The summer edition of the Ballater Bugle is just out, with a Hippolyta short story. If you were expecting to receive it and haven't, let us know at email@example.com!
Thursday 2 June 2022
I can't imagine what I was doing that I only seem to have read seven books this month!
Jason Vail, A Curious Death: A complex political plot along with more domestic problems as Stephen and Gilbert split up to tackle a murder in a bathhouse and a rebellion against the King. The historical detail is rich and thick as usual and as this is probably my favourite author for fight scenes I’m glad to say there’s some action, too.
Marsali Taylor, Death on a Shetland Isle: Political in places, this one, and no reason not to be with some of the daft things London and the central belt come up with when it comes to dealing with services to the further reaches of our islands. We’re back on Sorlandet so there are some familiar characters, including Cat, and some new ones to whet our curiosity. The feeling of sea and island is strong in these books, and so authentic you can smell it. And the plot is good, too!
Dawn Brookes, A Cruise to Murder: I had no idea that cosy cruise ship crime was a thing, but there we are, every day’s a schoolday! This starts well, with a police officer just ditched by her fiance and a nurse working on a cruise ship the main characters. There’s a real feeling of knowing what goes on behind the scenes on the ship even within the first couple of chapters, which is reassuring. The downside is that the information comes thick and fast and in tremendous detail, which makes the writing a bit stiff and awkward. There’s a lot of telling rather than showing, and the book would perhaps appeal more to a romantic fiction reader than a crime reader. But then it is very cosy, and I should have expected that. On the whole I learned things and was fairly well entertained, so that’s good.
Sue Lawrence, The Green Lady: I bought this because it relates to Fyvie Castle, a National Trust property near here. Much of it is told from the perspective of Marie Seton, one of Mary Queen of Scots’ four Marys, whose nephew owned Fyvie at the time and who was not a kind husband – the Green Lady of the title is the ghost of his maltreated wife. I found some modern usages jarred, ‘lay’ for ‘laid’, ‘it’s quite something, isn’t it?’ and other oddities. The modern thread of the story seemed unnecessary, as if the reader couldn’t cope with something set entirely in the past. Nevertheless the story came together eventually and was a compelling read if you stuck with it. I was glad of the explanatory notes at the end that untangle history from novel.
Neil Lancaster, Dead Man’s Grave: An intriguing start and an intriguing grave in the Highlands, and an ex-Army policeman who can track – very promising. The action moves well and the main characters are impressive, in bravery, dedication and fighting skills, though a bit thrawn. It’s a very exciting read, more of a thriller than a police procedural, and sets the series up well.
M.W. Craven, Born in a Burial Gown: Having enjoyed the Washington Poe series so far I was interested to read this, the first in his other and slightly earlier series. You could see how he had started with ideas here and carried some of them into the Poe series, though it is distinctly different in flavour (not so different that it would not appeal to the same readership, though, I think). On the whole I prefer Poe to Fluke as a character, but there's much to enjoy here.
J.D. Kirk, Come Hell or High Water: Another dangerously laugh-out-loud episode from Logan's police team. I had to ration myself to reading about ten pages of this at a time and not in public, in case I actually choked with laughter. But the plots are exciting and hold together, too, and the team continues to develop. Enviable writing, altogether.
And on the home front ... well, I'm now almost two-fifths of the way through the thirteenth (!) Murray book, Shroud for a Sinner. This sees Murray back in Letho with a few old faces. Not sure when it will be out, but the cover's only coming in July so not before then!