Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010 books, #36-40

Third book review post running! I promise some knitting content in the next one...

In the bleak midwinter, by Julia Spencer-Fleming. New York: St Martin's, 2002.

A completely new-to-me author, and sent to me from Canada by the friend who also gave me the Christine Poulter book from the last batch of reviews. I realised why she was new to me when I went hunting in the library catalogue for the second one in the series - we don't have a single one of her books anywhere in Cambridgeshire libraries (and now Borders has gone, probably nowhere in Cambridgeshire bookshops either). Which is a great shame. The protagonist of this book, the first in a series, is Clare Fergusson, Episcopalian priest and ex-Army chopper pilot - it's a tribute to the author that she actually makes this a believable combination. A newborn baby is left on the doorstep of the church, bringing Clare into contact with the local police in upstate New York. It's a very good combination of action thriller and exploration of church politics and general human nature; and there's a lot of chemistry with the other main character, the local (married) police chief. I always enjoy a thriller where a character with religious belief doesn't turn out to be either a psychopath or just a sad weirdo - I like Faye Kellerman's Peter Becker for the same reason. Chai sent me books 1 and 3, so I've just ordered 2 and 4 secondhand on Amazon...

The pyramid, by Henning Mankell [audiobook]. Read by Seán Barrett. Oxford: Isis, 2009.

Some back-stories to the Wallander books; I can't remember whether there were three or four, but all from different time periods. The first is set in the period before Wallander and Mona are married and you do wonder why they ever bothered; there's more light thrown on the relationship between Wallander and his father. Although there is a crime in each of these stories, Mankell is more interested in the characters involved. Another very good reading by Seán Barrett.

Losing ground, by Catherine Aird. London: Allison and Busby, 2008.

A chance find at the library; I think I read one of hers a couple of years ago, set around a psychiatric hospital. This is one you inhale rather than read; and even though it includes a rock singer, it's very compelling. An 18th-century painting is stolen and the manor house featured in it goes up in flames on the same night; the cast of characters is nicely quirky, and the plot is a good one, even if there is a bit of a rabbit-out-of-the-hat at the end.

Killing the fatted calf, by Susan Kelly. London: Allison and Busby, 2001.

The second of the Gregory Summers novels and a good follow-up to the first. Kelly combines a very private plot (the reunion of an adopted son and his birth-family) with a general social issue (illegal immigration into the UK) and manages it very skilfully, and with some humour on occasion.

Death watch, by Jim Kelly [audiobook]. Read by Roger May. Oxford: Isis, 2010.

On the 18th anniversary of the disappearance of his twin sister Norma Jean, the remains of Bryan Judd are found in the chamber of the hospital incinerator he managed. There must be something in the water this year - Peter James and Jim Kelly must both have been writing books about human organ trafficking at the same time. This one has a more cheerful outcome, and there are some interesting characters along the way. Jim Kelly is Ely-based and this one is set in King's Lynn; I tried reading his first book and didn't get all that far with it but on the basis of this one I'll go back and try again. Quite a nice reading from Roger May, although I was slightly predisposed against him - he's also the voice of the dastardly James Bellamy in The Archers.


Daisy said...

Eeek, how come you've always read more books than me?!

Liz said...

Says the woman who's moved house this year and got married this weekend!!