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No Mark Upon Her
No Mark Upon Her
by Deborah Crombie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars where's the sub-editor ?, 25 Aug. 2015
This review is from: No Mark Upon Her (Paperback)
Agreeable but highly improbable characters and a plot that requires repeated suspension of disbelief.

The author is badly in need of a sub-editor who is English and not American. There are some Americanisms and things that are just wrong:

"sliding into the porch as if he'd just made a wicket" - maybe in baseball but nowhere in cricket ever;

"his accent perfect Oxbridge" - absolutely no such thing. Oxbridge value intellect wherever it comes from;

"liberal" is never used in the way it is here - perhaps in Texas;

"the rowing blue was by far the most prestigious" - nonsense - both cricket and rugby are very highly prized;

"on his serviette" - never ! on his napkin;

You hardly drink on the street outside the Churchill, which exists, and the restaurant there is Thai - no depressingly bad food smells in this gastro pub.

"heart sped up" - maybe in Texas but "heart speeded up' in Kensington


A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
Price: £6.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a conclusion and then works backwards to justify it, 17 Jan. 2015
I read Agent ZigZag and liked it. The Philby book has many of the merits of ZigZag but also some selectivity that grates. Both are easy to read and show a lot of diligence. ZigZag tells the reader what happened and draws some conclusions at the end.

Philby starts with what looks to me like an embedded prejudice and then tells a story that supports the prejudice and repeatedly tells the reader that the story supports the prejudice. The irony is that Philby was spying for a so-called egalitarian society, whose cruelties and prejudices are rehearsed.

In Zigzag, the author was scrupulous in his awareness that events and circumstances and behaviour 70 years ago cannot really be judged with 20 - 20 rearview vision. Philby does not.

The author forgets that in the 1930's and before - and indeed since - no-one got to choose where they went to school or who were their parents. The assumption is that everyone from one part of a social class was a fool and hidebound by class prejudice and everyone from another part possessed common sense in abundance is an assumption that is wrong albeit repeated and repeated by the author. There is fault enough to go around both 5 & 6 for a long time to come.

By all means read and enjoy the book for its merits but make your own judgments about who was to blame and whether anything has really changed - Iraq war and dodgy dossiers to say nothing of Snowden's revelations and so on.

Bit of a social manifesto by Macintyre.


Pure One Flow Portable Music Streaming/Radio System - White
Pure One Flow Portable Music Streaming/Radio System - White
Price: £99.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let buyer beware, 6 Jan. 2015
It depends where you are intending to use it. It has software that is set up to work in the U.K. and although I got it to work in Hong Kong, it was almost impossible to get to work in Bangkok.

I didn't find setting it up anything like as easy as my large and not very portable Roberts. The online & printed information is awful.

Do your homework first ! The warning that it is designed to work in the U.K. is made in the product description and is true. You will need a proprietary battery unless you will always use it on a cable - a very important point and an extra cost.

If you can, buy Pure radios only in the country of intended use.


Progressive Thai
Progressive Thai
by Rungrat Luanwarawat
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely good for beginners, 21 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Progressive Thai (Paperback)
This is a very good introduction. The translation from Thai to some of the English is very free and this poses its own problems. If you compare this book to Introduction to Colloquial Thai, it is a better base from which to start because it is simpler. The CDs are clear and helpful. I would definitely recommend it for a beginner. The Colloquial Thai book is more of an intermediate book.


The Coroner (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series)
The Coroner (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series)
by Matthew Hall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jenny's in the wrong job, 2 May 2014
No coroner nor any member of the judiciary would ever behave in this way. Any evidence so obtained would be totally tainted and inadmissible It is simply way beyond even legitimate dramatisation. Offering money to a witness is the least of the bizarre events.

If Jenny had been a police officer or a journalist or a social worker, the story could well have worked.

Seeing that the book was written by a former barrister who practised at the criminal bar, I had expected something far more grounded in reality.

2 references to a Filipina speaking pidgin English were uncharitable and wrong - education in the Philippines is largely in English and anyone working in England from the Philippines would speak very presentable English. A reference to a Trinidadian being a typical criminal was also unnecessary even in the mouth of the character who made it.

A chance missed.


The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1)
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1)
Price: £5.99

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rowling needs a better Editor, 19 April 2014
Well done to Rowling for trying a new genre and taking the risk of pot shots. With a sterner editor, she could write well in this most competitive field.

It could have been a good book as she is skilled at dialogue and writing complex plots - perhaps her editor was too much in awe of the author to revise.

The plot incidentally turns on a specific point of English law which the author got wrong.
If the author wants to talk about televised football to try to give authenticity, she ought to know which channel carries it and not make grating factual mistakes.

The attempts to write vernacular dialogue failed badly for me and I found the endless class warfare and caricature characters incessantly using gutter language terribly disappointing and ultimately very boring.

Some of the characters come from central casting but without any subtlety - she needs to talk to some members of the acting profession about light and dark and shade.

The publisher and editor must take some responsibility as the book was a wasted opportunity of a potentially good plot and a lot of hard work.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2016 4:01 PM BST


Waiting for Sunrise
Waiting for Sunrise
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars characters straying into the wrong plot ?, 16 Jan. 2014
I've been reading William Boyd's books since 1983. For about the first 20 years his narratives and characters grew together and out of each other and were wholly believable.

About 7 or 8 years ago, the plots became the driving force of the books and the characters had to fit the plot with less emphasis on character development.

I'm not sure that this works as well. Boyd's skills as a novelist are still well in evidence and he picks up the tale and moves it along in exemplary fashion. The characters seemed to me to have found their way into the wrong plot.

Would these characters have behaved in this way ? Would Lysander have been called upon the do the work with which he had been entrusted ? Would his mother really have behaved in the way she did ?

It's always interesting to read William Boyd's books but I wonder if the wellspring of inspiration has begun to run dry. Some of the inspiration for this novel seems to have come from Ashenden by Somerset Maugham.

Worth reading but like the style of the narrative - some first person some not - not as good as some of his earlier works but then that is setting a high standard to match.


Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries)
Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries)
by James Runcie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars charming but could be so much better, 28 Dec. 2013
Where the protagonist in a detective short story is not a police officer or somehow credibly concerned with solving crimes, it is not always easy to suspend disbelief to the extent necessary. There are still a large number of coincidences, some highly stretched motives and a general level of improbability needed before the story can get going and be concluded.

Blood spattered streets of a very small city like Cambridge with murder and mayhem lurking on every corner may well be beyond the suspension of disbelief needed for many readers.

That said, Runcie has the facility to invent attractive characters and to make them credible as persons even if their actions are not. The story involving art was for me the best as it was almost believable.

Runcie definitely also has the ability and talent to write a multi layered crime novel with plots and sub plots; I wish he had done so. Some of the stories come across as sketches for a potential television series with a screenwriter fleshing out the stories.

For those who have not read either of Shadow of Death or Perils of the Night, do read Shadow of Death first as there are flashbacks in the later book that explain parts of the earlier one.

Runcie should not write about cricket as his knowledge is superficial - there is no such thing as a "legbreak googly". There is a "leg break"; there is a "googly" and there is a "googly bowled by a leg break bowler".


Raffles: And the Golden Opportunity
Raffles: And the Golden Opportunity
by Victoria Glendinning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too much "what" and not enough "why", 27 Dec. 2013
The author obviously did a mass of research. I'm not sure how long she spent writing the book and how involved her editor was.

The parts of the book that are set in England and - to a lesser extent- Europe - are, to my mind, far better than much of what is written about SR's time in South East Asia.

Other reviewers have pointed out the geographical eccentricities which suggested to me haste in writing or editing.

Perhaps in a desire to provide detail, the author spends a great deal of time on factual minutiae from about the time SR left for Java until he left finally for England. It is hard at times to stay interested in all the detail of his daily life and his disputes with his colleagues.

I think the book would have worked better if the "what" had been reduced by 50% and the "why" increased proportionately. Quite why the Settlement in Java was so readily given up isn't really explained. Why was he such a success and why was he ultimately brought low ? This could have done with more time in the searchlight.

I think the discovery and growth of Singapore needed more not less of the author's time.

Anyone who is interested in the region and has a good deal of patience will be rewarded but it's quite hard going.

Parts of the book are very colloquial and seem to me to be a kind of advocacy piece for SR in some of his disputes.

"melt the heart of adamant"; "much chuffed by" ; "peeved"; "Sepoys clanked out"; "insanely creative accounting" "this kind of double vision was common" "after more verbiage" "philoprogenitive"; "an enormous of verbiage" ; "the principle (sic) texts" - are the job of editor to weed out. Some will soon be dated slang.


The Day of the Lie (Father Anselm Novels Book 4)
The Day of the Lie (Father Anselm Novels Book 4)
Price: £4.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 60% a good novel, 19 Nov. 2013
Anyone who has not read Brodrick's earlier works should do so before reading this novel. The earlier works are far better and focus on the strength of Anselm's intellectual and emotional sympathy fostered by the enclosed life.

In the Day of the Lie, however, with the author displaying a serious lack of respect for the professionalism and abilities of the Poles involved in the novel, Anselm goes to Poland and instantly sees what no-one else has seen. Anselm is made to seem like a cross between Freud, Sherlock Holmes and Le Carre's Smiley.

The plot is totally convoluted and barely credible. It works far better when Anselm is back at Larkwood. Following the plot requires abundant patience and going back time and again to earlier parts of the novel.

There are indications of poor editing or perhaps a rush to print. All Souls is referred to twice as being on 1st November, when it is on 2nd November with All Saints being on 1st November. The character Anselm would have known this.

The word "flare" is used when what is meant is "flair". Two Poles speaking in the present time use miles not kilometres. "Churches" shoes are used instead of "Church's". The highly pretentious word "dinted"is used instead of "dented". Little Big Horn was in 1876 yet a character's father was said to be there for unexplained reasons. Anselm sits high above a Polish Court and yet can see what kind of spectacles a Polish Counsel is wearing and then damns that Counsel with faint praise.

Brodrick and his character should go back to what they are really very good at.


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