Sunday, June 9, 2019

THE MONK -Matthew Lewis

The Monk: A Romance is a Gothic novel written by Matthew Gregory Lewis published in 1796.  A quickly written book from early in Lewis's career (in one letter he claimed to ahve written the novel in 10 weeks...)it was published before he turned twenty.   It is a prime example of the male Gothic that specializes in the aspect of horror. Its convoluted and scandalous plot made it one of the most important Gothic novels of its time.  (Wiki)

This is excellent, remarkably graphic in its description of murder, rape,incest and general skulduggery for its time.

If you find it make sure its the original or this Folio Society edition.  Over the centuries the god botherers have got at it and watered parts of it down.  Its needs to be read as written.

THE SPY'S BEDSIDE BOOK - Hugh & Graham Greene

This classic anthology, includes stories by some of the great writers on spying and many practitioners, including Ian Fleming and John Buchan, Sir Robert Baden-Powell and Belle Boyd, Walter Schellenberg and Sir Paul Dukes.

This is a good bath book, containing snippets from well known and some more obscure spy novels.  It was published in 1957 so all the stories are of a time but as stated , a good light read.

METROPOLIS - Philip Kerr

Berlin 1928, the height of the Weimar Republic.  Bernie is a young detective working in vice when he is seconded to investigate the Silesian Station killings:  four prostitutes murdered in as many weeks, and in the same gruesome manner.

Unfortunately this is the very last in the Gunther series, the author died in 2018 and this is his last effort.

It's not great but I am assuming the author was already ill when he wrote it.  But this has been a great series, I've been on it from the beginning, all 14 novels &of those only one was a complete dud, a couple like this haven't been great but overall one of the best series written.

THRONES, DOMINATIONS- Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane begin their new life in 1936 London.  Soon they are moving in fashionable circles-  and one of their wealthy new acquaintances becomes a murder victim.

Sayers began writing this book in 1936 and then put it aside.  Her estate found the manuscript and asked Walsh to complete the story.

This is pretty much tripe with a very contrived ending.  I am fortunate in that I read one of Walsh's standalone Wimsey stories prior which is excellent.  If I hadn't I would say stay away but give Walsh's own Wimsey stories ago, give this a miss.

VENGEANCE - Benjamin Black

Why would a suicide need a witness?

On the east coast of Ireland Victor Delahaye, one of the country's most prominent citizens, takes his business partners son out sailing.  But once at sea, Davy Clancy is horrified to witness Delahaye take out a gun and shoot himself dead.

Quirke, a Dublin pathologist again gets himself involved and uncovers the usual nest of intrigue and family double dealing that populate these stories.

This isn't  as strong as the earlier ones in the series but worth a read if you like your mysteries more about thinking than busting doors down.

Monday, May 6, 2019


This is another book I've read several times and never tire of.  It will be read several more times as well as there is so much in this as well as being a very good murder mystery.

The story is set in 1327 where Brother William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk are travelling in relation to the heresies that have split the church.   William is an ex-inquisitor who is no slug intellectually.

They stop at an Abby where over the next seven days several murders occur and William is tasked to solve them by the Abbot.

As stated there is much religious philosophy, much discussion of how the church should be run, much to think about as well as a cracking mystery.

A  great book.

THE 39 STEPS - John Buchan

This is one of the original great adventure yarns, I have no idea how many times I've read it but I take it our every few years and still get great enjoyment from it.

Richard Hannay has returned to England to retire after years in Africa.  Through circumstances he befriends a man who ends up murdered in his flat.  So begins a chase by the police and 'agents of a foreign power' across large chunks of Scotland.

Yes, there are ridiculous coincidences but who cares.  This has never been out of print since it was first published in 1915 and every couple of years you can see why.