The Noble Outlaw (Crowner John Mystery #11) by Bernard Knight

 

Paul Matthews narrates

Description: When Matthew Morcok, a former master saddler, is found mummified above a renovated school, the authorities call on Sir John de Wolfe and coroner’s clerk Thomas de Peyne to stop what is fast becoming a campaign of terror. Later victims include a master glazier, who’s strangled, and a candle maker impaled through the eye. John’s work is complicated by the conflict between his shady brother-in-law, Richard de Revelle, and Nick of the Moor, an outlaw who returned from the Crusades to find his estates expropriated by de Revelle and de Revelle’s cronies. John makes an arduous wintertime journey into Dartmoor to meet Nick, who’s actually a knight, Nicholas de Arundell. Nick’s plight so moves John that he takes the outlaw’s case to England’s Chief Justiciar for resolution.

A good, solid series so long as the episodes are not encountered back-to-back. Knight’s style is rather old-fashioned and brutish, however he does give us an interesting over-arching personal story with Nesta and Matilda.

3* The Tinner’s Corpse (Crowner John Mystery #5)
3* The Grim Reaper (Crowner John Mystery #6)
3* Fear in the Forest (Crowner John Mystery #7)
3* The Witch Hunter (Crowner John Mystery #8)
3* Figure of Hate (Crowner John Mystery #9)
3* The Noble Outlaw (Crowner John Mystery #11)
TR Crowner Royal (Crowner John Mystery, #13)
3* A Plague of Heretics (Crowner John Mystery #14)

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The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

 

Description: Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the states largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support. The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them and spurs them into surprising actions.

Jonathan Davis narrates.

Book before film.

LATER: No film for me, it would ruin this story in the mind’s eye. The Descendants is not 5* perfect, however it is pretty darn fantastic debut, and so well read by Davis. I have internal film of all the family members, and that, right there, shows how finely wrought Hemmings has crafted them.

My one-liner sum up is this: Mr King, father to Valley Girls, new millenium style, has to grow thick skin in order to keep his family together in the aftermath of tragedy and amidst revelations of disloyalty.

Four and a half Hawaiian Islands

Tales Of London’s Docklands by Henry Bradford

 

First published 2007 as Slaves, Serfs and Wage-Slavery – A Tale of London’s Docklands

Description: Presents an anthology of true stories, drawn from the author’s personal experience as a Registered Docker in the Port of London. This work is an attempt to preserve the memories of day to day life of the docklands in the past. It is of interest to those whose relatives worked as dockers, and to social historians.

Opening: Eric was a year younger than me. Although we had been to the same school in Gravesend and I had encountered him as a boy, we came from different areas within the Borough and never got to know each other for two specific reasons. First, his father was a shipwright, employed by a ship repair company that operated within Tilbury Docks and on vessels on the River Thames. He was therefore classed as an artisan in full-time remunerative employment. This meant Eric was prime candidate for the A and B forms when we were at school. The second reason we didn’t get to know each other was that I was a docker’s son.

Liberally spotted with some fab photos from the author’s collection, I was engrossed in all the little anecdotal stories and built up a good idea of how it must have been working in the Port of London. The overall impression was it must have been a tough life no matter which rôle one worked.

Location 28/140: ‘He never took chances with men’s lives in an industry that had a horrendous number of accidental injuries and deaths. Dock working was always a dangerous game of chance.’

Three canny crane drivers who double up as important bods from the film industry.

Black Man by: Richard K. Morgan

 

Home read. Hard Cover 546 pages AND the audio file.

Description: Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth’s distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back – and into a lucrative living as a bounty hunter and hit man before a police sting landed him in prison – a fate worse than Mars, and much more dangerous.

Luckily, his “enhanced” life also seems to be a charmed one. A new chance at freedom beckons, courtesy of the government. All Marsalis has to do is use his superior skills to bring in another fugitive. But this one is no common criminal. He’s another Thirteen – one who’s already shanghaied a space shuttle, butchered its crew, and left a trail of bodies in his wake on a bloody cross-country spree. And like his pursuer, he was bred to fight to the death. Still, there’s no question Marsalis will take the job. Though it will draw him deep into violence, treachery, corruption, and painful confrontation with himself, anything is better than remaining a prisoner. The real question is: can he remain sane – and alive – long enough to succeed?

First Sentence: He finally found Gray in a MarsPrep camp just over the Bolivian border and into Peru, hiding behind some cheap facial surgery and the name Rodriguez

Now if the story unfolds along the same lines of this brilliant first sentence I will have a damn fine read, don’t you think?

After a quick skim down through the community ratings this seems to be a marmite read and I am already (in chapter three) fed up with the f bomb.

Throwing in the towel at 40%. Life is too short for this annoyance.

Hide by Lisa Gardner

bookshelves: summer-2014, series, tbr-busting-2014, published-2007, mystery-thriller, north-americas, boston, fraudio

Read from June 12 to 23, 2014

 

F 11:31:35

Description: You have good reason to be afraid. . . .

It was a case that haunts Bobby Dodge to this day—the case that nearly killed him and changed his life forever. Now, in an underground chamber on the grounds of an abandoned Massachusetts mental hospital, the gruesome discovery of six mummified corpses resurrects his worst nightmare: the return of a killer he thought dead and buried. There’s no place to run. . . . Bobby’s only lead is wrapped around a dead woman’s neck. Annabelle Granger has been in hiding for as long as she can remember. Her childhood was a blur of new cities and assumed identities. But what—or who—her family was running from, she never knew. Now a body is unearthed from a grave, wearing a necklace bearing Annabelle’s name, and the danger is too close to escape. This time, she’s not going to run. You know he will find you. . . .

The new threat could be the dead psychopath’s copycat, his protégé—or something far more terrifying. Dodge knows the only way to find him is to solve the mystery of Annabelle Granger, and to do that he must team up with his former lover, partner, and friend D. D. Warren from the Boston P.D. But the trail leads back to a woman from Bobby’s past who may be every bit as dangerous as the new killer—a beautiful survivor-turned-avenger with an eerie link to Annabelle. From its tense opening pages to its shocking climax, Hide is a thriller that delves into our deepest, darkest fears. Where there is no one to trust. Where there is no place left to hide.

An engrossing psychological thriller. Solid three for me.

3* Hide (Detective D.D. Warren #2)
4* The Neighbor (Detective D.D. Warren, #3)

Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin – Almost the Truth by Wally K. Daly

bookshelves: summer-2014, play-dramatisation, slavic, fradio, published-2007, radio-4x

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 07 to 15, 2014


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007wvcq

Wally K Daly’s dramatic portrait of ‘the mad monk’ and his evil influence on the Russian Royal family. Stars Robert Glenister.

2* Whistling Wally’s Son
3* Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin
2* Orphans in Waiting

My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone by Naktsang Nulo, Angus Cargill (Translation)

bookshelves: e-book, net-galley, translation, tibet, nonfiction, autobiography-memoir, history, spring-2014, buddhism, bullies, casual-violence, censorship, colonial-overlords, families, gangsters, ipad, lifestyles-deathstyles, ouch, politics, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, true-grime, published-2007, racism, religion, bucolic-or-pastoral, execution, superstitions, tragedy, war

Read from May 08 to 11, 2014


Translation provided by Angus Carghill and Sonam Lhamo

Including a foreword by The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

Description: In My Tibetan Chldhood, Naktsang Nulo recalls his life in Tibet’s Amdo region during the 1950s. From the perspective of himself at age ten, he describes his upbringing as a nomad on Tibet’s eastern plateau. He depicts pilgrimages to monasteries, including a 1500-mile horseback expedition his family made to and from Lhasa. A year or so later, they attempted that same journey as they fled from advancing Chinese troops. Naktsang’s father joined and was killed in the little-known 1958 Amdo rebellion against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the armed branch of the Chinese Communist Party. During the next year, the author and his brother were imprisoned in a camp where, after the onset of famine, very few children survived.

The real significance of this episodic narrative is the way it shows, through the eyes of a child, the suppressed histories of China’s invasion of Tibet. The author’s matter-of-fact accounts cast the atrocities that he relays in stark relief. Remarkably, Naktsang lived to tell his tale. His book was published in 2007 in China, where it was a bestseller before the Chinese government banned it in 2010. It is the most reprinted modern Tibetan literary work. This translation makes a fascinating if painful period of modern Tibetan history accessible in English.

The author and his brother in Chinese clothing at their first government school.

Opening to the Prelude: It was hot at noon that day. We were making our way wearily across a river when we heard guns firing repeatedly from up ahead. We had no idea what was going on, but we were all frightened. Everyone dismounted except for me. Some Tibetan gazelles, startled when they saw us, sprinted to the top of a mountain. I rode over and looked down to the road beneath. It was a Chinese military column, so long that you couldn’t see the beginning or the end of it. They were on horseback.

This autobiography opens out with Nulo’s early memories when there were many battles between the tent peoples, or nomads, on the grassy plains: one chiefdom or clan against another, and retributions sought. Another hazard was the nightime roving of armed bandits.

Written from the memory and onto the page, My Tibetan Childhood is a straight forward and compelling look at old Tibetan customs being smashed to pieces under the Chinese wrecking-ball. There are no hysterics here, nothing mawkish to clutch at pearls and weep into embroidered hankies about – the plain facts are too awful for that sort of pantomime. Just a plain recounting through a young man’s eyes.

Pranks, adventures, superstitions and some tears before bedtime: the story of youth everywhere. It was enjoyiable to read about Nulo’s young escapades and the hazards that life on the grassy plateau threw at him. However, as the Chinese troops come nearer the read becomes darker and infinitely vicious and some parts are tough to read.

This is an important book, one of the defining reads that makes one want to say ‘if you haven’t read this, then we have little in common.’

Sky burial details, murder and torture may disturb, not least because the words are unembellished, however the squeamish can quickly skim over the facts.

The Northeastern part of Amdo was where our author was born. Today, The Han-Chinese is a majority in the eastern part of Qinghai and the provincial capital Xining.

A Tibetan Intellectual, Naktsang Nulo, Shares His Thoughts on Self-Immolations in Tibet (from Jan 2013)

About the author: Naktsang Nulo (born in 1949) worked as an official in the Chinese government, serving as a primary school teacher, police officer, judge, prison governor, and county leader in Qinghai province, China, before retiring in 1993. Angus Cargill was formerly a Lecturer in the Department of Tibetan Language and Literature at Minzu University of China, Beijing.

Trivia: Coral plays a great part in Tibetan culture. It must be that at one time Tibet must have been covered with ocean.

“With little comment or condemnation, [My Tibetan Childhood] records the price paid in lives and lifestyles by the author’s family and community for their incorporation into modern China. . . . In many senses, it is a naive story, the chronicle of a world seen through a child’s eyes. But to readers within Tibet, it was a revelation. It told of epochal events that had rarely if ever been described before in print.”— Robert Barnett, from the introduction.

“As Naktsang tells it, the 1950s were a time of tremendous change: violence, war, exile, survival, and life and death defined so much of the everyday in Amdo and indeed across much of the Tibetan plateau. Told from the perspective of a child, his tale takes us into the complex and at times violent world of Tibetan clans and chiefs. We travel with him and experience the dangers faced on the road: bandits, soldiers, ferocious storms and cold fronts, and hungry wolves. . . . [And we] learn much of the violence that accompanied the ‘peaceful liberation’ of Amdo and the subsequent ‘reforms’ in the late 1950s.”—Ralph A. Litzinger, from the foreword.

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