TBR Thursday 195…

Episode 195

On the surface, a little rise of 1 in the TBR to 231 doesn’t sound too bad, really, does it? But the underlying problem – aka the postman – means that sackfuls of books could be arriving over the next week! This happens every time I do a quarterly round-up – I get so smug about how well I’m doing, I go temporarily mad. At least, I’m hoping it’s temporarily…

Here are a few more I shall take with me to my padded cell…

True Crime

Courtesy of Random House Cornerstone via NetGalley. I know nothing about this crime, nor was I aware of Harper Lee’s ambition to write a true crime novel. But the blurb makes it sound a fascinating story…

The Blurb says: The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had travelled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more working on her own version of the case.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime

Courtesy of the British Library. The BL have issued three of Michael Gilbert’s books in the last couple of months, and this is the second of them. I thoroughly enjoyed Smallbone Deceased, so have high hopes for this one. The setting sounds very different to anything I’ve come across before in vintage crime. And even by the BL’s always fab standards, isn’t this the most gorgeous cover?

The Blurb says: A man is found dead in an escape tunnel beneath an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Did he die in an accidental collapse – or was this murder? Captain Henry ‘Cuckoo’ Goyles, master tunneller and amateur detective, takes up the case.

This classic locked-room mystery with a closed circle of suspects is woven together with a thrilling story of escape from the camp, as the Second World War nears its endgame and the British prisoners prepare to flee into the Italian countryside.

* * * * *


Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley. Fantasy? Me?? I can’t for the life of me work out why I requested this one! Probably brainwashed by the drip-drip-drip of glowing reviews I’ve read for Guy Gavriel Kay’s previous books. Well, the Renaissance Italy-style setting appeals, so we’ll see…

The Blurb says: In a chamber overlooking the night-time waterways of a maritime city, a man looks back on his youth and the people who shaped his life. Danio Cerra’s intelligence won him entry to a renowned school, though he was only the son of a tailor. He took service at the court of a ruling count – and soon learned why that man was known as The Beast.

Danio’s fate changed the moment he recognized Adria Ripoli as she entered the count’s chambers one night – intending to kill. Born to power, Adria had chosen a life of danger – and freedom – instead.

Other vivid figures share the story: a healer determined to defy her expected lot; a charming, frivolous son of immense wealth; a religious leader more decadent than devout; and, affecting these lives and many more, two mercenary commanders, whose rivalry puts a world in the balance.

* * * * *

Fiction on Audio

This won the Saltire Society Literary Award for Scottish Book of the Year in 2010 – generally considered the most prestigious of Scottish literary awards. And since then, it’s gained something of a reputation as a modern classic, possibly because it caught the navel-gazing zeitgeist of Scotland in the run-up to the independence referendum. The audiobook is over 33 hours long, so at my glacial speed with audiobooks, I’m expecting to be listening to this for the next few months! 

The Blurb says: Michael Pendreich is curating an exhibition of photographs by his late, celebrated father Angus for the National Gallery of Photography in Edinburgh. The show will cover fifty years of Scottish life but, as he arranges the images and writes his catalogue essay, what story is Michael really trying to tell: his father’s, his own or that of Scotland itself? And what of the stories of the individuals captured by Angus Pendreich’s lens over all those decades? The homeless wanderer collecting pebbles; the Second World War veteran and the Asian shopkeeper, fighting to make better lives for their families; the Conservative MP with a secret passion, and his drop-out sister, vengeful against class privilege; the alcoholic intelligence officer betrayed on all sides, not least by his own inadequacy; the activists fighting for Scottish Home Rule – all have their own tales to tell. Tracing the intertwined lives of an unforgettable cast of characters, James Robertson’s new novel is a searching journey into the heart of a country of high hopes and unfulfilled dreams, private compromises and hidden agendas. Brilliantly blending the personal and the political, And The Land Stay Still sweeps away the dust and grime of the postwar years to reveal a rich mosaic of 20th-century Scottish life.

* * * * *

NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads, Amazon UK, Audible UK or NetGalley.

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

41 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 195…

  1. Only one more book on the list? That’s terrific! Furious Hours looks intriguing, but the cover of Death in Captivity is truly gorgeous. It’s strange that all of the crimes in the British Library Crime Classics books take place in pretty locations though…


  2. I think you’ve done quite well to add only one book to your TBR, FictionFan. That calls for a piece of cake. But I would keep close track of all feline online orders, in case they’re in league with postman to send you more books…

    Furious Hours interests me, and I’m not usually one to go for true crime, unless it’s quite well done. I’ll be very interested in what you think of that one.


    • On the upside, Tommy has taken to sleeping on the doormat, so if an unexpected book pops through the letterbox he’ll get bonked on the head! Now I just have to find a way to get my own back on Tuppence… 😈

      It’s the story of Harper Lee as much as the crime that intrigues me about Furious Hours. I didn’t know she’d tried to write her own true crime book, and I’m interested to find out why she failed…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I don’t usually read fantasy – maybe I didn’t read the blurb thoroughly when I requested it. But true crime is often enjoyable, despite my rather uncomfortable feeling of being a bit voyeuristic when reading it…


  3. Love the photo from a great episode of Twilight Zone, starring the always interesting William Shatner!

    Wow! A fantasy book! Hope it’s good. I’ve only attempted Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay since he’s considered one of the fantasy genre greats. I say attempted because honestly it was a DNF for me, not because of the quality of the book but because I just wasn’t in the mood for political drama.


    • I love William Shatner, and wasn’t he gorgeous as a young man??

      Hmm… interestingly, if this one reads like political drama that’ll work much better for me than fantasy usually does! It’s ages since I requested it and I can’t remember why I did, but it does look intriguing…


  4. I agree with Eva— this increase, even if only by one, pleases me. Now where are these sacks full of books? Harper Lee and I fully endorse your choice of the first book. I definitely want to hear more about that, and I’ve always wanted to try Kay…have a few books here unread. Can’t wait for your thoughts on that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re all a bunch of book pushers!! There should be a law against it! 😉 The Harper Lee one does look interesting – and my cats reckon if I read it, you’ll have to read a Tommy & Tuppence book! Ha! I really have an aversion to fantasy usually so I can’t think why I requested the Kay, but I’ve heard so many good things – I’ll be trying to go in with an open mind… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great gif! I added a couple more books this week…my shelves were lacking any John Grisham so I went for a true crime and a fiction. And I have three more in my basket on Amazon…no idea what my overall TBR numbers are 🤪


  6. The Harper Lee one sounds interesting. I’ll be waiting to read your review on that! I’ve never read Guy Gabriel Kay (I don’t read much fantasy either) but met him a couple years ago when he came to our local writers festival. I didn’t recognize him and had a very awkward conversation with him and now that’s all I think about when I see his books.


  7. Ha! One of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone! 😉 I never knew Harper Lee was interested in writing about true crime, but given her friendship with Capote, I guess it makes sense.


    • Wasn’t William Shatner gorgeous as a young man? 😀 I didn’t know that about Harper Lee either, and it’s that aspect that intrigues more than the actual true crime… fingers crossed it lives up to its blurb!


  8. The Casey Cep book is the most intriguing for me… I’ll wait for your thoughts before I add it to the TBR though. 33 hours for the audio book! Egads! I take forever with audio too, and my podcast addiction has only gotten worse lately. I think I’ve listened to only one audio book all year so far.


    • I’m looking forward to the Casey Cep too – it sounds fascinating, as much for the Harper Lee element as for the actual true crime. Haha – I’ve already been listening to And the Land Lay Still for about a week now and have only got through two hours – I reckon I’ll have forgotten the beginning long before I get to the end. I’m desperately staying away from podcasts in case I get addicted to them too… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was just last week that it appeared on NG and isn’t published until mid-May so hopefully it will still be available. It does sound intriguing, doesn’t it? As much for the Harper Lee aspect as for the actual true crime…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love Guy Gavriel Kay – I’ve just finished reading one of his earlier books, Under Heaven, and am looking forward to starting A Brightness Long Ago which I also have from NetGalley. I find that most of his books feel much more like historical fiction than traditional fantasy, which probably explains why I like them so much. 🙂 Death in Captivity sounds great – and yes, that’s a beautiful cover!


    • I suspect I didn’t read the blurb properly when I requested it and just assumed it was straight historical fiction, so I’m glad to hear you say that. Despite my fantasy aversion, I still think it sounds appealing, so fingers crossed! I’m looking forward to Death In Captivity too – the premise sounds very original and if his writing is up to the same standard as Smallbone Deceased, it should be great… 😀


  10. Two out of four isn’t bad, right? I’m intrigued by the first two you’ve described. I didn’t realize Harper Lee had wanted to pen a true crime book, and I find it hard to resist a classic locked-room mystery. Drat, I finish one book and add two more — kind of like taking one step forward and sliding two back!


    • Haha – how well I know that feeling! Yes, I think the Harper Lee one sounds as if it could be really interesting, as much for her story as for the actual true crime element. And who could resist the gorgeous cover of Death In Captivity? Not me, for sure… 😀


  11. There is no insanity when it comes to books. You must take a look at the bookshelves I exposed in my post last week. On your next trip to LA, you must visit them.

    In any case, fantasy? No. True crime. Not today. Vintage crime? My knees are creaking. The only one remotely tempting is the audio book, though at 33 hours, I might wander off…..


    • Oh, have you finally posted about your bookshelves?? I shall pop over shortly and have a good drool! To your blog, that is, not to LA… 😉

      Not vintage crime??? Oh, I’ll have to convert you. No saggy middles, no angst-ridden detectives, no gore, swearing, or torture scenes! Hahaha – I’ve been listening to And the Land Lay Still for about a week now and have only got through two hours worth. I’m pretty sure I’ll have forgotten the beginning before I reach the end… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Whoa! So Harper Lee helped Truman Capote write In Cold Blood? And she wrote her own true crime book? So much to learn here!!!! Can’t wait for your review of that one.


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