Lucky 13 – Anticipatory Book Review

30 01 2017

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

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Early Amazon Reviews are mixed. I don’t know how people got hold of the book (not out until April) but they don’t seem to have been very well chosen given the range of comments. I tried to add my review but prevented from doing so on a technicality so have posted here.

I’ve had only limited access to this novel. Just the title in fact. I invited the author to furnish me with a copy for review purposes but he suggested I take it one step at a time and just stick with reviewing the title.

There are lots of reservoirs on Amazon: hydration water bladders, ion reservoirs, Reservoir Dogs, a liquid cooling system reservoir and even a Triumph reservoir sock. there are also quite a few albums called this, a number of books and even a Zanussi tumble dryer reservoir flange.

The nearest reservoir to where I grew up was called the Whiteadder Reservoir, my Dad used to live near Edgbaston reservoir and I always like hearing about John Shuttleworth’s visits to measure the level of Ladybower Reservoir.

Some other movies and books featuring numbers include Apollo 13, Starter for 10, Friday 13th, Studio 54,  Magnificent 7, Super 8, Ocean’s 11, Death Race 2000 and The Hateful 8. And while we’re on Tarantino, can it be a coincidence that McGregor has two words in the titles of his novels which make up one of Tarantino’s movie titles and that he writes Fiction (although not Pulp).

But none of these gets anywhere near to the new novel by Jon McGregor, the “absurdly gifted” (Guardian) novelist. Or its title, at least. Looking forward to reading the remainder of the words in the book in due course. In the meantime, it’s full marks from me.

5 star

 





It’s all Greek Fire to me

18 02 2017

Dark Fire by C J Sansom

 

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Second in the Shardlake series…

It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother horribly murdered – the formula has disappeared.

Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .

It’s a bit Wolf Hall meets Inspector Morse but with extra death. An enjoyable tale with plenty of twists and turns this does keep your interest right to the end. Good historical fun with Greek Fire.

3 star





Walk of shame

11 02 2017

Dead Girl Walking by Christopher Brookmyre

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Famous, beautiful and talented, Heike Gunn has the world at her feet. Then, one day, she simply vanishes.

Jack Parlabane has lost everything: his journalism career, his marriage, his self-respect. A call for help from an old friend offers a chance for redemption – but only if he can find out what happened to Heike.

Pursued by those who would punish him for past crimes, Parlabane enters the world of Heike’s band, Savage Earth Heart, a group at breaking point. Each of its members seems to be hiding something, not least its newest recruit Monica Halcrow, whose possible relationship with Heike has become a public obsession.

Monica’s own story, however, reveals a far darker truth. Fixated on Heike from day one, she has been engulfed by paranoia, jealousy and fear, as she discovers the hidden price of fame.

From Berlin to Barcelona, from the streets of Milan to remote Scottish islands, Parlabane must find out what happened before it’s too late, all while the walls are closing in on him…

It’s a good yarn featuring the ever-entertaining Jack Parlabane at his lowest ebb and yet still able to sort everything out. Many a twist and turn as we expect from Brookmyre and therefore never a dull moment but perhaps not one of the best.

3 star





No rest for the wicked

4 02 2017

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

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Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood’s two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA’s seedy backstreets, Marlowe’s got his work cut out – and that’s before he stumbles over the first corpse . . .

One of those I can’t believe I’d never read it before books. It’s stylish, intelligent and really rather dark. A genre-defining classic and cited by just about every crime writer ever as a source of inspiration. Feel really rather guilty therefore that I just didn’t enjoy it that much. I will have to let the dust settle on this LA noir and try again at some point.

 

3 star





Chinese New Year: approximation of a playlist §69

28 01 2017

Songs concerned with the Chinese Zodiac

A mildly topical playlist…

Black Horse And The Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall

Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions

Digging Your Scene – The Blow Monkeys

Rat Race – The Specials

The Size Of A Cow – The Wonder Stuff

Rabbit – Chas ‘n’ Dave

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

Who Let The Dogs Out – B-Boyz

Union Of The Snake – Duran Duran

A Horse With No Name – America

I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stoogesthe_rolling_stones-little_red_rooster_s_2

Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag – Pig Bag

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – U2

Tiger Feet – Mud

Sheep – The Housemartins

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night

Monkey gone to heaven – The Pixies

Spanish Horses – Aztec Camera

Diamond dogs – David Bowie

And Dreams of Sheep – Kate Bush

Rat Trap – The Boomtown Rats

Mansize rooster – Supergrass

Ox-ford Comma – Vampire Weekend

Goatman – Goat

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones

 

Happy New Year!





Murder by countdown

22 01 2017

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide.

The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…

Really enjoyed the TV adaptation a while back and so inspired to return to the source. It’s a classic Christie and really very clever indeed. Absolutely one of her best and highly recommended.

four stars





Author! Author! Answers

22 01 2017

Fret no more

The answers to the quiz which literally quite a few people have been talking about.

Over on WonkHE I recently set a quiz about academic authors/author academics.

The exciting test was to spot five individuals from a list who are not or were not both academics and writers of fiction. At time of writing this no-one had identified more than three of the five so I thought I had better provide the answers to prevent undue distress.

Here they are then:

Quite a few people got the first three

 

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But these two were a bit harder:

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