Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 books, #71-75

Mr Briggs' hat: a sensational account of Britain's first railway murder, by Kate Colquhoun.   London: Little, Brown, 2011.

I have two objections to this book I'll get out of the way straight away.  One is the punctuation in the title and throughout - I'm firmly in the "s after the apostrophe" camp, after living in or near a town with a Queen's College and a Queens' Road (named after multiple queens) for the last 25 years or so...  I know style-guides differ; but I'm nothing if not fixed in my opinion about these things.  The second is more of a warning - if you want to avoid being totally spoilered, do not even glance at the second set of photographs before reaching the end - grrrrrr.  But apart from that...  this is an extremely enjoyable book.  There's a surprising amount of pre-forensic forensic detail, and a real attempt to recreate the crime from its artefacts.  There's a lot of interesting stuff on the general climate of the times as regards crime and punishment, and a lot about the development of London.  And there's a genuine and ongoing mystery and ambiguity at the heart of the book.  I'd recommend getting the paperback if you can - I read the hardback but a book-group friend read us the post-script from the paperback edition; the publication of the hardback brought out some further detail from relatives of the victim and some early 1860s photographs of him and his family.

Skin,  by Mo Hayder.  London: Bantam, 2009.

Another rather gruesome offering from Mo Hayder, but nowhere near as nasty as Ritual; and develops the relationship, or lack of relationship, between Flea Marley and Jack Caffery.  Somehow, this middle book in a sort of trilogy is a bit of a filler, despite having its own plotline; but none the less readable for that.

One shot, by Lee Child [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2005.

Another excellent Jack Reacher book.  This time, a shooting by a lone gunman in a small Indiana city looks like an open-and-shut case, until Reacher rolls into town.  He, more than most, knows that the gunman is guilty - the same man carried out a similar killing 14 years before in Kuwait City.  Sometimes, though, the evidence is just too perfect... and Reacher can't resist investigating.

And a rantette.  At one point in this book we get a rundown on Reacher's appearance.  6'5"; dirty blond hair; piercing blue eyes; 250lb.  So; who have they cast for the films?  Anyone who said "Tom Cruise"; well done...  While I realise there's some sort of willingness to suspend disbelief for the movies, you can go too far... many of the elements in this book just wouldn't work with someone of smaller stature.  Brute force is part of Reacher's repertoire, and while Mr Cruise is a fine actor, based on The Firm, A Few Good Men and Rain Man, he ain't Jack Reacher.  Needless to say, not something I'll be queuing to watch.

Until proven guilty, by J A Jance. Large print edition. Bath: BBC Audiobooks/Harper Collins, 2005.

Hm.  I had these recommended on Ravelry when we were talking about settings for novels and I was wondering if anyone had written a series based in Seattle, and on the basis of the first one, I'm not sure I'll go all the way through.  The plot is interesting enough, although it's pretty obvious from early on who the murderer is, but the main character does come over as a bit of a gullible idiot... I have the second one though, so will give this series another try...

Drop shot, by Harlan Coben.  London: Orion, 2002.

Another Myron Bolitar book, this one set around tennis and the US Open.  The dialogue in these books is so funny, and the main characters so interesting, that an excellent, twisty plot which is genuinely surprising at points is a very nice extra...  A young woman, a former tennis prodigy, is shot at the US Open while looking for Myron.  On investigation, there's a connection between her, one of Myron's current clients, and the murder 6 years before of the girl's fiancé... and the plot just keeps on thickening...

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