Books Read in August 2021

August was a busy month for me and it didn’t leave much time for reading or writing reviews! But I did read 5 books, and as both Framley Parsonage (684 pages) and Dead Tomorrow (663 pages) are very long books, it took me over half of August to read just those two!

  1. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope 4* – see my review
  2. The Queen’s Spy by Clare Marchant 4*
  3. The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray 3*
  4. Dead Tomorrow by Peter James 3*
  5. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch 4*

The only book I reviewed was Framley Parsonage. So, before I begin September’s books here are just a few brief thoughts on the other 4 books.

The Queen’s Spy by Clare Marchant – historical fiction with a dual timeline set in 1584 and 2021. I read this quickly drawn along by the plot and keen to know the links between the two main characters, Mathilde in the present day and Tom in the 16th century. I was more interested in Tom’s story. He is deaf and dumb, but he can lip read. He is an apothecary and also a spy, working for Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s spymaster, during the period leading up to the Babbington Plot. Mathilde has inherited a medieval mansion, Lutton Hall, and she is surprised to find that she has family there she had never heard of before. The two timelines interlink as Mathilde discovers the secrets hidden at Lutton Hall.

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray. Crowd behaviour fascinates me, so I hoped this book would cast some light on the subject – it certainly did. There are sections on sexuality, gender, technology and race, including a chapter on transgender, which I found the most enlightening. The synopsis describes how Murray “reveals the astonishing new culture wars playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and ‘intersectionality’.” Some of it I found shocking and infuriating.

Dead Tomorrow by Peter James – the 5th book in his Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series. Grace and his team investigate the deaths of three teenagers found by a dredger at the bottom of the English Channel, which leads them to a gang of human traffickers operating from Eastern Europe. Parallel with their investigation a desperate mother is fighting for her daughter’s life. One of the things I like about the Roy Grace series is the continuing story of Grace’s personal life. But what I find irritating is the way Peter James describes what all his characters are wearing and the details of all the little details of their surroundings. And this book in particular is far too long and drawn out.

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch, the second Rivers of London novel. I loved the first book, Rivers of London. These are fast-paced police procedurals of a very different kind – urban fantasy, set in the real world of London, a mix of reality and the supernatural. You could probably read them as standalones, but I really think it’s best to read them in order to get the full background to what is going on and what has already happened to the main characters.

DC Peter Grant is assigned to work with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale (who is the last wizard in England) as part of a special and secret branch of the Met, dealing with all things magical and supernatural. Moon Over Soho begins with the murder of Cyrus Wilkinson, a part-time jazz saxophonist, who had apparently dropped dead of a heart attack just after finishing a gig in a Soho jazz club. Peter can hear music coming from his corpse. What follows is a complicated story full of twists and turns, humour, and some gruesome and unusual murders.

10 thoughts on “Books Read in August 2021

  1. You’ve had an interesting reading month, Margaret! I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the Peter James more than you did, but I agree with you that too much detail like that takes away from a story. The Murray interests me very much. It sounds like the sort of book that really confronts the reader with a lot to consider, including a lot of controversial topics. Just the sort of book that can push one to really think – when one’s ready for a controversial read.

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    1. I don’t think I’ve done justice to Peter James’ book – I meant to add that his books are meticulously researched and I learned a lot about organ transplants and human organ trafficking!

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  2. You had a good reading month, Margaret, two of your books being the equivilent of two each. I’m interested in the crowd behaviour book but wonder whether I might just get too annoyed with some of it. The Queen’s Spy also sounds very good.

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  3. Any month you finish a Trollope novel is a productive month — I love his novels but they ARE very time-consuming. The Murray book on crowd sounds interesting & timely, especially with regards to gender issues. I hadn’t previously heard of it, so thanks for putting this one on the radar, so to speak.
    I adore the Rivers of London series, although I fell by the wayside around the fourth one or so. They’re light but very absorbing and well-written and they do convey a certain magical quality; when I read one, I really did leave the ordinary world behind for an hour or two.

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  4. The Murray book is so interesting – and gave me much to think about!! I don’t think the second Rivers of London book quite lived up to the first, but than I loved the first one so much! I definitely find, like you, that I leave the ordinary world behind whilst reading them. I hope I’ll enjoy the rest as I bought quite a lot of them when they were on offer at 99p each!

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    1. I’m bad at converting UK currency to my own (U.S. dollars) but in any currency you found quite a bargain (I, too, would have stocked up!). My opinion on the second Rivers book is similar to yours, i.e., delightful but not quite as good as the first. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the others.
      I may have to wait to check out the Crowds book until I’m in a stronger mood. I’ve just been skimming the news which is far, far too depressing. Maybe time for another Rivers of London book?

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  5. I haven’t read any of these but agree that managing a Trollope and other reading in a month is very impressive! The Madness of Crowds sounds very interesting,

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  6. I have been desperately looking for a new crime series! I am so happy I found your blog. I will 100% be reading the “Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series” – awesome! Always nice to be able to finish a book and know that there is more to read! I just got into the “Kailey and Shinto Mystery” series but the author, Frances Hight, only has one book out so far, “West Texas Dead” (https://www.franceshight.com/). While I wait for another book to come out I NEED a good series. I think you would enjoy West Texas Dead a lot. When detectives Kailey and Shinto investigate a murder, they think they have an open and shut case. Little do they know the rabbit hole they will head down is full of twists and turns (not to mention the Mexican Cartel – yikes!). I really got invested in the characters, I have always loved a book featuring strong female leads! (especially ones as relatable as these two).. The author did a wonderful job of humanizing them and really getting to the root of their motivations. The crime is heinous and what they uncover along the way is deeply disturbing. Definitely will be thinking about this one for awhile. If you check it out let me know what you think! Thanks again

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