TBR Triple Dog Dare

Triple Dog DareJames’s TBR Triple Dog Dare came to an end yesterday and I’ve actually made it through the whole three months of sticking to reading only books already in my TBR pile or those I’d already reserved at the library. Exceptions were allowed and mine were books chosen for my local book group, two books I’d had on loan from the library in December and the one ARC I received in January.

In addition I decided that I was going to try not buying books too because I thought that it would be easier to read my own books without the temptation of any new books I might buy/borrow. This was a silly idea and although I lasted six weeks of not buying books I just had to give in in February, the urge to get new books and bargain offers was just too strong. But apart from reading the openings of some books I haven’t read them yet and I’m looking forward to reading them very soon.

It’s been an eye-opener for me to realise just how much I want to read books I don’t already own. It’s been like being on a diet, when the urge to eat food not allowed on the diet almost overwhelms me, and seeing books other bloggers are reading, books online or in bookshops is just so tempting. But on the plus side I have read 23 of my TBRs and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. I’ve also realised that some of my TBRs are books I bought to make up the 3 for 2 offers and may not be what I want to read at all – I need to do some ‘weeding’.

The King's Evil by Edward Marston

I’m still reading from my own unread books and turned to The King’s Evil for some historical crime fiction. It’s the first in Edward Marston’s Restoration series, featuring Christopher Redmayne, an architect and Jonathan Bale, a parish constable.

The King’s Evil is set in London in September 1666, just as the Great Fire of London has begun, eventually devastating a large part of the old medieval City of London. I liked Marston’s description of the fire, conjuring up the sights and sounds, the fear and panic it caused and the efforts to stop its spread – although I’m sure they didn’t use ‘dynamite’ to blow up houses to create a fire break. Anyway this anachronism didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this book.

Redmayne, a Royalist – a supporter of the Court and King Charles II – has designed a new house for Sir Ambrose Northcott and Bale is a Puritan who views Charles with great disapproval and is wondering if the fire is a consequence of the corruption in society as a result of the Restoration of the Crown:

England was once more ruled by a Stuart king. A monarchy which Jonathan had been pleased to see ended was now emphatically restored. As a result, London was indeed a wicked city and nobody was better placed to see the extent of its depravity than someone who patrolled the streets in the office of constable. Jonathan was a God-fearing man who always sought guidance from above and he was bound to wonder if the conflagration really was a sign of divine anger. There were Biblical precedents of cities being punished for their corruption. (page 26)

The two men are brought together with the discovery of Sir Ambrose’s dead body in the cellars of his partly built new house. It’s a good story with some interesting characters, including Jesus-Died-To-Save-Me Thorpe and Redmayne’s older brother Henry, elegant, fashionable and a dissipated rake, who had introduced Christopher to Sir Ambrose. But it’s the setting in time and place that interested me most – the period when Christopher Wren was the leading architect in rebuilding London – the bustle and energy of the times and the lingering conflict between Royalists and Parliamentarians.

The mystery of who killed Sir Ambrose moves along swiftly, with a few surprises along the way, as you would expect, but nothing too surprising. Redmayne travels to Sir Ambrose’s country house, Priestfield Place in Shipbourne, Kent and crosses the Chanel to Paris following the trail of the killer. It’s the ending of the book that let it down somewhat for me – it’s all a bit rushed and abrupt, but overall I enjoyed it and will read more in the series.

Edward Marston, who also writes under the name of Keith Miles, is a prolific author. He is a former chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association. He has several series of books, listed on his website and also on Fantastic Fiction.

The King’s Evil fits into several challenges I’m doing – The Mount TBR Reading Challenge, TBR Triple Dog Dare,the Historical Fiction Challenge, My Kind of Mystery Challenge and What’s in a Name (royalty category).

The TBR Triple Dog Dare

I’ve decided that any challenges I take part in next year have to help me read my own books – books I’ve owned before 1 January 2014.

I read about the TBR Triple Dog Dare on Annabel’s blog. For the past three years, CB at Ready when you are, CB has hosted a TBR Dare, made into a Dog Dare in honour of Dakota, his Bassett Hound.  This year the Triple Dog Dare will be, so he says, the last one.  I’ve not taken part before, but this year it seems just the right thing to do to keep me focused on reading from my own bookshelves. So I’ve signed up for the full three months €“ will you?

Triple Dog DareIt’s very simple. From Jan 1st 2014 until March 31st read only books already in your TBR pile or those you’ve already reserved at the library.

You are allowed to make whatever exceptions you need as long as you set them prior to January 1, so I’m going to except books chosen for my local book group.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to stop acquiring books €“ you just have to resist reading them until after March 31st, but I’m going to try not buying books too.