Sunday, April 03, 2016

2016 books, #26-30

Bury your dead, by Louise Penny [audiobook]. Read by Adam Sims. Oxford: Isis, 2011.

Armand Gamache is in Qu├ębec City, recovering from the effects of his previous case. Jean-Guy Beauvoir is in Three Pines, doing the same.  Neither of them can resist an investigation, though, when it's presented to them; in Beauvoir's case, the conviction of Olivier in the previous book; in Gamache's, a centuries' old mystery culminating in a new murder.  But throughout both stories, there's an extra voice; the voice of young Agent Paul Morin, speaking from the grave.  All three mysteries come to a climax at the same time; it's a fascinating bit of storytelling and quite haunting, literally and figuratively. Brilliant.

The world of cycling according to G, by Geraint Thomas, written with Tom Fordyce. London: Quercus, 2015.

This is such a good book. Once I've reviewed it, I'll be returning it to the pile by the bed so I can dip into it again.  It's funny, all the way through.  It's informative - there are even diagrams to explain things like echelons. It has some brilliant anecdotes - the terrible things Geraint and Ed Clancy did to Mark Cavendish's strict diet, roasting lamb chops in front of Cav, etc.  And it shows both the pain of endurance cycling, and the reasons someone like G will get up in the morning with a cracked pelvis and go out there again.  Oh, and it really is so funny.  Read this book.

The disappeared, by M R Hall [audiobook]. Read by Sian Thomas. Bristol: Chivers/BBC Audiobooks, [n.d.]

Jenny Cooper is getting used to her job as Severn Valley's coroner; but then she has to deal with the distraught mother of a Muslim boy who has just had him declared dead. The police have written him off as a Jihadi; but Jenny feels the mother deserves an inquest into the disappearance given some of the suspicious circumstances.  Meanwhile Jenny's own teenage boy isn't wildly happy to be living with her, and she's torn between two potential relationships. Sian Thomas gives a good reading, and this is another excellent book by Hall.

Jacquard's web: how a hand-loom led to the birth of the information age, by James Essinger. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Serendipitous find while idly looking for weaving in the University Library's catalogue.  This is a fascinating book which takes you through the influence of Jacquard's punch-card weaving invention on Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, through the business calculators of the 19th century and through to the birth of companies like IBM and into the computer age.  At all stages, the author has dug out details of the explicit mentions of the Jacquard weaving process and its influence in information science.  For anyone interested in either subject, this book is fascinating and extremely readable.  Having spent a couple of days tracing Jacquard around Croix-Rousse last year (still haven't blogged the photos!), even more fascinating.

Extraordinary people, by Peter May. London: Quercus, 2006.

A new-to-me Peter May series - delighted to find I like this one too.  Enzo MacLeod lives in Cahors with daughter Sophie, and works as a professor of biology.  But his past history as a forensic scientist comes back to him with a wager made with a journalist that he'll solve the disappearance and suspected murder of a prominent politician ten years before.  The first clues to what happened to Jacques Gaillard come quickly, but they just reveal more puzzles, and as Enzo and Roger continue to investigate, they run into trouble from the authorities.  There's an interesting plot here which just fails to fall into Da Vince Code style occult conspiracy theory; and Enzo operating both as a scientist and an exasperated Dad is fun.