This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene

 

Read by Patrick Tull

Description: Raven is a man dedicated to ugly deeds. When Raven is paid for killing the Minister of War with stolen notes, he becomes a man on the run. Tracking down the agent who double-crossed him, and eluding the police simultaneously, he becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

The novel ties into Greene’s later, more famous work, Brighton Rock. Pinkie Brown’s assassination of Kite, the Colleoni’s rival mob boss, sets the events of Brighton Rock in motion in much the same way that Raven’s assassination of the Minister of War sows the seeds for global conflict in A Gun For Sale.

Thoroughly enjoyed this ride. Three and a half smoking hand guns

Raven: the cold-hearted assassin for hire with hidden decency and a personal sense of justice. Extremely sensitive about his harelip.

Mather: stalwart police detective trailing Raven, with many of the same characteristics. Joined police for stability of the routine.

Anne: a chorus girl who is engaged to Mather, is used by Raven as a shield. The two develop a fragile friendship that may or may not be real.

Cholmondeley a.k.a. Davis: a grossly sensual man who acts as the agent of a masonic corrupt steel tycoon, Sir Marcus, and betrays Raven. Anne tries to help Raven get revenge upon him.

Saunders: a decent police detective with a heavy stammer. He is Mather’s loyal protégé who plays a vital role in the novel’s climax.

3* The Quiet American
4* The End of the Affair
3* Our Man in Havana
4* Brighton Rock
4* Travels With My Aunt
3* The Third Man
4* The Human Factor
4* A Burnt Out Case
4* Monsignor Quixote
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3.5* This Gun for Hire

Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4) by Dick Francis

 

Read by Martin Jarvis and I like him!

Cheltenham is a lovely racecourse.

Description: It’s the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. Last seen in 1995’s Come to Grief, former champion jockey Halley knows the perils of racing all too well-but in his day, jockeys didn’t usually reach the finishing line with three .38 rounds in the chest. But this is precisely how he finds jockey Huw Walker-who, only a few hours earlier, had won the coveted Triumph Hurdle.

Just moments before the gruesome discovery, Halley had been called upon by Lord Enstone to make discreet inquiries into why his horses appeared to be on a permanent losing streak. Are races being fixed? Are bookies taking a cut? And if so, are trainers and jockeys playing a dangerous game with stakes far higher than they are realistic?

Halley’s quest for answers draws him even deeper into the darker side of the race game, in a life-or-death power play that will push him to his very limits-both professionally and personally.

Opening: “Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow. That only one of the deaths was of a horse was more than enough to bring the local constabulary hotfoot to the track.”

How lovely to find this dustying up in the storage boxes and I dive in with relish as it has been ages since an encounter with the wonderful Dick Francis.

4* Odds Against (Sid Halley, #1)
3* Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2)
3* Come to Grief (Sid Halley, #3)
3.5* Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4)

4* Bolt (Kit Fielding, #2)

3* Proof
4* Dead Cert
4* Blood Sport
2* Shattered
3* Nerve
4* Decider
3* Straight
3* For Kicks
4* Bonecrack
3* Enquiry
3* Field of Thirteen

The Friend of the Family by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fxy8d

BBC description: 4 Extra Debut. Russia, 1859. Chaos in the manor of Stephanchikovo when an ex-sergeant acts as arbiter of morals and taste. Stars David Suchet.

Drink a bottle of vodka and you can talk in any language you like!

Clive Merison and Davis Suchet excel in this written-as-a-play short story.

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

Wednesday’s Child by Peter Robinson

 

Description: A strange man and woman turn up on the doorstep of Kyle Heath, an eleven-year-old local school boy, claiming to be social workers having received a report of abuse against the child. As they make the decision to take the child from his mother’s custody, little does she know that the man and the woman are in fact sinister child abductors, who have no connection to social services whatsoever. A search for the missing boy soon gets underway, but the discovery of a large quantity of drugs underneath the floorboards of his living room reveals some rather dark and sinister secrets. DI Morton suspects that the child’s abduction, however, was planned by his own mother to extort money. The boy’s headteacher soon becomes prime suspect when evidence reveals he was with the boy the night after he disappeared. Meanwhile, Banks’ attempt to protect Annie from the emotions of the case draw them closer together.

Solid insert. Three slot machines

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)
TR Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
TR Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

Pierre and Jean by Guy de Maupassant

bookshelves: spring-2013, tbr-busting-2013, translation, e-book, gutenberg-project, france, published-1887, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, families, filthy-lucre, re-visit-2014, re-read, summer-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from March 06, 2013 to August 11, 2014, read count: 2

 

Revisit via BBC BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ccdql

Description: Guy de Maupassant’s compelling short novel, abridged in 4 parts by Penny Leicester, follows family rivalries in the seaport of Le Havre.

1/4. On a fishing trip all is happy with the Roland clan. Then returning home, a revelation..

2/4 The Marechal Will causes ructions between the brothers, then a second revelation surfaces.

3/4 Jean is happy of course, but Pierre burns with rage. So a confrontation is due.

4/4 The two brothers must take action to avoid a family showdown.

Reader Carl Prekopp
Producer Duncan Minshull.

Nutty NUUT read

Translator: Clara Bell

Opening: “Tschah!” exclaimed old Roland suddenly, after he had remained motionless for a quarter of an hour, his eyes fixed on the water, while now and again he very slightly lifted his line sunk in the sea.

Mme. Roland, dozing in the stern by the side of Mme. Rosemilly, who had been invited to join the fishing-party, woke up, and turning her head to look at her husband, said:

“Well, well! Gerome.”

And the old fellow replied in a fury:

“They do not bite at all. I have taken nothing since noon. Only men should ever go fishing. Women always delay the start till it is too late.”

From wiki: It appeared in three instalments in the Nouvelle Revue and then in volume form in 1888, together with the essay “Le Roman” [“The Novel”]. Pierre et Jean is a realist work, notably so by the subjects on which it treats, including knowledge of one’s heredity (whether one is a legitimate son or a bastard), the bourgeoisie, and the problems stemming from money.

Powerful story for it being so short.

#65 TBR Busting 2013

Eugenie Grandet

bookshelves: summer-2014, series, france, fradio, radio-4, published-1833, filthy-lucre, lifestyles-deathstyles, play-dramatisation, suicide, translation, love, lit-richer, cousin-love, families

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 30 to August 05, 2014

 

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04bmtpk

Description: Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation, starring Ian McKellen, of Balzac’s tragic novel revolving around Grandet, an ageing vine farmer, and his innocent young daughter Eugenie.

Monsieur Grandet, who has amassed a considerable fortune, is a miser who feigns poverty and runs his household along miserably frugal lines. All changes with the arrival of Eugenie’s handsome 22-year-old cousin, Charles Grandet, from Paris. Charles has brought with him a shocking letter from his father, Guillaume, who has committed suicide. He has placed his debts and the care of his son into his brother’s hands. It is a fatal decision, with ruinous consequences for the whole family.

Eugenie Grandet is considered by many to be the strongest novel in Balzac’s magnificent series, The Human Comedy. It pits a young naive girl against the father she has worshipped and this defiance sets us on course for the playing out of a heart-rending tragedy. Like King Lear, Grandet is a man who deeply loves the daughter who has defied him. He has no other child, no hope, no future but her. But in Balzac’s ‘human comedy’ the tragic and the comic exist side by side and this fruitful conjunction blossoms in Rose Tremain’s enthralling adaptation.

Cello and Treble Recorder: Alison Baldwin
Original Music: Lucinda Mason Brown
Produced and directed by Gordon House
A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4

1/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

2/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

Some lovely images on google piccies:

3* Cousin Bette
3* The Unknown Masterpiece
3* Eugénie Grandet

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.

Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy

bookshelves: britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, summer-2014, published-1987, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, flufferoonies, gambling, filthy-lucre, fradio, period-piece

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 22, 2014


Description: Kate and John Ryan have four children, of whom the eldest are Michael and Dara. Their small town is peaceful and friendly, an unchanging background for a golden childhood. In long, hot summers Michael and Dara and their friends fish and swim or play in the ivy-clad ruins of Fernscourt, the great house burned down during the Troubles…

No one in Mountfern has the slightest inkling of what it will mean when the ruins are bought by Patrick O’Neill, an Irish American with a dream in his heart and a great deal of money in his pocket. It is not until the very end of this drama, with its interlocking stories of love lost and won, ambitions nurtured and secrets betrayed, that Patrick O’Neill will understand the irony and the significance of his great dream for Mountfern.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jnq4

1/6 Mountfern is a quiet Irish village, until the arrival of ambitious American Patrick O’Neil. Stars David Soul and Anna Healy.

2/6 Can American Patrick O’Neil win support for his plans for the Irish village of Mountfern?

3/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in the village of Mountfern face a terrible setback

4/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in Mountfern turn sour after Kate’s terrible accident.

5/6 Patrick O’Neill’s new hotel in Mountfern is nearly finished but the legacy of Kate’s accident lingers.

6/6 O’Neill’s new hotel is due to open, but his son’s recklessness may ruin everything.

3* Tara Road
3* Firefly Summer
4* No Nightingales, No Snakes

The Mumbai Chuzzlewits

bookshelves: summer-2014, play-dramatisation, published-2012, fanfic-writeback, roman-catholic, india, radio-4x, fradio, filthy-lucre

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 22, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018w867

Description: Sony award-winning writer Ayeesha Menon reworks Charles Dickens ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ and sets it amongst the Catholic community in modern-day Mumbai, India.

Convinced his relatives are after his money, miserly old recluse Martin Chuzzlewit (Roshan Seth), adopts orphan girl, Mary (Nimrat Kaur), to be his carer. As she will inherit nothing upon his death, he believes she will do her utmost to keep him in good health. But when his grandson Mickey (Zafar Karachiwala) falls in love with her, Martin’s plans are thrown into disarray. Disinheriting him, Martin triggers a complex web of deceit, betrayal and manipulation as the extended family and hangers-on close in, in pursuit of his fortune.

Told from the point of view of orphan Thomas (Karan Pandit), an observer into the world of the Chuzzlewits, this is a fast-paced drama full of intrigue, romance, suspense and murder…

Thomas, an orphan, is apprentice to the scheming architect Pinto, a cousin to miserly old Martin Chuzzlewit, the richest landlord in Bandra. Drawn into the world of the Chuzzlewits, he forms a close friendship with the spirited Mickey, grandson of Martin and heir to the family fortune. When old Martin gets ill, Thomas witnesses attempts by family members to worm their way into his life and secure his fortune, while Mickey gives up everything in pursuit of love…

Ayeesha Menon is an award-winning writer who works extensively in film and radio. For BBC Radio 4 she has written several outstanding adaptations including: Q & A (Slumdog Millionaire) which won Gold for Best Drama at the Sony Radio Academy Awards; THE Cairo Trilogy, starring Omar Sharif, which won a Bronze at the Sony Awards; My Name is Red from the novel by Orhan Pamuk; and Six Suspects from the novel by Vikas Swarup.

Cast:
Martin ….. Roshan Seth
Thomas ….. Karan Pandit
Mickey ….. Zafar Karachiwala
Pinto ….. Rajit Kapur
Mercy ….. Preetika Chawla
Charity ….. Ayeesha Menon
Anthony ….. Sohrab Ardeshir
Joseph ….. Nadir Khan
Mary ….. Nimrat Kaur
Mrs. Gomes ….. Radhika Mital
Louis ….. Rohit Malkani
Doctor ….. Shernaz Patel
Monty ….. Arghya Lahiri
Manek ….. Vivek Madan
Young Mickey ….. Zaal Madon
Young Thomas ….. Nominath Ginsburg
Sound Recordist: Ayush Ahuja
Sound Design: David Chilton
Music: Sacha Puttnam
Producer and Casting: Nadir Khan
Producer: John Dryden
A Goldhawk Essential Production for BBC Radio 4

1/3 Orphan Thomas befriends Mickey, grandson and heir of rich old miser Martin Chuzzlewit.

2/3 Disinherited by his grandfather, Mickey escapes India to try and make his fortune in Dubai

3/3 Mickey returns to India, determined to marry Mary and prove himself to Martin.

Three tree-climbing boys.

4* Undercover Mumbai
2.5* Q & A (think Slumdog Millionaire)
3* The Mumbai Chuzzlewits