Tuesday 12 September 2017

Catching up

I seem to spend half my life writing 'catch-up' book posts. These two couldn't be more different... I often look for similarities when doing multiple book review posts and it's fun when I find them, but there are none in these two - a non-fiction travelogue and a vintage whodunnit.

First up, Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie by Andrew P. Sykes.

I saw this one on Goodreads, someone I follow reads a lot of travel books so I pick up loads of recs from him. I gather this is Andrew Sykes's third travel book, trust me to start on the last one but I honestly don't think it matters at all. He decides to cycle from the most southerly tip of Spain, Tarifa, to the most northerly tip of Norway, Nordkapp. This takes him through Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. My kind of book... I like cycling travelogues and have an interest in most of these countries, especially France, Sweden and Norway. The author is very good at describing the landscapes he's travelling through but not overdoing it with a load of purple prose. Naturally he meets a lot of different people. I sympathised with him over the English cyclist he met who was only interested in talking about himself and didn't ask a single thing about Sykes's journey: we all know people like that. He did, however, meet some really nice people including a German father and daughter who were friendly and helpful... although another lone German cyclist, Helmut, was a terrible misery and bore and Sykes had trouble avoiding him. It only goes to show I suppose that all kinds of people take to the road on bikes for all sorts of reasons, just like all walks of life. An excellent travel read and I'll definitely be searching out Andrew Sykes's other two books, Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie and Along the Med on a Bike Called Reggie... especially that Med one. Naturally, Devon Libraries hasn't got either.

Lastly, Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs.

Miss Tither is the village busybody in the English village of Hilary Magna. Nothing and no one escapes her interfering attention and religious zeal. Straying husbands, courting couples in the woods, athiests, all come under her scrutiny and are told to mend their ways according to the dictates of The Bible. When her dead body is discovered in the vicar's cesspit, no one is very surprised and the list of suspects is a long one. Inspector Littlejohn from Scotland Yard is called in to help the local constabulary discover exactly how many pies Miss Tither had her finger in and which of them helped kill her.

This British Library Crime Classic was an excellent whodunnit. The large cast of characters was at times difficult to keep track of but I managed well enough. The quintessential English village was a joy even if we weren't actually told which county it was in... pedants like me need to know these things! The gorgeous cover is from a railway poster of Suffolk and the accents portrayed seemed to back this up although Hilary Magna sounds more Somerset than Suffolk. Never mind. I had no idea until the end who the culprit was, this was mainly because this was a complicated little plot with revelation after revelation as you went along, keeping you constantly guessing and changing your mind. Clever. There's also a nice vein of humour running through the story, always a plus. I wouldn't mind reading more by George Bellairs, he was apparently a Bank Manager in real life who wrote over 50 books, most of them about Inspector Littlejohn. I know the BLCC has one other volume available, a double book edition entitled, The Dead Shall be Raised & Murder of a Quack. That sounds like as good a place to start as any.

It's pretty much autumn here in the UK, my favourite time of year. Hope you have some good autumnal reading matter to keep you happy.



Peggy Ann said...

Cath, I just got a free copy of George Bellairs, Corpses in Enderby! If you do ebooks at all you can get a copy here...

Cath said...

Peggy: Thanks very much for this... I just downloaded my copy. Delighted!

BooksPlease said...

Cath, I am always catching up! I love the cover of the Bellairs book. Only yesterday I subscribed to the Crime Classics newsletter and downloaded another of his books, The Case of the Demented Spiv. I can see I'll be adding yet another author to my list of TBRs.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath and Friends,

I too, always seem to be playing catch-up with all these British Library Crime Classic stories and authors. For next year, I am ordering 48 hours in a day as my Christmas present to myself, but 24 of them have to be blocked out for reading!!

I am off now to check out the various sites you all mention, to see what freebies of Bellairs books I can grab for myself.

Thanks for sharing Cath. I haven't stopped by for a couple of weeks, so can you remind me when hubbie is due to have his operation and I hope that all goes well when the day comes around :)


DesLily said...

hmmm. you posted this Tuesday and It is just showing to me now! they both sound really good and once again you seem to read faster then most!

DesLily said...

I was looking up Bellair on Amazon and I saw over 10 kindle books for 0.00 !

Cath said...

Margaret: I got a free copy of one of GB's books from the author's website and they've sent an email to see if I want more. Thinking about it.

Yvonne: I think I'll join you with the request for 48 hours in each day, that would be so useful.

Hope you found some freebies.

My husband's operation is now on the 26th. Sept. It was to have been on the 15th. but it was postponed. We're really hoping it goes ahead this time. Thanks for your good wishes.

Pat: And I didn't get any notification that you'd commented here so have only just seen it. Oooh... I'll go and have a look at those for Kindle. Thanks for the tip-off.

Val said...

I missed this post...obviously not paying attention. I like the idea of a bike named Reggie!
and Death of a Busybody sounds lovely too ....I hope our library eventually will find the British library classics ..I shall have to do my part and keep recommending them!

Cath said...

Val: Just found your comment, sorry it's taken so long to reply. Yeah, great name for a bike. Hopefully your library will soon get the BLCC books, they're hugely popular here. Well done for reccing them.