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piscator (London)

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The Devotion Of Suspect X
The Devotion Of Suspect X
by Keigo Higashino
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a genuinely absorbing puzzle, 11 Jan 2013
This book will appeal to fans of Agatha Christie and the more oldfashioned type of detective story. There isn't really a mystery about whodunnit, because we know that from the start, but the cover-up is as complicated as anyone could wish. There are several good things about this story- although the murder is violent, there are few horrible details, nobody is foulmouthed, which is very restful after most modern crime dramas,and there are lots of clues to a pretty subtle plot. It is like Agatha Christie as well in that the characterisation is minimal, but the motive maximal.Ideal for those who like a good think with their murders.


The Map
The Map
by T. S. Learner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars makes Dan Brown look good, 2 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Map (Paperback)
This is a truly dreadful book, badly conceived, badly plotted and badly written. Learner has taken a handful of sensationalist ingredients- an ancient map, a Jewish mystic, the Inquisition, the Spanish Civil War, Wicca and the CIA- and made a mishmash of them all. The hero, August, is one of those fantasy characters that are, for no apparent reason, irresistible to women. He has a strange collection of talents, no doubt a result of his having taken an imaginary course at Oxford- what Learner calls Classics and Oriental Studies. This apparently involves botany, but not much in the way of classical languages, because there's some very dodgy Latin wandering about this book. The story makes you lose the will to live- so many questions- why did Shimon set people chasing all over Europe looking for complicated gardens? why, if Tyson knew enough about Shimon's heraldic flowers to leave them lying about to taunt August, didn't he go to Cordoba in the first place? Why Olivia? And why, if August already knew about the Sephiroth, did we need the improbable Cockney Jew? Even in its own terms, the story makes no sense. The plan of the Sephiroth is a pattern, not a labyrinth. One doesn't get lost in it as there are lots of different ways around it, and it is supposed to be for the use of an ascetic spirituality, not a idle code made for fun. Learner herself gets fed up with it, using only three of the attributes and ignoring the rest.Other reviewers have mentioned the many mistakes in this book and they are wearisome. The Spanish Civil War is completely irrelevant to the mystery story and perhaps might have made a decentish book on its own, but its inclusion makes me wonder how much Learner's novel was influenced by that far superior fantasy, "El laberinto del fauno" -Pan's Labyrinth.I got this book for 15p, withdrawn from the local library. Don't buy it, even for 15p.


Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars should not have won the Booker, 29 Oct 2012
This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Hardcover)
I thought Wolf Hall was a dishonest book but had to admit that it was quite powerful. Given that Mantel has less interest, in this novel, in manipulating reader reaction to people she personally doesn't like, Bring up the Bodies is a bit closer to historical fact. However, this part of the, basically rather dull and far too often told, story of Henry VIII's increasing paranoia has no particuar ups and downs, so there isn't really a narrative arc and the reader just has to plod through it knowing that Anne Boleyn will get her comeuppance eventually. Mantel obviously took on board the earlier criticism of her very irritating and confusing use of "he" always to mean Cromwell, so now we often get "he, Thomas Cromwell", which is clearer but rather foolishly portentous. Cromwell himself is still viewed through something like his own eyes, calm, reasonable and basically decent, but this is nonsense: the made-up bits about his naming hawks after his daughters are just adding detail for distraction and a bit of a literary frisson. The Booker people will now probably feel obliged to give her a prize for the final novel in the trilogy, when Henry finally tires of Cromwell and blames him for Anne of Cleves.It isn't a prospect to look forward to.


A Question of Identity: Simon Serrailler Book 7 (Simon Serrailler 7)
A Question of Identity: Simon Serrailler Book 7 (Simon Serrailler 7)
by Susan Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.36

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 29 Oct 2012
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I greatly admire Susan Hill's novels and agree that the Simon Serrailler series is so much more than just a collection of detective stories. Unfortunately, it seems to me that A Question of Identity has lost the impetus of the earlier novels. It has several loose ends that make the plotting look perfunctory.There is some speculation as to why the murderer kills in the way he does, but nothing comes of this- no clue as to the previous life of the killer. The scene in which the murderer's sister-in-law contacts the police to find his whereabouts promises to have some bearing on the plot, but it doesn't- it makes no difference to anything. The circumstances in which the killer is finally identified and caught also are strained and unlikely- why would he need to look for the job and why should he just collapse? Increasingly it appears that Susan Hill is more interested in the Serrailler family than the crime story, which is fair enough, but in this novel the family is also rather arbitrarily portrayed. We have a bit of bad behaviour from the teenage boy, after a (surely unlikely?) visit by some film producers, a totally unconvincing departure into domestic violence and finally, which is the weakest part of all, Simon's romance with Rachel of the violet eyes, who must be the most boring person in the entire series. Apart from the fact that it is very difficult to work up any sympathy for their adulterous relationship, there is nothing to explain why this all-enveloping passion should have happened at all, as they seem to have nothing to say to each other.This is not Hill at her best. One often feels that she is happiest when she has an Issue to write about, and the experience of Cat with the hospice has been a good one that throws up different lights on the plot. In this novel there was a potential story about different people's relationships with old women, but somehow it didn't materialise.
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LEGO® Dino Coelophysis Ambush - 5882 with Storage Bag for storing your Lego®
LEGO® Dino Coelophysis Ambush - 5882 with Storage Bag for storing your Lego®

4.0 out of 5 stars a good little toy but a complete rip off for the bag, 22 Oct 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This is essentially the same item as an earlier model which comprises only the Lego pieces. You pay £20 more for the bag. Don't get this one, just buy the Lego.


A Red Herring Without Mustard (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY)
A Red Herring Without Mustard (FLAVIA DE LUCE MYSTERY)
by Alan Bradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 July 2012
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This novel gives the impression of having been carelessly written. Flavia doesn't speak like an English girl any more- we have drapes instead of curtains and faucets instead of taps. More importantly, her involvement in the crime is more like unjustifiable interference than before. In the first novel, she had good reasons for not telling the police what she knew, but in this one she has none. The introduction of a weird cult is rather forced, the motivation of the strange Porcelain is left unexplained, and there are too many arbitrary extras. Miss Mountjoy's uncle was the dead teacher whose story is part of "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie", but in this novel we are told that her uncle is now the old headmaster, just so that he can quite unrealistically give us some ancient gossip.Bradley is straining to find an occasion for chemistry, so the business with the fishy smell is introduced, but it doesn't have any actual role to play in the plot.If we lose patience with Flavia there is no point in the stories and now she is becoming an irritant. Not only does she spoil crime scenes, but she steals quite valuable things from her family in order to conduct experiments on them. This stops being charming after a while.


Maxwell Williams Microstoven Quiche Dish Red
Maxwell Williams Microstoven Quiche Dish Red

5.0 out of 5 stars a throughly useful dish, 27 July 2012
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I have been looking for a dish for tarte tatin which didn't cost the earth and this seems to be it. I was wary of using it on a hob but it performed very well and it's just the right size. The fluted edges give a pretty finish as well.


I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Mystery
by Alan Bradley
Edition: Paperback

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a good time for Flavia to stop investigating?, 27 July 2012
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This novel is slightly better than its predecessor, largely because it concerns irself more with the complicated relationship between Flavia and her family. The plot is, as usual, ridiculous but has a kind of appealing glow cast over it by the affectionate use of the country-house-snowed-up-in-winter machinery. The title also harks back to Agatha Christie's "The Mirror cracked from side to side" which also features a famous actress. But it doesn't hang together- the character of Phyllis seems to be made up of several contradictory elements, the motive for the murder is arbitrary, and there are odd characters that don't fit in at all. Above all, Flavia herself is becoming irritating: there is no reason why she should keep her information from the police and certainly no justification for interfering with evidence as she does. The chemistry part of it all is now largely irrelevant. It's time for Flavia to leave well alone.


Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
by Thomas Penn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable and thoroughly researched, 23 Jun 2012
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Henry VII is not an attractive figure, and Thomas Penn does not try to turn him into one.This book concentrates on the reign of the king rather than the previous history of Henry Richmond and his adventures. Written in a lively and readable way, it offers the enjoyment of a historical novel without the sentimentality and disregard for verifiable fact shown by other authors, such as Philippa Gregory, whose attempts to write engagingly about this period have resulted in hectic and fanciful characterisation, or Hilary Mantel, who has recourse to absolute fiction in order to justify her own prejudices.Penn describes the gradual decay of a hard and rather unimaginative man into a paranoid and miserable figure. He does not romanticise Henry but his description of the king's initial fears of pretenders to the throne is clearsighted and fair and the subsequent sorrows, of the death of prince Arthur and of the queen, Elizabeth of York, are treated with the sympathy they deserve. Henry VII was not a monster, although by the end he had become a sad and obsessed creature whom one pities as well as dislikes. That all of this is presented along with a huge amount of careful historical reference is a great tribute to Penn's achievement.His analysis of the emerging character of the young prince Henry (and tyrant in the making) is also measured and sympathetic. Thoroughly recommended.


The Event of Literature
The Event of Literature
by Terry Eagleton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.60

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good things but unstructured, 23 Jun 2012
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Terry Eagleton is (almost) always worth reading and this book begins very well. The opening chapter offers an analysis of the realist and nominalist philosophical positions, which is surprising and welcome because Eagleton explains how the difference between the two affects the way we compose and read literature. It's a very clear and convincing exposition which gets one's hopes up that the rest of the book will be as unusual and illuminating. Much of the initial impetus fades away, however, and although there are many very percipient, and very funny, passages about some topics, the rest of the book is really a series of comments on the work of other critics. Necessary though this presumably is, one feels that unless the reader is familiar with the huge number of writers Eagleton mentions, much of the comment is going to be rather uninteresting. There is an attempt to treat the subject of "literature" in sections, but beyond assigning chapter headings, the actual method, of quoting and refuting, or quoting and agreeing, is constant throughout.One gets the impression that Eagleton is dealing with matters he has long felt strongly about and is consequently unable to leave anything out, and even for the reasonably well-read person, this makes for some longeurs. I would have liked to have fewer critics and more Eagleton, more of the clear-sighted understanding evident in the first chapter, that what we ultimately believe about the world actually forms or alters the way we express it. Why do we need to produce this stuff called literature, rather than just imparting information to each other? Perhaps Terry Eagleton feels embarrassed to approach the big question: the impression is that he just tired of it.


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