Tag Archives: London

Dodger

4 Jul

“Dodger” by James Benmore takes us into the adult life of Charles Dickens’s immortal character.

Jack Dawkins aka The Artful Dodger is back in London after having been transported to Australia for seven years. With a pardon signed by a dodgy, and more than a little insane, aristocrat, Dodger is a man with a mission: find the Jackapoor stone and return it to the aristocrat…otherwise Dodger is going to end up dead.

The story is a delicious romp through 19th century London. Murder, mayhem, and a reunion of sorts with Fagin’s other “boys”.

It was nice to see the inclusion of an Australian aboriginal character. Warrigal, known as Peter Cole, to the English, is a nicely balanced, very human character. So much so, that I really want to see this character get his own book. I really want to learn more about Warrigal.

The plot is fast paced and with enough twists and turns to make you stop and go Whoah!

I think Charles Dickens would be very proud to see Jack Dawkins all grown up.

Fabulous book. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to bet my hands on the other books in the series

Strange Practice

21 Aug

In “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw we meet Dr Greta Helsing, doctor to the supernatural community of London.

Someone has revived an ancient cult that murders supernatural creatures, but now, as well as vampires, they are also turning their attention to anyone they consider evil.

They attack Sir Francis Varney who managed to get to the safety of the home of Lord Ruthven, who immediately calls upon Dr Greta Helsing for aid. From this point, it becames a race to identify and stop the cult before London is destroyed.

Yup, that’s Varney the Vampire of the penny dreadfuls, and Dr John Polidori’s infamous Lord Ruthven. Both are actually rather sweet.

This is a fantastic book. Well plotted and extremely well written. Vivian Shaw has a turn of phrase that is delightful. Her description of vampires as sanguivores is delicious.

There are lots of delightful moments. The notorious case of the Vampire of Croglin Low Hall even gets a mention.

An excellent addition to the range of urban/dark fantasy genre.

Highly recommended.

Miss Christie Regrets

30 Jan

The crime team from Hampstead nick are back with a second interesting adventure in Guy Fraser-Sampson’s “Miss Christie Regrets”.

There is a murder in Burgh House in Hampstead, and around the same time a body is found stuffed in a cabin trunk in a walled off room in a nearby block of flats. This body however, isn’t fresh, but from prior to WW2. There can be no connection between the two cases. Can there?

Of course there can!

And off goes a wonderful romp through one of my favourite parts of London.

The plot is deliciously intricate, with a gorgeous woven seam of Cold War paranoia wound in that would delight John le Carre. Letters from Dame Agatha Christie herself add a touch of old world glamour to the plot.

“Miss Christie Regrets” is an excellent read, and builds nicely onto the foundations that the first book, “Death in Profile” erected.

Guy Fraser-Sampson writes wonderful stories that manage to meld the Golden Age of detective fiction with modern world police procedurals. If you haven’t read the series, do yourself a favour and track the books down.

Superb.

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.

Jack the Ripper Museum

22 May

I’ve just got back from another mind blowing trip to London.

If you get to go, and have some interest in the subject, may I recommend to you the Jack the Ripper Museum at 12 Cable Street in London’s East End?

Opened in 2015, the sometimes controversial museum looks at the Ripper killings, but with emphasis on the women, NOT the killer.

Some of the exhibits came from the family of Police Constable Watkins, the man who found Catherine Eddowes body.  And the first exhibit you will see is a reconstruction of that event.

There is a reconstruction of Mary Jane Kelly’s bedroom right at the top of the building.  I freely admit that this room is eerie and both my friend Rebecca and myself felt more than a little odd in that room.

Right in the basement is a reconstruction of a mortuary, complete with post mortem table, body drawers, and stained glass from a local mortuary where the post mortems of some of the victims were carried out.  The stained wooden table sits starkly in the middle of the room, like a physical slap in the face to the sensibilities.

This room feels almost sacred.  a beautiful tribute to the women who were killed is laid around the walls.  With post mortem photographs where available.  This is the human face of inhuman behaviour.

If Ross is on the counter when you leave, make sure you make time to chat with him (if the place isn’t busy).  He is knowledgable, interesting, and fun.  He also has a quite awesome photo on his phone of a ghostly presence photographed there.  Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it is quite something to see.  And possibly haunt your dreams.

If you have the time, pay the extra money, and go on the hour and a half walking tour in the afternoon.  This REALLY brings it home when you get an understanding for the distances and places.  The tour takes you through parts of Whitechapel that are every bit as terrifying as they were in 1888, though possibly much cleaner.

The Jack the Ripper Museum is quite possibly the best specialist museum in London.

 

On Holiday

1 May

Hi guys.

I’m off to London tomorrow for a couple of weeks, so no blog posts from me.

Will be back up and running with more interesting (hopefully) blog posts by the end of May.

Take care. ❤

Shakespeare’s Local

5 Apr

“Shakespeare’s Local” by Pete Brown is a fascinating look at the George Inn in Southwark.

There has been an inn on the site since the 14th Century, and Pete Brown looks at the history of Southwark through the focus of the George.

The George Inn sits next door to the site of the Tabard, with the White Hart next door.  Both famous inns in English history/literature.

This books is rich in history, trivia, and humour.  Pete Brown frequently wanders down byways following odd little thoughts.

If you are interested in Southwark, history, pubs, oh and Shakespeare, this is the book for you.

Highly recommended.

Death in Profile

19 Mar

I find it very hard to resist a crime novel set in London, and when it’s set in one of my favourite parts of London, it’s doubly irresistible.

“Death in Profile” is the first of the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

There is a serial killer stalking London and the case team are working out of Hampstead nick.When Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen is stood down and Detective Superintendent Simon Collison is put in his place, the scene is set for a complex and interesting story.  Especially as the most recent killing just doesn’t seem quite right.  Profiler Peter Collins is brought in to assist and things get interesting.

Guy seamlessly blends a modern police procedural with the Golden Age of detective fiction.

“Death in Profile” is an absorbing and entertaining read.  The characters are all well rounded and believable.  I hope we see more of Collison in future books.

Highly recommended.

Rivers of London: Body Work

13 Feb

“Body Work” is a fantastic graphic novel written by Ben Aaronovitch set in his Rivers of London world.

Miriam Stephanopolous and Sahra Guleed are less than impressed when Peter Grant turns up at the site of a car being hauled out of the Thames.  The last thing they want to deal with is any more “weird bollocks”.  Unfortunately, what they want isn’t what they get.

The discovery of the car and it’s deceased driver starts a fast paced story with extremely Stephen King “Christine” like elements, which at one point involves Peter and Sahra being chased by a pissed off BMW!

The story alternates between being funny and creepy and is a thorough delight.

A word about the graphic part.  Excellent.  The attention to detail is incredible.  One guy is eating a chocolate bar whilst driving.  It’s clearly obvious that it’s a Curly Wurly.  That’s the level of detail.  The artists involved have captured all the characters EXACTLY as I have imagined them, and that is quite a feat.

Cannot recommend “Body Work” highly enough.

Brilliant.

The Hanging Tree

9 Jan

Peter Grant is back in “The Hanging Tree” by Ben Aaronovitch, the 6th of the Rivers of London series.

In “Whispers Underground” Lady Tyburn saved Peter’s life with the understanding that she would be calling in the debt.

She does so – in spades.  Her daughter Olivia is in trouble with the police and Tyburn would like her out of trouble, PDQ.  Poor Peter has to untangle Olivia without getting himself into trouble for corruption, higher ups are becoming more aware of Falcon, the Faceless Man is back, and Leslie is back – with a face!

Like all of the Rivers of London series, “The Hanging Tree” rips along.  You could view this one as the direct sequel to “Whispers Underground”, indeed, several characters from that book make a return appearance.

Ben Aaronvitch writes what I consider quite possibly the best urban fantasy series currently available.  Peter Grant is likeable, quirky, and very well rounded.  As are all the characters.  They have distinct personalities and feel very real.

If you haven’t made the acquaintance of Peter Grant and his friends and enemies, I suggest you do so.

Highly recommended.

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