book log April 2012

The very late summary of April’s books. At least I did manage to review a couple of these, although in one case that was because it was an ARC and I owed a review.

40) Brian Minchin — Torchwood: The Sin Eaters
Re-listen of the Torchwood audiobook narrated by Gareth David-Lloyd, previously reviewed here.

41) Stevie Carroll — The Monitors
Re-read of this short story included in the anthology Echoes of Possibilities. It was long-listed for the Tiptree, and with good reason.

42) John Buchan — The 39 Steps
http://www.librarything.com/work/3661/

43) Agatha Christie — Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? [audiobook]
Abridged on three CDs, and read by Jenny Funnell. Logged with notes 8 June 2012.
http://www.librarything.com/work/3137/

44) Shamini Flint — Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver
Fifth installment of the series about Inspector Singh of the Singapore police. Reviewed June 9 2012 – recommended.
http://www.librarything.com/work/11236931

45) Madeleine Robins — Lady John
Note – I received a review copy through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reprint ebook edition of a Regency romance first published in 1982. Reviewed June 9 2012.
http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/lady-john/
http://www.librarything.com/work/1576198

46) William Makepeace Thackeray — Vanity Fair
Logged June 9 2012.

book log: book log: 46) William Makepeace Thackeray — Vanity Fair

I started reading this on the way back from Eastercon, because I had it on my Cybook. I didn’t get that far before giving up on it and finding something else, because I found the characters so unappealing. It may be simply that I was tired and not very well, because I remember greatly enjoying the BBC TV adaptation (which is why I’d downloaded it from Feedbooks in the first place). A DNF for now, but perhaps I’ll try it again at some point.

book log: 45) Madeleine Robins — Lady John

Note – I received a review copy through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Reprint ebook edition of a Regency romance first published in 1982. I’m not a follower of historical romances in general and Regency romances in particular, so I’m looking at it from the perspective of someone who reads the occasional romance rather than someone who goes into nitpicking detail about exactly what type of glassware they had on the table in a particular decade. If you’re a hardcore Regency reader you’ll need to look at someone else’s review.

With that in mind, my first impressions weren’t good. I found the characters as initially introduced very two-dimensional, and in one case decidedly unpleasant. I really did think I might have trouble getting through enough of it to give it a fair chance. And then I realised that I was eagerly reading to see what happened next.

Lady John is a young war bride and widow who met her husband on the Continent and has never met any of his family save for a younger brother. She’s invited by her late husband’s family to visit them in England, mostly out of courtesy and some curiosity. She gets on very well with most of them, particularly her mother-in-law, who is set on helping her into society with a view to a fresh marriage.

But when her brother-in-law brings home a guest one night, Lady John and her new family are startled by his cold and rude behaviour to her. The last time she saw Menwin was on the Continent, just before Lord John proposed to her, and they had been friends then…

Misunderstandings abound, and I found some of them rather too contrived, particularly the way in which both Lady John and Menwin had never questioned what they were told by a third party some years earlier. But the scheming by various characters to put things right was entertaining, and I found this a fun light read once I got past the first couple of chapters.

The first few pages are available as a free sample at Book View Cafe, and it’s worth taking a look if you like Regencies.

http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/lady-john/
http://www.librarything.com/work/1576198

44) Shamini Flint — Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver

Fifth installment of the series about Inspector Singh of the Singapore police, forever being shipped off elsewhere to get him out of his superiors’ hair. This time he’s on compulsory sick leave, and thus can’t claim pressure of work to avoid being dragged by Mrs Singh to a family wedding in India. But the Singhs arrive only to find that the bride-to-be has disappeared. The last thing her immediate family want is the police involved, because of the social stigma — the obvious motive for the young woman’s disappearance is to avoid an arranged marriage. For the family patriarch, worried about his granddaughter’s welfare as well as her reputation, an investigation by a family member who just happens to be a member of another country’s police force is a much more appealing prospect.

Then a corpse turns up, and the local police are involved whether the family likes it or not. But Singh keeps digging, and finds a tangle of motives that he’s not willing to ignore.

Once again Flint has blended a police procedural with a sensitive look at the ramifications of a real life tragedy. This book is deeply rooted in Sikh culture, and that includes the ongoing after-effects of the 1984 riots and massacre in India. But the latter does not overwhelm the book — it is only one strand in a complex story about a complex society. A particular feature of the book is that it is quite openly an outsider’s view of India, complete with an outsider’s prejudices and reactions — but the outsider here is not a white European, but a member of the Indian diaspora of Singapore. Singh finds India at once both alien and familiar, and this colours his reaction to the things he encounters during his investigation.

Singh is a joy of a character to read about, and Flint has created yet another fascinating twist to her series hook of a police inspector who frequently ends up investigating murder well outside his official jurisdiction. The Singaporean Sikh is a marvellous addition to the ranks of maverick detectives in mystery fiction, and I’m very much hoping that there will be a sixth book in the series.

http://www.librarything.com/work/11236931

Book log: 43) Agatha Christie — Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? [audiobook]

Abridged on three CDs, and read by Jenny Funnell. This is a standalone mystery without any of Christie’s regular characters. It features a pair of bright young things who become suspicious about the circumstances of an accident and decide to investigate. Naturally, they don’t take their suspicions to the police, and in various other ways prove themselves too stupid to live, including walking into really obvious traps. None of which actually matters, because it’s very amusing watching them being too stupid to live. Christie very gently sends up her characters while keeping them sympathetic. The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, but I had a lot of fun picking my way through the red herrings. Not her best work, but still an enjoyable way to pass three hours.

http://www.librarything.com/work/3137/

Booklog: books 40, 41, 42

the first three books of April:

40) Brian Minchin — Torchwood: The Sin Eaters

Re-listen of the Torchwood audiobook narrated by Gareth David-Lloyd, previously reviewed here.

41) Stevie Carroll — The Monitors

Re-read of this short story included in the anthology Echoes of Possibilities. It was long-listed for the Tiptree, and with good reason.

42) John Buchan — The 39 Steps

Written in 1915 and definitely of its time regarding social attitudes, but enormous fun.

http://www.librarything.com/work/3661/