Friday 15 March 2013

Three short reviews

I'm away for a few days next week, a short break only but it'll be nice to have a small change of scenery after a very long winter. Thus, time's a bit short at the moment so I'm doing a really quick post about my last three books.

First up a non-fiction book, Walk the Lines by Mark Mason.

The sub-title for this book is, The London Underground, Overground and this basically is what this book is all about. The author has a brainwave one day and decides that walking the entire underground network, or 'the Tube' as we call it in the UK, 'overground' is a jolly good idea. It's a huge undertaking and his wife and friends (mostly) think he's mad. The book is not only a catalogue of the areas of London that the stations are in and lines and go through, it's also full of little historical tit-bits that I found absolutely fascinating. His personal experiences of living and working in the city (he is not originally from London) are also included, anecdotes, things people have told him about their childhood in London and so on. He also meets a few people along the way, authors, actors, cabbies doing The Knowledge. The one I found most interesting was his interview with John Pearson, the author of the biography of the Kray twins, a couple of East End hoodlums who ran part of the city back in the er... 1960s I think. I would never have thought I could have found that interesting but it really was! Anyway, an excellent book if you're familiar with London, want to go to London, or just fancy a fascinating and informative read.

Next, Keeping the Dead by Tess Gerritsen.

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know how much I love Tess Gerritsen's books. I haven't read one for a while because my library was supposed to have a copy of this book but it seems to be lost. (And I do like to read series in order.) Then a couple of weeks ago I spotted it in a charity shop and grabbed it quick and am now able to continue with the series. This one involves Egyptian archaeology and mummies. (I seem to be having an Egyptian year this year.) An ancient mummy is found in the basement of a private museum in Boston. There's a huge hoo-ha and the TV cameras are there to film its unveiling at a local hospital, and so is forensic pathologist, Maura Isles. But what's this they find? A bullet? It can't be... but it is. How can this be a 2000 year old mummy when it has a bullet lodged in its leg? It's detective Jane Rizzoli's job to find out... Excellent, just excellent. Possibly not as psychologically frightening as some of the instalments of this series, or as gory, but none the worse for that. I found all the mummification details fascinating and the plots always race along with unexpected revelations and goodness knows what else. Sometimes I think, 'Dear God, is she really going to do that? Yes, she is...' But that's all part of the fun. This series is never less than very readable and I'm glad now that I can crack on with the three or four I have left.

Lastly, I've just finished The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke.

I hate to think how long my husband has been on at me to read the Dave Robicheaux series; he absolutely loves it. I knew I would get to it eventually, he was, after all, responsible for my Charlie Parker obsession so I rather thought that once I got to them I would like them too. This, The Neon Rain is book one, written way back in 1989 I think, though it doesn't feel that old. Dave Robicheaux is a detective in the city of New Orleans. He's clearly had his problems, has served in Vietnam, is an alcoholic and a gambler, divorced etc. I couldn't quite gather his age but am guessing forty to mid-forties. Very experienced, whatever. He goes to see a convicted murderer just before he's put in the electric chair and is told by him that someone plans to kill him. Is this connected with Dave's new case, the death of a young black girl in the Bayou swamp? In order to find the answers the detective has to delve deeply into the web of curruption that exists in the city, not just amongst the criminal fraternity but also amongst the police: his friends and colleagues in other words. Many things will change over the course of this investigation and it's likely Robicheaux's life will never be the same again. So, did I like this book now that I eventually got to it? Oh, yes. Very, very good. Fast paced, full of twists and turns, terrific writing... the descriptions of the city, Gulf of Mexico, surrounding countryside were superb. Dave Robicheaux is a complicated, flawed, fascinating protagonist and I honestly cannot wait to read more in this series. I've already reserved the next two books from the library and wish they would arrive before we go away: they won't I know, but never mind. Something to look forward to when I get back.

So that's my reading up to date. I shall take my Kindle and a clutch of books away with me and doubtless come back with more than I went with. LOL. Such is the life of a book junkie...


GeraniumCat said...

I think you are persuading me to give Tess Gerritsen a try, I like the sound of this one!

Have a lovely break, hope you find some interesting books :-)

DesLily said...

wow they all sound good! I would say you've had a good spell there with your reading!! While you read 3 books I read 1. *hangs head in shame*.. I am beginning to wonder if I will even meet my count of 52 books a year (one a week) this year! Anyway.. I am glad you are getting a bit of a always I am envious! :o) but I always get pictures right?!

Cath said...

Geranium Cat: I honestly do think TG is well worth a try. I liked this a lot because of the archaeology bent. Huge fun. It's going in the charity shop box so if you would like it you would be most welcome. I'm away for a few days but would happily post it to you after I get back. Email me your address if you would like, but I really do understand if you would rather not... I'm sure one of your local libraries would have it.

Thank you. So do I, though Hubby would probably disagree. LOL

Pat: No need to hang your head, you're reading some really challenging books at the moment.

You will indeed get pictures.

Susan said...

Walk The Line sounds so good! ON my list it goes.

I read the first Tess Gerritsen and found it a little gruesome for me. I did enjoy it though, and plan on reading more eventually. So many series to try to finish! At least I've read Neon Rain, so I don't have to worry about that one :-) I quite like the Dave Robichaud series, Peter is right. I'm thrilled you liked it too. Some books in the series are very good.

Have a good trip away, Cath! Hope it's spring for you when you return.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I've only tried one Gerritsen book and had to stop reading it as it was just too gory for me. This one sounds as though I might be able to read it!!!

Also I've never read any of James Lee Burke's books and I think maybe I'd like those too.

I'm nowhere nearly up to date with reviewing what I've read, so I'm impressed!

Have a good break - I hope you're going somewhere a bit warmer than it is up here - and no snow as more is forecast for next week.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I love my murder/mystery/thriller books, so the Tess Gerritsen and James Lee Burke, are 'no brainers' for me.

As I think I have mentioned before, I am not much of a one for non-fiction reading of any kind, however the Mark Mason book has grabbed me, because of the historical tit-bits about London, which you say he mentions. I am not really a fan of the London Underground either (I certainly would never use it if I were alone) and don't tend to look around me very much if I am ever forced into its depths, as I am too busy concentrating on surfacing, hopefully in the right place, at the other end!

Many of the stations and tunnels have so much history surrounding them, that I should imagine it to have been a fascinating and interesting journey and I am sorely tempted to search the book out.

Thanks for the recommendation and have a lovely few days away!


Cath said...

Susan: Walk the Lines was so enjoyable. Now, every time I hear mention of a part of London or a Tube station I think back to this book and try to remember where it is on The Underground.

If it helps, I feel that the R & I books get less gruesome as they go along. The first couple she went into the autopsies a bit too much for me. My favourite so far is Body Double which was very complex plotwise and utterly brilliant.

Thank you, we're both looking forward to the change of scenery.

Margaret: As I said to Susan, I do actually think they get less gory as they go along... and not quite as terrifying.

The JLB books are not gory and have the most wonderful descriptions of the area around New Orleans. I have no hesitation in recommending those.

We're just going to Cardiff for several days... sadly, I don't think 'warm' is on the weather's agenda!

Yvonne: Two excellent crime authors, imo. It's so nice that there are so many good ones around.

Honestly, although we use the Tube when we're in London, I'm never massively comfortable when I'm down there. I find it fascinating to read about though and the book was excellent.

Thank you, we will. I hope you have a good week.

Nan said...

If I knew London at all, or lived there, I would love that first book. I think it is a genius idea to do what he did. Love it. The Krays are an interesting pair. I've heard of them off and on during the years and really should do some serious reading on them.
Your words about the TG books "not as psychologically frightening or gory" - well, that pretty much decides me on not reading them. I don't do well with either thing. This is what I love about blogging reviews - the truth, the real story. I so appreciate yours.
And you said,"way back in 1989" - I think there was a wealth of mysteries that came out in the eighties and nineties. I used to be on the DorothyL mystery list during that time, and learned a lot.
Have a great getaway. Supposed to be single numbers tonight here (that's F!). Wind chill today of -1. Brrr.

Cath said...

Nan: I think I would like to do some reading on The Krays too, the biography mentioned in this book, by John Pearson, sounds like it might be a good place to start.

No, no... Tess Gerritsen would not be for you, trust me on this...

I appreciate the truth from bloggers too. I know there are certain things people don't like - for me it's child abduction - so I try to warn if I think it might be upsetting to anyone.

Thank you, we had a really nice short break in Cardiff.