Recent idle moments from July 2022

Books in July

  • A Song from Dead Lips by William Shaw [read by Cameron Stewart] BOM-ASongFromDeadLips.jpg
    I thought The Birdwatcher was a great book, and I'm wondering why it took me so long to read another offering from Shaw.
    This story is also excellent, and again was a good fit with my interests - which, apart from the dead bodies thing, was set in the not too distant past of London in the 1960s. This era covered my life from a very small child to a young adult, so I can remember it, but as it were "through a glass darkly" (which must also apply to the author as we are of an age). However, it seems to me to quite accurately reflect what I remember of wandering around London as a teenager - trying to find Carnaby Street and the Swinging Sixties, (unsuccessfully) - and looking for Rupert Street (successfully) to find a wonderful shoe shop, (as opposed to the Raymond Review Bar). So having been reminded of all this - I find I strongly agree with a the NY Times comment "an elegy for an entire neglected generation".
    The war in Biafra is featured fairly centrally as part of the unravelling of the murder mystery. This war provided my first exposure, (with zero appreciation of the true situation), to mass appeals for aid for victims of a terrible famine, and of graphic TV footage showing starving children. The war itself ended by the 1970s and Biafra disappeared as both a news item and a separate state. An estimated 2 million civilians died of starvation, of which three quarters were children.

  • A Twist of the Knife by Anthony Horowitz
    BOM-ATwistOfTheKnife.jpg "I've written three books and our deal is over.", says an exasperated Horowitz, having been subjected to a series of near death experiences as a well as some ridicule (which is worse I wonder...?) through his relationship with the irritating ex DI Hawthorne. As you can imagine, this state of affairs lasts about 5 minutes before Anthony finds himself on the wrong side of the law, and has (reluctantly) to call upon Hawthorne for assistance.
    I have come upon this fourth in the series somewhat sooner than I expected as I was lucky enough to be allowed a review copy; thus I've read it on the page as opposed to listening to it.
    This particular story - another of the "locked room" genre - revolves around a theatre production of a play written by Anthony himself; the play receives a scathing review, leading to... a murder. As with many other snippets revealed in these books, it drove me to look up "Mindgame", to find that it is indeed a play of his from 1999, (and it did receive lukewarm reviews at the time, but, happily, spawned no murders that I could find). Once again, I loved the book- my favourite Horowitz series - clever, thrilling, and wonderfully entertaining. And as I love Rory Kinnear's narration so much, I shall definitely be listening to it all over again once the audio version is available.

  • Secret Water by Arthur Ransome [Read by Gareth Armstrong]
    BOM-SecretWater.jpg This is not quite so adventurous - nor set in such a picturesque a location - as some of the other books up to this point. The Swallows' Father was unable - at the last minute - to take them on a planned sailing trip all together, so he arranges something else for them to do, a little more statically: a mapping project while camped on islands within tidal mud flats; he also arranges for the Amazons come to Norfolk to join them. Since it directly follows the (alarming) events in We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, one can only surmise that the adults felt they needed a safer environment for their unaccompanied children. What could possibly go wrong? Nevertheless, the 3 youngest of them manage to end up in yet another disastrous situation. Again we watch helplessly as, despite sound planning, they make a series of last-minute faulty decisions, inevitably leading to their being stranded in the middle of the causeway as the tide comes in...