Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 books, #71-75

The hour: sporting immortality the hard way, by Michael Hutchinson. London: Yellow Jersey Press, 2007.

Hutchinson (@Doctor_Hutch on Twitter) started off as an academic in international law, but after realising it bored him to death he pursued his alternative career as a writer and cyclist, more specifically a time-triallist.  He has been extremely successful with a men's record of 56 national and international ITT races, in a time when cycling hadn't hit the stellar heights it has now.  This book is mainly about his preparations for the Hour Record, which ultimately he didn't manage to break.  It's told in a funny, occasionally moving style, full of the trials and tribulations of shifting requirements from the commissaires, supportive (and not) e-mails from previous record-holders, and a history of the Hour itself.  And it's being told by someone with a pretty ordinary budget; you can't necessarily imagine Bradley Wiggins trying to get two bicycle frames from Heathrow by Tube, for instance...  Lovely book, extremely well written.

Deity, by Steven Dunne [audiobook]. Read by Jonathan Keeble. Bath: Oakhill, [no date].

Four Derby College students go missing, but few worry too much about disaffected sixth-formers taking off.  Until a video is broadcast on the internet, purporting to show the sutdents committing suicide.  Is it real, or fake?  And either way, why has it been produced?  DI Damien Brook investigates.  This rattles along very nicely, with some seriously creepy bits towards the end; and there are a satisfying number of twists and turns.  Nice workmanlike reading by Jonathan Keeble, too.

Little black lies, by Sharon Bolton [audiobook]. Read by Antonia Beamish, Kenny Blyth and Antonia Price-Lewis. Oxford: Isis, 2015.

It's 12 years after the Falklands War.  Catrin Quinn is still grieving for the two boys she lost when her best friend's car rolled over a cliff, carrying them with it. Callum Murray is still suffering from the post-traumatic stress caused by the war. Rachel Grimwood is still racked by the guilt of Catrin's boys' death.  And then young boys start disappearing, three in three years...  This is a complex story, told from all three points of view; who are we meant to believe? it's never obvious.  This is another excellent book from Bolton, and a great reading from all three voices.

Close encounters of the furred kind, by Tom Cox. London: Sphere, 2015.

Another lovely book from Tom Cox.  A book about four cats and their humans should be a bit twee; but somehow isn't. Mainly because Cox is loving, but not sentimental, about all animal life, and his account of moving within Norfolk and then to Devon is appropriately enthusiastic about parts of country life, but realistic about other elements.  Sweary Shipley, self-obsessed Ralph, intrepid Roscoe and, of course, poet-philosopher The Bear, all play their parts here, along with glorious ginger George and assorted neighbouring cats including the memorable Uncle Fuckykins.  The human cast of characters include Tom's Dad, a man who speaks ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS. There are also little interludes such as the Cat Horoscope section, which includes Gemini: This week brings a significant fork in the road for you, in the form of having to decide whether to sit on two clean towels or in a plant.  If you've ever owned, or been owned by, a cat, you'll laugh and cry your way through this.

Time of death, by Mark Billingham [audiobook]. Read by the author. Oxford: Isis, 2015.

Tom Thorne and Helen Weeks manage to get a weekend away on their own; but then they turn on the TV and see the partner of one of Helen's schoolfriends being arrested for the abduction of two teenage girls.  Helen goes back to her home town to support her friend, but old secrets start coming out of the woodwork, along with old resentments.  Characteristically tightly plotted, and with elements of Billingham's sense of humour, this is also an excellent reading by the author.  The consistency of this series is amazing.


3 comments:

Jane Susanna Ennis said...

Would love to read 'Knitting by the Fireside and on the Hillside' but it appears only to be available for more than £100!!!

Liz said...

I borrowed it from the university library in Cambridge; your local library may well be able to get hold of it on inter-library loan. Sorry not to reply directly, but I couldn't see a way to contact you on your profile. Good luck!

Jane Susanna Ennis said...

Thanks. Our local library is unfortunately having difficulty in providing an Inter-Library loan service, in fact providing a library service at all, but I'd better not start on that here!