book log 2012

On checking to see where I’d got up to with my neglected book log, it appears that the answer is “have not yet even posted the books read in 2012 summary”. Er. Sorry about that, especially those of you who are still awaiting an LTER review I owe on something I read last year. Anyway, I read 103 books last year, at least that I remembered to note down (I’m fairly sure I missed some). The list is below the cut.

1) Mary Stewart — Wildfire at Midnight
1956 contemporary romantic suspense set on the Isle of Skye.

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
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.

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 <a href=”″>reviewed the novel itself here</a>. 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 (<a href=”″>which I’ve previously reviewed in detail here</a>), 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,
Previously reviewed here:

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.

27) E.F. Benson — Trouble for Lucia
Abridged on 3 CDs and read by Miriam Margoyles. Sixth and last of Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels about the battle between those ladies for social supremacy in the village of Tilling. In this one Lucia is now Mayor and apparently triumphant in the social status stakes, but that doesn’t stop Mapp plotting to unseat her.

28)Ngaio Marsh — The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries
A Man Lay Dead + A Surfeit of Lampreys

Two BBC Radio Four dramatisations, each on one CD, starring Jeremy Clyde as Chief Inspector Alleyn. Well written and performed, and I think with good relisten potential, if only to enjoy spotting the clues once you know how it was done.

In “A Man Lay Dead”, a game of “murders” at a country house party results in a real corpse.

In “A Surfeit of Lampreys”, the wealthy head of the family is refusing to fund some of the younger generation after their latest failure to keep hold of any of their own money.

29) Ngaio Marsh — Death in Ecstasy
Abridged on 3 CDs, Read by Nigel Bentinck. Excellent story, abridged well, and a good reader. But the book is marred by homophobia, and while the criticism of charismatic religious frauds could apply to any religion, Marsh is a bit hard on non-mainstream religions here.

30)PG Wodehouse — Meet Mr Mulliner
BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of six short stories, each running about 30 minutes. Richard Griffiths is the narrator as the titular character Mr Mulliner, who is reminded of a story about one of his many relatives by any and every conversation in the snug of the Angler’s Rest. Very funny short stories, performed by an excellent cast.

31) Ngaoi Marsh — Last Ditch
Abridged on 3 CDs, Read by Nigel Bentinck. Excellent story, abridged well, and good reader.

32) Chaz Brenchley – Dead of light
Re-read of Chaz’z stunningly good dark urban fantasy, previously reviewed here:

33) PG Wodehouse – Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
Complete and unabridged reading by Jonathan Cecil, on 6 CDs. Sublimely funny book, well read.

34)  Wlliam Shakespeare – Twelfth Night
BBC Radio 3 full cast production, first broadcast in 1998, and presented on 2 CDs. I bought this one because of the Blake’s 7 interest, as Josette Simon plays Olivia. While it’s an enjoyable performance, I would have been hard put to it to follow  what was going on without previous knowledge of the plot from seeing the play on stage. Fortunately there’s a good synopsis booklet included in the box.

35) Peter Anghelides — Torchwood: Pack Animals
Enjoyable second season novel.

36) Phil Ford — Torchwood: Skypoint
Another good second season novel, this time focusing on Tosh and Owen.

37)Martin Day — Doctor Who – Wooden Heart
Ten and Martha explore a deserted spaceship and find it’s not so deserted after all. The characterisations feel a bit off to me, and the plot device is far from new, but it’s an interesting take on that plot device.

38) Agatha Christie — At Bertram’s Hotel
Re-listen of the abridged audiobook read by David Timson. I found it easier to follow what was going this time round.

39) Agatha Christie — 4:50 from Paddington
Re-listen. Abridged on 3 CDs, and read by Joanna David. Good audio abridgement.

40) Brian Minchin — Torchwood: The Sin Eaters

Re-listen of the Torchwood audiobook narrated by Gareth David-Lloyd, <a href=”″>previously reviewed here</a>.

41) Stevie Carroll — The Monitors

Re-read of this short story included in the anthology <a href=”″><cite>Echoes of Possibilities</cite></a>. It was long-listed for the Tiptree, and with good reason.

42) John Buchan — The 39 Steps

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.

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.

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.

46)  William Makepeace Thackeray — Vanity Fair

Logged June 9 2012.47) Agatha Christie — The Mysterious Affair at Styles http://book
Abridged on three CDs and narrated by Hugh Fraser.
I actually listened to this earlier in the year, and seem to have left it out of the booklog, probably because it was when I had very bad RSI. I had some trouble following the plot in places, but I think this is largely down to the abridgement necessary to get it on three CDs. Hugh Fraser does a good job of reading it.

48) Agatha Christie — Murder on the Orient Express http://book
Abridged on three CDs, and narrated by Andrew Sachs. I haven’t read the original book, but found this abridgement enjoyable and easy to follow.

49) Andre Norton — Star Guard
I downloaded this as a double with <cite>Star Rangers</cite> under the title <cite> Star Soldiers </cite> from the Baen Free Library. Enjoyable YA from Norton, with humanity having relatively recently moved into interstellar space, only to find that they are late comers, and have been classified as primitives only fit for mercenary work. Young recruit Kana Karr goes on his first assignment out of training, and finds more than he bargained for.

50) Agatha Christie — Lord Edgware Dies http://book
Abridged on three CDs, and narrated by Michael Cochrane.
The print novel was previously reviewed <a href=”″>here</a&gt;; this is a good abridged audiobook version.

51) Ngaio Marsh — Artists in Crime http://book
Abridged on three CDs, and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. Sixth in the inspector Alleyn series, and the one which he meets his future wife Agatha Troy.

52) Ngaio Marsh — Swing, Brother, Swing http://book
Abridged on three CDs, and narrated by Anton Lesser. 15th of the inspector Alleyn mystery series.

53) Alan Hunter — Gently Where the Roads Go
10th in the Inspector George Gently series. A Polish haulage contractor is found dead by machine gun. The gun is an obvious link to a nearby RAF base, but who killed the dead man and why? An enjoyable entry in this series.

54) Alan Hunter — Gently Sahib
The 12th Inspector George Gently book. A year ago a tiger got loose from a nearby wild animal collection, but was shot dead by the police before it could do anything worse than create panic. At least, that’s what everybody thought until a corpse turned up, having been mauled by the tiger but buried by human hands…

55) Dorothy L Sayers — Whose Body? [Audio book]
BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation, on two CDs, with Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey.

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

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.

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.

70) 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.

71) 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.

72) 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.

73) Ruth Rendell — End in Tears
20th in the Inspector Wexford series.

74) Dick Francis — Reflex

75) Francis Durbridge — Paul Temple and the Curzon Case [audiobook]

76) Edward Marston – the Queen’s Head
First of the Nicholas Bracewell mystery series, set in a theatrical company in Elizabethan London.

77) Jean Plaidy – The Shadow of the Pomegranate

Historical novel about Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry the Eighth.
<a href=”″>LibraryThing entry</a>

78) PD James — A mind to murder
The second book in the Adam Dalgliesh series, <a href=”″>previously reviewed here</a>.

79) Jennifer Ashley — The Duke’s Perfect Wife
Fourth and final book in the Highland Pleasures quartet of romance novels about four brothers who are Scottish Lords in Victorian Britain.
<a href=”″&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

80) Georgette Heyer — Behold, Here’s Poison
Re-read of Heyer’s golden age murder mystery. <a href=”″>Previously reviewed here.</a>

81) Gladys Mitchell — The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (The Mrs Bradley Mysteries)
Second of the long-running Mrs Bradley mystery series.
<a href=”″>LibraryThing entry</a>

82) Victor Canning — The Whip Hand

1965 thriller, the first of four featuring private eye Rex Carver. Carver accepts what is presented as a straightforward job of tracing a young woman, and ends up chasing around Europe in a murky plot where he’s working for at least three different masters who may or may not be on different sides, and include at least one official intelligence organisation. Definitely a product of its time, in more ways than one, but good fun and well worth a read.

<a href=””>LibraryThing entry</a>

83) Gladys Mitchell — The Saltmarsh Murders

Mrs Bradley mystery.

<a href=”″>LibraryThing entry</a>

84) Mary Stewart — Airs above the ground
<a href=”″>LibraryThing entry</a>

85) Margery Allingham — More Work for the Undertaker [audiobook]
Albert Campion novel, abridged on 3 CDs and read by Philip Franks.
<a href=”″>LibraryThing entry</a>

89) Christopher Isherwood — Goodbye to Berlin
<a href=””&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

90) James Goss — Ghost Train
Re-listen of the Torchwood audiobook, previously reviewed here:

90) Christopher Isherwood — A Single Man
<a href=”″&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

91) Dick Francis — Field of 13
Collection of short stories from the master of race-horsing thrillers.
<a href=”″&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

92) Gladys Mitchell — Death at the opera
Fifth Mrs Bradley mystery, and one of those adapted for the BBC series. Good fun, although be aware that the tv episode made significant changes.
<a href=”″&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

93) Ellis Peters — The Virgin in the Ice http://book
BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation starring Philip Madoc as Brother Cadfael, in five episodes on two CDs. This is an excellent adaptation of the sixth novel in the Brother Cadfael series, and I think would work well even for those not already familiar with the novel.
<a href=”″&gt; LibraryThing entry</a>

94) Agatha Christie– Death by Drowning, & other stories http://book
Four short stories taken from the Miss Marple collection <cite>The Tuesday Night Club</cite>, and read by Joan Hickson on two CDs. The stories in this set are The Herb of Death, The Affair at the Bungalow, The Thumb Mark of St Peter, and Death by Drowning. Four excellent short stories, beautifully read by Hickson. If you’re a fan of Christie, this set and the other two CD sets which together comprise the audiobook of The Tuesday Night Club are well worth getting.
<a href=””> LibraryThing entry</a>

95) Gladys Mitchell — Come Away, Death
Eighth Mrs Bradley mystery.

96) Agatha Christie — Evil under the sun (audiobook)
Abridged on 3 CDs, and read by David Timson. Ably read by Timson, but I thought the abridgement was rather unsatisfying, as while it had sufficient information to solve the mystery, it didn’t clear up what happened to some of the characters.

97) Mary Stewart — The Gabriel Hounds
Romantic suspense set in the Lebanon, in the usual Mary Stewart style. Enjoyable fun.

98) Gladys Mitchell — Death and the Maiden
Twentieth Mrs Bradley mystery.

99) Agatha Christie — Appointment with death (audiobook)
Abridged on 3 CDs, and read by Carole Boyd. Competently read, and a decent abridgement that’s enjoyable to listen to, but as always with an abridgement it feels a bit thin.

100) Beyond Grimm — edited by Deborah J Ross and Phyllis Irene Radford
ARC received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Of more interest on the bias front is that I know several of the contributors (I didn’t know this when I requested the book). Nevertheless, I think it’s a good anthology of re-imagined fairy tales, and would have been happy to pay full price for it. Full review still to be written (apologies for the delay, Deborah).

101) Nightshade — Mark Gatiss
Enjoyable Doctor Who New Adventures novel with Seven and Ace.

102) Alan Hunter — Gently Floating
Inspector George Gently novel, this one dealing with the leisure boat industry.

103) Galactic Derelict — Andre Norton
Second of the Time Traders series. This is the original 1959 edition complete with Cold War paranoia as the background plot. available from Feedbooks.


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