Falling behind with reviews - daughter arriving from Australia on Saturday and I am running around like a headless chicken planning menus, shopping, filling in schedule of who is going where and seeing whom while she is here, so I am doing a quick round up of my reading over the last week in one post. None of it has been particularly serious but it has nearly all been entertaining and enjoyable and whether the rain is raining or the sun is shining, and we have had both extremes this week, have managed to get through a few.
Since reading At Sea by Laurie Graham which I reviewed here just recently, I have picked up a few more from the library shelves and have enjoyed them in varying degrees. Some of them are obviously reissues of earlier books written back in the 90s and it is easy to see how her style of writing has become so much more assured since then. Perfect Meringues a story about a single mum with a sulky teenage daughter; mum appears in the cookery slot on a breakfast show; she has problems finding a new man and it is all rather light and frothy and charming. But then I struck gold with Mr Starlight, the story of a pair of brothers from the North of England who go into show business, starting in small clubs, playing on cruise ships and gradually working their way up to success. It is Selwyn the singer who is the one everyone wants to see and he makes it big in the US with his own show on TV, women swooning over him in his gold suits and glitter while his faithful brother works in the shadows. It was not until half way through that I realised that this is the story of Liberace, that totally camp and outrageous entertainer in a time when camp and outrageous and being gay was not so straightforward as it is today. I remember watching Liberace on TV introducing his mother onto the stage and talking about 'my wonderful brother George'. I went and sat in the garden this afternoon and did not come in until I had finished reading this witty, delightfully funny and wise book with a sad but optimistic ending. On a Laurie Graham roll I have also borrowed Gone with the Windsors which I read some time ago but now want to read again. This is an epistolary novel written from the view point of an American friend of Wallis Simpson and I am going to enjoy revisiting it.
A few months ago I discovered the Daniel Jacquot detective books of Martin O'Brien, my first read of which I reviewed here. Since then I have been hunting them down and in the last ten days have read two of them. First up Jacquot and the Fifteen. Daniel used to play rugby for France before an injury cut short his career and he is invited to a reunion of the Fifteen by their old Captain now an immensely wealthy business man married to a glamorous actress and who has kept in touch with all the team over the years, helping them out, investing in their businesses and generally behaving like a father figure to them all. It is is clear, however, that somebody resents and hates his team mates as a series of 'accidents' occur and the Fifteen start dying off. There is a suicide during the reunion but with Jacquot around he soon spots that this is not so and that it is murder. The local police chief is not interested in pursuing the investigation any further and so Daniel takes it upon himself to find out what is happening.
The second which I read straight after finishing the above title, is Blood Counts. The book starts with the death of two gangsters whose bodies have been sent back to Sicily where two sister do their macabre dressing and preparation of the bodies with hatred in their hearts. Back to Marseilles where Daniel attends a wedding of a young detective to a lovely country girl. He wakes up in the middle of their first night together to find his wife lying dead beside him shot through the head. A week or so later the well loved wife of a veteran policeman is smothered as she takes an afternoon nap. A young carpenter is murdered in a most gruesome manner - he has a policeman brother and Daniel soon realises that the loved ones of those police involved in a high profile case are being targeted, the murderers out for vengeance 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'.
Both books totally gripping and exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I have another three to read and then am up to date and will have to await the next one in the series. I am reading them out of order, as I usually do, but though Daniel's personal life and relationships run through each book, they can be read as stand alone. I am simply loving them.
Then to round off the week, read a Michael Connelly, the Last Coyote in which Harry Bosch decides to finally open the unsolved case of the death of his mother and see if he can find the killer after a gap of some thirty years. As always, with this author, unputdownable and I have now more or less read all of Connelly's output and I sit here and wait the next one.....
Picked up Dancing Backwards by Sally Vickers in the library as it was set on a cruise ship and after reading At Sea by Laurie Graham thought I would give this one a whirl. Read it in about two hours and enjoyed it in a sort of 'well that passed the time' kind of way. A recently widowed Violet, a poet, decides to go on a cruise to New York to meet up with an old friend from Cambridge days. Along the way she meets assorted guests and we are told her life story in flashbacks. All rather Anita Brookenerish and by the time I came to the last page, I sat and wondered what the point of it all was. Not saying I thought it was badly written or anything like that, au contraire, Sally Vickers writes beautifully, but I had no interest in anybody I came across in its pages so not for me I am sorry to say. Interesting to read the reviews on Amazon.
Am now reading a Dick Francis, which of course isn't a Dick Francis as he has gone to the stable in the sky, but a Felix Francis but it is flogged under the old trade name which sells trillions and I am already thoroughly enjoying it. Will probably finish it before I go to bed.
So that is a quick gallop through my latest reads and it is now 9.30pm and starting to get dark. I have been sitting in the garden all evening and only came in an hour ago. All so peaceful and quiet with the heat of the day slowly subsiding and I never thought I would say that after the weather we have had in the last few weeks.
I gather that there were delays on the line I used to commute on when I worked in the City, with delays going through the Olympic Park - in some cases not stopping there at all - because it was 'too hot'. I kid you not. This is the kind of story you simply could not make up....