The Master of Ballantrae

 

bookshelves: adventure, classic, historical-fiction, revenge, britain-scotland, victorian, seven-seas, war, published-1889, hardback

Read in June, 2009, read count: 2

 

Description: Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry’s wife Alison; and on those narrators whom Stevenson so skilfully employs to present their experiences of this charming, ruthless, and evil man.

A very fragile copy of my mothers – faded red cloth, inscribed Gillian R Tanner(1956) and the price? 4/-, that’s four shillings to us who remember the ol’ conundrums. I think this is my favourite RLS; it is so dark.

At that time [1745:] there dwelt a family of four persons in the house of Durrisdeer, near St Brides, on the Solway shore; a chief hold of their race since the Reformation.

The Rising(from Wiki)

The novel is presented as the memoir of one Ephraim Mackellar, steward of the Durrisdeer estate in Scotland. The novel opens in 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rising. When Bonnie Prince Charlie raises the banner of the Stewarts the Durie family–the Laird of Durrisdeer, his older son James Durie (the Master of Ballantrae) and his younger son Henry Durie–decide on a common strategy: one son will join the uprising while the other will join the loyalists. That way, whichever side wins the family’s noble status and estate will be preserved. Logically, the younger son should join the rebels, but the Master insists on being the rebel (a more exciting choice) and contemptuously accuses Henry of trying to usurp his place, comparing him to Jacob. The two sons agree to toss a coin to determine who goes. The Master wins and departs to join the Rising, while Henry remains in support of King George II.

Ailean Breic Stuibhairt was an 18th-century soldier and Scottish Jacobite resistance figure. He was the centre of a murder case that inspired novels by Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Notorious as the Appin Murderer.

Dead Man’s Time by Peter James

 

Description: New York, 1922. Five-year-old Gavin Daly and his seven-year-old sister, Aileen, are boarding the SS Mauretania to Dublin—and safety. Their mother has been shot and their Irish mobster father abducted. Suddenly, a messenger hands Gavin a piece of paper on which are written four names and eleven numbers, a cryptic message that will haunt him all his life, and his father’s pocket watch. As the ship sails, Gavin watches Manhattan fade into the dusk and makes a promise, that one day he will return and find his father.

Brighton, 2012. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a savage burglary in Brighton, in which an old lady is murdered and £10m of antiques have been taken, including a rare vintage watch. To Grace’s surprise, the antiques are unimportant to her family—it is the watch they want back. As his investigation probes deeper, he realizes he has kicked over a hornets nest of new and ancient hatreds. At its heart is one man, Gavin Daly, the dead woman’s ninety-five-year-old brother. He has a score to settle and a promise to keep—both of which lead to a murderous trail linking the antiques world of Brighton, the crime fraternity of Spain’s Marbella, and New York.

Dedication: FOR PAT LANIGAN
This book would never have happened without your generosity in sharing your family history with me

Opening: Brooklyn, February 1922
The boy’s father kissed him goodnight for the last time – although neither of them knew that.
The boy never went to sleep until he had had that kiss. Every night, late, long after he had gone to bed, he would lie waiting in the darkness, until he heard the door of his room open, and saw the light flood in from the landing. Then the shadowy figure and the sound of his father’s heavy footsteps across the bare boards. ‘Hey, little guy, you still awake?’ he would say in his low, booming voice.

I so love the casting here, especially Glenn, and the over-arching storyline of their personal lives. We are still waiting for a resolution over Sandi, and each book I wonder: ‘will this be the one where we get to know her fate?’

Because I love these characters, so much so that I like to point out things that seem slightly out of step with how I perceive the set-up:

Okay, here’s the thing: Cleo, in the view I have had built up for me by Peter James would not be reading Fifty Shades of Grey, now would she.

Oh! look at this: R.M.S Mauretania

Best line: ‘exuded all the personality of an unplugged fridge’

Disputing the ease of location 100/433: If you want a telegram from the Queen on your 100th birthday, be prepared for a frightful slog”

The music:
BEETHOVEN.ODE TO JOY
Dr. Hook – The Millionaire
Marla Glen – The Cost Of Freedom

4* Dead Simple (Roy Grace, #1)
4* Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace, #2)
4* Not Dead Enough (Roy Grace, #3)
4* Dead Man’s Footsteps (Roy Grace, #4)
4* Dead Tomorrow (Roy Grace, #5)
3* Dead Like You (Roy Grace, #6)
3* Dead Man’s Grip (Roy Grace, #7)
3* Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace, #8)
4* Dead Man’s Time (Roy Grace, #9)

Dead Men’s Bones by James Oswald

Dead Men's Bones (Inspector McLean, #4)

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, mystery-thriller, series, newtome-author, e-book, fife, britain-scotland, ipad, casual-violence, contemporary, cults-societies-brotherhoods, execution, eye-scorcher, games-people-play, gangsters, gorefest, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, net-galley, ouch, recreational-homicide, revenge, sleazy, superstitions, suicide, twist-on-a-theme

Read from August 02 to 03, 2014

 

Description: Dead Men’s Bones is the fourth novel in James Oswald’s phenomenal Inspector Mclean series set in Edinburgh.

The body of a prominent Scottish MP is discovered outside his home, a remote house in North East Fife. In a horrifying attack, Andrew Weatherly has killed his wife and two young daughters, before turning his gun on himself.

The question on everyone’s lips is why would this successful and wealthy man commit such a gruesome crime?

Inspector Tony McLean is surprised to find himself at the centre of this high profile investigation. The deeper he digs, the more McLean realizes he is being used in a game between shadowy factions from the world of power and privilege.

Pressure is on to wrap up the case. That would go against everything McLean believes in . . . but to carry on will threaten the lives of his closest friends and colleagues.

Opening: The pain is everywhere.
It pulses through his head is if there’s a hole in his skull and someone is squeezing his brain in time to his heart beat.

Several pals have reported that series is incredibly good and given this, my only foray so far, proves them right. It is the marvellous tone of the proceedings that makes this book stand out: the backdrop of Scotland in referendum year, the police coming to terms with Police Scotland and all the insecurities roiling in the wake of these issues. A lot of space is given over to ex-soldiers being unable to connect or settle down to civvy life after the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq, so they become foot soldiers in the army of the homeless; a stark look at how Community Care fails in the bigger picture.

Inspector McLean is a man with recent injuries and who has to attend physiotherapy and counselling sessions and I mean to backtrack to the previous books to find out the answers to some of my questions, however this works well enough as a standalone.

The middle section of this story was eye-scorching, nevertheless, slight cracks started appearing towards the end; a supernatural element was alluded to on several occasions that seemed at odds with the story that had gone before. It could be posited that this was excellent police procedural for a good three quarters and then it seemed to change genre and leave some unresolved issues. For these issues Dead Man’s Bones loses glister where more patience in the fine-tuning would have made all the difference.

Would I recommend it? Oh yes, but with the above caveats. Three and a half bowls from Bobby’s soup kitchen.

‘The Bull’ Roslin Glen

Roslin Glen, cup and ring marks

————————————————————

James Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels. The first three, Natural Causes, The Book of Souls and The Hangman’s Song are also available as Penguin paperbacks and ebooks. He has written an epic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro, which is published by Penguin, as well as comic scripts and short stories.

In his spare time he runs a 350-acre livestock farm in North East Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney Sheep.

Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac, Johanna Ward (Narrator)

bookshelves: published-1846, france, winter20092010, classic, fraudio, revenge

Read in January, 2010

 

– James Waring, Translator
– Unabridged
– 12 Tapes = 17 Hrs. 30 Mins
– Blackstone Audiobooks
– January 2000

BLURB – “Bette is a wronged soul; and when her passion does break, it is, as Balzac says, sublime and terrifying,” wrote V. S. Pritchett. A late masterpiece in Balzac’s La Comédie Humaine, Cousin Bette is the story of a Vosges peasant who rebels against her scornful upper-class relatives, skillfully turning their selfish obsessions against them. The novel exemplifies what Henry James described as Balzac’s “huge, all-compassing, all-desiring, all-devouring love of reality.”

——

FROM WIKI – French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec depicted lesbian relationships similar to (though more explicit than) that of Bette and Valérie, as in his 1893 painting “In Bed”

Lisbeth Fischer (Cousin Bette) is described as “maigre, brune … les sourcils épais et réunis par un bouquet … quelques verrues dans sa face longue et simiesque” (“lean, brown, with … thick eyebrows joining in a tuft … and some moles on her narrow simian face”)

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.

Cold Heart, Cruel Hand: A Novel Of Hereward The Wake and The Fen Rebellion of 1070-1071 by Laurence J. Brown, Derek Richardson

bookshelves: published-2004, historical-fiction, conflagration, britain-england, medieval5c-16c, revenge, war, norfolk, paper-read

Read in June, 2009


My cover is unavailable on GR:

Dedication: For Kaye, with love

Front Quote:

Cold heart and cruel hand
Now rule across the land

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

Opening:

1070
They left York by the Jubber Gate, what remained of it, like thieves in the night. Behind them smoke from the blackened timbers of the burning City billowed skywards, choking the night air, obscuring the moon, covering their escape.

[..]the fens, a stinking wilderness of sky and mud. It was rumoured that the fen dwellers had webbed feet, that nature had intervened to prevent them sinking into the endless marshland.

Sweyn II Estridson (Svend Estridsen) April 28, 1074

A great fictional read about a very obscure part of English medieval history, although a proof reader would not have gone amiss and the book length may have been reduced by, say, four pages if all the modern curses had been taken away. But I loved it, all those ‘bloody’ villains – and what about the coracle action to set the bridge aflame.

Yes, loves me some neat coracle action.

Seeing that history can never be construed as a spoiler, I will add that Hereward ultimately loses the battle to keep the Isle of Ely out of The Conqueror’s hands.

3.5* upped to 4* for a great hero.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

    Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan
    Sean Harris as Joss Merlyn
    Shirley Henderson as Hannah Davey
    Joanne Whalley as Patience Merlyn
    Matthew McNulty as Jem Merlyn
    Ben Daniels as Francis Davey
    Andrew Scarborough as Magistrate Bassat
    Danny Miller as William
    Scarlett Archer as Beth

Production details: Filming began in September 2013 in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria. It was originally decided that the series would be filmed in Northern Ireland. The BBC was criticised for filming in Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, as opposed to a location in Cornwall. An investment from Screen Yorkshire was provided for the series. The three-part series was commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen, both from the BBC.

Episode 1: (the mumbling one) Orphaned Mary Yellan travels to the remote Jamaica Inn to live with her Aunt Patience and brutal Uncle Joss. Isolated and alone, Mary must learn to navigate the perils of the smugglers’ world and her dangerous desire for Jem Merlyn.

Episode 2:

BBC receives over 100 complaints for episode one

The story itself remains a 3.75* read, however this TV miniseries is atrocious and I could not possibly recommend it.

Forbush and the Penguins

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, antarctica, published-1965, zoology, under-20, sciences, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, debut

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Charles
Read from April 16 to 24, 2014

 

Description: ‘Forbush and the Penguins’ is the story of a young man on a solitary mission in Antarctica who finds the challenge of being “the only man in the world” as enriching as it is terrifying.

The main man is hunting down the film whilst I hunt for book bargains. Thanks Charles, this definitely looks right up my alley/down my street.

HUZZAH – found a ‘v. good condition’ one-penny-wonder

Dedication: FOR LYNDSEY

Opening: When the helicopter had gone and its sound was no more than a minute concussion of the air on the eardrums Forbush stood in the centre of the ring of stones to look up at the smoking mountain, Erebus, and ask for a safe conduct through the summer. In return he pledged truthfulness, the will to try.

The pages are sepia coloured but clean and barely opened, so my guess is that this has stood on a shelf since 1965.

Shackleton’s motor car

Mount Erebus

The Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence.

Hayley Mills with John Hurt, set before the antarctic journey

“Mr Forbush and the Penguins”

The Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), also called the Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand, Tasmania, across most of mainland Australia and in Timor, southern New Guinea and nearby islands. This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent’s most widely distributed and common owl.

The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, most of which – including mopoke, morepork, ruru and boobook itself – are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird’s distinctive two-pitched call.

MacCormick’s Skua

sea leopard

seal

The Count of Monte Cristo

bookshelves: re-visit-2014, re-read, revenge, epic-proportions, betrayal, published-1844, france, seven-seas, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, treasure, napoleonic, spring-2014

Read from January 01, 1986 to April 23, 2014, read count: 2

 

I promised myself a re-acquaintance with this epic back when I was reading The Black Count, so this re-visit comes via the 2002 film, with Jim Caviezel in the lead rôle. Look at the stats for the book:

4.13* · 409,590 ratings · 10,981 reviews

Chateau d’If

The Count of Monte Cristo – Finding The Treasure

The Count of Monte Cristo – The Ball

Magnificant film with a distorted ending. All I want to do now is re-read the book from top to toe.

The Pursued by C.S. Forester

bookshelves: radio-4, spring-2014, published-1935, mystery-thriller, play-dramatisation, britain-england, bullies, casual-violence, lifestyles-deathstyles, ouch, revenge, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 15 to 20, 2014

 

Description: Most famous for his Hornblower series, C.S. Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction, portraying ordinary, desperate people committing monstrous acts, and showing events spiralling terribly, chillingly, out of control.

The Pursued is a dark tale of retribution.
When Marjorie finds Dorothy, her pretty young sister, lying dead with her head in the oven the obvious assumption is suicide. But the girl’s mother, Mrs Clair, a tough-minded woman is not convinced. She believes that Dorothy was murdered by Marjorie’s cheating husband Ted. Unable to prove her theory, Mrs Clair begins to cook up a secret, terrible revenge.

Dramatised by Paul Mendelson
Music composed by Gary C. Newman
Clarinet: Samantha Baldwin
Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

This from The Independent:

Cecil Louis Troughton Smith wrote this sleek crime novel under his famed pen name of C S Forester in 1935, but it got lost soon after he had finished writing it. He held onto the hope that it might one day be found and published, and wrote in his autobiography: “It is just possible that a typescript still exists, forgotten and gathering dust in a rarely used storeroom in Boston or Bloomsbury.”