Six Degrees of Separation: from Fight Club to The Word is Murder

I love doing Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

Fight Club

This month the chain begins with Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, a book I haven’t read but it’s about a club where men meet in the basement of bars and can fight ‘as long as they have to’.

The Friday Night Knitting Club

So I’m moving away from a club where men meet and fight to a club where women meet to exchange knitting tips, jokes, and their deepest secrets. It’s The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. I haven’t read this book either. It seems as though they didn’t do much knitting so maybe there was more ‘natter’ than ‘knitting’. It sounds a bit too angst ridden for me and probably no more appealing than a fight club.

Dying In the Wool (Kate Shackleton, #1)

So, in a complete change of genre I’m moving on to crime fiction and my next link is to another use of wool in Dying in the Wool the first of Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton Mysteries, crime fiction set in Yorkshire in 1922, with flashbacks to 1916.  It’s a post World War 1 crime novel, along the lines of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs and Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple books, with an independent female amateur detective. Kate investigates the disappearance of mill owner Joshua Braithwaite who went missing after apparently trying to commit suicide.

Gallows View, the first Inspector Banks book by Peter Robinson, is also set in Yorkshire, where Alice Matlock, an old woman, living on her own, is found dead in her ransacked house in Gallows View, a row of old terraced  cottages. One of the suspects for her murder is a Peeping Tom who is targeting young, blonde women, following them as they leave the pub and then watching as they undress for bed.

A Good Hanging

There is also a Peeping Tom in Tit for Tat, one of the stories in Ian Rankin’s collection of short stories, A Good Hanging. Rebus investigates a fire in a tenement in Edinburgh where John Brodie lives after a woman in a tenement opposite reported a Peeping Tom had been spying on her, aiming his binoculars towards her flat. He claims he was ‘bird-watching’.

When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie, #3)

KateAtkinson has written four books about another character called Brodie – Jackson Brodie. My favourite of these books is the third one – When Will There Be Good News? It’s set mainly in Edinburgh where Brodie, along with Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe, is involved in the search for a missing woman. It has the most complicated plot, with many twists and interlinking sub-plots (some with convenient coincidences) and I loved it.

The Word Is Murder

Brodie is an ex-policeman and now a private investigator, as is  Daniel Hawthorne in The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. This is a very clever and different type of murder mystery in which the author plays the part of himself helping Hawthorne to solve the murder of Diana Cowper who was killed on the same day that she had made arrangements for her funeral. I was totally unable to solve the mystery, the clues were all there, but I was so involved in sorting out what was real and what wasn’t and enjoying the puzzle that I completely missed them.

This month my chain has travelled from America to the United Kingdom, connected by clubs, wool, settings in Yorkshire, Peeping Toms, characters called Brodie and ex-policemen turned private investigators.

Next month (2 March) the chain will start with The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper.

My Friday Post: The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I have just started to read The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull, a Crime Classic first published in 1934.

The Murder of My Aunt

It begins:

My aunt lives just outside the small (and entirely frightful) town of Llwll. That is exactly the trouble.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Pages 55-56:

Blood is so repellent. In fact the very thought is so disturbing that I had to stop writing and read a story of de Maupassant’s to calm my nerves, before I could continue to write these notes.

~~~

Blurb

Edward Powell lives with his Aunt Mildred in the Welsh town of Llwll. His aunt thinks Llwll an idyllic place to live, but Edward loathes the countryside and thinks the company even worse. In fact, Edward has decided to murder his aunt. A darkly humorous depiction of fraught family ties, The Murder of My Aunt was first published in 1934.

This tempts me in different ways – I like the title, I like murder mysteries and I like the promise of humour. And I like the cover too.

 
What do you think? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

The Glass Woman

Penguin UK Michael Joseph|7 February 2019 |400 pages|e-book |Review copy|3*

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

top-ten-tuesday-new

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List. These are in no particular order, except for the first three which are books to be released later this year. I’m looking forward to reading each one of them!

The Silence of the GirlsThe Bear Pit: The Seeker 4This Poison Will Remain

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, out in paperback in June 2019, a retelling of the Trojan War.

The Bear Pit by S G MacLean, the 4th Damian Seeker novel, out in July 2019, set in the 17th century England under the rule of Cromwell, the Lord Protector.

This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas out in paperback in August 2019, a Commissaire Adamsberg mystery investigating the death of three men, all killed by the venom of the recluse spider.

TranscriptionThe Wych ElmDear Mrs BirdThe Sealwoman's Gift

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – a standalone novel set in London in the world of espionage in the 1940s and 50s.

The Wych Elm by Tana French, a standalone psychological thriller.

Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce, historical fiction set in London in 1941.

The Seal Woman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson, set in 1627 as pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers.

TemplarsThe Song of AchillesBlood & Sugar

The Templars by Dan Jones, non fiction about the Knights Templars and the Crusades

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller, more historical fiction about the Trojan War and its heroes.

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson, historical crime fiction set in June, 1781 about the slave trade.

Destroying Angel by S G MacLean

Destroying Angel (Damian Seeker #3)

Destroying Angel is S G MacLean’s third book in her Damian Seeker series, historical crime fiction set during the Interregnum under Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector. Damian Seeker, Captain of Cromwell’s Guard, works for Thurloe, Cromwell’s Chief Secretary and spy master, in charge of the security of the regime. I have read The Black Friar, the second book in the series, but I have still to read first one, The Seeker – I have reserved this at the library, so hope to read it soon.

This third book is set in 1655 when Seeker is sent north by Colonel Robert Lilburne to the village of Faithly, on the Yorkshire moors. The Rule of the Major-Generals has begun in which England and Wales were divided into ten regions, each governed by a major-general who answered to the Lord Protector. Seeker is to brief the local commissioner, Matthew Pullan, on the latest anti-Royalist laws and the new  measures  and taxes to be imposed on Royalists, to prepare the way for the rule of the major-generals. As the vicar, Septimus Jenkins complains:

This England that Cromwell is making is not the England of free men. … Local officers – village constables – to be encouraged to inform on magistrates, justices of the peace, even, that they don’t consider well enough affected to the new ways. No race meetings nor cockfights nor bear-baitings to be held, no gatherings of Royalists in men’s private houses nor in public places even, for fear that should  a handful of themselves in one place they will have nothing to do but plot to overthrow Cromwell. Answer for your movements, don’t gather with your friends. (page 50)

These are hard times and Faithly is a place full of resentment and fear, brought to crisis point when Caleb Turner, a Trier appointed by the government to enforce Puritan morality arrives in the village. In particular he has come to try the vicar for ‘ungodly acts’. Added to that people have been whipped up into a frenzy of superstition at the suspicion of witchcraft. And that is made much worse when Gwendolen, Matthew’s young ward, who some suspect was a witch, dies from eating poisoned mushrooms – the deadly destroying angel fungus.

Faithly Manor, on Faithly Moor, is the home of Sir Edward Faithly, the local JP, whose father Sir Anthony and younger brother, Thomas had fought for the Stuarts. Sir Anthony was killed during the Civil War and Thomas had fled the country, whilst Edward had stayed on to run their estate. There are rumours that Thomas has now returned to England and Seeker had been sent to discover his whereabouts.

As well as searching for Thomas, Seeker has to find out how Gwendolen died – was it an accident or had the poison been intended for someone else and if so who and why? A large part of the book is set in York and, helped by the street plan showing the key areas and buildings, I enjoyed following Seeker’s walks around the City. Seeker is my favourite character in the book; an enigmatic character, a man both respected and feared, and a man to trust. I felt I knew very little, though, about his background so was pleased that as the story progressed more details of his personal history are revealed with the appearance of people from his past.

One reason I like S G MacLean’s books (her earlier books were written under the name of Shona MacLean) is that she has based them on solid historical research (she has an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Aberdeen). Another reason is that her style of writing suits me perfectly, the characters are just right, credible well-rounded people, and the plot moves along swiftly, full of atmosphere and tension.

The Bear Pit, the fourth Seeker book is due out this July, taking him back to London to investigate illegal gambling dens. And so I hope to find out yet more about Damian Seeker.

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (12 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-1-78648-4178
  • Source: Library book
  • My Rating: 4*

Destroying Angel qualifies for the When Are You Reading? challenge, the Calendar of Crime challenge in the category of a book originally published in July, and as it is a library book it also qualifies for the The Virtual Mount TBR challenge.

My Friday Post: Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

My book today is Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves, one of my TBR books, that I’ve just begun to read.

Cold Earth (Shetland Island, #7)

It begins:

The land slipped while Jimmy Perez was standing beside the grave. The dead man’s family had come from Foula originally and they’d carried the body on two oars, the way bodies were always brought for burial on that island.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

Outside the rain had stopped and a faint, milky sunlight filtered through the gloom. Instead of looking back towards Lerwick, Sandy headed towards Sullom Voe and stopped at the new hotel that had been built just outside the village of Brae. Its accommodation was used solely for oil, gas and construction workers and had been full since it had been slotted together like a giant bit of Lego several years before. Sandy had been inside once for the Sunday-lunch carvery. It felt a bit like going abroad and wandering into another world.

~~~

Blurb

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main Lerwick-Sumburgh road and sweeps down to the sea.

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and peaty water smash through a croft house in its path. Everyone thinks the croft is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. In his mind, she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and soon he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

Then it emerges that she was already dead before the landslide hit the house. Perez knows he must find out who she was, and how she died.

~~~

I have read all the preceding Shetland books and watched the TV adaptations of Ann Cleeves’ novels, both the Shetland and Vera series. The books and the TV versions are separate things – the TV versions are based on Ann Cleeves’ characters but plotlines and the characters can differ. For example Cassie, Fran’s daughter, in the TV version is a teenager and goes to university, whereas in the books she is a child. I prefer the books, although I really appreciate seeing the beautiful setting and the scenery of both Shetland and Northumberland in the TV versions.

What about you? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To

top-ten-tuesday-new

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To. Oh, dear there were lots – here are ten of them, in no particular order of preference. They are all books I really wanted to read as soon as I got them, but then other books got in the way! They are by authors whose books I’ve read before, with the exception of the last book, and most are books I bought in 2017 or 2018.

I loved Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy and I’m sure this will be as good – it’s Coffin Road, a standalone book set on the Hebridean Isle of Harris where a bewildered man is standing on a beach, wondering why he is there – and even more worrying, he is not able to remember who he is. His only clue is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road.

My second book is also by Peter May – I’ll Keep You Safe and is also set in the Hebrides. Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.

Next, An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill – the second in his Dalziel and Pascoe series. I’ve been reading this series completely out of order and so am now trying to fill in the gaps. This one is about the discovery of a dead body found buried under a statue in the grounds of Holm Coultram College. As soon as they think they have solved the problem more bodies are discovered.

I really should have read The Dry by Jane Harper before now. I’ve read both her second and third books and loved them. I’ve never been to Australia, but her description of of the outback makes me feel as though I am there in the places she describes. In this, the first Aaron Falk book, the farming community of Kiewarra is in the grip of the worst drought in a century and people are facing life and death choices daily – then three members of a local family are found brutally slain – it appears that Luke Hadler has shot his wife and young son, and then killed himself.

Ann Cleeves is one of my favourite writers and I love her Vera and Shetland books, but somehow I have got behind with reading her last two Shetland books – book 7, Cold Earth and book 8, Wildfire. So both these books are high on my list of books to read this year.

Cold Earth begins with a landslide during the funeral of Magnus Tait and in the resulting wreckage the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress is found. DI Jimmy Perez thinks that she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

 Wildfire, the final book in this series,is about the Flemings -designer Helena and architect Daniel, who move into a remote community in the north of Shetland. They think it’s a fresh start for themselves and their children, but their arrival triggers resentment, and Helena begins to receive small drawings of a gallows and a hanged man. Gossip spreads like wildfire.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward is her second book. I loved her first book, In Bitter Chill, and I have a few to catch up with as she has now written books three and four in her DC Childs series. A Deadly Thaw is set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire. Lena Fisher was convicted of he husband’s murder, but within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

Another favourite author is Anthony Horowitz and I really should have read Moriarty, his second Sherlock Holmes book, before now as I enjoyed his first one, The House of Silk – and also his more recent books, Magpie Murders, The Sentence is Death, and The Word is Murder. It’s 1891, Holmes and Moriarty are dead and London is in the grip of a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton agent and Inspector Athelney Jones are faced with finding a brutal murderer.

I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle, so have great expectations for The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Four people visit Hill House searching for evidence that is haunted. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own. I’m expecting this to be just as strange, spooky and disturbing as We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

And finally, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. It’s her first book and it was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award and the Wainwright Prize. I want to read it because it’s a true story about a couple, Raynor and Moth, her husband who is terminally ill, who had lost their home and their business. Faced with this terrible situation they decided to buy a tent and walk the Salt Path, the south-west coastal path, from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.