Sunday, 8 January 2012

More About Books #2

It`s quite a while since the first More About Books, but somewhat belatedly, here are my thoughts on a few books I`ve read in the interim ;

Joan Aiken - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

I have to admit this didn`t really work for me.  The book is set in a fictional period in British history during which the country has been inundated by wolves that have migrated here via the Channel Tunnel. The wolves appear quite early in the book but play little part in the main story, the  real predators being a couple of unscrupulous criminals. The two young heroines are loyal and resourceful, which may chime well with modern tastes, but the book`s obvious debt to the more pious sort of Victorian fiction seems incongruous today.  

Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess - Instructions

Neither a poem or a short story, but influenced by both genres, this is pretty unique. I think it will be a bit `marmite` - you`ll either love it or consider it entirely pointless, and I suspect that no amount of persuasion or re-reading of it is likely to change that. Speaking personally, I`m a marmite type of guy and I could return to this book repeatedly and still get something out of it. 

Edward Marston - Railway to the Grave

One of Mr Marston`s Railway Detective novels. Trots along at a nice pace and is well worth looking out for. As I recall, the central character is a bit too in tune with modern sensibilities to be 100% authentic, but there`s really no need to be a purist about these things.  I anticipated that I would enjoy this book but not necessarily feel the need to read any of the others in the series.  In fact, I probably will  try one or two of the others in the fullness of time.

Kate Summerscale - The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

A moderately wonderful true crime book. The author sets out to examine the light cast on Victorian society by this case, to paint a full and rounded picture of the lives of Victorian Police Officers in general, and of Mr Whicher in particular, and to explore the influence on detective fiction of this real-life crime. Reminds me a little of David Levering Lewis` Du Bois biographies in it`s use of almost excessive detail to paint a picture of a bygone age. A rewarding book, but quite challenging. Like Levering Lewis, the author may sometimes have erred on the side of providing  too much detail but nonetheless this is a remarkable achievement.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Should anyone be interested, at present I`m reading a book on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle`s involvement with two true crime cases, those of George Edalji and Oscar Slater. The title etc elude me at present but hopefully I`ll post a review at some point.  

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