What I’ve been reading – The Hampstead Mystery by Arthur J. Rees

The Hampstead MysteryThe Hampstead Mystery by Arthur J. Rees

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Slow, thinly characterized, dubious ‘psychological’ deductions, descriptions and motivations ascribed. Numerous patronizingly stereotypical portraits of working-class characters and women. Not genuinely awful, but not of the first rank and certainly very much of its time. One point five stars really.

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What I’ve been reading – Outtake from ‘Night Broken’ by Patricia Briggs

This is another outtake, included in the short story collection ‘Shifting Shadows’ by Patricia Briggs.  This one is from ‘Night Broken’ which is not a hot favourite of mine.  It’s the book where Mercy and Adam’s relationship – at least for the reader, or at least for me – started to slow down and become repetitive, a little stagnant.

(Their mutual adoration society is getting a little cloying.  I’d love to read them having an actual row, sometime.   I mean, a proper row, about taking out the trash or who drank three-quarters of the bottle, you dipso pig. 

Not, “Oh, Adam,” *breathy voice, maidenly hand to forehead* “it’s so claustrophobic when you adore and protect me all the time!” 

“Oh, Mercy, damn you woman, must you be so wild and free and recklessly brave, it makes me insanely aggravated with desire!”  /Adam chews a countertop into kibble with frantic unhinged devotion)

But the outtake is rather cute, and maybe it would have improved the book if it had been included.

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image – Erin Perry https://www.flickr.com/photos/pips/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ no changes

Of course, it could just be cute because it includes both Coyote – Mercy’s supernatural ‘Daddy’ – and the walking stick.  These are two of my favourite supporting characters in the Mercyverse.  They’re both fun and daft and frivolous, and make everything they feature in fun.

It’s not difficult to tell that Briggs is a pantster, as far as writing goes.  This outtake contains a one-line plot-hole explanation, subsequent to the entire action.  (Something regarding Coyote’s role, you’ll have to read it if you want to know what.)  And it’s not the first one I’ve come across from Briggs, or the second, or even the third, I think.

That isn’t exactly a criticism.  Tight plotting isn’t my own strength, either.  OTOH, I’m not making big bucks on the bestseller lists.  So I feel pretty much free to jump up and down, shout “YOWZA!”, and run around just writing whatever seems like fun.  Having a good time, in short, doing whatever I feel.

Ms Briggs, however, has fans who’ll shell out for a pricey hardback, sight unseen, on the basis of having followed the series for yonks.  When all they know about it is the title.  I mean me.  I mean, like me.  I do that, on the regular.

I think a little extra care, an outline here and there, wouldn’t be unreasonable.

What I’ve been reading – ‘Hollow’ by Patricia Briggs

This is the tenth story in the ‘Shifting Shadows’ collection, and it’s a ghost story – always my fave!  It’s also a Mercyverse story featuring Mercy herself, which marks it as a special occasion for any Briggs fan.  Here, Mercy takes submissive pack wolf Zack along with her on a ghost-hunt, also a treat because Zack is a complete sweetie.

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image – Conejo Conejo https://www.flickr.com/photos/findingalice/ licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/, no changes

The ‘guests’ – i.e. characters new to the Mercyverse – in this story are Lisa, a woman who runs a groundskeeping/housekeeping company, and Rick, one of her rich and reclusive clients.  Rick is having trouble with the ghost of his dead wife, and Lisa is having trouble because, SPOILERS – Continue reading “What I’ve been reading – ‘Hollow’ by Patricia Briggs”

What I’ve been reading – Still Kicking by Judith Arnold

Still KickingStill Kicking by Judith Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it! For a respectable small-town schoolmarm and widow, Lainie is pretty ruthless and willing to fight her corner and give ’em hell, when necessary. And Lainie + Stavik, her blue-collar rough-n-ready lover, = hot! I’m not much into soccer, but I still liked the rounding her love of the game gave to Lainie’s character – a woman with passions beyond the purely sexual or romantic, a full life and a physical earthiness and strength lent by her enthusiasm for the sport. Lainie’s emotions are realistically represented, and while her DIY detective activities may be less credible, they’re still a lot of fun. (And I can easily believe how smart and brave she is in persisting with them.)

A really great beginning to a series, easily 4 stars.

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What I’ve been reading – The Mystery of the Blue Dolphins by Sandra Baublitz

The Mystery of the Blue Dolphins (A Dog Detective Series Book 1)The Mystery of the Blue Dolphins by Sandra Baublitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it! Fun additional surprise at the end, and a very sweet and cosy mystery leading up to it, for those of us who prefer more vicarages and becardiganed spinsters, and less gore, in our crime stories.

I will quibble a little and say that more detailed character development and history for Clarissa – and Paudius Pernivious – would be great, but no doubt that will be taken care of in other Paw tales.

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What I’ve been reading – An Unsuitable Job For A Woman by P.D. James

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1)An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’ve always found James’ work moderately clever, but overrated. There’s a nasty distant, critical view of human nature that leaves me with a manky taste in my mouth. I mean to say – Jeeves – I can understand having a low opinion of your fellow creatures, but OTOH, who of us is without sin and you gotta love the little bastards anyway. Love ’em into insensibility. How are any of us getting any better otherwise? If we go down into the grave, each one of us, still slavering and frothing and hungering for destruction, then – well, then we’re all Donald Trump. We can do better than that.

…spoilers…

Continue reading “What I’ve been reading – An Unsuitable Job For A Woman by P.D. James”

Book Review – The Hampstead Mystery by Arthur J. Rees

The Hampstead MysteryThe Hampstead Mystery by Arthur J. Rees

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Slow, thinly characterized, dubious ‘psychological’ deductions, descriptions and motivations ascribed. Numerous patronizingly stereotypical portraits of working-class characters and women. Not genuinely awful, but not of the first rank and certainly very much of its time. One point five stars really.

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Review: Still Kicking: A Lainie Lovett Mystery by Judith Arnold

Still Kicking: A Lainie Lovett Mystery (The Lainie Lovett Mysteries Book 1)Still Kicking: A Lainie Lovett Mystery by Judith Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it! For a respectable small-town schoolmarm and widow, Lainie is pretty ruthless and willing to fight her corner and give ’em hell, when necessary. And Lainie + Stavik, her blue-collar rough-n-ready lover, = hot! I’m not much into soccer, but I still liked the rounding her love of the game gave to Lainie’s character – a woman with passions beyond the purely sexual or romantic, a full life and a physical earthiness and strength lent by her enthusiasm for the sport. Lainie’s emotions are realistically represented, and while her DIY detective activities may be less credible, they’re still a lot of fun. (And I can easily believe how smart and brave she is in persisting with them.)

A really great beginning to a series, easily 4 stars.

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