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 Thief Taker by C.S. Quinn

 

Description: The year is 1665. Black Death ravages London. A killer stalks the streets in a plague doctor’s hood and mask.

When a girl is gruesomely murdered, thief taker Charlie Tuesday reluctantly agrees to take on the case. But the horrific remains tell him this is no isolated death. The killer’s mad appetites are part of a master plan that could destroy London – and reveal the dark secrets of Charlie’s own past.

Now the thief taker must find this murderous mastermind before the plague obliterates the evidence street by street. This terrifying pursuit will take Charlie deep into the black underbelly of old London, where alchemy, witchcraft and blood-spells collide.

In a city drowned in darkness, death could be the most powerful magic of all.

Opening: London, 1665
In the year of the Black Death London is a city of half-timbered houses and dark towers. In the narrow backstreets, astrologists predict the future, and alchemists conjure wonders. Traitors’ heads line London Bridge, where witches sell potions, and gamesters turn cards. The river flowing beneath lands a daily cargo of smuggler gangs and pirates.

Loved this from the very start: it is gory, graphic and dead gruesome. Many gizzard for dinner scenes so I suppose this is not for the squeamish, and the murdering hulk is terrifying so this is not for the shiverers either. Rest assured though, it is not a horror fic by any stretch of the imagination. The Thief Taker for all its grisly subject is written in a very upbeat fashion. I would loath to call it YA because lots of people have a very prejudiced mindset when it comes to that shelf. It is a highly enjoyable piece of hist-fic fluff.

Holborn Bridge: 1831 Drawn by Tho. H. Shepherd. Engraved by M. Woolnoth.

What a debut, and ike Oliver Twist, I’m asking for more of Charlie Tuesday. Three point five plague hoods rounded up for the sites that do not operate on half ratings.

Endorsed by my Peter James: ‘Quinn is a brilliant new talent!’
Images from the book

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

Haphazard House by Mary Wesley

bookshelves: under-50-ratings, kiddlewinks, play-dramatisation, published-1983, radio-4x, art-forms, summer-2014, britain-england, families, fradio, games-people-play, gambling, amusing, adventure, ghosties-ghoulies, devon

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: R4x
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 04 to 22, 2014

 

R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048ndny

Description: When eleven-year-old Lisa Fuller and her younger brother Josh buy a house in the country with their winnings from a horse race, their whole family encounters strange and wonderful chaos in their new home.

Episode 1:Impoverished and desperate, Pa Fuller’s reckless bet and acquisition of a panama hat changes all. Starring James Nickerson.

Episode 2: The Fullers and friends move into their new abode and soon find it a source of joy and ominous mystery.

The Fullers and friends are imperilled and beguiled in equal measure, as well as adrift in time.

‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’, runs the adage, and in this story runs along with the idea that Papa’s new Panama is magic. This story was long before the Potteresque choosing hat. Charming story. Three hattips.

The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

bookshelves: biography, nonfiction, history, autumn-2012, tbr-busting-2012, fraudio, gambling, georgian1714-1830, filthy-lucre, lifestyles-deathstyles, published-1988, debut, politics, recreational-drugs

Read from September 16 to 19, 2012

 

British Aristocracy – 18th C. Unabridged.

From wiki: Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (née Spencer) 7 June 1757 – 30 March 1806 was the first wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and mother of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Her father, the 1st Earl Spencer, was a great-grandson of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Her niece was Lady Caroline Lamb. She is an ancestor (via her illegitimate daughter Eliza Courtney) of Sarah, Duchess of York. She is also related to Diana, Princess of Wales, who was her great-great-grandniece.

What a shame that Diana hadn’t studied her family history then she may not have mirrored the unloved brood mare profile, having to share her husband in a three-way marriage.

Lots of fun moments à la ‘the past is a foreign country’: she was so calmed by being bled that she slept peaceably all night, however the authorial whitewashing of destructive behaviours and coaxing us to sympathise, renders this otherwise brilliant biography, flawed.

Great debut.

********

Yeehaw! There is a 2008 film to look out for:

Keira Knightley … Georgiana
Ralph Fiennes … The Duke
Charlotte Rampling … Lady Spencer
Dominic Cooper … Charles Grey
Hayley Atwell … Bess Foster
Simon McBurney … Charles Fox
Aidan McArdle … Richard Sheridan
John Shrapnel … General Grey
Alistair Petrie … Heaton
Patrick Godfrey … Dr. Neville

 
Althorp’s entrance front in the 1820s. The appearance of the house from this angle is almost unaltered today.
 
The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775: Lady Melbourne with the Duchess of Devonshire and Anne Damer”
 
It was perfectly legal for a man to beat his wife so long as the stick was no wider than his thumb
 
To the rescue.”
 

The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, radio-4, gambling, britain-ireland, afr-ghana, under-500-ratings, mental-health, wwii

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 22, 2014

 

BABT R4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045z7sg

Description: Jack McNulty is a ‘temporary gentleman’, an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story recounting his strange and tumultuous marriage to the elusive great beauty of Sligo, Mai Kirwan, and the inevitable fate that he now feels compelled to reconcile himself with. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him. He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things.

The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a story about a man’s last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.

Ciarán Hinds is one of Ireland’s most prolific and esteemed actors. His many television and film credits include: Game of Thrones, Munich, The Sea, Road to Perdition, There Will Be Blood, Frozen, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Woman in Black and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Read by Ciarán Hinds
Abridged by Neville Teller
Producer Gemma McMullan.

1/10: Jack McNulty recounts his past hoping he can at last find the freedom he desperately needs

2/10: Mai invites Jack home to Grattan House to meet her father.

3/10: In Accra, Jack receives a surprising visit from the Ghana Police Force.

4/10: Is Jack and Mai’s wedding day a sign of things to come?

5/10: Mai’s happiness at returning to Grattan House is short-lived.

6/10: Mai and Jack receive some startling news which could be their saving grace.

7/10: On a trip home, Jack is horrified to discover how bad things have become at home.

8/10: An inspector from the Ghana Police Force warns Jack to watch his back.

9/10: Can Jack and Mai ever regain the love they once had for each other?

10/10: Returning with Tom to his village, Jack witnesses a remarkable life-changing event.

I wallowed in this misery with the same delight that any Thomas Hardy potboiler by torchlight under the covers often shivered me to awestruck admiration.

CR The Secret Scripture
4* The Temporary Gentleman
2.5* On Canaan’s Side

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.

Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10) by P.G. Wodehouse

bookshelves: published-1953, radio-4, spring-2014, amusing, sport, britain-england, filthy-lucre, gambling

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 26 to May 04, 2014


R4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0414qty

Description: Brilliantly funny comedy-thriller. Jeeves is on loan to young Lord Rowcester (Bill). Wooster is absent, attending a school designed to teach the aristocracy to fend for itself. Jeeves has to exert his gigantic fish-fed brain to help his new master raise money by selling his crumbling pile to a wealthy American widow.

She thinks the Abbey is wonderful, full of ghosts. (Her hobby: psychic phenomena.) Will she buy it? There are complications. It’s damp. She has fibrositis. Plus Bill’s fiancée Jill mistrusts ‘Rosie’s’ motives. There’s also bluff Captain Biggar on the trail of a bookie and his clerk, who conned him at Epsom races and have somehow gone to ground in the Abbey. They are in fact Bill and Jeeves. Will he unmask them? Will Jeeves be on hand to provide more than brandy?

Dazzling star cast; witty production. Martin Jarvis having played Jeeves on Broadway now brings his award-winning characterization to the Classic Serial, abetted by Rufus Sewell, Joanne Whalley, Glenne Headly, Jamie Bamber and Ian Ogilvy.

An all-star cast brings P.G. Wodehouse supremely funny 1950s horse-racing novel to galloping life. Dramatised by Archie Scottney.

There’s a White Hunter Captain Biggar on the trail of a bookie and his clerk who conned him at Epsom races. Who are they? Could they in fact be Bill and Jeeves? Will the captain unmask them? Will Jeeves and his gigantic fish-fed brain win the day?

Finally our impeccable ‘gentleman’s personal gentleman’ has a solution to dazzle and amaze us all. A stellar cast in Rosalind Ayres’ sparkling production. Martin Jarvis, having played Jeeves on Broadway and in various one-man performances, now brings his award-winning characterisation to the Classic Serial, abetted by Rufus Sewell, Joanne Whalley, Glenne Headly, Jamie Bamber, Christopher Neame and Ian Ogilvy.

Part 1/2: Jeeves, on loan to young Lord Rowcester (Bill), devises a plan to assist his impoverished new master sell his crumbling pile to a wealthy American widow. But will she buy it?

Part 2/2: Jeeves is exerting his fish-fed brain to the utmost to assist Bill to raise money. His lordship must pay the debts he has accrued while working, in disguise, as an Epsom bookie. Might obtaining Rosie Spottsworth’s valuable diamond pendant help? Would it be useful for Bill to dance the Charleston with Rosie? Could the ghost of Lady Agatha further the cause? Will Rosie purchase the Abbey?

Dramatised by Archie Scottney
Director Rosalind Ayres
A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4

3* The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves, #2)
5* Carry on, Jeeves (Jeeves, #3)
4* Right Ho, Jeeves (Jeeves, #6)
3* The Mating Season (Jeeves, #9)
3* Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10)
4* Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (Jeeves, #15)

4* Something Fresh (Blandings Castle, #1)

4* Joy in the Morning
4* A Damsel In Distress
TR Leave It to Psmith
3* Summer Lightning
3* Love Among the Chickens
TR The Man With Two Left Feet
TR Cocktail Time
3* Service with a Smile
3* Uneasy Money
3* Summer Moonshine
TR Ukridge
3* Eggs, Beans And Crumpets
3* The Small Bachelor
TR Barmy in Wonderland

Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov

Kiev

Description: When last we saw Viktor, in the final pages of Death and the Penguin, he was taking his seat aboard the Expedition to Antarctica plane, fearing for his life. Meanwhile, Penguin Misha was left abandoned in a clinic recovering from a heart transplant. Now, in Penguin Lost, we join Viktor for his brief stay in and escape from Antarctica to discover that, characteristically, he has fallen on his feet. Visiting, on his return to Kiev, Penguinologist Pidpaly’s grave, Viktor mistakes an elusive child in white shirt and black shorts for Misha on funeral duty. He is first interrogated and then befriended by a Mafia boss who, while burying his contract-killed son-in-law, is also running for election as People’s Deputy. Viktor helps in his campaign, and is rewarded with introductions to those able to further his desperate search for Misha, said to be in the zoo of the murderous Chechen Khachayev. For Viktor, it is both a quest and an odyssey of atonement; for the reader, an experience as rich, topical and black-humouredly illuminating as Death and the Penguin.

Opening: It took Viktor three days to recover from the four spent crossing Drake Passage. In which time, the scientists who had sailed with him from Ushaia in the Horizon were already acclimatized and working fast to complete measurements and analyses before the onset of the polar night.

As you can see, this book starts off where the first one finished. Neat!

Vernadsky Base: (page 7)[..]after losing 16 men and two supply aircraft, the British had presented it [the base] to Ukraine.

Chechnya

Vernadsky Station, a Ukrainian base which was formerly the British ‘Faraday’ base.

3.5* Death and the Penguin
CR   Penguin Lost

SUPPORT UKRAINE

Turning Crimea into ‘Putinland’?
From Andrey Kurkov, Special for CNN
April 9, 2014 — Updated 0311 GMT (1111 HKT)

“Under pressure from the Kremlin, Russian airlines — the only ones now flying to the peninsula — have slashed prices on flights. I think Russian oligarchs will soon receive an order from the Kremlin to buy holiday packages to Crimean sanitoriums and resorts for their employees.”

Read more

Kiev Zoo Under Fire For Shocking Number Of Animal Deaths And Disappearances

The Gambling Man by Catherine Cookson

bookshelves: spring-2014, film-only, published-1975, gambling, filthy-lucre, britain-england, county-durham, bullies, casual-violence, conflagration

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from April 22 to 23, 2014

 

Description: Rory Connor was a gambling man and he had a gambler’s luck. From the day he was born, his mother had known that Rory would be the one to make something of his life. At seven years old he was earning money from odd jobs and by fourteen he was in full-time work. By the time he had escaped the factory to become a rent-collector. Now, at twenty three, ambition was in full flow and he was always looking to bigger and better games to play. He feared nothing and nobody, not even the unscrupulous landlord he collected for. For an ordinary working lad, he was doing well – until one day his luck changed and suddenly things did not go as smoothly as he was used to…

Ay-up! looksee here: it’s Robson Green. Watch here. This story is slightly different; usually Cookson’s stories centre on strong women who persevere through to make a better life regardless what is thrown at them.

3* The Dwelling Place
3.5* The Glass Virgin
3* The Fifteen Streets
3′ The Girl
5* The Rag Nymph
3* Katie Mulholland
3* The Cinder Path
4* Feathers in the Fire
3* Colour Blind
3* The Silent Lady
3* The Branded Man
3* Pure as the Lily
4* The Maltese Angel
3* The Fen Tiger
4* The Wingless Bird
3.5* The Black Candle
4* The Black Velvet Gown
5* The Round Tower
3* The Gambling Man

5* Tilly Trotter
5* Tilly Trotter Wed
5* Tilly Trotter Widowed
5* Tilly Trotter Alone

3* The Mallen Streak
2* The Mallen Girl (to revisit)
3* The Mallen Litter

4.5* The Mallen Secret by Rosie Goodwin, which leads straight into …
4* The Mallen Curse