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Gregory S. Buzwell "bagpuss007" (London)
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The Mask of Dimitrios (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Mask of Dimitrios (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Eric Ambler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Journey into Night, 26 Dec. 2012
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Charles Latimer, an academic and author of detective stories, makes the acquaintance of a Turkish police inspector while on holiday. Embracing the opportunity to learn more about real police procedurals Latimer tags along when the body of Dimitrios, a criminal with a colourful past, is fished out of the Bosphorus. The Turkish police inspector, seeing the body, shrugs his shoulders - Dimitrios is dead, case closed - but Latimer becomes fascinated with the criminal career of the dead man and so begins a search back through Dimitrios's life, taking in his low-life escapades and making the acquaintance of various people from his colourful past. But why is Latimer being pursued by the flabby, sinister and twistedly-pious Mr Peters? And why does the name 'Dimitrios' continue to instill fear in so many of the people he meets even after the man's death?

The Mask of Dimitrios is a fabulous novel. It rattles along at a terrific pace; contains several brilliant character sketches (Colonel Haki of the Turkish police is a delight with his casual approach to wrapping up loose-ends and Madame Preveza, owner of a nightclub / brothel is a beautiful portrayal of a woman still in thrall to the man who betrayed her) and continually confounds the reader's expectations as to where the plot is heading. The book also has interesting things to say about the nature of crime and also crime fiction. Latimer writes his detective novels in a typically cosy 1930s style with isolated communities in small villages finding one of their number has been bumped off while on a visit to the vicarage. A policeman then turns up and neatly solves the case leaving no curious plot element unexplained. In the real world of Dimitrios and Haki however such cosiness does not exist. The crimes are brutal, drug-fuelled, money-motivated and squalid. The detectives who attempt to solve them are often only one shade of grey lighter than the criminals they are trying to apprehend and even Colonel Haki, a basically decent man, is content to file the case of Dimitrios as solved as soon as the body is identified - mysterious nagging doubts and loose-ends can be dismissed as irrelevant with a casual shrug of the shoulders. There are plenty more live criminals to catch. The dead can keep their mysteries.

Eric Ambler is often compared to John le Carre and Len Deighton but, in terms of his characters at least, the comparison that most frequently sprang to my mind was with Graham Greene. Mr Peters with his religious convictions twisted perversely to meet his own ends; Colonel Haki with his decent but casual approach to crime and death, Madame Preveza with her blousy charms and bitterness and Latimer himself - the small man out of his depth in the criminal underworld - would all be at home in one of Greene's novels. It's a comparison that says much about Ambler's fine qualities as an author. The Mask of Dimitrios is the first of Eric Ambler's novels that I have read but I've already bought a second so as to discover more of his work. Recommended - a terrific novel by an underrated author.


The Brickfield
The Brickfield
by L. P. Hartley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Childhood's End, 9 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Brickfield (Paperback)
If you think of L.P. Hartley then the chances are you'll think of his most famous novel - The Go-Between, a gorgeous bitter-sweet evocation of childhood's end and the moment when realisation strikes that there is a serpent in even the most beautiful of gardens. The Brickfield, written some ten years after its illustrious predecessor, is in many ways a companion piece. Several of the themes are repeated. Indeed the novel even opens in a similar fashion with Richard Mardick, an ageing author with failing health, looking back upon his childhood and one blissful, long hot summer in particular. In The Brickfield however the reflections focus upon an affair in which Mardick himself took part, rather than an affair unwittingly aided but played out amongst the adults. As the tale unfolds Mardick reflects upon a summer spent on his uncle's farm out in the Fens, a landscape of distant horizons and empty skies but with a curious, haunting beauty. Away from his loving but overly-protective mother Mardick explores the world around him; shakes off his morbidly sensitive concerns and discovers desire in the form of Lucy, the only child of a reclusive couple who shun society. Richard and Lucy's romantic liaisons take place in an abandoned brickfield, an isolated world of lush vegetation, deep pools, abandoned kilns and collapsed chimneys and it is here that the adult world forces its way into Richard's life.

To begin with I found The Brickfield rather slow going. Mardick recounts his story to his secretary, the waspish Denys, and much of the attempted humour falls a little flat but as Mardick gets into his stride and other characters are introduced the story takes off. In particular things pick up with the appearance of Aunt Carrie - loved by all, lively and engaging but brittle and ultimately damaged by a failed love affair. As Mardick watches what happens to his much-loved aunt the thought emerges that by placing his entire happiness in the hands of one woman he is setting himself up for a similar fate. Also Hartley is good at describing landscape - whether it be the boundless empty skies or the enclosed overgrown brickfield - and he is good when it comes to describing adolescent desires: lust, love and the queasy ache of youthful longing. It's a slow burner, but when Hartley hits his stride the novel takes flight quite beautifully.

In conclusion while not quite up there with The Go-Between in terms of plot and emotional punch I certainly found The Brickfield an engaging read. It's good to see a few more of Hartley's novels coming back into print. He was a fine writer with an elegant but restrained prose style and he was particularly good at the portrayal of innocence on the cusp of the adult world, whether that be the innocence of a young boy on the verge of adulthood, or the innocence of a landscape or lifestyle on the verge of war or technological and economic change. Recommended, and if you liked The Go-Between you should definitely enjoy this.


A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
by Roger Clarke
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curious, if true ....., 1 Dec. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nothing stirs the imagination quite like a good haunting. The ghost story has been a staple of British fiction from the Victorian age onwards and investigations into haunted houses sell newspapers and make for entertaining television programmes but what lies behind these inexplicable stories? What explanations can be put forward for the many tales of apparitions, ghostly voices, strange photographs and apparent glimpses into a world that exists on the far side of the grave? Roger Clarke's book attempts to answer these questions while, at the same time, recounting some of the more famous hauntings that have troubled these troubled Isles.

Quite surprisingly, perhaps, for a self-confessed ghost addict Roger Clarke's book takes a fairly sceptical approach to the whole subject. There are good chapters on, to take a couple of examples, the haunting of Epworth Rectory; The Cock Lane Ghost; The Angels of Mons; the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall and the deeply weird goings-on at Borley Rectory but while, in the best traditions of the ghost hunter, I suspect Roger Clarke 'wants to believe' I always had the impression that deep down he was always less than convinced. For example his analysis of the Angels of Mons is fascinating and tells the manner in which Arthur Machen's fictitious newspaper piece became inflated and distorted into a supposedly real event, but his comments on Borley Rectory seemed a touch too dismissive. The events at Borley have always struck me as somewhat shabby but with a core of the genuinely inexplicable at their heart. Clarke, however, pretty much dismisses the whole haunting as the work of frauds, bored villagers, vagrants and tale-tellers. He could well be right, but I wasn't entirely won over by his analysis.

Where Clarke is very good however is with regard to the manner in which religion, class and economics all play a part in determining how a society regards the hauntings that supposedly occur within its midst. The Cock Lane ghost fiasco thus takes off when people realise there is money to be made out of the haunting while the rise of Victorian spiritualism has much to do with women attempting to find ways to break free of their restricted roles in society. Similarly the contrasting beliefs of Protestants and Catholics allow the supernatural to be viewed in very different and often conflicting ways.

There is the occasional bit of loose research in the book, and a few careless mistakes (Edgar Allan Poe has his name misspelt 'Edgar Allen Poe' throughout and George du Maurier, author of Trilby, is described as Daphne du Maurier's father when he was actually her grandfather) but minor quibbles aside I did genuinely enjoy the book and I did learn a great deal. The descriptions of the hauntings are effective too. I read much of the book late in the evening and as the house settled in the cooling night air each creak of the stairs played havoc with my imagination. Overall this is an excellent book to start with if you have an interest in the supernatural and it should certainly give you plenty of ideas for subjects to delve into if you wish to pursue matters further. Recommended - especially for winter nights as the light fails and the cold creeps in.


The Drowning Pool (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Drowning Pool (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ross Macdonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lilies that fester ...., 27 Nov. 2012
Ross Macdonald had a gift for portraying the bleak, the grey and the shabby. Time and time again he nails the perfect metaphor when describing a person or a situation that has edged from the acceptible and into the faded and the seedy. My personal favourite in The Drowning Pool is the description of an old guy bleached by years in the Californian sun who has 'a week's beard [...] on his folded cheeks like the dusty gray plush in old-fashioned railway coaches'. Macdonald's characters and plots were excellent and complex but his line-for-line writing was absolutely perfect for the material he wished to publish. Make no mistake, Ross Macdonald could really, really write.

In The Drowning Pool Macdonald's world-weary but never despairing detective, Lew Archer, is approached by Maude Slocum - a beautiful woman whose receipt of a poison pen letter is the least of her problems: her daughter is attractive but dangerously sullen; her husband is at last edging out of the closet and she herself is rather too attentive towards one of the local cops. Archer reluctantly takes the case of investigating the poison pen letter but soon finds himself immersed in a world of blackmail, violence and murder. The deeper he delves, the more wretchedly shabby the behaviour he discovers. Nobody is entirely evil and nobody is entirely good: everyone from the icily beautiful Mavis Kilbourne with her toxic husband through to the arch-chancer Pat Reavis, perpetually on the look out for the vulnerable girl and the easy money is a shade of scuffed and grubby grey.

The Drowning Pool is an excellent 1950s American Noir. Lew Archer with his grudging refusal to wash his hands of the deeply flawed people he encounters is a continual delight. He's good company, a decent man continually caught up in impossibly dark situations. The Drowning Pool also contains some brilliant set-pieces, in particular I liked the dinner party towards the beginning of the novel where the cracks in Maude Slocum's seemingly controlled world emerge and widen as the drink flows. It's all quite beautifully done. So hats off to Ross Macdonald. To return to my earlier comment, he could do character and he could do plot and he could really, really write. Superb.


Danse Macabre
Danse Macabre
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hello Darkness ..., 21 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Danse Macabre (Paperback)
My original copy of Stephen King's Danse Macabre fell apart due to continual re-reading. I read the book cover-to-cover more than once but certain chapters - in particular those on the modern American horror movie and the horror novel - I must have read a dozen or so times. I owe this book a debt of gratitude because it was reading through King's analysis and comments on novels such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House that taught me to love the study of literature, rather than to find it a purely dry and academic chore: I discovered how a good teacher can be informative and entertaining, the former quality need not exclude the latter. King is a passionate and entertaining guide and reading Danse Macabre is rather like being in a pub with a much-loved uncle as he tells you stories of ghosts and monsters.

Danse Macabre is King's personal trawl through the world of horror: horror films and fiction in the main, but also the world of 1950s sci-fi radio, the murky world of E.C comics and, well, pretty much anything else he finds relevant and of interest. As someone who grew up in the 80s King's love for the old black and white horror films, and the early Hammer movies struck me as a little quaint at the time but his fascination with them sent me back to the video shops and the DVD stores to see them for myself and, guess what, he's right - those early films are beauties. It's true of many things but to appreciate what is going on in the present it's worth doing your research into the past. To get the full measure of today's vampire films go back to the Hammer movies of the 50s and 60s, go back to Bela Lugosi in the 30s and F.W Murnow's Nosferatu from the 20s. Go back to Stoker's novel and Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Carmilla'. The modern films and novels, the best of them anyway, pay hommage to their illustrious predecessors. As King shows knowing about the past versions helps you understand and appreciate their present counterparts.

I usually try to keep my reviews quite impersonal but it's rather difficult in this case. I don't always agree with King's comments - at one point he discusses the novels Frankenstein, Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde and announces that Frankenstein is, for him, the best written. Well, personally I'd say Jekyll and Hyde was the most beautifully written of the three by a country mile but that's part of the fun. You don't have to agree with King's comments to find them fascinating and arguing with his conclusions can only help improve your own understanding of the horror genre. Reading Danse Macabre, searching out the films King loves (and those he frankly finds rather wretched) and searching out the novels and old radio shows he discusses, set me off on a journey of discovery and gave me an affection for the off-kilter, the haunted and the frightening that lasts to this day. Danse Macabre is a fascinating and personal account of the horror genre and, whether your preference be for the old black and white films of the 30s or the more visceral flicks of the 80s; the classic novels of the late Victorian era or the horror comics of 50s America there will be something here for you. Splendid stuff, and if you have ever enjoyed a vampire film or a good ghost story you really should treat yourself and buy a copy. Superb.


Prague Fatale: Bernie Gunther Thriller 8 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 8)
Prague Fatale: Bernie Gunther Thriller 8 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 8)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Locked Rooms and Closed Minds, 15 Nov. 2012
Prague Fatale is almost two novels for the price of one. The beginning takes place in the bomb-damaged streets of Berlin, a divided city with a population of well-fed, sinister Nazi Party Officials on the one hand and suffering, half-starved civilians on the other while the latter section of the novel takes place in a large country house outside Prague. Initially it seems like a curious conjunction but the two strands work well together and, in spite of my initial doubts, the earlier events do have a relevance for the later horrors that unfold in Prague.

Bernie Gunther, largely viewing the world through the bottom of a beer glass and with an ever-increasing desire to point a gun at his own head rather than point it at anyone else's, rescues a woman from a street attack. The woman, in the best tradition of Noir Fiction is not all she seems but, as Bernie discovers, she clearly has links, even if unwittingly, with a Czech terrorist cell. Intrigued Bernie sets out to discover more only to have his investigations halted by a request from SS-General Reinhard Heydrich to attend a gathering of senior SS figures at a country house in Prague. What follows - a body discovered in a locked room and a whole host of murderous thugs with means, opportunity and motive - is like an Agatha Christe plot set in hell. The events in Berlin and the murder in Prague do not initially appear to be linked but, all the same, Bernie's mystery female friend finds herself playing a part in both locations.

Prague Fatale is an excellent and thought-provoking read. The detail of bomb-scarred Berlin is convincingly portrayed and the scenes of civilians barely able to feed themselves act as a chilling backdrop to the boorish behaviour of the well-fed officers in their Prague mansion. Gunther always comes across as a good man caught in an impossibly evil situation. Often his choices range through no more than an array of alternative nightmares. Frequently to extricate himself from a situation he can either do 'something bad' or else do 'something worse'. Opportunities to do the right thing or the good thing are often not on the table. This 'good man in an impossible situation' set-up gives the book an extra moral dimension which adds depth to the plot and to the dilemmas Gunther faces. How much time and effort, for example, is it worth expending on revealing the solution to a murder in which one Nazi has been done away with by another who will, even if exposed, probably be able to pull strings and escape justice? It's an intriguing set-up and Kerr plays his hand with great skill. It is to the author's credit that even in a house full of murderers we care about the outcome, characters and, in particular, the role and fate of Gunter's mysterious and certainly not whiter-than-white female friend. It's a terrific novel, and a worthy addition to an excellent series.


Miami Blues (Penguin Modern Classics)
Miami Blues (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Charles Willeford
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miami Vice, 28 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Miami Blues pits Freddy 'Junior' Frenger, low-life opportunist thief with a taste for gratuitous violence, against homicide detective Hoke Moseley, a man who has seen everything human nature has to offer and frankly didn't like it much. Moseley is one of American detective fiction's great creations - someone who wakes up in the morning looking crumpled and weary and who returns to bed too many hours later feeling none the better for his encounters with the day-to-day aspects of Miami life. Moseley is a good man but you sense throughout the book that he knows whatever he does to put evil men behind bars is only ever going to count as a small victory in a relentless, bitter war. His target in this novel , Freddy Frenger, is as nasty as they come. Frenger is a man with no plan beyond stealing enough cash and credit cards to get him through the next few days. If he has to break a few bones and wreck a few innocent lives in order to achieve that aim then, well, so be it. Money is there to be stolen and spent on fast women and faster cars and while ultimate capture is inevitable Frenger is not going to give up the chance to live a little while he has the chance.

This, rather shabby-seeming plot is one of the things I particularly liked about Miami Blues. Frenger is no criminal mastermind. He has no big idea. All he is doing is stealing a robbing from people who are often little better off than he is himself. This, when you think about it, must often be the policeman's lot no matter what country he works in. The absence of much of a plan in Frenger's mind makes Moseley's job of tracking him down all the more difficult and, given that Frenger's activities are below the radar in almost every sense, Moseley has little opportunity to enlist any help from colleagues or contacts in the Miami underworld. As Frenger goes on the run in a sprawling Miami awash with tourists, dodgy businessmen, hookers, down-and-outs and corrupt cops Moseley's task of reeling him in becomes almost impossible.

I really enjoyed Miami Blues. Charles Willeford could certainly write. His descriptions of Miami haunt the mind with their mixture of affluent and penniless citizens side-by-side in a city of neon signs, cheap hotels, cocktails and chancers. Willeford could do a beautiful line in bitter laughs too - Miami Blues has several moments of gallows humour and Moseley, with his cynical eye for the beyond-black joke is a joy. I've never read a book which made me alternately wince at the behaviour of the villain and smile at the effortless elegance of the prose quite so much.
In conclusion I found Miami Blues a delight. It has a genuinely authentic feel: there is nothing fake or showy about it. Moseley's day-to-day life must represent that of bitter cops the world over - forced to play by the rules while those they attempt to bring to justice behave by nobody's moral code but their own. Highly recommended - and I'll definitely be reading more novels from the series.


The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Shirley Jackson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Journeys End in Lovers Meeting ..., 21 Oct. 2012
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The Haunting of Hill House is, in many ways, the definitive ghost story. A respected academic invites a group of strangers - all chosen either because they have a knowledge of Hill House or because they have a sensitivity to the supernatural - to a reputedly haunted mansion and then proceeds to take notes as events spiral into the mysterious, the macabre and the grotesque. What sets it above so many other ghostly tales, however, is Shirley Jackson's quality as a writer: she had a gift for conveying the sense of unease and an eye for the little things that gradually, when taken together, cause the reader to look over their shoulders in a nervous, bewildered fashion. For example the doors in Hill House always swing closed of their own accord when nobody is looking. Initially it seems quirky and odd, but by the final chapters it seems malevolent, claustrophobic and terrifying.

The Haunting of Hill House works so well for a number of reasons. The characters are well-drawn, particularly Eleanor with her sense of not belonging and her pitiful desire to be liked but also Theodora, who is not quite what she seems and Luke, heir to the house, who has a playful attitude which topples on occasion into spite and malice. Dr Montague, with his notes and charm acts as a balance in the early part of the book but even he sometimes acts in ways that put the group at risk. Add to this Hill House itself - vile, diseased, bereft of sunlight and nestled deep in its secluded hills and you have a horror story just waiting to happen.

I first read The Haunting of Hill House when I was about fourteen. It haunted me then and it has haunted me further on each subsequent reading. Each time different elements strike me, whether they be the gothic-trappings of Theodora's clothes being discovered drenched in blood or else the creepy writing on the walls which appears from nowhere announcing 'Come Home Eleanor'. The spooks and shocks are carefully placed throughout the text; just when you think events have calmed down something, somewhere will jar your senses and once again your nerves are on edge. Paranoia and distrust go hand in hand with the supernatural, each feeding off and fueling the other. It's a fabulous book: subtle, somehow off-kilter, disturbing and shocking. Definitely the haunted house by which all others should be compared. Read it on a winter's night by all means. But keep all the lights on and if the door of your room is closed, make sure it was you who closed it.


The Pinecone
The Pinecone
by Jenny Uglow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written in Stone, 22 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: The Pinecone (Hardcover)
The Pinecone tells the story of a church built during the early Victorian era in the village of Wreay, just outside Carlisle, and of the remarkable woman who designed it. In an age when Gothic architecture was all the rage the church was unusual for being built in a Romanesque style but, as Jenny Uglow's beautiful book reveals, the true uniqueness and brilliance of the building and the woman behind it goes much deeper than that.

Sarah Losh, intelligent, thoughtful, generous, was born into a respected and wealthy Cumbrian family. Much of her life only seems to be known to us at one remove. She is mentioned in the diaries and letters of her family, and the records and documents relating to the building of her church provide fascinating insights into the workings of her intellect and imagination and yet much about her remains tantalisingly opaque. In the diaries and letters we see her through the eyes of others but in her church we see her, perhaps, as she saw herself.

Sarah's family moved in exalted circles; Coleridge and Wordsworth were friends and they held influence with the great and the good of the North of England. They also followed the discoveries of their age. The early 1800s saw tremendous advances in science and industry with many of the innovations that reached fruition in the Victorian era - the extensive railways and the rise of the merchantile middle-classes for example - having their origins in the late-Georgian period. Behind the technological triumphs however there are fears and doubts. Lyle's work in the field of geology sows the first seeds of unease that will grow to fruition in the work of Charles Darwin. All of this fascinating intellectual and spiritual ferment somehow found expression in a small church in the north of England.

What is particularly beautiful and remarkable about Sarah's achievement is the way she employed local craftsmen to reflect the spirit of the age and then combined it with so much that was personal (especially her close relationship with her sister) in order to render it so eloquently in wood and stone. The decoration of the church abounds with signs of nature, myth, the passing of the seasons and the cycle of death and renewal. Traditional Christian imagery is largely replaced by something almost akin to the pagan. Candle-holders are shaped like lotus flowers; pinecones - symbols of renewal and rebirth - feature heavily, ammonites, scarabs and poppies abound. The story of how all of this came about, and of the personal road travelled by Sarah Losh in order to reach such a destination, is all beautifully told in what is an absolutely fascinating book. Sarah Losh was a woman ahead of her time and, with this biography, perhaps she will finally receive the acknowledgement and admiration she deserves. Highly recommended.


Tigers in Red Weather
Tigers in Red Weather
by Liza Klaussmann
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dazzling Debut, 18 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Tigers in Red Weather (Hardcover)
Tigers in Red Weather struck me as that rare beast: the beautifully-written page-turner with superbly drawn believable characters and a plot that grips and bites and won't let you go. I would find myself reading the book late into the night, turning the pages of 'just one more chapter' so I could piece together a little more of the story and see whether the characters whom I had come to care about would make it out into the light. The only other debut novel I can think of which held me in the same relentless narrative grip is Donna Tartt's The Secret History - high praise indeed.

Most of the action in Tigers takes place over a series of summers ranging from the mid-1940s through to the late 1960s on a sun-baked Martha's Vineyard. The landscape with its coastline, beautiful wooden houses, neat gardens, bars, docks and clubs acts as a backdrop to the separate narratives that form the story. The events forming the plot are told by five people: Beautiful Nick with her passion for life and her irresistable allure for men; her husband Hughes who loves her but worries that he is losing her; Nick's cousin Helena, troubled, prone to popping pills and with a husband unhealthily in thrall to a dead actress; Nick's daughter Daisy, intelligent, driven, self-doubting but popular and Helena's son Ed who is distant, remote and prone to furtively skulking around and spying on people. The story unfolds fairly slowly to begin with as affairs, passions and unstated desires are hinted at and then, when Daisy and Ed make a sinister discovery, the action escalates as cupboards creak and skeletons fall embarrassingly into view.

What I particularly admired about the book was the way the plot gradually and elegantly unfolded. None of the five central characters is really an 'unreliable narrator' and yet all see the events that occur purely from their own perspective which is frequently, as it turns out, not at all the same way as others see things. Daisy, for example, sees her boyfriend Tyler as attentive and kind whereas Ed sees him as someone who plays up to Daisy merely to get closer to Daisy's beautiful mother Nick. As the story unfolds these different perceptions of what is going on form a beautiful and intricate plot which continually fascinates and wrong-foots the reader as to where it is all heading. Every so often a seemingly casual line will be thrown into the narrative which sends everything we think we know spinning disconcertingly on its head.

I enjoyed Tigers in Red Weather enormously. It combines the pace of a superior beach-read with the characterisation and prose one would expect from a seriously talented author. It manages to provide the best of both worlds and because one comes to care about the characters the events that take place during the course of the book pack a terrific emotional punch. It may, of course, all be the literary equivalent of 'Beginner's Luck' but if Liza Klaussmann's next novel is in anything like the same class as Tigers then I suspect she is going to become a major literary talent. A highly recommended book and most definitely an author to watch.


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