Just catching up a little here...
Pobby and Dingan, by Ben Rice. London: Vintage, 2002.
This was one of the February books for the Kniterati group; unfortunately it met on the 3rd February, when my main effort was concentrated on getting home at the end of the day; so I missed it. I got this from the library, and it was a strange little novella - lots to say about 'illusion' and 'reality', within the setting of an Australian opal-mining town. I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, and it certainly wasn't something I'd have picked up otherwise... A couple of weeks later though, I'm having a hard time remembering anything other than the general impression.
Maxwell's Point, by M J Trow. London : Allison and Busby, 2008.
The Maxwell books are always wonderful, but I think Trow's excelled himself here. "Mad Max" is a history teacher of the old school and detective meddler extraordinaire; his trusty bicycle White Surrey and cat Count Metternich and his model army of Light Brigade figures might be enough to consign him to the realms of whimsical eccentricity. However, Trow's language and humour are superb, the plot's always extremely well-crafted, and Max's relationship with Woman Policeman Jacquie Carpenter and baby Nolan is tenderly done...
Blind faith, by Ben Elton. London : Black Swan, 2008.
I've always liked Ben Elton's novels. [OK, there, I've said it. I would say that's an unfashionable view, except they don't half sell well, so however snooty people are about Mr E's output, someone's out there buying it]. This one gives the reader a terrifying post-global-warming dystopia in which the urge for privacy is a sin, watching the neighbours' sex lives on wide-screen TVs is obligatory and failing to emote constantly and in public is a sin against The Love (made up of a duumvirate of Jesus and Diana). Elton picks up very well on the worst excesses of contemporary popular culture and runs with it to a nightmarish extent - blind religious faith harnessed to mindless sex and a diet of infomercials and propaganda. As with Brave New World or 1984, you can tell where it's inevitably going from the beginning, but it's a fascinating ride.
The suspicions of Mr Whicher, or, the Murder at Road Hill House, by Kate Summerscale. London : Bloomsbury, 2009.
There was a lot of fuss about this one when it came out, and I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but after re-reading the afterword in The Moonstone which connects that book with Inspector Jack Whicher, I thought I'd give it a go. And it's a fascinating account if you like well-written true crime and the history of the detective novel - Summerscale weaves in historical account, contemporary speculation and literary influences. It's extremely readable - I started reading it on the platform on Monday morning and realised when I got home at the end of the day that I hadn't pulled out my knitting all day! I seem to remember the story of Constance Kent from something I watched as a teenager, but couldn't remember anything other than the name.
Next, some Rumer Godden and some Bob Woodward.