Monday, 1 May 2017

Catching up

A couple of short book reviews today. First up, A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders.

Samantha Clair is a publishing editor at a firm of book publishers. She's in her forties, single by choice and has a mother, Helena, who's a high-flying lawyer. She normally deals with contemporary fiction of the light, romantic kind but her friend and fashion writer, Kit Lovell, has written a book about the death of fashion designer, Rodrigo Alemán. Reading the manuscript, Sam realises that what it contains could be explosive and sets about passing it through their team of libel lawyers. Then Kit disappears and Inspector Jake Field comes into her life. It soon becomes apparent that there's a lot more going on than just Kit's disappearance that may or may not be because of his unpublished manuscript. Sam, Jake and Helena set about investigating, Sam soon finding herself going further than Jake has authorised because all she really wants to do is find Kit - whereas the others seem to have developed quite another agenda.

It's so nice to have a protagonist who's not young and glamorous and twenty-something. Sam is a very ordinary woman in her mid-forties, funny, intelligent, realistic about the world. She's also a loyal friend who is doggedly determined. I loved her dry, sarcastic wit usually aimed at the realities of the publishing world. Interesting to read about that, we readers have very little idea how the books we love get published and this book gives a small glimpse into that hidden world. The spotlight was also turned on the fashion world, which is not really my thing but nevertheless it kept my interest. This is a light, amusing crime read, very much London based, 'different' in that it's not police procedure based at all. Oh and I loved Sam's lawyer mother, Helena, whom Sam is convinced is a Martian. There are three in this book series so far so I'm hoping to come across more on my travels.

Lastly, Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.

Madeleine Maxwell, known to all as Max, is recruited to a department of Thirsk University known as St. Mary's. It's an Institute of Historical Research... but with a difference: the historians who work there can travel in time. Their purpose is to "investigate major historical events in contemporary time." To find out the truth of incidents that are in question. It takes months of training before Max and her fellow trainees are ready to make their first jump. Several drop out but Max is determined to succeed, not only that but to be the best. Eventually she and her fellow students are ready to take their place as fully fledged historians. Max travels to 11th. century London and joins the medical team at the front in World War 1. Then she lands a 'big one'... she's sent back sixty five million year to the Cretaceous Period. This assignment changes everything, for Max, for St. Mary's, and possibly the world.

Well this one was recommended to me by book blogger, Geranium Cat, on Facebook. I have to admit for the first 50 - 60 pages I was a bit so-so about it and then it suddenly took off like a bat out of hell and was non-stop action and intrigue until the very end. And I mean 'intrigue'... all kinds of double-crossings and unexpected twists... I was exhausted come the end. It was huge fun, a lot humour in the dialogue and first person naration. Interesting and entertaining characters - Max herself is a complicated and frustrating sort of person but I suspect there's a backstory there the reader may learn about in future books. There're quite a few of them, nine I think, with a lot of short stories and novellas in between. I'll certainly read more if I can get my hands on them.



DesLily said...

well you sure are rolling along! I am slow as molasses lately.. but then I am reading about Sitting Bull..but alot of the book is about the tribe, which I more or less read about in my last book.
At one time I had One Damn Thing After Another on the wish list.. I think I had it there just because the title was so good lol.. glad you enjoyed it! (maybe I will put it back on the list lol)

BookPlease said...

These both sound very interesting. I checked Just One Damned Thing After Another on Amazon yesterday when I read your post and bought the Kindle version for 99p. This morning I see it is £1.99 - your post was very timely for me!!! I thought if both you and Geranium Cat liked it I probably will too - thank you. I'll keep my eyes peeled for A Murder of Magpies too.

I've been on a bit of a book buying/borrowing spree - yesterday I went to Barter Books and came back with a few and then in the afternoon it was the library van's fortnightly visit and so I borrowed a few more too. I just need some more reading time - but the grass will keep on growing and the weeds are having a field day!

Val said...

Two more for the library list! Thanks Cath
I picked up a non-fiction "Storm in a Teacup : The physics of everyday life by Helen Czerski last night. It's sofar very unputdownable!

Cath said...

Pat: For me, April was a slowish reading month... just four books read. But that's fine, I had a lot going on.

Just One Damned Thing After Another is such a great title. LOL

Margaret: Oh good, glad my post was timely and you got a bargain. Perhaps your library might come up with A Murder of Magpies... not really one to buy in my opinion.

I love a good book buying spree so well done you! We've had rain so our weeds will be taking over the garden soon.

Val: No problem. Storm in a Teacup sounds interesting, I'll keep an eye out.