

The book just zooms an bounces along. As usual the supporting characters are all well rounded and interesting. I am hoping for a couple of them to come back in future books.

My cup of happiness overflowed when Jenkins and Shrake appeared. The BCA’s bully boys are possibly my favourites of John Sandford’s supporting characters.

“Holy Ghost” is an excellent addition to the Virgil Flowers series, which has now overtaken the Lucas Davenport books as my preferred John Sandford reads.

Highly recommended.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

28 Nov

Eric Idle was always my favourite Python. His quick wit and way with words delighted me since I first watched any Monty Python.

His memoirs, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography”, are a delight. Self deprecating in a typically English way, but refreshingly honest and upfront. He doesn’t hide from his mistakes, or blame others, which makes a change from a lot of other celebrity memoirs.

The book is also the history of a song. The wonderful “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” first performed in “Life of Brian”. It has become the number one funeral song in the UK, and if you know the song, it’s easy to understand why. When I was fighting for my own life in hospital earlier this year, some of the words almost became a mantra to me.

I encountered the song before I saw the movie. My first year in high school we had a headmaster who always started the assemblies with a piece of classical music. One day the seventh form decided to sabotage him and swapped out his chosen piece of pompous boredom for “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. My enduring memory of this occasion is the majority of the other teachers trying not to laugh out loud. Few succeeded.

This is a gloriously delicious book. The best memoir I have read this year.

Lies Sleeping

19 Nov

I have been waiting with fluctuating levels of patience for “Lies Sleeping”, the latest in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, to drop. It was worth the wait.

In “The Hanging Tree” we learned the identity of the rogue wizard known as the Faceless Man whom former PC Lesley May had gone to work for. In “Lies Sleeping” we learn why Lesley defected to the Dark Side, so to speak, and it’s not pretty.

Since learning the identity of the Faceless Man, several things have happened. PC Peter Grant is now DC (Detective Constable), and DC Sahra Guleed is now DS (Detective Sergeant). All the police operations from the previous books have been amalgamated into one operation under the joint heads of Thomas Nightingale and Alexander Seawoll. The task is to find the (former) Faceless Man and stop him. Not an easy task once it becomes apparent that FM has something big, and nasty, planned. Peter has to make an unlikely alliance…with the revenant that started it all way back in book 1 – Mr Punch.

“Lies Sleeping” ties up a lot of loose ends from the earlier books, but not all of them, and it sets the scene for the series to go in new directions. Which, since Ben has said he will be writing Rivers of London until he dies, could be almost anywhere.

We meet some new characters, several of which I hope stick around for further books. And we finally learn once and for all exactly what Molly is.

The sly tips of the hat to popular culture continue. On one page alone is both an Asterix reference AND a Terry Pratchett reference.

I am going to state that this is THE best book I have read all year.

In a House of Lies

12 Nov

“In a House of Lies”, the latest John Rebus novel by Ian Rankin is simply delicious.

A car is found with a skeleton in it. The skeleton of a young man who went missing several years early. Problem is, the car wasn’t there when the police searched the area.

Now the case is being reopened, with Siobhan Clarke and Malcom Fox involved, whilst Rebus flits around the edges making a hairy arsed nuisance of himself. Add a couple of bent coppers and someone stalking Siobhan, and you have a classic, gritty, Ian Rankin novel.

Often as time goes by, a series starts to get stale. There is nothing stale about “In a House of Lies”. It is as fresh and chewy as a good novel can get.

Well written, well balanced and a sheer delight from the first page to the last.

The Poison Bed

22 Oct

In the 17th century, Sir Thomas Overbury dies in the Tower of London. Not an unusual occurence, you might think. This death was a little unusual in that two people were accused of his murder. Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset and his wife Lady Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset.

Robert Carr was a “favourite” of King James I. History has never been kind to that king and his predelictions towards good looking young men.

In “The Poison Bed” E. C. (Elizabeth) Fremantle makes an excellent attempt to explain what happened. The result is a book both chilling and thrilling. I found it very hard to put down.  The book is divided into alternating chapters of Robert’s point of view, and then Frances’.

The book is an interesting mix of historical fiction and psychological thriller. Brilliantly executed.

Highly recommended.

The Spotted Dog

8 Oct

“The Spotted Dog is” the much awaited new novel from Kerry Greenwood.

In “The Spotted Dog” Corinna and Daniel have a new case: dognapping. The dog of a retired army veteran has been snatched from him, and he left battered. Someone has broken into the flat of Professor Dionysus Monk. There is a ransomware attack on the cafe. And worse is to come.

I admit to being a little wary as it has been a long time between the last Corinna and this one. I shouldn’t have worried, “The Spotted Dog” is pure Kerry Greenwood snark from page one. I particular liked the exchanged about zebras and the “protective custard”.

All my favourite characters are there.  I would have preferred a little more Meroe, but there was plenty of Jason & Professor Monk to make me happy.

A fun, fabulous read.

Highly recommended.

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