Stacking the Shelves: 9 April 2016

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Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves. This means you can include ‘˜real’ and ‘˜virtual’ books (ie physical and ebooks) you’ve bought, books you’ve borrowed from friends or the library, review books, and gifts.

I’ve borrowed three library books this week, books by authors whose books I’ve read in the past and enjoyed:

  • The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers – I borrowed this because I’ve some of Salley Vickers’ books and loved them, in particular Miss Garnet’s Angel and Mr Golightly’s Holiday and Where Three Roads Meet, so I’m hoping I’ll love this one too.

Blurb:

There is something special about the ancient cathedral of Chartres, with its mismatched spires, astonishing stained glass and strange labyrinth. And there is something special too about Agnès Morel, the mysterious woman who is to be found cleaning it each morning.

No one quite knows where she came from – not the diffident Abbé Paul, who discovered her one morning twenty years ago, sleeping in the north porch; nor lonely Professor Jones, whose chaotic existence she helps to organise; nor Philippe Nevers, whose neurotic sister and newborn child she cares for; nor even the irreverent young restorer, Alain Fleury, who works alongside her each day and whose attention she catches with her tawny eyes, her colourful clothes and elusive manner. And yet everyone she encounters would surely agree that she is subtly transforming their lives, even if they couldn’t quite say how.

But with a chance meeting in the cathedral one day, the spectre of Agnès’ past returns, provoking malicious rumours from the prejudiced Madame Beck and her gossipy companion Madame Picot. As the hearsay grows uglier, Agnès is forced to confront her history, and the mystery of her origins finally unfolds.

Blurb:

Reading Gaol’s most famous prisoner is pitted against a ruthless and fiendishly clever serial killer. ‘Intelligent, amusing and entertaining’ Alexander McCall Smith It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, novelist, raconteur and ex-convict, has fled the country after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. He has endured a harsh regime: the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, Oscar’s astonishing detective powers remain undiminished – and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol’s most celebrated inmate?
In this, the latest novel in his acclaimed Oscar Wilde murder mystery series, Gyles Brandreth takes us deep into the dark heart of Wilde’s cruel incarceration.

Blurb:

Charlie Howard ‘“ struggling crime-writer by day, talented thief by night ‘“’¯has gone straight. But holing himself up in a crumbling palazzo in Venice in an attempt to concentrate on his next novel hasn’t got rid of the itch in his fingers. And to make matters worse, a striking Italian beauty has just broken into his apartment and made off with his most prized possession, leaving a puzzling calling card in its place.

It looks as though kicking the habit of a lifetime will be much more of a challenge than Charlie thought.

Sneaking out into Venice’s maze of murky canals, Charlie’s attempts to tame a cat burglar embroil him in a plot that is far bigger and more explosive than he could ever have imagined.

We should treasure our libraries.

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: Holland

The idea behind Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass, run by Kerrie, is that participants write a post linked to the country of the week.

This week’s stop there is a choice of either Holland or Belgium. I’ve chosen Holland, with two books set in Amsterdam.

First a book I reviewed in January 2008:

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan.

[Thief2.jpg]This was the 2007 winner of Long Barn Books First Novel Award. From the back cover: ‘œCharlie Howard writes caper novels about a career thief. He also happens to be one.’

The description of Amsterdam conveys its atmosphere, canals and buildings very well for some one like me, who has never been there. Charlie is asked by an American to steal two little monkey figurines to make up the set ‘œSee no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’. They don’t appear to have any value and he has to steal them from two different people on the same night. Then the American is found murdered and at first Charlie is suspected of being the murderer.

From that point on the book moves at a fast pace through all the ins and outs of the mystery ‘“ who did murder the American, why, what is the significance of the monkeys? At the same time Charlie has a problem with a book he is writing and spends time on the phone discussing the difficulties of sorting out the plot with Victoria, his agent in London.

It kept me guessing and amused and I raced through it to find out what happens.

There are more Charlie Howard mysteries:

  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris
  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas
  • The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice

And for more information check out Chris Ewan’s blog – The Good Thief’s Blog.

Secondly, a book I read in May 2006, before I began this blog:

book cover of   The Apothecary's House   by  Adrian MathewsThe Apothecary’s House by Adrian Mathews. As I didn’t write anything about it other than this in my list of books read – ‘Set in Amsterdam – a good mystery novel‘ and I no longer have the book, here is a summary from Fantastic Fiction:

When an old woman storms into the Rijks Museum demanding the return of her painting, archivist Ruth Braams cannot quell her curiosity. Together with Myles, her gay confidant, Ruth delves into the history of the piece of looted Nazi art and discovers an enigmatic picture with a disturbing wartime provenance. It also appears that the elderly Lydia is not the only claimant and, against strict bureau regulations, Ruth endeavours to help strengthen her case. Days later, Ruth begins to receive sinister anonymous threats, warning her to stay away from Lydia and the painting. When the door of her home, a houseboat on the Bloemgracht canal, is covered in graffiti and her gas supply tampered with, Ruth is convinced these are deterrents from the rival claimant. Our irrepressible and emotionally troubled heroine refuses to take them at face value and continues to strike up a friendship with the lonely old lady. But as the threats escalate, Ruth realises that there must be far more to the painting’s popularity, and she enters into a series of increasingly lethal adventures as she investigates the painting’s secret symbolism…

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan

This is the 2007 winner of Long Barn Books First Novel Award. From the back cover of A Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam: Charlie Howard writes caper novels about a career thief. He also happens to be one.
It’s set in Amsterdam, conveying its atmosphere, canals and buildings well for some one like me, who has never been there. He is asked by an American to steal two little monkey figurines to make up the set, ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil‘. They don’t appear to have any value and he has to steal them from two different people on the same night. Then the American is found murdered and at first Charlie is suspected of being the murderer.

From that point on the book moves at a fast pace through all the ins and outs of the mystery – who did murder the American, why, and what is the significance of the monkeys? At the same time he has a problem with a book he is writing and spends time on the phone discussing the difficulties of sorting out the plot with Victoria, his agent in London.

It kept me guessing and amused. The only problem I had reading it was that I raced through it to find out what happens. The three monkeys have always interested me, ever since I was given a small ‘speak no evil’ monkey. It is valuable to me as it was given to me by my favourite aunty. I don’t know where it came from or why there is only one. I always wondered where the other two were. Maybe there is some mystery surrounding this set as well.

There are more Charlie Howard mysteries to come. At the end of the book he leaves Amsterdam for Paris and A Good Thief’s Guide to Paris will be the next book in a series of Charlie Howard mysteries, so I’m looking forward to reading more from Chris Ewan.