Monday 25 October 2010

Three books in brief

As seems to be the case more often than not with me these days, I'm three books behind again. So here goes with another three book post.

First up: The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards.

Some ten years ago a young woman, Emma Bestwick, disappeared in The Lake District and a journalist is pestering DCI Hannah Scarlett and her cold case team to reopen the case. Hannah is reluctant because it could be a simple case of the woman wanting to disappear, not a murder case, until someone starts calling the journalist with new information. Hannah reopens the case and is brought into contact with Daniel Kind again, as it was his father who headed the original case ten years ago. The attraction is still there and not helped by the fact that both of them are having troubles with their relationships with their partners. Hannah needs to employ all her skills as a detective to sort this one and keep Daniel out of her thoughts.

Brilliant. The first two books in this series were excellent and I think this one was even better. Fast paced, full of twists and turns, I just couldn't put this down. I like the use of an unknown narrator in parts of the book; that kept me guessing. I love the Lake Distrist setting but most off all I'm fascinated by Hannah and Daniel's relationship, and certain aspects of that move on apace in this instalment. Loved it and hope there are many more to come.

Next - A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch.

Charles Lennox is an amateur detective in Victorian times. His neighbour and friend, Lady Jane, calls him in to investigate the murder of a former maid who left her service to work for the employer of her fiance. There are many suspects in the house and many secrets that Charles simply cannot fathom. Someone else dies during a ball and Charles has his work cut out to untangle the web of deceit and lies surrounding these murders.

Well, I made it to the end so that says something but 'oh dear'. So many factual errors, implausibilities and lord knows what else really annoyed me about this one. The jacket proudly announces that the author went to Cambridge and (I think) Harvard or Yale. Goodness, if that's the case you would have thought he could have done some decent research into the period and got his facts right. Best sentence, from a British, Victorian, peer of the realm: 'He must've gotten it from the maid!' I actually laughed out loud. Which is a shame because there was a decent mystery here, trying to get out, which is why I did actually make it to the end.

Lastly - Over the Gate by Miss Read.

More about the village of Fairacre and its village school mistress, Miss Read. Includes a ghost story, strange tales of the history of the village and its inhabitants, harvest festival, Christmas, the annual outing to the seaside and much more. Perfect bedtime reading, gentle, evocative, delightful. Bought for a quid in the market in Carmarthen - bargain!


verity said...

I've got Over the gate on audio book - it's about the only one that I haven't got around to reading twice, which was why I chose to download it. Must remember to put it on while I'm cross stitching!

Anonymous said...

I've read the first book in Martin Edwards' series, but I need to continue reading. Glad to hear that this one is a good one.

Nan said...

I have the second in the series on my Kindle waiting for me. I liked the first one a lot.
So sad about the Blue Death book. I've had it on the shelf for a while now, and it looked so good.
As for the Miss Read, it's been quite a long while, but I seem to remember I didn't like this one much. I seem to recall mean people? That cover is seriously creepy. :<)

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I've read the first and last of these books - both brilliant in different ways!

So I thought that the second book would be another good book for me to find, until I read your review that is!

But I would like to know what it was he must have gotten from the maid - nothing too terrible I hope!

DesLily said...

goodness! well busy or not you found time to whip thru those books!!! why haven't you listed them on RIP? I am now into Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer about Jack the Ripper. I wasn't sure I'd like this but so far so good.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

'The Arsenic Labyrinth' and 'A Beautiful Blue Death', both look like my kind of read, but I have been banned from adding any more to my wish list and definitely to my TBR mountain.

That means that I may have to stop blogging, as he just doesn't understand that there are SO MANY great book out there and I NEED them all!!!!

Cath said...

Verity: I would think it would make delightful listening while you're stitching.

Kay: All three of the books I've read in the Lake District series have been excellent. To be honest I think they just get better as they go along.

Nan: You may well enjoy The Blue Death book! It's just that as an English person all the 'gottens' and 'sidewalks' jump right out at me because these are words we don't use. Plus, I know that in the big houses in Victorian times the servants' quarters would not have been in the basement beside the kitchen (always in the attics)and no maid would have had her own room. Errors like that grate.

Margaret: Well, as I said to Nan, you might well enjoy it because I am a bit picky about things.

LOL! No... nothing too terrible... information I think.

Hi Pat! I didn't list them for RIP as they didn't seem creepy enough for that challenge. I haven't read anything by Patricia Cornwell, look forward to hearing what you think. Yeah, hugely busy at the moment - behind on blog reading for instance - but still managing to read a bit.

fiction-books: Yes, my husband looks askance at my tbr pile quite a lot too. And as a library user (I am too) he doesn't understand why I also need to 'buy' books. I've yet to find a way to explain that properly...

Anonymous said...

I love Miss Read and she is a good bedtime read. You have me intrigued with Edwards and these Lake District stories that I will have to see about reading.

I am chuckling about your comment regarding the explanation of buying books vs library reads and how to explain a penchant for both - something I simply cannot explain myself. My husband just ignores my reading appetite, though I got a strange stare the other day when a rather large pile tumbled across the back seat in the car as he turned a corner. Penny

Danielle said...

I've been reading so many mysteries lately I feel like I read nothing else! Still, I'm adding the Edwards book to my wishlist as that sounds right up my alley. I've been curious about he Finch book--that's distracting when there are so many errors. I wonder if he is American or British?

Cath said...

lifeonthecutoff: I agree, I think Miss Read is a perfect way to relax in bed after a long day. The Martin Edwards books are excellent so I hope you do try them.

I think really that I love books for themselves more than my husband. For him, reading is a way to pass the time: for me it's much more than that - I *love* books and want to immerse myself in them. He really doesn't understand that, whereas I think many bookbloggers have no trouble getting it.

Danielle: I know what you mean about reading nothing but mysteries. I'm developing a real habit. :-) The Edwards Lake District series would be right up your street I would think.

I think Charles Finch must be American, judging by all the Americanisms... which I have no objection to whatsoever in books set in the US. But if an author has set a book in Victorian Britain he should be more careful. Just as you wouldn't expect, say, a Texan character to say, 'What ho!' or 'Jolly good, old thing'... a Victorian character who is English should not be using, 'gotten' or 'sidewalk' and so on. I know it sounds picky but it throws an English person right out of the story.

Susan said...

I read The Arsenic Labyrinth this summer - sadly I am so far behind in my book reviews, so I haven't done this one yet. I agree with everything you say about it. I really enjoy this series and the relationship between Daniel and Hannah. This has become one of those series which I've started handing out (or talking about) to people, to get them to read. I'm glad you're enjoying it and reading it at the same time as me, too!

Cath said...

Susan: I completely understand why you hand this series of books out to people. I just love it too. Another series that I don't know if you've tried but are equally good are the Jimmy Perez/Shetland series by Ann Cleeves. Excellent, excellent, excellent. You must try them... Raven Black is the first one.