Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 books, #16-20

Adventures in stationery: a journey through your pencil case, by James Ward. London: Profile, 2014.

This is a lovely romp through the history of familiar stationery, from the "lead" pencil to the paperclip via the Bic biro, with its historical rivalries and patent wrangles.  A large amount of its charm is the familiarity of the objects discussed. If you've ever enjoyed a book by Simon Garfield, this may be the one for you...

Oranges are not the only fruit, by Jeanette Winterson. Library eBook.

Sorry for the lack of publication information - the library seems somewhat coy about which supplier it's using!  Think it might be OneClick Digital though.  This book was much funnier than I was remembering, but also more insubstantial somehow - it may just be that it's not out there on its own as a diary of teenage lesbian experience and religious strangeness - definitely worth a re-read though.

Criminal enterprise, by Owen Laukkanen [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Bath: Oakhill, [n. d.]

Carter Tomlin seems to have a perfect life - big house, lovely wife, pair of charming children and a senior job in accountancy.  When his job goes south in the recession of 2008, and he's waiting to negotiate a loan at a new bank, he makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to rob it instead.  Then he robs another. FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere hones in on Tomlin from one direction, while Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens picks up the trail from another. The two cops haven't talked since their first case together, but that's all going to change very quickly; Carter Tomlin's decided he likes robbing banks for the thrill of the thing, and this makes it all very dangerous.  This is a second book by Laukkanen (although sadly the library doesn't have the first one yet), and an accomplished, well-plotted book.

Seven deadly sins: my pursuit of Lance Armstrong, by David Walsh. London: Simon and Schuster, 2013.

More David Walsh - this is almost the story of LA Confidentiel, reviewed in the last set; why it came to be written, and what happened next.  There's a lot more Walsh and a lot less Armstrong in this one; Walsh admits that Armstrong took over his life, and his family, and his energies, for thirteen years, since the first Tour de France victory Walsh simply couldn't believe.  This is fascinating from the point of view of the recent history of cycling, but also as the story of an obsesstion; and as well-written as you'd expect from an award-winning journalist.

The crime writer's guide to police practice and procedure, by Michael O'Byrne. London: Robert Hale, 2009.

Michael O'Byrne uses his expertise in the police in Hong Kong, London, Surrey, Thames Valley and Bedfordshire, where he retired as chief constable, to write this guide for crime writers - he also declares an interest as a yet-to-be-published crime writer himself.  This is a wonderfully readable short guide to current police procedure, from the beginning of an investigation (plot tip: PCSOs are much less likely to throw up at the scene of a murder than CID officers, because they see dead bodies more regularly) through to forensics, presenting evidence in court, collaboration with international agencies and so on.  In each chapter there are also the odd hints and tips about how, while staying within believability, tension or plot elements might be introduced; and it's all presented with the idea that if you're going to throw away the rulebook to make a good story, you may as well know what that rulebook is.  Highly recommended for all readers of crime.