Thursday 26 July 2012

Three more books

I've actually read and finished six books this month, which is the first time I've done that since March, so perhaps I'm almost back to normal with my reading. I still don't want anything too heavy or that needs much concentration, so here I am with three more light reads to review.

First up another Daisy Dalrymple book by Carola Dunn - To Davy Jones Below.

This is probably a bit of a spoiler but anyone who's read any of the previous books in this series will not really be surprised to learn that Alec and Daisy are now newly married. Honeymoon over, they're inveigled into a trip to America so that Alec can help an American police force set up a new department. Daisy will take the opportunity to see her American publishers. They go by sea, and hope the voyage will be a nice relaxing time that they can spend together. They're joined by old friend, industrialist, Caleb Arbuckle, his daughter, Gloria and her new husband, Daisy's friend, Phillip Petrie. Also there is a business acquaintence of Arbuckle's, Jethro Gotobed and his new wife, ex-showgirl, Wanda. A storm hits halfway across the Atlantic and Alec has to take to his bed with sea-sickness. A man goes overboard, is saved, but foul-play is suspected. With Alec incapacitated it's left to Daisy to try and investigate. She finds it impossible to find any believable suspects but realises that Wanda is perhaps not what she seems. She's seen two men hanging around the ex-showgirl and when she discovers they might card-sharps her nose for a mystery is alerted. Eventually, Alec recovers enough to help her and together they set about trying to unravel the confusing facts. And then someone really is murdered...

Book nine of Daisy's adventures solving murders. This was not perhaps the best of the series so far - for me that would be Styx and Stones - but it was an enjoyable romp with a good list of quirky characters. Carola Dunn is very good at quirky characters, in my opinion, and it's one of the things that make her books well worth reading. I liked the fact that Daisy and Alec's relationship has moved on, they were very much the newlyweds in this one and for me that was fun and realistic. As always there was plenty of humour and a bit of realism - Daisy's friend, Lucy, insists she go to the new Marie Stopes contraceptive clinic to get sorted as she doesn't want to get 'preggy' (love that term) straight away. I love little details like that. All in all, another fun instalment of Carola Dunn's delightful series - as Daisy would say, 'Spiffing!'

Next, At Sea by Laurie Graham.

Enid and Bernard Finch have been married for over twenty years. He's an academic, an expert in the classics and together the two of them do cruises, Bernard giving talks on all things classical and Enid supporting him. Bernard sounds very English but is in fact an American. Enid, a minor member of the aristocracy and known as 'Lady' Enid, has had quite a loveless upbringing and gradually we learn that her marriage is more or less the same. Bernard is demanding in that he requires his ego to be constantly stroked but is not demanding emotionally or in the bedroom. One night at the beginning of the cruise one of the passengers claims to know Bernard from when he was a child. He claims Bernard is Willy Fink who lived in a small town in New York state: they were neighbours. Bernard denies any such thing but takes to their cabin at mealtimes and then fakes a throat infection. Enid realises Bernard is avoiding contact with this passenger, and also suspects her husband is not the man she thinks he is. What better tool to use to find out more than the world wide web? Having to fend for herself onboard ship, Enid begins her tranformation from 'innocent' to something else entirely...

I read about this book a week or two ago on Elaine's Random Jotting's post. It struck me that it sounded like a really fun read, I checked my local library and there it was, so I grabbed it. 'Fun' is the right way to describe this book. It does have a serious point to make, that of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and not realising there's another way until circumstances force her into it. But the point is made with such a light touch you don't really realise you're being told about something that's really quite sad. Bernard is a brilliant creation, a self-centred ego-maniac who's been taking advantage of Enid's good nature for years. Her 'revenge' is wonderful as she discovers how caring ordinary people can be, that being a bit brash does not mean 'unkind', that the web can bring you back into contact with old friends, and that it is possible to discover the joys of sex at 55. I laughed my way through this as Enid so subtley puts Bernard in his place, time after time. Joyous. I shall certainly be picking up other books by this author and many thanks to Elaine for the recommendation.

Lastly, Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter.

Sara Linton is a paediatrician and medical examiner in the town of Heartsdale, Georgia. She's divorced from Jeffrey Tolliver, a local detective, he cheated on her but she still loves him and the feeling is mutual. Lunching with her sister, Tess, in the local diner, Sara goes to the ladies and discovers the brutally mutilated, murdered body of Sibyl Adams. Sibyl is the twin sister of a junior detective, Lena Adams, which further complicates the case for Jeffrey. Lena is awkward and prickly in the extreme, really she shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the case but Lena has other ideas. The investigating detectives have no idea why Sibyl has been the victim of this brutal murder - is it because she's a lesbian in a conservative area? Then a student from the local university campus goes missing. Again Sara discovers the body, pinned to the bonnet of her car. A serial killer is on the loose - who will be his next victim?

Well now, I wonder should I be concerned at my taste for these really quite shocking murder mysteries. This one was very gory, shocking, even sexually explicit. Very much in the vein of Tess Gerritsen and John Connolly to be honest... and I'm actually pleased to have discovered yet another author like them to read! The book was a real page-turner, I devoured it in just over a day, really not wanting to put it down at all. I liked the suspense aspect of course - edge of the seat stuff, especially the final few chapters. But also, I really liked Sara. She's independent, intelligent, not always easy to understand. She has something in her past which affects her badly and this is slowly revealed through the book. I also liked Jeffrey a lot, despite his indescretion. It was clear he was really a decent man, how much he regretted his mistake, and how much he wanted Sara back. Stick a bit of angsty romance in any book and I'm lost and gone forever. LOL. This book, as anyone will judge from what I've said, is NOT for everyone. Many will hate the graphic detail, the blood and the explicitness. If you're okay with that it's a 'must read'. If you're not, don't touch it with ten foot bargepole. Looking forward to reading more and have book 2 on reserve at the library.



Anonymous said...

You know, Cath, I totally understand the fact that you can go from Carola Dunn's Daisy to Karin Slaughter's Grant County books. Both authors are great favorites of mine. Karin Slaughter's books are definitely not for everyone, but if they click with you, you're in for some great reading. I scheduled them several years ago with my mystery book group - perhaps a mistake. I found that about half the group loved Karin Slaughter's writing and the other half were appalled. I have one good friend from the group who still mentions Slaughter's books as "horror". LOL

Peggy Ann said...

I love the cover on To Davey Jones and At Sea does sound good. Will look for them both!

Cath said...

Kay: I'm *so* pleased to hear this as I thought I was very odd indeed. Huge difference between these two authors and yet I love both.

Oh yes, the Karin Slaughter books clicked with me. I realised it right from the first page... was hooked immediately. I liked the mix of the crime and the relationship stuff between Sara and Jeffrey.

Can't wait to get my hands on book 2, annoyingly my library didn't have it so I have to wait for the book to come from another library about 15 miles away. So tempting to hop in the car and go get it. LOL.

Peggy Ann: The covers of the Daisy Dalrymple books are delightful, one of my favourite series for covers at the moment.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I agree that the new edition covers of the Carola Dunn books, look pretty amazing, although what astounds me even more, is the amount of crime which is committed just when Daisy is conveniently around to solve the case!!

Similarly, the Grant County series by Karin Slaughter, is supposedly set in the small town of Heartsdale, which has more crime than your average large town or small city!!

Seriously, if you like this series by Karin, then you should really try her second series featuring special agent 'Will Trent', they are just as good .... but be warned, Karin's publishers have a nasty habit of releasing a single book twice, with two different titles, ostensibly one for the US market and another for the UK market, but it is very easy to find both titles in most outlets over here, meaning you could double up!!

Sounds as though you are really on a roll with sme great titles just lately, I have marked 'At Sea' for my list, so thanks for the recommendation.


DesLily said...

well i guess it's safe to say that you are on a good roll! Not only many books but enjoying them all as well!!! Oh how I love those sort of times when you get one good book after another!!
(I am half way thru The White Dragon and already not looking forward to it ending!)

I wonder if Carl will do RIP this year? He's so wrapped up in his running...of course that's a lot healthier then sitting on ones butt and reading but I miss him already lol

lifeonthecutoff said...

I will chime in with my appreciation for the Daisy Dalrymple covers. They are really evocative of a different era, which the books sound like they are about. I think I could read any of these right now and be quite content.

Kailana said...

I am glad you are getting your reading mojo back, Cath! The books sound good.

Cath said...

Yvonne: Yes, Daisy's new husband makes a similar point about her and dead bodies. LOL

Yes, I looked on Fantastic Fiction and saw a second series that was connected to the Grant county one. Thanks for the warning I'll keep an eye on titles.

At Sea, is something slightly different but I know you're trying different books at the moment, so you might like it.

Pat: Yes, it's nice to find that one book after another is good.

The White Dragon is my favourite Pern I think, although I love the little trilogy too. I can see why you wouldn't want it to end.

I wonder if Carl will do RIP too. If not I'll probably still read some scary books as it's a habit for September and October now. LOL.

Penny: The Daisy Dalrymple books are very much of another era, the 1920s, so are just a fun relaxing read. Although they do make mention of troubled times such as WW1 and the flu epidemic. Daisy and Alec lost loved ones in both and the author doesn't ignore that.

Kelly: Yes, it's so nice to get my reading mojo back. :-)

Nan said...

I'm sure not interested in the last one :<) but I do love that dress on the Dunn cover. I'd love to have worn a dress like that!

GeraniumCat said...

At Sea does sound good, shall look to see if the library has it. Got the DD on my Kindle, to read soon. So far my favourite has been the Flying Scotsman one, for largely sentimental reasons. Haven't tried Karin Slaughter yet, though I'm sure I will do before long -I'm sure they will have some of hers in the library.

Susan said...

Well that didn't take long. Three books, you knew one of them was going to be for me, and Blindsighted - oh yes, that sounds very interesting. I think i might have it too - I can't check until morning, the kids are sleeping in the living room on the sofa because it is a warm night here.

And I really have to find the first Daisy Dalrymple series!!!!! they look like so much fun....

congratulations on getting back to your reading, too. It's such a relief and so good to do, isn't it? when it comes back....I'm reading Dark Fire (CJ Sansom) and thoroughly enjoying it. I can relate to the hot summer!!! excellent mystery and such good writing, too.

Cath said...

Nan: No, I wouldn't recommend the Karin Slaughter to you at all. LOL. But yes, Daisy's dress is nice. The 1920s fashions were rather nice.

GeraniumCat: Yes, I relly liked the Flying Scotsman one. Very good. And they get better, imo.

To tell the truth I'm not sure if the KS would be for you. Perhaps try and see what you think. You'll know pretty soon!

Susan: You don't mind your crime books a bit graphic do you, so I think you might like KS.

You really must get around to Daisy soon!

Oh, Dark Fire is *so* good. I liked Matthew's new helper... Barrack is he called. Can't quite remember. Really must get back to that series. Next one is Sovereign I think, set in York. I agree, great writing.

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Danielle said...

I love the Daisy Dalrymple books. I think you are just a book or two ahead of me. I really need to pull the next one out--I like to read a couple ever year--they are very much comfort reads for me.

Vintage Reading said...

Happy anniversary! Can't do gore. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was about my gore/horror limit. I'm a wuss!

Cath said...

Danielle: Comfort reads is correct... I usually read a couple a year too but at the moment I seem to be whizzing through them at a rate of knots. And now I've moved on to Georgette Heyer.

Nicola: Thank you! No, not everyone is ok with gore which is why I try to be careful with warnings. I do think, however, that you would love At Sea.