BOOKS READ 2022
- Jill Paton Walsh - The Bad Quarto. Crime Fiction. (Published 2007) Imogen Quy is the nurse for St.Agatha's College, Cambridge. This author wrote 4 books in this series - this is the 4th. In this story Imogen sorts out the mystery of the links between an amateur Shakespeare production, the death of a lecturer and the disappearance of an angry student.. A good well written story.
- Alison Uttley - Country Things. Non Fiction. (Published 1946). This is another little book gathering together her lovely descriptive memories of childhood in the 1880s growing up on a farm and a village in Derbyshire. I've enjoyed several of her books of essays and memories - sometimes fictionalised.
- Sylvia Townsend Warner - English Climate: Wartime Stories (Persephone 2020 Originally published 1939-46.) This is a collection of short pieces/stories many originally written for The New Yorker during the war by this author (1893-1978). Some are good short stories, others are a bit odd. A quick read.
- Rupert Latimer - Murder After Christmas. Crime Fiction ( British Library Crime Classic Published 2021. Originally published 1944). This is an author who only wrote a few crime books before he died at age just 48 in 1953. Its an odd story but with a touch of humour "a lively riot of murder,mince pies and misdirection.........a pacey light-hearted package". Totally unbelievable but a good read.
- Marion Todd - In Plain Sight. Crime Fiction,(Published 2020) This is the second story featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland. When a baby disappears from her push chair at the start of a charity fun run - there seem to be no clues and no reason for her being snatched. But why are so many people hiding things and is the appearance of a known drug dealer in the area relevant.
- Roz Watkins - The Devil's Dice. Crime Fiction(Published 2018). The debut crime thriller from this author. Featuring DI Meg Dalton a police officer returning back to her home county of Derbyshire. When a lawyer is found dead in a cave some people think it's connected to a curse. -
- S.J. Bennett - The Three Dog problem. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021).This is the second in a series in which Rozie Oshodi, The Queen's Assistant Private Secretary, assists the Queen in solving a mystery. This one starts with the Queen spotting a painting she once owned in a collection at the Royal Naval Centre in Portsmouth but after asking Rozie to check out how it is there when it was once in Buckingham Palace, there are then two murders.
- Joan Strange - Despatches From the Home Front; The War Diaries. Non Fiction. (Edited by Chris McCooey. Published 2013).From January 1st 1939 to the end of the War, Joan Strange kept a diary. From the dramatic happening in other parts of the world to the local problems in Worthing. The book also includes a few newspaper cuttings which are interesting.
- B.A.Steward- Farm Down the Lane. Non Fiction (Published 1946)
- B.A.Steward - Green Lane Farm. Non Fiction (Published 1982) Both these books are about a local Suffolk farm during the war years and just after. They are memories of the farm workers and village people, the land girls and the animals that were usual at the time on a small mixed farm.
- Jim Eldridge- Murder at the Fitzwilliam. Crime fiction(Published 2018) Set in the 1890's. Daniel Wilson made his name in London investigating the case of Jack The Ripper. Now he is working as a private enquiry agent and is called in to assist the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge when a dead body is found in a previously empty sarcophagus. The Egyptian collection is being catalogued by archaeologist Abigail Fenton and the two work together to solve the murder and mystery.
11 Books Read in January
- Mike Hollow -The Pimlico Murder. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). 6th book in The Blitz Detective series featuring Inspector John Jago. A young man is found battered to death in an Anderson shelter with two white poppies in his pocket. This looks at some dark aspects of Blitz life - protection rackets and looting.
- Marion Todd - Lies to Tell. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) This is the 3rd in the series featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland.A clever story involving computer hacking and money laundering.
- Esther Rowley - Dogs, Goats, Bulbs and Bombs;Wartime Diaries of Exmouth and Exeter. Edited by John Folkes. (Published 2010)These diaries were found in an auction and thanks to a letter found among the pages could be attributed to Esther, a single woman who was in her 30's and lived with her mother in a large house in Exmouth. It's a fascinating look at the life of those who had money at the time and were able to purchase things that many found difficult to find. Esther is in the ATS at the beginning of the diaries in 1940 but later has to leave to take care of her elderly mother. She spends lots of time out and about walking her dogs, visiting neighbours and friends for tea. playing tennis, swimming in summer and having picnics.Gardening is her main pleasure and there are good details of all the plants she buys - things I didn't think were available during the war.
- Diana Ashworth - Iolo's Revenge;Sheep Farming by Happy Accident in Mid Wales. Non Fiction. (Published 2018) A small book written by a retired doctor and how she and her husband came to own a 25 acre sheep farm on the Welsh border. The stories of sheep escaping, lambing problems and the death wish of sheep was all very familiar! A good read once I got used to idea of it being written in the 3rd person. She describes herself all through as The Retired Lady and her husband as The Retired Gentleman - a bit odd.
- Alan Bennett - The Uncommon Reader. Fiction (Published 2007). A Very quick read - took me just an hour. The Queen's corgis lead her to finding that a mobile library visits Buckingham Palace. She's never read for pleasure before but soon gets hooked on books. The only other library borrower is Norman and the Queen soon promotes him from the kitchen to be her personal reading assistant. She gets so involved in reading that she starts to neglect her duties and the staff are worried.
- Mel Starr - Master Wycliffe's Summons. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). This is the 14th in a series about Hugh de Singleton - a bailiff near Oxford in 14th Century England. The recurrence of the plague is a back drop to this story when Hugh is called to Oxford to find out if a student really was struck by lightening.
- Mike Hollow - The Dockland Murder. Crime Fiction.(Published 2021) This is the 5th of The Blitz Detective series featuring Inspector John Jago. This is set mainly in the Port of London and Jago has to work with their own police force to find the murderer of one of the Home Guard members patrolling the docks at night.
- Alis Hawkins - In Two Minds. Crime Fiction ( Published 2019) A new to me author. This is the second in a series about Teifi Valley Coroner Henry Probert-Lloyd. Set sometime in the 1800's, (no specific date given). A good read but I wish the library had the 1st one. Henry Probert-Lloyd was forced home from being a barrister in London by encroaching blindness. When a faceless body is found on the beach at Tresaith Harry - as acting coroner must lead the inquest.
- Ronald Blythe - Village Hours. Non Fiction. (Published 2012) Another collection of short pieces that were first published in The Church Times. He always writes so descriptively about the countryside, church and people he meets around Wormingford on the Essex/Suffolk border.
9 Books Read in February
- Chris Nickson - The Blood Covenant. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). This is the 4th in a series featuring Simon Westow, a thief taker in early 19C Leeds. Hearing about the brutal deaths of two young boys at one of the mills in Leeds reminds Simon of his own painful childhood. He and his assistant Jane are drawn into investigating.But this leads to Simon's family being at risk by two of the rich and wealthy of Leeds.The violence and descriptions of the poor at the time are very descriptive.
- Duff Hart-Davis- Our Land at War:A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-1945. Non Fiction (Published 2015). A thorough look at all the events of WWII which had any effect on the countryside. From farming to evacuees to air bases and Land Army Girls to country houses and secret hideouts. A very good read.
- Ann Granger - Mystery in the Making. Short crime stories (Published 2021) There are 18 stories of various lengths in this latest book by a very prolific author. Some are quite dated as they were written many years ago for publication in magazines.
- D.E. Stevenson - Winter and Rough Winter. Fiction (Originally Published 1951) This is a Dean St Press reprint.I had read this before but probably in 40+ years ago. Set in the Scottish Borders, this story is mainly about James Dering and his new wife Rhoda who is an artist moving to their new home on a remote farm.Rhoda finds life lonely after London but after she starts painting again and finds a boy with a talent she can help she begins to feel more at home.
- Anthony Berkeley - Murder in the Basement. (BLCC reprint 2021. Originally Published 1932). Two newly-weds discover a corpse buried in the basement of their new home and a long gruelling case begins. Amateur sleuth Roger Sheringham has just been teaching at a private school and has started a satirical novel about his colleagues and the case seems to lead Chief Inspector Moresby to the school and some of the staff there.
- Alys Clare - Magic in the Weave. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is the 4th in a series featuring physician Gabriel Taverner and his friend - Coroner Theophilus Davey. The story is set in 1604 in Plymouth where a company of Players have fled London because of the plague. Somehow their performances seem to be employing magic to trick the audience.
- Beverley Nichols - Merry Hall. Non Fiction (Published 1951). Beverley Nichols was well known as a garden writer, journalist and broadcaster from the 50's through to the late 70's. This is the story of a large house and garden he bought just after the war. It really shows how making garden is a labour of love and the most important thing in his life. The author write amusingly about his inherited gardener and the village ladies as well as the flowers and trees he chooses.
- Marion Todd - What They Knew. Crime Fiction,(Published 2021) This is the fourth story featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland. At midnight on Hogmanay Alison Reid admits someone to her home who then murders her. But when the pathology results are in they seem to bear some resemblance to another woman found dead a few weeks earlier.
- William Powers- Twelve by Twelve; A One Room Cabin Off The Grid. Non Fiction.(Published 2010) William Powers is an international aid worker and accepts the offer to stay in an off grid cabin by No Name Creek in North Carolina. The owner is Dr Jackie Benton who lives a simple life to avoid paying tax and she is off travelling and campaigning. The book is described as "Walden for the global warming era". It's not so much about living in a small space but about the author working out which way he wants to go with his life.
- Cecily Gayford - Editor - Murder in Midsummer. Short Crime Stories. (Published 2019) The authors of these short stories are all well known including Conan Doyle, Ruth Rendell and Ellis Peters. All these murders happen in summertime, some are good - some not so readable. One or two have been included in British Library Crime Classic collections.
- Anthony Berkeley - The Wintringham Mystery. Crime Fiction (Published 2021 Originally published 1927. Stephen Munro is a de-mobbed army officer but being short of money he takes a job as a footman at a country house where Lady Susan Carey is having guests to stay. Then one of the guests vanishes. This is a typical Country House Mystery of the period but is quite well written.
11 Books Read in March
- Elizabeth Harland - No Halt at Sunset; The Diary of a Country Housewife. Non Fiction.(Published 1951). Written as a diary covering the end of 1949 and through 1950, many of the entries first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press. They tell the story of a woman and her family running a small farm and writing books at the same time. This was a quick re-read for me.
- Judi Daykin - Under Violent Skies. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). A Debut novel set in Norfolk with a new officer up from London and not being made welcome. The story is set around the flat Fenland farms and foreign workers. DS Sara Hirst wants to know the truth about her father who she's not seen since she was two but she knows he moved to Norfolk. This story seemed similar to others with a black police officer out in the countryside where everyone is white.
- Bernard J.Farmer - Death of a Bookseller. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic published 2022, originally published 1956.) This is the 100th in the BLCC reprints. Sergeant Wigan becomes a book collector after befriending Micheal Fisk who is celebrating a rare book find. A while later Fisk is found dead and because of his knowledge of rare books, booksellers and runners (the people who search out rare books to pass on to buyers or book shops) he is asked to help the CID track down the killer. Rare books can be dangerous things!
- Dorothy Whipple - Random Commentary. Non Fiction. (A Persephone Publication 2020 Originally Published 1966) This book was compiled from notebooks and journals written between 1925 and the end of WWII. An interesting look at the well known author and how she came to write some of her best loved novels. She gathered this book together from her diaries and published it just before her death.
- Elly Griffiths - The Locked Room. Fiction (Published 2022). The 14th in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series. I enjoy all her books even though they seem to be a bit repetitive and predictable sometimes. This one is written as covid hits Norfolk and everywhere else. Ruth has a new neighbour who then goes missing and one of the characters gets covid and is seriously ill in hospital.
- Eve Ibbotson - A Song For Summer. Young Adult Fiction (Published 1977) Ellens Father was killed at Ypres and she grew up with her Mother and two Aunts - they were all clever women and Ellen was equally intelligent but most of all she loved cooking and housekeeping and learns these and German from her Grandfathers housekeeper. Ellen gets a job working at a very unusual school in Austria where they concentrate on the English language, drama and music and is soon intrigued by the gardener Marek who has a secret. But then Hitler starts marching across Europe.
- Peter May - The Night Gate. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). Featuring the retired forensic police officer Enzo Macleod, the story is set in two time lines - one in occupied France during WWII and the other through the Covid lockdown of 2020. In a sleepy French village the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is murdered in a nearby house.
- D.E.Stevenson - Music in the Hills. Fiction (Originally Published 1950) A Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean St Press reprint. I should have read this before my re-read of Winter and Rough Weather last month as it's the beginning of that story. Set again in the Scottish Borders.
- Marion Todd - Next in Line. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) The 5th by this new author set in St Andrews Scotland and featuring D.I.Clare Mackay. Clare is in charge of a high profile case when a TV personality Gaby Fox's brother is shot dead while at his birthday party. His friends all seem to be hiding something.
9 Books Read in April
- Beverley Nichols - Sunlight on the Lawn. Non Fiction (Published 1956) The final book in the trilogy about his garden and home in Surrey. The ladies of the village feature again but its the flowers that are the main part of his books.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at Claridges. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). This is the 3rd set during the Blitz in London and featuring DCI Coburg. The body of a kitchen porter at Claridges is found but he wasn't killed by a bomb.
- D.E.Stevenson - Vittoria Cottage. Fiction (Originally Published 1949. Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2019.) This is a book that I should have read before Music in The Hills and Winter and Rough Weather ....see March and April books read.........as it is the back story of some of the people that feature in those later books. It is another gentle family story set while the war and rationing still feature. It's a re-read for me but read so long ago that I had no memory of it.
- Rachel Blok - Under the Ice. Crime Fiction. (Published 2018). A new to me author this is the first featuring a Dutch detective in St Albans. The frozen body of a young woman is found under the ice of the lake. A local women, an exhausted new mother, keeps dreaming about what happened on the night of the murder and why is she wandering around at night?
- E.C.R.Lorac - Post After Post-Mortem. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic 2022 Originally Published 1936). Another crime story by one of BLCC's best republished authors. This is a clever story. The Surrays and their 5 grown up children are a family of writers and after a rare get together at the family home the middle daughter -Ruth- is found dead - supposedly by suicide. But after the inquest her brother Richard receives a letter from her that had been delayed in the post which seems to upset the suicide decision. Inspector MacDonald is called in to investigate what must have been a meticulously planned murder.
- Robin Blake - Hungry Death. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). In November 1747 County Coroner Titus Cragg has been called to the scene of a gruesome murder of a whole family who belong to a strange religious cult. This is the 9th in a series about Titus Cragg and his friend Dr Like Fidelis.
- D.E.Stevenson - Five Windows. Fiction ( A Furrowed Middlebrow re-print Originally Published 1953) . One of her better books and a story of a boy, told through his eyes, growing up in rural Scotland and then moving to Edinburgh for school and to London for work. It's a happy story and I first read it way back in the 70's.
- Ronald Blythe - Out of the Valley. Non Fiction. (Published 1999) This is the 2nd of his collection of writing originally written for the Church Times. It follows the calendars of the Church Year, the farming year and his own year of travels, his garden, the people he meets, preaching and talks to lots of groups on many literary subjects.
8 Books Read in June
- Rory Clements - The Man in the Bunker. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) This is the 6th book featuring Professor Tom Wilde. The war is over, so many countries are in ruins and Tom Wilde is asked to go to Germany to find out if Hitler really did die in the bunker. This again is a really good story and so well written.
- Phyllis Bottome - London pride. Fiction (Published 1941) Ben, a boy of the London dockyard slums is 7 years old and the main character of this book he spends his time during the days of the Blitz looking after his little sister Mabel. His mother is a char lady, his father and eldest brother work on the docks. An older sister works in a shop and the twins are sent off as evacuees to Cornwall. Ben's best friend is Emily next door a street wise nine year old whose parents are not as caring as Ben's. Together they do a bit of looting, get buried for 48 hours in a bombed house and then get bombed out of the hospital too. Such a unusual story. The TLS at the time said "her knowledge and understanding of the character of the London slum child in particular cannot be done justice to in an outline of the book"
- Reg Snook - Mabel, Portrait of an Owl .Non Fiction (Published 2012) Mabel is an owl who decided to roost in full view of everyone in Christchurch Park in Ipswich for several years from 2008. She became quite famous and raised several young. Reg Snook is a local artist and previously involved in rescuing birds of prey and the book tells the story of Mabel in the park and other owls he has 'met'. This is a small book and a quick read.
- George Bellairs - Dead March for Penelope Blow. Crime Fiction (Published 2020) Originally Published 1951). Miss Penelope Blow visits Scotland Yard and asks for Inspector Littlejohn, he isn't there so she goes back the next day and the next and finally leaves a card for him. Unfortunately by the time Littlejohn sees the card and tries to contact her she has died by falling out of her bedroom window in unusual circumstances. The Blow family are Bankers and very important in the town but among them is a touch of madness. Inspector Littlejohn has to find out what has happened without any help from the family.
- Adrian Bell - Apple Acre. Non Fiction. (Published 1942). Adrian Bell wrote 25 books while living on a farm in Suffolk in the 1940s, 50's and 60's. This one is the story of his farming life in the rural area with wife and 3 small children (Martin Bell his son is a one time war correspondent and MP). The writing is wonderfully descriptive of a world of small farms and their farmers that have now disappeared from Suffolk.My 1964 edition has an update and lovely line drawings.
- Simon Barnes - On the Marsh; A Year Surrounded by Wildness and Wet. Non Fiction. (Published 2019) Simon Marsh was for many years a sports correspondent but now is free-lance writing books about wildlife and traveling to Africa in his work with a conservation trust. This book is about the acres of marshland he owns and cares for near the River Waveney in Norfolk and also about his son Eddie who has Downs Syndrome but who knows nearly as much about the birds and wildlife on their land as Simon does. A lovely book.
- Ellie Alexander -Caught Bread Handed. Crime Fiction.(Published 2016). This is a typical US "Cosy Crime" set in a bakery in a town which is themed for Shakespeare. It was a very light read, including lots of baking and recipes despite murder going on around. A book I picked up at a jumble sale.Not stocked in libraries here.
- Fiona J Houston - The Garden Cottage Diaries. Non Fiction.(Published 2009) A Re- read.The story of how she lived as a C18 woman in a Scottish cottage and garden. Learning all the ways they needed to survive and the food they ate.
- Stella Martin Currey- One Woman's Year. Non Fiction. (Persephone Reprint Published 2019. Originally Published 1953). This is a day book or anthology including recipes for each month by a writer and mother about her life in Essex just after the war.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Sunday Philosophy Club. Fiction. (Published 2004) The first in a series about Isabel Dalhousie, a philosopher and editor who gets involved in mysteries that are not really crimes in Edinburgh.
10 Books Read in June (58 for 6 months)
- Alexander McCall Smith- Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. Fiction (Published 2005) Second in the Isabel Dalhousie series set in Edinburgh. When Isobel's niece Cat takes a holiday, Isobel offers to run the delicatessen for her. One of the customers has recently had a heart transplant and is now dreaming a recurring dream of a man he doesn't know. Isobel sets out to find why.
- Alexander McCall Smith- The Right Attitude to Rain. Fiction(Published 2006)Third in the series set in Edinburgh with Isobel Dalhousie deciding on moral and ethical issues and getting involved in other peoples problems
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Careful Use of Compliments. (Published 2007) Fourth in the Isobel Dalhousie series. Isobel at age 41 becomes a mother to her much younger lover's child.She's still editing The Review of Applied Ethics but suddenly finds she might be losing that job.
- June Thomson - Rosemary for Remembrance. Crime Fiction (Published 1988). Small book that's been on my shelves for years. At a summer school for creative writing the organiser Bernard Livesey has to deal with an annoying student, plus two tutors who cause him problems. But then 1 tutor is found drowned in the swimming pool and a student appears to have been murdered in his car.
- Mark Cocker - A Claxton Diary. Non Fiction (Published 2019) Each day Mark Cocker walks 2 miles to the river near his cottage on the edge of the Norfolk Broads. This book is excerpts from his diaries over 5 years of the birds, insects,animals and plants he sees. With occasional visits to other parts of the country.
- P.D.James - Sleep No More. Crime Fiction Short Stories (Published 2017) These are short quickly read crime stories from her many years of writing.
- Claire Keegan - Small Things Like These. Fiction. (Published 2021) This is a very small book. Set in Ireland in the 1980's about a coal merchant, who stumbles across a girl shut in a shed at the convent. The secrets of the Magdalen Laundries - the institutions for unmarried mothers run by the Catholic church seem to be known but hidden by everyone.
- Kristin Hannah - The Four Winds. Fiction. (Published 2021) Elsa Martinelli was rejected by her family- she was never good enough but by 1934 she has found a life she loves with family and farm. Drought and dust storms force her and her two children away from Texas to find the 'land of milk and honey' that everyone is talking about in California. A sad story but good for finding out more about the Depression, migration and dust bowl of 1930's USA.
- Anthony Horowitz - The Word is Murder. Crime Fiction (Published 2017). A crime story in which the author puts himself as one of the main characters. Alongside Hawthorne an ex Police Officer who helps the police sometimes. One day a woman goes to an undertakers to arrange her funeral and six hours later she is murdered. Hawthorne goes to Horowitz and suggests his next book could be about the solving of the murder. Very well written and you often forget that what you are reading is all fiction!
- Rachel Hore - One Moonlit Night. Fiction (Published 2022) When Maddie and her daughters are bombed out of London during the early months of the war she takes them to her husbands old home in Norfolk. Her husband Phillip is missing after Dunkirk and at first she isn't made welcome by the remains of the family who live at Knyghton. There seem to be secrets and ghosts.
- Anne Perry - A Truth to Lie For. Crime Fiction (Published 2022). This is the 4th book featuring photographer Elena Standish who is also working for MI6 in the years before the WWII. This is set in Berlin as Elena is given the task of getting a scientist out of Germany. It is set around the Night of the Long Knives when up to a 1,000 Germans were killed, accused of plotting against Hitler.
- Lev Parikian - Into the Tangled Bank; Discover the quirks, habits and foibles of how we experience nature. Non Fiction (Published 2020). BBC Wildlife Magazine said " Lev's enduring child-like joy at even the smallest of encounters is infectious". It was a lovely read describing all of his trips around the country to find how to see nature more closely. A "feel good" book.
- Adrian Bell - Sunrise to Sunset. Non Fiction (Published 1944). In May 1940 there was much fear of invasion on the East Coast of England and Nora Bell took her three children to a rented home in the Westmorland village where her sister was a teacher. This little book is about Adrian Bell's visits from Suffolk up to Westmorland and his tales of helping on the farm there. The differences between a small stoney farm in the Cumbrian Fells and the flat fertile lands of Suffolk. A fascinating insight to how hard those farming families worked to earn a living on sloping poor land.
13 books read in July
- John Bevis - An English Library Journey. Non Fiction . (Published 2022) "One man's eccentric quest to obtain a membership card from every library authority in England". An interesting little book that sadly gets into politics after Brexit. John Bevis started this tour of libraries when, after an operation, he began driving his wife around the country for her work
- Sarah Steele- The School Teacher of Saint-Michel.Fiction (Published in 2021). A duel time line story. In the present day Hannah finds a letter sent to her by her late much-loved grandmother Gigi. Gigi wants Hannah to travel to France to find someone called Lucie Laval to apologise - for what? Hannah has no idea about her Grandmothers past. In 1942, at the end of the day, a school teacher checks that her children have their identity passes before taking them to the border post between occupied and Free France which cuts their Dordogne village in half. A lovely story based on real happenings of the time showing the bravery of the people, living in fear of their German invaders.
- Ann Cleeves - The Healers. Crime Fiction (Published 1995) An early Ann Cleeves crime novel. Middle aged farmer Ernie Bowles is found lying on his kitchen floor, he had been strangled. He was found by Lily Jackman who was living in an old caravan on the farm with her partner. Then in the town another woman is strangled - seemingly with no connection except perhaps through an alternative therapy centre.
- Ronald Blythe - In the Artist's Garden. Non Fiction ( Published 2015) Another collection of his writings originally written for the church times. It follows the calendars of the Church Year, the farming year and his own year of travels, his garden, the people he meets, preaching and talks to lots of groups on many subjects.
- Martin Edwards (Editor) -The Edinburgh Mystery And Other Tales of Scottish Crime. Short Crime Stories(Published 2022). A collection of short stories based in Scotland and dating from 1885 up to the 1960's. Many had been published in magazines at the time and never seen since.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Comfort of Saturdays. Fiction (Published 2008) Fifth in the Isobel Dalhousie series in which the Philosopher once again gets involved in an ethical problem due to a chance conversation. Her son Charlie is now 1 year old and his father Jamie has more-or-less moved in with Isobel.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Lost Art Of Gratitude. Fiction. (Published 2009) Sixth in the series set in Edinburgh where Philosopher Isobel Dalhousie is asked to help sort someone's problem. Jamie becomes her Fiancé in this story.
- Joan F. Hickson - Carry on Coping - Diary of a Doctor 1942-1945. (Published 2013) Joan Hickson and her husband Eric were both doctors and lived in Chippenham and had a practice in their home. They had 3 children - the eldest was 18 at the end of the war. This diary starts after the Bath Blitz and continued to V.E day. It's a fascinating look at how GPs worked before the NHS. Joan was also an Eye doctor and did clinics in various places including a mental hospital. They had holidays in a punt on the Thames and lived a very comfortable life although very hard working. Back then GPs were called out in the middle of the night for home births and any other problems.
- Marion Todd - Old Bones Lie. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) This is the 6th in a series featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in and around St Andrews in Scotland. This was a good story , lots of different pieces to it.
- Joyce Dennys- And Then There Was One. Non Fiction (Published 1983). This is a small book about the authors early life as the youngest daughter of a soldier serving in India. It was Large Print so a quick read. She was born in India in 1893 but spent her time with her mother and extended family in England while her Father was abroad and then when her mother went back to India she attended various boarding schools - all cheap and not very good as her father was always in debt. She later wrote 2 humourous books about a woman in wartime.
10 Books Read in August
- Kim Michele Richardson - The Book Woman's Daughter. Fiction (Published 2022) Set in the ruggedness of the Kentucky mountains and forests in the early 1950's. Honey Lovett has been hiding because her hands and feet turn blue during stress caused by a genetic problem, passed to her from her mother. Being "different" in 1950's Kentucky turns people against her. But her mother had worked as a Pack-horse Librarian - taking books to the remote farmsteads and after her parents are imprisoned she manages to get a job doing the same thing. This is a really good story of strong women - based on the real Packhorse Librarians, the female Frontier nurses, the first women coalminers and fire watchers.
- Anthony Horowitz - The Sentence is Death. Crime Fiction (Published 2018) The second in a series in which the author writes himself into the story featuring ex-detective, now Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne. Richard Pryce was a high powered divorce lawyer until he is found dead in his Hampstead Heath home. When a very old friend of Richard, who he's not seen for years, falls in front of a train not far from Richard's home just a day later there seems to be a link with something that happened many years ago.
- Sally Coultard - The Barn. Non Fiction (Published 2022). The subtitle is 'The Lives, Landscape and Lost Ways of an Old Yorkshire Farm'. Although this is mainly about the history of farming around the barn in Yorkshire it could be any old barn - except for what it's built from. It was an interesting read.
- Donna Leon - Give Unto Others. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) This is the 31st of the series about Commissario Brunetti set in Venice. Brunetti is asked by a woman he last saw many years ago to investigate the suspicious behaviour of her son-in-law - off the record.
- Delia Owens - Where the Crawdads Sing. Fiction (Published 2018) Kya Clark is the 'Marsh Girl' living alone on the North Carolina coast from a very young age after her drunken father is the last to walk away, she is a mystery to the people of the nearby small town. The book is a coming of age story of how someone copes with being alone. A murder mystery and a love story.
- Catherine Munro - The Ponies at the Edge of the World. Non Fiction (Published 2022). This is mainly a story about Shetland Ponies on Shetland. Catherine Munro goes to live there to study them for her university dissertation. This is really interesting if you want to know more about the ponies and their breeding and history but otherwise not so fascinating.
- Helen Cox - The Body in the Library. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019) This is an interesting story about the theft of some second-hand books but slightly "cosy crime" and gets a bit silly with the amount of involvement of the main character - Kitt Hartley and her friends - with the police investigation. It is set in York and Kitt is a university librarian whose new boyfriend is DI Malcolm Halloran. This is the 2nd in the series and results of the story in the first book are often mentioned, so I should have read that first. There are now 6 books in the series.
- Noel Streatfield - When the Siren Wailed. Children's Fiction. (Published 1974) The 3 Clark children are evacuated from London before the Blitz. They are billeted with the Colonel and looked after by his housekeeper and former Batman. Mrs and Mr Elk. But when the Colonel dies unexpectedly they run away back to their Mum in London except their house has gone and no one knows where their mother is. A story with a happy ending. Streatfield wrote childrens books for many years before the war and I was puzzled that this was written so many years after the war.
- Robert Harris - Act of Oblivion. Historical Fiction. (Published 2022) 1660 England and General Edward Whalley and his son in law Colonel William Goffe board a ship bound for the New World. They are on the run, wanted for the murder of King Charles I.
- Donna Leon - Doctored Evidence. Crime Fiction. (Published 2003) An early book from the series about Commissario Brunetti in the Venice police. A wealthy but hated Venitian woman is found murdered and her Romanian maid tries to flee the country but is knocked down by a train.... that seems to be the end of the story. But a neighbour thinks otherwise.
- Lulah Ellender - Grounding; Finding a Home in a Garden. Non Fiction (Published 2022) This is a story about how a garden and growing can help through many ups and downs of life. Just after the death of her mother Lulah is told that she may have to move from her rented house and garden where the family have lived for many years. She decides to carry on growing and tending and visiting other famous gardens to see her through the unsettling time.
- Judi Daykin - Into Deadly Storms. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is the second featuring a black female police detective who moved to Norfolk. This story is about drugs and the "County Lines" that use local people to sell drugs for London dealers.
- Christianna Brand - Death of Jezebel. Crime Fiction.(British Library Crime Classic,Published 2022. Originally Published 1949). A grand exhibition space in post-war London is being used for a pageant including real horses, knights in armour and damsel in a cardboard tower. Some of the main characters receive death threats which seem to be linked to the death of someone 9 years earlier and then the leading lady is strangled and thrown from the tower infront of the watching audience.
- Jen Benson - The Wild Year. Non Fiction (Published 2022). Facing mounting debts and homelessness after the birth of their second child Jen Benson and her husband Sim decide to spend a year camping around the wild places of England. They are authors, writing pieces for outdoor magazines and they are both outdoor and running enthusiasts. This book shows the highs and lows of camping through all weathers with two small children.
- Alexander McCall Smith - A Song of Comfortable Chairs. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). The 22nd book in the Ladies No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series. In this story Mma Ramotswe is able to help Grace Makutsi's husband with a threat to his furniture store and a troubled young boy, son of an old friend of Grace. A quick read.
- Mel Starr - Suppression and Suspicion . Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) The 15th in a series of Chronicles of Sir Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon and Bailiff at Bampton Castle set in the C14. A man who is well know for beating his wife disappears. No great loss but his body is found in a shallow grave by rooting pigs at the edge of the village and Hugh needs to search for the murderer. There is also a new Vicar in town causing problems. Another speedy read.
- Anthony Horowitz - A Line to Kill. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is the 3rd in a series where the author puts himself in the story. This time he is at a Literary Festival on the island of Alderney. Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne is with him as they are due to give a talk and answer questions on the book Horowitz is about to publish about their first investigation together. Very good story as usual.
- Martin Edwards -Editor. - Final Acts, Theatrical Mysteries. Crime Fiction. (British Library Crime Classic Published 2022). Short stories based around theatres by various authors through the C20.
- Judi Daykin- A Brutal Season. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) 3rd in the series featuring D.S. Sara Hirst, a detective recently moved to Norfolk. The body of the Cromer Carnival Queen is found after the Carnival Ball and there are several suspects because everyone seems to be keeping secrets. This is set around the pier, and the theatre and the Carnival events.
- Sebastian Farr - Death on the Down Beat. Crime Fiction. (B.L.C.C. Published 2022. Originally published 1941). The conductor of a provincial orchestra is shot dead during a performance in full view of the audience and no one saw a thing. This unusual book is written completely in the form of letters between the Detective in charge and his wife back at home and the members of the orchestra writing their statements and letters to D.I. Hope.
- Judi Daykin - An Artful Murder. Crime Fiction.(Published 2022). The 4th in the series set in Norfolk and featuring D.S.Sara Hirst. The team are suddenly given a new boss at the same time as a vicious murder. The University and the Sainsburys Centre for Visual Arts both feature in this book.
- Kate Ellis - Serpent's Point. Crime Fiction.(Published 2022) This is the 26th story set in South Devon and featuring D.I.Wesley Peterson. A woman is found strangled on the coast path next to a house called Serpent's Point where a film company are making an historical bodice ripper, while in a nearby field an archaeological dig looks to have uncovered a curse and a secret. Lot's of different crimes here for the police to sort out.
- D.E.Stevenson- Smouldering Fire. Fiction (Originally Published 1935 Republished 2019 by Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean St Press). This is an unusual book by this author. Between 1935 and 2019 it was only ever re-printed much abridged. This might have been because of it's odd ending where one of the characters admits to getting away with murder..........all for making a happy ending for the main characters. Its a good story apart from that which is completely different to most of the authors Scottish stories.
- Mary Considine - The Island House. Non Fiction (Published 2022) As a child Mary spent wonderful summer holidays on St Georges Island, just off the Cornish Coast at Looe. The Atkins sisters who lived there in the 60s and 70s had written about it in two books 'We bought an Island" and "Tales from our Cornish Island". The Island House is a mix of memories of Mary's early visits and tales of Mary and her husband Patricks time on the Island after it had been left to The Wildlife Trust. Life on the island is hard, especially in winter but in the summer it's glorious but hard work.
- D.E. Stevenson - The English Air. Fiction. (Published 2022. Dean St Press reprint. Originally Published 1940) An interesting story set just before and at the start of the war, about a German boy coming to stay with English cousins. Instructed by his father - a Nazi supporter - to find out more about the English outlook on life and war. Franz is astonished to find how friendly everyone is and how confident are the younger members of the family. Added interest by letters at the end of the story between the author and her publishers discussing if the book ought to be published in 1940 during the war or perhaps to wait.
Now 10 years after the beheading Charles II is in power and the 59 men who signed the death warrant and took part in the execution have been found guilt of treason under the Act of Oblivion. Some are already dead and others have been captured and hung. But Edward and Willam have escaped.
Richard Naylor secretary of the Regicide Committee is given the job of finding them - dead or alive
- Anne Perry - The Fourth Enemy. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) This is the sixth in a series featuring young Barrister Daniel Pitt and set just before WWI. Malcolm Vayne, an influential newspaper owner is about to be arrested for fraud and Pitt's chambers with new recruit Gideon Hunter KC is to prosecute. But is there enough evidence? A good story from this excellent and prolific author.
- D.E.Stevenson - Green Money. Fiction. (A Furrowed Middlebrow reprint 2022 Originally Published 1939). George Ferrier - a young man from a good home has an encounter with wealthy Mr Green who decides to make George a Trustee for his wealthy, but innocent daughter. This book about fortune and fraud, innocence and experience and a bit of romance was out of print for many years.
- Suzette A Hill - Shot in Southwold. Crime Fiction. (Published 2017). Set in 1960 Southwold. Lady Fawcett wants to check out her daughter's boyfriend who is a minor film producer currently making a strange film in Southwold. Lady Fawcett takes along a friend Rosy Gilchrist. When one of the cast is found murdered they set out to solve the murder. This is bordering on a Cosy Crime.
- D.E.Stevenson - The Musgraves. Fiction. (A Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2022. Originally Published 1960) A gentle family and village story about Esther Musgrave, who has been widowed for 3 years and her three daughters. Delia who is difficult and a member of the local Dramatic Club, Meg, happily married to sensible Bernard and Rose the youngest just out of school. Events in the village are enlivened by the arrival of a mysterious widow and Esther's estranged stepson.
- Alexander McCall Smith- The Charming Quirks of Others. Fiction. (Published 2010) Another in the series in which Philosopher Isobel Dalhousie sorts out other peoples problems in Edinburgh.
- Agatha Christie.- Cards on the Table. Crime Fiction. (Published 1936) A Poirot crime story. A re-read for me but as I read it first time about 50 years ago I didn't remember the story!
- Donna Leon - Death at La Fenice. Crime Fiction. (Published 1992) The first in the long running series featuring Commissario Brunetti set in Venice. A famous conductor is poisoned during a performance of an opera. Lots of people seem to have reasons to be rid of him, but weren't at the opera.
- Cecily Gayford (Editor) Murder on a Winter's Night. Crime Fiction Short Stories.(Published 2021) Various winter crime stories dating back to Conan Doyle and up to recent.
- Ann Granger - Deadly Company. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) Another in the Mitchell and Markby crime series which the author actually finished a few years ago but was asked to write another, so has set this back in 2005 before Superintendent retired. Callum Henderson, a garden landscaper is taking a short cut home from the pub across the old graveyard when he finds a body ....... one that has died in the last hour.
- Anthony Berkeley - Jumping Jenny. Crime Fiction. (British Library Crime Classic Published 2022 Originally Published 1933) A reverse formula crime story in which the murderer is known from the beginning. The story is set at a crime costume house party with a gallows on the roof.
Total of 117 books read in 2022
BOOKS READ 2021
- Martin Edwards (editor) - A Surprise For Christmas. Short Crime Stories. A British Library Crime Classic (Published 2020) A range of short stories dating from the first half of the C20 all set at Christmas.
- Jan Morris - In My Minds Eye: A Thought Diary. Non Fiction. (Published 2018) A daily diary of her thoughts through 2017
- Julian Symons - The Progress of a Crime.Crime Fiction (Published 2020 British Library Crime Classic Originally Published 1960). Based on a true story. This story of a crime which many people saw happen but no one quite knows who did it.
- Dorothy Evelyn Smith - O The Brave Music. Fiction. From The British Library Women Writers Series (Published 2020 Originally Published 1943) Ruan Ashley looks back at her childhood before the first World War. Her young life as the daughter of a Strict Non-conformist Minister, later at her mothers ancestral home and in the background always the moors above the town, the love of kind Rosie and always David , six years older but the one person who understands her.
- Mike Hollow - The Blitz Detective. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2015) A new to me author as his books have just been re-printed (2020) with new titles and covers. A man's body is discovered in an unmarked van in London and when DI John Jago is called to the scene he recognises the victim as Charles Villiers a local Justice of the Peace. Unfortunately this is the start of the Blitz and a German bomb destroys the van and any evidence.
- Peter Shaffer - The Woman in the Wardrobe. Crime Fiction(Published 2020 BLCC Originally Published 1951). A very strange tale of an amateur detective helping the police sort out a crime in a seaside hotel. Very Poor I thought.
- Anne Perry - Death With a Double Edge. Historical Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) Set in the years before WWI , this is the 4th in her series featuring young lawyer Daniel Pitt the son of Thomas Pitt, the head of special branch who was the main character in a previous long series. These are always well written with a good story line.
7 Books Read in January
- Lissa Evans - V for Victory. Fiction (Published 2020). This picks up the story started in Crooked Heart. Set in wartime London with Noel now 15 still with his "auntie" looking after several lodgers in a house that isn't hers .I've read 3 of her books set in wartime including "Their Finest Hour and a Half" which was made into the film "Their Finest"
- Mary Kelly - The Spoilt Kill. Crime Fiction ( British Library Crime Classic 2020 Originally Published 1961). Written in the first person by Hedley Nicholson a private investigator called in to find out who is leaking designs from the long established pottery of Shentalls . Then a body is found in the liquid clay vat.
- Rennie Airth - The Decent Inn of Death. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). The 6th in a series featuring John Madden, now a retired Police Inspector. This is set in the early1950s.
Only 3 Books Read in February
- Elizabeth Fair - Landscape in Sunlight. Fiction (A Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2017 Originally Published 1953). Life in the village of Little Mallin is dominated in summer by preparations for the August Church Fete. The vicars wife - Mrs Custance is in charge but her life is complicated by Mrs Midge and her son Lucan - who really should have gone back to London after the war, and her daughter Cassandra who she would like to see happily married.
- Andrew Wilson - I Saw him Die. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020). The 4th in a series featuring Agatha Christie solving a crime in between writing her own books. In this one she is taking a holiday with her daughter on the Isle of Skye before her wedding to Max Mallowen - something that actually happened. Except in the book she has been asked to help the owner of a big house find out who is planning to kill him - there are many suspects.
- Richard Osman - The Thursday Murder Club. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). If you want a serious police procedural story then don't bother with this but if you're prepared to suspend reality of how the police work then it's just a bit of fun. The four residents of Coopers Chase Retirement Village are of various ages and backgrounds and meet on Thursdays bringing different areas of expertise when looking at old unsolved crimes. When a murder happens right there in the Coopers Chase the club soon acquire a couple of tame police officers to help them solve the crime and when a second murder happens it all gets very complicated.
- Alexander McCall Smith - How to Raise an Elephant. Crime Fiction.(Published 2020). Another in this long series about the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and set in sunny Botswana. Things are very quiet at the Agency but then Mma Ramotswe has a visit from a distant relative, new neighbours move in and strange damage occurs to her little white van. This was a quick read and very light reading with no crime this time.
- Elly Griffiths - The Postscript Murders. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) The second in a new series featuring DS Harbinder Kaur and set in Sussex. A very good story in which the carer of a 90 year old lady doesn't believe her death was natural and involves another occupant of the old peoples flats, her friend from the coffee shop and also Harbinder in sorting out the mystery.
- Robert Harris - V2. Fiction (Published 2020). The
book is based on fact and set over 5 days in November 1944 and begins on the Dutch coast, in an area still held by the Germans.
It's from this spot in the forest that they have been firing the lethal
V2 rockets to destroy London. The story is mainly about Rudi Graf a
young German scientist whose interests in rockets for space travel
means he is soon involved in the building, testing and firing of the V2
rockets.In London an officer in the WAAF - Kay Caton-Walsh - finds herself surviving one of the rocket attacks while in the home of her lover. Almost immediately she joins a small team of WAAFs sent out to Belgium to help work out from where the V2 rockets are being fired.The last part of the jacket blurb says "But for every action on one side there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another until,in a final explosion of violence, their destinies are forced together"Both find they have been lied to by those in charge.
- Chris Nickson - The Molten City. Crime Fiction.(Published 2020) Set in Leeds in 1908. There’s going to be a riot. Detective Superintendent Tom Harper can feel it. Herbert Asquith, the prime minster, is due to speak in the city. The suffragettes and the unemployed men will be out in the streets in protest. It’s Harper’s responsibility to keep order. Can he do it? Plus he's also received an anonymous letter claiming that a young boy called Andrew Sharp was stolen from his family fourteen years before. The file is worryingly thin. A missing child should have been headline news. Why was Andrew’s disappearance ignored?
- Cora Harrison - Death of a Prominent Citizen. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). This is the 7th in a series set in Ireland in the 1920s. The Reverend Mother has been summoned to her cousin's home - along with some other relatives - to find out what wealthy widow Charlotte Hendrick has decided to do with all her money when she dies. Next morning she is found dead.
8 Books Read in March
- Nap Lombard - Murder's a Swine. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic 2021 Originally Published 1943). This is a witty, lighthearted murder set in London in the early years of WWII before bombing started. It reminded me of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence mysteries. Nap Lombard was a pseudonym of Pamela Hansford Johnson and her then husband Gorden Neil Stewart who both served as Air Raid Wardens and this book starts with the discovery of a body behind sandbags in an air raid shelter.
- Chris Nickson - To The Dark. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020)All of this authors books are set in Leeds but in different periods. This is the 3rd featuring thief-taker Simon Westlow during the 1820's. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for
Simon and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence
Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river
at Flay Cross Mill.
- Julie Wassmer - Murder on the Downs. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020). The 7th in the Whitstable Pearl series. A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs. A campaign starts to stop the development but soon one person is dead. A Very Quick Read!
- Mike Hollow - The Custom House Murder. Crime Fiction (Published 2017 and re-named and re-published in 2020) September 1940 and a month into the London Blitz this is the 3rd in a series featuring DI John Jago.
- Robin Blake - Secret Mischief. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). This is the 7th in a series of historical crime fiction set in the early 18C in Lancashire around the Preston area. It features the coroner for the area Titus Cragg and his friend Dr. Luke Fidelis . This story centres around a Tontine which is a way of leaving money to the "last man standing" from a group of friends.
- Anne Hart - Miss Marple; The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple. Fictional Biography. (Published 1986). Using all the Agatha Christie short and longer stories featuring Miss Marple, Anne Hart collects together all the pieces of information to provide a 'biography' of the crime solving sleuth. A small book - quickly read.
- Barbara Whitton - Green Hands. Fiction. (And IWM reprint . Originally published 1943) This fictional account of two Land Girls working hard on farms in 1943. The author worked as a Land Girl in 1939.
- Mike Hollow - The Stratford Murder. Crime Fiction (Published as Firing Line in 2018. Renamed and re-printed in 2020). The 4th in a series set in The London Blitz and featuring DI John Jago.
- Elizabeth Fair - Seaview House. Fiction. ( A Furrowed Middlebrow reprint 2017. Originally Published 1955. Her books are always described as comedies of domestic life. This one is set in a seaside boarding house. A gentle easy read.
- John Coates - Patience. Fiction. ( Persephone reprint 2012. Originally published 1953). This book was banned in Ireland when it was originally published. It's the story of a Catholic girl married to a man 15 years her senior who believes all there is to life is babies and being a good wife who feeds her husband and submits to his attention. Then she meets Phillip and suddenly she falls in love which is very complicated - involving Sin. This is a lovely happy but sad story. Maureen Lipman wrote a new preface and said she hoped Persephone would reprint more of Coates writing but so far they haven't.
- Jane Johnson - The Sea Gate. Fiction. (Published 2020) Saw this mentioned on someone's blog, this is one of those books that moves between past and present. In the present Rebecca is recovering from cancer when her mother dies and on clearing the house she finds some letters to her mother from Olivia, an elderly cousin in Cornwall who needs help with house repairs to enable her to be allowed home from hospital. In the past Olivia is 16 and abandoned in Cornwall by her mother in the middle of WWII. A well written book with an interesting story of family secrets kept for far too long.
- Donna Leon - Trace Elements. Crime Fiction (Published 2020) The most recent of this Very long series set in Venice. Featuring Commissario Brunetti. When a doctor at the Hospice calls to say a dying patient wants to speak to the police, Brunetti finds a story that threatens the water supply of Venice.
12 Books Read in April!
- Nicola Upson - The Dead of Winter. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020)This is the 9th by this author featuring the real life author and playwright Josephine Tey. Josephine and her friend Chief Inspector Archie Penrose are invited for a Cornish Christmas on St Micheal's Mount. Penrose has been charged with looking after famous Actress Marlene Dietrich.The weather closes in and two strange and tragic deaths occur and Penrose has to make sense of it all.
- Robin Blake- Death and the Chevalier. Crime Fiction.(Published 2019). I read the most recent by this author last month and found there was a 2019 book I'd not seen. This is the 6th in a series set in 18C Preston. At this time The Young Pretender - Charles Edward Stuart was trying to take the English Crown from the Hanoverian George II.
- E.C.R.Lorac - Two-Way Murder. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic written in 1950's and Published for the first time in 2021) BLCC have published several by this author but this is the first book that had never been published before. Martin Edwards has written an introduction explaining how this story was found and guessing at why it wasn't published before the author's death.
- Robert Harris - Munich. Fiction. (Published 2017) Set over 5 days in 1938 and mixing fiction into fact. This tells the story of the meeting in Munich between Chamberlain and Hitler. Hitler is determined to start a war and Chamberlain wants peace. Two young men - one British and one German who met at Oxford University have secrets that could be dangerous.
- Judith Cutler - Green and Pleasant land. Crime Fiction. (Published 2014) This is an author I had read before but not lately. Newly retired ex-Chief Superintendent and her Husband Mark - also retired from the police force - are asked to assist a police force to look at an old un-resolved crime from twenty years ago. But no one seems willing to help or tell the truth.
- Elly Griffiths - The Night Hawks. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). Another in the Dr Ruth Galloway series set on the bleak Norfolk coast and the fictional University of North Norfolk. These stories always mix archaeology with modern day crime and are good easy reading.
- Jan Morris - A Writer's House in Wales. Non Fiction (Published 2002). Jan Morris was such a good descriptive writer so this little book really gives a good look at the house in Wales that was her home for so many years.
- Rebecca Schiller - Earthed. Non Fiction. (Published 2021) . Rebecca, her husband and their two children have moved to a 2 acre smallholding in Kent but the stress of having to work so hard both on and off the holding have put a strain on her already fragile mental health. This book goes through a year as she struggles to find out why she feels this way. The eventual diagnoses of ADHD - apparently very under diagnosed in women - helps her see a way through.
8 Books Read in May
- Alys Clare - The Lammas Wild. Crime Fiction.(Published 2021) I raced through this as it has been a very good series of mystery, magic and crime and this is the last one. It is the year 1100 and Lassair the healer from the Fens has is returning from Spain where she has been for 7 years learning more about the mysterious skills she possesses. Before she can return to her family she has to retrieve a chest that was left for her by the Kings spy.
- Josie George - A Still Life. Non Fiction (Published 2021) This is a memoir about her life with an unexplained painful illness that sometimes reduces her to having to rest for days on end. She writes about her small world between her home, her son's school, her friend's home and the community centre . It is beautifully written, noticing all the small things and finding joy in life as it is for her.
- Stuart Pawson - The Judas Sheep. Crime Fiction (Published 1996) I read a couple by this author many years ago . They now seem very dated. D.I. Charlie Priest is on sick leave but gets called back to help with the murder of a wealthy tycoons chauffeur and disappearance of the mans wife - about which he doesn't seem to be at all bothered .
- Jacqueline Winspear - The Consequences of Fear. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). London 1941 and 12 year old Freddie Hacket is a message runner for a government office. On one errand he sees two men fighting, quickly hides and realises he is watching a murder and then is terrified to discover the man he has just seen is the person to whom he has to deliver the message. The police do not believe him so he turns to Maisie Dobbs - the private investigator. This is the 14th in this series and once again Maisie uses all her skills to find the answer while still working secretly for the Special Operations Executive.
- Danie Couchman - Afloat. Non Fiction. (Published 2019). Fed up with flat sharing and the rush of central London, on one of her walks Danni finds the Regents Canal and after a while she buys a Narrow boat. Moorings are too expensive so she has to be a continuous cruiser, moving every 2 weeks along the canals through London. In between all the work involved in owning and moving a boat she is a continuity broadcaster and voice over person for many different TV channels and advertising companies. Underlying the whole story is something that happened years ago that she has struggled to come to terms with.
- Jini Reddy - Wanderland; A Search for Magic in the Landscape.. Non Fiction. (Published 2020).One review says " A witty, gentle, original and very modern quest for the magical(not the mythical) in Britains landscape." Jini travels all over the country finding unusual people and places.
- Griffiths Family with Alun Gibbard - Life in the Coal House. Non Fiction. (Published 2010). Just a small book with the story of the Griffiths' family during their time as the stars of the BBC Wales Coal House series.. This book relates the story from the perspective of various members of the family. Why did they go on the show? What was it like to live in such conditions?
7 Books read in June
- Rachel Hore - A Beautiful Spy. Fiction. (Published 2021) A quick read , not as good as her previous books I thought. This is a fiction but based on a real person - Olga Grey who really did work as a spy for British Intelligence during the 1930s and brought Percy Glading to trial for treachery in 1938 for sharing secrets with the Russians
- Mary Paulson-Ellis - The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing.Fiction (Published 2019). France 1918 and in the final weeks of the war a group of British Soldiers shelter in an abandoned farmhouse. They pass the time by placing bets using whatever objects they possess. Then tragedy. 100 years later Heir Hunter Solomon Farthing is tipped off about the death of an old man in a care home who possesses nothing except an old pawn ticket and £50,000 sewn into his burial suit . I found this a complicated read trying to work out what was happening and who was who in the two timelines.
- Ruth Hogan - The Keeper of Lost Things. Fiction. (Published 2017). Anthony Peardew was once a well know author of short stories and has spent half his life collecting and lovingly caring for things other people have lost. As he approaches his last days he leaves his house and the collection to his assistant Laura - giving her the task of finding the owners of all the Lost Things. This is a gentle story of co-incidence and serendipity.
- Donna Leon - Falling in Love. Crime Fiction (Published 2015) This is another in the series featuring Commissario Brunetti and set in Venice. Flavia Petrelli is an opera star and used to adoring fans but when she is inundated with yellow roses - even some left inside her locked apartment she begins to feel frightened. Luckily Brunetti is an old friend and is soon on the case.
- Cal Flyn - Islands of Abandonment:Life in the Post-Human Landscape. Non Fiction (Published 2021) "This is a book about abandoned places:ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man's lands and fortress islands - and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim it's place. From Chernobyl to a Scottish Island, Cal Flyn has visited places that for various reasons are now not inhabited by humans. In many places nature is reclaiming the land or has adapted to move in. A fascinating book both frightening and hopeful.
- Cora Harrison - Murder in an Orchard Cemetery. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). Another in a series set in Cork in Ireland in the 1920s. The Reverend Mother is on an annual retreat although this year it has changed as the Bishop has invited the 5 people who are hoping to be elected Alderman. When a bomb goes off killing one of the men it's initially thought to be the IRA. But maybe not........
- Ronald Blythe - Stour Seasons. Non Fiction. (Published 2016). The 10th collection of his writing that first appeared in The Church Times. From his home on the Suffolk/Essex border (once the home of Artist John Nash) He writes about his garden, the countryside, the people he knows and knew - now in his nineties he knew many famous artistic people, - his travels and the Church year.
7 Books Read in July
- Hope Bourne - A Little History of Exmoor.(Published 1968). An interesting easy reading book with history of Exmoor from the earliest times, through the Domesday book right up to when Exmoor became a National Park
- Martin Edwards-(editor) - Guilty Creatures. Short Stories (Published 2021) A British Library Crime Classic collection of stories dating from the early 1900's up to the 1960s. Not one of the best collections in my opinion.
- Charles Foster - The Screaming Sky.Non Fiction. (Published 2021) A study of Swifts. As they migrate across the world Charles Foster follows them. A fascinating informative book by an author obsessed with these birds.Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2021.
- Chris Nickson - Brass Lives. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). Another one in the series set in Leeds and featuring Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper This one has moved on to 1913.
- Neil Ansell - The Circling Sky. Non Fiction (Published 2021). Coincidentally this is another book long listed for The Wainwright Nature Writing Book Prize. Neil Ansell like to do things on his own - his first book Deep Country was about his 5 years in a remote Welsh cottage. This time he is walking in the New Forest. He's love of the area started as a child and in this book he re-visits places he knew as well as parts of the forest he didn't know before. He visits over 30 times in 2019 recording all he sees - although his main interest is birds.
- Hilary McKay- The Swallows Flight. Children's Fiction (Published 2021). This is a follow up to The Skylarks War. Although these are classed as children's books they are rather books about children. The children are now grown with children of their own and this story is mainly about two young girls in England and two young boys in Germany growing up in the interwar years and their time in in WWII. A lovely book.
- Sarah Maine- Women of the Dunes. Fiction (Published 2018). In the present day Libby is an Archaeologist who gets the chance to work on the coast at Ullaness in West Scotland. She has been told tales of this place from her grandmother back in Canada. Ellen is a servant girl in the 1800's getting unwanted attention from the eldest son master of the house and back in 800AD Ulla lands here fleeing from her lovers killer.
- S.J.Bennett - The Windsor Knot. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). Her Majesty the Queen Investigates crime with help from her trusted Personal Secretary Rozie. The morning after a dinner party one of the guests is found murdered in his room and the police suspect the Queens loyal servants. The mystery needs solving before the news is leaked to the press. This is a well written lighthearted book with much details about the inside workings of Windsor Castle. This is the first in a series.
8 Books Read in August
- Clare Leighton.- Country Matters. Non Fiction. (Little Toller Reprint 2016 Originally Published 1937) These pieces were written after she moved to the Chilterns in the 1930s. She was already a well renowned engraver.They tell the stories of a village at the time - The local pub, the flower show, chair bodgers, the village witch etc.
- John Lewis-Stempel - Woodston; The Biography of an English Farm. Non Fiction. (Published 2021) The story of a farm situated on
the Herefordshire/Wales border from Neolithic to the present. Using old
books and records he finds the owners through history and details of the
way they farmed the land. His family have had links to the farm from
times long gone and his Grandfather became Farm Manager there in the
1930's and he, himself, has farmed not far away for many years so is
ideally placed to write this fascinating book.Amazon describes it well....................With his combined skills of farmer and historian, Lewis-Stempel digs deep into written records, the memories of relatives, and the landscape itself to celebrate the farmland his family have been bound to for millennia. Through Woodston's life, we feel the joyful arrival of oxen ploughing; we see pigs rootling in the medieval apple orchard; and take in the sharp, drowsy fragrance of hops on Edwardian air. He draws upon his wealth of historical knowledge and his innate sense of place to create a passionate, fascinating biography of farming in England
- Rory Clements - A Prince and a Spy. Fiction.(Published 2021) The fifth in a series featuring Tom Wilde, an American Cambridge Don who is also now working for for the USA government during WWII. The book is based around the fact that Prince George Duke of Kent and brother to the king was killed in a plane crash over the Scottish Highlands in 1942. On behalf of President Roosevelt - a friend of the Duke, Tom Wilde is sent to find out the hows and whys of the crash. This is so well written and a really good fiction story based on some facts.
- Helen Hoover - A Place in the Forest. Non Fiction (First Published 1969) In the mid 50's during a summer holiday in the wilds of Northern Minnesota, Helen and Ade Hoover decide to buy a cabin and not return to their well paid jobs in Chicago. This book tells the story of the first years when they had no money and no wilderness skills. The locals laid bets on them not lasting the first winter. There are lovely descriptions of a simple life in the woods filled with animals through snow covered winters and beautiful summers. The book isn't all about a perfect life as they sometimes live on very little variation on food, the summers have biting black flies and a fire burns down a storage cabin. I really enjoyed this book.
- Kate Ellis - The Stone Chamber. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). The umpteenth book in the series featuring DI Wesley Peterson and set in the West Country around Dartmouth (called Tradmouth in the book). As always these stories include history and archaeology - this time with writings "found" from the 1950's and the 14th century.
- Donna Leon - The Golden Egg. Crime Fiction (Published 2013). A Commissario Brunetti story and set in Venice as usual. When a local deaf-mute man is found dead with an empty bottle of pills it looks like suicide but when no record of the man's birth or life are found the case looks more sinister.
6 Books Read in September
- Ann Granger - The Truth Seekers Wife. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is the 8th in a series set in Victorian times featuring Inspector Ben Ross and his wife Lizzie.
- Matt Gaw - Under The Stars; A Journey into Light. Non Fiction. (Published 2020). The author lives in Bury St Edmunds and visits various parts of the country at night to find the darkest places for star-gazing.He also visits London at night to see how the light affects wildlife.
- Anne Perry - A Darker Reality. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). This is the 3rd in a series featuring Elena Standish, a photographer now working for MI6, between the wars. A really well written story - as are all her books.
- Margaret Kennedy - Where Stands A Winged Sentry. Non Fiction (Originally Published only in the USA in 1941. This edition published with Notes and a Forward in 2021 by Heldheld Press) Margaret Kennedy was already a well known novelist before she wrote this during the 6 months in 1940 between the evacuation of Dunkirk and the Start of the Blitz. It's a journal of her thoughts and experiences as she moves her children from Surrey to Cornwall. At the time things were very tense as an invasion was expected at any time so she writes about what the government and the people are saying . Because she writes so well and right in the moment, the fear and uncertainty really come through. A very good read.
- Jane Christmas- Open House; A life in Thirty-two Moves. Non Fiction. (Published 2020) There are good reasons for her latest house move, but after viewing sixty homes, Jane and her husband succumb to the emotional fatigue of an overheated English housing market and buy a wreck in the town of Bristol that is overpriced, will require more money to renovate than they have and that neither of them particularly like.
- Martin Edwards (Editor) - Murder By The Book. Crime Fiction Short Stories. (British Library Crime Classic Published 2021) Another collection of crime stories dating from the 1930's to 1960's. This time the stories all feature books, book sellers or collectors.(Published 2021).
- Lin Anderson- The Killing Tide. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) This is the latest in a long series featuring Forensic Scientist Rhona MacLeod who works in Glasgow. I'm not sure about reading earlier stories.
- Leo Walmsley - Love in the Sun. Fiction. (First published 1939. Reprinted 2011) Based on his life although not a biography. In the early 1930's during the depression, a young couple run away from Yorkshire to Cornwall. He wants to write but they have no money. They manage to rent an old army hut and do it up bit by bit. This is the story of their first years there. It's fascinating to know it was based on real life.
8 Books Read in October
- Ann Cleeves - The Heron's Cry. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) The second in the new Mathew Venn series set on the North Devon coast. An excellent read and well written as always. Even better as I'd just watched the first book "The Long Call" on TV so was up to date with all the people mentioned.
- Helen Hoover - The Long-Shadowed Forest. Non Fiction. (Published 1963). This is her first book written before A Place in the Forest which I read in September. This book is a close look at all the flora and fauna around their home in the North Minnesota forest. The number of different birds that visit their cabin for the food they put out is amazing.
- John Lewis-Stempel - The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood.
For four years John Lewis-Stempel managed Cockshutt wood,three and half acres of mixed woodland in south west Herefordshire. John coppiced the trees and raised cows and pigs who roamed free there. This is the diary of the last year, by which time he had come to know it from the bottom of its beech roots to the tip of its oaks, and to know all the animals that lived there - the fox, the pheasants, the wood mice, the tawny owl - and where the best bluebells grew.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Joy and Light Bus Company. Crime Fiction (Published 2021)The most recent in the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series set in sunny Botswana, as usual Precious Ramotswe is able to sort out several problems including the worry of her husbands possible purchase of a bus company.
- Candace Robb - The Riverwoman's Dragon. Historical Crime Fiction (Published 2021). This is the 13th in the series set in 14C York and featuring Owen Archer and his wife Lucie who is an apothecary. This story centres on Magda the Wise Woman.
- Mike Hollow - The Canning Town Murder.(Published 2020) This is the second in a series of 5 so far, set in WWII with DI John Jago - The Blitz Detective. I've read 3 others before the library got this one in stock and the 5th is on order.
- Anne Perry - A Christmas Resolution. Historical Crime Fiction Novella. (Published 2020) Another of her Christmas novellas that feature people from her other historical crime series. The main characters in this are Celia Hooper and her husband John Hooper who is a detective in the Thames River Police. It seemed to come to a very sudden and hurried conclusion.
- E.C.R. Lorac - These Names Make Clues. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic 2021. Originally Published 1937) This author is one of the best that BLCC have re-published. This story is a 'country house' murder and luckily Chief Inspector MacDonald is among those invited. There are fake names, clues and codes and alibis before the murderer is found.
- Katherine May - Wintering. Non Fiction. (Published 2020) This is subtitled "The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times". This is a book using her own experiences of how we should accept the darker times of our lives.
8 Books read in November
- Donna Leon - Transient Desires. Crime Fiction . (Published 2021). This is the 30th book in the series set in Venice and featuring Commissario Brunetti, his family and the police. This time a serious subject of human trafficking.
- Julie Wassmer - Strictly Murder. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) The 8th in the series featuring Pearl Nolan - Restaurant owner and private investigator and set in Whitstable. This story revolves around the new owners of a dancing school. It tends to turn into a romance in places. Apparently this series is being made for TV - probably not on a terrestrial channel.
- Anne Perry - Three Debts Paid. Crime Fiction(Published 2021) This is the 5th in the most recent series by this good and prolific author and is set in Edwardian London in the years before WWI . Daniel Pitt is asked to defend in court a lecturer from his old university but in the meantime his friend Inspector Ian Frobisher is searching for a killer nicknamed 'The Rainy Day Slasher'.
- Louise Dickinson Rich - We Took To The Woods. Non Fiction.(Published 1942).The story of an English teacher who moved to the remote woods of Maine with her husband. For most of the year they are isolated between two lakes and the only way out is over the ice in winter or by forest tracks. In summer they have company round about with loggers and fishermen. This is a good story answering all the questions everyone always asks her about their life.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at the Ritz. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). Set at the beginning of the Blitz in London. Chief Inspector Corburg is called in to investigate a murder in The Ritz Hotel in the suite of an exiled king. New to me author. Good story.
- Katya Balen - October, October. Childrens Fiction. (Published 2021). 10 year old October lives with her father on the edge of a wood. She has lived with him alone since her mother left them when she was 4. She doesn't go to school but learns everything about the woods and nature. Then on her 11th birthday everything changes. I came across this book simply because the cover is illustrated by print maker Angela Harding and I was looking at books by her and this sounded good. It's a lovely story.
- Madeline Martin - The Last Bookshop in London. Fiction (Published 2021). This starts in the early days of WWII and is set in London through the war. It is written by an American and uses the American words for things rather than English. The story is good but the writing is stilted and annoying.
- Anne Perry - A Christmas Legacy. Crime Fiction Novella (Published 2021). A short novella featuring someone from her previous books. This story has Gracie (the first maid that Charlotte Pitt had in the William Pitt series) moving into a house where a maid has become very frightened about what is happening there.
- Marion Todd - See Them Run. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019) A new to me author and a good story set in St. Andrews and the Scottish countryside. Featuring DI Clare MacKay. Someone is running over men and leaving a number by them, with seemingly no connection between the men, the police are racing to track down the killer before another man is killed.
- Elly Griffiths - The Midnight Hour. Crime Fiction.(Published 2021) Brighton, 1965. When theatrical impresario Bert Billington is found dead in his retirement home, no one suspects foul play. But when the postmortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife, eccentric ex-Music Hall star Verity Malone. Frustrated by the police response to Bert's death and determined to prove her innocence, Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins. This is their first real case. As always a good story. This is the 6th in her Brighton Mysteries series but feature Emma and Sam as well as the police.
10 Books read in December