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onlyolney (UK)

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The Times Cryptic Crossword Book 4: Bk. 4
The Times Cryptic Crossword Book 4: Bk. 4
by Mike Laws
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars As usual, flawed but interesting puzzles, 12 May 2013
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The Times Crossword has the reputation of being the best cryptic crossword in the world. So it is, but nevertheless has errors, Unless, of course, I'm not as clever as I think I am, and simply can't see the cleverness where I think there are errors. The books are a handy size - just right for train or plane, or smallest room, and it's great having the solutions, if only to bare one's teeth at when one's brain has given up and turned to mush!


White Bones (Katie Maguire Book 1)
White Bones (Katie Maguire Book 1)
Price: £2.34

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pornography disguised as Grand Guignol, 12 May 2013
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While having an interesting plot and well-drawn characters, and excellently depicted settings and place, this book is simply egregious. Detailed description of torture on not one but two victims, as well as spurious pseudo-paranormal events made this novel turn my stomach. The sad thing is that there was no need for it. Informing us of the nature of the torture by stopping the description at the point of the torture beginning, and through the left remains, would have had the same effect without the unnecessary brutality and nausea of the actual physical events being detailed in excruciating complexity.

Such a pity this talented writer yielded to sensationalism rather than allow his undoubted skills to flourish.

Don't read it - and perhaps the next one will build on the best of his talents and give a pleasurable, rather than a sickening, frisson.


Walking into the Ocean (Peter Cammon Mystery)
Walking into the Ocean (Peter Cammon Mystery)
Price: £7.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Over-long, too detailed - but a terrific tale., 18 April 2013
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David Whellams has written a terrific plot, in unusual settings, and the tale is worth the read, but the effort one needs to expend is very great. It is too long, overwritten and unevenly paced, and uses foreign idiom and language - one wonders if the book were edited at all.

Endlessly boring and repetitive descriptions of the otherwise interesting settings only mirror the pages of Peter Cammon's inner thoughts, and I never want to read again the long and rambling accounts of his dreams. Extraneous detail mars the book and slows its pace, and makes it hard to distinguish between important plot devices and the rest. Some of that is, of course, essential to any detective story, but there is too much misleading information.

There is far too much concentration and detail of place and buildings. The descriptions (and there are many) of the same places - Peter's home, the divided garage, the windswept Jurassic Coast (a place I know and love well), where in unimportant rooms people stand, the persistent detail of the time of day - do not add to the plot and slow the pace to almost a standstill.

The minor characters are sometimes well-drawn (Tommy, Joan, Hamm) but often too sketchy for the weight they bear in the story (Sarah, Sam, Mayta). Peter Cannon's character (the Scotland Yard semi-retired Chief Inspector) is hard to grasp. He is cerebral, contradictory, and it becomes difficult to understand his reasoning or the affection others have for him. Too often there is not enough evidence given for us to be able to follow his 'Eureka' moments.

To add to this, the book and characters are set in the UK (with some excursions abroad) but is clearly written in trans-Atlantic English. 'Gotten' instead of 'had', 'dove' instead of 'dived', 'in back' instead of 'in the back', 'out the window' instead of 'out of the window' grate on an English ear, and the reason for them is not explained.

Getting titles wrong is unforgiveable. 'Detective' rather than 'Detective Inspector' is plain misinformed, and police procedure, while often mentioned, is not always correct or believable either.

Much of what little action there is takes place either when Peter is unconscious or out of it for some other reason, which led me to think that Whellans doesn't like writing action. That's OK if the plot didn't rely on action, but it does. If you want action scenes in a novel, write them properly!

By all means read the book, and you may well enjoy it, but be prepared to bear with its faults and persevere with it. I'd be interested to see what others think!


Agatha Raisin Omnibus: The Quiche of Death, The Potted Gardener, The Vicious Vet and The Walkers of Dembley
Agatha Raisin Omnibus: The Quiche of Death, The Potted Gardener, The Vicious Vet and The Walkers of Dembley
Price: £13.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, good plotting - but annoying, too, and unlikely relationships with the police, 4 Mar. 2013
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Agatha Raisin is an unlovely middle-aged woman, inclined to bursts of temper, with a waspish manner and a feisty temperament. She has retired from a prosperous life as a PR in her own business and settled in the Cotswolds. She keeps coming across murders, and solving them with the occasional help of her neighbour, James, whom she fancies like mad and who left her at the altar after discovering she was married. Not, then, the sort of dream woman that other women envy - apart from her wealth.

There are a few believable characters in the noverls - the vicar's wife, (who is cleverly and well portrayed), Bill the policeman, Roy, the camp ex-employee, and James, who clearly has the good sense not to let his feelings loose in the incapable hands of Agatha. She smokes, by the way, and wears far too much gloopy make-up.

I find I dislike her intensely, which mars my enjoyment of the books, of course.

The plots are clever, the Cotswolds portrayed with love, and the writing literate, so that's fine, though the endless descriptions of Agatha's internal dilemmas and aberrant behaviour in social situations grate on me. Rarely, they are very, very funny - and I have laughed out loud sometimes. More often, though, the to- and fro-ing, not only of Agatha's and James' actual travels, but also their passions and deliberations, are not only annoying, confusing, and repetitious - but boring. Unrequited love is dreadfully dreary in real life and in fiction. If it is designed to make the reader care about the outcome, it does not succeed.

The relationships between Agatha and James, and the local police, are - frankly - total nonsense, but then, I doubt Ms Beaton intends us to take any of these novels as realistic.

So why I am going to finish the series? Well, like many middle-aged, middle-class, middle-brow women, I love English detective stories, and there simply aren't enough good ones to keep my Kindle full and my bedtime reading sorted. These are not good novels in their own right, unlike PD James', Peter Robinson's, Marc Billingham, and even Peter James'.

Perhaps I should stop moaning and write one myself!.


The Circus (An Inspector Carlyle Novel)
The Circus (An Inspector Carlyle Novel)
Price: £2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Muddled plot, too many characters, lazy echos of current events, 17 Feb. 2013
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I have really enjoyed Craig's earlier John Carlyle novels, but this - oh dear! Until now, Carlyle has been a little bit rebellious, quirky, but fundamentally a good solid cop. Now he is stroppy, conniving and obsessed and it doesn't suit him or make me want to continue following his career. Craig has always referenced current events, but here the references are too many and too 'in your face'. I put up with them in the earlier books because of Carlyle's character, but with that changed from likeable to bloody-minded I find the current events references laughable. It's just lazy plotting on the part of a detective story writer, and not worthy of Craig.

I also find that the minor characterisation inconsistent; one can accept that in the more intimate depictions of Carlyle (though I don't like the way he's going, as I've said) but in minor characters it's muddling and lazy. Joe is now a cipher, and Simpson, rather than being subtly drawn, is just risible.

I was very disappointed in this book, and hope Craig's higher standards resurface in the next one.


Friendly Fire: A Spider Shepherd short story (Dan Shepherd series)
Friendly Fire: A Spider Shepherd short story (Dan Shepherd series)
Price: £0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure, 4 Feb. 2013
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I don't think Stephen Leather has written a poor Spider Shepherd adventure yet, and this is no different. It's exciting, believable, and - above all - well written. Others in the same genre are not so well written, in my view - but still worth a read, especially the Ben Hope books.


The Racketeer
The Racketeer
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Taut, crisp - Grisham at his best, 8 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Racketeer (Kindle Edition)
I loved this latest Grisham. After the last two (which were highly untypical) it's good that he's back at his best. The novel was crisply written, with an excellent and intelligible plot - as good as 'The Pelican Brief', I thought. I hope someone films it soon.


Death Comes to Pemberley: Enhanced Edition
Death Comes to Pemberley: Enhanced Edition
Price: £1.89

1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment comes to Pemberly, 4 Oct. 2012
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This book is not worthy of P D James - the story is unbelievable, the diminution of Darcy's personality and character woeful, and the lack of development of Elizabeth a missed opportunity. The failure to maintain the timbre, language and voice of Austen is completely unforgiveable. Surely sequels, especially of such a loved and well-read novel, should build on the original and not destroy it. I was so very disappointed that one of my favourite and admired authors should write so badly here, especially as it was clearly a labour of love, though, sadly, not of judgment. I cannot recommend your reading it on any basis whatsoever.Death Comes to Pemberley


John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Liquid Shine Color Glaze 190 ml
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Liquid Shine Color Glaze 190 ml

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb colouring and shine, 13 Aug. 2012
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I - and I know many others - were gutted when this product went off the market. I wrote to the manufacturers, complained bitterly, joined in a petition - nothing. Then it came back, slightly disguised with another name, but the same stuff, same bottle, same brilliance! If you have grey hairs (lots or some) this product will cover them provided you use it every time you wash your hair, and it will make your hair shiny and pliable, which is essential to combat the frizziness and dryness that comes with grey hair. I use a coloured shampoo from Superdrug (lots of shades - 'Colour Effects') and together with this Colour Glaze, my hair is not at all grey. This method is so much more natural looking than dye, because your normal colour variations remain, and your hair doesn't look dyed because it is not flat and dull looking. I can't praise this product enough (and it smells deliciously of chocolate!)


Lewis - Series 6 [DVD]
Lewis - Series 6 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Whately
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £9.79

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Morse, 20 May 2012
This review is from: Lewis - Series 6 [DVD] (DVD)
I never thought I would actually see Morse surpassed, but I think Lewis is more intelligent, better acted, and more subtle. Kevin Whately is a superb actor; his range of expression and mood are excellently portrayed in his mobile and interesting face, and, since Lewis' character is less morose and grumpy than his erstwile mentor's, there is greater variety too. He has not replaced Morse with a look-alike - he is Morse grown up, approachable, with the same integrity but much more comfortable in his own skin.

His relationship with his sidekick, Hathaway, is played well by both actors, and the contrast between them clear but not laboured. Lawrence Fox is maturing as an actor, and the interplay between his character and Lewis' is clever, gentle, and watchable. Their differences are marked, but their essential shared morality and goodness shines out. As Hathaway learns more about himself, policing and life, he is getting a sense of humour, and understanding that his rough and ready Geordie boss knows far more about far more than he could have thought.

I love these shows. I am writing this after seeing the first two episodes in Lewis Series 6, and if the rest of the series is as good as these first two, buy this set! You certainly won't be disappointed.

Lewis - Series 6 [DVD]
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 3:39 PM BST


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