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Saracen's Bob (Norfolk, England)

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Murder At The College
Murder At The College
Price: £1.44

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well presented puzzler, 21 Dec. 2014
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This is an enjoyable 'puzzle whodunnit' story. Mr. Whitechurch lays his cards on the table from the beginning. He has not written a thriller. He has presented us with a conundrum to solve. The challenge is to get to the answer before the final denoument.
Mr. Whitechurch is scrupulously fair - the reader is presented with all the clues that the detectives have. No leaps of imagination are required to find a deus ex machina in the plot. Cold, hard logic provides the solution to the puzzle.
I got the 'who' quite easily but the 'how'-dunnit escaped me!
A pleasant read that engaged my 'little grey cells'.


A Seaside Mourning: An Inspector Abbs Mystery
A Seaside Mourning: An Inspector Abbs Mystery
Price: £1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less is often more, 5 Dec. 2014
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I enjoyed this but felt that it was rather too long.
There were far too many superfluous scenes put in, I think, to help create period detail and atmosphere. They added nothing and got in the way of the plot. Where period detail is concerned less is undoubtedly more. Here the authors seemed to want to display their research into Victorian Britain on every other line.
However it was a good, well-worked story. I liked that initially there was no obvious motive for the nasty murder of Miss Chorley. It takes painstaking detective work from Inspector Abbs and Sergeant Reeve to tease out who the suspects are. This was very cleverly done and the denoument came as something of a surprise.
The characters were well-drawn and believable. Some of them were perhaps a little too well fleshed out. Much time was spent on the back stories, and motivations, of what were clearly minor characters - if this was to make the reader think that they might be involved in the crime then it didn't work.
The final third of the book, with every character's personality having been filled in, fairly zips along. The first two-thirds should have been drastically cut.
The authors should look to the model of the doyen of historical who-dunniters - Ellis Peters. Wear your learning and research lightly. Obviously it colours the work (that should be its charm) but don't let it get in the way of the plot and the pace of the narrative.
Despite my reservations I look forward to reading more from this husband and wife team. Just go easy on the Victoriana guys!


The Santa Klaus Murder (British Library Crime Classics)
The Santa Klaus Murder (British Library Crime Classics)
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this. A well set up country house murder ..., 20 Nov. 2014
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I really enjoyed this. A well set up country house murder mystery with all the suspects detained in the house by being snowed-in. Well-written, characters very well drawn.There is plenty of seething tension going on amongst the guests at this family Christmas house party.
The death is, of course, of paterfamilias - who will gain (or lose) from the will? Has the will been recently changed? Who might benefit (or lose) from that?
This makes for lots of fun and mystery - who might have managed to come into the old curmudgeon's favour?
The whole book is a joy!
Just read it and enjoy some total escapism!


Murder Underground (British Library Crime Classics)
Murder Underground (British Library Crime Classics)
Price: £2.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun in classic style, 22 Oct. 2014
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This is a very satisfying little mystery tale. A wealthy genteel lady of 'a certain age' comes to a grisly end on the circular staircase of a 'deep' underground station in London. Few people use the stairs (there are a lot of them!), Miss Pongleton uses them because she has a fear of lifts. This idiosyncrasy provides the opportunity for her murderer to perform the dirty deed.
But whodunit? As the tale unfolds the evidence points more and more to Miss Pongleton's hapless heir - the impoverished, happy-go-lucky and feckless Basil. His bizarre behaviour on the day of his aunt's demise is problematic. His attempts to provide himself with an alibi become ever more convoluted.
It's all very nicely done with some good characterisation and it kept me turning the pages. Three-quarters of the way through you will probably have your suspicions as to the culprit but that won't spoil your enjoyment of the denoument.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2014 8:37 PM GMT


The Lion and Unicorn Quest (Adventurous Quests Book 1)
The Lion and Unicorn Quest (Adventurous Quests Book 1)
Price: £0.00

2.0 out of 5 stars The jury's still out, 4 Feb. 2014
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This is my first encounter with Ms Peartree. Given the initial set-up for the story I was hopeful of a good read.
Set in the aftermath of WW2 the book features a pair of 'art detectives' - Flora Murray, a feisty young Scot, and Oliver Quest, a vaguely aristocratic ex- copper. Both served with distinction in the war - Oliver in the RAF and Flora in SOE. Their background gives them contacts in Scotland Yard and SIS. Their professional relationship is complicated by the fact that they are very much in love.
Ms Peartree has given herself plenty to work with here. Unfortunately I found the result rather disappointing. The narrative is told in alternate chapters by Flora and Oliver. For this device to work well the narrative voices need to be distinct - this was not the case.
The plot, centred around the Festival of Britain, was a little thin. It provided thrills and spills along the way and kept me turning the pages but ultimately failed to satisfy. This was a shame - I felt that there was a better story in here trying to get out!
The period details were good and the characters sympathetic. I really wanted to like this. There is enough potential for me to try another of the series in the hope of being better pleased.


Wahl 9918-1117 Cord/ Cordless Grooming kit
Wahl 9918-1117 Cord/ Cordless Grooming kit
Price: £17.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Value, 27 Dec. 2013
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Excellent piece of kit at this price point. A 'solid' trimmer that feels good in the hand. The 'guards'/'trim-length adjusters' snap on easily and firmly and seem pretty robust. Within 5 minutes of getting it out of its box my shaggy goatee and moustache were neatly-trimmed. Its being ready to use straight out of the box was a nice bonus touch - well done Wahl!
Highly recommended as a 'value' trimmer that looks to be both reliable and long-lived.


Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Price: £6.47

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Challenging introduction to the 'historical' Jesus, 4 Sept. 2013
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This book has had a hugely controversial impact in the US. It is an interesting and good read but not to my mind particularly controversial, although I can understand why it caused a furore in the States.
Reza begins by providing an introduction to the political, social, cultural, religious and economic situation in 1st century Judea. Against this background he then teases out the differences between the Christ of the New Testament and his presentation of the 'flesh-and-blood' Jesus - an unschooled, illiterate day-labourer from the backwoods of Galilee with a dubious parentage.
Reza takes us through the narratives of the gospels - the nativity, the meeting with John the Baptist, the days in the wilderness, the calling of the disciples, the beginning of Christ's ministry - the parables and miracles, and then its climax in Jerusalem. At every point he is keen to show the gospel writers presenting a story of the Christ of Christianity rather than the story of Jesus the Jew from Nazareth. The gospels were written some 50 years after Jesus's death (John's gospel even later) when Christianity was up and running as a religious belief system.
The argument is well-presented and scholarly, if at times repetitive. The surprise for me, given all the fuss in the US, is that it is neither new nor controversial. The ideas here have been presented by theologians, biblical scholars, ancient historians and archaeologists for decades (some of them were being discussed in the 19th century!).
The controversy springs firstly from the author's background and secondly from his conclusion of the character of the 'historical' Jesus.
Aslan Reza went to the States as an Iranian refugee when his parents fled the revolution. His family were secular Muslims and he embraced Christianity as a teenager. Inspired by his new faith he became a theological scholar. After many years of study he rejected his new faith and embraced Islam as a practising Muslim. This is incendiary stuff for the US Bible Belt. An Iranian! An apostate - not once, but twice! How can one trust the views of a man like this?
Reza titles his book 'Zealot' and while he is at pains to distance his Jesus from the later anti-Roman insurrectionary Zealot movement it is pretty clear that he sees him as a similar revolutionary. Reza's Jesus is a young Jewish working man who outraged at the oppression of his people by the Romans and their lackies in the Temple establishment takes up a mission to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. The Temple authorities - the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees - don't get it. They've been corrupted by the Romans. What is needed is 'zeal' for the God of the Jews and action.
There is a clear sub-text. 2000 years on there are young men consumed by 'zeal' for their religion who seek to liberate their co-religionists from outside oppression and re-establish the Caliphate.
I was raised in the Christian church. I abandoned my faith many years ago but am being drawn back towards it as I grow older. I read this book with interest. It has not halted my renewed interest in Christianity.


Murder, Mr Mosley (Inspector Mosley Book 1)
Murder, Mr Mosley (Inspector Mosley Book 1)
Price: £1.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Country Copper Catches Killer!, 31 July 2013
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I loved this (so much that I quickly downloaded a couple of sequels).
Mosley's 'patch' is the rural North Lancashire/North Yorkshire border. He is a diligent copper and knows pretty much everyone worth knowing about in his locale. He knows the squires and the ne'er-do-wells; he knows their families, their friends and their enemies. He is also well-acquainted with the local gossips. He keeps a pretty clean 'patch' - when a petty crime report lands on his desk he knows the door he needs to knock on to sort it out!
His superiors view him as a 'wooly-back' plodder. So when a murder occurs in Mosley's parish they don't think he is capable of dealing with it.
Ha! More fools them! Without giving too much away Mosley's plodding detective work and local knowledge gets him a result. Great fun!
One caveat - this book could have benefited from a better editor. The first 2 chapters are very confusing. Do stick with it into chapters 3 and 4 where the narrative becomes clear.


A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999 (Mullin Diaires 3)
A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999 (Mullin Diaires 3)
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars In expectation, 8 May 2013
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I have only just downloaded this but am confident that it will earn its five stars. I have read the previous 2 volumes of Mr Mullin's diaries and have just read the reviews on Amazon for this third instalment. I eagerly anticipate an enjoyable and informative read.
Mr Mullin has been one of the 'good guys' in Westminster politics over the last twenty years. A man of integrity, conviction and commitment who worked hard for his constituency and, through his surgeries, individual constituents. A great respecter of parliamentary procedure and democracy he was able to form friendships with those on the opposite benches in the Commons who shared that respect. They might be opposed on party lines but they shared common ground on which they could work together towards better governance. Hats off to the likes of Nicholas Soames, the most unlikely friend you could think of for comrade Mullin!
If only the House of Commons had a hundred or so members of their calibre, independence of thought and willingness to work together across party boundaries for the greater good of the country!


Borstal Boy (Arena Books)
Borstal Boy (Arena Books)
Price: £4.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pass it on!, 8 May 2013
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This book was given to me when I was in my early twenties with the proviso that when I'd finished it I must pass it on. The copy was a 60's Pan paperback - its pages were dog-eared, its spine was broken, the body of the text had fallen into three parts (attempts had been made to hold it together with sticky tape). This was a many times read volume.
I kept my part of the bargain and passed it on after I had read it. I know that the friend I gave it to also passed it on. How many more people were able to read it before it finally fell to bits I know not.
I can't think of a higher reccomendation for a text.
However - one word of warning. This is the (true) story of a teenage IRA Volunteer who came to mainland Britain to engineer an atrocity. This might put off certain readers in the United Kingdom and, given the current political climate and fear of international terrorism, elsewhere in the world.
Its an important caveat for terrorism is a difficult issue. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist and all that.
Irish politics does not weigh heavily on the text which is really about the struggle for survival and dignity in the face of the adversity of the penal system. Behan's humanity, courage and basic decency shines throughout and makes this an incredibly uplifting read.
His mantra when totally up against it - " What can't be cured must be endured" has stayed with me for the last 25 years and served me well.
This is an important book. Read it and pass it on!


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