What a week it's been for the UK. Unless you've been living in a cave on a remote island in the Outer Hebrides (somedays it has its attractions) you'll know that The Queen died last week. I think pretty much everyone was taken by surprise. Yes, she was 96 but, apart from looking rather frail in that lovely photo with the cardy and the kilt, there was no real indication that we would lose her two days later. I am a monarchist... not of the fanatical kind... but I believe in it and
am very sad to lose her. I personally have never known another monarch. I was born in May, just a few weeks before her coronation in June 1953, and was given the middle name 'Elizabeth' after her. I saw on Facebook that the author, Louise Penny, is the same and realised with a jolt that there are probably quite a lot of us women out there, in our sixties, all named after The Queen! How odd. So now we have King Charles III. It's going to take some adjustment for all of us, not least for him. Good to see people rallying behind him but my goodness Queen Elizabeth II will be a hard act to follow, I don't envy him one little bit. Interesting times, as they say. But after the last few years I think there's a strong argument for a petition to whomever it might concern that times have got a bit 'too' interesting of late and could we possibly have a break now.
So, reading. September's been a quietish reading month so far. My last book of August/first book of September was a lurid and unlikely romance set in Montana, Rushed by Aurora Rose Reynolds. It's superior Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance fare really. Woman is jilted by fiancé, but they had booked an adventure holiday in Montana, hiking, learning to survive in the wilderness, that kind of thing. So she goes anyway, on her own, and falls for the chap who's running the course. Bit of conflict ensues but not a lot, it's quite explicit but not excessively so, and the setting was divine and well depicted. It's part one of a three part series, Adventures in Love, where each book deals with a particular male character who appears in book one. The book was fun, bit too much 'lifting of chins' going on (don't books get edited these days?), but I don't think I'll be reading any more.
My next read was, Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers, a not entirely successful read but it had its moments.
After that I picked up, Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block, this was on my autumn shelf which I posted about HERE.
Bernie Rhodenbarr's chosen profession is that of 'burglar'. He lives in New York city and just a few jobs a year keep him in a decent appartment with a decent life. Then he accepts an assignment from a man who looks vaguely familiar but Bernie can't put his finger on where he's seen him before. The job is to break into someone's appartment and steal a blue box from a desk. Except that the box isn't there and before Bernie can search elsewhere, in rush the police. But they know him and he pays them to keep quiet, except that one of them goes to use the bathroom and discovers a dead body in one of the bedrooms. Bernie, panicked, makes a dash for freedom and finds himself on the run. Holed up in a friend's appartment, afraid to go out, he must work out a way to find the real killer and clear his name. So this is book one in Lawrence Block's long running series about the New York burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr. There are 13 books in the series but Block is quite a prolific writer so other series are available, so to speak. This was a light-hearted book, quite an accomplishment I feel to make a crime investigator of a burglar and make him a sympathetic and funny character into the bargain. The action is fast paced, always something going on, but this is New York so I rather expected that. The flavour of that city is very strong. I've never been lucky enough to go to New York (although I've flown over it and had a good view) but like a lot of people I've seen so much of it on the TV that I almost feel like I have been there and know the atmosphere. Not sure if there's another city that could claim that. Do people from other countries feel that way about London even though they may not have actually been there? Hmm. Anyway. Well written, light-hearted, clever, this is a good start to a 'new to me' series and I'll be trying to read more, I have book 3 so will be trying to find book 2 asap.
The book I've just finished is, The Pact by Sharon Bolton.
So this is another book about a group of students getting into trouble. I say 'another' because it brought to mind The Secret History by Donna Tartt and A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine. And I think Tana French also wrote a student based crime yarn too, The Likeness, but I have not read that. In this story a group of students have just finished their A levels and are enjoying one last summer of freedom before going on to university. There are six of them, aged around eighteen, five are from wealthy backgrounds, the sixth is a scholarship girl from a poor family. Basically they've been enjoying a summer of drink and drugs... and a dangerous dare which all six of them are expected to undertake. On the night in question there's one last person to do this thing and the result is that three innocent people, including two children, die. What to do? One person will take the blame that's what. That person will go to prison but when they come out the remaining five will owe him or her a favour each. What could possibly go wrong? Ok, so this is one of those modern compulsive reads you come across sometimes. Not so much that you actually love it or the characters, who are mainly awful I have to say... it's just that it's written so well that you're compelled to keep turning the pages at a great rate of knots to see what happens next to these horrible people and will they get their come-uppance. 'Pacey' I suppose one might call the book. I also loved how good the author is at gauging human nature, especially the selfish side. How far are people prepared to go to protect what is theirs? How do they go about convincing themselves that they haven't behaved appallingly? Interesting twisty stuff in the end scenes which were very 'edge of the seat' and compelling. An excellent read.
I hope you're all enjoying your autumn reading.