The Man of Gold by H.R.F. Keating , Evelyn Hervey

Description: Harriet Unwin, that prim, proper Victorian nanny who first captivated mystery fans in The GOVERNESS, is back once again, this time trying to save her new employee from going to the gallows for poisoning his wicked, miserly, and mean-spirited father.

To Scotland Yard, it’s an open-and-shut case: at age thirty, the widowed Riochard Partington just finally gets sick of living like a pauper while knowing that the income from his father’s pin factory is more than enough for him and his twin daughters to live a life of luxury. So, according to police theories, the dastardly, money-hungry son begins spiking his father’s food and drink with small dashes of arsenic until the old man finally keels over and dies.

But Harriet Unwin is equally convinced the police are shutting the case on the wrong man.

Read by Sheila Mitchell. H R F Keating writing as Evelyn Hervey

Keating does a good line in short, fun mysteries which are simply perfect as background to real life.


Harriet Unwin Series:
3* The Governess
3* The Man of Gold
TR Into the Valley of Death

2* Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade (Inspector Ghote, #2)
3* The Murder of the Maharajah (Inspector Ghote, #12)
2* Inspector Ghote’s First Case (Inspector Ghote, #25)

On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring by William Souder

Description: Published on the fiftieth anniversary of her seminal book, Silent Spring, here is an indelible new portrait of Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movementShe loved the ocean and wrote three books about its mysteries, including the international bestseller The Sea Around Us. But it was with her fourth book, Silent Spring, that this unassuming biologist transformed our relationship with the natural world.

Rachel Carson began work on Silent Spring in the late 1950s, when a dizzying array of synthetic pesticides had come into use. Leading this chemical onslaught was the insecticide DDT, whose inventor had won a Nobel Prize for its discovery. Effective against crop pests as well as insects that transmitted human diseases such as typhus and malaria, DDT had at first appeared safe. But as its use expanded, alarming reports surfaced of collateral damage to fish, birds, and other wildlife. Silent Spring was a chilling indictment of DDT and its effects, which were lasting, widespread, and lethal.

Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action-despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. By drawing frightening parallels between dangerous chemicals and the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing, Carson opened a fault line between the gentle ideal of conservation and the more urgent new concept of environmentalism.

Elegantly written and meticulously researched, On a Farther Shore reveals a shy yet passionate woman more at home in the natural world than in the literary one that embraced her. William Souder also writes sensitively of Carson’s romantic friendship with Dorothy Freeman, and of her death from cancer in 1964. This extraordinary new biography captures the essence of one of the great reformers of the twentieth century.

Read by David Drummond

Turned down ‘Silent Spring’ and chose this instead given a lot of stuff can happen in fifty-two years. Turns out it is a wise choice as we get the gist of the initial New Yorker entries and informed about the fallout in the community concerning the issues. You get a lot of information for your money here – fascinating and recommended.

Carson’s education included creationism and eugenics eek.

22:04:2015: Earth Day was a good day to crack this one open.

The Castles of Edward I in Wales 1277-1307 by Christopher Gravett

bookshelves: spring-2015, architecture, britain-wales, caernafon, history, published-2007, under-10-ratings, giftee, military-manoeuvres, skim-through, reference

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Mimal
Read from April 21 to 22, 2015

Description: In 1277 Edward I gathered a huge army and marched into Wales to subdue the rebel Welsh princes who continued to raid and pillage English controlled areas of Wales, and even England itself. A key part of his strategy of subjugating and colonizing the Welsh was to erect a castle at every point where his army rested, to provide permanent bases for English garrisons and a visual reminder of English power.

This title takes a detailed look at the design, development and principles of defense of the Edwardian Welsh castles, documenting daily life within their walls and the historical events that took place around them. Looking at key sites such as Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Conwy it highlights the varied castle designs ranging from fortifications based on French models to the defenses inspired by Constantinople, illustrated with eight pages of full colour illustrations and cutaway artwork. Chris Gravett provides a clear explanation of why the castles were there, who lived in them and how they were built – crucial reading for anyone interested in some of the most romantic and militarily effective buildings ever created

Opening: The castles built by Edward I in Wales rank amongst the finest military structures in Europe. As the English king determined to stamp his authority on the province that refused to yield quietly, he directed the building of enormous structures that were as much a statement of power as they were defences

Lovely addition to the reference library, especially useful for checking facts in historical fiction.

Despite their size and cost, Edward’s castles rose with commendable speed.
Flint took eight and a half years (1277-86);
Harlech took seven and a half years (1283-90);
Builth took five and a half (1277-82);
Conwy took five years (1283-87);
Rhuddlan took four and a half (1277-82);
and Caernarfon (1283-c.1330)
and Beaumaris (1295-c.1330) took longer, though by February 1296 Beaumaris had inner curtain wall; at least 6.1m (20ft) high and in some
places 8.4m (28ft).

A Haunting by William Boyd

bookshelves: radio-4x, published-2000, spring-2015, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, boo-scary, under-10-ratings, play-dramatisation

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 16 to 22, 2015

Description: A landscape architect finds himself taken over by an unseen presence and is forced to make a strange drawing which he does not recognise. He then starts to act out of character. With John Sessions, Liam Brennan, Crawford Logan and Eliza Langland. Directed by Dave Batchelor.

3* A Haunting
4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart
4* Brazzaville Beach
2* Solo
3* Armadillo

Innkeeping with Murder by Tim Myers

Description: Tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Hatteras West Inn and Lighthouse. Innkeeper Alex Winston watches over the cozy getaway, and guests count on him to take care of everything from basic repairs to breakfast. But he also has to take care of the occasional murder case, too.When a visitor is found dead at the top of the lighthouse, Alex must solve the mystery and capture the culprit before the next guest checks out.

Opening: “Alex, we’ve got a problem.”At the sound of the maid’s voice, Alex Winston jerked his head up, cracking his skull on the steel pipe placed treacherously just above the opening of the furnace he’d been working on. Alex had been crouched in an awkward position staring at the mysterious workings of the inn’s antique boiler, trying unsuccessfully to figure out what was wrong with the blasted thing this time.

Very short and fluffy. Perfect as an inbetweenie, the lighthouse in the rockies is a fab setting. May or may not read another.

Fate Is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann

bookshelves: spring-2015, autobiography-memoir, published-1961, trains-planes-automobiles, film-only, wwii, crash-forensics, philosophy

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from March 06 to April 22, 2015

Description: Ernest K. Gann’s classic memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying was anything but routine.…

Fate and destiny are bottom line answers to every precarious situation in Gann’s near-autobiography and philosophically speaking, that really ain’t my bag. Apart from that, it is a white-knuckle ride through the early days of commercial airlines.

The ‘why me’ and ‘lucked-out’s became palling.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Read by His Nibs himself.

Description: “Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.Everything AND the kitchen sink in this one. Even though I was late to this particular house party, the praise I mentally lavish on ‘At Home’ will make up for this tardiness.

The Smile by Ray Bradbury

bookshelves: spring-2015, radio-4x, published-1991, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, under-50-ratings, sci-fi, lit-richer

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on April 22, 2015…

Description: 4 Extra Debut. In a post-apocalyptic city, any semblance of past beauty is viewed with derision. Read by Peter Whitman.

I found a better synopsis: The main character of this story is Tom, a little boy who joins a group of people who are quering in front of a museum to spit on an oil painting belonging to the past, called the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. People live a hard, difficult life and hate every aspect of the past of the past civilization which caused the nuclear war to break out destroyed their lawful haritage of progress and welfare. Tom is curious and he is quering up to see the portrait because they say it smiles. Tom likes going to festivals where remnants of the past are destroyed, concerning art, science, culture, and technology, but he is not so enraged with hate as the others are. When Tom sees the painting he finds the woman beautiful and he cannot take his eyes away from her smile. Suddenly, the people start destroying the painting and rip it into small pieces of canvas, behaving in a beastly, violent and wild manner. Tom gets a piece of canvas: the Mona Lisa’s smile to preserve it from destruction. It was beautiful, warm and gentle and it produced in Tom feelings of affection, beauty and quietness. The smile is personified because it’s the only expression of humanity in Tom’s life. Source

Almost prophetic in nature – isn’t the destruction of the past exactly what those terrorists are doing today?

Vampyre Man by Joseph O’Connor

bookshelves: spring-2015, radio-3, books-about-books-and-book-shops, art-forms, lit-richer, play-dramatisation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on April 21, 2015

Description: Joseph O’Connor drama about the close collaboration and intense friendship between Bram Stoker and the famous Shakespearean actor Henry Irving. Under Irving’s reckless tutelage, the young Irish accountant struggled to keep the theatre afloat. Irving’s demands were indomitable and over the years Stoker endured the actor’s outrageous whims and acerbic tongue. And yet, Stoker remained mesmerised by him, absorbing his traits and suffering his humiliations all the while letting him grow in his imagination until he was ready to release him into the world as Count Dracula.

Joseph O’Connor is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls, Ghost Light and The Thrill of it All. He has also written radio diaries, film scripts and stage-plays including the multiple award-winning Red Roses and Petrol and an acclaimed adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel My Cousin Rachel. He received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012.

Bram Stoker Darragh Kelly
Henry Irving Anton Lesser
Ellen Terry Amanda Redman
Florence Eva Birthistle
Harker Patrick FitzSymons
Detective Dan Gordon
Actor Peter Ballance
Writer Joseph O’Connor
Director Stephen Wright
Producer Jenny Thompson
Producer Gemma McMullan

Excellent. This makes for squirmable listening; Vampyre Man is hard hitting and I need to look more closely at Joseph O’Connor, so far I have only encountered him in ‘Yeats Is Dead’.

Barnsdale Wake by David Buck

bookshelves: published-1983, spring-2015, adventure, forest, fradio, historical-fiction, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, under-10-ratings, music, mythology, medieval5c-16c, plantagenet-1154-1485

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 20 to 21, 2015

Description: 4 Extra Debut. King Richard I hears ballad singers recall tales of Robin Hood. Will he be able to capture a legend? Stars Bernard Hill.

Battle of the Balladeers. Great fun.