Another in my popular series of mini reviews in which I grumble about books on a scale from furious bitterness to indifference. You can read more of these, and find links to others, here. Today I clear out the books on the meh end. Susan Schwartz, Byzantium's Crown I enjoyed the premise for this fantasy … Continue reading To the recycling!
This is a tremendous crime thriller from 1961, that won the Crime Writers' Association Critics' Award for that year. Mary Kelly went on to write more detective novels, but somehow her name has disappeared from sight. Crime fiction historian Martin Edwards says that she stopped writing fiction in her forties, because she chose when and what … Continue reading Mary Kelly, The Spoilt Kill
Sibyl Sue Blue is a sergeant in the police, a mother and a widow. (Or is she?) When she cruises bars in disguise to picks up the information she needs, she manages to look decades younger than she really is with wigs and makeup (and by choosing rather dim men). She adroitly refuses advances from … Continue reading Sibyl Sue Blue
I was surprised by quite how much I wanted to read Philip Pullman’s next Lyra novels. Reading Northern Lights, The Amber Spyglass and The Subtle Knife when they came out twenty years ago was rather an ordeal for me, as I don’t much enjoy stories about children in danger, struggling to survive. But I devoured them, … Continue reading Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage
This 1958 novel crackles with foreboding. It is based on the apparently artless retelling by a teenage girl of a summer spent in France with her elder sister and their younger siblings. It seethes with barely understood sexuality, and, in the absence of any reliable and responsible adults, the dangers that Joss and her sister … Continue reading Rumer Godden, The Greengage Summer
We deep-dyed fans of the Peter Grant Rivers of London universe (the Metropolitan Police's 'weird shit' squad who deal with magic) have been waiting impatiently for the next book to come along. Aaronovitch has been writing the interpolated Rivers of London comic strip series for a year or two (I wrote about this here and … Continue reading Ben Aaronovitch’s The Furthest Station
For all you Agatha Christie and devious poison-plot detective novel addicts, here's a review of Kathryn Harkup's A is for Arsenic. The Poisons of Agatha Christie. More belladonna and cyanide than you can shake a stick at.
I heard an episode of the Double X Gabfest podcast the other day in which Noreen Malone of New York Magazine claimed that superhero movies were only made for teenage boys, or nerdy men, and that women didn't go to see them. (Even though she lives in Brooklyn! That just seems improbable.) Superhero movies are … Continue reading Comic books and Spider-Woman: a little rant
This week's Really Like This Book's podcast script catch-up is on Geoffrey Trease's The Crown of Violet (1952), which is set in Ancient Greece, in about 400 BC. Trease should not be confused with Henry Treece, the other English historical novelist of his period filed near him on the shelf. Trease wrote for what we now call … Continue reading Selective history in Geoffrey Trease’s The Crown of Violet
Prepare for high-stakes romantic melodrama, early 1920s style. This Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is about Dornford Yates' first two novels. Anthony Lyveden was published in 1921 and its sequel, Valerie French, appeared in 1923: they were written after he had made his name with several collections of brilliant and witty short stories … Continue reading Dornford Yates’s Gothic melodramas, in Anthony Lyveden & Valerie French