Sunday, December 31, 2017

WHOSE BODY? - Dorothy L. Sayers

It was the body of tall stout man.  On is dead face, a handsome pair of gold pince-nez mocked death with a grotesque elegance.  The body wore nothing else.

Lord Peter Wimsey knew immediately what the corpse was supposed to be.  His problem was to find out whose body had found its way into Mr Alfred Thipp's Battersea bathroom.

This is the first Wimsey novel and is written as a straight whodunnit while introducing the cast of characters that would remain for the rest of the series.

The ending is a bit of a stretch but as I've read the majority of the series prior to this I know things improve rapidly and they become solid stories.

Friday, December 29, 2017


New York City, 1896. Hypocrisy in high places is rife, police corruption is common place, and a brutal killer is terrorizing young male prostitutes.  Unfortunately for the Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, the physiological profiling of murderers is a practice still in its infancy, struggling to make headway against the prejudices of those who prefer the mentally ill- and the 'alienists' who treat them- to be out of sight as well as out of mind.  But as the body count rises, Roosevelt swallows his doubts and turns to the eminent alienist Dr Laslo Kreizler to put a stop to the bloody murders- giving Kreizler a chance to take him further into the dark heart of criminality, and one step closer to death.

This turned out to be a run of the mill serial killer story with it's only real point of difference being that of its setting, old New York.

The author is a military historian by trade and does fill the book with interesting snippets on what the city was like at the time of the books setting.  This entails full descriptions of the filth and the horrid conditions many of the immigrants lived in and other bits on how corruption ruled the city.

However, the main purpose of the book is a novel about a murderer and as this is the case the author needed a ruthless editor.  The book is in excess of six hundred pages and the story would have lost nothing if the editor struck out two hundred of these pages. 

There is just too much filler and I found this to be a distraction.

Monday, December 18, 2017


Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai
is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other 'midnight's children all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts.  Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem's story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.

This novel was voted the "Booker of Booker's", the best Booker winner of its first twenty five years.  I've had some bad experience's with Booker winners over the years but this is brilliant, absolutely amazing.

In the introduction from this 2005 edition Rushdie says " In the West people tended to read Midnight's Children as a fantasy, while in India people thought of it as pretty realistic, almost a history book."  As a feat of imagination it a monster, its a history lesson, its a geography lesson but for me the highlight is the family interaction, the observation of family life is faultless.

For me its like a fireworks display, there is always something happening and you have to concentrate  the entire time.

This is one of the great novels so there are thousands of reviews out there that do a much better job explaining this book than my burbling's but I'd suggest you just set a fortnight aside and get reading.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

DANCERS IN MOURNING - Margery Allingham

Jimmy Sutane, a talented dancer and the idol of musical revue,is the victim of a series of particularly vicious practical jokes.  This inane persecution attains such a degree that Mr Campion is invited to investigate.  Mr Campion visits White Walls, Sutane's country house, and on his first night there the first of  of a number of pointless, seemingly irresponsible murders is perpetuated. The victim is Chloe Pye, an intriguing unscrupulous woman, and her death could have been an accident or perhaps suicide, but in either case it was extremely convenient for quite a few people.

In an atmosphere of bewildering and increasing tension, and a situation not assisted by Mr Champion's emotional entanglements, the story is carried to an unexpected, exciting climax.

This is Allingham writing a country house murder mystery and it's dull as dishwater. The characters are all dull  and even for this type of story extremely one dimensional.

The only break in this dreary read is the appearance of Lugg, Campion's man, to add some humour and level headedness to the investigation.

All the usual police associates feature but are bit players, even Campion is off his game becoming very withdrawn after falling for one of the females involved. This isn't much fun and the ending while revealatory as is necessary in a murder mystery, is wrapped up by such a writers 'cheat' so as to be annoying.  Not one of her best by a mile.