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Allegra (Luxembourg)

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The Summer House
The Summer House
by Santa Montefiore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unconscious humour, 26 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Summer House (Paperback)
I read the first 100 or so pages of this book when I found it lying around (apparently never opened) in a holiday rental apartment. The writing is worthy of Barbara Cartland, with one cliché after another: sweeping lawns, towering beech trees, fine, sturdy pillars, large logs entwined with ivy crackl[ing]in the grate, [a face that stood] out like a ripe peach on a winter tree, soft creamy skin, an unruly cascade of blonde curls ... And then, suddenly, the author comes up with this gem of (presumably) unconscious humour: 'He had studied at Cirencester Agricultural College, for while his father had found the life of a country squire unexciting, David was as comfortable in the land as a potato.' A mistress of bathos, indeed! And does she have to keep referring to the vicar, irritatingly, as 'Reverend Morley'? The clergy are addressed and referred to in ordinary conversation by their name - Mr Morley - and addressed on envelopes as 'THE Reverend Morley'. 'Reverend So-and-So' should be reserved for Postman Pat; the landed gentry would certainly know the correct way to talk about the vicar. I can't comment on the plot, as I didn't finish the book. I hope the next occupant of the apartment liked it better than I did.


Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice
by J. A. Jance
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Beaumont and Brady better kept in separate worlds, 13 Aug 2013
This review is from: Fire and Ice (Paperback)
I am a great fan of J A Jance, finding her plots gripping and her detective characters engaging and believable. However, I enjoyed this novel less than most of her others. The device of bringing together the lead detectives from her two main series, J P Beaumont and Joanna Brady, (the second time this has been done) seemed contrived on this occasion, and led to a plot which I found over-convoluted, with too many story lines, and populated with far too many characters, whom I had trouble keeping track of and telling apart. The endless changes of venue and point of view were irritating, and it seemed as if the author's main aim was to bring the two detectives together rather than solving the (not very mysterious) mysteries and resolving the plots. I hope J A Jance will not try this device again (the novel's ending happily suggests that she won't), and I look forward to the two series continuing in parallel rather than in collision.


The Expats
The Expats
by Chris Pavone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 17 July 2013
This review is from: The Expats (Paperback)
I live in Luxembourg. When I first saw the reviews of this book in local publications, I assumed it was the work of a bored expat, and doubted it would be worth reading. Recently I saw the rave reviews here on Amazon and ordered it after all. Big mistake! I can only assume the rave reviews are written by friends of the author. I have just abandoned the book a quarter of the way through. The dialogue and characterisation are admittedly good, and the sense of place well conveyed (Luxembourg is accurately depicted in considerable detail, including the grumpy shopkeepers, dreary weather and American Women's Club of Luxembourg). But the story line is all over the place - one minute the characters are in Washington, the next in Paris, the next in Luxembourg. I presume this is meant to add to the suspense, and that the threads will ultimately come together in the promised stunning denouement. But I can't be bothered to wade through the confusing leaps of time and place, not to mention the over-hasty revelations, to get there. As so often, I feel that this talented first-time author (apart, apparently, from a largely blank wine book) should have been given much more editorial guidance in curbing his misguided plotting.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2014 11:24 PM BST


The Child's Child
The Child's Child
by Barbara Vine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly lacking, 10 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Child's Child (Hardcover)
I find it hard to believe that The Child's Child was actually written by Barbara Vine, or Ruth Rendell. The characters are so wooden, the murder so strangely unmotivated, the message so embarrassingly obvious and, above all, the writing so clumsy and repetitive, that it is difficult to make any connection between this book and Ruth Rendell at her most brilliant. Is it possible that the book was ghost-written by another author on the basis of an idea by Barbara Vine?


The Lost Years
The Lost Years
Price: £3.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Great plotting, under-differentiated characters, 28 April 2013
This review is from: The Lost Years (Kindle Edition)
I'd like to start by saying that the typographical quality of the Kindle edition is magnificent: unlike many other e-books, this one is not marred by a single typo. Fantastic! As to the novel itself, much though it is a formulaic re-serving of the usual ingredients, Mary Higgins Clark does not disappoint when it comes to her great forte - plotting. The characters, however, are not well differentiated. I found the murdered man's four male friends quite hard to tell apart, especially as they all have generic Anglo-Saxon names. The brief outline of their characters that the author gives us is not enough to leave the reader with a mental image of a rounded character. Oh, and am I alone in feeling that I've had more than enough of Alvirah Meehan and her wretched sunburst brooch?


Guardian Style: Third edition
Guardian Style: Third edition
by David Marsh (Guardian)
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Great style guide, shame about the paper, 21 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I agree with all the praise for the style guide. But I do wish they hadn't chosen to print it on that horrible scratchy paper that sets my fingertips on edge every time I consult it.


Tideline
Tideline
by Penny Hancock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, 6 Jan 2013
This review is from: Tideline (Paperback)
The writing is good, particularly when it comes to evoking place and social nuance. That said, the Thames theme is perhaps getting a little hackneyed, and Dickens does a much better job in Our Mutual Friend. The plot is gripping and suspenseful, especially to begin with, but I became rather tired of the Seb flashbacks, which came as an unwelcome interruption to the main plot. There was an artificiality to them, and a confusing sameness (all that crossing the Thames on rafts), and they turned out to be a very obvious plot device leading into the surprising end. Surprising, but also in many respects very puzzling. I was not at all sure what had happened at the very end, which was particularly incongruous in a novel where everything else is made very plain - rammed home, even, at times. I agree with other reviewers that the plot is derivative: I was reminded of John Fowles's The Collector in addition to the other works mentioned by them. At times, also, I must say that I felt a little bit soiled by the dirtiness and cruelty of what was going on in the novel and asked myself why I was reading this book. The answer, no doubt, is that the author is very good at suspense. But I don't think I'll be reading anything else by Penny Hancock.


The King of Lies
The King of Lies
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel in its genre, 17 May 2012
This review is from: The King of Lies (Kindle Edition)
The King of Lies is a magnificent novel of its kind. It contains beautiful prose like this: 'It was warm in the sun. I could see the park, and the oak trees made music of the wind', and Chandleresque passages: 'The house was huge, with marble fountains, twelve-foot doors, and a four-room guest house. A plaque beside the door announced that Hambly House had been built circa 1788. I thought maybe I should genuflect'. The characterisation is subtle, the plot grips the reader to the very end, the prose is rhythmic, varied and finely judged, the imagery arresting without being strained. I found it very hard to put down, and am delighted to have stumbled across such a fine new mystery writer.


Down River
Down River
Price: £5.49

1.0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe, 17 May 2012
This review is from: Down River (Kindle Edition)
I find it hard to believe that Down River came from the same pen as The Last Child and The King of Lies, which I thought a magnificent novel of its kind. The King of Lies contains beautiful prose like this: 'It was warm in the sun. I could see the park, and the oak trees made music of the wind', and Chandleresque passages: 'The house was huge, with marble fountains, twelve-foot doors, and a four-room guest house. A plaque beside the door announced that Hambly House had been built circa 1788. I thought maybe I should genuflect'. The characterisation is subtle, the plot grips the reader to the very end, the prose is varied and finely judged, the imagery arresting without being strained. Down River is so boring and turgidly written, the characters so unengaging, that I have just abandoned the book after reading just one tenth of it. What a puzzle! What a disappointment!


In the Woods
In the Woods
by Tana French
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A great writer - in the wrong genre, 15 Oct 2011
This review is from: In the Woods (Paperback)
I agree with all the other reviewers who have expressed disappointment at the very inconclusive ending of this novel. The children in the woods was the mystery that I wanted to see solved. Ironically, I found myself caring very much less about who killed Katy. In fact I found it rather difficult to tell the various different suspects apart, especially the archeologists, and felt a huge sense of anti-climax when that mystery was solved. And, much though the policeman narrator may have claimed that the reader, like him, hadn't seen the twist coming, I'm sorry to say that I had (not least because of the many hints strewn by the author along the path). It seemed to me that the author had invested nearly all of her terrific writing skills in the old mystery - the children in the woods - and that the Katy mystery was almost peripheral (even the title of the novel seems to bear that idea out). Certainly it is the woods, the past, the memories, the pain of the children's disappearance that grip the reader's imagination. My own conclusion is that Tana French, who really does write beautifully, might do best to give up on writing murder mysteries, where plot is crucial, and turn instead to writing straightforward psychological novels.


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