Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Where Am I At Now

In previous Blogs I indicated some of the books I was reading; Arthur Conan Doyle's The White Company and Kingsley Amis' The Green Man. Well, for a quick Blog, I'll update you on those books and where I am now with my reading. (Possible spoilers if that bothers you)

The White Company was written in 1891. I have a Pan Books paperback published in 1976. It tells of the tales of The White Company, as it describes it on the back cover, "Battle-royal, tourney, melee, skirmish or siege - all were one to the hard - bitten mercenaries of the White Company."

The Company were led by Sir Nigel Loring, an old knight, called out by the Prince of England to help him with his invasion of Spain. The other main character is Alleyne Edricson, younger son of a royal family, who has spent most of his life in a monastery while his brother ran the family estate. He is put on the road to experience life for a year and ends up involved as Sir Nigel's squire.

The story tells of their journey from England across the English Channel, adventures with pirates, jousting matches in France, battles with French peasants and the ultimate heroic battle in Spain against the Spanish king.

It was a bit of a slow start with this story, but as the journey of Nigel, Alleyne and his two other compatriots, Hordle John and Samkin Aylward, progressed, the story slowly grabbed my interest. It's your basic young man's adventure tale. There are implications that maybe the life of a knight is on the downhill slope, what with the peasant revolt at the Chateau Villefranche, but these are minor matters on the whole. Basically it's a tale of adventure and the honour of Sir Nigel as he searches for opportunities to gain honour with small adventures against other knights. A nice story and makes me want to read the story of Sir Nigel's early life, simply called Sir Nigel.

After The White Company, I read Kingsley Amis' The Green Man. Well, more accurately, I started The Green Man after I'd finished David Benioff's City of Thieves. I normally have two books on the go, one for downstairs, that being The White Company and my bedtime book, The Green Man.

The Green Man is a ghost story/ mystery. This is the first Kingsley Amis book I've read, but the outline on the back jacket made is sound interesting. It was first published in 1969; with this Panther Books edition published in 1971.

The back jacket describes it, "Maurice Allington, landlord of The Green Man and epic boozer, has two big problems - apart from his drinking one, which is more a way of life anyhow. One is to get his mistress, his wife and himself into the same bed at the same time ( a challenging variation on the eternal triangle if there ever was one). The other, distinctly less pleasant, is how to deal with the malignant ghost of Dr Thomas Underhill, 17th century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviations.... "

I must say I quite enjoyed this story. Maurice isn't the most likable character, at the beginning, cheating on his wife, ignoring his daughter and adjusting poorly to his father's recent death. Compounding this he is seeing things or experiencing ghostly visitations. It's a dry telling of the story, but at the same time, quite engrossing. As Maurice searches out clues about this ghostly intruder, he does realize things about himself and the conclusion is quite nicely resolved. Quite a neat little story.

 After finishing, The Green Man, I grabbed The Blight from my 'must read' bookcase. From the inside jacket, it states that the copyright is 1968, but there is no indication when Panther books published their paperback edition. John Creasey is author of more than 500 different novels, with Panther publishing most of his more famous characters, Dr Palfrey and his organization Z24, The Toff and The Baron. I had read one or two of his Inspector Gideon stories, written as JJ Marric and found them entertaining.

The Blight was definitely a quick-read. It involves a murder in Christmas Valley and the discovery of a blight which is destroying trees and potentially all plant life on the Earth. Dr Palfrey heads a secretive organization, Z25, that has links to most countries in the world.

The story reminds me very much of The Man from U.N.C.L.E books I read as a youngster. It might be a bit darker, grittier than those books, but it covers the same idea; the agency of dedicated individuals, who are bent on keeping the world safe from various enemies. It's what it is, but an entertaining story, well-paced, that fills an evening. It may be more suited to male audiences, but give it a try.

On the weekend, I usually head off to ABC Books to see what new comics might have arrived for me as I do have my regular series. This past weekend, there was only one, but of a series that had stopped after Issue 5, early in the summer. As you can see, it's called Executive Assistant, about a young woman, trained at an early age to be a Ninja warrior.

She is trained to be the executive assistant to a Japanese warlord/ businessman. Besides being his assistant, she also gets rid of enemies to his business, but realizes that he is a murderer, especially when he has her boyfriend murdered by another ninja.

If it sounds familiar to you, yes, it is very similar to the new TV series, Nikita. It's a nicely drawn comic, lots of action, colorful and a nice afternoon read. Looking forward to the new episodes, which should be coming out in the early winter.

Well, finally, what am I reading now? I've caught up with my most recently finished books. I now have two mysteries on the go, both from authors I've enjoyed in the past. So far these latest stories haven't let me down yet.

Firstly, there is John Dunning's The Bookman's Promise. I've read a couple of the Bookman books and they are well crafted mysteries. The stories follow Cliff Janeway, an ex-Denver cop who leaves the force under less than ideal circumstances but decides to follow his life time passion, that being a book seller.

His new career path involves him in mysteries, generally to do with old books that he is searching out. It's a very different, interesting concept and a tour de force for John Dunning. As of 2006, there were 5 Bookman stories, with this one published in 2004 as the third of the series.

So far, it's held my interest very nicely. It involves a book that Janeway has purchased for a considerable sum, at a Boston auction, a book by 19th century explorer Sir Richard Burton. The book is claimed by an elderly woman as her birthright. The adventure/ mystery involves Janeway searching for the complete collection of Burton books that were supposed to have been passed to her on her grandfather's death.

It's early days at the moment as I'm just getting into the story, but I'm already anticipating the rest of the adventure.

My bedtime book is Giles Blunt's The Delicate Storm. Giles Blunt is a Canadian mystery writer. The Delicate Storm is the second in a police detective series set in North Bay (or as he names it, Algonquin Bay) Ontario. I've read the first, Forty Words for Sorrow, and enjoyed quite a bit. Part of the enjoyment is that I grew up in North Bay, or at least finished high school there. So reading his stories does bring back some memories of the area as he doesn't change street names or the local area.

The Delicate Storm follows Detective John Cardinal as he works with the RCMP and CSIS and his partner, the lovely Detective Lise Delorme to solve two different but possibly linked murders.

Giles makes North Bay come alive to me and his stories, well, the one I read anyway, are gritty and interesting. So far, The Delicate Storm has caught my interest and I look forward to many pleasurable evenings being spent following Detective Cardinal as he travels through Algonquin Bay on his way to solving the crimes.

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