These are all books I loved and that transported me to a different time and place. I would love to experience the same magic and pleasure I had when I first read them. They include murder mystery novels that I would love to read again without knowing the identity of the murderer. Some of them I read many years ago before I began this blog and I’ve linked those to Goodreads (marked with an *), the others I’ve read more recently are linked to my reviews.
*Dissolution by C J Sansom – the first book in his Shardlake series. It is 1537 and Thomas Cromwell has ordered that all monasteries should be dissolved. Cromwell’s Comissioner is found dead, his head severed from his body. Dr Shardlake is sent to uncover the truth behind what has happened. His investigation forces him to question everything that he himself believes. I’ve read each one of the following books in the series as they were published – 7 books in total.
The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves – the first book in her Vera Stanhope series. It has a very intricate and clever plot, with plenty of red herrings subtly masking the important clues. Vera is a great character and even though I do like Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of her in the TV series, I prefer her as she is in the books – a large woman in her fifties, who looks like a bag lady!
*Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – with its memorable first line ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .‘ I first read this when I was a young teenager, this is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity. She is never named in the book. It’s one of those book where I was totally immersed in the story, lost in the plot.
Blood Harvest by Sharon Bolton – a modern Gothic tale about the Fletchers who have just moved into a new house, but someone seems to be trying to drive them away – at first with silly pranks but then with threats that become increasingly dangerous. It’s full of tension, terror and suspense and I was in several minds before the end as to what it was all about.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, a weirdly wonderful book, that sent shivers down my spine. The narrator is Merricat. She lives with her sister, Constance in a grand house, away from the village, behind locked gates, feared and hated by the villagers. Merricat is an obsessive-compulsive, both she and Constance have rituals that they have to perform in an attempt to control their fears. Four members of the family have died in mysterious circumstances. Just what did happen is only gradually revealed and Merricat is a most unreliable narrator.
Atonement by Ian McEwan – It begins on a hot day in the summer of 1935 when Briony, then aged thirteen witnesses an event between her older sister Cecelia and her childhood friend Robbie that changed all three of their lives. Briony’s imagination takes over providing her with a version of events that may or may not be right. The film of the book is mostly faithful to the book, with minor alterations, except for the ending.
*An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan – I read this sometime after 1995 and thought it was one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s Keenan’s account of his captivity in Beirut by fundamentalist Shi’ite militiamen for four and a half years.
*The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – historical fiction set in 1327. Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
*The Lord of the Rings by J R R R Tolkien – I first read this when I was at school and have since read it a few times, but would love to read it now for the first time. It’s a fantasy epic that tells of the quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – which one of the passengers in the Athens to Paris coach on the Orient Express killed the millionaire Simon Ratchett? None of them appear to have a motive for killing Ratchett or to have any connection with him or each other. It would be great to read it not knowing the answer.