Saturday, September 07, 2019

2019 books, #56-60

Bring them home, by DS Butler. Kindle edition.
Where secrets lie, by DS Butler. Kindle edition.

These were both Kindle bargains (most of the non-book-group books I read on the Kindle are, frankly); and very good. Detective Karen Hart lives in Lincolnshire in the house she used to share with her husband and daughter who were killed in a car crash five years earlier.

In Bring them home, two 10-year-old girls leave school a few minutes early, and disappear into thin air. Karen is immediately convinced that she knows who was involved - the girls were last seen on the land of Nigel Palmer, who Karen suspects of the murder of a young woman who rented a cottage from him and then disappeared.  But is Karen's obsession with the Palmers blinkering her to alternative suspects? Her bosses certainly think so.  This has a pleasing number of twists and turns, and characters with interesting background stories; I went straight onto the Kindle site and bought the second one...

In Where secrets lie, an old man's fall down the stairs isn't perhaps what it appears, when a mummified body is found in a suitcase in his front bedroom, and a threatening note is discovered in the kitchen.  Who is the body in the case, and is someone trying to take revenge? Does any of it connect with the old man's past as a headmaster? Again, lots of detours and false leads; all of the detectives in these books are also actual human beings with lives, which isn't always the case...

Would recommend both of these; and am hoping Ms Butler writes some more in this series.

The comforts of home, by Susan Hill [audiobook]. Read by Steven Pacey. Audible edition.

I think that if Steven Pacey didn't read these so very well, I might have given up on Simon Serrailler before now; but he does, so I haven't. Serrailler is still recovering from his near-death experience in the previous book, and has returned to Tarransay island before going back to work. Meanwhile his boss, who is also now his brother-in-law, has asked him to review the details of a cold case to placate the victim's mother who has gone to the press. And Simon's nephew Sam has also turned up on the island in a fug of post-A-level lack of direction. When a woman Simon knows and likes goes missing, he can't resist trying to find her; when her body turns up in the water, Simon ends up as SIO. What looked like a drowning is complicated from two angles; and Simon is too involved in the life of the island to be his usual neutral self.  I always find these books problematic because I am coming to dislike Simon quite a lot, while still being very interested in the other inhabitants of these books...

Turbulence, by David Szalay. Kindle edition.

An extremely quick read! Twelve short stories - well, not so much short stories as vignettes - about people travelling around the globe. Each story leads in to the next - a character in one story then becomes the focus of the next. The chapters are headed with the international airport codes, so it's fun to guess who will be the next main player. Some of these stories are intensely moving; some of them less so. But it says a lot about both the interconnectedness and the isolation of contemporary life. And somehow in very few words, you learn a lot about the culture of each place, and the sense of belonging, or not. Definitely worth a couple of hours of anyone's time.

Mostly murder, by Sir Sydney Smith. London: Granada, 1984. (First published in 1959.)

Sir Sydney Smith would have turned in his grave at the cover Granada put on this book - there's a review from the Daily Express, a warning that "some readers might find the illustrations disturbing!" and lots of pictures of rusty offensive weapons.  There's no doubt, though, that what Sir Sydney was trying to produce was a cross between a memoir and a popular textbook on forensics, and he succeeds on both counts. He talks about his early career in Edinburgh, a period of several years in Egypt where he became an expert on arsenic poisoning and bones, and then returning to Edinburgh to work on cases with, and against, the other forensic experts of the day, including Bernard Spilsbury.  There are some very notorious cases (I heard about this book in Tom Wood's book on Buck Ruxton), and some which establish new techniques in forensics. It's written in a humorous, very readable style which reminds me somewhat of Henry Marsh's Do no harm. Only available second-hand - if anyone reading this would like my somewhat tatty copy, do get in touch.

No comments: