Tuesday 21 May 2013

Three quick reviews

Somehow or other I've managed to be three books behind again, so this is another of my 'three quick review' posts. Although this is me, so *quick* is of course a relative term...

First up, Postcard Killers By James Patterson and Liza Marklund.

Two psychotic killers are on a tour of Europe, killing attractive young couples, often newly-weds. Jacob Kanon is the father of one of the victims, Kimmy, killed in Rome. He is also an NYPD police detective and has been following their trail around various cities, but never quite catching them. They arrive in Stockholm and journalist, Dessie Larsson, becomes involved in the latest murder case having been sent a postcard by the killers. She and Kanon make an uneasy alliance as they investigate the murders and a game of cat and mouse ensues as they try to outwit these brutal killers.

I think this may be the first book I've read by James Patterson. Thus, it's hard for me to say whether I like him as an author because of course I don't know how much influence his Swedish co-author, Liza Marklund, had on the writing. I did find the style a little simplistic for my taste, I will say that. Having said that the plot sucked me right in, and the simple writing style doesn't half make the book a real roller-coaster of a read. I don't think this is the sort of book you read for good characterisation or deep thinking but as a quick, fun read it's fine and to be honest, I really quite enjoyed it, especially the Swedish element. I've always wanted to visit Stockholm and this book made me want to go even more.

Next, Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn.

Daisy is once again on one of her forays to a big country house. This time it's to Edge Manor in the Cotswolds and heavily pregnant Daisy is there to write an article on the impressive firework display they hold every year. As always there is tension in the family, the Tyndalls, and she soon finds herself embroiled in their problems... Daisy being the sort of person people talk to. It's not long before a dead body is discovered, two in fact... the owner of the house and head of the family, Sir Harold Tyndall, and one other. The circumstances are very odd and no-one can make head or tale of how this has happened and why. Enter Daisy's husband, DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. Between the two of them, and Alec's junior officers, the wonderul Sergeant Tom Tring and DC Ernie Piper, he of the ever sharpened pencils, they eventually manage to sort the mess out.

I don't think there's been a bad instalment of these terrific Daisy Dalrymple books. They're always a fun read but never all that easy to guess whodunnit. I had it down to two and it was one of them but you can never be quite sure. This is book 15 as a matter of fact and Daisy is 6 months pregnant which is a nice development. Interesting to read a realistic account of what it feels like, and how pregnant women were perceived back then. These books are always a treat and I'm glad to still have 5 left to read with a new one out in November.

Lastly, my 7th. book for Carl's Once Upon a Time VII fantasy reading challenge and it's The Various by Steve Augarde.

Twelve year old Midge has been sent to Somerset to spend several weeks with her Uncle Brian. Her mother, a violinist with an orchestra, is off on tour and can't take Midge with her. Midge is resentful that she often comes second to her mother's job, but in actual fact has no problem with spending the summer holidays in such a beautiful area. Uncle Brian is an easy guardian and Midge finds she has the freedom to explore the countryside. On one expedition, to her shock and surprise, she finds an injured creature in an old barn, a creature that shouldn't exist - a miniature white horse, with wings. Midge nurses the magical creature, known as Pegs, back to health and returns him to the Royal Wood from whence he came. Here Midge is in for further shocks. Pegs is just one magical being amongst many. There are tribes of tiny fairy people here, wisps, dangerous flying hunters, farmers, and one tribe that lives underground. Midge has something to tell them. Her uncle is going to sell the land the wood is part of and it will probably be developed. The fairies will lose their home and must move. The tribes don't wish to hear this and most don't believe her anyway. They send her away but reality must be faced and Midge is the one human they know who might be able to help them. Midge knows this too, but there is a mystery to be solved here as well. Who is the mysterious Victorian girl whose photo is on the wall in the farmhouse? Did she also know about the fairies in the wood? Is *she* the key to solving the serious problem of where the tribes will go?

Well, this story is set in an area I know fairly well - that of the Somerset levels and the hills around about - because it's very close to where I live. The author has the area down to a tee; it's beautifully described and the atmosphere of a hot summer is almost tangible. It's worth reading for that alone, in my opinion. Aside from that though this is a story very well told indeed. The fairies in this book are not your cutesie Disney type fairies. They're real people with all kinds of normal traits, nastiness, jealousy, blood-lust, but also kindness and imagination. The children (Midge has two cousins who appear later in the book) are also your average 21st. century kids, not saints but not bad kids either. Although this *is* a fairy story it actually felt like something that could easily happen. I liked it an awful lot. It's book one in a trilogy in fact, the next book being called Celandine, and I've already reserved it from the library.


DesLily said...

well hell.. now i have to look into The Various!lol

you also are so hooked on the Daisy Dalrymple books! I love when books I love just keep on coming! Hooray for Carola Dunn!

just went to amazon.. the Various is book one of a trilogy! argh! lol

Nan said...

We just watched Annika Bengtzon on Netflix Instant, and it was excellent. First I'd heard of Liza Marklund. If it is available, I think you'd really like it.

Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous said...

A fantasy story with realistic characters and a beautiful setting...sounds like a win to me.

Christine Harding said...

The Various sounds interesting - not come across that before. I read Gunpowder Plot, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was, as you say, a fun read, so I downloaded a bargain bag of several books for the Kindle, but haven't had a chance to read them yet!

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

This is one fantasy book which actually sounds like one I would enjoy very much. Like yourself, I know the Somerset Levels very well and the notion of 'fairies at the bottom of the garden', is an alluring one.

I still haven't got around to reading any Carola Dunn, despite the many excellent reviews you turn out about her books. The cover art on her books is always so attractive and the stories seem to have a little more substance than your typical 'cozy mystery'.

I haven't read any James Patterson for some time and you have put your finger on exactly why. His writing has always been very easy and simple to read and his early books were good, however I am just not sure exactly how much of the material he writes for his own books these days and how much is authored by his various 'co-writers'. For me it is almost a matter of principle. If he had only one co-author, who he consorted with on every book, I wouldn't mind so much, but it seems that every book has some new name on the cover!!

Nice reviews, as always,


Cath said...

Pat: Yeah, The Various is book one of a trilogy. I loved it because it was refreshingly different, much more real than many fantasy books. It almost felt like it might really happen. And living near the area where it's set doesn't harm one little bit.

Nan: I'll certainly keep an eye out for it now.

Cheryl: I found it to very much a 'win' and am anxious for book 2 to arrive at the library.

Christine: I think I can honestly say that The various is one of the best YA fantasy books I've come across in recent years.

The Book People often have job lots of Daisy Dalrymple books at bargain prices too.

Yvonne: Yes, this is one fantasy book I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending to you. And I can't say that about many of them! It is very much a 'fairies at the bottom of the garden' sort of book, except that they're up in the woods...

This was my fist James Patterson book so I had no idea what to expect. Interesting that I may have hit the nail on the head with my comments. It might be interesting for me to read a few of his early books to compare. I gather there's also a YA series called, I think, Alex Cross, which are very popular. We'll see. The trouble is, as you know, there are *so* many other books worthy of our attention that it's no easy task choosing which books to actually read.

Nan said...

And, have you seen The Fall? It is supposed to be over here on Netflix streaming in a few days. Cannot wait!

Peggy Ann said...

Cath, I have not read any Patterson, I don't know why. He is very popular. And Daisy awaits me on my shelf! Very nice reviews.

Cath said...

Nan: We watched the first episode of The Fall. Excellent acting, Gillian Anderson, is terrific in it. But it was too disturbing for both of us. It seems I can read about psychotic killers but I can't watch them on TV. Be interested to hear what you think.

Peggy Ann: Patterson is very popular and I'm still undecided about whether he's for me. And this book does not answer the question either. LOL.

However, I think... hope... you will like Daisy.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I've been away with very infrequent internet access, so I'm catching up with reading blogs, so have only just read this post. Very interesting - I've never read any books by Patterson, sounds like a good quick read.

I've read the first three of Carola Dunn's Daisy books, so if I stick to them in order it will be ages until I get up to no. 15!

Now, The Various does sound intriguing. I only know the Somerset levels from driving through - but it sounds as though that doesn't matter as the descriptions are so atmospheric - is that right?

I'm way behind with writing reviews right now - it's so difficult when you can spend days reading, instead of snatching the odd hour here and there! And then you're back home with all the washing and ironing to do!!!

Cath said...

Margaret: Welcome back, I hope you enjoyed your time away (if it was a holiday).

Yes, it takes a while to work your way through a long series. I have several on the go like that.

It wouldn't matter a bit that you don't know the Somerset levels very well. The descriptions are spot on and you would find yourself there without any trouble whatsoever.

Ah yes, washing and ironing - we were away for a few days a couple of weeks ago and I'm still trying to catch up on the ironing. I'm also, once again, 3 books behind. May has been a very prolific reading month for me.

DesLily said...

ironing?? whats that? !!

Cath said...

Well you get this hot flat thing, Pat, and you fill it with water and rub it all over your clothes... until they're flat... mind you they're already flat of course... so you do start to wonder why you're bothering... especially when the steam steams up your glasses... Gawd I feel like that record where a guy tries to explain smoking a cigarette to someone...

Anonymous said...

http://medassist.org/media/buypropecia/#24982 propecia 30 tablets - propecia side effects on sperm