Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for Swanson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Swanson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 172,841
Helpful Votes: 115

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Swanson (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Series Book 43)
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Series Book 43)
Price: £4.99

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My Little Grey Cells Tell Me This is Not the Poirot I Know..., 14 Sept. 2014
For me, this book simply points out how good Agatha Christie was. Christie is one of those writers whose work can sometimes appear effortless, & that's the mark of a gifted author.The truth is that her books were supremely plotted & worked out with a kind of mathematical precision, then the creative Christie turned them into wonderfully satisfying reads. There's a reason Agatha C is the best-selling fiction author of all-time, & that reason is that she was damn good. Her books remain eminently readable &, unlike a lot of mystery/thriller stories, they bear re-reading over the years.
I think it's a mistake to take on such an iconic character as Poirot; he appears in many Christie novels & readers are, therefore, familiar with his traits & methods of deduction, as well as his little foibles. We feel we 'know' him, & it would take a much more authentic Poirot than Sophie Hannah's to satisfy what I suppose might be called 'Poirotophiles'. The Monogram Murders jars because this Hercule is not authentic; other reviewers have pointed out areas in which he acts & deduces in ways that the great detective would not have done, & I think many of us struggled to accept this new take on the pernickety, but brilliant, little Belgian.
I think that if such an iconic character is to be taken on by a modern writer, then that writer has to either know Poirot inside out, as well as recognise that many readers are incredibly familiar with him, & give them something much closer to the Hercules they expect from such a book; or, perhaps attempt a pastiche of him; something that a writer like LC Tyler could likely carry off effectively.
I'm not surprised that the Christie estate has sanctioned the book; it is, after all, publicity for AC's body of work, & from what I've read of some of the people acting for the estate (in Jared Cade's excellent Agatha Christie & the Eleven Missing Days), they don't always act in the best interests of the late author or, indeed, her readers. Financially, however, it will do the estate no harm to have all of Christie's work listed within the covers of a modern book.


Little Murder, A
Little Murder, A
by Suzette A. Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Right Rollicking Read.., 8 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Little Murder, A (Paperback)
Suzette Hill is such a good writer, I'm amazed that she felt the need to self-publish her first book, but not surprised that a major publisher took her on afterwards.
A Little Murder is a beautifully written murder mystery in something of the style of the golden age crime novels so many of us love & enjoy. The difference with Ms. Hill's work is, that like LC Tyler & his Elsie & Ethelred series, the story is witty as well as an enjoyable crime romp. There are several laugh out loud moments, & I was truly sorry to reach the end of the book. I've pre-ordered the next one in the series, & I can't really give a higher recommendation than that. To my mind, one of the best writers out there at this point in time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2014 5:09 AM BST


Vanishing Point (Miss Silver Mystery Book 25)
Vanishing Point (Miss Silver Mystery Book 25)
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best.., 26 Jan. 2014
I find the Miss Silver mysteries very hit & miss, & this is definitely not among the better stories. The main concerns for me being the very caricatured wicked Aunt, pretty much a pantomime villain; & the unbelievably meek Rosamund. I really did find it hard to accept that she was literally working herself to exhaustion, running back & forth to answer her Aunt's demands, cleaning & dusting every little piece in the mausoleum of a house; never standing up for herself or asserting her personality in any way. I prefer female characters who are not weak & placid in this irritating way, since I find that characters written like this simply do not ring true.
Another long-standing irritation with the Wentworth books, is the hortatory cough that is Miss Silver's constant character trait. This cough apparently denotes that the lady detective is a formidable figure, capable of rebuking, advising, disagreeing, or anything else, merely by dint of constantly coughing. I wish that Ms Wentworth had reigned in this character device, as it soon palls & annoys, rather than suggests that here is someone about to say something of great profundity.


Chaplin's Girl: The Life and Loves of Virginia Cherrill
Chaplin's Girl: The Life and Loves of Virginia Cherrill
by Miranda Seymour
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Must have read a different book.., 22 Oct. 2013
I have to admit to being rather surprised at the on-the-whole, good reviews for this biography. I found it to be poorly written & shockingly inadequate in terms of research of the subject. I lost track of how many times something, someone, some town, some film, some play, piece of music etc., was described as "celebrated". A minor niggle, perhaps, but irritating to the reader & showing poor editing. I also grew tired of the author's suppositions, many put forward without facts to support them: Virginia's Mother having likely been the victim of domestic abuse; Chaplin's dislike of Cherrill put down to him having made unsuccessful passes at her, etc. Unless the biographer has evidence, they should steer clear of speculation about people involved in the subject's life.
Far from coming across as sweet & charming, the type of person everyone fell in love with, Cherrill emerges, to this reader at least, as a cynical manipulator. She seems to have used her first husband to gain wealth & position, & there is no real explanation of how she ended up leaving him & more or less living off his rich Uncle in Los Angeles. So many things are left unexplored. How, for instance, did a woman who was completely frigid throughout her first marriage, manage to have love affairs immediately after she left that relationship?
It seems to me that the sometimes rambling memories of an elderly lady are accepted as fact, even when she gets details, times, dates, people involved, wrong. Further research was needed to substantiate the facts of Cherrill's life, & this would have made for a more rounded biography.


Dear Cary
Dear Cary
by Dyan Cannon
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Feet of Clay..., 27 July 2013
This review is from: Dear Cary (Hardcover)
I don't get the impression that Dyan Cannon has an axe to grind at all; she has shared her memories, both good & bad, pertaining to her life with Cary Grant. Considering his near-insistence that she take LSD, I'm surprised that she is as gracious towards him as the book shows her to be. The fact that he gave away her beloved dog without consulting her was also not a point in his favour. I came away from the memoir with a sense of Cannon's gratitude to Grant for the gift of their daughter, Jennifer, & there can be no doubt that both parents loved & deeply cared about this child of their union. Cannon cannot have been too scathing about Grant over the years since her daughter has given her own child the name Cary.
What comes across very clearly in the memoir, is that Cary Grant was looking for all manner of ways to come to terms with his traumatic early life, something many of us can undoubtedly relate to; it's just very unfortunate that he thought he found the answers in LSD. Goodness knows what that drug did to his already troubled mind, & his use of it could certainly explain a lot of the mood swings & erratic behaviour patterns he displays. It's yet more proof that people are rarely what they seem, even if they try hard to make a success of life. We're all vulnerable humans beneath the facade.


Handling Sin
Handling Sin
by Michael Malone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy gold from start to finish., 17 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Handling Sin (Paperback)
Firstly, Amazon, please sort out the fact that you have, for some strange reason, got a description of this book as being about golf. I keep telling people how brilliantly funny Malone's novel is, & they then look on-site & find that peculiar anomaly. This book deserves better from you, & you should be praising it from the rooftops.
Handling Sin is without doubt one of the funniest, if not the funniest book I have ever read. Michael Malone takes the reader on an extraordinary odyssey along with his hero, Raleigh Hayes, who has been given a series of tasks to perform by his Father in order to receive his inheritance. The cast of characters is surreal & funny, moving & life-affirming, & this journey is one well worth taking.
So many books are described as "laugh out loud funny", but this one really is, and there are parts where the reader's laughter is almost continuous. I find that one of the best ways of getting across the bizarre nature of the situations & characters is to relate the book to the brilliant & innovative 1970s tv series Soap, & from me, that is praise indeed.
This picaresque novel is comedy gold & Malone's writing is nothing short of genius.


Diplomatic Baggage: The Adventures of a Trailing Spouse
Diplomatic Baggage: The Adventures of a Trailing Spouse
by Brigid Keenan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious? Not to me..., 17 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having read Lawrence Durrell's brilliant & truly hilarious diplomatic tales, I thought I would give this a go & see whether it was in any way as good. It wasn't. I also hoped it would live up to the reviews of being "laugh out loud funny." It didn't. To me, this was an author trying very hard to be funny, but not succeeding. Parts of the book are mildly amusing at best, and a great deal of the rest of it is somewhat patronising. I found I lost heart after the disturbing section about the famine in Ethiopia. I simply couldn't comprehend how a journalist could be so ineffective at getting out the facts of the horrors she saw first-hand. I was staggered that she didn't attempt to help or save anyone, & bewildered by her decision not to take photographs to bear witness to what was happening to these desperate people. Stressing that pictures would be invasive & undignified is ludicrous. Photographs would have presented the most moving evidence imaginable, & would, more than likely, have helped set in motion much needed action from the rest of the world long before that aid started coming in. Keenan's worries about causing ructions for her husband in his job simply come across as selfish & uncaring in the face of such suffering. There's also an incident later in the book where Keenan is stopped whilst driving her car in Trinidad by a woman whose elderly companion is likely suffering a heart attack. Keenan, who simply cannot tolerate nasal mucus (the chap concerned is losing a large amount of it) apologises & leaves the couple there by the side of the road. Just astonishing. She seems to spend more time & effort saving old hotels from closure than she does aiding those in genuine need.
No, hilarious this was not.


The Out of Towners [DVD]
The Out of Towners [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jack Lemmon

5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy as it should be., 16 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Out of Towners [DVD] (DVD)
This film is one of my all-time favourites & I go back to it whenever I'm in need of a laugh out loud piece of cinematic joy. I simply can't understand why they bothered re-making it with the inferior Steve Martin rubbish, there was no way it was ever going to match up to the original.
Anyone who has the sort of luck where absolutely everything seems to go wrong will relate to the catalogue of disasters which ensue when George & Gwen Kellerman, played by the brilliant Jack Lemmon & Sandy Dennis, take a trip to New York for George's interview for a prospective work promotion. From the vagaries of public transport, to the inclement weather; from being stranded without a room in New York during a strike by city workers, to being robbed by opportunists taking advantage of the naive folks from Twin Oaks, Ohio, this film is a blast from start to finish. Jack Lemmon gives a superb performance, ably assisted by Sandy Dennis, who really should have been given more comedy roles, so good is she in this part.
I've recommended this film to many people over the years & they've always loved it as much as I do.
If only Hollywood still made comedies of this quality, with writing of the standard of Neil Simon's, & actors of the calibre of Lemmon & Dennis, I'd visit the cinema more frequently.


Dark Predator: Number 22 in series ('Dark' Carpathian)
Dark Predator: Number 22 in series ('Dark' Carpathian)
by Christine Feehan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No romance in abuse..., 29 May 2013
The Carpathian series is hit & miss, & not every book in the series is going to appeal to all readers. This book, however, left me cold. There is no romance in abuse, & I struggle to see such a cruel man as any kind of hero of a romance novel. One of the reasons some of the other Carpathian stories worked so well was that the females weren't doormats; they were strong, feisty characters in their own right. I felt that the character dynamic here would have been more suited to a BDSM novel. I can't be doing with such female passivity, it irritates me, & I find it hard to believe that anyone who isn't a masochist would stoically accept the 'hero's' nonsense. I also find the endless add-ons going into tedious detail about the Carpathian language, chants etc., tedious in the extreme. There's no need for this, & I doubt anybody reads it.


The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria
The Lady In The Palazzo: At Home in Umbria
by Marlena de Blasi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ruthless editor required.., 21 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Marlena de Blasi can tell an interesting and involving tale, but the problem with her books is that they are over-written, so full of purple prose and florid description, and with metaphor upon metaphor, endless similies, and a way of taking pages to say what could be said in a single paragraph. This can make the author seem earnest and humourless, and requires a patient reader willing to make the effort to get to the worthwhile story underneath the somewhat over-worked prose. This is a shame as the history related is indeed worth telling. A ruthless editor is required to dispense with much of the unnecessary verbiage, and then I'm sure the books would benefit and become eminently more enjoyable.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3