Saturday, November 07, 2015

2015 books, #61-65

A spool of blue thread, by Anne Tyler. London: Vintage, 2015.

Abby Whitshank always starts the story of how she and her husband Red fell in love with It was a beautiful breezy yellow-and-green afternoon...  This is the story of four generations of Whitshanks and a house; and, increasingly, family secrets.  I've been very bad at keeping up with my book reviews, and it's over a month since I read this book, so some of the details of plot have escaped me; but I'd unhesitatingly recommend it!

The monogram murders: the new Hercule Poirot mystery, by Sophie Hannah. London: Harper, 2015.

This was fun. I didn't read it when it came out because it got dreadful reviews; but a colleague whose opinion I trust on these things had enjoyed it.  In this case, three bodies have been found in a London hotel, in their separate rooms, each with a monogrammed cufflink in the mouth.  Poirot and his sidekick on this occasion, a newly-promoted Scotland Yard inspector, investigate. This amused and irritated me in equal measure, as all Hercule Poirot stories do; Poirot is as ever infuriatingly condescending to Inspector Catchpool and still going for the "collecting everyone in the library" school of dénouement; Hannah has done a fine job here and I think the plot is possibly somewhat more interesting than many of Christie's...

The cycling anthology. Volume 1. Edited by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie. London: Yellow Jersey Press, 2014 [originally Peleton Publishing, 2012].

A fine collection of essays of various lengths on professional cycling, written by some of the best journalists in the business; Particular favourites are David Millar reflecting on his impending retirement and his rides with friend Michael Barry around Girona; the story of the Orica-GreenEDGE team; Kenny Pryde with an unusual take on drugs in cycling; and two views of Bradley Wiggins from William Fotheringham and Jeremy Whittle. I'm very glad there are another five of these volumes to get through!

Personal, by Lee Child [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2014.

Someone has taken a pot-shot at the French president, and that someone is obviously an expert sniper. Reacher, not a bad sniper himself, is called in to shortlist the candidates; and then to hunt down a man he'd already put in jail once.  This one takes Reacher to Paris and to London; Child is at his best when introducing Reacher and his companion to British life, as an ex-pat Brit, and this canters along at a fine pace. It's amazing that this series hasn't really flagged in 19 books.

Face of the devil, by N J Cooper [audiobook]. Read by Julia Franklin. Whitley Bay: Soundings, 2011.

Teenager Suzie is found dead near her uncle's boat on the Isle of Wight; Olly Matkin, a schizophrenic schoolmate, is found covered in Suzie's blood, claiming he's killed her to take the devil out of her. Psychologist Karen Taylor and DCI Charlie Trench investigate. Did Olly really kill Suzie, and if so, was he put up to it by someone else?  This is excellent, and the Isle of Wight setting is really interesting too. Julia Franklin is a good reader, if not wildly exciting.

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