Books

Back last year after I posted I went to the local St Vinnies and found they had many books. So I gave them about 100 that I had culled. They talked me into voluntering there when I can and I try to do it every week.

It is actually quite fulfilling. I try to get kids that come in to get their parents (usually Mum) to get them a book, and then I buy it for them !!

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Good luck with the Odyssey. I read it and the Iliad on audiobook not so long ago. I can’t say I was knocked out by the splendour of the works. Basically they just go on and on and on. It’s quite interesting when you come across a story you know, like the Sirens or Scylla and Charybdis, but as story it’s not riveting.

I’m about 150 pages in and, yep, Hammer has produced another ripsnorter of a novel that is developing beautifully and is as good as or better than his earlier works.

He again indulges his penchant for quirky character names!

edit: Just finished this. Wow. What an epic! Regular Hammer readers will be thrilled by the surprise re-appearance of a couple of characters from his earlier books. 9/10

Finished Ripper by Shelley Burr. It wasn’t bad, but I was getting a bit confused at the end. I sort of feel I should have read her Wake first. There are so many references to prior events, on two parts.

Onto The Seven now.

Just finished Nancy Mitford’s “Wigs on the Green” written in 1935, a book she refused to have reissued during her lifetime. And for good reason. As incongruous as it seems now, this cutting parody focuses on the emerging fascist movement in England.
Nancy had a wicked wit, too sharp for her sisters, Unity and Diana, who were furious at their thinly veiled depictions. Under legal and family pressures, Mitford removed large sections of the text depicting Diana’s later husband and fascist leader Mosley. Unity went further down the dark path and joined the Nazi party and became part of Hitler’s inner circle.
I learned all this after starting the book which I’d picked up in search of some acerbic wit, and soon found my eyes widening at the treatment of what was to become a much more sinister topic. She later conceded that subsequent events had killed off the comic edge and she had no desire to reignite family wars, hence the decision to block a new edition.
I did find it funny, it is Mitford after all, and a fascinating insight into the way Nazi sympathisers were viewed in pre war England. But I can see how the jokes would have fallen flat in the post war period. I wouldn’t mind reading the excised section but alas this was the published version.

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I’ve taken your advice and started with “Wake” and was very impressed with it. Shelley Burr is yet another in a recent long list of excellent new Australian authors. 8/10 for me.

Onto “Ripper” next, which I see again features the character of Lane Holland.

Just finished this one, and Burr has maintained the standard of writing she displayed in her debut novel. The ending leaves room for Holland to reappear in future. 8/10

I’d certainly recommend that potential readers of her work start with the first book to avoid spoilers and to make certain references in this one make much more sense.

There’s an interesting article on Benjamin Stevenson in last Friday’s Spectrum section of The Age.

With his identical twin, James, he’s part of a musical comedy act, The Stevenson Project.

Might explain his affinity with identical twins in Either Side of Midnight.

Edit…and another article in the same section about various critics ranting about Richard Osman’s latest, because it just perpetuates the twee English stereotypes. I have news for him…there’s a number of crime genres…and these are Cosy Crime. There’s Modern Crime, Historical Crime, True Crime, and Modern Crime breaks into different types…different backgrounds.

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I just finished this. It was given to me and sat on the shelf for nearly a year. I agree with your review, but I’m no literary critic and did enjoy it after the first couple of chapters. Was worth reading, not bad for a first novel. There’s also factual historical context re the Oxford Dictionary that I had no idea of.

I just finished The Seven…took a while to warm up but then sailed towards the finish. I’m not sure that all the stuff with Bessie was really warranted though…minimal payback.

Onto Shelley Burr’s Wake now.

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Loved it…Having spent some time in rural Australia I adore how he takes actual small town characteristics and proclivities and magnifies them to the nth degree. It’s always a wild ride.

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Finished Wake by Shelley Burr today. It brought a few things from Ripper into clearer focus.

Time for some lighter material for a few days.

Might go for that second Terra Alta novel next, but they’re pretty gritty.

It’s pretty remote too…western NSW, near Cameron’s Corner.

Made a start on this today. A group of crime/mystery authors are on The Ghan travelling from Darwin to Adelaide when one of them is murdered and the others attempt to work out who the perpetrator may be.

So far it is a hugely funny and enjoyable read and up to the high standard of his previous novel which is among one of the most original and amusing books I’ve read.

I recently read the latest Mick Herron, The Secret Hours. I actually read it twice: once as an audiobook, but missed half of it due to interruptions of various sorts, and then in print. It’s a kind of prequel to the Slow Horses series and one of his best, I think. You really need to have read the others to get the best out of it, but if you have then it all makes a lot of sense. Highly recommended.

I also read the latest Thursday Murder Club, The Last Devil to Die. The same recipe as the others. Better than his last effort, but I preferred the Mick Herron.

One of the best things I’ve read this year. It is very funny, well plotted, nicely written, offbeat and has the hallmark of the best whodunnits in that it kept me guessing all the way. 9/10

It would pay to read the first Ernest Cunningham book before this one, the equally fantastic “Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone”.

One of the reviews I checked (after finishing the book!) refers to Anthony Horowitz, with whom I am unfamiliar. Anybody read any of his (adult) novels and care to comment?

Just started ‘I am Pilgrim’. Anyone read it? Good so far.

I bought it today, solely on your recommendation, so if I don’t like it, watch out!

I also got the new Michael Connelly, Resurrection Walk, which combines Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, possibly Bosch’s swansong.

And The Drowning by the iconic Aussie actor Bryan Brown. I liked his previous book of short stories, Sweet Jimmy.

Before starting on Connelly, I finished The Tea Ladies by Amanda Hampson.

Set in the fashion business of Surry Hills in Sydney in the 60s, it’s got distinct shades of Richard Osman about it. An enjoyable read - very much in the Cosy Crime genre.

I reviewed this one about two months ago. Didn’t rate it highly.

Well, I sort of damned it with faint praise. Doesn’t offend, but you won’t write home to mum about it.