Tag Archives: Book Review

The Mansions of Murder

29 Oct

Paul Doherty’s most recent Brother Athelstan is a classic locked room mystery. Something he does very well.

Athelstan and Sir Jack Cranston must work out who killed the priest of St Benet’s Queenshithe, and how it ties in with the legacy of a deceased parishoner of Athelstan’s.

After month’s of fretting about the death of a parishoner, because over the years I have developed a fondness for a number of the character’s, I shouldn’t have worried. The parishoner was a very minor one who was mostly mentioned in passing in earlier books.

“The Mansions of Murder” is a gripping thriller, which, unlike previous books, has very few humourous moments to lighten the atmosphere.

The scene with Pike and Watkins in the tavern with Jack Cranston and Athelstan has raised some interesting questions for the future.

Can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars, because it doesn’t reach my bench mark of “The Great Revolt” as being an extraordinary Athelstan novel.

 

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The Painted Lady

26 Oct

Araminta Jewell is the idol of a group of restoration rakes with their eyes on her virginity. She scuppers their plans by marrying. One of them, however, is not standing for this, and when her husband is murdered it is up to Christopher Redmayne (a royalist and architect) and Jonathan Bale (puritan and constable) to find the culprit before an innocent man is executed for a crime he didn’t commit.

“The Painted Lady”, is the sixth, and sadly, last of the Christopher Redmayne novels by Edward Marston. He switched to doing only his railway crime novels after this one.

Which is a massive disappointment as Christopher Redmayne and Jonathan Bale are the most delightful and unlikely crime fighting duo since Randall and Hopkirk (deceased).

Full of glorious restoration period detail and wonderfully colourful characters, including Christopher’s dissolute brother Henry. “The Painted Lady” is a glorious high note to the series.

I still want more. 😦

The Adventure of the Deadly Dimensions

8 Oct

A thoroughly rolicing read as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson take on the Order of Dagon, which is masquerading as a Druidic religion written by Lois H. Gresh..

Involving as it does Elder Gods, Druidic themes, opera, living machines, it is surprising just how well Ms Gresh has managed to meld the worlds of Doyle and Lovecraft.

Holmes first gets involved when a distraught man comes to him after the machine that his father created killed his father. It becomes increasingly obivous to everyone except Holmes that the machine is a living creature. Can they stop it before it kills again and again and again?

The scene shifts mostly between London and Avebury. With a truly revolting scene inside West Kennett Long Barrow. Be warned. This scene could easily make you lose your lunch!

This is the first of a trilogy, so am really looking forward to the second book which is released next year.

Highly recommended.

The Furthest Station

2 Oct

Weird bollocks is happening on the Metropolitan Underground line. People are being harrassed by ghosts of people past. Peter Grant, Thomas Nightingale, Abigail Kamara, and Jaget Kumar sally forth to de-weird the bollocks.

Thus is the offering “The Furthest Station” by Ben Aaronovitch, the latest in the Rivers of London series.

This novella is delightful and funny. It gives us an update on Abigail’s progress at the Folly, and also gives us some lovely backstory for Jaget.

I am old enough to remember when books of this length were called novels, not novellas, so I wasn’t worried by the length. I have seen some complaints it was too short. It’s a nice way occupy yourself for an hour or so.

Ben has given us somethings to look forward to in future works in a nice, self contained package.

My favourite book of 2017 so far.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

3 Sep

I spent the weekend reading “TheStrange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss.

Mary Jekyll’s mother has just died, leaving her poor. She discovers that her mother has been supporting a young girl, Diana Hyde.

Mary begins a quest, with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, to discover what actually happened to her father, Dr Henry Jekyll, and his association with the Society of Alchemists (I’ve anglicized it. My French isn’t up to it).

Throw in a series of murders in Whitechapel, and the daughters of other society members. such as Moreau and Frankenstein, and you have a marvellous romp of a story.

The book caught my eye when Charles Prepolec was reading it, and he liked it, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I WANT MORE!

Mail Obsession

14 Aug

The best way to describe “Mail Obsession” by Mark Mason is that it is odd.

Mark Mason looked at Britain’s 124 postcodes and decided to visit as many as possible and relay interesting facts about them.

For me the most interesting fact was learning how the postcodes work. This year in London I stayed in a hotel next door to the one I’d stayed in last year. They had different postcodes. I discovered that the first half of the code is the area, the second the property. So quite literally every building in Britain has a different postcode!

Some of the facts were odd, some amusing, some triggered WTF moments.

If you like travel and trivia, this book is for you.

Highly recommended.

Chosen

1 Aug

“Chosen,” the 4th Alex Verus book by Benedict Jacka is better than the third. It held me as well as the first two did.

In this one, Alex’s past is about to come back and bite him on the arse, big time, and it does so in the form of the Nightstalkers, a group of adepts motivated to take out dark mages because the sister of one was killed by Alex’s former master. Naturally, they don’t believe Alex has changed.

This book was interesting in that it showed how some people are incapable of changing their minds even when the facts are being rubbed into their face.

Alex has grown and changed. He is not the youth who was apprenticed to a dark mage. He is an independent mage who would, frankly, rather just be left alone.

The Light Council appears on the periphery, and with every passing book looks more and more unappealing and unpleasant. One thing this series does is show that the lines between light and dark are not distinct.

Highly recommended.

The Third Nero

19 Jul

“The Third Nero” by Lindsey Davis is set shortly after the events of “The Graveyard of the Hesperides”, Flavia is dealing with the fall out from the wedding and a plot upon the Palantine. As the book’s title suggests, someone is posing as Nero…again. But this one is a little more serious. This one holds a traitor at the heart of Domitian’s bureacracy.

“The Third Nero” fairly bounces along. As per usual some of Flavia Albia’s family make an appearance. In this case her cousins Marcia Didiia, and Marius. Also making an appearance is the exotic dancer/assassin Perella.

A nicely plotted little yarn which is vintage Lindsey Davis.

Highly recommended.

Fated

9 Jul

“Fated” by Benedict Jacka, was recommended to me by Carol on Goodreads, as she knows I love Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series.

In “Fated” Alex Verus is a wizard. A diviner who can see all the threads of the immediate future and work out the best one to use. A relic has been found, and it may contain an artefact of great power. A selection of wizards, all of them not very nice, regardless of their chosen path, all want Alex to figure out how to access it.

So far, so fantasy. Where “Fated” differs is that, unlike a lot of fantasy novels, dark and light are not clearly delinated. In this world there really isn’t much to chose between either side. Most of the wizards are a despicable bunch of outright wankers.

The pace is fast and furious. I sat down to have a look at it to decide if I actually did want to read it, and was hooked by page 3. There’s a nice little Harry Dresden/Jim Butcher joke on page 3 by the way. See if you can spot it.

I like Benedict’s portrayal of Camden, where Alex lives in London. A lot of people view it as all ‘peace, love, and mung beans’. Benedict’s portrayal has a more gritty vibe. More ‘ peace, love, and hand us your wallet and no-one has to get hurt.’.

This is a rare 5 star review from me. And I’ve already reserved book two from my library.

Dunstan

13 Jun

“Dunstan” by Conn Iggulden is a stand alone novel in the autobiographical novel category. The Dunstan in question is Saint Dunstan, builder of both Glastonbury Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, and spiritual advisor to several early English/Wessex kings.

Iggulden interprets some events from the life of Dunstan in very interesting ways!

His Dunstan is far from a saint – being a bully, a liar, a cheat, and a murderer. Given the time he lived in, this is quite probably more accurate than an hagiography could manage.

A rambunctious romp through Dark Age Britain leaving piles of bodies in its wake.

In a word: Fun.

Highly recommended.

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