Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 books, #21-25

Stone kiss, by Faye Kellerman [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Oxford: Isis, 2003.

Another Kellerman I'd read but forgotten most of - this time set in the Orthodox community of New York, where Decker is embroiled in his half-brother's family's troubles - a murder and a missing niece. It rattles along quite well, but ultimately, there's something unconvincing about Decker going it alone in New York rather than letting the NYPD deal with the case, given his attitude when on home turf. Another excellent Jeff Harding reading though.

Sugar and spice, by Saffina Desforges. Kindle edition.

I think this is the first book I've read which is only available in electronic editions, which is interesting; and it's a strange one. Two boys find a severed arm in a canal, which turns out to belong to missing ten-year-old Rebecca Meadows. The usual (paedophile) suspects are rounded up, and one man in particular seems to be a likely candidate. After some somewhat extreme police brutality, he confesses, but his solicitor is convinced he's innocent. Meanwhile, a father who is increasingly concerned about his own fantasies about young girls is seeking help at a specialist clinic. In parts, this reads like an undergraduate abnormal psychology course, but Desforges makes her characters strangely compelling, and it's an interesting exploration of some pretty unpleasant human behaviour which fails to dehumanise most of the characters.

Invisible, by Lorena McCourtney. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell, 2004.

Ivy Malone's best friend dies, and she gradually becomes aware that she's all-but-invisible, as a little old lady, to the rest of the world. Rather than giving up and fading away, she decides to use this to her advantage in solving the mysteries of a vandalised graveyard and a missing neighbour. This is a gentle book, very much a "cozy" in US crime novel terms, but it rattles along very entertainingly.

Wading home: a novel of New Orleans, by Rosalyn Story. Chicago, Ill.: Agate, [n.d.]

This was another Kindle special offer, and it's a wonderful book. A young jazz trumpeter, Julian, is playing in Japan when he hears news of Hurricane Katrina, and goes home to New Orleans to find his father who had intended to weather out the storm. Going home means Julian has to confront all the reasons he left in the first place, and also brings him into contact with family and old friends who make him reconsider his life. There's a wonderful cast of characters, and it's a genuinely moving read from start to finish.

B**locks to Alton Towers: uncommonly British days out, by Robin Halstead, Jason Hazeley, Alex Morris and Joel Morris. London: Penguin, 2006.

This is just a lovely, gently funny, knowing book about the "characteristically British mistrust of ostentation [and] love of the modest, the enthusiastic and the unusual... We also seem to have a disproportionate affection for the barely-buttoned-down insanity of the Victorians... This is the antithesis of one-size-fits-all entertainment". From the Morpeth Bagpipe Museum to the Porteath Bee Centre, the David Beckham Trail to Diggerland, these are attractions mainly staffed by enthusiasts and usually catering to some overwhelming obsession. Throughout, the locations are treated with affection and wit; and you learn a smattering of history along with each entry.

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