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Reviews Written by
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK)

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The Quiet Twin
The Quiet Twin
by Dan Vyleta
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Who can be trusted?, 11 April 2014
This review is from: The Quiet Twin (Paperback)
Set in Vienna in 1939 The Quiet Twin is set in a group of apartment blocks. Among the disparate characters are young Doctor Beer, a professor who has been accused of rape in the past, his hypochondriac niece, a mime artist, a janitor, a young hunchbacked girl and her alcoholic father and an oriental trumpeter. Everyone has secrets.

The professor’s dog is brutally killed and there has been a series on murders in the area. The police ask Doctor Beer for help. But these crimes are almost incidental to the book. The Quiet Twin is a subtle unfolding of the horror of the Nazi takeover of Austria. Everyone watches everyone else – who can be trusted?

The quote on the front of my copy says: “Resembles Hitchcock’s Rear Window rescripted by Dostoevsky and Kafka.” A brilliant summing up.

This is not an easy read in which the reader is fed spoonfuls of facts and information but it is beautifully written and one of the most compelling and disturbing novels I have read in ages.

Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
by Deborah Moggach
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Need cheering up? Then read this...., 11 April 2014
This review is from: Heartbreak Hotel (Paperback)
Russell “Buffy” Buffery is a retired actor. As a result of a rather colourful life he we find him living in straitened circumstances in a London flat. He is living alone although he has been married three times and has numerous children and step-children. Life in London has begun to pall so when an old friend dies and leaves him a Bed and Breakfast business in Wales he decides to move there and start a new life.

Of course, as with These Foolish Things, having a hotel in a novel is a great way of introducing lots of random characters into the mix. People can arrive, stay or disappear – they can even reappear as and when the plot needs them. So when Buffy decides to run Courses for Divorces the scene is set for all sorts of general mayhem.

It is very funny in parts and there are some genuinely serious reflections on loneliness and love. The reflections on ageing (and our attitude to ageing) are particularly pertinent.

This is a light, entertaining read – recommended for anyone who needs cheering up.

Koochi Speedstar Stroller (Primary Yellow)
Koochi Speedstar Stroller (Primary Yellow)
Price: 112.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone likes the colour!, 9 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to confess that I was a little worried about the colour of this stroller - a very vivid yellow. However everyone loves it and it has received lots of compliments. The whole design is very well thought out resulting in an attractive and easy to use stroller. We particularly like the neat way the cover fits snuggly around our toddler making him cosy and draught-free.

The only negative points are that the storage net is a bit small and the safety straps a bit fiddly to do up. But all else is really excellent. It is fairly light (but still feels strong) and easy to fold up for travelling.

Would recommend this to anyone looking for a stroller.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Baby Board Books)
Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Baby Board Books)
by Annie Kubler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to like?, 5 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
How can a book with so few pages and only a couple of dozen words deserve 5 stars? Well, the youngest member of our tribe just loves it. He turns the pages, sways backwards and forwards and enjoys listening to the song.

It also includes the verses about the crocodile and the lion - new to me. My own children don't remember these so perhaps they are a recent addition?

Anyway, the pictures are simple and gorgeous and this board book is (so far!) proving to be very robust.

The Boy in the River: A shocking true story of ritual murder and sacrifice in the heart of London
The Boy in the River: A shocking true story of ritual murder and sacrifice in the heart of London
by Richard Hoskins
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing book with a humane and generous heart...., 5 April 2014
When the unidentified torso of a young boy was found in the Thames in 2001 the police soon found their investigation at a standstill. Who was he? Where had he come from? Why had no-one reported him missing? Richard Hoskins was asked to help because he had a considerable amount of knowledge on African religious beliefs and practices as well as having lived in the Congo.

What follows is a compelling and distressing story. Helped by some brilliant forensic evidence they were able to locate where the child has probably come from and some of the people he had been in contact with. There were many false trails along the way. We share in the frustrations of the police as they try to pin down characters who seem to move like quicksilver between countries and continents, changing identities and alibis as they go.

Following the Adam case Dr. Hoskins was asked to take part in other similar shocking investigations – which although he found compelled to assist he nonetheless paid a high price emotionally.

Dr. Hoskins is an excellent writer and the descriptions of the Congo and Kinshasa are superb – the noise, smell and dirt leap from the page. Much of it reads like fiction and I sometimes had to remind myself that these things had really happened.

An important, disturbing book but with a humane and generous heart.

The King's Grave: The Search for Richard III
The King's Grave: The Search for Richard III
by Philippa Langley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable account......, 1 April 2014
This is a very readable account of the search for the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park. The chapters alternate between the account of getting together the team that sets about the actual excavation and search for the remains and the historical background of Richard and his reign. It was generally believed that following his death at the battle of Bosworth Richard's body was taken to Leicester and probably hastily buried in (or near) the Greyfriars Priory. A car park now covered the presumed site of the priory so this was a logical place to begin the search. I was a little put off in the early part of the book when Philippa Langley describes walking across the car park and getting a strange sensation. "I had goose-bumps, so much so that even in the sunshine I felt cold to my bone. And I knew in my innermost being that Richard's body lay here." Not a very scientific start!

However the search continued in a much more rational way and if it was not for the determination and drive of Philippa Langley and the Richard III Society then the bones would have forever lain undiscovered. The evidence from the bones was fascinating and the results give us another piece of the puzzle of the complexities of Richard.

Although this book is popular history it is very well reference and indexed. The family trees and the time-line at the beginning are both very useful, too.

Some Tame Gazelle (VMC)
Some Tame Gazelle (VMC)
by Barbara Pym
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Something to love, oh, something to love......., 29 Mar 2014
"Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh, something to love."

Some Tame Gazelle is Barbara Pym's first novel - published in 1950 but started before the war and set in 1930s. It is a gently comic picture of village life that has the local church at its centre. Like Jane Austen, Pym writes about a small world sharply observed. Harriet and Belinda are spinster sisters who have rejected various offers of marriage but enjoy "crushes" on the church clergy. Any newcomer is eagerly awaited and his looks, manners and general demeanour discussed at length. The humour is gentle but laced with some very incisive comments on the way in which the men in the book are only able to function because of the abilities of the women around them.
Belinda is in love with Archdeacon Hoccleve - but is probably realises that it is more satisfactory to love him at a distance. He is an increasingly obnoxious character who constantly complains about how busy he is, how little time he has for any leisure and is unable to have a holiday -but at the same time he barely fulfills his statutory duties and resents many of the tasks that a member of the clergy is expected to carry out.

On the surface this is a cosy tale of country folk but is in fact so much more - unrequited love, petty jealousies, male/female relationships and class snobberies.

Barbara Pym is a literary treasure and all her books are joys to be savoured.

The House of Dolls
The House of Dolls
by David Hewson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conventional and workmanlike....., 29 Mar 2014
This review is from: The House of Dolls (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The House of Dolls is a very readable and enjoyable police procedural crime novel. Pieter Vos has retired from his job as an Amsterdam detective following the disappearance of his daughter three years previously. He is haunted by the idea that some clue was missed and that somehow he has let her down. When the daughter of a local politician disappears in similar circumstances Pieter finds himself drawn back into the investigation. The plot moves along at a cracking pace and the descriptions of Amsterdam are vivid. Pieter is particularly perturbed by the way the criminal fraternity of the city is changing. The ordinary decent Amsterdam criminals followed a set code but the newer (often immigrant) gangsters are carving out their own unpredictable world.

David Hewson (who wrote the book version of The Killing) obviously has very good writing credentials. The words I would use to describe The House of Dolls are conventional and workmanlike. Because there is just so must of this type of literature around it is becoming increasingly difficult to produce something really fresh. It is a somewhat formulaic – there is a policeman with “issues”. He tends not to follow all the required protocol and has difficult relations with his ex-partner.

This feels as if it has been written with a TV series in mind. The chapters are short and read like scenes in a drama.
So, not especially original, but nonetheless a very entertaining read.

Person of Interest
Person of Interest
by Theresa Schwegel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.88

2.0 out of 5 stars Not very compelling...., 22 Mar 2014
This review is from: Person of Interest (Paperback)
There are two separate threads running through this book. Craig is a policeman taking part in undercover work on illegal gambling/drugs/gangs. He is using his own cash reserves to take part in card games. He has grown apart from his wife Lesley who thinks he is having an affair. She finds herself drawn to her daughter Eivy’s boyfriend Nico. The daughter is particularly brattish and spoiled.

The lack of communication between them leads to a rift – culminating in the rape of Lesley. Here the plot becomes more unlikely as she decides to keep the rape a secret.

I did not find this book very compelling. The plot was very complicated and confusing. There was lots of torture, shootings, rape and general mayhem. One problem for me was that none of the characters were very likeable – in fact most were downright unpleasant.

No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.70

4.0 out of 5 stars A very high body count...., 22 Mar 2014
This review is from: No Country for Old Men (Paperback)
Sheriff Bell is a decent man of Republican Christian views who wonders how things have become so much worse in law enforcement. When he was first appointed he dealt with minor offences. It is now the eighties and the drug wars wreak havoc across his county.

The writing is very spare and we are never given a clear picture of exactly what is at the root all the violence – I assume the writer wants to put the reader in the same position as Sheriff Bell. The dialogue is really good but the best sections are Bell’s musings at the beginning of chapters.

There is a very high body count and lots of psychopathic violence. I appreciated the skill of the writing but can’t really say I enjoyed No Country for Old Men – much too depressing.

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