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Ewen McPherson

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The Bloody Meadow (The Korolev Series)
The Bloody Meadow (The Korolev Series)
by William Ryan
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Pekkala Plus Ten, Renko Minus Fifty, 29 July 2013
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There is a...fascination about many things Soviet, not least of which was how could there be "Law" when The Law itself was lawless by the standards of the West ?

So, we have three Soviet Detectives. Pekkala, The Tsar's Emerald Eye, now working for an almost cuddly Stalin in the early days of the Soviet Union. At the end, we have Arkady Renko, there at the death and into the new Russia.

Policemen are always "good" men, aren't they, wherever they are. They are all incapable of holding down marriages, drink too much, have strange relationships with their pet pathologists. Tick, Tick, Tick. It's almost like a template.

And now being sketched around the template for the Thirties, Captain Alexei Korolev. The smell of purge hangs in the air, children denouncing their parents and a grey state straight out of 1984. He believes in the Church and Communism in almost equal measures, is unfailingly honest and straight, and always gets his man. Incorruptible ? But comrades, the only corruption is the corruption of the counter-revolutionaries ! Korolev makes sure that his Bible is hidden and that if the thinks about anything else than being a model Soviet Citizen, it had better not show.

Korolev has previously been useful to shadowy figures in "The Organs of the State" ("The Holy Thief") and when the mistress of the People's Commissar Ezhov turns up apparently dead on the set of her latest propaganda film, who else but Korolev is flung on the first flight down to Odessa, where with the help of sparky young female Comrade Militia Sergeant Slivka, he finds the truth through doing a good impersonation of the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.

Well. A truth. A truth useful to Comrade Colonel Rodinkov, Ezhov and the Soviet Union. Two plus Two equals whatever the Party says it makes, even if Korolev gets his man (or woman) again.

Three different Soviet detectives. It's difficult not to draw parallels and probably difficult for the later authors not to have at least been influenced by Martin Cruz Smith. There are a lot of similarities and a few passages in Pekkala and Korolev that could have been straight re-writes from "Gorky Park".

None the worse for that, and worth the effort. Looking forward to "The Twelfth Department" coming out in PB.

The Gods of Atlantis (Blackwood & Harrington 3)
The Gods of Atlantis (Blackwood & Harrington 3)
by Alan K. Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thomas and Sophia are back in a Slightly Disappointing Pot Boiler, 21 May 2013
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Blackwood and Harrington are back. Having decided to go on holiday together (gasp - what would Her Majesty say ?) following their encounter with the Feaster From The Stars, where else would you go but to sunny Atlantis ? Of course, even before they are on the Dirigible, trouble is already afoot in the form of a note from Blackwood's old Archaeology Professor that "something has been found".....

It's a good enough story if somewhat predicatable. I'm not going to post any spoliers, other than to say that This Time, the Faeries have told them that they are on their own, and that Grandfather has had those Jolly Old Boys at Station X deliver them a James Bond Car (A whole 15 (!) Horsepower, that could travel as fast as 100 MPH, with a Maxim that pokes out of the beautifully panelled front).

There was something missing, though. It didn't have me wanting to plough on as I had with the other two in the series and I was a bit disappointed about that. Suspension of disbelief ? Familiarity ? Even given that it *was* Atlantis, it all just felt a little bit routine, almost as if I had read the plotline (and actually seen it in a few films) several times before and the words Blackwood and Harrington were dropped in at the appropriate points. You couldn't say that about the first two in the series.

[A bit of an inconsistency, though: The Preview in the back of "Feaster" seems to be a little inconsistent with the story as portrayed in the actual book. Almost as if Alan Baker had to re-write it a bit ?]

I'd like to see more of Blackwood and Harrington and the tales of the Empire where it looks like the Queen will never set, but where I would happily give the first two novels a five, this one gets a grudging four.

Steepletone Penguin Shower Radio - Blue
Steepletone Penguin Shower Radio - Blue

1.0 out of 5 stars Just Say No, 8 Jan. 2013
OK, I didn't buy this for myself, but this came from Santa after I had suggested that my old and venerable shower radio could do with a replacement.

Fired it up, the tuning was appalling. The tuning "dial" is one of the arms. It seemed unable to stay in the place where it was tuned to, just kept sinking back down. OK, I only ever listen to the one AM station, so a little tape later, we were up and going.

Until I stuck it to the wall in the bathroom. Lasted about 30 seconds before plunging down with an almighty crash. But despite no apparent damage, it was as dead as a dodo.

Don't waste your money. If there was a Zero rating, this would get it.

Steinbeis Vision Paper 100 Percent Recycled 80gsm 500 Sheets per Ream A4 Natural White  - Ref 77178 (1 Ream)
Steinbeis Vision Paper 100 Percent Recycled 80gsm 500 Sheets per Ream A4 Natural White - Ref 77178 (1 Ream)
Offered by Star Online Store
Price: £19.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Want a New Printer - Use Steinbeis "ClassicWhite", 30 Jan. 2012
If I could rate this stuff at 0 Stars, I would.

Since my company, in a fit of "Lets save money and hit an ecomental target" ideas, forced replacement of our usual Cheap White Photocopier/Laser paper with this stuff, my life has been a misery. It doesn't matter. Inkjet, laserjet, colour, B&W, photocopier.Bought last week or five years ago. It has at best jammed in everything and at worst has so far accounted for the death of three very reliable printers and a photocopier and cost a good deal of money in having to replace fuser units in other more complex printers.

If you want to save the planet, donate to an environmental charity. If you want to tick boxes, tick them.

If you want to spend scarce money in a recession environment on new printers to keep the Chinese Economy afloat, use this stuff.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2014 9:15 AM BST

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