Prayer by Philip Kerr

 

Quercus Books

Description: A chilling modern horror story in which the source of the horror is totally unexpected – and utterly terrifying

Special Agent Gil Martins investigates domestic terrorism for the Houston FBI. Once a religious man, now his job makes him question the existence of a God who could allow the violence he sees every day.

Gil is asked to investigate a series of unexplained deaths of victims known for their liberal views.

When a woman tells Gil that these men have been killed by prayer, he questions her sanity. Yet the evidence mounts that there might be something in what she says, even more so when Gil finds that his own life is on the line.

This standalone is experimental for Kerr, where he invokes the devil to come out to play. Yep, Old Scratch hisself. RAWR. I feel Kerr has sadly mis-fired here and may have lost some of his fan-base.

Next up on my TBR is Kerr’s new one, Research, and I am now slightly nervous about just what the author of the fabulous Bernard Gunther stories is going to throw at me. But each book on its own merit, yes?

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
TR Research

The Dark Tower by Louis MacNiece

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d0vt4

Description: Poetic drama starring Richard Burton as Roland, tasked with following in his brother’s fatal footsteps and seeking out a terror that looms in the Dark Tower.

Written and produced by Louis MacNiece (1907-1963), the poet who worked for the BBC from 1940, creating a series of remarkable radio features. The Dark Tower was his most famous work, first heard on the Home Service in 1946 and produced again in 1956. The music for this programme was specially composed by Benjamin Britten.

The work was an allegory concerning fate and free will – the title taken from the Robert Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (which itself was taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear, where Edgar proclaims ‘Child Rowland to the dark tower came; / His word was still Fie, foh, and fum! / I smell the blood of a British man.’)

First broadcast on the BBC Home Service 14th May 1956.

From Wiki: Frederick Louis MacNeice CBE (12 September 1907 – 3 September 1963) was an Irish poet and playwright. He was part of the generation of “thirties poets” that included W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis, nicknamed “MacSpaunday” as a group — a name invented by Roy Campbell, in his Talking Bronco (1946). His body of work was widely appreciated by the public during his lifetime, due in part to his relaxed, but socially and emotionally aware style. Never as overtly (or simplistically) political as some of his contemporaries, his work shows a humane opposition to totalitarianism as well as an acute awareness of his Irish roots.

The Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler

 

Description: Two small children are playing a game called ‘Witch-Hunter’. They place a curse on a young woman taking lunch in a church courtyard and wait for her to die. An hour later the woman is indeed found dead inside St Bride’s Church – a building that no-one else has entered. Unfortunately Bryant & May are refused the case. Instead, there are hired by their greatest enemy to find out why his wife has suddenly started behaving strangely. She’s become an embarrassment to him at government dinners, and he is convinced that someone is trying to drive her insane. She has even taken to covering the mirrors in her apartment, and believes herself to be the victim of witchcraft. Then a society photographer is stabbed to death in a nearby park and suddenly a link emerges between the two cases. And so begins an investigation that will test the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit to their limits, setting Arthur Bryant off on a trail that leads to Bedlam and Bletchley Park, and into the world of madness, codes and the secret of London’s strangest relic.

The Rake Taking Possession of the Estate by Hogarth

A madcap romp through some of the most interesting snippets of London’s history. Add in a Twist of MPs’ Wives (collective noun), a shaken-not-stirred Bethlehem variant, swirl in a whole bunch of code, and top off with three sherbet lemons, a fourth half sucked. What have you got? A rollicking good, solid Bryant and May insert.

3* – Full Dark House (2003)
4* – The Water Room (2004)
4* – Seventy-Seven Clocks (2005)
3* – Ten Second Staircase (2006)
3.5* – White Corridor (2007)
3.5* – The Victoria Vanishes (2008)
3* – Bryant and May on the Loose (2009)
4* – Off the Rails (2010)
3.5* – Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood (2011)
3.5* – The Invisible Code (2012)

The Lazarus Prophecy by F.G. Cottam

bookshelves: summer-2014, net-galley, e-book, fantasy, religion, roman-catholic, published-2014

Read from July 18 to 21, 2014

 

Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ). Archive Date Aug 17 2014

Description: Prime Suspect meets The Da Vinci Code in this original, suspenseful thriller.

There is a killer loose on the streets of London, one that evades security cameras, is not held by locks, and savagely mutilates his victims. When the murderer switches from unknown prostitutes to Julie Longmuir, a beautiful actress at the height of her success, no woman feels safe.

As the press begin to draw uncomfortable comparisons with Jack the Ripper, Jane Sullivan, heading up the police investigation, grudgingly has to agree. But the religious writing, scrawled on the wall in Julie Longmuir’s blood, is outside Jane’s area of expertise. Roping in Jacob Prior, a disillusioned theologian, they attempt to pick apart the demonic delusions of this Ripper copycat. They must act quickly, as events are spiralling out of control, and Jane is next on the killer’s list.

Jane will be tested beyond the limits of standard police work, as the esoteric insinuates itself into the investigation. For events are linked to the clandestine Priory in the Pyrenees, the home of a secret Christian sect that pre-dates the Knights Templar. Jane and Jacob are faced with a deeper mystery than they had ever dreamed of; are they simply dealing with a psychopath, or is this something bigger, is this The End of Days?

Dedication:


For Miranda Law,
With love and admiration

Opening: The call came from the Deputy Commissioner. He’d presumably been woken, and in turn, was waking her. He said, ‘I’m seems there’s been another one. I’m afraid it’s him again.’

Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, this opens with two seemingly disparate events: a new body in what appears to be a London serial killer case, and a priest, fully equipped in climbing gear, heading towards a monastary of a forgotten order, high up in the Pyrenees.

London slums, Gustave Doré

Funniest line: ‘He sounds like one of those Byronic all-rounders.’

A supernatural riff, ostensibly on the Ripper of Whitechapel, however reaching into the past to when Lazarus was brought back by Jesus.

Yeah.

Well.

I sound unimpressed and that really is just not the case, however I would have preferred either just the murder mystery OR a full-pelt black magic a la Dennis Wheatley.

Great writing though, Cottram is not a cultural laggard like, say, Dan Brown; some really witty lines in there. Can recommend with some reservations. Two and a half Strindbergs WITH Helium

3* Dark Echo
2.5* The Lazarus Prophecy

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

bookshelves: currently-reading, vienna, victorian, gothic, e-book, net-galley, newtome-author, fantasy, anti-semitic, eugenics, historical-fiction, cults-societies-brotherhoods, austria, eye-scorcher, witches-and-wizards, superstitions, published-2014, psychology, lifestyles-deathstyles, gardening, food-glorious-food, doo-lally, cover-love, adventure, a-questing-we-shall-go, austro-hungarian-empire

Read from July 10 to 13, 2014


** spoiler alert **

**WARNING: there are spoilers galore in the reviews of this book, so don’t check down through the community book page.**

Description: Gretel and the Dark is Eliza Granville’s dazzling novel of darkness, evil – and hope. Vienna, 1899.

Josef Breuer – celebrated psychoanalyst – is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings – to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people’, so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed . . .

Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairytales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich. Gretel and the Dark is her first novel to be published by a major publisher.

This as change of pace from the huge and delicious dip-in/dip-out read of Der Turm: Geschichte aus einem versunkenen Land

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a young adult read. The main narrative is from the point of view of a young girl who doesn’t quite catch the meaning of all that happens around her, yet you the reader will discern straight away just what is unfolding if you remember your history of the time and the place.

Karl Lueger: The populist and anti-Semitic politics of his Christian Social Party are sometimes viewed as a model for Hitler’s Nazism.

Turn of the century Vienna is a time of blossoming psycho-analysis, uprise in anti-semitism, a rumbling of discontent with the emperor Franz Joseph, and the poor are becoming poorer. This is the backdrop to ‘Gretel and the Dark’, where the deeds are dark, superstitions run rife and most important, the writing superb.

Lambach Abbey: In 1897/98 Adolf Hitler lived in the town of Lambach with his parents. It is often claimed that he attended the secular Volksschule at which Benedictine teachers were employed, but also that he attended the monastery school, where each day he saw swastikas among the carved stones and woodwork, which included the symbol.

Just as Oskar in The Tin Drum is one step removed from the events, so here with Krysta, and her real thoughts sometimes are only revealed when she is conversing to her doll. This is clear at the death of her father where she vocally tells everyone that papa is not dead, then she whispers a query to her doll about what are they going to do now.

Just a smidgeon short of five hitlers

An aside: on NetGALLEY(™) you get a chance to vote whether you do or don’t like the cover. I liked it!

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

bookshelves: summer-2014, tbr-busting-2014, published-2006, amusing, fraudio, fantasy, mythology, doo-lally

Read from July 08 to 09, 2014

 

Read by Fisher Stevens

Description: Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy. A little hapless, somewhat neurotic, sort of a hypochondriac. He’s what’s known as a Beta Male: the kind of fellow who makes his way through life by being careful and constant — you know, the one who’s always there to pick up the pieces when the girl gets dumped by the bigger/taller/stronger Alpha Male.

But Charlie’s been lucky. He owns a building in the heart of San Francisco, and runs a secondhand store with the help of a couple of loyal, if marginally insane, employees. He’s married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. And she, Rachel, is about to have their first child.

Yes, Charlie’s doing okay for a Beta. That is, until the day his daughter, Sophie, is born. Just as Charlie — exhausted from the birth — turns to go home, he sees a strange man in mint-green golf wear at Rachel’s hospital bedside, a man who claims that no one should be able to see him. But see him Charlie does, and from here on out, things get really weird. . . .

People start dropping dead around him, giant ravens perch on his building, and it seems that everywhere he goes, a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Strange names start appearing on his nightstand notepad, and before he knows it, those people end up dead, too. Yup, it seems that Charlie Asher has been recruited for a new job, an unpleasant but utterly necessary one: Death. It’s a dirty job. But hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

Christopher Moore, the man whose Lamb served up Jesus’ “missing years” (with the funny parts left in), and whose Fluke found the deep humor in whale researchers’ lives, now shines his comic light on the undiscovered country we all eventually explore — death and dying — and the results are hilarious, heartwarming, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Gotta love that bit where Charlie reads Slaughterhouse V to sophie. Great fun yet a touch too frenetic for me to rate higher than three yellow mustard stripes. Another TBR bites the dust; I am on a roll.

3* Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
3* A Dirty Job
2* Practical Demonkeeping
4* The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
2* Island of the Sequined Love Nun

My guidelines for TBR busting excercises:

stage one – off tbr into wtb shelf if it is really bad or complete lack of interest

stage two – abandoned shelf if I get a little further than stage one but can’t take it anymore

stage three – skim through shelf

stage four – get to the end but want to rip it to shreds = room 101 shelf

Saying that, some TBRs end up as good star ratings

The Outlaw Women by Amber Foxx

bookshelves: published-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, series, newtome-author, summer-2014, families, fantasy, north-americas

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Amber Foxx
Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read on June 13, 2014

 

Opening: The Sight had shown Rhoda-Sue Outlaw Jackson many things over the years, but not the future. Not until a Friday afternoon in September shortly after her seventieth birthday, when Sue heard her late husband speak as clearly as if he stood right next to her in the kitchen, warning her she had only a few thousand heartbeats left. Two hundred and fifty-nine thousand, two hundred and one.

This message from the author:

The Outlaw Women can be downloaded free, a gift to my readers while you wait for the next full length book, which comes out in November. Blog followers who don’t read the series can enjoy it, too, since it takes place before the series starts. You can find the links here at on the home page http://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com. I will update them as the book goes live in more stores. It’s also available on my Goodreads page, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show… .

Really enjoyed this short story about psychic Outlaw women, thanks for sharing.

Bears Of England by Mick Jackson

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, radio-4x, fantasy, summer-2014, britain-england, doo-lally, mythology, under-50-ratings, noir

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 06 to 12, 2014


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lgfqr

Three eccentric stories from this collection by Mick Jackson, which mix fantasy with folk tale and myth with history. Read by Ian Holm

Episode 1: In the days before electric light and oil lamps most of England was troubled by spirit bears. But one village believed itself to be victim to an especially wicked gang and sought to find an answer.

Episode 2: The circus bears are deeply disgruntled at the extra risks being incorporated into their performance, and things come to a head at the annual circus convention in Bristol.

Episode 3: In the 19th century, under London’s streets, several bears are sorting the city’s effluent.

Every sewer bears the name of the street above!

Act of Will by A.J. Hartley

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2009, tbr-busting-2014, e-book, ipad, amusing, adventure, fantasy, filthy-lucre, gambling, picaresque, play-dramatisation, willsphernalia, a-questing-we-shall-go

Recommended for: Those folk who loved The Belgariad
Read from May 09 to 15, 2014

 

Description: Act of Will is a boisterous fantasy adventure that introduces us to Will Hawthorne, a medieval actor and playwright who flees the authorities only to find himself inextricably bound to a group of high-minded adventurers on a deadly mission. Will travels with them to a distant land where they are charged with the investigation and defeat of a ruthless army of mystical horsemen, who appear out of the mist leaving death and devastation in their wake.

In the course of Will’s uneasy alliance with his new protectors, he has to get his pragmatic mind to accept selfless heroism (which he thinks is absurd) and magic (which he doesn’t believe in). Will must eventually decide where his loyalties really lie and how much he is prepared to do–and believe–to stand up for them.

Dedication: To Chris, my brother-in-arms

Translated from the Thrusian by A J Hartley. From the translator’s preface:

Until a few years ago, the collection of manuscripts now known as the Hawthorne Saga had been sitting in a climate-controlled case in an obscure English library for over a century, baffling all attempts to decipher the strange lanuguage in which they were written.

Opening: SCENE 1: The day started quietly, which, as it turned out, was not so much ironic as completely misleading. I had risen late after a long night memorizing speeches by the dodgy light of a cheap tallow candle.

In an alternative universe William, the nearly-old-enough-to-play-a-man’s-part, is wanted for sedition by the Diamond Empire…

Only a few pages in and it is excellent elizabethanesque romping – perfect spring weekend reading.

‘I had to get out of this dress, and out of town’

Thoroughly enjoyable and am looking for the next – sometimes mindless enjoyment does one the power of good.

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz Forever Odd (Odd Thomas, #2) by Dean Koontz

bookshelves: published-2005, tbr-busting-2014, spring-2014, series, north-americas, boo-scary, ghosties-ghoulies, fantasy

Read from May 09 to 10, 2014


8 hrs 32 mins

Description: We’re all a little odd beneath the surface. He’s the most unlikely hero you’ll ever meet—an ordinary guy with a modest job you might never look at twice. But there’s so much more to any of us than meets the eye—and that goes triple for Odd Thomas. For Odd lives always between two worlds in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, where the heroic and the harrowing are everyday events. Odd never asked to communicate with the dead—it’s something that just happened. But as the unofficial goodwill ambassador between our world and theirs, he’s got a duty to do the right thing. That’s the way Odd sees it and that’s why he’s won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death.

A childhood friend of Odd’s has disappeared. The worst is feared. But as Odd applies his unique talents to the task of finding the missing person, he discovers something worse than a dead body, encounters an enemy of exceptional cunning, and spirals into a vortex of terror. Once again Odd will stand against our worst fears. Around him will gather new allies and old, some living and some not. For in the battle to come, there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope. Whether you’re meeting Odd Thomas for the first time or he’s already an old friend, you’ll be led on an unforgettable journey through a world of terror, wonder and delight—to a revelation that can change your life. And you can have no better guide than Odd Thomas.

Having just dumped an early entry (Dragon’s Tears) it is with a sigh of relief to realise that I still love Koontz as a writer because he has adapted to changing times. Us readers have had to do the self same thing.

Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before him. As an only child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an unusually close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration.

Datura id beautiful but poisonous

3.5* Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1) (2003)
3.5* Forever Odd (Odd Thomas, #2) (2005)
TR Brother Odd (Odd Thomas, #3) (2006)

2* Phantoms (1976)
3* Icebound (1976)
TR The Vision (1977)
3* Whispers (1980)
TR Darkfall (1984)
3* Strangers (1986)
2* Intensity (1987)
1* Dragon Tears (1988) ABANDONED
3* Mr. Murder (1993)
3* Winter Moon (1993)
3* Tick Tock (1996)
2* By the Light of the Moon (2002)
2* The Face (2003)
4* The Good Guy (2006)
1* The Taking (2007)
3* Black River (2007)
2* The Darkest Evening of the Year (2007)
TR 77 Shadow Street (2011)

2* Fear Nothing (Moonlight Bay, #1) (1968)
1* Seize the Night (Moonlight Bay, #2) (1988)