Wednesday 21 October 2020

Catching up

Two short reviews today, The Murder Room by P.D. James and In Strictest Confidence by Craig Revel Horwood. 

First up, The Murder Room.

The Dupayne Museum is situated on Hampstead Heath, in London, and is dedicated to the two decades between the two world wars, 1920 and 1930. It was the brainchild of Max Dupayne, now deceased, and is now the responsibility of his three adult children, Marcus, Caroline and Neville. Commander Adam Dalgliesh visits with a friend and discovers that the place has an interesting room dedicated to several notorious murders that took place in the 20s and 30s. It's rather a nasty coincidence then when he's called back in his professional capacity as a police officer to investigate a very nasty killing. The youngest Dupayne, Neville, has died in a garage fire; at first suicide is suspected but very soon it's quite evident that he was murdered. The two remaining siblings come under suspicion, plus the museum staff. Every single one of them has secrets he or she would rather remain secret but who hated Neville Dupayne enough to murder him in this horrendous manner? Well it's many years since I read an Adam Dalgliesh novel (I have read a couple of volumes of P.D. James' short stories in recent years). Back when he was played by Roy Marsden (In the 1980s and 90s) I read the eight or so that were available then but I realised recently that there must be more I haven't read, so downloaded a couple to my Kindle. The Murder Room is one of those. It was a slow burner but then it was ever thus with the Dalgliesh novels, James always takes a lot of time to set the scene and describe her characters. For some this might get a bit tedious but I quite like this slow building of a setting and sorting out of who's who and what they're up to. The writing is sublime, quite literary in my opinion, a joy to immerse yourself in. I haven't been to Hampstead Heath but it was so beautifully described I feel like I actually have been there. What a shame there actually is no Dupayne museum! I have one other Dalgliesh on my Kindle and have just picked up, from the library, three non-Dalgliesh books by James, a standalone, an autobiographical work and the first of her two book 'Cordelia Gray' series, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, which I have not previously read. 


 Lastly, In Strictest Confidence by Craig Revel Horwood.

Craig Revel Horwood is a household name in the UK as he's one of four judges in probably the most popular programme on British TV, Strictly Come Dancing. (if you're in the the US it's your version of Dancing with the Stars.) He's known for being the 'nasty' judge but to be honest if you listen to what he's saying he's usually right. Naturally, he's not actually like that in real life. I knew this from seeing him on Strictly: It Takes Two, but his books underline the fact that he's actually an easy-going, cheerful chap. This is his third book, I haven't read the other two (my daughter assures me that they're both very good) but this one was loaned to me by a friend so this is the one that got read. I enjoyed it very much. It deals with his more recent forays into producing and directing stage musicals and also tells us about several years of Strictly (from 2015 onwards). If you want to know about his early life then I think the book to read is, All Balls and Glitter and I will now read that at some stage. Craig's writing style is chatty, you feel like you're sitting with him enjoying a chat and a cuppa, so the book is very readable and quite light. His honesty comes over very strongly and it's quite touching in many places. I enjoyed reading about his stint on Who Do You Think You Are? which I watched several years ago. I had no idea that the 'celeb' being featured on this programme is kept so much in the dark about what's going to happen from day to day. Interesting. A nice light read when you're not in the mood for 'intense'.

So I'm currently reading these three beauties:



Apologies, it seems there's longer an option for 'no' alignment which puts pics in a line rather than on top of each other. Or if there is I can't see it. *Sighs* Anyway, these are all fun reads which I shall talk about in due course. 


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

The Murder Room is one I alway meant to try. I love the fall header on your blog, so beautiful.

Lark said...

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman is the only P.D. James book that I've read, but I absolutely loved it! And isn't the new Blogger just full of fun surprises? Why can't anyone make things better these days instead of worse?

Sam said...

I've read a good bit of PD James, but it's been a while. I do remember quite enjoying the audiobook version of The Murder Room back in 2008...though, the cover, naturally, didn't ring a bell with me.

She was definitely a favorite of mine for a while.

TracyK said...

I have read all of the P.D. James mystery series; and some of them I read twice. I liked them all except maybe the last two. I especially liked the two Cordelia Gray books.

I am planning on getting back to The Golden Age of Murder, the last 5 or 6 chapters that I haven't read. Maybe before the end of the year. I purchased an inexpensive Kindle of one of Ashley's collections: The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath

I read a few of the early Adam Dalgliesh stories, however once the television series hit the screen, I stopped reading, preferring to view instead. I have never really got on with the concept of both reading the book and watching the corresponding series or film, one always tends to spoil the other, so it has to be either or for me!

Despite it being non-fiction (not a genre I generally read), the Martin Edwards book sounds really good, so I might have to make an exception for this one.

I am also really intrigued by the Robin Sloan book. Again something that probably wouldn't jump off the bookstore shelf and into my basket, I might just be persuaded, depending on what you ultimately think about it. After all, that's the joy of sharing and recommending! :)

Yvonne xx

Cath said...

Diane: Thank you, it's the view from our house a few years ago when the colours were particularly good.

Lark: I think I might read An Unsuitable Job for a Woman next as several people have said how much they like it.

To make things better rather than worse? Now there's a revolutionary idea! :-)

Sam: Yes, I too read quite a bit of P.D. James way back when. It's been nice reintroducing myself to her wonderful style of writing. So very competent and expressive.

Tracy: I only ever read Adam Dalgliesh so I'm really looking forward to some 'new to me' P.D. James books, especially the Cordelia Gray series.

I like the sound of your 'Mammoth' book. I had the book of ghost stories at one time and now have The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures, but there're a lot of them I think.

Yvonne: I had to think about it for a moment but I fancy I agree with you on either TV or book. 'Mostly'. I made an exception for Adam Dalgliesh. And Agatha Christie. But I'm not interested in the Cormoran Strike books, for instance, but I like the TV series. I stopped reading Ann Cleeves' Shetland books when the series started. How odd, I hadn't realised it until you pointed it out.

The Martin Edwards book is an utterly fascinating read, and I like the fact that I can read some of the books he talks about at the same time.

I'll review the Robin Sloan when I've finished it. It has pros and cons but the concept is fascinating.

Judith said...

Cath, I agree with you 100 percent that Hampstead Heath was described so robustly in The Murder Room. I absolutely LOVED this novel by James. It is one of my favorites of hers certainly. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And I must luxuriate in it all over again by rereading it. But I'm so busy reading the books I've got on my plate. I still haven't read the third Cromwell novel by Mantel. I bought it when it came out, but I think the 800++ pages daunted me. Yet I've been reading 500+ page books recently. So many books...

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

I shall be interested to see what you thought abut the Robin Sloan book, as I have been tracking this one from time to time and see that the reviews and ratings have been very mixed!!

It wasn't until you made the observation in your reply to my comment, that I thought about it, but I too will generally make an exception to my book or TV rule, for anything written by Agatha Christie - I wonder why that is? :)

Cath said...

Judith: I've now read another P.D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, the first Cordelia Gray book, which I had not read before. Very enjoyable but I think I prefer Adam Dalgliesh. I have several more to enjoy over the coming months.

Yvonne: I've now reviewed the Robin Sloan book. It was 'OK' but nothing spectacular. Not quite what I was expecting.

Strange isn't it about Agatha Christie? I have no explanation either. One of life's little mysteries.

Judith said...

Cath, I agree wholeheartedly that I prefer the Adam Dalgliesh novels, though I did enjoy An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. It's funny--I remember the details of each and every Dalgliesh novel, but not a thing about An Unsuitable Job.