Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Another round-up

 I've been neglecting both the Bookshelf and Hurlyburlybuss recently - today's post, on the excellent The Way to Sattin Shore can be found on the latter.

Meanwhile, I've been reading my way through a heap of books, mainly crime. Here is the briefest of roundups, on books that I won't post about otherwise.

Appleby's Answer by Michael Innes (1973): A spinster-ish writer of detective fiction is propositioned by man on a train. For £500, will she advise him on the writing of a crime novel? Sir John Appleby finds his curiosity aroused when he hears the story. Quite what crime is contemplated he isn't sure, but his instinct tells him that something is amiss and, reluctant wife in tow, he proceeds to investigate over the course of a somewhat hysterical afternoon. Fun if you like Appleby, but by no means one of the best.

News from Thrush Green by Miss Read (1970): A gentle tale about a troubled young woman who arrives in Thrush Green with her small son, causing a ripple of interest amongst the villagers and some mildly heightened pulses among the men. Village characters abound, and homes are sought for kittens. I'd have one.

The Family Trade by Charles Stross (2007): I much preferred The Atrocity Archives, but this story of parallel worlds holds the attention enough to make me want to read the next in the series. Moving between worlds turns out to be a good way to conduct a "family" business. Don't tell that Italian bunch.

A Woman of Consequence by Miss Anna Dean (2011): The third of the Dido Kent mysteries, set in Regency England. I haven't read 1 and 2, but it didn't seem to matter much. Dido is living with her brother and his wife -- the latter regards an unmarried sister as a useful addition insofar as she can take over a number of tasks and ought to be grateful enough to be entirely at the disposal of her family, a view Dido doesn't agree with, having had some success in solving mysteries already. When a body is found on a neighbour's estate, Dido agrees to investigate in order to prove that the death wasn't a suicide. There is some musing on the role of women at the time -- readable but unmemorable.

The Day is Dark by Yrsa Siggurdardottir (2012): Thoroughly enjoyed this, although I was a little troubled by the number of holes that seemed to be cropping up. These were resolved far enough to make the ending work, and ignorable enough not to spoil my enjoyment, though I can imagine some pickier readers might find it more difficult. The atmosphere was terrific and it reminded me very much of Michelle Paver's Dark Matter. On a Greenland mining station three people have disappeared and the Icelandic workforce refuses to return. A team is sent to investigate the circumstances and prevent a possible insurance claim: as a lawyer, Thora joins the team led by her partner Matthew, to consider contractual issues. A doctor and a rescue worker accompany them, along with two erstwhile members of the workforce who clearly loathe each other. The deserted mining base is claustrophobic and the telephone lines are down. There's a mysterious shaman, a tragic history and lots of alcoholism. Despite my reservations about the plot I liked this best of this author's books.

Some "proper" reviews to follow, including one of Dragonwyck, by Anya Seton, which I reacquainted myself with this week. When I was a teenager, everyone read it. Have you, or has it gone out of fashion?