Six Degrees of Separation from The Tipping Point to Five Red Herrings

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.

This month the chain begins with The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, a book I haven’t read. The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. 

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

My chain is made up of a mixture of books that I’ve read or are on my TBR shelves and they are all crime fiction.

The Secret Place: Dublin Murder Squad:  5 (Dublin Murder Squad series) by [French, Tana]A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 8) by [Winspear, Jacqueline]Dead Scared: Lacey Flint Series, Book 2 by [Bolton, Sharon]Time is a Killer: From the bestselling author of After the Crash by [Bussi, Michel]Five Red Herrings: Lord Peter Wimsey Book 7 (Lord Peter Wimsey Series) by [Sayers, Dorothy L.]

My first link in the chain is to the word ‘point’ in the book title – The Point of Rescue by Sophie Hannah, also a book I haven’t read. It’s a psychological thriller in which Sally Thorning has a secret affair.

The Secret Place by Tana French is another book about secrets that bind  a group of adolescent girls together in a girls’ boarding school when they become involved in a murder investigation. It’s the 5th book in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. Another book I haven’t read yet.

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear – historical crime fiction set in 1932. Maisie Dobbs directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service goes undercover as a lecturer at Cambridge University to monitor any activities ‘not in the interests of the Crown.’ Yet another TBR book.

Another crime fiction book set in Cambridge University is Sharon Bolton’s Dead Scared in which DC Lacey Flint is posted at the University, after  a spate of student suicides, with a brief to work undercover, posing as a vulnerable, depression-prone student.

Sticking with the theme of crime fiction takes me to my next link – Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi, a murder mystery set in Corsica. Clotilde is determined to find out what  happened in a car crash that killed her parents and brother 27 years earlier. There is a plan showing the Revellata Peninsula, a wild and beautiful coastline, where Clotilde’s grandparents lived, and all the key locations.

I think maps and plans are really useful in crime fiction. Another book that has a map is Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter is on holiday in Scotland, in a fishing and painting community when Campbell, a local landscape painter and fisherman is found dead in a burn. The map at the beginning of the book helped me follow the action – I needed the map!

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My chain this month is linked by: crime fiction, books about secrets, books set in Cambridge and books with helpful maps. And in a way the books all link back to The Tipping Point as they all demonstrate how the little, minute things in the details of each case add up to help solve the crimes.

Next month (July 7, 2018), we’ll begin with Tales of the City, the first in the much-loved series by Armistead Maupin – yet another book I haven’t read or even heard of before!

Snap by Belinda Bauer

Random House UK|Review Copy|3.5*

Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi

 

Weidenfeld & Nicolson|5 April 2018|464 pages|e-book |Review copy|4.5*

Six Degrees of Separation from The Poisonwood Bible to …

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.

This month the chain begins with The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favourite books. I’ve read it several times.

The Poisonwood Bible

Told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959, The Poisonwood Bible is the story of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

I bought The Poisonwood Bible in Gatwick airport bookshop just before boarding a plane to go on holiday. So my first link in the chain is to another book I bought in an another airport bookshop waiting to board another plane:

Fortune's Rocks

It’s Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. I had never heard of Anita Shreve, but I liked the look of this book – and the fact that it’s a chunky book of nearly 600 pages, good to read on holiday. It’s set in the summer of 1899 when Olympia Biddeford and her parents are on holiday at the family’s vacation home in Fortune’s Rocks, a coastal resort in New Hampshire. She is fifteen years old and this is the story of her love affair with an older man.

When I looked at it today, I saw that it’s written in the present tense. Recently I’ve been writing about my dislike of the present tense – but I obviously haven’t always disliked it, because I remember really enjoying this book.

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)

Another book written in the present tense that I loved is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, the story of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, and his political rise, set against the background of Henry VIII’s England and his struggle with the Pope over his desire to marry Anne Boleyn. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, which takes me to my next link, another book set in the reign of Henry VIII –

Lamentation (Matthew Shardlake, #6)

Lamentation by C J Sansom set in 1546, the last year of Henry VIII’s life. Shardlake, a lawyer is asked by Queen Catherine (Parr) for help in discovering who has stolen her confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner. It evokes the people, the sights, smells and atmosphere of Henry’s last year and at the same time it’s an ingenious crime mystery, full of suspense and tension.

Barnaby Rudge

The next book also combines historical and crime fiction – Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens, set in 1780 at the time of the Gordon Riots.  It’s a story of mystery and suspense which begins with an unsolved double murder and goes on to involve conspiracy, blackmail, abduction and retribution.

Barnaby Rudge is a simple young man, living with his mother. His pet raven, Grip goes everywhere with him. He’s a most amazing bird who can mimic voices and seems to have more wits about him than Barnaby. Grip is based on Dickens’s own ravens, one of whom was also called Grip.

Ravens form the next link-

The Raven's Head

to The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland, set in 1224 in France and England about Vincent, an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. He attempts blackmail but when this fails Vincent goes on the run in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head. The plot revolves around the practice of alchemy – the search for a way to transform the base soul of man into pure incorruptible spirit, as well as the way to find the stone, elixir or tincture to turn base metals into precious metals.

And finally to the last link in this chain another book featuring alchemy –

Crucible (Alexander Seaton, #3)

Crucible by S G MacLean, the third of her Alexander Seaton books. Set in 1631 in Aberdeen Robert Sim, a librarian is killed. Alexander investigates his murder and finds, amongst the library books, works on alchemy and hermetics – the pursuit of ancient knowledge and the quest for ‘a secret, unifying knowledge, known to the ancients’ since lost to us. S G MacLean’s books are full of atmosphere. I think her style of writing suits me perfectly, the characters are just right, credible well-rounded people, and the plot moves along swiftly with no unnecessary digressions.

My chain this month has travelled from Africa to Scotland via America and England, and spans the years from the 13th century to the mid 20th century. It has followed a missionary and his family, a teenager in love with an older man, and looked in on power struggles in Tudor England, and the pursuit of the secret to turn metal into gold.

Links are: books I bought to read on holiday, books in the present tense, crime fiction and historical fiction (and a combination of these genres), ravens and alchemy.

Next month  (June 2, 2018), we’ll begin with  Malcolm Gladwell’s debut (and best seller), The Tipping Point, a book and author I’ve never come across before.

Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith: A Christmas Crime Story (British Library Crime Classics)

Poisoned Pen Press|3 April 2018|240 pages|e-book |Review copy|4*

Portrait of a Murderer was first published in 1933. Anne Meredith is one of the pen names used by Lucy Beatrice Malleson (her other pen names are Anthony Gilbert and J Kilmeny Keith). This Poisoned Pen Press edition has an introduction by Martin Edwards. It is crime fiction where you know who the murderer is and the motive and how the victim was killed quite early on in the book.

On Christmas Eve 1931 Adrian Gray was violently murdered by one of his six adult children. The murderer had acted on impulse in a fit of rage. Adrian had not got on with any of his children and they all wanted him to lend them or rather give them money for one reason or another. From then on it is a character study of the family and of the murderer in particular, who works out a plan to put the blame on one of the other family members. The setting at Christmas seems to be purely because this family don’t get on and it was only at Christmas that they gathered together at the Gray family home.

It begins slowly and I was beginning to wonder if I wanted to finish the book, but I found I was thinking about it when I wasn’t reading and wondering whether the plan would work. As the suspense increased I realised that I was hooked and couldn’t wait to get back to the book to find out. Will the wrong person be convicted or will justice be done?It’s an excellent character study, told in the first person by the murderer and in the third person by the other characters.

I was also fascinated by the picture Meredith paints of the society and culture of the 1930s. It’s set in the Depression and the Grays had come down in the world, no longer the owners of a large landed property. This was accompanied by a steady deterioration in character as their point of view changed and they aspired to possessions and a place in society with authority, consumed by jealousy and criticism of others.They are an unlikeable set of characters and probably one of the reasons this book works so well is that each one is described with precision and insight, so that they come across as recognisable people and not as caricatures.

I also enjoyed reading about life in London in the 1930s, with descriptions of the River Thames, the traffic and the talk of electricity and speed, ‘the age’s God‘, and the desire for cars resulting in air pollution from the petrol fumes. The newly rich are financiers, such as Gray’s financial adviser and son-in-law, Eustace Moore. Although his appearance isn’t that of the traditional conception of a Jew, Meredith reveals the casual and nasty anti-semitism typical of the period in referring to his race. In addition she shows society’s attitude to women from the unmarried daughter expected to act as housekeeper and look after her father, to the scandal attached to divorce.

From a slow and unpromising start Portrait of a Murderer developed into a fascinating novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for a review copy via NetGalley.

Amazon UK link
Amazon US link

My Week in Books: 18 April 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

IMG_1384-0

A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve made some progress with Little Dorrit, my Classics Club spin book. I’ve met the Meagles family with their spoiled daughter, Pet and her maid and companion, the wonderfully named Tattycoram, and also Arthur Clennam, recently returning to England from China. Arthur goes to his family home, a dark decrepit house in London where his mother lives, his father having recently died. But I haven’t met Little Dorrit yet – still a long way to go in this book.

Little Dorrit

I’m also reading Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith, which is what it says in the title. I’ve nearly finished this book, which is fascinating, even though it is so long winded.

Description:

‘Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.’

Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933 that has been too long neglected – until now. It is a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray’s six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve – and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. 

This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

I’ve recently finished  A Dying Note by Ann Parker, her latest book in the Silver Rush Mysteries, which was published on 3 April 2018.

I loved this book, set in the autumn of 1881 in San Francisco, where Inez Stannert is making a new start in life, managing a music store. All is going well until the body of a young man, Jamie Monroe, is found washed up on the banks of Mission Creek canal.

I posted my review on Monday and gave it 4 stars.

What do you think you’ll read next:

Will it be Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi, which was published on 5 April 2018 and in last week’s post was the book I said I might read next? Or will it be something else? I still don’t know.

Description:

‘One of France’s most ingenious crime writers’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Bussi breaks every rule in the book’ JOAN SMITH

It is summer 1989 and fifteen-year-old Clotilde is on holiday with her parents in Corsica. On a twisty mountain road, their car comes off at a curve and plunges into a ravine. Only Clotilde survives.

Twenty-seven years later, she returns to Corsica with her husband and their sulky teenage daughter. Clotilde wants the trip to do two things – to help exorcise her past, and to build a bridge between her and her daughter. But in the very place where she spent that summer all those years ago, she receives a letter. From her mother. As if she were still alive.

As fragments of memory come back, Clotilde begins to question the past. And yet it all seems impossible – she saw the corpses of her mother, her father, her brother. She has lived with their ghosts. But then who sent this letter – and why?

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

A Dying Note by Ann Parker

Poisoned Pen Press|3 April 2018|319 pages|e-book |Review copy|4*