Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 books, #86-90

Freeze frame, by Peter May. Kindle edition.

I'm starting to become quite freaked out with the coincidences in locations with this series of books - I read this while in Morocco for work in November, and one of the first scenes is set in the 1960 Agadir earthquake.  Then two days later, we were in a museum looking at a painting of the 1960 Agadir earthquake...  Anyway; this is another excellent Enzo Macleod mystery, which spans 60 years. Enzo is asked by a man's widow to look at his study and try to figure out the clues he left 20 years ago for his son, who died shortly after him without being able to work out who had killed his father.  The mystery takes Enzo to an island off the coast of Brittany - the man who was tried, and acquitted, of the murder is still around, and many of the locals don't want the story brought to life again.  As ever, Enzo doesn't let this deter him; even though things in his private life are doing their best to distract him...

The box of delights, by John Masefield. London: Egmont, 2014.

I'd forgotten quite how enjoyable this book was; and also that it was the companion to The midnight folk, which I'll have to track down and re-read.  Kay Harker comes home from school for Christmas, but some mysterious characters share a carriage with him, and a strange man at the station tells him that The wolves are running... Then his and his siblings' guardian is called to London at short notice and doesn't reappear, and clergy start disappearing from the Cathedral...  A creepy Christmas tale for all ages.

No man's land, by GM Ford [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Bath: BBC Audio, 2008.

Frank Corso is summoned to a high-security prison, where inmates have taken over.  The ringleader, Timothy Driver, is the subject of one of Corso's biographies, and demands Corso come in and talk to him.  Subsequently Driver kidnaps Corso, and he and another prisoner escape.  Corso is dragged along during a killing spree; and a television journalist is also trying to track Driver and his companion down.  This ought to have been thrilling, and it's read as ably as ever by Jeff Harding, but I did find my attention drifting from time to time...

Fatal pursuit, by Martin Walker. London: Quercus, 2016.

Bruno, chief of police in the Dordogne town of St Denis, is supervising a vintage car rally when news comes that a man has died on the outskirts of the village.  It looks like a natural death - the man is elderly, overweight and has a terrible diet - but Bruno's just not sure.  He can't find the papers the man is meant to have been working on, and there are no files on his computer relating to his current commission.  Meanwhile he's also dealing with a family feud, the car rally and the presence of his old flame Isabelle who has been stationed nearby dealing with a high-level fraud investigation. This series continues to charm, and also to wrap up satisfying plots; bravo.

Blowback, by Peter May. Kindle edition.

Enzo Macleod's fifth cold case from Roger Raffin's book takes him to a chateau in the Jura, home and restaurant to three-star Michelin chef Marc Fraysse, who was murdered seven years before.  He has a limited amount of time to investigate as the restaurant is about to close for the winter season, but he has a mole in the kitchen staff already, and the cooperation, at least initially, of Fraysse's family.  As he investigates, though, he digs up a mass of seething sibling resentment, betrayal and infidelity which both put him into danger and lead to disturbing parallels with his own life.  Another excellent outing for Enzo.

2016 books, #81-85

Bringing in the sheaves: wheat and chaff from my years as a priest, by Richard Coles.  London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2016.

This is a lovely book.  It's based around the church's year, and mixes serious spiritual stuff with the comedy and tragedy of human life as seen by a parish priest.  Coles's compassion shines through, and there's some extremely funny stuff which is instantly recognisable to anyone who's been part of a church community.  Highly recommended.

Fool me once, by Harlan Coben [audiobook]. Read by January LaVoy. [S.l.]: Bolinda Audio, 2016.

What do you do when you've just buried your husband after his brutal murder in Central Park, but then see him on your nanny-cam?  Maya is convinced that Joe is dead, but she also wants to believe the evidence of her own eyes.  Joe's family has many hidden secrets; and Maya's not short of those herself.  This is another real brain-twisting thriller from Coben, who's the specialist in convincing you you haven't a clue what's going on...

Requiem Mass, by Elizabeth Corley [audiobook]. Read by Jonathan Oliver. Bath: Oakhill, [n. d.]

Andrew Fenwick has just returned to work after the death of his wife; he's assigned a missing persons enquiry which initially he feels is beneath him.  Then a teacher is murdered, and it turns out that there is an old link between the two women, and with two or three more.  Fenwick becomes convinced that someone is taking revenge for an old tragedy, and he and his colleagues start to hunt the killer.  This is a bit long, and not all that tightly-plotted; but Fenwick is well enough drawn that I'll look for more by this author.

A mortal curiosity, by Ann Granger [audiobook]. Read by Laurence Kennedy and Maggie Mash. Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes, 2011.

Lizzie Martin is sent off to Hampshire to be companion for a teenage woman, Lucy Craven, who has just lost her baby, and whose husband is in China.  She is living with two maiden aunts in an isolated house, and Lizzie is worried about Lucy's mental state. So is the mysterious Dr Lefebre, and this opinion seems to be confirmed when Lucy is found crouching over the body of a murdered man, covered in blood; the murder weapon is a knife from the aunts' kitchen.  Lizzie calls on Ben Ross, who comes down from London, and the two investigate again.  This has a cliffhanger of an ending...

The Green Mill murder, by Kerry Greenwood. London: Constable, 1993.

Phryne Fisher is at a dance marathon with goopish Charles Freeman when a man is stabbed right beside her.  Charles vanishes before being questioned by the police, and Phryne is left both to find Charles and to investigate the murder.  This is set squarely in the Jazz Age, with the wonderfully named Tintagel Stone and his band, and Phryne's little plane comes into its own here when she has to track down a shellshocked War veteran who has made his home in an isolated part of the Australian bush.  Wonderfully entertaining, as ever...

2016 books, #76-80

Splinter the silence, by Val McDermid [audiobook]. Read by Saul Reichlin. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper, 2015.

Carol Jordan is still in exile, renovating her old barn in the Yorkshire hills. Until one night she has more than one too many, and is picked up by a traffic patrol and charged with drunk driving.  At her lowest, the only person she can think to call is Tony Hill.  But life is about to change for both of them as a result of a Home Office initiative.  Carol and Tony are back in harness, chasing a cyber-bully who seems to be driving feminists to suicide.  Another excellent book in this series.

Conclave, by Robert Harris. London: Hutchinson, 2016.

This book was completely fascinating.  I think anyone following this blog for long will know that a) I'm Catholic and b) I wasn't a fan of the last Pope; so a thriller set at a conclave which might, who knows, elect a progressive Pope was always going to be attractive.  This, in a way, reminds me of earlier John Grisham - the setup is brilliant; the characters are well-defined; there are cliffhangers all along the way; and somehow, the ending is ever so slightly disappointing.  I don't regret reading it, though.

Jeremy Hutchinson's case histories, by Thomas Grant. London: John Murray, 2016.

Recommendation from Jan - thanks!  This is the story of the cases of Jeremy Hutchinson, lawyer to the stars of iconoclasm and freedom of speech from the 1960s onwards.  The trial of George Blake, the Profumo affair, the Chatterley trial, right through to Romans in Britain and Mary Whitehouse, told in an entertaining, engaging style which puts the cases into the context of how the world was at the time. One of the books I enjoyed reading as a teenager was a history of Bernard Spilsbury's cases - this is way better. A truly excellent read.

Blacklight blue, by Peter May. Kindle edition.

The third of the Enzo novels; read it in Colmar in September.  Which was weird, because it starts in Strasbourg, which I was travelling through at the time... Enzo's daughter Kirsty is caught up in an assassination attempt, he's diagnosed with a terminal illness and his son-in-law's gym burns down, all seemingly in an attempt to stop him investigating another of the unsolved murders detailed in Roger Raffin's book.  Enzo establishes his family in a safe house, but the person looking for him is someone with many identities and who will not hesitate to kill.  This one has one heck of a twist in the tail...

The murder of Mary Russell, by Laurie R. King. London: Allison and Busby, 2016.

Mrs Hudson comes home to Sussex to find a large pool of blood on the floor, and no sign of Mary Russell.  She calls the police, and Holmes; but is aware that all the clues left point directly to her - or, in fact, to Clarissa, the woman she once was.  This is much more about Mrs Hudson than it is about Mary or Sherlock Holmes, but it's pretty fascinating for all that, and an interesting exercise in alternative back-stories...