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Showing posts from February, 2006

Bibliophile reviews If ever I return, pretty Peggy-O

Author: Sharyn McCrumb
Year published: 1990
Setting & time: Tennessee, 1980's
Genre: Mystery
Type of investigator: police
Where got: BookCrossing

The Story: When folksinger Peggy Muryan moves to the small Tennessee town of Hamelin, she expects to have complete peace and quiet while she writes new songs that will hopefully relaunch her career (this time as a country singer). Then she receives a postcard with a message that could only be threatening to someone who knows the next line in the folk song it quotes. Sheriff Spencer Arrowood thinks it’s a prank until someone butchers Peggy’s dog, leaving hints that suggest the killer could be a Vietnam veteran. From there on the suspense builds until Peggy finally stands face to face with her stalker.

Review: I first discovered McCrumb when I came across her satirical novel Zombies of the Gene Pool. I then went on to read the previous book of that duology, Bimbos of the Death Sun and one of her comic Elizabeth MacPherson stories, Missing Su…

Mystery writer # 8: Georgette Heyer

I have been a fan of Heyer’s historical novels ever since I discovered her some years ago. When I found out that she also wrote mysteries, I decided I had to read those as well. As this is a change of both genre and era, I think I’m justified in including her in the challenge. I read two of her mysteries back to back and have started reading a third. I will review the books separately, because they are so different that they could have been written by two different authors.


Titles:Death in the Stocks (alternative title: Merely Murder) and Footsteps in the Dark
No. in series: 1, non-series
Published: 1935 & 1932
Settings & time: London (mostly), 1930's; country manor and small village, 1930's.
Type of mystery: Murder; pseudo-supernatural + murder
Type of investigators: police and amateur sleuths


Death in the Stocks begins when a village constable on his way home from making his night time rounds finds the corpse of a well-dressed man in the stocks that are on display in the vi…

Bibliophile reviews Prince Joe

I like reading thrillers and I like reading romances, so when I had Suzanne Brockmann’s books, which combine both genres, heartily recommended to me some time ago, I decided they sounded like something I might like reading. Add to this that the books in this series (Tall, dark and dangerous) have raked in awards and consistently get good reviews on the All About Romance website where I have discovered some of my favourite romance authors, I took the chance and requested this one, the first in the series, through TitleTrader.



Summary:
If you don’t like SPOILERS, skip this part.
Navy SEAL Joe Catalanotto has a strong resemblance to Prince Tedric, a visiting dignitary trying to get American aid to develop the oil industry in his country. The resemblance is strong enough that when an attempt is made on the prince’s life, Joe is called in to double for him. The prince’s PR woman, Veronica St. John, gets the job of teaching Joe to play the prince to perfection. It is a case of instant dislike …

Mystery author #7: Arthur Upfield

Titles:The Battling Prophet & Bony and the Mouse (American title: Journey to the Hangman).
No. in series:19 & 24
Published: 1956 & 1959
Setting & time: Australia, 1950's (but has a timeless feel)
Availability: Both seem to be out of print, but are readily available second hand
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Police detective

This time I read two books by the chosen author. Both books come from the same series, about Detective-Inspector Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte, an Australian half-aborigine, half-white police detective who uses his instincts as much as he does his police training and his clever mind to solve crimes, usually “cold” murders that other policemen have failed to solve. In fact, he specialises in cold cases. Bony, as he is known, is popular and there have been at least two television series, one based on the books, the other on the name and occupation.

Upfield writes with dry humour and is capable of letting the reader see the funny side of quite …

Bibliophile recommends Perfume: the story of a murderer by Patrick Süskind

I recently re-read this brilliant story for the umpteenth time, and I have to say that I still love it however often I read it.

Synopsis:
In pre-revolutionary 18th century France, Grenouille, pathetic and decidedly unpleasant, is born with a handicap: his body has no smell of it’s own; and a genius: he has a perfect sense of smell. These two remarkable characteristics combine to make him an outcast from human society. Consequently, he grows up a sociopath with no respect for human life. His genius opens him up to exploitation by those who recognise the possibilities of such a brilliant sense of smell, and he becomes a perfumer’s “assistant”, making the perfumes while his master takes the credit for them. Finally, when he has learned all he can about the perfumer’s art and experimented with the different methods of extracting smell from all kinds of things, living and dead, he sets out to produce the most perfect and delectable smell of all: the scent that produces love, and which he wi…

Travel literature, part 2, Updated 13 September 2016

Honourable mentions:

I reviewed several of these book on the original 52 Books blog. Unfortunately tBlog seems to have disabled the static links, so I can not link directly to the reviews. I’m working on a solution to this problem.

Polly Evans: It's Not About the Tapas.
Around Spain on a bicycle. Previously reviewed.

Christopher Sale Wren: The cat who covered the world: the adventures of Henrietta and her foreign correspondent.
The biography of Henrietta, who lived with her owners in such diverse places as Russia, Egypt and South-Africa. An unusual and beautifully told story which qualifies as “travel” because of all the different countries they lived in.


Talia Zapatos: A Journey of one’s own.
Part travel story collection, mostly travel guide and therefore not eligible for the main list.

Bill Bryson: Down Under.
Bryson in Australia. I didn’t much care for the other Bryson books I’ve read, but I liked this one.

Chris England: Balham to Bollywood.
Memoir of filming the e…

Bibliophile reviews Kathy Reichs' Death du Jour

No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 1999
Availability: In print
Pages: 379 (hardcover)
Settings and time: Montreal, Canada, Carolina, USA, winter of 1998.
Type of mystery: Murder, thriller
Type of investigator: Forensic anthropologist/amateur detective, police
Some themes: Murder, religion, cults

OK, I know said in a comment that I was going to wait a month, but I couldn’t resist this when I spotted it at the library.

It’s the middle of winter and Tempe Brennan is called in to help identify the burnt remains of people found on the site of an arson. Soon, more bodies begin stacking up. Tempe returns to her hometown in Carolina where she is teaching physical anthropology at a university. While visiting an island nature “reserve” with her daughter she finds more bodies. Clues suggest that the deaths in both Canada and the USA may be connected to the same cult, and Tempe’s sister may be in danger.

Review:
I had been told that the Tempe Brennan books get better as the series continues, but if thi…

Travel literature, part 1

I love to read about travel, foreign cultures and geography, and always have. My favourite non-fiction books when I was growing up were accounts of travel to such far away places as South America, India and China.

Here are some of my favourite travel books that are available in English. I’m leaving out the expatriate memoirs, i.e. Peter Mayle and co., and may post on those later. The honourable mentions and TBR will come later.

Antony Bourdain: A cook’s tour. Irreverent and funny warts’n’all account of Bourdain’s journey of discovery around the world in search of good food and extreme eating, with camera crew in tow.

Karen Connelly: Touch the Dragon: a Thai journal. Connelly spent a year in Thailand as an exchange student and the book is about her experiences of seeing Thai culture from the inside.

Edith Durham: High Albania. Durham travelled for her health, and made a special study of the Balkans at the beginning of the 20th century. Part travel memoir, part anthropology, this book clar…

Mystery author # 6: Kathy Reichs

Title:Déjà Dead
No. in series: 1
Year of publication: 1997
Availability: In print
Pages: 544
Setting and time: Montreal, Canada, summer of 1996 or 1997
Type of mystery: Murder, thriller
Type of investigator: Forensic anthropologist/amateur detective
Some themes: Serial murder, friendship, stalking.

Dr. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist for the Laboratoire de Medecine Legale in Montreal, handles mostly cases where bodies need to be identified by means of forensic examination or the cause of death needs to be established for remains that are too decomposed or otherwise messed up for a regular autopsy. When she notices suspicious similarities between the dismembered remains of women found in various places around the city, she begins to suspect that there is a serial killer on the loose. Working on that suspicion, Tempe (as she is called) begins an amateur investigation of her own, and unearths yet another body, thus catching the attention of the killer. She has difficulties convincing …