Books from the Mobile Library

The mobile library came here this week and for the first time since the first lockdown we could go on board the van! I borrowed just three books this time.

The Seal King Murders by Alanna Knight – an Inspector Faro Mystery. Set in 1861 in Orkney, this is the second casebook of Constable Faro, looking back to his earlier career. A champion swimmer, has drowned in mysterious circumstances and Faro is met with rumours of missing artifacts, the myth of the seal king, a dead body under the floor of Scarthbreck, his first love, and a mother who is determined to find him a wife. 

Faro later had an illustrious career as Chief Inspector in the Edinburgh City Police and personal detective to Her Majesty Queen Victoria at Balmoral. I haven’t read any of the Inspector Faro mysteries, so I think this could be a good place to start.

Alanna Knight had more than seventy books published in an impressive writing career spanning over fifty years. She was a founding member and Honorary Vice President of the Scottish Association of Writers, Honorary President of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club and member of the Scottish Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association. Alanna was awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to literature. Born and educated in Tyneside, she lived in Edinburgh until she passed away in 2020.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. This is fantasy in a world that is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. It is the first of 8 books in the Invisible Library series.

Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England.

A Bespoke Murder by Edward Marston, book 1 in the Home Front Detective series. Set in 1915 with thousands of Britons away in the trenches, a severely depleted police force remains behind to keep the Home Front safe and continue the fight against crime, espionage, and military desertion. Detective Inspector Harvey Marmion and Sergeant Joe Keedy investigate the murder of Jacob Stein, a Jewish tailor, a victim of anti-German riots after the sinking of the Lusitania. His shop is set ablaze, his daughter is raped and he is murdered

Edward Marston is a pseudonym used by Keith Miles, an English author, who writes under his own name and also historical fiction and mystery novels under the pseudonym Edward Marston. He is known for his mysteries set in the world of Elizabethan theatre. He has also written a series of novels based on events in the Domesday Book, a series of The Railway Detective and a series of The Home Front Detective.

I’ve read one of Alanna Knight’s books and one by Edward Marston, but none of Genevieve Cogman’s. Have you read any of these books? Are you tempted?

A – Z of TBRs: J, K and L

I’m now up to J, K, and L in my A – Z of TBRs, a series of posts in which I take a fresh look at some of my TBRs to inspire me to read more of them by the end of the year, or maybe to decide not to bother reading them after all. These TBRs are all physical books – I’ve not included e-books. Previously I’ve just chosen books for these posts by using the titles, but this time I’ve also chosen books by using the authors’ last names.

I’m enjoying searching my shelves – finding books I’d forgotten were there (the disadvantage of shelving books behind others).

TRBs jkl

– is for The Journeying Boy by Michael Innesa book I’ve had for three years. This is a green Vintage Penguin, first published in 1949, and in this edition in 1961. Humphrey Paxton, the son of one of Britain’s leading atomic boffins, has taken to carrying a shotgun to ‘shoot plotters and blackmailers and spies’. His new tutor, the plodding Mr Thewless, suggests that Humphrey might be overdoing it somewhat. But when a man is found shot dead at a cinema, Mr Thewless is plunged into a nightmare world of lies, kidnapping and murder – and grave matters of national security.

I’m not sure now that I do want to read this book. It looks quite daunting, with lots of description and  literary allusions as shown in this extract – the cinema goers had been watching a film, Plutonium Blonde:

Another squalid crime … Circumstances had made Inspector Cadover a philosopher, and because he was a philosopher he was now depressed. This was the celebrated atom film. This was the manner in which his species chose to take its new command of natural law. Fifty thousand people had died at Hiroshima , and at Bikini ironclads had been tossed in challenge to those other disintegrating nuclei of the sun. The blood-red tide was loosed. And here it was turned to hog wash at five shillings the trough, and entertainment tax five shillings extra. That some wretched Londoner had met a violent death while taking his fill seemed a very unimportant circumstance. To track down the murderer – if murderer there was – appeared a revoltingly useless task. Mere anarchy was loosed upon the world – so what the hell did it matter? (page 51)

K – is for Ghost Walk by Alanna Knight (on my TBR shelves for four years), the fourth in the Rose McQuinn series. This is historical crime fiction set in 1897 in Edinburgh three years after Rose McQuinn’s husband, Danny, disappeared in Arizona. Believing him to be dead, she returned to Scotland to start her life afresh. Now a ‘Lady Investigator, Discretion Guaranteed‘, she is about to marry her lover, Detective Inspector Jack Macmerry of the Edinburgh Police when a nun from the local convent claims to have received a letter from Danny, and after two suspicious deaths, it seems that a ghost is about to walk back into her life…

I’ve read and liked the first book in this series, The Inspector’s Daughter, and am hoping it won’t matter that I’ve not read the second and the third books.

I had no idea what were the views of Edinburgh City Police on the subject of female detectives or the milder term ‘lady investigators’, but I could guess that that they regarded criminal investigation as a ‘men only’ province.

I felt so impatient with authority. Would a day ever dawn when women ceased to be regarded as playthings or breeding machines, when they would be given equal rights with men. My hackles rose in anger at the suffragettes’ gallant struggles as portrayed in a recent pamphlet which I had been at pains to keep concealed from Jack.  (page 34)

L – is for The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson, a book I’ve had for 10 years! I was so keen to read it when I first bought it after loving her first novel, Crow Lake. It’s about two brothers, Arthur and Jake.  Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father’s farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous man to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point…

Arthur’s earliest memory was of standing in the doorway of his parents’ room, looking at his mother as she lay in bed. It was the middle of the day but nonetheless she was in bed, and Arthur didn’t know what to make of it. The bed was very large and high and Arthur could only just see her. She had her face turned towards the window. Then Arthur’s father called from the bottom of the stairs that the doctor was coming, and she turned her head, and Arthur saw that she was crying. (page 25)

What do you think? Do you fancy any of them? Would you ditch any of them?

Recent Reading

I’ve read some books recently and haven’t written about them – ‘real life’ keeps getting in the way! So here are a few brief notes on three of the books I’ve read this month:

  • The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi 4/5 – the first in the Hermes Diaktoros, Greek detective series, set on a remote Greek island. Hermes investigates the death of a young woman. It’s great on location and characters, but a bit slow in parts. Each of the books in the series features one of the Seven Deadly Sins – in this one it is the sin of lust. I’ve read the third book in the series – The Doctor of Thessaly – and have the fifth one, The Whispers of Nemesis. I just need to find the second and fourth books to complete the series.
  • Before the Poison by Peter Robinson 4/5. This is a stand-alone book, about Chris Lowndes, a widower who has bought a house in the Yorkshire Dales. Sixty years earlier a man had died there and his wife Grace was convicted of his murder and hanged. Chris wants to discover whether she really was guilty. This is a convincing mystery, told alternating between the present day and the past. Another book well grounded in its locality and with great characterisation.
  • The Inspector’s Daughter by Alanna Knight 3.5/5 – the first in the Rose McQuinn Mystery series. Set in Edinburgh in 1895, Rose, recently returned from America’s Wild West, steps into the shoes of her father, DI Faro (another series of books features this detective). Her friend Alice ask her to investigate her husband’s strange behaviour as she is convinced he’s having an affair. Meanwhile there is also the mystery of the brutal murder of a servant girl to solve. Rose lives in an isolated house at the foot of Arthur’s Seat and is helped by a wild deerhound who appears just when she needs him. An interesting historical murder mystery, convincingly set in the late 19th century, when Edinburgh was developing and the Forth Railway Bridge had just been opened.

Book Beginnings on Friday: The Inspector’s Daughter

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading. Book Beginnings is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages every Friday.

I found The Inspector’s Daughter by Alanna Knight in my local library recently. I’d never come across this author before but see from the book cover that she has written more than 40 novels, 4 non-fiction books, numerous short stories and 2 plays!

With some many books to her name I thought I’d once again jumped into a series of books, but I was lucky because The Inspector’s Daughter is the first in the Rose McQuinn Mysteries. In this book set in 1895 Rose has returned home to Edinburgh from the American Wild West and it’s not long before she steps into her father’s shoes by agreeing to investigate the strange behaviour of her friend’s husband.

The book begins:

Soon I would be safe.

The journey from nightmare was almost ended. Every turn of the train’s wheels, every drifting smoke wreath closed the door more firmly on the past.

Beyond the hills, the blue glimpse of the sea, Edinburgh was fast approaching, epilogue to ten years in America, so-called land of opportunity but for me a land of tragedy and loss.

So, this opening shows that Rose has had a bad time – ‘a nightmare’, and  a ‘tragedy’ in America, but raises questions, such as – what happened? What was the loss? And why did she go to America and what is she coming home to? I haven’t read much further so I don’t know the answers yet – but this opening does make me want to read on to find out.

I’ve borrowed this book from the library but I see on Amazon that a Kindle edition is available. Alanna Knight has a website, where I see she not only writes but also paints!