Monday, 1 July 2019

Books I read in June

Harry Bingham The Deepest Grave (local library)
The sixth, and for now, last Fiona Griffiths book (and the fifth that I've read - I'm still waiting for everyone else in Sheffield to finish the first in the series). And yes, it's still good. Bingham's plots do tend towards the preposterous - and he owns as much in the afterword to this one - but the writing is so good, and the handling of them so deft, that they actually read a lot more credibly than many other authors' work with greater pretensions to realism. I particularly like the way that the answers aren't all saved up for some big reveal at the end - there's realism simply in seeing the case unfold. Sure, sometimes Fiona gets a bit mysterious about what she's thinking, but it all comes clear soon enough, and never in a clunking exposition either. The police characters are nicely nuanced, even at the same time as they have elements of caricature, and there are some delightful supporting characters - a particularly good vicar in this one. Can't wait for more.

Harry Bingham Talking to the Dead (Abe Books)
I couldn't wait. And such is my new found love for Fiona, I have bought myself copies of the whole series. So the first to be written, the last I read - and every bit as good, and not spoilt  - probably the reverse in fact - by knowing the big surprise that's coming at the end.

Tom Bower Dangerous Hero: Corbyn's ruthless plot for power (local library)
Like the last Bower book I attempted (his Blair biog), I couldn't finish this. I'm not a massive fan of Corbyn, and I certainly wasn't of Blair, so it's not the fact that it's a hatchet job. It's the fact that it's a lazy hatchet job, full of non-sequiturs, unsubstantiated assertions, and snide insinuations which diminish the credibility of the book and any respect one might have for the author. I'll gladly read hatchet jobs on Blair and Corbyn, but better efforts than this, please.

Ann Grainger  A Better Quality of Murder (local library)
Neatly plotted Victorian police procedural. I'm toying with classifying detective stories into ones that are primarily puzzles, and ones that are dramas. This is a puzzle, and a most enjoyable one.

Ann Grainger The Testimony of a hanged man (local library)
See above

Ann Grainger Rack, Ruin and Murder (local library)
Contemporary detective puzzle, decently crafted but not as enjoyable as the Victorian ones.

Philippa Gregory The Constant Princess (local library)
Fictionalised life of Katherine of Aragon. Strangely unputdownable though I can't really work out why.

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