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P. Rees "Paul Rees" (Whitstable, UK)
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Seascape With Dead Figures (Worldwide Library Mystery)
Seascape With Dead Figures (Worldwide Library Mystery)
by Roy Hart
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid but a little plodding, 8 Jan. 2010
This is the first Inspector Roper mystery, and was published in the late 80s. It's a solid police procedural but is nothing to get too excited about: the characterization is a little thin, and the plotting a little leaden. But it's competent enough, and the puzzle element is pretty effective. Not the best Roper book by some way - I really enjoyed Breach of Promise - but a diverting read nonetheless.


Ten-Second Staircase: (Bryant & May Book 4)
Ten-Second Staircase: (Bryant & May Book 4)
by Christopher Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg, 10 Aug. 2009
This is the third Bryant & May mystery I have read, and I'm still in two minds about the series. With regard to the Ten-Second Staircase, the characterisation of the two leads was very good, their eccentricities being endearing. There was also a very good sense of place, particularly with regard to the influence London's past has on its present. And the whole set-up is so bizzare that it wins you over (the climax being well-realised). For all these reasons, this novel is well worth reading.

On the negative side, the plotting seemed rather sluggish at times, and some of the dialogue was rather stilted. There were several points where I found myself skim-reading because there seemed little actually happening. The Bryant & May series is a real curate's egg but worth persevering with as its good points outweigh the bad.


After the Mourning (Francis Hancock Mysteries)
After the Mourning (Francis Hancock Mysteries)
by Barbara Nadel
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric & compelling, 17 July 2009
I'd recommend this book to lovers of atmospheric & well-plotted crime novels. This is the second in the series featuring Hancock, an undertaker, and set during the Blitz. I enjoyed the first book, Last Rights, but this surpasses that one; the plotting meshes together more convincingly and it moves a lot faster. Nadel's characterisation is also excellent, with the result that I came to care about the characters. In addition, the book offers an insight into the times within which it is set - particularly in relation to the Blackshirts and the Gypsy community.


The Fire Baby
The Fire Baby
by Jim Kelly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 7 July 2009
I would highly recommend this book. An atmospheric mystery novel, it kept my attention throughout and never disappointed. I was pretty impressed with this book's prequal, The Water Clock, but this was even better. Kelly is particularly good at characterisation: specifically, the interplay between the journalist Dryden and his driver Humph was masterly. The plot itself was also pretty impressive, and although a little convoluted at times, it all came together at the conclusion. And finally: his depiction of the Fenland setting added a real sense of menace and foreboding. I look forward to reading the other books in the Dryden series.


Dead Tomorrow
Dead Tomorrow
by Peter James
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and turgid, 30 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Dead Tomorrow (Hardcover)
Having had a moderate liking for Peter James' previous Roy Grace books, I was very disappointed with this one. Whereas the others were all engaging, if structurally flawed, this was just rather turgid. I gave up about a third of the way through; and I rarely don't finish books.

I suppose I'm just not a great fun of James' writing style; to me, it seemed poorly written. This was an issue I had with the three Grace novels I've previously read, but it seemed so much worse here (think Ian Rankin, another crime writer whose work is simulatenously popular but stylisticly poor). There are much better British crime writers out there: try Jim Kelly, Peter Robinson, Christopher Fowler or Graham Hurley.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2014 10:40 PM BST


Last Rights (Francis Hancock)
Last Rights (Francis Hancock)
by Barbara Nadel
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric Slow-burner, 10 Dec. 2008
It's been a week since I finished reading this book and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it.

The characterisation is excellent, particularly that of the central protagonist, Hancock. An undertaker, he is a reluctant sleuth and an endearing character. He is suffering from shellshock as a result of serving in WWI and his 'madness' (we'd call it PTSD these days) is convincingly depicted and feels *real*.

The book is drenched in wartime atmosphere. You can sense the weariness, the fear, and the austerity of the times. It has a very convincing sense of place and time. It's also well written - and is almost lyrical at times.

On the downside, it's rather slow to get going. When it does, it's fine, and events come to a dramatic conlclusion. But it's something of a slow-burner. Stick with it.

The book is told entirely from the perpective of Hancock, relayed in the first person. This possibly contributes to the sluggish pace of the first half of the book, as there is little switching from scene to scene or (naturally enough) from character to character. It does, however, enable Nadel to paint a convincing portait of Hancock the person.

Certainly worth reading.


The Mortal Sickness: The Lydmouth Crime Series Book 2
The Mortal Sickness: The Lydmouth Crime Series Book 2
by Andrew Taylor
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An atmospheric and evocative 1950s murder mystery, 1 Dec. 2008
A great 50s-era murder mystery set in the isolated (and fictional) village of Lydmouth, on the Welsh-English border. It manages to both pay homage to and subvert the 'golden age' era of crime novels. If I had to compare the plotting and characterisation to anyone, then it would be to Ngaio Marsh; but the key word here is 'atmosphere' - you can just sense the austerity and the repressiveness of the time. My only criticism would be that the ending was not as revelatory as I had been expecting, but that's a minor criticism. A great book, one of a series featuring Inspector Thornhill. Recommended.


The Merchant's House: Number 1 in series (Wesley Peterson)
The Merchant's House: Number 1 in series (Wesley Peterson)
by Kate Ellis
Edition: Paperback

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Series Debut, 24 Nov. 2008
A promising series debut. Ellis combines a 15th century archaelogical mystery with a contemporary murder investigation to good effect, the one thematically mirroring the other. The parallel (which emerges at the end of the book) may appear to be a little contrived, but it works nonetheless. The book cetainly improved as it went on: initially, the prose seemed a little stilted and the characterisation rather shallow. At times, it felt lacking in depth compared to some other comtemporary crime writers; by the end, however, I was absorbed and engaged.


One Last Breath (Cooper and Fry Crime Series, Book 5)
One Last Breath (Cooper and Fry Crime Series, Book 5)
by Stephen Booth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Booth's Best, 19 Nov. 2008
Compared with the only other Stephen Booth book that I have read (Blood on the Tongue), this was something of a disappointment. It's one of those massive books (650 pages) within which there is a taut, streamlined - and shorter - novel trying to get out. The characterisation was good, and the loose ends were tied up neatly at the end, but the plotting was somewhat sluggish. A diverting enough read, however, with an excellently realised sense of place.


The Reaper
The Reaper
by Peter Lovesey
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Black Comedy, 19 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Reaper (Paperback)
A difficult book to catagorise, this - a quote on the back cover describes it as a 'black comedy' which is about right given the book's light tone. It is essentially a study of how charisma can be corrupting, and it works on that level; there are also two very good pieces of misdirection contained within and from the half-way point onwards the book does become gripping. But it takes a fair while to get there, and the characterisation is cartoonish and two-dimensional compared with Lovesey's Peter Diamond series. That's in keeping with the author's intention, I'm sure, but it does lend a certain lack of credibility to proceedings. A decent, diverting read - but not Lovesey's best by a long shot
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 9, 2013 6:02 PM BST


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