Posts Tagged ‘crime’
Just a couple of my favourite blogs.
Let’s start off with a little word play on Not Always Learning.
To err is human, to typo is anything but divine but it does depend on your point of view.
Over on Beattie they’re talking about The Railway Children. I recall seeing Jenny Agutter in this when I was young, some of the images have stayed with me for ever. I’ve mentioned The Railway Children by E Nesbit before as she has been accused of plagiarism.
Authors generally don’t make a lot of money, James Oswald agrees so he’s keeping his cattle and sheep farm going, partly because it gives him time to think and plot and partly for the money.
Leaving Beattie and going back to Not Always Learning we get some thoughts on discrimination.
Brother Cadfael is a monk/detective, the books are set between 1135 and 1145 in the most beautiful area of Shrewsbury, England. The man himself is pragmatic, prone to getting himself into the thick of things, helping other people and making friends. This is the 11th book in the series. Here’s what it says on the back of the book:
In 1141 England is still torn by the civil strife caused by the struggle for the throne between King Stephen and the Empress Maud. Among the victims of the carnage is the Abbey of Hyde Meade, totally destroyed. Its brothers are scattered far and wide. Two seek refuge in Shrewsbury: Brother Humilis, who has abandoned his intended marriage and entered the clositer after crippling injuries received on the Crusade; and the mute Fidelis, his devoted attendant. All is well until Nicholas, once Humilis’ squire, resolves to pay court on his own account to the girl who was his lord’s affianced bride, and comes to ask his blessing on the suit. Then a latent tragedy becomes a present reality, and only the ever-indefatigable Brother Cadfael can distinguish between the innocent, the guilty and the victims foredoomed by the demands of honour, love, and fate.
As with all the Brother Cadfael books I loved it. Peters is good at showing us how they must have lived in that monastery and gives a good picture of life in those days. She gives me a good grounding in the etiquette of the period and informs on the political situation of the time. Hugh Beringar is the Sheriff of the area and becomes a very good friend of Cadfael. I suspect I could check up the history of the time and find it pretty accurate but I don’t want to find things are different and spoil the romance of the books for me.
Ellis Peters also writes under her real name of Edith Pargeter. She has written history and other historical fiction as well as translating Czech classics. Wouldn’t mind trying to read some of those translations, they could prove very interesting. I strong recommend reading the Cadfael series, the TV series with Derek Jacobi is okay, it does give some idea of the lay of the land but Jacobi doesn’t do a convincing job of Cadfael. Brother Cadfael was a solider and a sailor before he took vows and is described as having a “rolling gait” and I’d imagine he’d be pretty strong but despite doing a good job in every other part of portraying Cadfael he doesn’t seem to show the “rolling gait” or the strength. One scene he stopped someone from hitting another person and it’s not terribly convincing. I normally recommend seeing anything Jacobi has done and did an excellent job in the I, Claudius series. I’ll scribble a few words about those books and series one day after I’ve reviewed them.
Anyway, I heartily recommend reading Ellis Peters. The violence is gently portrayed as is every thing else that could cause a problem for younger readers, I have no hesitation in giving them to teenage devourers of historical fiction or crime fiction.
This is the 24th book in the Cat Who series, also called the Jim Qwilleran Feline Whodunit series. You can find my scribbles about the second book in the series here. Here’s the synopsis from the dustjacket, it’s been a real pain to type out as it’s printed in white text on an orange background, don’t they know about contrast?
Pickax’s favourite columnist, James Qwilleran, is enjoying a brief holiday at the Nutcracker Inn in the nearby town of Black Creek – but his two Siamese, who prefer the spaciousness of their home beg to differ. At least the many squirrels that have free rein on the grounds of the inn provide some measure of entertainment for Koko and Yum Yum, while Qwilleran unearths lots of material for his book-in-progress, Tall and Short Tales.
But it’s not long before the blissful tranquility is interrupted by the discovery of a body floating down the creek – the body of a man who had been a guest at the inn. And a possible motive for his murder is suggested when several gold nuggets are found in his possession. Might he have been illegally prospecting for gold in the Black Forest Conservancy, or perhaps beneath the creek? If so, it seems he wasn’t the only one in search of an easy fortune. And his competitor is far more determined to strike it rich…
Braun seems to have a penchant for Gilbert and Sullivan. Not only are the two cats named after characters from The Mikado but she brings the operettas into action whenever she can. Not that I mind as I’m quite partial to a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan and The Pirates of Penzance is one of my favourites…although I could say that about most of them.
In this book Jim Qwilleran has moved on in life and doesn’t mind writing about the minutiae of life, he seems to have forgotten he was once a high flying detective writer at the newspaper and is content. He’s in the middle of writing a book and collects material for it wherever he goes and collects material for his popular column, Straight From the Quill Pen. He also seems to have inherited a lot of money and has created a foundation to use it wisely.
The cats are still as imperious as ever, Koko loves going for a walk and the best place for him is on Qwilleran’s shoulder with the harness around him. Qwilleran gives them an amazing variety of treats and they respond by pretending to be human and sussing out the clues as only cats can do.
I enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend it. It’s light enough with concepts easy enough to recommend it to the younger end of the young adult reading age. I wouldn’t dare show it to my kids, they might want cats…
I’ve been wanting to read a Peter Straub book since I found him on Twitter some time ago, I finally found the time and the book altogether and was very pleased with the result. Here’s the description from the back of the book.
On the tiny Caribbean island of Mill Walk, the rich play tennis, polo and golf, trying to ignore the distasteful, uncomfortable and irritating realities of life. So when Tom Pasmore, the grandson of a powerful establishment figure, develops a passion for detective work – particularly murder cases – his reputation undergoes a subtle darkening. And his growing friendship with his strange neighbour, Lamont von Heilitz, the once-famous ‘amateur of crime’, only adds to Mill Walk society opinion that Tom Pasmore is perhaps not entirely reliable.
One murder in particular fascinates Tom – the 1925 killing of Jeanine Thielman at Eagle Lake, a resort patronized only by the cream of the island’s upper crust community. But when he starts investigating the case, Tom arouses much more than mere disapproval. On the edge of a sinister web of corruption, deceit and violence, he is in danger of uncovering the darkest secrets of the people who own and run Mill Walk…
I found this book very nicely put together. The characters were believable and the events very nicely dovetailed together, I didn’t find any inconsistencies. It was interesting being taken around this tiny little island in the middle of the Caribbean and being shown the two different types of societies dwelling there. You have the uppercrust who have a lot of money and have no time for anybody without money, those who make sure their daughters marry the right kind of people i.e. those with money and those who have previously been vetted and let into society. Then you have the lower classes who struggle for money and live in very shabby circumstances, some of whom just happen to have information that would be detrimental to the those in the upper class. Tom Pasmore’s grandfather is possibly the top of that society and holds many strings, he doesn’t want to see that change. It was interesting to see how Straub mostly showed this with the residences, the upper class have grand houses in beautiful suburbs while the lower classes have shabby flats which felt as though there were many shadows there.
The bulk of this book was set in the 1960′s, a time of ‘free love’ when things changed a lot. I didn’t see a lot of evidence of this a couple of small references. I had to figure out the time setting from when the murder happened and when people were born. Maybe that had to do with the small island setting where things move much more slowly or maybe I just didn’t see the references.
I did enjoy the book, I will be looking for more by Straub. I found it challenging to put down and finished it far faster than my time and the 548 pages should have allowed.
Poirot (by Agatha Christie) is probably the most loved of fictional detectives. There are two more who spring to mind as being fairly closely loved and they are Miss Marple (also written by Agatha Christie) and Sherlock Holmes. These three detectives are very different personalities and the one who stands out the most with his mannerisms and personality just happens to be Herule Poirot. Many people think he’s French but he’s actually Belgium and the accents are similar but different. I’ve met both French and Belgium people in real life and I noticed the difference in the accents the moment the Belgium lady started to talk.
There have been a number of TV series made from Agatha Christie’s books. The two best actors of Poirot are David Suchet and Peter Ustinov. I’ve always said if they could combine these two people you’d have one perfect Poirot as Peter Ustinov had the mannerisms absolutely perfect while David Suchet totally looked the part.
I’ve seen this idea on a couple of blogs recently and thought it’d be a good thing to include here. You can see it on Book Bites.
Do you ever crave reading crappy books?
I have to admit I do. There’s one series of books which is seriously crappy, but I just love them. It’s The Destroyer series written by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. The plot, if you can call it that, is based around a policeman who is framed for murder, “killed” in a electric chair, resurrected and trained to be a lethal killer. Remo Williams is that man and he is trained by Chiun who teaches him to be a very successful assassin. At this point the Government unleashes him on unsuspecting bad people and he resolves any situation.
I read these books as a teenager and loved them then. I recently came across one of those titles and just had to pick it up. I was so excited to read it again and found it to be just the same, but totally enjoyable. Seeing as there’s only 145 titles I think I have a way to go to collect them all; the fact that I have nowhere to store that many books is totally irrelevent as any good bookaholic will tell you.
Flesh and Blood – Jonathan Kellerman
I’ve been wondering how I’d be able to read enough to be able to blog about them. I may be a fast reader but I really don’t have a lot of time to read and a couple of weeks ago I remembered I had some audio tapes. I pulled one out of the cupboard, it’s pre-loved and I don’t want to sell anything substandard so I must listen to it. I finished Flesh and Blood by Jonathan Kellerman today on the way home from a funeral. An interesting juxtaposition of fiction and reality except my great uncle was 96 and died of natural causes.
The author comes from a book writing family. Both himself and his wife are published authors as is their son. You can find more details on Feed Your Reading Habit. Jonathan was a child psychologist and his crime fighting hero, Alex Delaware, is also a psychologist. In this book Alex Delaware traces the murder of a young patient.
Sometimes audio books are abridged and they always say the abridgement has been approved by the author so one hopes the abridgement has been done well. I am going to have to find the complete book and reread it. It was a great listen, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well drawn and it was easy to see the detective friend trying to rein in the psychologist without success. I have no hesitation recommending this author to others who enjoy crime books. Along with characters and the writing I liked the way the hero had a good, ongoing relationship, it did become a bit rocky due to the nature of the case he was working on but at the end of the book they’re both trying to make amends.
You can find more about the books Jonathan writes on his website. I really wish I hadn’t looked at his website, though, I’ve just found the next book of his I absolutely need to read and my To Be Read Pile is so big as I’ve just found a whole pile of biographies and autobiographies. Anyway, it’s called Obsession and it’s about…wait for it…obsession behaviour. Very exciting!!
Violence including death
I declare that the following article is my own work.
DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SHORT STORIES – UNTANGLING THE THREADS.
30th May 1947 – 30th May 2009, celebrating 62 years of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’
When, on 6th October 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, a play written by Agatha Christie, opened at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England, it had already undergone transformation from a radio play to a short story and then into the stage play. The play, ‘The Mousetrap’, was based on the short story, ‘Three Blind Mice’, written by Agatha Christie in a collection of her stories entitled ‘Three Blind Mice and other Stories’, which was published only in the United States of America in 1950, but the short story had previously been published in England in a women’s magazine in serial form. ‘Three Blind Mice’, a thirty minute radio play, was written in response to Queen Mary’s request for a play by Agatha Christie to celebrate her 80th birthday and was transmitted by the BBC on 30th May, 1947.
On 25th November, 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, the stage play, opened in the West End of London in the Ambassadors Theatre, and ran there until 23rd March 1974, when it was moved to the larger St Martin’s Theatre, next door, opening on 25th March 1974, keeping its ‘initial run’ status, where it still plays. It is the longest running play in history, and as requested by Dame Agatha Christie, the short story has never been published in England in any short story collection. Film adaptation, under the contract conditions of the play, will not be considered until the play has stopped running for a period of six months.
Such is the acclaim for Agatha Christie, often dubbed ‘The Queen of Crime’, and her works, in 1962, UNESCO claimed she was the ‘most widely read British writer in the world’, beating William Shakespeare for the first position. With her deft writing skills, Christie taunted her readers, laying red herrings to confuse them, and tacitly challenging them to unravel the mystery within her works. Her characters were believable and her writing style was fluid and compact. Author of numerous novels, radio plays, television plays and other works, Christie wrote 160 short stories.
Her novels beguile us, but her collections of short stories may have exactly the same effect for a different reason. While some collections of Christie’s short stories share the same title in the UK and in the USA, most do not. Many of Christie’s books were published firstly in England then later in America. To appeal to the American market, the titles were sometimes changed and another cover picture was created, more appropriate to the American life-style. ‘Poirot’s Early Cases’ (UK) was changed to ‘Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases’ for the American market, presumably because Hercule Poirot at that time was not as well known in America as he was in England. ‘Double Sin and Other Stories’ (US) contains eight short stories, which cannot be found together as a collection published in the UK, but can be found as parts of four other collections in England (‘Poirot’s Early Cases’, ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Other Entrees’, ‘Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories’ and ‘The Hound of Death and Other Stories’). Many of her short story collections suffered the same fate.
Whether it was because of cultural differences or for financial reasons, that Agatha Christie’s and/or her publishers chose to separate and publish her short stories in different collections, we may never know. To get a definitive collection of Agatha Christie’s short stories has, perhaps, become as much a challenge to unravel as anything Christie herself wrote.
To the ‘Queen of Crime’, long may she reign…..
Dame Agatha Christie: 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976.
1.‘The Mousetrap and Agatha Christie’ by Sir Peter Saunders, in ‘50th Year Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap’, Souvenir Brochure.
2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
© Valerie Ann Lettau 20th May 2009.
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