The teleportation accident, by Ned Beauman. London: Sceptre, 2012.
Egon Loeser, an experimental set designer in early 1930s Berlin, is trying to construct a replica of a 17th-century "teleportation device" when he meets Adele Hitler (no relation), falls in love and follows her first to Paris, then to Los Angeles. This is a novel which starts off (as signalled) as Literary Realism, but passes through genres including farce, hardboiled detection, time travel, playscript and science fiction before crashing to a conclusion. It's a very enjoyable read after the first few pages; but I'm not really sure what I got out of it in the end! While you'd think that given the time and place there'd a more political awareness, Loeser is completely politically disengaged throughout the period. I may well go back and read Beauman's first novel, Boxer, beetle, though.
Cross and burn, by Val McDermid [audiobook]. Read by Saul Reichlin. Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes, 2013.
The eighth of the Carol Jordan/Tony Hill series from McDermid, and follows on almost a year after the traumatic events of The Retribution. Carol and Tony are still estranged and trying to rebuild their lives in their different, dysfunctional ways, when two women are abducted, tortured and murdered - the characteristic they have in common is that they both look like Carol Jordan. Paula McIntyre asks for advice from Tony, but then DNA evidence is found which draws McIntyre's new boss DI Fielding to an almost impossible conclusion, and leads Paula to hunt down Carol and enlist her help. This is well up to the usual standard, and Reichlin's reading is excellent as ever.
Think of a number, by John Verdon. London: Penguin, 2010.
Dave Gurney, a retired NYPD homicide detective, is contacted by an old college acquaintance about some very odd letters in verse form he's been receiving. It's a puzzle, and Dave tries to encourage his friend to go to the police; then the friend is killed in circumstances where there's a mass of evidence, none of it pointing anywhere. Meanwhile, Dave's wife Madeleine is more than a little annoyed at his being sucked back into homicide investigation. This is extremely tightly plotted and a real page-turner of a first novel; the author is a retired advertising executive who lives in the Catskills near Gurney's fictional home. If you like early P J Tracy, this is one for you.
French revolutions, by Tim Moore [audiobook]. Read by Andrew Wincott. Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes, 2009.
Tim Moore's gradually growing fascination with the Tour de France, fuelled by early daily TV coverage of the event, reached its apotheosis in 2000, when at the age of 35 he decided to cycle the entire course ahead of that year's riders. Just finding out details of the route in advance was a challenge at that stage (how things like satnav and smartphones have changed things), quite apart from the physical challenges of riding over 3,000 kilometres on roads stacked with old men on butchers' bikes and Norbert Dentressangle pantechnicons. This is an extremely funny account, and Moore is honest about the combination of hubris, chicanery, sheer agonising slog and unpleasant physical side-effects involved in getting round an approximation of the course, while giving some snippets of the history of the Tour. Wincott reads very well (his French pronunciation of Ventoux and Troyes, and his insistence on pronouncing "derailleur" with a French accent aside) and this is a funny, engaging read.
The autobiography of Jack the Ripper, by James Carnac [audiobook]. Read by Mark Meadows and Christian Rodska. Bath: Random House/AudioGO: 2012.
The weirdest thing about this account of Jack the Ripper's exploits is that it came from the estate of the man who invented Larry the Lamb and Toytown. Having looked it up, this is a genuine mystery - is this a work of fiction, or could it be the truth? The jury's still out among Ripper theorists. Whatever it is, it's immensely interesting and entertaining, and gives all sorts of details of life in the East End as well as new ideas about motivation. Christian Rodska is the main reader as the voice of Jack/James Carnac, with Mark Meadows as the "framing" narrator talking about the provenance of the narrative. Rodska is, as usual, utterly compelling as a reader. This is not one for someone who's blood-phobic; but equally, there are no gratuitous blow-by-blow accounts of the killings.