Seven whole days in which to read non stop should you so desire. Wonderful - and I did desire. Though visits were made to other parts of the island, and fun was had, much of the time in Funchal was spent lying poolside with book in hand, sleeping every now and then, waking up and reading and sleeping and...well you get the picture.
So many books were consumed and though I had several 'real' books to hand, the Kindle wins out each time when travelling. No possibility of running out of reading matter with this wonderful gadget packed in the suitcase.
First up was The Bull of Mithros by Anne Zouroudi. I simply love this series of books featuring 'the Fat Man', Hermes Diaktoros, who appears to solve crimes and problems with his own brand of justice. He claims to come from a 'higher authority' and seems able to see into people's souls, distinguish the good from the bad and reward and punish in equal measure. Always a wonderful sense of place, the heat and the light of the Greek landscape so immediate and captivating as you read and I look forward to each new tale by this author.
"On the square, under awnings which gave shade like desert tents, a market had drawn in the local traders. Their day's offerings and prices were scrawled on blackboards..........cantaloupes and honeydews, apricots, peaches and nectarines; courgettes capped with their wilting orange flowers; scarlet tomatoes from fist sized globes to small, sweet cherries; glossy peppers, aubergines and green chillies. The fat man bought a jar of thyme honey and a tranche of waxy honeycomb; he tried slices of sausages and air dried ham and bought two pies of home made feta and spinach, eating the first as he went along and then finding it so good, he followed it immediately with the second"
It is summer in Mithros and the tourists arrive drawn by the legend of a priceless missing artifact, the Bull of Mithros of the title, discovered and then mysteriously vanishing some years earlier. A stranger arrives. He has been seen quarrelling with his companions on a ship moored in one of the bays. He is thrown overboard and his ship mates sail away. He has no money, no clothes, no identity and is forced to remain on the island. Though he gives a name, it is not his real one and there are those on the island who recognise him from an earlier visit years earlier and wish him ill. He meets his end wedged upside down in a well and the Fat Man sets about finding his murderer, uncovering long hidden secrets, friendships and loyalties. Not fast moving but sheer pleasure in the uncovering of the intricacies of the story. Loved it.
And then from the heat and the sun of Greece back to the UK, to rainy and wet Brighton on the South Coast and the latest Roy Grace story by Peter James, Not Dead Yet which I had downloaded to my Kindle just beore departure.
A Madonna style superstar, Gaia Lafayette, is visiting Brighton to shoot a film about Mrs Fitzherbert, the woman who George IV married secretly and illegally and then deserted. Set in the Royal Pavilion and arriving in the wake of a murder and death threats it is up to Grace to protect her.
"I am warning you and I won't repeat this warning. don't take the part. You'd better believe me. take the part and you are dead. Bitch"
One particularly loyal and obsessive fan, believes that Gaia loves her and has been sending her private signals and messages through her television appearances and replies to her fan mail and is determined to meet her idol and share their mutual love.
"And she and Gaia had been flirting secretly with each other for years in code....she had been sending more and more signals to Anna in recent weeks. Anna had the evidence in the magazines neatly laid out, each individually protected in a cellophane folder, on the table in front of her"
When she is rejected by the object of her desire and thrown out of the hotel by her bodyguards, this love turns to murderous hate and a desire to avenge her rejection.
At the same time, a former script writer who has accused the producers of stealing his idea and script, also plots revenge. This man has terminal cancer and, therefore, nothing to lose as he too plots and schemes the murder of all involved in cheating him of his story.
Two separate threads and the reader is privy to the workings of their minds, their feelings, hatred and the plan of how they hope to achieve their end. Roy Grace is up against it and, at the same time, he has to take care of his pregnant girlfriend who has been receving threatening messages from his own enemies, one of whom has just been freed from jail.
I am not giving any secrets away by saing that Grace's wife, Sandy, mysteriously disappeared some years earlier as this is a running thread through all these books. It does not take centre stage or take away from the main crime solving, but rather lurks in the background with a little bit more information released in each story. It would now appear that we might be near to finding out exactly what happened to Sandy and why and we are left with an ambigious ending to keep us on tenterhooks and which makes me eager to find out what happens in the next one.
These books by Peter James are really very very good, complicated story lines told in an exemplary and clear manner with an excellent knowledge and description of police procedure and good research. A review I recently read about Not Dead Yet said this was a 'very superiaor police procedural' and I certainly do not disagree with that.
Other crimfic reads on holiday were the Daisy Dalrynple stories by Carola Dunn, which I downloaded for holiday reading. The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, set in New York whence Daisy has travelled with her husband DI Parker; Anthem for Doomed Youth and A Mourning Wedding - all gobbled up by me while lolling on my lounger by the pool. I am reading all of these, wildly out of order, as I pick them up and read when I can and love them all. In some Daisy is single, making her way in the world much to the disapproval of her mother who just wishes her to make a good marriage; in others she is married to Alec and in others she has twins and then I read a title in which she has just discovered she is pregnant, so totally back to front. But it really does not matter - set in the 1920s where Daisy, after losing her brother and her fiance in the Great War, is strking out of her own as an independent woman and still honing her detective skills when married to her husband from Scotland Yard, these are great fun and written with brio and charm. I love them all and long may the author keep writing them.
OK first book refiew post holiday off and running and more to come. Good to be back with you all.