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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boarding House Reach by Peter Crawley



This is a story that is character driven. I also like stories where disparate characters come seemingly randomly together and form the story as a whole.

In this one five separate people come to a boarding house in Strand-next-the-Sea. Each one comes for a completely different reason but there are strands in each one's story which is sometimes linked to the other by very tenuous threads as it were. 

The Reach which is the name of our house offers a safe house for the five people - Phoebe, Audrey, Hacker, Phillip and our landlady Stella. A story of love and rejection, blackmail and long forgotton history - but our characters know that nothing can be forgotton because the past always has a link to the present and the future and you really cannot completely put it behind you.

Very interestingly told. It was a bit slow for me at the beginning but it picked up very nicely and I liked the way it was presented. 

This book came to me via Netgalley courtesy of Troubador Publishing Limited.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In your Eyes by Ruth Axtell

In Your Eyes


As I looked at the cover I never could imagine that this girl was depicting a scene in 1641. It looked as modern as today!

1641 Amsterdam it is and we are introduced to the world of shipping and trade. The Dutch ruled the East and Amsterdam was a melting pot of rich traders, burghers and people from every corner of the globe. It was also the centre for trade in spices, silks and what not. The Dutch ruled the waves.

Into this background comes Francesca abducted and released but abducted by mistake for her cousin Lisbeth (who was the rich one). Francesca is literally the poor relation. Parents dead and she was foisted on this uncle who very reluctantly takes her over and her father's debts. She is grudged every penny spent on her and the food she eats, and she works in the household almost like a servant.

Her rescuer is Dirk and Francesca who loves to paint and is a good painter, wants to paint his portrait. Dirk falls in love with her and honourably offers her marriage but the path to happiness is strewn with obstacles. 

The story is a simple one but it is the setting that does it justice. Apart from the detailed descriptions of wharf, port and all the people who inhabit this great harbour, we have the history of art from Rembrandt to those who work for a pittance - the literally starving artists. Loved the atmosphere it generated for the story.

This was a free download from Amazon. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



Good things courtesy of Netgalley!

                



2a


Reading Boarding House Reach and its good.




On a weather note, it has started to rain. I am too nervous to be happy over it as I know it can become dry in a few minutes! I just wish the rain would stay.....





Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Distant Dream by Vivienne Dockerty




The year is 1847 and it is the time of the infamous potato famine in Ireland. My knowledge of the period is sketchy and I fell in love with this cover. The somber tones perfectly convey the feeling of despair and almost resignation that the emigrants have.

We have scores of people moving out of Ireland and underscoring the famine and hunger, is also the fact that most of them are farmers who love the land but who are just tenant farmers. They long for their own land, something that they could nurture, protect and enhance and then hand over to their children.

Clarence and Bessie have no children - they actually abduct Molly while her sister is at her mother's funeral and very quickly whisk her away from the home she has always known. Molly is just three. The story follows with a tiring, eventful journey across the seas to Australia. There the family like scores of their fellow countrymen try to settle down to the life they are dreaming about. Molly's death is an act of murder covered up by her adopted parents as well as by Hannah who is cowed into covering up the actual facts. Molly's death is also the death knell for Bessie and Clarence who reverse their plans, move out and establish themselves elsewhere.

The book is one of a trilogy and I do hope I can track down the other books in the series. Very evocative and very descriptively told of the trials of average human beings. How even a very normal person like Bessie, can turn into something she is normally not. She was not maternal, she had motherhood thrust on her and she did not take to it. The difficulties facing farmers in a land totally different to what they knew is a subject that fascinates me. I have problems being an agriculturalist in a land I know. Imagine not knowing terrain, temperature, wild life (of which everything was different and strange), the hazards of no civilization, no doctors, no schooling. People faced all this and overcame these obstacles and did wonders for their adopted land.

This was a very good read.

Courtesy of Netgalley via Troubador Publishing Ltd.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Seasons of Trouble by Rohini Mohan


The subject was known to me very well (no Sri Lankan will ever not know this particular subject) and though handled through not just books but through the media umpteen times, not one we get tired of because there are so many aspects and variations to this story that each one is unique. Rohini  Mohan has taken this subject, albeit a difficult one and handled it delicately, sensitively and at the same time its an in your face of all the facts as it happened.

The story deals with the civil war which lasted for three decades and its effects on Sri Lankans. However it deals in this book with particular characters and its effect on them individually. Both are Tamils and so the war looks at it from the perspective of only one race and not both. The Singhalese are seen as the aggressors and the judge and jury. The Tamils are the victims here. I do not personally think that is quite the way it should be but that is another story.

Sarva is a young man of Tamil ancestry. He is from the highlands of Sri Lanka and his story is a painful though common one. Taken in for brutal questioning which involves a great deal of torture, the boy and his family comes out of the episode hating the Singhalese and just wanting to get out of the country. He succeeds after a great deal of trouble, involving his family particularly his mother who never gives up (what mothers have done for centuries), and finds his way to Cardiff eventually.

The story of Mughil is a very interesting one. She was a cadre in the feared LTTE army. At the very end of the war, she realizes that she is on a losing wicket. She gives up all pretense of being a member of the LTTE and goes back to her village and her family. Detailing the last stages of the war which were horrific from a refugees point of view,( this was the first time I read of it from an individual's angle) Mughil and her two young sons along with her sister and family, her mother and father live in appalling conditions both on the run and in the Government run camp which is more or less an open prison. Mughil's instinct for survival is very strong and she is more determined than ever that her two sons will survive and prosper. That they will be educated and not even think of a war and anything that is war related.  How she achieves this and reconciles with a husband whom she hasn't seen or heard of for years, gets back to civilian life and then eventually gets arrested as being a former cadre is heartbreaking. All she wants is to be is a a "normal young woman:". She never achieved that and that was very difficult for me to accept. 

I liked the detailing of everyday life - both in prison, in the camps and then back in civilian life under a military regime. It seemed so far removed from my own life - living just 200 kms away it seems like another world.  Makes me appreciate the life I've had in Sri Lanka despite the war going on. It also shows how one can grow a skin of a kind of indifference to that which is happening so close to one and yet so far. 

The book is I think of special interest to Sri Lankans. I do not know whether the same appeal and interest would be there with others. You have to live through a conflict like this to understand the nuances of this story and I liked the book very, very much. Painting the Singhalese as villains is not something I appreciated but that is that. There are always faults on either side. No one is ever literally so clean that they can point the finger at others.

This was a download from Netgalley courtesy of Verso Books (US).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Beast in Venice by Michael E. Henderson


I chose this book because if I see Venice in a title I want to read it. I did not check out the genre of the book and it surprised me.

Brigham Stone is a modern artist. His wife is a Professor. They live in Venice. He is trying to get a gallery to showcase his art and he is failing miserably. Art gallery owners belong to a cartel (or so it seems) and choice of artist is strictly determined by some rules governed by a kind of Mafia.

Brigham is also on the way to becoming a drunk.  He sees a man walking through a brick wall, confides in his wife, who puts it down to the drink, confides in a friend a gondolier Mauro who believes him intensely and who says that it is all linked to the current events in Venice - bodies being fished out of the canals, gutted, crucified and eaten. Referred to as shroud eaters Mauro insists they exist despite Brigham's initial skepticism.

Brigham is later befriended by Charles - seemingly a kindly, rich man who likes his art and is willing to help him along. His kindly exterior of course conceals more sinister workings and Brigham is drawn into a private, hidden world in Venice. The world of clubs where vampires, blood sucking, crucifixion and death is also involved.

How to exist in this world to which he is drawn, how to reconcile with his wife Rose who has gone missing, and how to get back to normality because Brigham knows definitely that continuing down this path is going to lead to his own demise.

The vampire bits left me unmoved but the story of a sometimes bumbling Brigham, was amusing.

A download from Netgalley courtesy of Gemelli Press.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Night Drop by Michael W. Sherer


Blake Sanders has not put the pieces of his life together quite like it was before. He has lost his only son Cole and he is now divorced. Molly and he maintain a cordial relationship but when she is abducted from her high profile law firm, Blake steps in as the person who will maintain contact with the kidnappers.

The kidnapping seems a run of the mill one - the demand for money with detailed, convoluted instructions on how and where the money is to be placed and delivered. Following the instructions to the letter but giving his own twist to the tale, Blake is determined to find the identity of who has kidnapped Molly because both the FBI and the law firm have not clue as to why Molly was abducted.

Slowly emerging from the very complicated background is an international Middle Eastern (and a Bangladeshi) group intent on creating mayhem in America Al Quaeda style. Using a system of trained dolphins and blackmailing a former Navy Seal into helping them, they use the dolphins to retrieve canisters of nuclear material which they intend to use to pulverize American cities. 

Getting Naval intelligence into the act Blake and Reyna realize that their goal is not just freeing Molly if it is at all possible but also to prevent another huge attack on Seattle. 

Starting slow but building up the heat as it went on this was a good thriller. I did not much care for the racial profiling of Muslims - it seemed a bit trite but other than that a good read.

This was a book from Netgalley courtesy of Cutter Press.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich



Another family story involving a dying mother and her three daughters. 

The story when it opens seems very dreary. All three girls have left home as quickly as possible. They couldn't wait to get out of home - a drunkard, abusive father and a mother who was not interested in the nurturing part of motherhood and who only sought escape from the misery of her marriage. 

At this point I almost gave up. The book seemed so weighted down with sadness and was very heavy with so much guilt and sorrow even thirty years later. Fast forward and we have the three girls married but with severe emotional problems of their own. This was the part that I felt that it was overloaded with emotion.

Going on, all three girls return home as their mother has gone into a diabetic coma and they have to decide her future. Coming together is not easy, communicating is even harder. Each one is antagonistic of the other - one believing that the other is very rich, the other thinking she is obese and ugly and so on. The good thing is that they look back on their lives and though they realize the huge shortcomings in their childhood, they also remember the good things that their mother tried to provide for them and gradually they each open up to each other.

Lots of pitfalls in the process of getting together but they do come back together as a family - as an extended family with in laws and children as well.

Not an easy read but an eye opener about families!

Thanks to Netgalley BQB Publishing.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



Good things in my Mailbox!




   





2a

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Read two books over the week end (reviews due). Reading one which is an absolutely new genre for me. I picked it because of the title but did not know it was about vampires and the like!!!! three quarters of the way through.



Late to the meme as just returned to Colombo after a very circuitous tour!



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stella by Susan Wuthrich



Jemima gets the shock of her life when she gets a very official letter from Immigration asking her to contact them when she applies for a passport. Apparently,  her birth certificate is a forgery, there is no proof that her father was born in the UK and hence she is looked at with suspicion.

Jemima's mother has passed away and it is only her grandmother, old and frail who may be able to help Jemima to put the pieces of her life together. Unravelling it a piece at a time, Jemima comes across a puzzle spread over South Africa, New Zealand and Britain and a conspiracy on the part of several people who have kept the pieces so well hidden that it takes a lot of detective work for Jemima to find out that not only was her father not who he said he was, she has a sister, a host of relations plus the fact that she is classified as "colored" in apartheid South Africa.

Set in an era towards the end of WWII, with South Africa being at its nastiest on the apartheid question, the problems of mixed race are very clearly and bluntly described and it is horrifying. The effects of the regime which did its best to keep to a "whites only" policy were horrible and how the rest of the world despite the sanctions, just seemed to look the other way is significant. So many issues facing everyone that one tends to ignore some of them and pretend they do not even exist. 

Family sagas are for me, particularly interesting. Coming from a very small unit, I love these large extended families with strong familial connections and bonds.  This was one of those stories which held me enthralled right to the end. Each character was wonderful, some of them disgusting but still all connected to each other and part of the main story.

Would highly recommend this book to all lovers of a good story, well written. Never mind the family saga and the historical background.

The book was a free download from Netgalley through Troubador Publishing.Limited.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Art Restorer - Julian Sanchez



The story covers a number of places all of differing interests - language and culture so this adds another dimension to an already intriguing story.

Enrique is a very successful writer, living in Manhattan. He travels after a number of years to San Sebastian to attend the opening of a new museum and to meet his ex wife. During his time there he also meets up with Craig and strikes up a brief acquaintance with him.  Craig is there in connection with the restoration of Sert's paintings of world renown. Shortly afterwards Craig meets with an untimely death by drowning. Bety Enrique's ex wife has misgivings about the death. She has got very close to Craig whilst he was working at the Museum. She also knows that he was an excellent swimmer and has even swum for the US in the Olympics. She cannot accept that his death is an accident.

Enrique returns home and starts work on his new novel. Immersed in an emerging story, he looks at his mail only much later and discovers that Craig has posted him a notebook detailing all the intricacies of his restoration work at San Sebastian. Some of his notes are cryptic but it is then that Enrique realizes that there is a story behind Craig's death which has to be unravelled.

Covering several countries and several leading families and going back to the German occupation of France and the final push in Paris we have a story of oppression and the way Nazis in France accumulated wealth and stole art work in a huge way to provide for their futures which were so uncertain in the face of impending defeat.  That story also intertwined with the story of Craig - and his own personal life before coming to San Sebastian are the two strands of the Art Restorer coming together to create the novel that Enrique finally ends up writing.

Keeping one on the edge, this was a page turner. I finished it as soon as I decently could, avoiding all work wherever I could till I completed the book!

I downloaded this book to my Kindle from Netgalley (Open Road Integrated Media).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Falcon and the Sparrow - M L Tyndall

The Falcon and the Sparrow


The author is well known for "pirate romance" (didn't know that term so I do need some education I think). This was romance of course set in Napoleonic France and Britain. Shades of spies, lots of drama, heartbreak and then love reigns supreme at the end.

Dominique comes as a Governess to Admiral Randall's house to look after and nurture his motherless little boy. Dominique herself is a daughter of an Admiral but has the disadvantage of a French mother leaving her open to speculation that she could be a French spy. Randall himself feels that he is being set up and that someone is spying on him, trying to obtain important papers which will be vital for a naval battle between England and France. He however suspects Sebastian, his butler and never imagines that Dominique could be part of a plot.

We have scheming women in the form of his sister Mrs Barton and the Lady Irene who detest Dominique from the word go, Dominique also has to face the vulnerability of her charge William whom she has fallen in love with and her growing attraction to the Master of the household despite all her orders to the contrary to get hold of those vital papers and return to France. Those papers are the only security to get the release of her brother from the clutches of Lucien Bonaparte. 

A very convoluted romance and drama which ends well. This improbable romance is good for some light hearted entertainment. 




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

The End of Everything

This was a win from Stacy's Books.

This coming of age story was a bit sad as well. It is also a story of a crime. Lizzie and Evie are neighbouring 13 year old kids. They live in each others pockets and seemingly know the other person even better than they know themselves. But it is only seemingly so. One day Evie disappears and by a series of deductions it is decided it is an abduction and kidnapping and everyone including the police know who the kidnapper is.

This was where the story gets a bit different. The girls abduction and disappearance is the highlight and only talk in this small town and everyone is desperate to find both the missing girl and the man who abducted her. It is only Lizzie to whom the police can turn to for even small pieces of the missing puzzle to try to track them down.  Over the period of nineteen days it then also dawns on Lizzie that the story is not one of abduction but that Evie may have gone by her own free will but Lizzie's hands are tied as to how this could ever be told.

The secrets in each family gets exposed one by one. Some of them will remain hidden again, not acknowledged by anyone and life will never seem the same for either girl. When Evie returns (assumption being that she escaped, but Lizzie knows that she was allowed to leave), the situation becomes bizarre between the two. There seems to be a boundary which Lizzie cannot cross and Evie seems to have grown up and away from Lizzie in immeasurable ways.

A simple telling of a story that happens all the time. This time the return of Evie was a happy ending for her family, and for the authorities,  though not necessarily for Evie herself.  Disturbing that thirteen year olds are no longer kids and that such powerful emotions can instigate events that could turn catastrophic. 





Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia!








Picture






Maria Loggia’s kitchen door is always open. Her home and garden are a gathering place for friends and family, who come to share her easygoing enthusiasm and generosity – and her inspired Italian cuisine. In this, her second book, Loggia celebrates the seasons with 16 sumptuous menus – from a spontaneous al fresco garden party to a slow-simmered midwinter feast and a traditional Sunday family lunch.

Book Details:
Book Title: Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia
Category: Non-fiction
Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, 176 pages
Publisher: Cardinal Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2012 






Meet the author:

Maria Loggia is one of Montreal's best-loved Italian cooking teachers. Her Tavola Mia cooking school in the village of Hudson is a warm, inviting place to learn about Italian cuisine. She also appears regularly on television, is featured in newspapers and magazines, and leads culinary tours in Italy.

Maria finds inspiration in her Italian heritage and draws on family recipes that go back generations. She foundedTavola Mia, her at-home cooking school in 1999. Through her study of Italy's regional cuisines, which has included numerous sojourns back to her native country, she has acquired great expertise in the art of Italian cooking. Her passion, humor and dedication to excellence have made her an inspiring teacher. Using fresh local ingredients, Tavola Mia celebrates the seasons in authentic, irrepressible Italian style.

Try One of the Recipes!

Petto di Pollo Farcito con Uva e Noci

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Grapes and Walnuts

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
¾ cup (180 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, quartered
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (30 ml) bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
7 oz (200 g) soft goat cheese, cut in 6 slices

For chicken:

6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 bone-in chicken breasts, skin on
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter, softened
1 orange, cut into wedges
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each cut in half
5 bay leaves
TO SERVE:
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
To prepare filling: Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and sauté shallots until soft, 1 to 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grapes, chives and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Leave goat cheese aside for now.
To prepare chicken: Oil a 14-inch (35 cm) round earthenware tiella or roasting pan with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise slit in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. (This will form the pocket for the stuffing.) Rub remaining 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil into the chicken (including in the pockets). Divide stuffing equally among chicken breasts, stuffing it into the slit in each breast, and top with a slice of goat cheese. Pull the chicken skin over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Smear butter over the skin and season again to taste with salt and pepper.
Gently transfer chicken to prepared tiella. Scatter orange wedges, rosemary and bay leaves around chicken. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced. Then broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Drizzle with orange juice and serve warm with pan juices.
Serves 6


Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia is on tour from July 14th to the 18th. 











Monday, July 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



Interesting books in my Mailbox!

             





I think this is a nice bunch of mixed genres!


2a


Right now not reading anything. Lots of reading material on hand but work is getting in the way! 



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sleeping Partners by Alan Goodare



Secret country villages never seem to be what they are. Innocuous characters - the doctor, the retired bluff civil servant, the harmless Professor all have mysteries lurking in their background. 

In this story a seemingly harmless collection of characters, typical of any community even today comprise a hard core spy network - albeit "sleepers" remnants of the Cold War but nevertheless characters who have to be watched for any possible break out and embarrassment to the powers that be on either side.

On reading the story, I first thought alright we have this one character and then you slowly, slowly unravel that there is a host of characters in the story and nothing is as what it seems. Quite a page turner because you always want to know where the next character is going to pop up. 

One person's mid life crisis and another's nightmare sleep triggers off the whole story. Not just a spy story but also a story of how one can live with one person for over twenty years and not really know the person! That for me was the frightening bit. You think you know it all and then you realize that you know absolutely nothing - I know how Teddy felt. Not just betrayal but a loss of all kind of hope and belief.

This was a good one sent via Netgalley - courtesy of Troubador Publishing Ltd

Saturday, July 12, 2014

An Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila

 


This was a book win from Historical Fiction Connection.  Thank you Amy for this win.


This is a romance set in a very important period of history in Britain. The romance is started by the strange turnaround in Madeline Wetherby's life. She intends to marry the Earl, but instead marries his brother a merchant trader of the dreaded commerce and thus becomes several steps lower in the rigidly marked social life of the county.

Nash is a manufacturer and trades in textiles. He is also one of those in the middle ground. At a time of conflict he is trying to broker a peace between mill workers and management and failing badly. Management sees him as a traitor to their cause and style and the workers are always distrustful of the aristocracy to whom he belongs. Maddie his wife with connections to the mill workers themselves is caught in the middle, not knowing to whom her loyalties lie.

Set in tumultuous times in the Industrial Revolution in Britain the story details the life of mill workers - the spinners and weavers that made British cloth world famous. The stark reality of the poverty and way of life is told as a backdrop to the romance between Nash and Madeline.

Enjoyed this book.







Friday, July 11, 2014

The Boathouse by R J Harries



Sean Archer is a criminologist who runs a small but very well knit operation with Zoe who is a "elite" professional hacker who can get into any system possible and obtain whatever information you want.
Sean is also  deeply saddened by his girlfriend's murder. He is also extremely keen to find out who murdered her as he feels that it is linked to the murder of his parents when he was a boy of 14. Two weeks after Alex's murder, her friend who was assisting Sean was also murdered.

Now Sean finds himself being constantly hassled by rogue cops and even assaulted badly warning him to stay off Alex's case.This however makes Sean even keener to find out what is happening.  Alex has left him a list of people involved in her investigation and Sean vows not to allow her death to go in vain. 

It is at this point of time that he is approached by Peter Sinclair a multi millionaire to take over and find his wife who he feels has been kidnapped. Sinclair does not want the police involved as it would mean the death of his wife.  Sinclair is not a person whom Sean even remotely likes but he feels getting on the case is important because Peter Sinclair was also a name on  on Alex's list and Sean feels getting in on this case though a difficult one would be one step closer to finding pieces to the puzzle which has long eluded the solving. 

The suspense of the chase and the revealing in slow stages the mystery of this story and Sinclair himself are cleverly done.  You do want to know how it is going to end and to that end it is a book you start that you want to finish on the day itself.

Thanks to Netgalley who sent the book on to me for an independent review courtesy of Troubador  Publishing Limited.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Life with Murder by P B Ryan

still life with murder



Another read which I just discovered was set in the 1860s (two books in a row in the 1860s) we have a Boston elite family the Hewitts who have four sons of their own (two dead in the wars) and two surviving. We have Nell Sweeney who almost accidentally became a governess in the family when Viola Hewitt against all odds and overwhelming gossip I would say of the day, adopted the baby of a maid who did not want this child. 

That was the first improbability for me and only halfway through did I realize what I should I have known, that an old aristocratic woman like Viola Hewitt did not do anything for nothing and there were no half measures either in what she did.

The surprise resurrection of Will the Hewitts eldest son who was presumed dead for three years is the crux of the story. Not only is he back from the dead, he is also under an assumed name and very few people including his brothers know of his survival. Very early on one does come to the point that this is a family that is keeping secrets within secrets and that they are anyway though a family not really that fond of each other.  William is now an opium addict and has been arrested for the murder of a very well known bad egg of the lesser well known parts of Boston. 

It is only his mother who wants to pay for a defence, get him bail, get him resurrected and resuscitated it seems. All his father wants to do is to bury him quietly as possible under the assumed name so that nothing of the scandal touches the great Hewitt name.

The story started very well and then became a bit slow as I felt the technicalities of how opium was smoked was given in too minute detail. It was a bit repetitious at this point but once it got past that point it swiftly got one's attention as you did want to know how this was going to end. 

This was a kindle free download and one which I would recommend to readers who like mystery murder investigations of another age. Police work was very hard at that time and dealing with the rough end of society was definitely not for the faint hearted.

My first read of this author. Will be keeping a look out for the books which will follow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blood on the Water by Anne Perry


I knew that this was about the River Thames and a wreck. What I didn't realize is that it was set in the 1860s so that the way things were handled were so very different to what it was today. 

A sudden explosion on a pleasure boat cruising the Thames sends it to the bottom of the river swiftly. 179 passengers are dead and Monk who is in charge of the River Police is by accident a witness to the entire incident watching from a boat alongside. He along with his fellow officer tries to save as many people as they could as do several other boats in the area. The death toll is huge and it is very easily identified as a deliberate explosion.

The how, why and who are the crux of the story. A little slow in the telling, a bit ponderous for me it takes us through the deliberations of the River Police and the Metropolitan Police who take over the investigation as it is considered "of diplomatic importance" and the total failure due to corruption, cover up and bribery on their part that finds it handed back to the River Police for its final call. Connecting the explosion of the Princess Mary to the soon to be opened Suez Canal which will enhance British shipping interests enormously, we are curious to see how this finally ends. 

Interesting to see that some things haven't changed from the 1860s to now. The bribery, corruption, feedbacks, blackmail. and most importantly shortfalls in the justice system still do exist so I guess nothing much has changed. It took a while to accept the slow pace of investigation of the times. We are in the present age used to such instant solutions and instant feedback that this took a little getting used to.

Downloaded to my Kindle through Netgalley - via Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine.