The Best New-to-Me Crime Meme October-December 2013…

new-to-me

The Best New-to-Me Author meme is again being hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise for the last three months of 2013.

Lots of my favourite authors (Rankin, May, Turow, Grisham etc) published books in the last quarter so I’ve not read as many new-to-me authors as I did in the earlier part of the year. On looking back at October, November and December, I find I’ve read a total of 15 crime novels, of which 6 were by authors new-to-me (click on the links to see the reviews):-

The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl

Murder at the Maples (Flora Lively 1) by Joanne Phillips

Crimson Rose (Kit Marlowe 5) by MJ Trow

The Strangling on the Stage (Fethering Mysteries) by Simon Brett

Ten Lords A-Leaping by CC Benison

The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor

 

Out of these I had two favourites…

 

the hanging judge

 

A courtroom thriller showing how a death penalty case works. This debut novel is well-written and intriguing and, since the author is himself a judge, has a real feeling of authenticity.

 

 

 

 

crimson rose

 

Fairly light-hearted historical crime with a strong plot and a quirky sense of humour. Looking forward to back-tracking through this series.

 

 

 

Thanks again, Kerrie, for an enjoyable meme! Check out other people’s top picks for this meme over at Mysteries in Paradise.

The Strangling on the Stage (Fethering Mysteries) by Simon Brett

The seven ages of woman…

😦 😦

the strangling on the stageRitchie Good is the most talented male actor in local amateur dramatics, so he’s always in demand. Arrogant and conceited, he has a habit of hitting on every woman he meets which, combined with his put-downs of fellow cast members, ensures his unpopularity. But when he is found hanged on a stage gallows built for the next production of The Devil’s Disciple, the police come to the conclusion that it must have been accidental – a conclusion not shared by friends Jude and Carole, who set out to investigate…

At the beginning I thought I was really going to enjoy this book. The writing flows smoothly and the ‘cosy’ feel of it, set in the slightly unreal world of am-dram, starts out well. However, the further I got into it, the more irritating I began to find it. Firstly, the characterisation, which is incredibly stereotyped, has a major problem in that the author seems unable to decide what ages his characters are. At one moment, we have Carole being ‘hit on’ by a handsome young actor – then we discover she is a retired grandmother. Then we have Hester, post-menopausal we are told, also hit on by a much younger man (maybe there is a shortage of young women in the area?), but married to a man whom we are told is much older than her and yet who is portrayed as, at a guess, mid-fifties. These are just two examples of a recurring confusion throughout the book. A mess, quite frankly, that should have been picked up by the editor, if the author wasn’t aware of it.

Simon Brett
Simon Brett

But I could possibly have overlooked that. What really made me start frothing at the mouth was the scene where one character is in a nursing home, and a nurse casually reveals details of her illness and treatment to Jude, who is neither a relative nor even a friend of the patient, and has no official standing. Jude, described as a healer and obviously from the description of her healing some kind of Reiki practitioner, undertakes to ‘heal’ the patient without her consent; then, having formed a practitioner/patient relationship, uses that to wheedle information out of her, which she then passes on quite casually to other people. Neither a good nurse nor a principled practitioner (and we are led to believe that Jude is principled) would ever behave in these ways. But we are supposed to see it as not just normal but in some way admirable.

And the end, which I won’t reveal, is so utterly ludicrous that had the book retained any credibility by that point, it would have immediately lost it. Even ‘cosies’ need to have some basis in reality. You will have gathered perhaps that this book does not get my wholehearted recommendation. I can see how Brett’s writing style could be fun, and perhaps his other books are better, but this one has so many problems that I won’t be rushing to read any more of them.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Severn House.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 9…

Episode 9

 

The TBR continues to grow exponentially – in fact, it’s way more frightening than anything that’s turned up on so far on Tuesday Terror! Here’s a few of the books that have added themselves to the list when my willpower was at a low ebb…

Courtesy of NetGalley:

 

the sleeperThis will be my fourth Gillian White since I discovered her earlier this year.  Two were very good, the other was great – which will this be…?

“The sins of the past haunt an isolated farmhouse as a snowstorm rages outside . . .

It’s not shaping up to be a very merry Christmas. Clover Moon feels trapped in her life as a farmer’s wife. She certainly doesn’t enjoy hosting Fergus’s mother, Violet, who always finds new ways to publicly humiliate her unsatisfactory daughter-in-law. But would Violet ever seek a more violent way of expressing her disapproval?

Violet is a medium, and the voices of the dead sometimes encourage her to do disturbing things. During her stay at the farmhouse, she claims to sense an intrusive presence. Fergus then discovers the dead body of a woman floating in their flooded cellar, and elderly Miss Bates, resident of a nearby senior home and a client of Violet’s, is missing . . .”

*****

we need new namesAnd this will be the fourth Booker shortlisted novel I’ve read. The Testament of Mary was great, Harvest was very good, A Tale for the Time Being was so-so…what will this be…?

“‘To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?’

Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.

They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges – for her and also for those she’s left behind.”

*****

the strangling on the stageMy first Simon Brett, though I’ve heard a couple of the Charles Paris BBC Radio 4 adaptions. Hopefully this will be a light and enjoyable romp…

“When Jude agrees to lend her vintage chaise longue for the local Amateur Dramatics Society’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, little does she realize she’ll end up in a starring role. It’s an ambitious play, culminating in a dramatic execution scene: a scene that’s played for real when one of the leading actors is found hanging from the especially-constructed stage gallows during rehearsals. A tragic accident – or something more sinister? Carole and Jude make it their business to find out.”

*****

Pre-order:

 

days of fireI’m so far behind with factual reading (mainly because The Cave and the Light looks like it’ll take me about ten years to read) that I have no idea when I’ll get to this. But it should also be a fun romp…

“In Days of Fire, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.

Theirs was the most captivating American political partnership since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger: a bold and untested president and his seasoned, relentless vice president. Confronted by one crisis after another, they struggled to protect the country, remake the world, and define their own relationship along the way. In Days of Fire, Peter Baker chronicles the history of the most consequential presidency in modern times through the prism of its two most compelling characters, capturing the elusive and shifting alliance of George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney as no historian has done before. He brings to life with in-the-room immediacy all the drama of an era marked by devastating terror attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and financial collapse.”

*****

Courtesy of Vine:

 

the tudorsJohn Guy is one of my favourite historians. Since I’ve read most of his long histories of the Tudors, I’m not sure whether this will add anything, but somehow those words ‘Very Short’ were irresistable…

“The monarchs of the Tudor period are among some of the most well-known figures in British history. John Guy presents a compelling and fascinating exploration of the Tudors in the new edition of this Very Short Introduction. Looking at all aspects of the period, from beginning to end, he considers Tudor politics, religion, and economics, as well as issues relating to gender and minority rule, and the art, architecture, and social and material culture of the time. Introducing all of the key Tudor monarchs, Guy considers the impact the Tudor period had not only at the time, but also the historical legacy it left behind. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.”

*****

All blurbs are taken from either Amazon or NetGalley.

What do you think? Any of these that you’re looking forward to too? Or are there other new releases you’re impatiently awaiting?