Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A PIECE OF JUSTICE - Jill Paton Walsh


 










Our amatuer sleuth is a nurse at a Cambridge college and one of her boarders is commissioned to write a biography of a dead mathematician.

What she finds is that three previous people have been given the same commission, two are dead and one missing.

This is a bit silly, our sleuth, Imogen Quy is one of detective fictions folk who is never wrong, knowns more than all the experts, this while doling out aspirins to hung over students in her day job.

Paton Walsh writes a good crime book usually, she has completed the unfinished Wimsey book that Dorothy L. Sayers did not finish before her death and has written a couple more Wimsey's which are fun.

This however, is not that flash, trying to be Miss Marple without a decent story (the Cambridge College she is employed by is St Agatha's).











DRINK TO YESTERDAY - Manning Coles












Manning Coles has never existed, it is a pseudonym of Adelaide Manning and Cyril Coles.

This is a few levels up in darkness from what The 39 Steps is. Michael Kingston and 17 year old with a gift for languages who is drafted into the British Secret Service in 1915.  He ends up in an undercover role Germany.

This was written in 1940 and as I said, it is very dark, not a tale of daring do, violent and surprisingly deep, certainly not a propaganda piece glorifying war.

Kingston's Secret Service mentor went on to star in a series of books written by the two authors.  

Recommended


 

BLACKOUT IN GRETLEY -J B Priestley


 










Humphrey Neyland a Intelligence officer for the British is sent to the industrial town of Gretley to uncover German spies.

Published in 1942  this is very readable, some good characters while being totally implausible but implausibility has never been a barrier to an enjoyable read.

My only criticism is every now and then Priestley goes off a socialist rant which an be a bit distracting as he over eggs it, meaning a sentence rather than an entire paragraph would have done.

A book of its time.



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

SLOUGH HOUSE- Mick Herron


 










Book seven in the 'Slow Horses' series.  Jackson Lamb and his team of misfits and failures are being used as training targets and then someone begins to make them real targets.

Jackson Lamb is a great character and he screams out to have the late Warren Clarke to play him in the TV series but alas this will never happen.

Apart from Lamb's now familiar quips and put downs,which are world class, this is the weakest of the series.  The story is ordinary, takes forever to get underway, and peter's out at the end to a nothing

This effort by Herron feels rushed and he needs to do better if he wants some longevity for his characters.  Pro tip , you can't keep basing the entire series around three characters.



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

HEAD OF A TRAVELLER - Nicholas Blake












" Nigel Strangeways had always admired Robert Seaton as the greatest poet of his age.  It was shocking to think he might be a murderer..

Scandal erupts when a headless corpse is found floating in the Thames close to the house of England's most famous poet.  Whose body is it? And where is the head?"
 

Nicholas Blake, pseudonym of Cecil Day-Lewis, writes a very good murder mystery and in this book his detective goes closes to having a couple of humorous moments.

A very good series, recommended.











THE MOUNTAINS HAVE A SECRET - Arthur Upfield












"Two hikers have disappeared without trace.. and a police detective who tried to investigate has been murdered."

Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, the half aboriginal detective, is called to solve the mystery.

This is a really good story until the solution is found which is a bit far fetched even for detective fiction.  

Not one of Upfield's best.



MAIGRET IN COURT - Georges Simenon


 










"A woman and her child have been brutally murdered in their flat: the woman's throat slit , and the child smothered.

Standing accused is the victim's nephew..... Is Meurant guilty of this shocking crime, or, as Maigret fears, are the wheels of justice about to destroy an innocent man?"

Simenon is Mr. Consistency, all his books ae well written and very readable.  Author Paul Theroux ,before heading off on his travels was known to grab a handful and head out the door as he knew he wasn't going to be disappointed.