Showing posts with label detective. Show all posts
Showing posts with label detective. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ian Rankin's Black and Blue Book Review

Eighth in the series, Black and Blue: is An Inspector Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin. Find my review here.
Interesting the number of covers Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue has had. I am surprised though I know that different book formats come with different covers. This book, however, seems to have had a lot of different looks. I suppose that is what happens to a successful book as it gains some age.

Of course, once you have a book in your hand, it matters not a whit what the cover looks like though the cover may have helped that book find its way into your hands in the first place. In this case, what it looks like did not matter because this book is one of the books that will be discussed in the late fall class I am taking in Ottawa through Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue is a fictional detective story, written  in 1997 and based firmly in the Scotland of the 1990s. In her class notes, our instructor Stefani Nielson calls the book “post-Christie,” “British realism noir” and she says that it features a “working class anti-hero.”

I did not know what was meant by that last term, anti-hero, so I googled it and Wikipedia shares that “An antihero is a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes such as idealism, courage and morality.” Inspector Rebus is a hard-working, hardened police officer and former SAS officer now coping in self-destruct mode with what life has thrown at him. He is anti-social and struggles with relationships. He is a drinking man with sometimes questionable scruples who is determined to get the job done regardless of who is in the way.

The Story


Black and Blue finds our anti-hero unofficially working four cases at the same time. Among the four, two stand out. He is searching for a mass murderer nicknamed Bible John on a cold case from the 1960s and 1970s and he is searching for a copycat murderer who has been nicknamed Bible Johnny. Set in Scotland, the author helps us visit his Scotland from the comfort of our arm chairs. Our travels will include time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and even the oilfields in the North Sea.

It is a long book at more than 550 pages but it is action packed so if you love to read, that should cause you no issues. If you read the book, you will become heavily invested in the main character and consumed by the desire to know who is responsible for the crimes committed and if and how they are all connected.

Is this a good time to tell you that Black and Blue is the eighth in a series of books about Inspector Rebus? It is my first Ian Rankin novel because I am reading it in preparation for my class. In normal circumstances, I would have picked book one as a starting point.

Who Will Like This Book?


Anyone who likes a well-crafted detective novel and does not mind the world that a police officer travels in. This book definitely has violence but it is far from the worst I have ever read and, of course, it has a police officer who drinks, smokes and cuts corners.

Reviews


Goodreads says, “Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue.” The readers who right the reviews on the website rate this book 4.08 out of 5. One of those readers says, “Now this is how you write a really good crime novel!

On his blog, Simon McDonald says, “…this book is one of the author’s best… more than awhodunit, it is a searing commentary on mid-nineties Scotland, told so palatably, so relentlessly…

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel and meeting Inspector Rebus. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy crime detective fiction. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you decide you would like to travel in Inspector Rebus's world. You can find all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels on Amazon quickly by clicking right here.

Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection

Interesting Facts


This book is considered an important story in Tartan Noir, which is genre in crime fiction written by Scottish writers and set in Scotland. Wikipedia says that Tartan Noir has roots in Scottish literature but adapts elements from other writers like era-specific American crime writers and European crime writers.

The title of the book, Black and Blue, relates to the Rolling Stones album of the same name, it relates to the state we often find our anti-hero in and it relates to the oil fields and the policeman of this story.

The Dancing Pigs, the successful punk music band featured in this book, were recreated from an unsuccessful band that the author played in for a year as a 19-year old. Rankin enjoyed making the band successful in his book. Who could resist? I think I would have done the same.

You may also have seen a mini-series called Ian Rankin's Rebus about the character that aired in 2000. Find it on Amazon here.

Be sure to come back and let us know how you enjoy any of Ian Rankin's books and, if you have seen the mini-series, we would love to hear that, too.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Black and Blue on Amazon.
Find Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection on Amazon.








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Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax Book Review

The Vinyl Detective Book Review

The Vinyl Detective Series: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel


Yes, vinyl is trendy. If you are not sure what I mean by vinyl you likely will recognize the old school terms for record albums and LPs. If you don't know what a record or an LP is, you likely recognized vinyl right away. I would bet that whichever term you use to refer to “a thin plastic disk that carries recorded sound in grooves” tells us a bit about your age.

Yes, the detective in this book seeks and finds records. I'm not sure if that is his official profession though he is not employed at any other task and is chronically broke but vinyl is definitely where his knowledge lies and a way for him to make a living or at least, earn some money.

Finally, yes, some vinyl is worth seeking and reselling. A lot of it has no value but a quick search of eBay sold items as seen if you click here will reveal that some are very valuable. The result I see on eBay as I write this post shows that almost 500,000 vinyl records have been sold though I am sorry I cannot tell you in what time frame that was. The results show a first impression Motley Crue Too Fast For Love album and a Japanese Pink Floyd album each selling for almost $5,000.

I am a reseller and yes, therein at least partially lies my interest in the subject matter of this book. I do look for vinyl to resell though I know little about the subject and have sold only a very few records. After receiving a turntable at Christmas in order to play our existing collection of vintage vinyl records, I now find myself looking for vinyl that I find interesting and that I would like to own and occasionally, I add something obscure to my pile with the hopes that it will be valuable. Only a couple of times have I returned home with a record that we already own (oops) and no, I have not found a record that is valuable yet.

The back of this book says that the author, Andrew Cartmel, lives in London with “too much vinyl and just enough cats” but I have no idea if the records and the extensive back story in this book are actually real, rare and valuable or if the whole thing is fictional.  There is, however, a lot to be learned about records and the related paraphernalia in this book. Do note, as the book points out, that we don't say vinyls.

What's Dead Wax?


Just in case you are wondering, Dead Wax is the area on a record that is left blank after the music or playable area and before the paper label. Apparently, the dead wax can have important information and, in the case of this book, messages. I did not know that there was a term for this space though of course it makes sense.

What's Offensive in the Book? 


There is sex, drugs and rock and roll between the covers but not in a particularly offensive manner. Oh and yes, there is murder some of which is not nice but then when is murder ever nice? Anyway, I did not find most of it particularly gruesome or gory. Moments were fleeting and skipped past quickly.  There were a few shocks when the murders happened.

Did I Like the Book? Do I Recommend it?


Yes, I liked the book though I disliked parts. I did not like the way one relationship dissolved and was immediately replaced by another and then that situation dissolved and was immediately replaced by another again though I was heartbroken at moments for the main character and wonder what heartaches await him in the next novel.

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax was very readable and an interesting treasure hunt for a series of very rare jazz records. It was a peek into the dedication of a true vinyl enthusiast and his network and knowledge. This detective certainly knows how to search for and find vinyl records and yes, I do recommend this book.

Who Will Like This Book? 


Anyone who likes a detective novel with a set of unusual characters should like this book as well as anyone who is curious about the world of vinyl or who is interested in reselling. Bonus, if you love cats, the cute pair in this book loves to be petted under the chin. “They do. They do. Under the chin. Yes, that’s right. Under the chin.”

What Are The Names of The Other Books in the Series?


Up next? There are four more books in this series featuring The Vinyl Detective called The Run-Out Groove, Victory Disc, Flip Back and Murder Swing. Click here to find your copy of the first book, The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax on Amazon.


See you at the bookstore!
(Or maybe at the crates of records
at the next tag sale wearing your
crate-digging shoes.)
Brenda
Treasures by Brenda


Quick Links:

Buy The Vinyl Detective on Amazon.
Check out the vinyl I have in my eBay store!






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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Robert Galbraith's Lethal White Book Review

It is a bit awkward to start with the fourth book in a series but, since that is the one I have just read, that is where I am starting.

It is telling that I waited anxiously for Robert Galbraith’s fourth novel, Lethal White. It finally arrived in in September of 2018 and unsurprisingly, it was a giant book worthy of the wait.

Lethal White follows three excellent detective novels crafted by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil were all page turners and Lethal White is more of the same. A lengthy read, complex and interesting.

Set during the 2012 London Olympics, Lethal Weapon covers much ground including political corruption, blackmail, murder, deception, betrayal and suicide.

The series continues with the latest mysteries to be solved by the now two-person detective team at Cormoran Strike’s detective agency. It follows the one-legged detective Strike and his new partner Robin as they solve crimes. Both characters continue to live on the edge financially, personally and professionally and wind up in precarious situations in all three areas of their lives.

Strike continues to live in near poverty in a room behind his office. He’s a disabled war veteran who barely looks after himself in general and, as we are given to understand in the book, his leg in particular. He is an amputee, which makes the physical requirements of his job sometimes difficult and perhaps even more so because he fails to look after his leg properly. If I had one complaint about this novel, it would be Strike’s continued difficulties with his leg. Come on Strike, look after your leg! Yeesh. I don’t look after myself perfectly all of the time but if I had a chronic problem, I hope I would do so better than Strike does his leg.

Robin struggles with her personal life as well as with her new career as a private detective. Her family believes she should not be doing the job she is doing because of the danger element but Robin knows that she has landed where she needs to be. This is the work she has always dreamed of doing but never made an effort to pursue.


Rowling says that she wrote this book while writing a play and two screenplays for Harry Potter’s world. At 650 pages long, Lethal Weapon goes on as Rowling’s books tend to. Some readers wish they could cut out a bit but if you enjoy a well crafted story, you will appreciate the plot, characters and insights given in this novel. As The New York Times says in their review, sometimes more is better than less.

The Guardian’s review says that this book contains much "highly inventive storytelling” and there is no surprise there. J.K. Rowling is a master at doing exactly that.  The Guardian goes on to say that “there is much here for mystery fans to enjoy” and I agree completely on both counts. Lethal White is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me for you if you love a good, long detective story. You will, of course, have to read the first three books first. You can find all of Robert Galbraith’s books on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White on Amazon.
More J.K. Rowling reading on Movie Treasures By Brenda.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




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Thursday, January 19, 2017

John Sandford Extreme Prey Book Review

First off, a confession. I have not read a SINGLE solitary John Sandford book. There are, however, many of them in my household.

Over the course of the last couple of years, my husband Chris discovered John Sandford and worked to collect and read his way through every single one of Sandford's books. I have a feeling there will be a Sandford book in my future.

Chris' most recent read was Extreme Prey and what follows is his review, which I thought I would share with you here.

John Sandford’s Extreme Prey is an exceptional read.

In the previous novel, the protagonist Lucas Davenport was leaving the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) with his daughter Letty asking, “What are you going to do next?” Extreme Prey flawlessly transitions Davenport from a badge carrying cop to a private citizen doing a favour for the state governor Elmer Henderson; a favour that finds Davenport investigating a potential threat against a presidential candidate. The fact that Davenport is not carrying a badge and has no authority kicks the story up a notch. Davenport uses old contacts and his reputation to gain support from local police while trying to convince others that there is a real and credible threat. Of course the threat is real and time is short, so the action is non-stop.

As the story unfolds, Davenport chases loose threads of evidence as he puts pieces of the puzzle together until the climactic scene arrives that is so engulfing that it will make you miss your bus stop; at least that happened to me.

For long-time fans of John Sandford, Extreme Prey effectively interweaves characters from previous books into the action as well as providing cameo roles for characters from the Virgil Flowers and Kidd series, also by John Sandford. If this is your first time reading a John Sandford book and don’t insist on starting at the beginning of a series, you will find a great read that can stand alone. Sandford gives you enough information to introduce every character without slowing down the action or distracting from this story.

Extreme Prey is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who likes police mysteries. For current fans of the “Prey” books you will find it an exciting surprise as Lucas Davenport adapts to not having a badge and the official support of the BCA. Personally I am already looking forward to Golden Prey scheduled for release in April 2017 to see what’s next for Lucas Davenport.

Extreme Prey definitely sounds like an excellent read to me and I have to thank my husband for the introduction to another author and for writing this post. I am especially thankful that he shared the fact that this book caused him to miss his bus stop. What a hoot!

Will there be a John Sandford book in your future?

Happy Reading!
Brenda & Chris

Quick Links:

Order Extreme Prey on Amazon.
Steve Berry's Amber Room reviewed.









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