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The Devil's Wedding Ring
Vidar Sundstøl, Tiina Nunnally
Progress: 39/280 pages
St.James Way
John McCarthy
Progress: 14 %
The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau - Graeme Macrae Burnet

This book was written before the highly successful "His Bloody Project "(shortlisted for the 2016 Booker Prize )and it has some of the same characteristics. The atmosphere and setting (in this case a small Alsatian town) have a surreal touch. It feels as if the whole town is caught in a dark time stop (although Mulhouse and Strasbourg,both very much alive, are in the vicinity). Furthermore, the whole town seems to be inhabited by thoroughly unpleasant and yes, slightly weird people(a bartender who hardly says a word, a desk sergeant who's not inclined to do any work, people in bars just staring at nothing (or their glass)).

This book is,although very well written, difficult to classify. The best description (that I can give)is a written film noir with undertones of Patrick Süskind and Simenon. 

The Silent Companions: A Novel - Laura  Purcell

After the untimely (and mysterious )death of her husband, Elsie is sent to her husband's ramshackle country manor. The manor is surrounded by a bleak scenery, an hostile village and a decrepit church.That should be enough to make one feel a bit tense but there is more:a 17th century diary, strange wooden figures and many,many secrets .This is in every sense a classic ghost story (haunted house, forbidden rooms,noises in the night...)but what makes this special is the fact that the ghostly part is very good but there is also an excellent mystery story underneath. 

A Season in the Sun: A charming tale of a Seychelles legacy, village cricket and foul play - Robert A. Rees

Things are not going well in London for Henry Fanshaw (of the Fanshaw dynasty )when he (luckily)inherits a beautiful colonial house and a cricket club in the amazing Seychelles. Being a bit of a pompous Englishman, Henry has to adapt to both this island in the sun and to his fellow club members (a (swearing)vicar and a  priest,a chief of police, a dope smoking top player, a heartbroken captain...)But even in paradise evil lurks, in this case,gambling evil...

This is the perfect read for fans of Death in Paradise and Jerome K.Jerome.And it has the kind of setting that makes you want to book a flight to Mahé right away !

Murder in Little Shendon - H.A.Richardson

An absolute perfect read for a rainy afternoon. A very classic(think Agatha Christie,Ngaio Marsh...)British murder mystery with all the right trimmings:a charming village, eccentric villagers(yes,there is a Major present,a grumpy gardener,a Polish countess and many other strange creatures ...)and of course murder most horrid.And yes,everyone is a plausible suspect...But what is so nice about this story(especially when we are (willingly or not)    immersed in stories with graphic ,bloody details and rather depraved humans)is that,notwithstanding murder,it has a kind and wonderfull atmosphere.Frankly,I would move to Little Shendon right away(or at least spend my holidays there)☺

Continental Crimes (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards, Martin Edwards

Anthologies are, generally speaking, a tricky business. Whether they are written by one author or by several authors. But "Continental Crimes" happily avoids these traps. These are solid British murder mysteries set in different countries on the continent. There are stories by Agatha Christie, Josephine Bell, Arnold Bennett, Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K.Chesterton and many others...Of course, not all the stories are brilliant, but they are very good and some are brilliant which makes this a surprisingly very good anthology. 

Isn't this a wonderful summer dish?Parsley,mint and (an obvious highly stressed)cat...

Smorgasbord: The Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treats - Johanna Kindvall

This is a wonderful, unpretentious cookbook .The name says it all ,Smorgasbord, bread(of some kind)on the table.The recipes really do sound good, are not over complicated and feasible for those who don't live in Scandinavia.(I'm thinking pickled dill cucumbers, chicken salad with peppery cress, smoked salmon salad with apples and horseradish,Danish remoulade and many more...)The drawings that illustrate the recipes are adorable but it would have been nice to have some photographs of for instance :different jars of pickled herrings and vegetables, a set table (winter, summer) with all of the trimmings of a real Smorgasbord....

Act One, Scene One—Murder  - R. H. Richardson

This one is definitely for classic British murder mystery fans. A successful playwright invites his actors for dinner on his country estate ( a dark, medieval building)All the usual characters are there:a morose housekeeper, the older, charismatic actor,a highly strung director, a married "ladies man"and his actress wife and many more. And of course, on this cold, rainy november night,murder happens .In order to solve this crime all the guests are asked (ordered)to remain in this gloomy house.

Sometimes it feels so good to read a murder mystery that shouts "Golden Age ",especially if it is a good story.

Highly recommended for Ngaio Marsh fans (and Agatha Christie fans,and...)Just very,very "nice".

Birthrights (Revisions to the Truth) - J. Kyle McNeal

This is definitely a book for fans of epic fantasy. We follow a young boy, and his 2 companions ,on their quest to find a mythical figure called "the Stewart". But somewhere in the middle the tension wavers. There are too many storylines, different factions and the story becomes, unnecessary, over complicated. 

Fortunately, the story, and tension, picks up again and it ends( at 553 pages no less) with a feeling that one wants to read the second instalment. 

 

What a perfect day,sunny (mind you ,not too warm),a big bone,no do this and especially, don't do that,no mention of a horrible hair (ear)cut,the cat taking a nap in the flowerpot and she,who sees everything ,quietly reading in the garden.What a perfect day....

Sorcerer's House (Simon Gale Series Book 2) - Gerald Verner

Written in 1956, it has all the elements of a classic British mystery. A village  ( Ferncross),an eccentric amateur sleuth, upper middle class villagers and a mysterious derelict manor house where death happens rather to often whenever a light appears in one of the rooms. 

This village definitely has some murky secrets....I must say that the end was somewhat of a suprise  ( but a good one! )

Especially recommended for fans of British murder mysteries. 

The Serpent Sword - Matthew Harffy

This is the story of Beobrand, a young man from Cantware  ( Kent) who goes North so he can join his brother  ( who has been murdered). Set against the historical background of 7th century Albion, a time when the death of Edwin, High King of Britain, plunges the country in darkness.Albion is more than divided. Several kingdoms are battling for supremacy over their neighbours, bands of warriors are on the loose and the power relations between pagan beliefs and budding Christianity are changing. But this is in the first place an adventure story but also a story about revenge, betrayal, psychopathic warriors  ( yeah, even then....),loyalty, camaraderie and friendship. A fabulous story. 

Some people plant flowers and others.......

10 Short Horror Stories Vol:1 - Steven  Havelock

A collection of short stories always present the same problem, some stories are good, some are not so good.This collection does not really represent horror, as we normally understand it, but is more of a hybrid, horror, yes,but also a faint flavour of mystery and fantasy. Unfortunately the editing isn't quite finished and frankly,that's disappointing...

Still, it's an easy read as most of the stories are very short indeed and therefore never reach the stage were they become boring or long-winded .

The Body in the Ice - Alfred A. Knopf Publishing Company

From the blurb:1796,Kent, a killer at large, a family feud and a house with a secret. Doesn't it sound good? 

The year is 1796,the United States have gained their independence some 20 years previously, the British took part of Canada from the French and the French fleet is ready (or so it seems) to invade Britain. The relationship between the British, the Americans  ( republicans) and the French( revolutionary) is slightly troubled,to say the least. Against this background a small coastal community, and more specifically Reverend Hardcastle  (who is also a Justice of Peace) is confronted with murder  ( and smugglers, French spies and an adorable Irish wolfhound who is not particularly brave  (a rabbit frightened the hell out of him)).The historical setting is marvellous, it is very atmospheric and the main characters are endearing. 

But strangely enough, the last chapters are perhaps a bit long-winded with too much gunpowder, spies and cloak and dagger and somehow it kills all that atmospheric tension. 

Still, all in all, a very good read. 

The Girl from Rawblood: A Novel - Catriona Ward

This is in the first place an attempt to write a classic gothic tale.A family, living in a lonely manor on Dartmoor,is haunted by" something ".All the right ingredients for a gothic success story and yet...the first part, although confusing due to several different timelines, was mysterious enough to keep one's attention but then the book becomes even more incoherent and messy and seems to lose all purpose...

The story  ( if ever there was one) is completely lost. Too bad because it has the right building stones....