book log: 73) Dick Francis — Reflex

Jockey Philip Nore isn’t too impressed when a young solicitor turns up at the weighing room, asking him to go and see his estranged grandmother. They’re estranged because his grandmother threw his mother out of the house when she became pregnant. Nore doesn’t know who his father is, hasn’t seen his mother in years and has good reason to believe that she’s dead, and was brought up by a succession of his mother’s friends who were asked to look after him for a few days that turned into a few months. He lost the one set of involuntary foster parents who wanted to keep him. So he’s more than a little bitter on the subject of family. Only being told that his grandmother is dying persuades him to go and see her — only to find that she isn’t dying just yet, and that she wants him to find a sister he never knew he had.

Another mystery drops into his lap when one of his friends suffers a series of misfortunes. Steve’s father dies in a car accident, his mother is burgled and then attacked. George Millace was a professional sports photographer, and it becomes clear to Nore that Millace had photographed more than horses. Nore’s haphazard upbringing has equipped him to dig up the dirt someone thought they’d buried along with Millace, because Nore’s best loved foster parents were also professional photographers, and Nore knows darkroom techniques inside out.

Nore slowly works his way through George Millace’s legacy, uncovering a network of corruption and blackmail — and getting too close to the final truth for somebody’s comfort.

It’s a beautifully constructed thriller, with the first strand intertwining with the second to provide the final resolution, even though there’s no direct link between them. And as ever with Francis’s novels, it’s an enthralling story of a man discovering himself and what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

book log: 72) Ruth Rendell — End in Tears

20th in the Inspector Wexford series. A man lies awake worrying about his daughter who’s out late. She’s often out late, but that doesn’t stop him worrying, and this time he’s right. When he goes out at first light to look for her, what he finds is her murdered body.

Wexford’s worrying about his own daughter, who has announced that she’s going to be a surrogate mother for her ex-husband and his new partner. The murder of a teenage single mother is a little too close to home for him. And that’s before there is a second murder of a young woman. The murders are clearly linked, but how?

The plot’s good, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have some of the earlier Wexfords. A major part of this is that Wexford’s sidekick is such a cardboard stereotype of a humourless politically correct social justice activist who can’t see her own prejudices that I felt I was being lectured. I nearly abandoned the book because I found it so irritating. I don’t regret sticking with it, but it’s not one I’m inclined to re-read.

book log July 2012

67) Francis Durbridge — Tim Frazer Gets The Message [audiobook]

Abridged on 2 CDs and read by Anthony Head. Another case for engineer turned spy Tim Frazer. British intelligence agent Miss Thackery was last heard of in Asia, so why has she turned up dead in the Welsh countryside? And is her murder linked with the disappearance of a German scientist who was working at the British government? Another enjoyable 1960s espionage novel, splendidly read by Anthony Head.

68) Mary Stewart — The Moonspinners

1960s romantic suspense. A young woman working at the British Embassy goes to Crete for an Easter break with her cousin, and walks into a cover-up of a murder and a witness in hiding. The mystery is not in whodunnit, but why. An excellent romantic suspense with a vivid sense of place.

69) Dick Francis — Flying Finish

Lord Henry Grey holds down an ordinary office job, to the horror of his family who think that he should solve the family financial problems by the traditional method of marrying an heiress in search of a title — or as he calls it, prostituting himself. He hasn’t told his family about his other activities — amateur jockey, and semi-amateur pilot. When he shifts jobs into working for a bloodstock shipping agent, nobody thinks he’ll stick to it. But Grey not only sticks with the job, he inconveniences other people by doing so, and by being bright enough to notice that there’s something very odd going on.

Another solid suspense novel from Francis, as ever tied into the world of horse-racing, and with a good romance sub-plot.

69) Paul Doherty — Corpse Candle

Thirteenth of the medieval mystery series starring Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the King’s Seal. I’m not familiar with the series and this one’s a long way into the run, but I found that Doherty does a good job of introducing his characters to new readers. Corbett is sent by the King to investigate the death of Abbot Stephen of St Martin’s-in-the-fields, an abbey in a remote area plagued by bandits. It’s a locked room murder mystery that leaves Corbett initially baffled, but then he finds himself with more murders to investigate, providing both more clues and an incentive to find the killer fast. Very enjoyable, and I’d like to read more of the series.

70) PD James — Cover Her Face [audiobook]

Full cast dramatisation from BBc Radio 4 of the first Adam Dalgliesh mystery, on two CDs. Very well done, and with the original novel being fairly short, this one doesn’t have to leave out large chunks of the book, even if if it is still abridged.

71) Mary Stewart — This Rough Magic

Another romantic suspense from Stewart, this one set on Corfu and themed around Shakespeare’s Tempest. I enjoyed it a lot, but felt that the heroine was rather more blatantly collecting plot coupons than in some of Stewart’s books.

“Love is blind” now in ebook

What with the squeeing about the sale to the Mammoth Book of Erotic Quickies, and the “buy my book” bouncing over Bargain, I forgot to report the *other* bit of Mammoth anthology news, which is that Alex and I were told that the Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica (2007) is out in ebook format. We don’t normally do f/f, but some years ago I saw a call for submissions for an anthology of funny lesbian erotica called “My dog ate my dildo”, and we were so taken with the call that we wanted to write something for it. Alas, the original market was one of those cancelled when the publisher was hit by freak weather events, and we ended up submitting it to Mammoth. “Love is blind” duly appeared in what is indeed a mammoth anthology of lesbian erotica. The treeware edition is still available five years on (and at cheap second-hand prices, too), but now you can get it on carefully hand-crafted electrons as well. Kindle links below, but I’m assuming it can also be found at the usual other fine book emporia online. Note that you’re looking for the one edited by Brabara Cardy — there was an earlier anthology of the same name by a different editor.

The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica at Amazon UK – ISBN: 9781849016810

The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica at Amazon US

Out now: And if I offered thee a bargain

My short story “And if I offered thee a bargain” was released today by Musa Publishing. It’s available direct from their website, and from the usual third party retailers. Direct links that I’ve collected so far:

Musa Publishing
All Romance eBooks
Amazon UK
Amazon US

And if I offered thee a bargain cover art - gay romance novel

One night of your life for seven years of love. Would you pay the price?

Jack never dreamed that a reluctant trip back to his home town would thrust him into the world of the sidhe. He finds that the legends are true, but the sidhe have changed. They have a new bargain to offer the mortals who bring them fresh stories and share new technologies.

But is the price of this new bargain worth it?


ISBN: 978-1-61937-427-0
Length: 5,500 words
Price: $0.99

Winner: And if I offered thee a bargain

I have made a list of the people with correct answers, and asked for a random number. :-) The winner is Carole Lake, but everyone who answered gave me at least one of the alternative names for the sidhe used in the blurb, i.e. the Fair Folk or the Good People. And thanks for the comments some of you sent. The story is out tomorrow — it’s only a short story, but it’s the first release I’ve had in four years, so I am very pleased to see it coming out.

Sale: The Mammoth Book of Erotic Quickies

Had an email to say that my short story A Sparrow Flies Through has been accepted for Maxim Jakubowski’s Mammoth Book of Erotic Quickies. :-)

Had an email a couple of weeks ago, which I only saw last night courtesy of an email whoopsie… Fortunately I managed to get the electronic file to him just in time, so it’s still in the anthology.

Seriously chuffed about this, because I have enormous respect for Maxim Jakubowski, and have long had an ambition to get onto the ToC for one of his anthologies.