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Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction
Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction
by Maxim Jakubowski
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guide to the mean streets, 27 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you enjoy reading crime fiction you'll probably love this book. Editor Maxim Jakubowski, crime writer and retailer himself, has collaborated with various crime cognoscenti to produce an in-depth study of twenty-one key locations from the crime novels by the best writers in the genre. From Arthur Conan Doyle's London to Chandler's Los Angeles, via Rankin's Edinburgh and Mankell's Sweden, they are all explored here in some detail.

Sidebars include information on related film and TV treatments, and relevant websites, and a map is provided for each of the locations, showing where various incidents in the novels took place. The detail of the maps is not high, but sufficient to show the main landmarks. Higher resolution, if required, could always be obtained by using Google Earth, or similar online facility.

There are some authors whose work I regret not seeing here. There's no David Goodis and his Philadelphian skid-rows, and there's nothing of James Sallis's Louisiana, but to include many more locations and writers would have demanded a much larger work. As it is, the book provides a valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the locations in which some of the world's best crime fiction is set, and might even introduce readers to some authors and their detectives with whom they are not already familiar. It is therefore highly recommended.


The Alice Behind Wonderland
The Alice Behind Wonderland
by Simon Winchester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alice through the camera lens, 27 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A short book, just 100 pages long, centering on a photograph of a young girl, Alice Liddell, taken by Charles Dodgson in 1858. Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was a mathematician at Oxford University and a friend of the Liddell family. Simon Winchester's book investigates Dodgson and his friendship with Alice, and explains how a story he made up for Alice and her siblings developed into one of the classic children's books.

Also described in some deatil are the early photographic processes and aparatus, and this is a fascinating part of the book.

All in all, a most welcome and enlightening study, especially interesting to all lovers of Lewis Carroll's work.


The Tunnel (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Tunnel (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ernesto R. Sábato
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Existential classic, 10 Jun. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An intense read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story of an artist's obsession with a woman he sees gazing intently at a small but significant part of one of his paintings on display in an art gallery. His compulsion in tracking down the mysterious woman fills the first part of this short novel. The remainder examines his eventual relationship with her, and the neurotic behaviour it provokes. A powerful work, written in 1948 in the existential tradition, set in Buenos Aires, where the author lives. This new edition is very welcome. It includes an introduction by Colm Toibin, although this was not available in the proof copy I read.


A Tiny Bit Marvellous
A Tiny Bit Marvellous
by Dawn French
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing, 10 Jun. 2011
This review is from: A Tiny Bit Marvellous (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fan of Dawn French. I love her TV work and I really enjoyed reading her autobiography. So I was looking forward to reading this, her first novel, but was most disappointed. I found the plot shallow, and the relentless vernacular dialogue irritating. I'm sorry, but it's just not the sort of thing I like to read, and I admit to abandoning it before the end.


Staedtler Triplus Fineliners 20 Assorted Colours With Magic Zip Pencil Case 334ZPC20 (Pencil case color may vary)
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners 20 Assorted Colours With Magic Zip Pencil Case 334ZPC20 (Pencil case color may vary)

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great set, 19 Nov. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this set of pens for a younger member of the family, who is just of an age to appreciate them. She was absoluteley delighted with the wide range of colours and was fascinated by the unique case. We received the orange and yellow option. The pens are a delight. The fineness of the line was much appreciated, as was the easy flowing quality of the ink. They are currently being used for much writing and fine illustration work. Extremely good value for money and definitely recommended as a surprise gift.


Lost Texas Tapes, Volume 5
Lost Texas Tapes, Volume 5
Offered by Disco100
Price: £14.36

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One to avoid, 14 Feb. 2010
Despite being credited to "Lightnin' Hopkins & Friends" only two of the eight tracks on this album feature Lightnin', and they are "Back In My Mother's Arms" and "Chicken Minnie."

The other six tracks definitely do not involve Lightnin' Hopkins in any way. "John Hardy" and "Goodnight Irene" are Leadbelly recordings made for Moses Asch in 1943, while "One Meat Ball" and "Sorrow To My Heart" are 1944 recordings by Josh White. The other two -- "Chicka Choca Shalali" and "Blow Out The Candle" are by a white performer who apparently worked under the name of "Irish O'Malley."

What a rip-off!

This material, together with that on the other four "Lost Texas Tapes" albums, more recently appeared on the Koch 2-CD set The Little Darlin' Sound of Lightnin' Hopkins: Lightnin' Strikes Twice (see my review there). Another one to avoid!


Lightnin' Strikes Twice - Live
Lightnin' Strikes Twice - Live

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One to avoid, 6 Feb. 2010
I must be one of Lightnin' Hopkins' biggest fans, but in my opinion this is probably the worst collection of his (alleged) work ever compiled. In the liner notes the producer, Aubrey Mayhew, explains that he recorded these sessions by Lightnin' in Houston, Texas in 1967 and 1968. However, listening to the tracks on disc two it became apparent to me that six of them definitely do not involve Lightnin' in any way. "John Hardy" and "Goodnight Irene" are Leadbelly recordings made for Moses Asch in 1943, while "One Meat Ball" and "Sorrow To My Heart" are 1944 recordings by Josh White. The other two -- "Chicka Choca Shalali" and "Blow Out The Candle" are by a white performer who apparently worked under the name of "Irish O'Malley." There is no mention of such other artists in the liner notes, merely details of Mayhew's recording sessions with Lightnin'.

Despite the claim that all the material was recorded in 1967-68, it transpires that nine of the same tracks had appeared on Pickwick LP 3013, recorded in 1964 and released in August 1965. Six other tracks on the CDs comprised Guest Star LP 1459, recorded live at the Bird Lounge, Houston in 1964. Song titles on this Koch release have been changed, but the music is the same, except for the fact that some intros have been removed. Furthermore, the track on the first CD, "I Wish I Was A Baby" is identical to "Back In My Mother's Arms," on the second CD of the set.

So, of the 38 tracks on this Koch release, 15 are known to have been recorded by Lightnin' in 1964 and released shortly afterwards. Another 6 titles, although falsely credited to Hopkins, were recorded by Leadbelly, Josh White, and "Irish O'Malley." A further 9 items are from an unknown session, with "Curley Lee" (actually Billy Bizor) taking the lead on 4 of them and Hopkins just talking on another 3. One track on the second CD is a repeat of a number from the first. This leaves only 9 tracks out of the entire 38 which feature a solo Lightnin' Hopkins singing and playing on recordings previously unheard -- apart from the earlier incarnation of all of this material on the "Lost Texas Tapes" albums.

What a mess! What could Koch have been thinking of to issue such an inferior, misleading collection? I'd advise any potential first-time purchasers of Lightnin's music -- or indeed, any Lightnin' fan -- to give this set a miss and seek out the far superior products such as these from the Aladdin, Gold Star, RPM, SIW, and Arhoolie labels: The Complete Aladdin Recordings, Gold Star Sessions Vol.1, Gold Star Sessions Vol.2, Jake Head Boogie, Hello Central: the Best of Lightnin' Hopkins, Texas Blues Man.


At the Chime of a City Clock
At the Chime of a City Clock
by D. J. Taylor
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The seedy side of 1930s London, 5 Feb. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A tale of seedy happenings in the London of the 1930s, populated by jewel thieves, society girls, aspiring writers, and downright chancers. The author has clearly been influenced by the works of Julian Maclaren-Ross, James Curtis, and even Patrick Hamilton. This book is in a similar style, employing many of the same themes - but it's none the worse for that.

I enjoyed the book a lot. It is well written and entertaining. If you enjoy it too then I'd recommend that you check out the other authors I've mentioned for more of the same. And vice-versa!


The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties
The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties
by Helen Weaver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential memoir of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, 18 Jan. 2010
In his autobiographical novel DESOLATION ANGELS Jack Kerouac wrote about returning to New York from a trip to Mexico City in the fall of 1956 and straight away meeting up with the young Ruth Heaper, who was to become his new girlfriend. Ruth Heaper was Kerouac's pseudonym for Helen Weaver, who now tells her own story of that encounter, and much more, in this long-awaited book. Having read some of Helen's reminiscences of those times in Dan Wakefield's NEW YORK IN THE FIFTIES I was hungry for more, and THE AWAKENER certainly delivers. Not only do we get a blow-by-blow account of her times with Kerouac, and later with Lenny Bruce, but also much fascinating background material on what it was like living in Greenwich Village in the 1950s. As well as Kerouac, Helen Weaver knew his friends Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lucien Carr, and others, and there's much here about them, including a wonderful description of the crazy genius who was the bohemian ethnomusicologist and experimental filmmaker, Harry Smith.

New to me was Kerouac's liking for the emerging rock 'n' roll music of the time. I knew that Jack was mainly a jazz enthusiast, with an especial interest in the bebop sounds of Bird Parker, Monk, and Diz, as well as the singing of Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, but I was unaware that he also enjoyed, with Helen, the pop music of Elvis Presley and Screaming Jay Hawkins, and the musical My Fair Lady. That was a revelation.

The final sections of the book present Helen's own appraisal of Kerouac as a writer and his growing impact on the literary world. The whole story is extremely engaging, told sincerely and with some humour. I learned a lot more about the Beats and the times from reading this essential work, and I recommend it unreservedly to all who are interested in the characters and events of that unique period.


Island Of Lost Girls
Island Of Lost Girls
by Jennifer McMahon
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down the rabbit hole of mystery, 9 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Island Of Lost Girls (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a gripping mystery-thriller that needs to be read in one sitting. The story involves three interwoven families over a period from 1993 to 2006. The story-teller, Rhonda, appears to witness the abduction of a young girl by a white rabbit. Attempting to unravel the mystery has Rhonda reconsidering some troubling events in her own past.

I found the jumping between time zones a bit confusing to begin with, together with the inclusion of notes from the 'White Rabbit'. But after a while I got used to it and became gripped by the story.

I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a mystery, with an unexpected twist at the end.


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