Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Books 2013 #4 - #9

Since the Kindle arrived chez byrne I have turned some of my nefarious attention away from downloading american crime series and towards downloading books. This means that I recently started reading such titles as "No Cooperation from the Cat" by Marion Babson and "The Chocolate Moose Motive" by Jo Anna Carl not because they were on my wish list but because they were accessible. Shame on me. I read about ten pages of each before coming to my senses - drivel. Fortunately it is not all bad in the epub world and so you'll see one below which I got from the Guttenburg Project as it is out of copyright and was really rather delightful. They have 42,000 free ebooks so I feel a return journey there is definitely in my future.

#4 Death from a Top Hat
Clayton Rawson

Sadly out of print but available either as an ebook or, as I received this one, as an audiobook. The reader was Gregory Gawton who has a good voice for this sort of thing and brings the characters to life. This is the first in the series which book 56 from last year is part of. These stories are complicated so you need to pay attention but it is worth it. I love the former magician who now runs a shop and helps the police solve these crimes. The solution to this one is a little unfair but that hasn't discouraged me from procuring the next in the series. They are set in the early part of the 20th century and describe a calmer side of american life than we often get. I guess in terms of genre this is almost a 'cosy' but isn't as homely as that. 

#5 Die Laughing
Carola Dunn
As you might have guessed from the lurid cover, this involves a dentist but this need not put any odontophobes off as apart from mentioning his profession there isn't much further discussion of drills (eek) or other elements of their macabre arts. These books are definitely cosy's. Daisy, for it is she, is now married to Alec and sharing the house with her disapproving mother-in-law. Much to her husband's annoyance Daisy finds her dentist deaded and is asked by the widow to get involved in uncovering the truth. This particular book was from the Library - but it is a ebook. Borrowing ebooks from the Library. How awesome is that? I'm very happy about it. And anything else that makes me less of a criminal. 

#6 Hilda Hopkins: Murder She Knit
Vivienne Fagan
You all know that I am big fan of JB. So when I saw a free kindle book on Amazon that linked my Fletcher love with my knitting love I was in like Flint. This is more of a novelette than a full blown book but it's actually rather funny. I feel sure we all know someone like Hilda, who kills her lodgers but then knits 18" dolls that resemble them to ensure they are not completely forgotten. Her evading capture by lurking in a charity shop gave me ideas for when I eventually have to live the life of a fugitive and her eventual taking by the police os clearly a scene written by a knitter. OK - it is machine knitting - but that still counts. The rest of the series are an ungodly £1.27 or so each but I dare say I might be getting a couple in time for my holiday to France. 

#7 Glimpses of the Moon
Edmund Crispin
Not to be confused with the Edith Wharton novel of the same name, this is really charming. Gervase Fen is another hero of mine and featured in the books I read in 2012 but this was an audiobook and something I loved coming back to (I have read it before several times). The voluntarily bed-ridden pub landlord with his happy wife, the cavalry major with his distrust of horses, the vicar with his...everything, the tortoise, the pig's head, the's all vintage genius. This is late in the series and I've read complaints that Gervase has gone soft in this one but I think he's entirely in character still - just getting on a bit and taking it easy in an english village during the summer. I wouldn't suggest this as a way to start Crispin's ouevre but if you have read Swan Song or another one and liked it you'll enjoy this too. 

#8 The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade
MJ Trow
Awful cover but interesting book. A series of murders follow a children's story book. But that's not the core here - the point is that Lestrade is the much besmirched policeman in the Sherlock Holmes books and here he is as our leading man with both Watson and Holmes coming into the story as side characters and around whom fiction blends with reality. This is one of Liz's recommendations and another audiobook. I found myself intrigued and thinking about the story in between listening to it so I've happily downloaded the next book and will continue to listen with interest. 

#9 That Affair Next Door
Anna Katherine Green
Published in 1896 so well out of copyright and available free and pre-kindle formatted or through the Guttenburgers. This started a little frostily as I was relating the protagonist to someone who I am currently finding very annoying. But once I got over that I really got into this. A very proper lady of the period clearly spends a lot of time thinking about how correct she is and how incorrect others are. She happens to see a man and woman entering the house opposite hers late at night. Improper! She goes over the next morning to see what's what and finds the body of a dead young woman. The plot thickens to the consistency of treacle and doesn't clear until pretty late on. The solution isn't new - but then it probably was when this was written - but it is clever and well written and well worth a read. This is the first in a series so I will, and I seem to have said this a lot, be reading others when I get hold of them. 

Now for some knitting on that scrotum.

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