Dead Man’s Time by Peter James

 

Description: New York, 1922. Five-year-old Gavin Daly and his seven-year-old sister, Aileen, are boarding the SS Mauretania to Dublin—and safety. Their mother has been shot and their Irish mobster father abducted. Suddenly, a messenger hands Gavin a piece of paper on which are written four names and eleven numbers, a cryptic message that will haunt him all his life, and his father’s pocket watch. As the ship sails, Gavin watches Manhattan fade into the dusk and makes a promise, that one day he will return and find his father.

Brighton, 2012. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a savage burglary in Brighton, in which an old lady is murdered and £10m of antiques have been taken, including a rare vintage watch. To Grace’s surprise, the antiques are unimportant to her family—it is the watch they want back. As his investigation probes deeper, he realizes he has kicked over a hornets nest of new and ancient hatreds. At its heart is one man, Gavin Daly, the dead woman’s ninety-five-year-old brother. He has a score to settle and a promise to keep—both of which lead to a murderous trail linking the antiques world of Brighton, the crime fraternity of Spain’s Marbella, and New York.

Dedication: FOR PAT LANIGAN
This book would never have happened without your generosity in sharing your family history with me

Opening: Brooklyn, February 1922
The boy’s father kissed him goodnight for the last time – although neither of them knew that.
The boy never went to sleep until he had had that kiss. Every night, late, long after he had gone to bed, he would lie waiting in the darkness, until he heard the door of his room open, and saw the light flood in from the landing. Then the shadowy figure and the sound of his father’s heavy footsteps across the bare boards. ‘Hey, little guy, you still awake?’ he would say in his low, booming voice.

I so love the casting here, especially Glenn, and the over-arching storyline of their personal lives. We are still waiting for a resolution over Sandi, and each book I wonder: ‘will this be the one where we get to know her fate?’

Because I love these characters, so much so that I like to point out things that seem slightly out of step with how I perceive the set-up:

Okay, here’s the thing: Cleo, in the view I have had built up for me by Peter James would not be reading Fifty Shades of Grey, now would she.

Oh! look at this: R.M.S Mauretania

Best line: ‘exuded all the personality of an unplugged fridge’

Disputing the ease of location 100/433: If you want a telegram from the Queen on your 100th birthday, be prepared for a frightful slog”

The music:
BEETHOVEN.ODE TO JOY
Dr. Hook – The Millionaire
Marla Glen – The Cost Of Freedom

4* Dead Simple (Roy Grace, #1)
4* Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace, #2)
4* Not Dead Enough (Roy Grace, #3)
4* Dead Man’s Footsteps (Roy Grace, #4)
4* Dead Tomorrow (Roy Grace, #5)
3* Dead Like You (Roy Grace, #6)
3* Dead Man’s Grip (Roy Grace, #7)
3* Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace, #8)
4* Dead Man’s Time (Roy Grace, #9)

Research by Philip Kerr

 

Quercus Books

Dedication:

For Harry Armfield

Description: If you want to write a murder mystery, you have to do some research… In a luxury flat in Monaco, John Houston’s supermodel wife lies in bed, a bullet in her skull. Houston is the world’s most successful novelist, the playboy head of a literary empire that produces far more books than he could ever actually write. Now the man who has invented hundreds of best-selling killings is wanted for a real murder and on the run from the police, his life transformed into something out of one of his books. And in London, the ghostwriter who is really behind those books has some questions for him too…

Opening: It was the American novelist William Faulkner who once said that in writing you must kill all your darlings; it was Mike Munns – another writer, but like me, not half as good as Faulkner – who made a joke out of this quote when he telephoned my flat in Putney that Tuesday morning.

Ironical it is that this story is published ~ nine months after Prayer. The blurb for ‘Research’ includes this: a book factory publishing many bestsellers a year – so many that he can’t possibly write them himself. Heh.

‘Research’ is a standalone book with unsympathetic, two-dimensional characters and the ugliest cynicism towards the written word and mentality of readers I have ever encountered. I can’t work out if it is full-on satire or just partial but the outcome is the same, readers will be insulted.

Every behaviour has its impact.

Mainly this is an attack on all those combo authorships of test-tosh thrillers that churn out many books a year, yet Kerr is in his own firing line, two crap books in a year.

I took time out half way through just to pick up other stories to reassure myself that some authors still feel passionate about writing and care for their readers; what a breath of fresh air.

Although technically this is marginally a better book than ‘Prayer’ purely because it doesn’t bring Old Scratch out to play, ‘Research’ flat-lined out of any enjoyment factor. There wasn’t enough good stuff to make a feedback sandwich so I’ll just deliver the line: cynicism, snark, distain for readers, and authorial career suicide is not a pretty thing to witness.

3.5* March Violets (Bernard Gunther, #1)
3.5* The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther, #2)
3.5* A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther, #3)
3.5* A Quiet Flame (Bernard Gunther, #5)
1* Prayer
1* Research

Bad Boy by Peter Robinson

 

Description: Banks’ old neighbour Juliet Doyle comes to tell him that found a gun, wrapped up, in her daughter Erin’s bedroom. Helen leads a raid on the house, resulting in Erin’s father Peter being tasered and ending up in hospital. Consequently Annie is asked to head an investigation into Helen’s decision. Erin tells the police she was given a parcel, unaware that it contained a gun, by older boy-friend Jaff Kitson. The gun was used to kill DJ Richard Martin and Banks makes a connection with villainous local businessman Al Jenkins. However Jenkins tells him that he sacked Kitson before the murder. A further interview with Erin reveals that Banks’ daughter Tracy has left town with Kitson – and she has told him that her father is a policeman.

Suspenseful episode. Two Smith and Wessons, and one and a half heart-attack inducing tasers.

3* Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
3* A Dedicated Man (Inspector Banks, #2)
3* A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)
TR The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
TR Past Reason Hated (Inspector Banks, #5)
3* Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks, #6)
3* Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
3* Innocent Graves (Inspector Banks, #8)
TR Blood At The Root (Inspector Banks, #9)
TR In A Dry Season (Inspector Banks, #10)
3* Cold Is The Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
4* Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
TR Close To Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
3* Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
3* Strange Affair (Inspector Banks, #15)
3* Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
3.5* Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

The Twilight Hour by Nicci Gerrard

 

Description: Eleanor Lee is fiercely independent. She has lived alone well into her nineties, despite her now near-total blindness. Now, finally, she has been persuaded by her children to move into a home.

She employs Peter, a recent graduate nursing a broken heart, to spend the summer sorting through her attic – papers, photographs, books and letters – ahead of the move.

These fragments of her own history unleash in Eleanor a long-concealed story of forbidden love, betrayal, passion, grief and self-sacrifice; and in their unlikely friendship, something is unlocked in Peter’s heart, too.

Fell in love with this from the very start and knew unless something drastic happened to radically alter the feeling, this would be a five star encounter. I was getting the same the same buzz that I had when reading The Thirteenth Tale.

The Twilight Hour is not a mystery. This standalone from one half of the successful Nicci French authorship has given a throughly intriguing story here, a life-sized slice of skeletons in the family cupboard, so the fizzled-out ending was really hard to take. There were no ends left untied, no threads hanging but no big finale either, and this screamed for a grandiose gesture.

Three and a half memory-burning bonfires.

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder

 

Read by Danika Fairman

Description: In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited and East Germany ceased to exist. In this book, Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany, including the story of Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III.

Read her two books the wrong way around. This non-fiction is superbly written, and she really does have stories that need relating to help us understand DDR because let’s face it, no matter how many time the history is read the subject remains hard to get one’s head around.

DDR was a paranoid place and awful things happened to ordinary people and Funder has pinned the subject matter smack, bang to the , erm, wall.

I mentioned that I read her books the wrong way around – ‘All that I Am’, a novel based on factual events, did not resound so well, maybe I am just a non-fiction kind of girl at heart.

Astounding read worth five checkpoint-charlies even though there are some flaws.

Surfy Googling yields some interesting piccies:

Alexanderplatz. We stayed in the Hotel up those stairs on the left, and that square was full of Christmas market. How it looks today:

Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1) by Robert McCammon

 

Description: The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies – and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel’s innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal….
Evil Unveiled
After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel – and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.

4* Gone South
CR Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)

Somewhere down below there is a comment that this was written by a mid-life crisis guy who wasn’t having his bedroom needs resolved. Probably nearer the truth than said author would care to acknowledge. You can’t get away from the fact that this is written purely from a male POV, and some of it right from the playground and it would fail the Bechdel test in fine style.

However.

This was an eye-scorcher of epic proportions that at times felt rather long-winded and at other points I was breathless with anticipation. Quite the nail-biting period-piece murder-mystery.

Supernatural? No.

Horror? Hell no.

Just a riveting story that could have been a five star if McCammon shown more style, and have dropped a couple of scenes that were graphic and pointless.

Four Spanish coins from the belly of a turtle.

The Third Lie by Ágota Kristof, Marc Romano (Translator)

bookshelves: spring-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, series, translation, nutty-nuut, e-book, lit-richer, mental-health, medical-eew, ouch, dodgy-narrator, adventure, betrayal, eye-scorcher, families, hungary, incest-agameforallthefamily, lifestyles-deathstyles, metaphor-parable, period-piece, psychology, published-1991, revolution, suicide, under-500-ratings

Read from April 02 to 03, 2014

 

Translated by Marc Roma.

Opening: I am in prison in the small town of my childhood.
It’s not a real prison but a cell in the basement of the local police station, a building no different from the rest of the buildings in town. It too is a single-storied house.

She says, “Yes. There are lives sadder than the saddest of books.”
I say, “Yes. No book, no matter how sad, can be as sad as a life.”

This is the book where all is tied up and circumstances appear even gloomier because we were treated to a few strands of illumination in Book Two – The Proof. The lies we tell ourselves and others just to make life seem a little more bearable is never worth the cost extracted from sanity.

5* The Notebook
5* The Proof
4* The Third Lie

Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters

bookshelves: film-only, published-1995, spring-2014, biography, cambridgeshire, britain-england, nonfiction, washyourmouthout-language, amusing, betrayal, bullies, casual-violence, gulp, lifestyles-deathstyles, medical-eew, newtome-author, ouch, recreational-drugs, sleazy, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, suicide, tbr-busting-2014, tragedy

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: MBP
Read on May 03, 2014

 

Description: In this extraordinary book, Alexander Masters has created a moving portrait of a troubled man, an unlikely friendship, and a desperate world few ever see. A gripping who-done-it journey back in time, it begins with Masters meeting a drunken Stuart lying on a sidewalk in Cambridge, England, and leads through layers of hell…back through crimes and misdemeanors, prison and homelessness, suicide attempts, violence, drugs, juvenile halls and special schools–to expose the smiling, gregarious thirteen-year-old boy who was Stuart before his long, sprawling, dangerous fall.

Shocking, inspiring, and hilarious by turns, Stuart: A Life Backwards is a writer’s quest to give voice to a man who, beneath his forbidding exterior, has a message for us all: that every life–even the most chaotic and disreputable–is a story worthy of being told.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the author, Alexander Masters.

The Music: You’re Gorgeous – Babybird

Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum

The Style Council – Head Start for Happiness

cliff richard sings Here Comes Summer

The Jam ~ Eton Rifles

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

    Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan
    Sean Harris as Joss Merlyn
    Shirley Henderson as Hannah Davey
    Joanne Whalley as Patience Merlyn
    Matthew McNulty as Jem Merlyn
    Ben Daniels as Francis Davey
    Andrew Scarborough as Magistrate Bassat
    Danny Miller as William
    Scarlett Archer as Beth

Production details: Filming began in September 2013 in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria. It was originally decided that the series would be filmed in Northern Ireland. The BBC was criticised for filming in Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, as opposed to a location in Cornwall. An investment from Screen Yorkshire was provided for the series. The three-part series was commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen, both from the BBC.

Episode 1: (the mumbling one) Orphaned Mary Yellan travels to the remote Jamaica Inn to live with her Aunt Patience and brutal Uncle Joss. Isolated and alone, Mary must learn to navigate the perils of the smugglers’ world and her dangerous desire for Jem Merlyn.

Episode 2:

BBC receives over 100 complaints for episode one

The story itself remains a 3.75* read, however this TV miniseries is atrocious and I could not possibly recommend it.

Forbush and the Penguins

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, antarctica, published-1965, zoology, under-20, sciences, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, debut

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Charles
Read from April 16 to 24, 2014

 

Description: ‘Forbush and the Penguins’ is the story of a young man on a solitary mission in Antarctica who finds the challenge of being “the only man in the world” as enriching as it is terrifying.

The main man is hunting down the film whilst I hunt for book bargains. Thanks Charles, this definitely looks right up my alley/down my street.

HUZZAH – found a ‘v. good condition’ one-penny-wonder

Dedication: FOR LYNDSEY

Opening: When the helicopter had gone and its sound was no more than a minute concussion of the air on the eardrums Forbush stood in the centre of the ring of stones to look up at the smoking mountain, Erebus, and ask for a safe conduct through the summer. In return he pledged truthfulness, the will to try.

The pages are sepia coloured but clean and barely opened, so my guess is that this has stood on a shelf since 1965.

Shackleton’s motor car

Mount Erebus

The Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence.

Hayley Mills with John Hurt, set before the antarctic journey

“Mr Forbush and the Penguins”

The Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), also called the Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand, Tasmania, across most of mainland Australia and in Timor, southern New Guinea and nearby islands. This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent’s most widely distributed and common owl.

The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, most of which – including mopoke, morepork, ruru and boobook itself – are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird’s distinctive two-pitched call.

MacCormick’s Skua

sea leopard

seal