Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 books, #1-5

So much for my new year plans to blog more!  However, here are some books.  I hope to have some knitting to show later!

False charity, by Veronica Heley [audiobook]. Read by Patience Tomlinson.  Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2007.

Bea Abbott returns from New Zealand newly widowed and has to decide what to do with The Abbott Agency, a business dealing with domestic crises.  Her son, an MP, thinks she should sell the house to him and move to the seaside, but Bea isn't keen.  While she's been away, her son has hired a secretary, Maggie, who turns out to be great at housekeeping but a dead loss in the office; Maggie in turn has brought in Oliver, an 18-year-old computer whizz who's estranged from his family.  In addition, Bea's late husband has also enlisted her ex-husband, Piers, to look after her.  When Coral, an old friend and long-term client, reports losses due to fraud from a party-organising company working for tsunami charities, the unlikely household investigates.  Very entertainingly written and well-plotted.

The house at Sea's End, by Elly Griffiths. London: Quercus, 2011.

Ruth Galloway's baby, Kate, has now been born, and Ruth is returning to work after maternity leave.  The first case she is called out on is the discovery of six bodies in a grave on the sea-coast, in an area affected by severe coastal erosion.  The bodies are tied together in pairs and seem to have been executed sometime in the middle of the 20th century.  What should be an archaeological puzzle suddenly becomes an active police investigation when a contemporary body washes ashore - someone is killing the witnesses to the event and those investigating.  As well as an excellent plot, the relationship between Ruth, Nelson and their baby is also intriguing, and Griffiths also explores the guilt a single, working mother feels around childcare and trying to juggle two full-time jobs.

Play to kill, by P J Tracy. London: Penguin, 2010.

Another extremely good Gino and Magozzi thriller which discusses wider issues.  This time, what starts off as the mildly bizarre murder of a transvestite in a wedding dress leads to a more serious problem - someone is killing people and posting the videos to YouTube.  Are the murders linked, or is there some sort of group forming which is performing these killings?  As with anything (knitting, for instance), there's strength in numbers out on the Web, and people encourage each other along, in this case to carry out more and more extreme killings.  As ever, the Monkeewrench geeks are also involved.  The characterisation and tight plotting is great, and the relationships between the various characters are lovely.  A slightly odd ending to this one - I'll be intrigued as to what happens next.

Pirate king, by Laurie R King. London: Allison and Busby, 2011.

The latest of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries.  The plot setup for this one is really bizarre - Russell is despatched to investigate a film company which is making a film about people making a film of The pirates of Penzance.  To add further complication to the story, once the crew reaches Portugal they recruit pirates to play actors playing English gentlemen disguised as pirates.  The absurdity of the situation isn't lost on Russell and King really does run amusingly with it, possibly at the expense of a comprehensible plot and some of Russell's usual common sense.  There isn't as much interaction between Holmes and Russell as usual - Holmes only appears at least halfway through the book - but it's an enjoyable read.

Moon over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch [audiobook]. Read by Kobna Holbrook-Smith. Oxford: Isis, 2011.

Sequel to Rivers of London; I'd been warned it wasn't as good as the first book, and it couldn't really be, because the entire setup was surprising the first time round and the author is sort of riffing on the atmosphere he's created.  Which is appropriate, as someone seems to be killing jazzmen in Soho clubs.  The sense of humour and absurdity in the style is carried on into this second novel, and the plot barrels along nicely.  The geographic accuracy carries on, too, which is always fun - you can really follow them around the streets...  One of the best elements, though, is that actions and damage are shown to have real consequences.  So many times in novels, our heroes are shot, beaten up, tortured, etc., etc., and bounce back to appear in the next book with only the odd twinge to remind them.  One of the main characters in the previous novel still isn't back at work, or anywhere near it, at the end of this novel, and there's a very moving final scene in this book.