Sunday, October 26, 2014

2014 books, #81-85

Shots fired: tales from Joe Pickett country, by CJ Box. London: Head of Zeus, 2014.

Short stories from Box, written for different publications and collected here. Some fit into the gaps between Joe Pickett stories, like One-car bridge, a reaction to a bully; others explore Box's fascination with what "normal", everyday people will do when pushed to the limit by unbearable pressure.  One I particularly liked was Pirates of Yellowstone, written for an anthology called Meeting across the river which asked for stories written around Bruce Springsteen's song of the same name; the characterisation struck me as just right for that song. I'm not the world's greatest short story fan, but if you like Box's longer-form fiction, you'll enjoy these and find something a bit different here.

A dark and twisted tide, by Sharon Bolton. London: Corgi, 2014.

A Lacey Flint novel. Lacey has left CID and become a Pc with the River Police; but trouble follows her wherever she goes. While free-swimming, dangerously, in the Thames near her houseboat in Deptford, she finds a body, shrouded and apparently recently freed from the depths of the river; and then strange things begin happening to her boat.  Meanwhile Mark Joesbury also appears to be in difficulties with his latest undercover assignment, and Dana Tulloch has started on a life-changing path.  Bolton looks at contemporary issues of immigration without judgment, while producing a tightly-written, gripping thriller. It'd be better to go back to the beginning of the Lacey series before reading this if you're averse to spoilers, but this book works very well on its own; and if you like books where London, and particularly the Thames, is a character, this is a great one.

Testament of youth: an autobiographical study of the years 1900-1925, by Vera Brittain. London: Virago, 2004. First published in 1933.

I first read this as a teenager, and was struck hard by the account of Brittain's time in the trenches and the physical horror of the injuries suffered by the troops.  Reading it again for book group, and with a lot more information about those times, what upset me most about this account was the coming to terms after the War; both the enforced inability to speak about what had happened to her during that time, in an environment where everyone wanted to forget about it, and the awareness of those studying international relations that it wasn't over, and that a second war seemed all-but-inevitable even in the early 1920s.  I don't think I'd registered the humour, either; or the distance Vera puts between her first love for Roland and having to come to terms with the rest of her life.  I'm so glad I read this again, even if I cried most of the way through it; it's an astounding book and this was the right time to re-read it.

Worth dying for, by Lee Child [audiobook].  Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2010.

After the events of 61 hours (last set of reviews) I ordered this one from the library quite quickly.  Reacher is left at a crossroads miles away from anywhere, and finds his way to an isolated motel. The very drunk doctor next to him at the bar is called out by a patient; while he's reluctant to go, Reacher reminds him of his oath, and offers to drive.  The patient turns out to be the wife of the young scion of the local ruling family, and she's obviously been beaten up... Inevitably, Reacher's walked into trouble again.  Another really excellent Lee Child book; although the violence/compassion ratio in this one is slightly difficult to take.

Through a glass, darkly, by Donna Leon. London: Heinemann, 2006.

I think this is the first of the Brunetti novels I've read - it was given to me by a friend several years ago now, but I often end up reading library books rather than ones I own...  Brunetti is called out by a colleague after the colleague's friend Marco is arrested during an environmental protest against the local large chemical plant; on the way out of the police station, Brunetti meets Marco's very angry father in law.  When the man's wife gets in touch weeks later suggesting her father is threatening to kill Marco, Brunetti feels obliged to investigate; but it's not Marco's body which is later found.  This investigation is set around the fornace (glass foundries) of Murano; it's interestingly plotted, and the Venetian setting is lovely.  I'll have to read more of these.

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