I've had a busy summer as we bought far too many books in June. I know most bloggers say they buy too many books but when you're a book dealer as well as a reader "too many" is measured in the thousands! As the start of the university term approaches sales are on the up, and we're hopeful that we might find the bathroom again soon if we can sell for a few weeks at the present rate!
As we've been so busy I've been sticking to lighter reading over the last few weeks and have been on a bit of a crime spree:
Kate Ellis and the Wesley Peterson mysteries: I've just started this series set in the west country and am thoroughly enjoying it. Each book has a double thread as former archaeology student turned police sargent Wesley and his professional archaeologist friend Neil run parallel investigations that throw light on each other. What could potentially feel contrived is handled well and though the prose can be a bit pedestrian the plots are excellent. I also particularly like the relationships with the CID department. It feels very real with nothing over-cooked for the sake of drama. A young woman detective Kate, for example, in the one of the novels goes off-piste with an idea and instead of ending up kidnapped or injured with no-one knowing where she is (which I was expecting), the whole incident is underplayed and she survives, learns her lesson, and is dealt with naturally and humanly by her boss. Whilst certainly not simply 'cosy' there is nothing to scare the pants off anyone here: a very enjoyable series.
Of those I've read so far I've particularly enjoyed The Armada Boy which deals with a potential invasion from a Spanish ship in the sixteenth century and the parallel loss of life in Exercise Tiger when an enormous number of lives where loss in the D-day preparations. I've only previously come across this tragic episode in Michael Morpurgos' The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.
Thus was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Cauldwell: I bought this after seeing it recommend as part of Martin Edwards' Forgotten Books series. At first the the rather over-the-top wordiness of the barrister narrator grated. However I gave it a chance and soon found that I was finding it very, very funny. The delight was actually the cast of characters in the chambers, following all the news of their colleague's arrest by old fashioned methods such as the letter. They stick together rather in the manner of the girls of Mallory Towers but ripened into fruitier thirty year olds as they try to solve the case from afar. (There are male barristers but they too reminded me of Darrell, Alicia and co.). The plot turned out to be rather good too. Martin said it was 'great fun' and after getting used the prose style I'd heartily agree.
This Thing of Darkness - the fourth Fiona Griffiths novel: after the 'thing' that ended the last outing for Fiona I was wondering what would happen next for our psychologically challenged detective. (Those of you who've read the books will know the 'thing' - very sad and I bet Harry Bingham got loads of moaning mail about it!). Trying to keep her quiet her boss gives Fiona a few cold cases - ordinary innocuous crime. But Fiona Being Fiona it turns out there are all sorts of things that have been missed and she turns up the inevitable bodies. Another good outing for Fiona - the series shows no sign of flagging, but more than any other investigator series it really does need reading in the right order. If you've trying Fiona - start at the beginning with Talking to the Dead (a fabulous, fabulous book). Mr J. who hardly reads novels, certainly not crime novels, does read this series and loves it as much as I do.
If you enjoy the Fiona Griffiths books as much as I do you might like to know that Harry Bingham has a readers' club. On joining you get an exclusive short story about one the characters, Lev, as well as one of Harry's earlier non-Fiona books, both as ebooks (working beautifully on my Nook in epub but also available for Kindle, etc). You can read more here.
Lastly, I was sent a copy of The Pale House the second in series of the WWII Captain Gregor Reinhardt novels by Luke McCallin. It looked so good I immediately bought myself a copy of the first volume, The Man from Berlin. If a review copy can make a bookseller buy books then the publisher is onto a good thing. So far I've only read the first book but I was bowled over by it - it will have a post all of its own shortly.