Six Degrees of Separation: from The Lottery to Fallen Angel

It’s time again for 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.

The chain this month begins with  a (frightening) short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

The Lottery is a short story written by Shirley Jackson, first published in the June 25, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, (the link takes you to the story.) The lottery is an annual rite, in which a member of a small farming village is selected by chance. This is a creepy story of casual cruelty, which I first read several years ago. The shocking consequence of being selected in the lottery is revealed only at the end.

Once again I found it difficult starting my chain, and after several attempts I finally settled on an obvious choice of another one of Shirley Jackson’s stories for the first link.

First link: The Haunting of Hill House. Dr. Montague, a doctor of philosophy with a keen interest in the supernatural and psychic manifestations had been looking for a ‘haunted’ house to investigate all his life. So, when he heard the stories about the strange goings on at Hill House he decided he would spend three months living there and see what happened, and he set about finding other people to stay there with him. The house is connected with a number of tragedies – scandal, madness and a suicide. But nothing is what it first appears to be and I felt as if I was sinking into the story in a most unpleasant way.

The Second link: is to another house, in The House by Simon Lelic. It is set in a creepy house, full of junk, with an overgrown garden and with hints of the supernatural. Jack and Syd move in and then Jack found something nasty in the attic. There’s been a murder and this is a story about despair, domestic violence, dark secrets and the effects of the past on the present.

The third link: Simon Lelic also wrote The Search Party in which 16-year-old Sadie Saunders goes missing and five of her friends set out into the woods to find her. At the same time the police’s investigation, led by Detective Robin Fleet and Detective Sergeant Nicola Collins, is underway. When the friends get lost in the woods they make an incoherent phone call to the emergency services. The caller doesn’t know their location other than it is ‘somewhere in the woods‘ near an abandoned building.

The fourth link: Cal Hooper is also searching for a teenager in The Searcher by Tana French. Cal and thirteen-year old Trey Reddy live in Ardnakelty, a remote Irish village. Cal has recently moved to the village, wanting to build a new life after his divorce. He is a loner and wants a quiet life in which nothing much happens. But he finds himself getting involved in the search for Brendan, Trey’s older brother who had gone missing from home.

The fifth link: The Wych Elm also by Tana French Toby Hennessy, the narrator, is twenty eight. He is brutally attacked by burglars in his flat, leaving him in a terrible state, physically and psychologically damaged. He seeks refuge at the family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House. But not long after his arrival, a skull is discovered, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself. This is a psychological thriller, a standalone book, about a family in crisis, as dark family secrets gradually came to light.

The sixth link: The Temple family in Chris Bookmyre’s Fallen Angel is another family in crisis. The family is spending the summer at its seaside villa in Portugal for a reunion after the death of the head of the family, Max Temple, who was a psychologist. The last time they were all there together was in 2002 when one of the children had disappeared from the villa, and was presumed drowned. None of the family members are very likeable and there’s plenty of tension as they don’t get on well with each other! It’s a novel about a family in crisis, about toxic relationships and about the psychology of conspiracy theories. 

From a short and scary story my chain links two novels about scary houses, or rather the occupants of scary houses, two books about searches, and two about families in crisis.

Next month (November 6, 2021), we’ll start with Sigrid Nunez’s What Are You Going Through.

Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers

I’ve read some of Dorothy L Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery series and enjoyed them immensely. But up until now have not read the first book in the series, Whose Body?, first published in 1923. It’s an amusing Golden Age mystery that kept me entertained throughout. Lord Peter is a wealthy amateur detective, a friend of Inspector Charles Parker, a Scotland Yard detective. He called ‘Lord’ as he is the younger son of a duke.

When the naked body of a man, wearing only a pair of pince-nez is found in Mr Alfred Thipp’s Battersea bathroom, Lord Peter is asked by his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, to help solve the mystery of whose body had found its way into the bath. The police investigation is being led by Inspector Sugg, who doesn’t welcome what he calls Lord Peter’s ‘interference’ in the case. He thinks the dead body might be that of Sir Reuben Levy, a wealthy London financier who had vanished from his bedroom, leaving no trace. Meanwhile Charles is investigating Sir Reuben’s disappearance himself. Although the body in the bath at first appears to be Sir Reuben it soon becomes clear that it is not and that the two cases are not connected. But are they?

As I began reading I was a bit put off by the dialogue between Lord Peter and his valet Bunter, who used to be his batman in the army. The dialogue is supposed to be witty banter between the two of them but to my mind it was irritating and superficial, definitely dated, and reminded me a just a tiny bit of the Jeeves and Wooster stories. But that was just at the start – it’s not at all like Jeeves and Wooster! I enjoyed watching the mystery unfold, which put Lord Peter’s life into grave danger. There are many complications and twists and turns that did stretch my credulity. It has a serious side too as events trigger traumatic memories for Lord Peter of his time in the trenches of the First World War

My rating: 4*

There are 15 books in the series (linked to my reviews when I’ve read the book):


   1. Whose Body? (1923)
   2. Clouds of Witness (1926)
   3. Unnatural Death (1927)
   4. Lord Peter Views the Body (1928)
   5. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
   6. Strong Poison (1930)
   7 Five Red Herrings (1931)
   8. Have His Carcase (1932)
   9. Hangman’s Holiday (1933)
   10. Murder Must Advertise (1933)
   11. The Nine Tailors (1934)
   12. Gaudy Night (1935)
   13. Busman’s Honeymoon (1937)
   14. In the Teeth of the Evidence (1939)
   15. Striding Folly (1972)

Throwback Thursday: The Ghosts of Altona

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

Today I’m looking back at my post on The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell, which I first posted on 29 September 2015..

Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week I quoted the opening paragraphs and the description of The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell, a novel, which won this year’s Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the YearIt’s an outstanding book, one of the best I’ve read this year. I suppose it can be called a modern Gothic tale as well as being a crime thriller. Russell is a new author to me, but by no means is he a new author, The Ghosts of Altona being his 7th book featuring Jan Fabel, the head of Hamburg’s Murder Commission. However, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment that I’d jumped into the series right at the end. And in a way it didn’t matter at all as in the first chapter Jan has a near-death experience when he is shot by a suspected child killer, which has a profound effect on his life and the way he views death.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for November 4.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was “Forced” to Read!

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 a Freebie and I have chosen a past TTT topic from October 2013 which was before I took part in TTT – Top Ten Books I was Forced’ to Read. The definition of this topic was described thus: ‘Obviously, in most cases, you weren’t LITERALLY forced to read it but you know what we are getting at here. Those required reading books, book club picks, books for your job or those books that it simply feels like other readers were going to tie you down until you read it!!’

I’ve chosen books that were ones I read at my local book group. They are all books I would probably never have read if they hadn’t been for the book club – some of them I loved, some I disliked and some that I thought were OK, neither very good or very bad.

First the ones I loved:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I loved even more than the film. It takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 during the Civil Rights Movement. Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are the three narrators and it is through their eyes that the book comes to life as they take turns telling their stories. It’s touching, poignant, funny, compelling and definitely thought-provoking. I loved the film too.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski – the story of Hilary Wainwright, who is searching for his son, lost five years earlier in the Second World War. Hilary had left France just after his wife, Lisa, had given birth to John. Lisa, unable to leave France, worked for the Resistance, but was killed by the Gestapo and her son disappeared. It is emotional, heart-wrenching and nerve-wracking, full of tension, but never sentimental.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck – it has everything I like, rich descriptions of locations, wonderful characters and a storyline, that grabs my attention and makes me want to know more. There is humour and tragedy, meanness and generosity, life and death all within Cannery Row‘s 148 pages. After reading this I went on to read more of Steinbeck’s books, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men and Sweet Thursday.

The Long Song by Andrea Levy. It’s brutal, savage, and unrelenting in depicting the lives of the slaves in Jamaica just as slavery was coming to an end and both the slaves and their former owners were adjusting to their freedom. The narrator is July, at the beginning a spirited young woman, born in a sugar-cane field, telling her story at her son’s suggestion. It’s beautifully written too.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee set in the Deep South of  America in the 1930s. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) is the narrator, as she looks back as an adult to the Depression, the years when with her older brother, Jem, and their friend, Dill, she witnessed the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl. Scout’s father, Atticus, a lawyer defends Tom. It’s also the story of Boo Radley, their neighbour, a man who is never seen, who is said to only come out at night.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday by Paul Torday. The conditions in the Yemen are completely wrong for salmon fishing and that is the conundrum that Dr Alfred Jones has to solve when Sheikh Muhammad wants scientific advice on how best to introduce it into the Yemen. The sheikh has an estate in Scotland where he pursues his great love of fly fishing. This a light comic novel, much of it complete but enjoyable nonsense and I was actually hoping the project would be successful and that salmon would run up the waters of the Wadi Aleyn in the heart of the mountains of Heraz. I haven’t seen the film of the book.

Then the books I enjoyed, although I didn’t actually love them:

The Man on a Donkey by H F M Prescott, written in the form of a chronicle, from the various characters’ viewpoints. It’s as much about the ordinary people as the rich and powerful, and based on documentary evidence relating to the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 led by Robert Aske, a lawyer. It was a protest against Henry VIII‘s break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the policies of the King’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. It transported me back to that time, with lyrical descriptions of the settings, both of the countryside and of the towns, of Marrick Priory and of the king’s court, of the people, and the mood of the times, both religious and political. 

I found Westwood by Stella Gibbons a slightly disappointing book. I liked it, but didn’t love it, as I’d hoped I would. I do enjoy descriptive writing, and there are some beautiful descriptive passages, particularly of London just after the Blitz. Margaret Steggles, a plain young woman finds a ration book on Hampstead Heath which provides her with an introduction into the lives of Gerard Challis and his family, his beautiful wife, Seraphina, his self-absorbed daughter Hebe and her spoilt children and Zita the family’s maid. Margaret idolises Gerard, who is a playwright. He in turn falls under the spell of her best friend, Hilda.

Full Tilt: Dunkirk to Delhi on a Bicycle, by Dervla Murphy, first published in 1965, this  is an account of her journey in 1963, which took her through Europe, Persia (Iran), Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and into India. She travelled on her own, with a revolver in her saddle bag. It’s very much a personal account, but not so much about the actual cycling. I enjoyed it as much for her descriptions of the places she visited as for her thoughts along the way. I’m not sure that I would find her easy company though!

And finally a book that I disliked:

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns about the disappearance and murders of three young teenage girls. It’s far too detailed and drawn out. I had trouble with the narrator, wondering how he  could possibly know all the detail of what other characters were thinking and doing. Described on Amazon thus ‘One after another, three girls disappear from a small American town. As the sleepy town awakens to a horrific nightmare, no one is safe from the rising epidemic of suspicion. Dobyn’s chilling novel is superbly written portrait of a little place seemingly at home with itself. The suspense builds to a magnificent climax.’ I did not like it at all.

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Another Journey through Britain by Mark Probert

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.

This week I’m featuring the latest book I’ve just started reading, Another Journey Through Britain by Mark Probert, which was free on Amazon UK, although it’s currently on offer for 99p.

In this book Mark Probert follows the route taken by John Hillaby in his 1960s book Journey through Britain, telling the story of his 1,100 mile walk from Land’s End in south-west England to the north-east coast of Scotland at John o’Groats. It had captured Probert’s imagination and when he entered semi-retirement in 2018 he decided to repeat Hillaby’s book, looking out for the things he wrote about in his original book and comparing how today’s Britain differed from that of fifty years earlier. He didn’t walk, though but he did it on a motor bike, a Royal Enfield Classic 500.

The Book Begins:

The visitor car park at Land’s End was almost empty and ghostly silent. It was just after 10 am on a chilly May morning.

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

These 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:

Beside the National Parks there are thirty four Areas of Outstanding National Parks (AONB) in England and Wales, less than half of which were in existence in 1966. Being British, we have to make things complicated. In Scotland they have two National Parks, forty five National Nature Reserves, three UNESCO GeoParks and two UNESCO Biospheres. The original purpose of the Parks was to conserve and preserve, but also to open the areas up for people to enjoy. Nowadays, the National Parks cover approximately 10 percent of England, 20 percent of Wales and 7 percent of Scotland.

A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry

Canongate Books| 19th August 2021| 405 pages| Review Copy| 5*

This is the third book in Ambrose Parry’s historical series starring Will Raven & Sarah Fisher, set in 19th century Edinburgh. I loved the other books, The Way of All Flesh and The Art of Dying and A Corruption of Blood is equally as good, if not better.

Description

Edinburgh. This city will bleed you dry.

Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.

Back at 52 Queen Street, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.

Raven’s efforts to prove his erstwhile adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations will take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.

Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym of crime fiction author, Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman, a consultant anaesthetist. Will is a doctor working with Doctor James Young Simpson, a professor of midwifery, who discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform (a real historical character), and Sarah, is the Simpsons’ housemaid, but she now assists Professor Simpson and is studying medicine. The two of them have a complicated and somewhat spiky relationship, which continues in this novel.

The combination of a crime fiction writer and an anaesthetist works excellently in Ambrose Parry’s novels. The research into the history of medicine is extensive, making this book a combination of historical fact and fiction, a tale of murder and medical matters, with the social scene, historical and medical facts slotting perfectly into an intricate murder mystery. 

The mystery begins when the body of a baby wrapped in a parcel, is found floating in the Forth. The child had been strangled with a length of white tape. Sarah meanwhile is involved in finding a missing child. When Sir Ainsley Douglas, a prominent and wealthy member of Edinburgh society is found dead from arsenic poisoning, Will reluctantly gets involved in the murder investigation. How the mysteries interlink gradually becomes clear and although I soon realised how Sir Ainsley had been murdered, I was puzzled about who did it and was completely taken by surprise when the culprit was revealed.

Like all good historical fiction, this book weaves together fact and fiction. The Historical Note at the end of the book sorts out what was real and what was invented. The subjects covered include details about infectious diseases, the difficulties women experienced in obtaining a medical degree, and crimes children suffered in the 19th century. I think A Corruption of Blood is an exceptionally excellent murder mystery and an informative historical novel, with great period detail and convincing characters. I look forward to reading more books by Ambrose Parry.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall 2021 To-read List

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 Books on My Fall 2021 To-read List.

Not easy when I have so many books I want to read. These are the first ten that came to mind, but this is not a reading plan and I could just as easily read other books this autumn:

First two novellas:

Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge – 159 pages -literary fiction set In a remote cottage in Wales where two urban couples are spending their holiday with the idealistic owner and his protege. The beginning is idyllic but catastrophe lurks behind every tree.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay 189 pages – a novel for the reader to decide if it’s fact or fiction. On St Valentine’s Day in 1900, nineteen girls and two schoolmistresses visit Hanging Rock. Some were never to return.

Two books from my NetGalley shelf:

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas – standalone psychological thriller. Una Richardson’s heart is broken after the death of her mother. Seeking a place to heal, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of Elspeth McKenzie. But Elspeth’s home is not as safe as it seems.

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson, a standalone novel. After the loss of her father, Una sees a chance to escape Reykjavík to tutor two girls in the tiny village of Skálar – population just ten – on Iceland’s storm-battered north coast. The creaky old house where they live is playing on her already fragile mind when she’s convinced she hears the ghostly sound of singing. Then, at midwinter, a young girl is found dead.

Two books from my TBR list:

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, the final novel in her Wolf Hall trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, tracing his final years. I wanted to read this so much when I bought it (in 2020) and it has sat around the house ever since, but it’s a hardback copy and I keep putting off reading it. If I don’t read this soon it will be 2022 before I get round to it.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, which I bought in 2013! It’s about Harold’s journey on foot from one end of the country to the other – from South Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed and I was intrigued. I wondered which places he went through. It’s definitely time I read this.

And finally two more recent acquisitions:

Another Journey Through Britain by Mark Gregory Probert. He follows the route taken by John Hillaby in his 1960s book Journey through Britain. The ride starts from rugged Land’s End in south-west England and ends up at the wild north-east coast of Scotland at John o’Groats. Buying this book is what made me remember I haven’t read Rachel Joyce’s novel, also about a journey through Britain.

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld, a novel that weaves together the lives of three women in three different eras, linked by the Bass Rock, an island in the Firth of Forth, north-east of North Berwick. There’s Sarah in the 1700s accused of being a witch, Ruth, newly married in 1955 to a widower, Peter, and Viv, Peter’s granddaughter, in the present day.

Novellas in November 2021

I’ve collected together a selection of novellas in advance of Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of BookishBeck. These are all books of under 200 pages.

From top to bottom they are (I’ve given the actual page numbers in my copies):

  • Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge – 159 pages -literary fiction set In a remote cottage in Wales where two urban couples are spending their holiday with the idealistic owner and his protege. The beginning is idyllic but catastrophe lurks behind every tree.
  • The Great Divorce by C S Lewis – 118 pages – a fable and allegory in which the writer, in a dream, boards a bus on a drizzly afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell.
  • The Invasion of the Moon 1969: the Story pf Apollo 11 by Peter Ryan – 189 pages, non fiction about the flight of Apollo 11 and the men who went to the moon and back.
  • Rebus’s Scotland by Ian Rankin – 131 pages (not including the photographs). Ian Rankin’s guide to the places in Scotland that have provided inspiration for his bestselling Inspector Rebus novels.
  • The Sovereignty of Good by Iris Murdoch – 105 pages, philosophy – three essays, exploring questions of good and bad, and myth and morality.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay 189 pages – a novel for the reader to decide if it’s fact or fiction. On St Valentine’s Day in 1900, nineteen girls and two schoolmistresses visit Hanging Rock. Some were never to return. 
  • On Chesil Beach 166 pages by Ian McEwan, It is July 1962. Edward and Florence, young innocents married that morning, arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their private fears of the wedding night to come. The events of that evening will haunt them for the rest of their lives. (This will be a re-read)
  • A Life of Walter Scott: The Laird of Abbotsford by A N Wilson 185 pages, ‘weaving together the life and the works, and discussing all Scott’s best-known books as well as many which are less familiar.

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan

Penguin| 19 August 2021| 339 pages| Review copy| 4*

Synopsis:

Most of us give little thought to the back of the book – it’s just where you go to look things up. But here, hiding in plain sight, is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. Here we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamberwithaNonne. This is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Here, for the first time, its story is told.

Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Dennis Duncan reveals how the index has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists’ living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and – of course – indexers along the way. Revealing its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture, Duncan shows that, for all our anxieties about the Age of Search, we are all index-rakers at heart, and we have been for eight hundred years.

My thoughts:

This book is not just about the history of the index, but also about the history of reading and the evolution of the book from the scrolls, manuscripts and the codex before the the invention of printing – how they were produced and used. I was interested in reading it as I’m an ex-librarian and cataloguer, later an assistant in a county record office where a large part of my job involved indexing. If you think like me that an index is an indispensable part of a non fiction book then you’ll enjoy this book, which is both informative and entertaining. And I often wish fiction books were indexed too – one of the advantages of an e-book is that you can search the text, even better if it has the X-Ray feature.

It explains the difference between the index and the table of contents, goes into the evolution of page numbers and the problems of alphabetisation. This is not a dry, factual account it is written with humour and insights into the past, using examples from historical texts, and from indexes complied as satirical attacks on their authors. I never knew indexes had been used as weapons! Nor did I know that some works of fiction had been indexed in the past – full details in Chapter 6 ‘Indexing Fictions: Naming was Always a Difficult Art’, quoting from Lewis Carroll’s works. Carroll was fascinated with indexes, leaning particularly towards the whimsical, using his logician’s wit.

Neither is it stuck in the far distant past, Duncan brings it up to date in the digital age and the ubiquity of the search engine with the rise of anxiety that this is changing our brains, shortening our attention spans and eroding our capacity for memory. But this, Duncan explains is nothing new as the history of the index shows that there have always been fears that nobody will read properly any more when they could just use an index to replace the ways of close reading. The ways we read have changed over the generations.

The Index, a History of the is simply fascinating.

About the Author

Dennis Duncan is a writer, translator and lecturer in English at University College London. He has published numerous academic books, including Book Parts and The Oulipo and Modern Thought, as well as translations of Michel Foucault, Boris Vian, and Alfred Jarry. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books, and recent articles have considered Mallarmé and jugs, James Joyce and pornography, and the history of Times New Roman. 

The Survivors by Jane Harper

Jane Harper’s The Survivors is out in paperback today.

I read a review copy in October last year. Set in Evelyn Bay on the island of Tasmania, Bronte, a waitress at the Surf and Turf bar, is found dead on the beach, which stirs up memories of the events of twelve years ago. Just who and what the ‘Survivors‘ are plays a major role in the story – along with the sea, the caves and the tides. It’s a slow-burner at first, that turns into an emotionally charged book rather than one of high tension and suspense. Once it got going I just had to read on.

Jane Harper is one of my favourite authors. I can recommend her earlier books too –The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man, which all had me enthralled.