TBR Thursday 371…

Episode 371

Oh dear, the TBR is still creeping up – another 1 this week, to 171! Being stuck in the middle of three rather large tomes doesn’t help!

Here’s a few more that should be slitherin’ off my list soon… 

Winner of the People’s Choice

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

It was neck and neck between all four contenders for the first several hours in this month’s poll, but then Alone in Berlin got its nose ahead and never looked back, gradually building a commanding lead. Excellent choice, People! This one, from the Foreign in Translation section of my Classics Club list, will be a June read…

The Blurb says: Inspired by a true story, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin is a gripping wartime thriller following one ordinary man’s determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule.

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels’ necks …


Great and Horrible News by Blessin Adams

Courtesy of William Collins via NetGalley. A random choice, this one, picked on the basis of the blurb alone. Early reviews suggest it’s well written but quite gruesome…

The Blurb says: In early modern England, murder truly was most foul. Trials were gossipy events packed to the rafters with noisome spectators. Executions were public proceedings which promised not only gore, but desperate confessions and the grandest, most righteous human drama. Bookshops saw grisly stories of crime and death sell like hot cakes.

This history unfolds the true stories of murder, criminal investigation, early forensic techniques, high court trials and so much more. In thrilling narrative, we follow a fugitive killer through the streets of London, citizen detectives clamouring to help officials close the net. We untangle the mystery of a suspected staged suicide through the newly emerging science of forensic pathology. We see a mother trying to clear her dead daughter’s name while other women faced the accusations – sometimes true and sometimes not – of murdering their own children. These stories are pieced together from original research using coroner’s inquests, court records, parish archives, letters, diaries and the cheap street pamphlets that proliferated to satisfy a voracious public.

These intensely personal stories portray the lives of real people as they confronted the extraordinary crises of murder, infanticide, miscarriage and suicide. Many historical laws and attitudes concerning death and murder may strike us as exceptionally cruel, and yet many still remind us that some things never change: we are still fascinated by narratives of murder and true crime, murder trials today continue to be grand public spectacles, female killers are frequently cast as aberrant objects of public hatred and sexual desire, and suicide remains a sin within many religious organisations and was a crime in England until the 1960s.

* * * * *

Vintage Crime 

Death of Mr Dodsley by John Ferguson

Courtesy of the British Library. The first appearance in the BL’s Crime Classics series for this author, I think, and another “bibliomystery”…

The Blurb says: ‘A bookshop is a first-rate place for unobtrusive observation,’ he continued. ‘One can remain in it an indefinite time, dipping into one book after another, all over the place.’

Mr Richard Dodsley, owner of a fine second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross Road, has been found murdered in the cold hours of the morning. Shot in his own office, few clues remain besides three cigarette ends, two spent matches and a few books on the shelves which have been rearranged.

In an investigation spanning the second-hand bookshops of London and the Houses of Parliament (since an MP’s new crime novel Death at the Desk appears to have some bearing on the case), Ferguson’s series sleuth MacNab is at hand to assist Scotland Yard in an atmospheric and ingenious fair-play bibliomystery, first published in 1937.

* * * * *

Dalziel and Pascoe on Audio

The Death of Dalziel by Reginald Hill read by Shaun Dooley

Getting very close to the end of my re-read/listen of this favourite series now – this is Book 22! (Note to self: Write review for Book 21…)

The Blurb says: There was no sign of life. But not for a second did Pascoe admit the possibility of death. Dalziel was indestructible. Dalziel is, and was, and forever shall be, world without end, amen. Chief constables might come and chief constables might go, but Fat Andy went on forever.

Caught in the full blast of a huge explosion, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel lies on a hospital bed, with only a life support system and his indomitable will between him and the Great Beyond. His colleague, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, is determined to bring those responsible to justice.

Pascoe suspects a group called The Templars, and the deeper he digs, the more certain he is that The Templars are getting help from within the police force.

The plot is complex, the pace fast, the jokes furious, and the climax astounding. And above it all, like a huge dirigible threatening to break from its moorings, hovers the disembodied spirit of Andy Dalziel.

* * * * *

Spark on Audio

A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark read by Juliet Stevenson

I’ve had a mixed reaction to Spark so far, so I’m hoping this one tips the balance in her favour – sounds like it should be fun!

The Blurb says: Set on the crazier fringes of 1950s literary London, A Far Cry from Kensington is a delight, hilariously portraying love, fraud, death, evil, and transformation. Mrs. Hawkins, the majestic narrator of A Far Cry from Kensington, takes us well in hand and leads us back to her threadbare years in postwar London. There, as a fat and much admired young war widow, she spent her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher (“of very good books”) and her nights dispensing advice at her small South Kensington rooming house. At work and at home Mrs. Hawkins soon uncovered evil: shady literary doings and a deadly enemy; anonymous letters, blackmail, and suicide. With aplomb, however, Mrs. Hawkins confidently set about putting things to order, little imagining the mayhem that would ensue. Now decades older, thin, successful, and delighted with life in Italy–quite a far cry from Kensington–Mrs. Hawkins looks back to all those dark doings and recounts how her own life changed forever. She still, however, loves to give advice: “It’s easy to get thin. You eat and drink the same as always, only half…I offer this advice without fee; it is included in the price of this book.”

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

So…what do you think? Are you tempted?

32 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 371…

  1. When Muriel Spark is on form, she is very, very good, but there are some of her books which have left me a bit meh, so I can understand your reservations. A Far Cry from Kensington is one of the ones I like, so I hope you have a good experience of it. Also curious to hear what you make of Alone in Berlin – I wonder what it’s like in translation, as the original German is very limpid, which can come across as flat in English.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve loved one and been a bit underwhelmed by a couple, so I’m still a beginner. This one does sound as if it should be fun, so I’m glad to hear you rate it as one of the good ones! Certainly lots of people who would have read the translated version of Alone in Berlin have highly recommended it, so hopefully that’s an indication of a good translation – fingers crossed!


  2. I read Death of Mr Dodsley recently and enjoyed it well enough, though I suspect the reason it’s been reprinted is more to do with its bookish theme than any particular merit as a crime novel! I’m glad Alone in Berlin won the poll- I’ll be interested to hear what you make of it. And I’ve never actually read any Muriel Spark, but A Far Cry from Kensington does sound good and I really enjoy Juliet Stevenson as a narrator, so I’m quite tempted…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a few of the recent bibliomysteries have only got in on that basis, but they’re usually enjoyable anyway even if they’re not classics! Glad you enjoyed Mr Dodsley – hopefully I’ll get to it soon. I’m looking forward to Alone in Berlin, though I feel it might be quite a tough one. I’ve still only read a few Sparks – loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie but have been relatively ambivalent about the others. I’m hoping this one will be a goodie – I’ve seen some fairly glowing reviews of it around the blogosphere!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your comment makes me realise that I had somehow muddled up Muriel Spark and Margery Sharp in my head… it’s the latter I haven’t read! I love Miss Brodie and Girls of Slender Means. But my comment about A Far Cry From Kensington stands otherwise!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m glad you said that, because I was so convinced that I’d had a conversation with you recently regarding the film of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and when you said you hadn’t read it I really was thinking that it was time I needed to book myself in for a senility check! 😉


  3. The Ferguson looks really interesting, FictionFan! I absolutely love it that more vintage crime is being reprinted; it’s giving people a chance to discover some great writers. I hope this one’s a good ‘un. The Adams looks fascinating, too; I’ve always been interested in people’s attitude towards crime and punishment, and people’s interest in crime. The ‘gruesome’ aspect of it all is the one stumbling block for me. I really don’t care for that. I’ll be eager to know what you think of it, and if it’s too gruesome…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always like when one of my new favourites shows up in the Crime Classics series, but it’s also fun when they introduce someone new! Fingers crossed for Ferguson! Yes, the blurb is honest about the content of the Adams’ book, but I was still surprised at how many of the early reviewers had specifically mentioned the gruesomeness level. Hopefully it won’t go too far over my tolerance line…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A bumper crop of books this week, FictionFan! Who could resist anything read by Juliet Stevenson??? (I can’t help hearing her reading as Mrs. Elton.😊) And the Dalziel and Pascoe–very exciting.
    I really want that Ferguson book!
    Er uh . . . sorry about that climb in the TBR. Have some chocolate as consolation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, Juliet Stevenson seems to be one of the favourite narrators on Audible and I’ve enjoyed the couple of her narrations I’ve listened to before. The Dalziel and Pascoe is always a safe bet! The Ferguson will hopefully be fun – what’s not to love about murder in a bookshop! 😀


    • Ha, I haven’t read much Spark but they’ve all been kinda odd and hard to describe – that must have been her thing! 😉 I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to re-read all the Dalziel and Pascoes – they get longer as the series progresses!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m a bit worried that so many reviewers commented on the gruesomeness level of Great and Horrible News! I’ll need to remember not to read it while eating! 😉 The “bibliomystery” sounds like fun – the BL has had a little run of murders in bookshops!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love the BL Crime Classics series. I’m equally happy when one of the authors who’ve become a favourite shows up or when they bring out one by someone that I’ve never heard of before, like this one! And what’s not to love about a murder in a book shop… 😉


  5. Dalziel and Pascoe sounds very intriguing, even though I don’t normally gravitate to audio books. I’ll be interested in reading your review on some of these others, particularly Great and Horrible News (not something I’m eager to try, ha!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • On the whole I’ve enjoyed re reading Dalziel and Pascoe as audiobooks, but it’s been unfortunate that there have been several different narrators throughout the series, and each one of them interprets the characters’ voices quite differently. It’s made me realise how important having a regular narrator for a long-running series is. Haha, I’m a bit worried about the fact that all the early reviewers have mentioned how gruesome Great and Horrible News is! I’ll need to remember not to read it while eating… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to hear – certainly the people who’ve commented here who’ve read it are unanimous that this is one of the good ones, so hopefully I will agree! I’ve only read three of her books so far – loved one and was rather ambivalent about the other two, so I’m hoping that this one will restore the balance…


  6. Great and Horrible News sounds like…a lot of fun, as terrible as that is to say. No doubt not much has changed since then – true crime podcasts are more popular than ever! The Death of Mr. D also looks great, I love a good bookish murder! Gosh I sound quite dark today don’t I 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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