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

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Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

 

Description: How do you solve a crime when you can’t remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable – just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger.

But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone, except Maud . . .

Some nice ratings around for this one already. Smashing.

I thought this an exceptionally clever debut novel, and we really get inside the mind of senile dementia. But what really is senile dementia if not just the notching up of internal dialogue to the exclusion of all else? Well it’s a safety hazard, that is apparent but not scary per se. I thought the grand-daughter dealt with it all better than daughter Helen.

However Healey did rather over-egg the pudding didn’t she, bet I wasn’t the only one screaming at the pages saying: ‘get the Foxtrot on with it, why don’t you.’

Like I said above, a clever debut where the some of the looseness should have been edited out. Three point five marrow flowers.

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The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

 

Description: In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted exclusively to sickness–as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

Total Duration: 2:18:04

Olwen Wymark’s BBC R4 dramatisation, first broadcast 2001:

Paul Schofield (narrator)
Robert Whitelock (Hans Castorp)
Clive Merrison (Settembrini)
Sian Thomas (Clavdia)
Simon Ludders (Joachim)
John Hartley (Dr Behrens)
Norman Rodway (Peeperkorn)
Rhodri Hugh (Naphta)
Richard Elfyn (Dr Krokowski)
Christine Pritchard (Frau Stohr)
Directed by Alison Hindell, with music by Colin Sell

Schatzalp Davos

Not sure what I thought this story was going to be like, however I have come away satisfied. Mann makes the reader perform emotional somersaults, at times this is stanley-blade morose then quickly the mood changes to satire. I really did not like the blizzard scene.

In the bigger picture, this is another way to view the mentality in Europe circa 1914 – how weird! The music.

Overall, from this superb BBC production, I come away with three Hans Castor(p)s

The Outcast by Sadie Jones

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2008, surrey, britain-england, radio-4, period-piece, abandoned, next, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost

Read from August 02 to 11, 2014

BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009fsnr

Description: 1957, and Lewis Aldridge is travelling back to his home in the South of England. He is straight out of jail and nineteen years old. His return will trigger the implosion not just of his family, but of a whole community.

A decade earlier, his father’s homecoming casts a different shape. The war is over and Gilbert has recently been demobbed. He reverts easily to suburban life – cocktails at six thirty, church on Sundays – but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine. Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert’s wife counters convention, but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.

Not far away, Kit Carmichael keeps watch. She has always understood more than most, not least from what she has been dealt by her own father’s hand. Lewis’s grief and burgeoning rage are all too plain, and Kit makes a private vow to help. But in her attempts to set them both free, she fails to predict the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.

As menacing as it is beautiful, The Outcast is a devastating portrait of small-town hypocrisy from an astonishing new voice.

Even with the lovely Emma Fielding reading and the Surrey location, I just could not warm to this at all. NEXT

The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams

bookshelves: period-piece, britain-wales, published-1941, play-dramatisation, summer-2014, amusing

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read on August 11, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d0kl1

Description: Miss Moffat, an English spinster, settles in a Welsh mining village where she starts a school for the boys of the neighborhood. Morgan Evans shows promise and Miss Moffat determines to do everything possible for him. Against the prejudice of local folk and the wealthy squire, she manages to make good, and in Morgan she finds a young man who will go far. She at last persuades the squire to lend his support, and she prepares the boy to apply for a scholarship to Oxford. Morgan, however, rebels against help from a woman and temporarily succumbs to the charm of a flashy girl. His mistaken sense of obligation nearly ruins his chances of success, and Miss Moffat realizes that her interest in him has become too absorbing. However, her affection for him, her courage and wisdom in the end bring her victory; Morgan wins the scholarship, and Miss Moffat’s work comes to a happy conclusion.

BBC Blurberoonies: Scene: Glansarno, a small village in a remote Welsh countryside. Teacher Miss Moffat is determined to win local miners over to her English ways in this semi-autobiographical work by Emlyn Williams. Time: a period of three years in the latter part of the 19th century.

Tongue in cheek fun at expense of the Chapel, Child Labour, Zenophobia, Misogeny, Blue-stocking Idealism and Willing Repression. Wonderful fun

Best line: ‘Leave those flowers to die a natural death in their beds’

Miss Moffat: Gladys Young.
Morgan Evans: Richard Burton.
Welsh folk songs sung by boys from Aberdare County School.
Adapted for broadcasting by T Rowland Hughes. Produced by PH Burton.
First broadcast on Saturday Night Theatre – BBC Home Service 27th January 1945

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