Friday, 29 May 2020

A Reading Update and the Spy / Thriller Novel Continued

Love's Ice Cream
I have to say that I am pooped today. Not sure why. I probably should have gone back to bed this morning but decided to finish a book I was reading. Jo and I went out for a drive this afternoon; picked up some meds for Bonnie, a loaf of bread and butter tarts at Cob's bakery. Then we headed out to Cumberland; I got myself to small growlers of beer at the brewery (new procedures in effect) and then we stopped at Love's Ice Cream, had two cones of their swirly ice cream (raspberry for Jo and blackberry for me) I also picked up a pint of their raspberry. It's a new place for us. Seemed very popular. The ice cream was good anyway.

A fair few number of people out, not huge crowds but very few with masks on. Having said that, they respected distance markers and everyone was polite and friendly.

As mentioned, I finished a book this morning and have selected the replacement. I'll update those for you and also continue with my look at the Spy genre, this time one of the well-known authors, even if new for me.

Just Finished

1. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (Miss Marple #2).

"The Body In The Library is the 2nd Jane Marple mystery by Agatha Christie, originally published in 1941. A body is discovered at the estate of the Bantry's, a couple who are friends of Miss Marple. both Mr. and Mrs. Bantry do not recognize the young lady when interrogated by the local police. Mrs. Bantry asks Jane Marple to help as she knows that Jane has a knack for solving crimes.

When the girl is identified, it turns out she was a dancer at a hotel down the road from St Mary Mead. While the police investigate, Mrs. Bantry takes Jane to the hotel to conduct their own investigations. As well Sir Henry Clithering, a retired police commissioner is asked to help out by Conway Jefferson, resident at the hotel and a friend of the victim.

Christie writes in a clear, concise, eminently readable tale. Miss Marple plays more of a role in this story than I remember from her first appearance. She's an excellent character and I find it interesting that in the books, so far at least, that the police seem to respect her input more than they seem to do so in the TV movies. I may be wrong there.

As always there are many suspects and they are all viable. Miss Marple seems to grasp the case with very little information and moves along at a nice pace. There are nice little touches in the story. I especially liked the reference to autographs a young boy has from Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She's the Alfred Hitchcock of novels, making appearances when you least expect it.
Everything about the story was entertaining, the writing, the characters, the mystery itself and the solution, which just sort of happens but is still satisfying. The story stands the test of time and was an excellent cozy mystery. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

1. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas #3).

"St. Bartholomew’s Abbey sits in majestic solitude amid the wild peaks of California’s high Sierra, a haven for children otherwise abandoned, and a sanctuary for those seeking insight. Odd Thomas has come here to learn to live fully again, and among the eccentric monks, their other guests, and the nuns and young students of the attached convent school, he has begun to find his way. The silent spirits of the dead who visited him in his earlier life are mercifully absent, save for the bell-ringing Brother Constantine and Odd’s steady companion, the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

But trouble has a way of finding Odd Thomas, and it slinks back onto his path in the form of the sinister bodachs he has met previously, the black shades who herald death and disaster, and who come late one December night to hover above the abbey’s most precious charges. For Odd is about to face an enemy who eclipses any he has yet encountered, as he embarks on a journey of mystery, wonder, and sheer suspense that surpasses all that has come before."

The Spy / Thriller Novel - Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler
Eric Clifford Ambler was born in London in 1909 and died there in 1998. He specialized in thrillers, especially the spy genre. Over the course of his life he wrote 18 novels and a variety of short story collections. I have two of his books on my shelf but have yet to try them. 

a. Background to Danger aka Unknown Danger (1937)

"Kenton's career as a journalist depended on his facility with languages, his knowledge of European politics, and his quick judgment. Where his judgment sometimes failed him was in his personal life. When he finds himself on a train bound for Austria with insufficient funds after a bad night of gambling, he jumps at the chance to earn a fee to help a refugee smuggle securities across the border. He soon discovers that the documents he holds have a more than monetary value, and that European politics has more twists and turns than the most convoluted newspaper account."

b. Cause for Alarm (1938).

"Nick Marlow, the hero of Cause for Alarm is an engineer who likes to think of himself as a plain man, above politics; when he takes a sales job in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, it never occurs to him as relevant that his predecessor was killed by a hit-and-run driver or that the boring machines he sells might be used for the making of armaments. Nor does he regard the politics of his clerk as of interest, nor think of the rouged Yugoslav general Vagas as anything more than a friendly buffoon. Before he knows where he is, a web is tightening about him and the only reliable friend he has is Zaleshoff, an American businessman, oddly keen to educate him in the ways of the world ..."

The complete list of Ambler's works can be found at this link.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

NEW BOOKS!!! & The Spy / Thriller Novel

Wonder of wonders! Jo and I have had things on order for quite a while now, books and things. Items from within Canada have been no problem but, understandably, mail from the UK and US have been taking much longer. But today, I received two books I ordered!! Yay!

New Books

1. Phaze Doubt by Piers Anthony (Apprentice Adept #7).

"The conclusion of the enchanting Apprentice Adept series. With most of the inhabitants of the planet Phaze/Proton incarcerated or in hiding from a hated enemy government, the job of saving this endangered planet falls to Nepe and Flach, two children with special magical powers."

2. The Innocent by Taylor Stevens (Vanessa Munroe #2).

"Eight years ago, five-year old Hannah was spirited out of school and into the closed world of a cult known as The Chosen. Ever since, followers of its leader have hidden the child and shielded her abductor. Now, childhood survivors of The Chosen who have escaped to make a life for themselves on the outside know here to find Hannah and turn to Vanessa Michael Munroe for help. Munroe reluctantly takes the job, and travels to Buenos Aires to infiltrate the cult and save the girl. Inducted in to a world unlike anything she has faced before, Munroe must navigate unpredictable members and their dangerous cohorts, the impatient survivors who hired her, and the struggle against her own increasingly violent nature so she can rescue the child before the window of opportunity closes and Hannah is lost forever."

The Spy / Thriller Novel - Victor Canning

Victor Canning
British author of novels and thrillers was born in Plymouth in 1911 and died in 1986. He was a prolific writer. His most successful series contained 4 books featuring detective Rex Carver. At the moment I have 4 of his books, having completed one of them.

1. The Whip Hand (Rex Carver #1).

"Laconic private eye Rex Canning has accepted the apparently straightforward job of tracing a young German au pair. Never one to avoid trouble, Carver becomes entangled in a dangerous game of international espionage and double dealing."

2. Doubled in Diamonds (Rex Carver #2).

"Doubled In Diamonds is the 2nd Rex Carver mystery by Victor Canning. There are 4 books in this series and this is the 1st I've read. Carver is a private detective in London and like many others, struggles to make ends meet. In some ways, he reminds me of Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike. 

The story starts off relatively simply, Carver's assistant, Hilda Wilkins, books him for an easy job, finding Arnold Finch to let him know about a 5,000 pound inheritance. As he investigates, he finds that there is more to Finches disappearance that meets the eye. He might have been involved in a previous diamond heist and might not wish to be found.

Carver travels to Ireland and becomes involved with Chinese spies, two twins who want also to hire his services to help acquire the diamonds. He also get caught up by British intelligence and the British police and must try to wend his way between these competing interests and at the same time try to save a young woman from both the bad guys and the police.

I enjoyed this story very much. Carver is a sensible, reasonably smart character and I really liked his assistant / partner. I hope she plays more of a role in the other stories. The story moved along at a nice steady pace and had nice little twists and turns. Very interesting introduction to the Rex Carver mysteries. (4 stars)"

3. The Python Project (Rex Carver #3).

"The rug was ivory white and I slowly sank into it. At the window stood a black-ivory-white striped daybed that could seat up to six people. Surrounded by her black and white pillows, Mrs. Stankowski sat there, legs raised.

She was wearing a short, high-necked jacket and long trousers made of silver-colored fabric; The red hair gleamed blindingly and had to cost her a lot of money at some expensive hairdresser's every few days. Her eyes were blue, but they were not that friendly. I gave her a warm smile and saw that it didn't hurt her.

"Sit down, Mr. Carver, and make it short." She pointed with a long ebony stick at a small gilt chair by the fireplace. I sat down and said: "Your insurance company has asked me to track down the gold bracelet in the form of a rolled up python that has been stolen from you ... To be honest, it is not likely that when you and the maid were there were not, someone came into this flat with the key, took the snake bracelet from your dressing table and didn't steal anything else."

4. House of Seven Flies aka The House of Seven Hawks (1952). - made into a movie 1959.

"Although striving to make an honest living running a small yacht for charter, Edward Furse dreams of a better life for himself and his son Jimmy, and when a mysterious Dutch passenger dies on the voyage back to Holland, Furse finds that fate may have placed him on the path to good fortune. Checking through his deceased passenger’s possessions, he finds papers and charts which suggest treasure long buried and forgotten. Gems ready for the taking, if only he can decipher where along the Haringvliet to find the House of the Seven Flies.

With a dead passenger aboard, Furse’s arrival in Holland is met with some suspicion and soon it is not only Inspector Molenaar who is keeping the English sailor under his watchful eye, but also Rohner, a man as well-known for his wealth as his dishonest ways in acquiring it. With dangerous competition, Furse starts to hunt for clues that can lead him to the Seven Flies and the jewels that will secure a prosperous future. However, the journey towards fortune is less than simple and Furse has to grapple with both his own conscience and a beautiful woman, whom he knows deserves more than a smuggler and a thief. . ."

The complete list of Canning's books can be found at this link.
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