Competition time – And if I offered thee a bargain.

Right, chaps and chapesses, the new story is out on Friday next week, which means it’s time for the traditional competition to entice you to read the blurb. If you’d like the chance to win a copy, go over to the book’s page on Musa’s website at and email me with one of the alternative names for the sidhe you’ll find there. Competition closes at midnight UK time next Wednesday evening, and I’ll draw a name at random. My email address is (or for when your webmail client eats it, jules dot jones at gmail dot com ).

Book log June 2012

And the full list for June. Most of these have had brief notes or short reviews blogged earlier this month.

56) Chaz Brenchley — Light Errant
Re-read of the sequel to the stunning dark urban fantasy Dead of Light.

57) Agatha Christie — Three Radio Mysteries: volume 1 http://book
Three of Christie’s short stories, adapted into half hour radio plays and updated to a modern (at the time of broadcast in 2002) setting.

58) Agatha Christie — Peril at End House http://book
Re-listen of this abridged audobook, which I’ve previously reviewed:

59) Sam Starbuck — Condition of Release
A reread of Sam’s novel-length take on Cyberwoman, which I adore and reread every so often.

60) Linda Nagata — Hepen The Watcher

61) Agatha Christie — The Murder of Roger Ackroyd http://book
Abridged on three CDs, and read by Nigel Anthony.

62) Dick Francis — For Kicks

63) Margery Allingham — Mystery Mile

64) Francis Durbridge — The World of Tim Frazer
First of what is apparently a trilogy of thrillers about Tim Frazer, engineer turned secret service agent.

65) PD James — A Taste for Death http://book
BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of the novel, presented on 2 CDs.

66) Naomi Mitchison – Solution 3 Three

An old favourite of mine, picked up for a re-read and DNF not because I don’t like it, but because I put it down somewhere and was too spaced out on migraine aura to find it and pick it up again. At this point I’d probably need to start from the beginning.

book log: 65) PD James — A Taste for Death [audio book]

BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of the novel, presented on 2 CDs. Two men are discovered with their throats cut in the vestry of St Matthews Church. One is a local tramp, the other a former government minister. The political implications make the murder investigation a job for Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team.

It’s a good adaptation played by an excellent cast, and I enjoyed listening to it. But squeezing a long book down into 2 hours 20 minutes means that a lot of material has had to be cut, and I think the adaptation does suffer for it. It’s still very enjoyable, but I think might feel a bit thin to someone who wasn’t already familiar with the book.

64) Francis Durbridge — The World of Tim Frazer

First of what is apparently a trilogy of thrillers about Tim Frazer, engineer turned secret service agent. As the book opens, Frazer is dealing with the aftermath of his erstwhile partner in their small engineering firm having treated the company funds as his own. Harry Denston has disappeared as the firm is liquidated, but Frazer receives a message telling him to meet Denston at a remote fishing village, as Denston has got onto a new source of income.

Frazer might not believe the story about money, but he wants to find Denston — both to kick his backside and reassure himself that his former partner is all right. But when he arrives, there’s no sign of Harry. What he does find is an interesting selection of odd happenings, and a temporary job offer from a rather secretive office in Whitehall.

Competently written and entertaining; while there’s nothing out of the ordinary here, it’s an enjoyable bit of escapism.

book log 63) Margery Allingham — Mystery Mile

Abridged on 3 CDs and read by Philip Franks. Albert Campion makes the casual acquaintance of an American judge on board a trans-Atlantic liner, by waffling his way into saving the judge from an unfortunate accident. It’s only the latest of a string of attempts on the judge’s life, and Campion is recruited to help the judge in his quest to stay alive long enough to identify the mastermind behind a ruthless and effective criminal gang. Campion parks Judge Lobbett at a country house, but even that isn’t sufficiently remote to keep the judge safe.

It’s an entertaining enough listen, but the who is so clearly telegraphed that I thought it was a red herring. At the same time, the how is obscured to the point of being irritating. It’s really more of a suspense novel than a mystery. Nevertheless, there are some nice set pieces in this novel, and the final confrontation between Campion and the villain is very atmospheric.

book log 62) Dick Francis — For Kicks

Danny Roke has made a success out of running a stud farm in Australia. He’s devoted to the stud, because he’s devoted to the younger siblings he’s raised since their parents died, and the stud brings money and stability. What it doesn’t bring is a sense that this is what he wants the rest of his life to be. When the Earl of October arrives one day and offers him enough money to keep the stud running without him, he’s intrigued enough to take the job offered — going undercover as a stablehand to investigate a suspected racehorse doping racket in English racing.

Danny knows going in that the job could be dangerous. Fatal, even. But he finds enough to convince him that there *is* a racket, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it, if only to prove to himself that he can do the job.

It’s a wonderful piece of writing, with solid characterisation and a well-plotted mystery. Highly enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

60) Linda Nagata — Hepen The Watcher

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

The demon Dismay/Smoke is in what turns out to be essentially self-imposed exile from his native country. He’s viewed as evil by those in power in the land of his exile. That’s because he answers the prayers of abused women desperate to escape misogynistic violence. There’s no shortage of such women in Lutawa, a land where oppression of women is such a bedrock of the culture and law that it’s a capital offence to teach a woman to read. That could be the basis of a dull political tract, but fear not — it’s a highly entertaining “overthrow the evil ruler” quest fantasy. It’s also the sequel to an earlier book, but I found that it worked well enough as a standalone. Occasionally I was left wondering about some detail of the world that must have been given in the first book, but in general Nagata feeds in enough backstory over the course of the book that all is clear by the end.

The book’s theme is fairly dark, and the text can be dark to the point of disturbing in places, but there’s nothing gratuitous about the nastier bits. And it’s well leavened by humour and character development. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, and the pacing does suffer slightly from it being a sequel, but I liked this one a lot.

pre-order link for “And if I offered thee a bargain”

Excellent. :-) The page for my short story And if I offered thee a bargain” has gone live on the Musa Publishing website. Not sure when it went live, as I’ve been too busy with edits to keep poking the site. At the moment it’s pre-orders only — it’s on sale from 9 September. I presume pre-ordering does actually work, because I can see on the internal royalties database that someone has done so.

I suppose this means I need to think of a competition to promote it. :^) Also, I need to dig out the colour printer and run off some bookmarks. Good thing it’s a bank holiday weekend.