As per, I am behind with heaps of books hanging around waiting to be read and reviewed. Here are a few I have enjoyed recently.
A Colder War - Charles Cumming. I have read all of the books written by this author as I do enjoy a good spy novel and his are very good indeed. Less Bond, more Smiley which I prefer and more emphasis on tradecraft, surveillance and meticulous scouring of files, emails and faxes to find a link or a hint to solve the problem. In this latest title the problem is a mole in Western Intelligence and when the Head of the Turkey branch of MI6 is killed in a mysterious plane crash, Thomas Kell is sent out to investigate. It seems the MI6 spy in Istanbul was involved with a mysterious woman and was also seen having lunch with a Russian agents so suspicion falls upon him, but all is not as it seems. It it ever? Tightly plotted and well written this kept me totally engrossed right through to the build up of the final capture and after. HIghly recommended.
Writer's Block - Judith Flanders. I only know this author through her book The Victorian House and was slightly surprised to find she was writing fiction. I have read books where a historian or a non fiction author has tried their hand at telling a story and have found them somewhat dull. Not this one. It fairly rattles along, in huge style, with a witty line in chat and description.
Samantha Clair has agreed to publish a tell all book on the death of fashion designed Rodrigo Aleman. All she is worried about initially is a libel suit and is unprepared for being bonked on the head, having her flat ransacked, the disappearance of the book's author and a murder.
"You know when you have one of those days in the office? You spill coffee on your keyboard, the finance director does on an expenses rampage and then, before you know it, our favourite author is murdered. Don't you just hate it when that happens?"
Great verve and very funny and I hope that this is the first in a series.
Death on the Cherwell - Mavis Doriel Hay. One of the series of crime novels being reprinted by the British Library, this one is set in Oxford. A group of students are gathered to form a society in which they curse their Bursar who seems universally disliked. Unfortunately, as they meet a canoe drifts past containing the body of the said Bursar who has clearly been murdered. Cue consternation all round. Of course it is impossible to read this book without thinking of Gaudy Night which is, in my opinion far superior. I am biased as it is my favourite Sayer.
The undergraduates view the police inspector as being rather dim (nothing changes it seems. Poor old Lewis has the same problem in Oxford today...) and decide to solve the mystery themselves. I enjoyed this book and found it rather beguiling in its old fashioned manner and style and the cover is just delightful.
Bricks and Mortaility - Ann Granger. Murder in the Cotswolds. A neglected old house burns down in the night and the fireman discover a body inside. At first it is assumed that it is a tramp or one of the drug addicts who have frequented the property, but not so. It is clear that the victim was struck a blow on the head and then left to die in the fire. The owner, local bad boy Gervase Crown, lives abroad but somebody saw him prior to the fire. Was he responsible for it or was he the intended target? The third in a series featuring Superindent Ian Carter and Inspector Jess Campbell, these are well written and great fun and I like them very much. I would think these books would be categorised as a 'cosy' mystery though I always think that is a very odd way to describe a murder.....
That is it for today. Couple more to go but one really needs a post all on its own and need to sit down and think about it.