2012 February book log

And another highly abbreviated monthly book log… Enjoyed all but one of these.

16) Dick Francis — Nerve

17) Sam Starbuck – The Theory of Two Centres
Novel-length Torchwood fanfic, set post series-2. Ianto Jones wakes up with four years missing from his memories and a DVD labelled “play me”. Offered a choice between a quiet, safe job as a file clerk in a finance office, and going back to whatever it was he did in the missing four years, he chooses to go to Roald Dahl Plass. The 21-year-old Ianto isn’t the same person as the traumatised Canary Wharf survivor who first fetched up in the Hub, but he’s still Torchwood material. And there’s the question of why he had to be retconned that far back…

18) Edward Marston — The Repentant Rake
Third in the Christopher Redmayne mystery series. Another solid mid-list mystery from Marston.

19) Ruth Rendell — A Sleeping Life
Tenth Inspector Wexford novel.

20) Agatha Christie — The Seven Dials Mystery [audiobook]
Second Sperintendent Battle book, abridged on 3 CDs. Enjoyable but low priority for re-reading.

21) Mary Stewart — The Ivy Tree
1960s romantic suspense.

22) Agatha Christie — The Secret of Chimneys [audiobook]
First Superintendent Battle book, abridged on 3 CDs. Listened to this out of order, as 7 Dials is the sequel to this. Found it a bit disappointing, I think because the abridgement makes it a bit too thin.

23) Dick Francis — Enquiry

24) Caroline Graham — Death of a Hollow Man
Second of the Midsomer Murders novels which inspired the tv series. Excellent book.

25) Ellis Peters – Monk’s Hood [audiobook]
Radio 4 dramatisation on 2 CDS, with Philip Madoc as Cadfael. Took me a while to get used to someone other than Derek Jacobi as Cadfael, but superbly done.

26) Dick Francis — Blood Sport
Another excellent thriller from Francis.

2012 January book log

A somewhat abbreviated book log, courtesy of the RSI problems.

1) Mary Stewart — Wildfire at Midnight

1956 contemporary romantic suspense set on the Isle of Skye. Fashion model Gianetta Drury needs some peace and quiet, She’s never fully recovered from her divorce to the husband she still loves, and London during the build-up to the Coronation is more excitement and fuss than she wants. A holiday on the Isle of Skye seems ideal, until she discovers that her ex-husband Nicholas has signed into the same hotel on the same day. And if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that there has been a recent murder, and the other residents of the hotel are suspects. Nicholas isn’t exempt, because he was staying in the hotel on a previous trip. And then there is another murder…

While I picked out the correct candidate for murderer readily enough at the first clear clue/herring, the story’s well enough written that it doesn’t matter. There’s still plenty of suspense in whether the characters will recognise the right pattern in time. The book has some engaging lead characters in a strongly drawn setting, and some genuinely chilling scenes. A particular highlight for me was the chase in the fog towards the end of the book. One with re-read potential even after you know the solution.


2) Ruth Rendell — Some Lie and Some Die

Eighth Inspector Wexford novel. Another competent entry in the police procedural series with a psychological twist.

3) Justin Richards – Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket

Ninth of the new series Doctor Who novels. Ten and Rose get stuck in a dead spot of space, a place where high tech (including the Tardis) doesn’t work because of the high concentration of plot-devicium. Cue steampunk robots and space pirates, as sundry interested parties go hunting for the titular MacGuffin in an utterly shameless Treasure Island/Doctor Who crossover. Silly but fun.

4) Dick Francis – Bonecrack

Neil Griffon is abducted and threatened late one night. But what is demanded of him is highly unusual — that he make a particular young man a jockey at his father’s training stable. Not for the obvious reasons — no fixed races, no attempt to corrupt the betting process. Just a gift from a father to his son, who wants more than anything else in the world to ride a winning race on a particular horse.

Griffon has no choice, not when the horses are under threat. But there are more subtle ways to deal with a blackmailer than direct confrontation…

An excellent thriller, and a fascinating study of father-son relationships. There’s some lovely characterisation in this book, and Francis builds on that to show how the two main characters change with the experiences they’re put through.


5) Jennifer Ashley — The Many Sins of Lord Cameron

Third of the Highland Pleasures quartet of romances about four brothers who are Scottish lords in Victorian Britain. This one looks at Cameron, a man who has sworn off marriage after his appalling first marriage, but who has not sworn off women. He’s a popular man with the ladies, being a generous lover both in the financial sense and in wanting it to be a mutually satisfying experience. Ainsley Douglas, a young widow of noble blood but impoverished circumstances, has crossed paths with him once before. But then she was married to a man she would not betray. Now she’s alone, and willing to consider letting Cam seduce her at least a little — and not just because that way she might be able to avoid explaining exactly whose letter she was looking for in Cam’s bedroom, where it had been hidden by his latest mistress. The slow seduction turns to friends-with-benefits and then romance. But even when it turns to marriage, Cam still has demons from the past to face down.

Another strong entry in this excellent romance series. As with the first two books, this has strong characterisation and a solid plot, with the sex scenes being an important part of showing the growth and changes in the relationship between the lead characters. One of the things I like about this series is that it has strong heroines who have their own lives to lead, and a good measure of control over those lives. And of course, women who enjoy sex and have had a sexual past. Two widows out of three heroines so far, but absolutely no virgin widows here. It’s also notable for showing a male victim of domestic violence.

I think the book is richer for having read the series in order, but would be enjoyable read as a standalone.



6) Reginald Hill — An Advancement of Learning [audiobook]

Audiobook of the second Dalziel and Pascoe, abridged on 3 CDs and read by Warren Clarke, who played Dalziel in the late 90s tv adaptation. I’ve previously reviewed the novel itself here. This is a good abridgement, and Clarke is an excellent reader, but of necessity it does leave out some of the character development. An enjoyable version but probably better for those already familiar with the book.


7) Torchwood: Asylum

First of the trilogy of BBC Radio 4 plays released in 2009 as a bridge between Series 2 and Children of Earth. I missed this on initial broadcast, and didn’t get around to listening to it until my recent purchase of the CD set. This is pure quill Torchwood — something (or as in this case someone) falls through the rift, and Torchwood has to deal with it. There’s a detailed plot summary on Wikipedia. Good story with some interesting exploration of the Torchwood universe, and mostly well-acted. PC Andy gets a good role.

8) Marjery Allingham — Black Plumes [audiobook]

Abridged on 3 CDs and read by Philip Franks. A murder mystery set in the Ivory Gallery, a family-owned art gallery that has more than one source of tension and intrigue even before the proprietor’s son-in-law is murdered. An enjoyable listen, but I found it rather confusing in places, I think perhaps because of the abridgement necessary to get it down to three CDs.


9) Agatha Christie — They Do it With Mirrors [audiobook]

Abridged audiobook on 3 CDs, read by Rosemary Leach. A good abridgement of the Miss Marple novel (which I’ve previously reviewed in detail here), although as ever the abridgement does cut the characterisation to some extent.


10) Carola Dunn — The Winter Garden Mystery

Second in the Daisy Dalrymple country house murder mystery series. Another fun cozy.


11) Mike Tucker – Doctor Who: The Nightmare of Black Island

Tenth of the tie-in novels for the new series. Ten and Rose encounter a Welsh village where the children are plagued by nightmares, and the monsters in their dreams have become real. Competent, entertaining tie-in.


12) Ruth Rendell — Shake Hands Forever

Ninth Inspector Wexford novel.


13) Post Captain (audiobook)

Second of the Aubery-Maturin novels, abridged on 4 CDs and read by Robert Hardy. I’ve never read the original novels so have no idea how well this abridgement stands up, but found it enjoyable easy listening even if the story seemed to jump chapters in places.


14) Mary Stewart – Thunder on the Right

1950s romantic suspense, very enjoyable.


15) Sam Starbuck – Your face is turned

Re-read of Torchwood fanfic novel, http://sam-storyteller.dreamwidth.org/140301.html
Previously reviewed here: https://julesjones.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/book-review-sam-storyteller-your-face-is-turned-torchwood-fanfic/