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

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck by Amy Alkon

 

Narrated by Carrington McDuffy

Description: “Miss Manners with Fangs.” —LA Weekly We live in a world that’s very different from the one in which Emily Post came of age. Many of us who are nice (but who also sometimes say “f*ck”) are frequently at a loss for guidelines about how to be a good person who deals effectively with the increasing onslaught of rudeness we all encounter.
To lead us out of the miasma of modern mannerlessness, science-based and bitingly funny syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon rips the doily off the manners genre and gives us a new set of rules for our twenty-first century lives.
With wit, style, and a dash of snark, Alkon explains that we now live in societies too big for our brains, lacking the constraints on bad behavior that we had in the small bands we evolved in. Alkon shows us how we can reimpose those constraints, how we can avoid being one of the rude, and how to stand up to those who are.
Foregoing prissy advice on which utensil to use, Alkon answers the twenty-first century’s most burning questions about manners, including: * Why do many people, especially those under forty, now find spontaneous phone calls rude? * What can you tape to your mailbox to stop dog walkers from letting their pooch violate your lawn? * How do you shut up the guy in the pharmacy line with his cellphone on speaker? * What small gift to your new neighbors might make them think twice about playing Metallica at 3 a.m.? Combining science with more than a touch of humor, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is destined to give good old Emily a shove off the etiquette shelf (if that’s not too rude to say).

Twenty odd minutes into this and I can tell this is not for me at this time.

Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment by Davi Barker

bookshelves: essays, nonfiction, summer-2014, fraudio, anarchy, psychology, boo-scary, bullies, casual-violence, games-people-play, gardening, gulp, how-to, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, politics, published-2014, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, totalitarian

Read from July 14 to 21, 2014

 

Description: Numerous studies have shown us that those given authority are more likely to lie, cheat and steal, while also being harsher in their judgments of others for doing these same things. Science tells us people with power feel less compassion for the suffering of others.

Previous experiments also show us that those who are obedient to authority are capable of the worst forms of murder, and tolerant of the worst forms of abuse. They will even chastise those of us who resist corrupt authority. They become facilitators of evil, believing that obedience to authority absolves them of personal responsibility.

This is the fifth draft of a renegade psychological experiment on authoritarian sociopathy, specifically on police brutality. We aim to show the world beyond a shadow of a doubt, that power corrupts absolutely, and corrupt authority deserves no obedience.

Interesting front about plagiarism being about love, and who wants love policed. Hmmm

Stamford experiment just got worse
Milgram experiment
– Government has the monopoly of violence in a designated area

Nothing new here, really. Refresh yourselves with the videos linked to above so you don’t forget how we can all act like either laboratory rats or merciless tyrants.

Just the two hazard signs as rating

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ― Aristotle, Metaphysics

On Architecture, Volume II: Books 6-10

bookshelves: architecture, how-to, published-27bc, skim-through, skoolzy-stuff, nonfiction, e-book, roman-civilisation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Simon Keay
Recommended for: Chris Ethier
Read from May 26 to 27, 2014

 

Read here: http://academics.triton.edu/faculty/f…

Okay, because I can be very silly, this second group of books will start off with Vitruvian Penguin:

The proper opening to Book Six is thus: It is related of the Socratic philosopher Aristippus*, that being shipwrecked and cast ashore on the coast of the Rhodians, he observed geometrical figures drawn thereon and cried out to his companions: ‘Let us be of good cheer because I see the traces of man.’

Corinthian atrium from #Pompeii at the House of M. Epidius Rufus …

The reason for visiting Vitruvius is the question of concrete, and did the Romans use it. The answer lies in the first chapter of Book VII:

First I shall begin with the concrete flooring, which is the most important of the polished finishings, observing that great pains and the utmost precaution must be taken to ensure its durability.

HUZZAH! Job done.

*Aristippus glorified bodily pleasure and Epicurus glorified intellectual pleasures – Aristippus may have been the forefather of the sexual revolution. Both believed there was no afterlife for the Gods to exact revenge in.

Aristippus had a nose to the carnal.

Aristippus, Rome Palazzo Spada

On Architecture, Volume I: Books 1-5 by Vitruvius

bookshelves: dip-in-now-and-again, skim-through, ancient-history, architecture, e-book, how-to, nonfiction, history, published-27bc, roman-civilisation, rome, skoolzy-stuff

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Simon Keay
Recommended for: Chris Ethier
Read on May 26, 2014

 

Read here: http://academics.triton.edu/faculty/f…

After a rather understandably brown-tongued humble preface we are then advised that architects should know their history, music, art, philosophy, astronomy and medicine.

The Temples of Minerva, Mars and Hercules will be Doric, since the virile strengths of these Gods make daintiness entirely inappropriate to their Houses.

Book Two opens with Dinocratus who had quite the idea – make Mount Athos into a statue of a God. Looksee here:

Timotheus: a sculpture of Leda and the Swan in which the queen Leda of Sparta protected a swan from an eagle, on the basis of which a Roman marble copy in the Capitoline Museums is said to be “after Timotheus”.

The basis of a Björk dress:

The Mausoleum at the ancient city of Halicarnassus was the tomb of the king, Mausolus.

As for “wattle and daub”, I could wish that it had never been invented.

Basilica, Pompeii

Vitruvian Etruscan temple model. – Archaic Etruscan – In his book, On Architecture, Vitruvius set out the rules for designing Tuscan temples.

Vitruvian Harmonics

Aspendos

Tepidarium at Pompeii

Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour by Ann Blockley

bookshelves: spring-2014, how-to, art-forms, published-2014, net-galley, nonfiction, e-book

Recommended for: Gerry, Derrolyn
Read from May 19 to 20, 2014

 

Description: Artist Ann Blockley is renowned for her innovative approach to traditional subjects. Following the huge success of her previous book, Experimental Flowers in Watercolour, she now explores ways to interpret landscape. Packed with stunning examples of her colourful, expressive work, this book encourages you to experiment with the same techniques in your own watercolour painting to develop a personal style.

Techniques covered include combining water-based paint and ink with other media such as gesso and collage to create dramatic effects; manipulating paint with materials such as plastic wrap (clingfilm); tearing, layering and reassembling paintings into watercolour collages; and developing textures and marks made using fabrics and other found objects. Throughout the book Ann offers her personal commentary on how her paintings were created, giving us a unique insight into the mind of the artist.

Both practical and inspirational, this glorious book is the ideal companion for watercolour painters who want to take their work a step further.

Interesting, exquisite to look at, and makes one want to break out the easel and brushes. The thought that took hold through these all too few pages was: ‘You created that with that?

Asking which is the best of this collection is like asking to pick a favourite book, it can’t be done, however I do tend towards Rocky Beach on page 31

Author Information
Ann Blockley is a well-known watercolourist with an international reputation. She is author of seven bestselling practical art books, including Experimental Flowers in Watercolour, also published by Batsford. Ann runs her own very popular watercolour courses, has made three DVDs of her painting techniques and regularly writes for The Artist magazine. She lives in Gloucestershire.

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A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock

bookshelves: spring-2014, absolute-favourites, author-love, britain-england, climate, cover-love, e-book, how-to, nonfiction, published-2014, environmental-issues, net-galley

Read from March 25 to May 19, 2014


Description: In A Rough Ride to the Future, James Lovelock – the great scientific visionary of our age – presents a radical vision of humanity’s future as the thinking brain of our Earth-system James Lovelock, who has been hailed as ‘the man who conceived the first wholly new way of looking at life on earth since Charles Darwin’ (Independent) and ‘the most profound scientific thinker of our time’ (Literary Review) continues, in his 95th year, to be the great scientific visionary of our age. This book introduces two new Lovelockian ideas. The first is that three hundred years ago, when Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine, he was unknowingly beginning what Lovelock calls ‘accelerated evolution’, a process which is bringing about change on our planet roughly a million times faster than Darwinian evolution. The second is that as part of this process, humanity has the capacity to become the intelligent part of Gaia, the self-regulating Earth system whose discovery Lovelock first announced nearly 50 years ago. In addition, Lovelock gives his reflections on how scientific advances are made, and his own remarkable life as a lone scientist. The contribution of human beings to our planet is, Lovelock contends, similar to that of the early photosynthesisers around 3.4 billion years ago, which made the Earth’s atmosphere what it was until very recently. By our domination and our invention, we are now changing the atmosphere again. There is little that can be done about this, but instead of feeling guilty about it we should recognise what is happening, prepare for change, and ensure that we survive as a species so we can contribute to – perhaps even guide – the next evolution of Gaia. The road will be rough, but if we are smart enough life will continue on Earth in some form far into the future. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, JAMES LOVELOCK is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). His many books on the subject include Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979), The Revenge of Gaia (2006), and The Vanishing Face of Gaia (2009). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, in 2005 Prospect magazine named him one of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals, and in 2006 he received the Wollaston Medal, the highest Award of the UK Geological Society.

Sipping this with total love on a daily basis gives rise to two burning issues:

Our National Treasure is into his 95th year and here he is with a new book – match that STGRB *cough* authors. More importantly, he is not scared to u-turn or change tack.

Does anyone here read Brain Pickings? there was a great debate about not sticking to a mind-set when interially, a thought is now untenable. **INSERT ARTICLE HERE** The Backfire Effect: The Psychology of Why We Have a Hard Time Changing Our Minds

Don’t try to save the planet in environmental terms, instead build domed, dammed cities, this is the new message in a nutshell.

WOW – how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

Of course you wouldn’t get me or mine kicking or screaming into a sealed-in space where the consumerism vulture can sit on neon light stands to pick off the unwary – we’ll take our chances thank you very much. But hey, you bods who already live in cities, would you even notice if the dome closed over your heads if the rags didn’t inform you? When was the last time anyone looked to the sky when in Picadilly Circus.

Say it was sneakily done – so long as there are shop fronts to languish over and the gossip press pumps gumph out, really, who would notice. Strikes me it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for the majority of first-worlders; so long as young mums can demand to wear Jimmy Choo up to a nine month regardless of the safety of the unborn, who cares about the planet earth.

Did I mention I was cynical?

Did I mention that Lovelock is the bee’s fricking knees?

Okay – I’ve gushed enough and readers need some hard facts – this is repetitive: think Ouspensky’s Strange Life of Ivan Osokin tops, or Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life at base, or Groundhog Day at funniest. Seriously though, look this man up; see what he has been about. Love him.

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We Will Destroy Your Planet

bookshelves: net-galley, how-to, published-2013, little-green-men, amusing, spring-2014, e-book, ipad, sci-fi, war, weapon-evolution, under-20, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, palate-cleanser

Read from April 08 to 09, 2014


Osprey Publishing

Description: Enjoy this pseudo-nonfiction, ‘how-to’ military handbook for aliens intending to conquer the Earth. Science fiction elements are satirized and then connected to real-world science, history, and military technique to show how it should be done.

It goes without saying that any military campaign must be planned in ways depending upon some basic factors: The logistics of where your enemy is in relation to your own forces, environmental factors, and, most importantly, ‘why’ you’re fighting this campaign. This book intends to take these basic factors, and apply them to the purpose of conquering the planet known to the natives as Earth.

There are, of course, many possible reasons for launching a military campaign against such a planet. The form of your campaign, and the formation of its strategic and tactical policies will very much depend on your reason. Obviously the campaign to destroy all sentient life on a planetary surface will be very different in character to a campaign to, say, bring the local population into the fold of your empire or federation – and, frankly, a lot simpler.

Once the reason for conquest, or destruction, has been determined, the book will take a step-by-step approach to the best way to annihilate humanities resistance and bring them to their knees.

Opening to the introduction: Thank you for choosing planet Earth as your conquest target of choice. The local sentient population has long considered it to be a worthy destination for travellers from other planets, alternate dimensions and future timelines.

Maybe it would be good to refresh on just where this target of choice lies in the Milky Way.

However, if Sitchin is right about Niburu, the solar system really works in quite a different way and that could prove quite an obstinate obstacle to wannabee overlords’ invasion tactics.

[Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.
(hide spoiler)]

I am now convinced that there are hordes gathering on the Dark Side of the Moon ready to start a War of the Worlds

The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, he said (ahh, ahh)
The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, but still, they come…

This short book is cram-packed with facts about dimensions, speeds, girths etc. and combined with such an amusing premise I fail to see how it has been so badly overlooked by gift purchasers, powder-room librarians, mums with teenagers.

[

(hide spoiler)]